It’s oh so quiet

Actually, it’s oh so hot, and dry. We are desperate for some rain – not downpours as the ground is too baked and it would just run off. We need lighter but prolonged rain.

Around town, the grass everywhere is like tinder and it’s hard to believe it will ever be green again. In our garden, everything is scorched and thirsty. The water butts are almost empty and I’m eking out the last of it for the azalea, rhododendrons and camellia as they won’t tolerate our lime-infused tap water. We have a combi boiler so there is usually a good deal of cold water to run before the hot starts, so that is carefully put aside for watering. Biodegradable washing up liquid means we can use our washing up water on the flower beds – but not on anything edible.

I’m resigned to losing more plants, probably even more than I lost to the cold weather in March. One dwarf rhododendron looks very sad. The prunus is struggling. All of the cornus are suffering and the hydrangeas are definitely not happy. The Met Office says we will have slightly lower temperatures this week but there’s no certainty of rain in our part of the country. We might get showers on Friday; but then, they said that last week. I really hope they’re right this time. At least we haven’t got a hosepipe ban yet!

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Latest harvest

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been picking strawberries, raspberries and lettuce most days. The strawberries are going down well and are delicious, and the raspberries are going in the freezer. Gooseberries are still ripening but looking good. Today’s strawberries will be combined with some defrosted rhubarb tomorrow to make a crumble (I love rhubarb and strawberry crumble!).

The potato-growing experiment has reached its conclusion too – the week before last we had the Charlotte, in two batches, the first of which looked like this after washing:

charlotte

Appalling lack of reference points for scale in that photo, they were small but not tiny – respectable, I’d say, for Charlottes – and a few days later I harvested the rest, a similar quantity.

This morning it was the turn of the Desiree, a little earlier than one would normally be digging them up as I understand it but the plant had pretty much died and they weren’t going to get any bigger.

desiree

Managed a hand for scale this time. Mostly bigger than the Charlottes, again fairly respectable.

Lessons learned about growing them in pots – small salad varieties are probably best in terms of quantities, and be prepared for them to be ready for harvesting earlier than you would normally expect. And you won’t get huge spuds.

Still, it’s been interesting and I’d definitely do it again, which is a good thing now I’ve got the special pots!

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Fruit and flowers

While pottering this morning I spotted some colour combinations that needed to be photographed, and one thing led to another, and I ended up with quite a lot of photos. Not very artistic ones but it gives you a good idea of the state of the back garden just now – chaotic, and you have to fight your way along the paths!

For a change I took photos from the bottom of the garden, looking towards the house. It’s a small plot but we seem to have crammed a lot in.

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The is the juxtaposition that sent me scurrying for the camera in the first place:

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Coreopsis and magenta lychnis.

Nearby I spotted these two:

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My new favourite aquilegia. I am so hoping this one self-seeds. And a magenta lychnis, of which we have lots.

After that I just wandered and snapped away.

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Penstemon “Flamingo” with white & magenta lychnis and a couple of blue Himalyan geraniums

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And “Flamingo” again surrounded by lychnis, with lithrum in the background.

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Penstemon “Sour Grapes” which is making up for its lack of flowers last year.

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And “Sour Grapes” again in its setting of lychnis and lithrum. There’s a coreopsis in there somewhere with buds on it, too.

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The greenhouse bed – more lychnis and lithrum, as well as sambuca, pittosporum and hypericum, amongst others.

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Hypericum berries ripening.

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Gaillardia – overjoyed to see this as it was conspicuous by its absence last summer, after being gorgeous the previous year. Perhaps it needed a year off.

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The white hebe is yet again looking lovely.

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And the lavatera always does well, even after the hardest of hackings-back.

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Another hebe, this time in a pot – also got hacked back this year and doesn’t seem to have minded.

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And another hebe, also got a good cut back in the spring.

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Lots of fruit forming on the thornless blackberry – yum!

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Gooseberries ripening.

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And raspberries – we have already picked a few.

We’ve been picking strawberries most days – not many, but enough for a little dessert with ice cream. And the Charlotte potatoes have been harvested, a little early but the foliage was fading fast. Enough for a couple of meals, which I’m more than happy with for the first attempt. Desiree is still going strong but will probably want harvesting in a couple of weeks’ time. And I counted about twenty apples on the tree, so if even half of them last the distance we’ll double our previous tallies.

Now, I know it sounds awful – but I really would like some rain soon – the water butts are going down fast! But it’s a British summer, so we won’t have to wait too long…

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A few more pictures at Mum’s

Our garden this week has been in a bit of a holding pattern, just regular watering and keeping an eye on things, though we have started harvesting strawberries – and they are delicious. Not many, but enough for a little dessert with ice cream a couple of times this week and there are more on the way.

Mum has already started harvesting potatoes which means I should really check ours but I’m afraid of disappointment so keep putting it off. We both have lots of soft fruit setting and flowers on tomato plants though she also has a tomato setting so I think she’s cheating somehow.

Anyway, yesterday I had my proper camera at her house as we were going to watch my intrepid nephew abseil down the National Lift Tower, so as I had a bit of time to waste I took some photos of the garden.

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General view

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The fruit and veg area

Clematis are looking good:

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Dianthus:

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Cornflower – self seeded from some that Mum grew from seed two years ago, and they just keep coming back on the same spot.

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A perfect rose:

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Heuchera, flowering away:

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Catananche (mine seems to have vanished, no sign of it at all this year):

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And I like this catananche among the lavender:

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And this colour combination – pink and mauve geranium, lavender, and acid yellow alchemilla:

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A visit to Mum’s

Not just to see the garden, of course, but I took some photos while I was there. It’s all very colourful, and a lot neater than ours!

Front:

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And back:

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Cornflowers, santolina “Lemon Fizz” and erodium. I’m jealous because my “Lemon Fizz” and erodium have both died.

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Geranium, full of bees!

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At the front here is a rhodanthemum – another thing I’m jealous of as all mine have died/been eaten by slugs.

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Nice heuchera. Possibly “Ginger Ale” though I wouldn’t swear to it.

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A geum “Mrs Bradshaw” doing a bit better than mine (though to be fair mine is being crowded out and probably needs moving)

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And no visit to Mum’s would be complete without a couple of photos of Benji the Wonder Dog being Lord of All He Surveys.

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A colourful Sunday morning

After breakfast a quick half hour of dead-heading and chopping back led to an even quicker photo session – it would have been longer but the camera battery was low!

I dead-headed the aquilegia, the snow-in-summer and some of the lithrum, and pulled up some wild geum. I also chopped back a lot of the Virginia creeper on the fence, which has been threatening to overwhelm the soft fruit bushes – and we can’t have that. Fruit and veg in general is looking promising – I have thinned out the apples a little, though some of the smaller ones had already dropped off anyway, and I also thinned the gooseberries. Lettuces are growing well and we should be able to start harvesting leaves soon. Strawberries are starting to ripen. Potatoes have flowers (well, Desiree does, Charlotte is holding out on me). Blackberries, gooseberries and raspberries all look promising.

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Pink, white and blue: magenta and white lychnis and blue geraniums. And you can just see penstemon “Flamingo” of which more later.

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This is the look I’m after! Magenta lychnis and geum “Lady Stratheden”.

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And this – the yellow hypericum in full flower (and full of bees) with blue geraniums and centaurea, purple lithrum and magenta lychnis.

The penstemons are really getting going now – “Bodnant” is way out in front, “Flamingo” is just getting started, and this year “Sour Grapes” has decided to flower which is a relief.

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“Bodnant”

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And “Bodnant” in close-up

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“Flamingo” – not quite open yet

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“Sour Grapes” – worth waiting for. It took a year to settle in, got absolutely huge and is finally flowering.

The knautia is covered in flowers again – it gets a bit forgotten about, tucked away behind other things, but the colour is lovely.

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And the foxgloves are doing well too. Some were self-seeded and some were bought as plug plants last year, so I hope we get some more self-seeding.

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These self-seeded

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This is one of the plugs, a variety called Dalmatian. We also have a pink one. Lavatera and lychnis coming in to flower behind it.

Considering I don’t much like pink, there’s quite a bit in the garden!

 

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A few of my dad’s photos

The slide scanning has continued at a slightly reduced pace this weekend as I had other things to do, but I’ve done a few more yesterday and today. It seems like an opportune moment to post a few of my dad’s close-up photos of flowers as it makes me realise how similar my approach is – though his photos are generally far, far better than mine. Colours can of course be a little off due to the age of the originals and the scanning process, but for starters, here we are.

undated centaurea prob 1990s scanned 3 jun 2018

Centaurea, undated – probably late 1980s or 1990s

undated dahlia scanned 3 jun 2018

Dahlia, undated

zinnia aug 1993 scanned 3 jun 2018

Zinnia, dated August 1993

James Grieve buds dated 1988 scanned 3 jun 2018

Buds on James Grieve, dated 1988

undated sparaxis scanned late may bh 2018

Sparaxis, undated

I do now want to find some sparaxis – also known as Harlequin Flower or Wand Flower, apparently.

In news of our own garden, there was a goldfinch in the flower bed this morning pulling apart a centaurea seed head. I love it when that happens.

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