A combination of lots of travel to the UK and preparations to move house has meant that gardening has taken a back seat over the past four weeks. I’ve probably spent no more than 2-3 hours gardening and that’s included the work on the school garden.
By and large, I think I’ve got away with it. But I don’t think I can really take the credit. As June moved into July, weather shifted from being endlessly warm and dry to being warm and wet so that, without any effort from me, my plants received a regular dousing of their most basic requirement every few days.
I’ve used any opportunity I’ve had just to get the necessary done and I’ve not had much time to potter and finesse. Here is a retrospective of what’s been happening in my garden over the past month.
Against a backdrop of lush growth, the Clematis, Lonicera and Geranium Rozanne provided the main colour- lots of pinks, purples and peach. I worked in some of my banana fertiliser in the hope it would prolong the flowers and encourage more. The flowers of the climbers tumbled down in a mass for the simple reason that I never got around to making a climbing frame for either before it was too late. I think the Lonicera probably would have done better without having so much of the Clematis clambering over it but, all in all, I rather like the effect.
Geranium Rozanne is flowering reliably and profusely. I intend to divide this at the end of the season so that I can spread it around a bit.
The Lamprocapnos and Geranium macrorrhizum came and went, the Geranium overlapping the Lamprocapnos. Foliage of the Lamprocapnos is now slowly turning yellow and when it dies back further, I’ll cut it right back to rejuvenate it. Some of the Geranium’s leaves are changing colour now and seed pods have formed.
The Salvia, that originally had been sharing a pot with the Geranium but had become overwhelmed by it, was relocated to a new pot alongside the more sedate clump forming Geranium sanguineum that itself had originally been pot-mates with the Coreopsis grandiflora. In this new arrangement they are both much happier and I like the combination of shapes and colour.
The Coreopsis, seemingly on death’s door earlier in the season and destined for the compost heap, has produced new lush green growth and may even flower later on in the summer if I’m lucky.
The Aquilegia, sown from seed last year has produced flowers for the first time and I’ve been able to collect seeds.
Seedlings of annuals that were sown -Cosmos, Zinnia, Helianthus and Antirrhinum- were potted on. The Antirrhinums still have a way to go before they flower even though I sowed them much earlier than last year. Last year’s plants never got fully going before the frosts so I am hoping there’ll be a decent display this year.
One Cosmos has flowered but, in what seemed drastic at the time, I cut back foliage hard (about two-thirds) from the other three cosmos seedlings. In only two weeks, the foliage grew back more bushy and there are lots of buds, so even though flowers have been delayed I’m expecting to enjoy many more as a result. Likewise early on, the two zinnias produced a single flower each but I deadheaded them and now more stems with buds have appeared. The two Helianthus ‘Velvet Queen’ (shown tall at the back of picture 3) are growing strongly and hopefully will also add some late season colour.
As far as the home-grown food this year, it’s been a mixed bag.
Strawberries have produced lots of tasty fruit but I’m disappointed to have missed a few, so I’m netting them from now on. I left it late to pot on chard and beetroot seedlings and somewhere in the process have lost the label. I think I’ve sussed out which is which but time will soon tell!
I finally potted up the Fennel seedlings. I just put them into the largest pot I had (about 30cm deep) which is shallower than ideal, and spaced closer together which will mean the bulbs won’t end up being so big but that’s just the reality of growing in small spaces. Hopefully the taste will more than make up for the size.
My peas are doing well against my rudimentary bamboo and willow climbing frames. From two containers I’d say I’ve picked two healthy portions of peas so far, and more are on their way. The broad beans are still forming pods but have flowered well and are growing healthily.
As an experiment I scatter-sowed some carrots and radishes in a tall pot and the results have been a bit of a let down. The carrots were deluged by the radishes, which became all leaf and no root. Photos show before and after removal of the radishes. Surprisingly the carrots didn’t seem to have been adversely affected. So I decided to leave them as is and not thin them out, preferring to let them develop a bit before I harvest some baby carrots and then harvest the carrots that remain right at the end of the season.
The three varieties of lettuce have grown fantastically well, kept in semi-shade, and have provided some lovely combinations of tasty salads. They also look great together so definitely one to repeat next year. The summer squash is potted up and even though there are flowers, no fruit is forming yet. The mystery of the fruit bush is now solved: it’s Aronia, which is a prolific fruiter, and claims to be very high in antioxidants. I still need to pot it as a priority to give it the best opportunity to develop its juicy berries.
Finally, my tomatoes. I reclaimed a glass cabinet and upcycled it to match my cold frame. It’s been perfect for this year’s tomatoes. A few flowers are already forming. I’m crossing my fingers for warm weather long enough for them to form into some fruit and I’ve added some tomato fertiliser to help them along. One of my next jobs is to repot them and string them up.
Here’s my garden: