I think we’re all agreed that it’s been a funny old year – everything’s so late, and then there was a sudden spurt of activity (plantwise; I’ve been pretty active throughout – for once), and now everything’s sulking again. Chilly nights, that’s the problem. I suspect there’ll be another sudden flurry with the garden growing in bursts, rather like an adolescent boy. Hopefully there’ll be no grunting…
But at least we’ve had some sunshine this year. All right, not today – so a few of these photographs were, I admit, taken a couple of days ago, but they do show what’s been happening. In the bottom garden, last year’s ‘new’ bed in the foreground is filling out nicely, and there’s been plenty of planting in this year’s contribution to digger’s elbow and mattock hand (that’s the bed in the background with the acer, now 6 feet tall, in it):
The bed at the front, just visible behind a rosa rugosa, is no longer home to the bean tunnel; I direct-sowed a selection of annual seeds instead. I’d like to think there was a plan, but there wasn’t; I was just using up the contents of old seed packets and shabby envelopes with faded handwriting. There are – or should be – salvia horminium bouquet, cosmos, cerinthes, some nicotianas though I can only see one and may have weeded the others out, antirhinnums, calendulas, tagetes, nigellas… oh, and quite a few things which may be weeds. At the moment this bed is hiding behind dark glasses, saying ‘no photos, no photos,’ but I expect it will be more photogenic soon.
The ‘new’ bed has some lovely things in it. The cirsium is almost as tall as I am this year, and the echinops ritro is enormous. But I’m most thrilled by the pennisetum thunbergii, which I grew from seed and strongly recommend (RHS scheme, thank you):
I keep going out and having a quick stroke. Beautiful. This bed is, however, rather too tasteful at present – it definitely needs an injection from the opposite side of the colour wheel next year and I’m thinking of adding something mad. Hmm… mad but annual, so if it’s a disaster I can get rid of it. My current favourite would be californian poppy, especially as I’ve got some gorgeous ones in clear orange, and they come true from seed.
What it doesn’t need, however, is washed-out yellowy-cream achilleas which should be something else – crimson, pink or reddish. I grew these from seed too:
and they are absolutely not what it said on the tin. However, they will doubtless be useful for plant sales – not for me, of course – and I will be digging them up. Almost all of them are this colour, with one exception.
The giant Portugal laurel is flowering like mad, the weight of the blossoms bringing the lower branches down even further.
The scent is extraordinary, and at one point low branches bend elegantly towards the ground on either side of a dark space, in which stands a single white foxglove. I’m so impressed by the foxgloves this year that I’ve planted a load more, but I would never have thought to add any in the wildy bit behind the greenhouse; they did this by themselves:
and have been absolutely stunning. They are also humming with bees, which has meant – I suspect – more bees finding their way into the greenhouse.
But the greenhouse is still stuffed with things. Normally seed trays – etc – find their way into the cold frame or out by now; not this year,
though I am going to be a bad plantlets’ mother and boot some of these out soon. Rudbeckia in the individual pots; a couple of trays of red kale, more than enough pyrethrums for next year, a couple of trays of cineraria and mesembryanthemums (just in case the sun should feel like reappearing) – they’re all cluttering the place up. And now the tomatoes have taken off, there’s no room. Particularly as I’ve just added more seed trays – white foxgloves and purple sprouting broc. Oh, well…
But there is a huge upside to this strange season. I’ve had some really happy accidents; not just the foxgloves nestled behind the greenhouse. The paving in front of the house, where alchemilla flipping mollis runs riot, has also suddenly sprouted with purple sisyrinchium graminoides.
There are loads. I brought a plant up from my London garden over ten years ago, and it vanished (like many of my plants, it had done a round trip and I thought it was maybe one trip too far, or maybe it just wanted to stay near an all-night kebab shop). Evidently it was biding its time, and I’m so glad it decided to reappear. It’s also been the sort of year so far in which some things have done remarkably and surprisingly well – some of my paeonies are as tall as I am, or were until the wind got them – and amongst those are the perennial poppies,
which have been stunning. Until the weather caught up with them too, that is.
Up in the top garden, the vegetable plot is finally taking off. The beans seem to have realised they are climbing and emphatically not dwarf beans, and are heading up the teepees. However, I am normally not only cropping by now but have also retired the earliest (Cobra).
On the currently positive side, the garlic looks promising and will be harvested very soon, and the shallot leaves have just bent over. The potatoes (Ratte this year, my favourite) aren’t quite there yet – I dug a couple of plants just to see, officer – but the kale is promising. And so – shhhhhhhh – are the courgettes. I’m growing them in big pots this year, to see if that works better. If so, I’ll plant them in potting compost-filled holes rather than straight into the soil next year. Or lime my acid soil in time. Ahem.
The meadow has been stunning, and I’ll be devoting a couple of posts to it soon. That’s has been fantastic; has been wonderful. Some of the grasses have been taller than I am, again – can’t get over being dwarfed by the garden, though I am just over 1.55m and you’d have thought I’d be used to being overshadowed. And then we had weather. No, we had WEATHER:
Something tells me that we might be strimming it earlier than usual, but it may recover. And there are always those compensations; the rose hedge by the kitchen is just coming into abundant flower and only about 3 weeks later than last year, so maybe things are catching up. It’s worth waiting for, and it’s worth tolerating its loose habit (I will be giving it a serious prune before it pokes someone’s eye out; it’s either that or tie it up with washing line) for the three weeks or so in which it looks sensational.
This bud is about the size of a large marble. And it is one of hundreds this year. Can’t wait for the rest!