Summer summary

What a summer – not that the weather’s been spectacular, because it hasn’t, but because I’ve been very busy indeed. When you freelance, you’re used to being busy in the summer because in-house publishers and journalists go on holiday like anyone else, and work doesn’t stop. Now I’m much better (thanks to intensive physio), I’m back working like a loony during summer. It pays for the Maxicrop, that’s what I say.

But all this means the garden has been somewhat neglected. I’ve tried to make sure I got out there for an hour a day, just to try and stay on top of the weeding as well as keeping sane, but It’s not always possible. So It’s great to have whole areas which look after themselves, like the meadow:

meadow July

which has been very good indeed this year. It will soon be time to mow it – mow it, what am I saying? Strim it. Using a big strimmer and a big strong man (flattery will get you everywhere). But the tendency to be about three weeks later than normal this year is still the case – usually by now everything has set seed, but I still have some meadow flowers in bloom.

One of my highlights this year has been the ‘random seed’ bed. Last year it was a little disappointing, and this year I thought I was in for the same – and then I realised that even disappointing plants self-seed:


and it’s been lovely.

The nigellas have come up in two marked clumps, white and pale blue, and I have tried to perpetuate this when scattering seed as the heads ripen – but I’m sure I won’t have managed it. One thing this has taught me, big time, is the value of autumn sowing – so give it a couple more weeks, and I’ll be out there with my seed packets. The things which I sowed in seed trays in the spring have just not cut the mustard. Some of them – cosmos, are you listening? – have still to flower.

I’ve added some new plants, though I have been quite restrained… this is my Salvia Amistad (I do like to keep up with trends, even if I’m a couple of years late):

Salvia amistad

and my penstemons have been consistently good:


This one is a mystery, and if anyone knows what it is, I wouldn’t mind knowing too. At least I wrote it down this time; the only problem is that I’ve written ‘mystery penstemon’. That, Kate, is not the point of keeping records. Must remember this.

On the veg front – meh. Some things have been good – I’m regularly picking a kilo of beans at a time, and I actually reduced the number of plants this year – and some things have been terrible. (Courgettes. Again. Thought I’d cracked it. Wrong.) The spuds have not been good but I do seem to be setting a good number of squashes. My artichokes have also finally been in full production, and one of them won the ‘any other veg’ class at the village show:


And, and, and I have finally managed to grow aubergines – or perhaps that should be ‘I have finally managed to grow aubergines without having the whole greenhouse infested with white fly’. That’s thanks to Green Gardener and their Encarsia, which I strongly recommend (and which I bought and have not been paid to push – used it before; this time it really, really worked). Evidently, because I have this

aubergine vincent

instead of a load of plants in the compost bin.

On the fruit front, a lot of apples are dropping but my new pear tree looks promising. Unlike the plum, which is coming out. Not in the sense of revealing to all that it’s a gay plum, but in the sense of being dug up and put on the bonfire. Terrible infestation of plum mites and though it’s laden with fruit now, they are manky and nasty inside. Plus, it’s wasp central. Who cares when you can have Japanese wineberries instead?

Japanese wineberries

Ok, there aren’t enough for a crumble, but who’d want to eat them any other way than off the bush, warmed by the sun? Not moi…

The wildlife has been much in evidence, and that includes Next Door’s Cat who has been a fairly constant companion, at least until feeding time when he vanishes completely, or until I trip over him for the sixth time. It’s also been a great year for the spider population:

spider web

though I realise not everyone will consider this a good thing, and I’ve even heard plenty of crickets which is amazing given the weather.


But personally I could live without the dead rat that NDC gave me last week. Nice. That’s what your real owners are for, Fluffybum.

Hopefully the arrival of autumn heralds a rather more organised and less frantic pace, and I’ll be able to blog more regularly. I haven’t even been taking lots of photographs – a real indicator of just how busy I’ve been. Right, let’s break out the camera!


11 thoughts on “Summer summary

  1. Cathy

    Good to have newsy update on what your garden has been doing in your absence (and your absence has been noted…), Kate – your meadow looks lovely, and whoohoo for success with artichokes and aubergines, oh and all those beans and courgettes too!

    1. kate Post author

      Hoping my absence will not be repeated – but I do suffer terribly from freelance disorder, otherwise known as being unable to say ‘no’ to a job. However, I really overdid it this year – work was OK, but everything else went adrift. Learned my lesson!

      Can’t wait to taste those aubergines. Keep going into the greenhouse and willing them to grow bigger, faster.

  2. kate@barnhouse

    I love the seed sown meadow, a wonderful bonus that things still look fresh thanks to a cool grey summer. I was admiring a huge pot of P.’Amistad’ in NGS garden last weekend, what a stunning plant and here it is again … I think I must try some. Special Plants has an great collection of penstemon maybe the online catalogue would help identify your pretty pink one?

    1. kate Post author

      Oh, thank you for the idea of Special Plants. It could possibly be Osprey, but I don’t remember buying that at all.

      Go for Amistad – it’s fab. Mine was quite tiny this year, but I expect it to build – apparently it should overwinter OK (with me, allegedly).

  3. Spade & Dagger

    If I had a meadow that needed cutting, I would be tempted to look into the availability of Poldark and his scythe.
    I also have spring sown annuals that have barely flowered yet (including outdoor aubergines & chillies which have just started blooming), but I find autumn sowing of seeds tricky as they end up as fodder to build up the strength of slugs and snails for winter.

    1. kate Post author

      Um. Even if I squint… plus it’s getting a bit cold up here, and the protective mask and heavy trousers – nah, can’t see it. Unfortunately. Sigh.

      I hadn’t thought of that aspect of autumn seed sowing. But maybe my slugs and snails don’t like nigella seeds… hopefully…

  4. Anna

    It’s good to be busy with work but from what I can remember it does rather get in the way of play. Hope that you have more time to come up for breath as autumn nears Kate. When you crack the recipe for courgette success please pass it on. Last summer saw a veritable courgette mountain here. This year the leaves are mildewed and many of the courgettes have had to be chucked onto the compost heap as they have gone mouldy before maturing to an edible size 😦 Congratulations on your show success!

    1. kate Post author

      I’d rather have the garden, but there you go – must make some money to buy more bulbs. NO BULBS (sorry, have to remind myself).

      Even our village veg master has had courgette problems this year – like mine, they seem to rot back from the tip. The remains of mine are going on the compost this morning. Er, when I have a break from work they are, cough, cough.


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