Wednesday, 31 July 2013

End Of Month View ~ July 2013.


The end of July has been trumpeted in with the opening of the in your face colour of  the oriental lily 'Robina' and with much welcome rain. We've been away for a good part of the month so garden and allotment have been left to do their own thing although the allotment had the attention of a good fairy in the shape of my plot neighbour. Before we left I jokingly asked her if she would water in the event of a drought not knowing what would transpire in our absence.

The garden looked rather forlorn and frazzled on our return. In fact I thought we had leapt into August with some plants having flowered and gone over with indecent haste. I'm hoping that some of them such as the penstemons will throw up more flowering stems. Others though such as the day lilies have been revelling in the heat ~ 


The new border though is not a pretty site. I was dismayed to see the appearance of the dreaded horsetail as well as a myriad of annual weeds. I went to work clearing the area with many dark mutterings and then a couple of days ago further havoc was caused by some heavy rain. This caused some of the annuals to snap off before they even reached their prime. I have also noticed that most of the planting lists to one side. I have concluded that this is because there are trees overhanging the area. Now this will not be a problem in spring where I am hoping that the hellebores and snowdrops will thrive but I need to do some more thinking about what will be happy there later in the season. On the plus side the newly planted sedums on top of the gabion wall are beginning to establish themselves and seem most happy. They were coming into flower as we left - mainly white flowers tinged with pink but a few (fortunately just a few) yellow ones too. The most exciting development is that they are now slowly but surely starting to creep over the edge of the wall ~ 


I thought that I may have completely missed out on strawberries at the allotment this year. I cleared the two strawberry beds last year and now just have the one newly planted bed. I was so pleased that some were considerate enough to wait to be eaten. I'm more than happy with 'Cambridge Favourite' but have not been impressed with the growth or taste of 'Albion.' Maybe the latter will improve with age so will reserve judgement until next year. The summer fruiting raspberries were almost completely dessicated though so no jam this year. Autumn fruiting 'Polka' has made a head start and there have been delicious pickings to decorate my morning bowl of porridge. The currants have thrived and the apples look set for a good harvest. Before we left I nipped off small courgettes that were just forming so did not come home to any real monsters. The peas looked rather frayed round the edges but I have been able to enjoy some more along with broad beans. Now is the turn of the French beans to be harvested - this year I planted a climbing trio of purple 'Blauhilde', green 'Cobra' and speckled 'Borlotti'. The latter however does not appear to be climbing as yet. As in the garden weeds have mushroomed overnight so I'm waiting for a cooler and dry day for a marathon weed in.

For once a whole month has gone by without me buying a single plant but I will have a chance to remedy that now that the bulb catalogues have arrived in the post!

Thanks as always to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' for giving us the opportunity to share our end of month views.

Monday, 29 July 2013

July Musing

                                            Rosa 'Blush Noisette'

This little space which scented box encloses
Is blue with lupins and is sweet with thyme
My garden is all overblown with roses,
My spirit is overblown with rhyme,
As like a drunken honeybee I waver
From house to garden and again to house,
And undetermined which delight to favour,
On verse and rose alternatively carouse"

- Vita Sackville - West, 1892 -1962

P.S. Thanks to a comment from Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' I realised that I had named my rose wrongly. Yet another senior moment which has now been corrected.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Current News


Taking a break from what looks like a long job. I'm in the midst of removing the stalks from a ginormous mound of white currants. My favourite the red currants are done and dusted, the black currants are still not quite there but the white currants are dripping thick and fast. I have filled a large box this afternoon with probably about one third of the harvest. Last night's search amongst allotment and recipe books did not produce much in the way of inspiration. There were suggestions to combine them with other fruits to make jam as they are high in pectin. However I do not have a surplus of other fruit at the moment to do that. Nigel Slater has hopefully come to the rescue with a recipe for a white currant compote, which he describes as delicious both hot and cold. There are only three ingredients - white currants, water and caster sugar so there should be little room for error. I must admit that I like simple recipes. Are there any other white currant growers out there? If so please tell me what you do with your harvest. Oh well coffee break almost over and time to get back to the job in hand. Something tells me that this is not going to be the most exciting Saturday night.
PS Slight blip - Nigel recommends having a biscuit or two at hand to enhance consumption of compote. We do not have a single one in the house so will have to remedy that sad situation in the morning. I'm thinking ginger snap. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

French Leave


Slowly coming back down to earth here after a holiday in France. Our ageing camper van behaved itself impeccably taking us down to the Limousin region, where we stayed in the cottage you can see above. Morever aforesaid camper van got us back to Caen without any mishaps. We made our way down slowly along country roads, via small towns and villages so had a few nights on either side sleeping in the van.

The weather was brilliant though too hot to do anything that required much in the way of energy. Some magical moments to look back on including star studded night skies and falling asleep to the sound of chirping crickets and croaking frogs. My nocturnal star gazing was somewhat curtailed though when we found out that there were wild boar in the vicinity. I did not stray so far from the cottage then but contented myself with sticking my head out of the bedroom window to gaze upwards into the darkness.

We eat well and drank too much. Did a fair bit of reading - more on that in another post and visited a garden festival - again more on that subject to follow.


Thanks to the wonders of satellite television we were able to view and celebrate Andy Murray's Wimbledon win. A few days later we were also able to celebrate La Fête Nationale (Bastille Day), when a flurry of balloons floated over our campsite on the balmiest evening you could possibly imagine.

In our absence the garden and allotment have frazzled but why oh why have the weeds still carried on growing?

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Heat Is On


It's so hot that the heat from our ageing laptop is making me glow in a most ladylike manner. So a short post singing the praises of  the flowers of nicotiana mutablis which you can see above. This has most cool and elegant flowers and is a half hardy annual which makes an ideal plant for container growing. I have grown it for several years now but sadly have only seen plants come through one winter, so have started from seed again each year. The plants that are flowering now were sown some time late last summer or early autumn and overwintered in the greenhouse. I kept them dry and this year for the first time my greenhouse had heat when the temperature fell below 3 degrees fahrenheit. I potted the plants on in March and had a one in flower for our garden club plant sale at the end of May. It sold the  other plants I had taken. For an early start seed can also be sown in February if you have a heated propagator.Otherwise they can be sown in March and April.

What I find fascinating about this plant is the way the flowers change colour - opening as white before fading into light pink then a deep dusky pink. The 'mutablis' part of the name is the clue being the Latin word for changing. Hopefully the above photo conveys all three stages. The flowers are oh so subtly scented  and the plants will flower until those first frosts. I hope that if you have not come across them before that you decide to give them a go. You will be enchanted.