It hasn’t snowed yet… End of the Month View, June 2012


but it has done everything else, often in the space of a couple of hours.

On the plus side, we haven’t had tornadoes or flash floods (yet). On the down side, plants are either sulking, rotting apart with mould or weakened by slug attack, or have been damaged by the weather itself.

The poor old meadow has been suffering but, fair play, it pulls itself together very quickly when it gets a chance to dry off.

The rain can almost flatten it completely, but give it an hour or so in sunshine and it pings back up. The fritillary seed heads hold their own when everything else lies down, but I’m not sure they’ll set any seed at all this year; probably not.

And I have spotted the very first orange hawkweeds, which I tend to regard as a forerunner of autumn. Yikes – what has happened to summer?

In the gaps between storms, I have been mulching for Wales. When I had work done on one of my Western Red Cedars last year, I gained a rubble sack full of chippings. It’s very sad, but I think the whole tree is going to have to come down this year; it’s just too near the house and the roots are lifting paving slabs far too close to the steps. This of course means that I’ll gain a load of logs – and a lot more wood chippings. After due consideration of the soil’s ph, the likely effect of adding loads of cedar chips and the persistence of ********* couch grass, I decided to spread last year’s anyway. The bottom garden has been the main beneficiary, especially the new bed.

The Angelica gigas in the middle is looking really good, but all the nicotianas have fallen into the sulking bracket. Admittedly, this could be because after dark the entire garden is a heaving mass of slugs and snails; I’m hoping the roughness of the wood chips will keep them at bay and allow things to grow on…

However, I have had huge success with my cerinthes. Despite the wind, they have flourished and are a wonderful dark indigo.

And the white fuchsia in the background, which we moved with much groaning and violence, thrives. It was big; a real bastard to lift and relocate, even though I pruned it so much beforehand that I thought I might have killed it – evidently not.

Other successes in this new bed include a Silver Posie thyme, which is delightful (wish I’d bought more, but it’s common enough; I’ll add extras if I need to); the garlic chive clumps which I have managed to keep clear of couch grass; the Echinops ritro, ditto; and the Verbascum chiaxii album. These were sent to me in the spring by Hillwards, who had grown too many. I definitely need to make sure I have more next year; they are just beginning to flower and I am entranced.

This is the time of year when the bottom garden looks its best. Having said that, I’m trying to extend its season after last year, when the sheer uninterrupted greenness of everything began to wear a bit thin.

So we’ll see what happens later on, as I’m hoping for something more exciting than just a load of crocosmia.

I realise that it will take several years to make a significant difference, but you’ve got to start somewhere… and I’ve already had one surprise. I’ve a late iris:

It’s Braithwaite, an old traditional variety, and I only bought it at the Crug Farm plant fair at the start of May. I never dreamed it would flower this year, but it’s been a gem.

And the euphorbia which I wrote off last year when it did nothing has proved me wrong.

At least it provides some refreshment for the insects – I’ve seen them on it whatever the weather – and the colour is just fabulous.

The old climbing rose that grows in the trellis (behind me when I took the wider photo of the bottom garden) is absolutely beautiful – or that should be it is absolutely beautiful until it gets blown to ******* and covers the lane in petals – but I have no idea what it is. Any thoughts? I’m afraid I don’t know my roses very well; they don’t do well around here, by and large. It is beautifully scented, anyway.

On the opposite side of the bottom garden the big Portugal Laurel is flowering, and for a few weeks it is absolutely gorgeous, laden with heavily scented white panicles. Karen finds the scent rather overwhelmingly medicinal, but I’m not sure I agree about the clinical quality – it is a bit odd, though. Not unpleasant; just odd…

And then it rains, and that speeds things up, and all these delicate flowers turn brown. Sigh.

In despair I finally ended up taking photographs in the rain. (I resisted the urge to photograph slugs – there are limits, though they’d look good on a wanted poster.) The rose hedge by the kitchen gets bowed down, and then mould spreads – but for a while it is a delight.

Then I end up hitting it with a broom handle.

I wish I could hit the weather gods with a broom handle.

I am struck by how often I go for plants that are somewhat unlikely – that euphorbia, anything striped, the cerinthes – though it’s a tendency I have subdued  in this garden, as they don’t always fit in this traditional setting. Even so,  I cannot quite believe that it has taken me so long to grow cerinthes. Wonderful things.

Thanks to Helen at The Patient Gardener for hosting this meme, as always.


22 Comments Add yours

  1. The weather has indeed been beastly this year …. although, when I was last around yours I thought the garden was looking good, and the new bed is coming along very nicely.

    Try to see which of your cerinthe has the best colour, and then save the seed from that one for next year, (although you will probably find seedlings popping up all over the place).

    1. kate says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment about The Thing Outside, but it’s all flat again this morning, and one of my clethras has joined the ‘let’s lie flat on the ground and hide other plants’ party. Am going out there with stakes and string. Growling. I have had ENOUGH of this weather and someone is going to PAY.

      (Ahem. Too much coffee.)

      Cerinthe seedlings can pop up anywhere they want, but thanks for that reminder – I must put a thread around the best…

  2. Kate sorry you still have so much rain, after a bit of a drought we have had some rain recently, I’m hoping it’s not going to be like last year and stay for 10 months, I’d never seen cerinthes until I saw them on Sara’s blog recently, I think they are beautiful, your old climbing rose and the iris look beautiful too, your bottom garden is looking good, wishing you some dry weather, Frances

    1. kate says:

      Drought, drought, I dream of drought… (No, I don’t really, I’d just like a break. One day with no rain, that would do it.)

      Tell you what, those cerinthes have coped really well with my wind-swept conditions – I bet they’d do well for you. My seeds came from Sarah Raven; they weren’t cheap, but I’ve been very impressed with the plants. Very impressed…

  3. paulinemulligan says:

    I think we are all wondering when the endless rain is going to stop, but its amazing how the plants bounce back when it stops for a bit. Your Iris Braithwaite is really beautiful, such gorgeous colouring. Could your lovely pink rose be New Dawn, it looks very similar to mine of that name. Your photo of the bottom garden shows a garden with very happy plants, maybe all the rain is doing some good, more coming this week unfortunately!

    1. kate says:

      New Dawn is a brilliant suggestion – it certainly could be, and ND dates from the 1930s, so that would fit (I suspect mine went in in the 60s or 70s). It’s still blooming away like mad… I’ve got the feeling that the garden is almost holding its breath – if the temperatures could just go up a bit, and the rain could stop a bit, it would rampage. The nicotiana have looked like that for weeks, and the same applies to my courgettes and even the beans. Happy, but holding back…

  4. Dobby says:

    Your garden looks good. I was just saying to Karen that apart from lily’s, sunflowers and clematis, I have very little flowering, and no sign of flowers either. It’s this damned rain and the gales. Next doors Rowan tree keeps shedding bits and they are blowing into my garden and make a bee line for anything delicate.
    I’ve resorted to slug pellets this year. The friendly kind I hasten to add. If I hadn’t I think I would be finding slugs the size of frogs!!
    Have a good week and do the sun dance with me…

    1. kate says:

      My slugs are crawling over slug pellets to get at the lettuces (which are in troughs this year). And those are the friendly kind, maybe I need something less organic and more flipping lethal. I don’t want to depress you or anything…

      Actually, what I need is hens. Except I don’t like hens, from having them peck my legs to hell when I was feeding them as a child. Bechod.

  5. hillwards says:

    Still many successes despite the the weather. How lovely to see your verbascums beginning to flower – mine didn’t get their feet into the garden until much later, given the subsequent chain of tragedies that struck us this spring, so are still sporting nothing but a modestly handsome rosette of leaves. I suspect they may hang on to next year now. If you collect your seed, you’ll hopefully find their germination rate as strong as I did, and next year you could have hundreds. 🙂
    It’s our first year for growing Cerinthe too, and like you I’m really struck by its wonderful deep colouring and interesting shape.
    I would second the suggestion of New Dawn for your rose – we inherited one with very similar flowers and gentle sweet scent along the fence beside our driveway, and after lots of reading around I decided that must be its identity, and again it was probably planted in the right decade.
    S x

    1. kate says:

      I’m definitely collecting seed, they’re wonderful! I’m sure yours will look lovely when they do their thing, whenever it is – I’m wondering about the ‘hanging on till next year’ thing with some of my plants too – they’re just so far behind.

      I’m so glad I’m not the only cerinthe (ex)virgin; I was beginning to wonder… Next year I’ll plant them on the far side of my bed so that they’re in the best position for both following the sun and being easily appreciated, but big am I repeating the experiment – they are gorgeous. And thanks for the New dawn confirmation – the more photos I look at, the more sure I am.

  6. patientgardener says:

    What about geraniums? I thought you bought some when we went to the garden centre. Mine are flowering their socks off despite the rain and slugs.

    I think it looks good and I agree that we should be patient and wait a year before we start thinking a plant isnt performing etc. I spent last year bemoaning my slope and this year it looks fab.

    Thanks for joining in again


    1. kate says:

      Oh, I hadn’t forgotten – they’re doing OK, and I’m really pleased with them, but I think they’ll have post to themselves as I’ve got about 876,004 photographs to fit in. My slugs aren’t having too bad an effect on them, but that’s probably because they’ve got plenty of other things to keep them entertained, grr.

      Your slope is fab – I can’t quite believe how negative you were about it last year and noe ‘the slope’s done good’ (it may have been listening, of course).

  7. wellywoman says:

    There is a distinct feeling of autumn which is just plain depressing when it’s July and we’ve had no summer.Still some plants are loving all this rain even if we’re not. My half hardies such as rudbekia just aren’t growing at all, my zinnias are rotting but I have dahlias flowering, all very strange. I love verbascums but haven’t go t any in the garden. I really must rectify this for next year. I suppose that’s the good thing about gardening there’s always next year. We’re a hopeful bunch us gardeners, aren’t we?

    1. kate says:

      Isn’t it autumnal? I’ve even got the right level of grey mould on everything (including, alas, the courgettes). But you’re quite right about some thing solving it – just not enough, in my garden…

      You’ve got to be hopeful when you garden!

  8. easygardener says:

    I like Cerinthes and it is a bonus if they self seed though I forgot to mark the best ones so ended up with loads of inferior plants. The Laurel flowers are very attractive though I can’t comment on the smell!

    1. kate says:

      That’s a great tip with the cerinthes – I’m going to double-check that I’ve marked up the best. I think the addition of smell to the internet should be the next development in technology – hang on, maybe not…

  9. Crystal says:

    After the wettest June for over a hundred years, we’re now in July, and guess what the weather forecast is for the next two or three weeks. Er no, it’s not snow, just more of the wet stuff. Still the plants are enjoying it, even if we aren’t.

    1. kate says:

      It’s a bummer, isn’t it? About five years ago my shallots rotted in the ground, and I think they’re doing it again – but then some things are OK. Not most of my veg, though – this is the sort of year that would have caused food riots in the past. Or made poets and their families hole up in hotels in Switzerland and pen books like Frankenstein. Sigh.

      I have been trying to find veg that will perform in my microclimate, but I don’t think terracing the garden for rice will go down well with the national park…

  10. Christina says:

    Cerinthe are great plants, they flower for me in late winter and spring and then die during summer but so far have always left lots of seed that germinates well to provide plants for the following year. They actually tollerate drought pretty well, although I realise that is of little interest to you this year. Christina

    1. kate says:

      (or any year???) Seriously, cerinthes seem to be so tolerant of just about everything, that I am ashamed I haven’t grown them until now. I think they are stunning and can’t believe how long it has taken for me to realise it… (bows head in shame)

  11. elizabethm says:

    I love cerinthes and yours look very chunky in a graceful kind of way! Karen gave me some last year but they just didn’t thrive in my garden, like so many things! I also have a battered meadow but the new one is not so long so not so lying down. I join with you in the slug war though. It is driving me nuts that they are taking out my annuals which have been grown slowly and carefully in the greenhouse to cope with the big holes which appear in my borders at this time of year. I have tried everything. Hens aren’t much help, at least ours aren’t. They would rather have worms.

    1. kate says:

      I think being battered by the wind has made my cerinthes stronger in a bolshie, ‘you can’t just push us around’ sort-of way – I knew they were my sort of plant. What a shame that they didn’t thrive with you – perhaps you should give them another go? (Karen’s were probably too soft and lowlandy, ho ho).

      On the slug front, I have been informed that it should be ducks, not hens. I have a friend with ducks but I don’t think she’d hire them out, or not to me – too many foxes up the hill

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