A late summer catch-up

Today is the last public holiday before Christmas, and as it’s not actually lashing down with rain (the traditional holiday weather) we decided to have a quick tidy up in the garden. There wasn’t in all honesty that much to do, but we hadn’t really done much, other than water things in pots and pick tomatoes, for a few weeks so it was good to take stock of the situation.

The tomatoes have been a little disappointing this year, most likely our fault for doing something wrong, or for moving the greenhouse to a new position against the end wall of the bathroom. Here it gets less sun than it did last year, as it faces east so really only gets the full force in the mornings. Its old position, under the conifers, meant sun most of the day as it faced south. There’s probably not much we can do about this as there isn’t really anywhere else to put it now. I have also decided that next year we may look into getting some tomato seedlings from the garden centre and choosing a variety that doesn’t grow as tall. We snipped off the tops of the plants but they still ended up squashed against the top of the greenhouse, which can’t be good for them.

The tomatoes harvested so far have been tasty but not plentiful (unlike last year, when I had so many I took a load in to work) and haven’t kept as well. Some split just after picking, others go dull and shrivel. There are still lots on the plants, so my first job this morning was to give them a thorough trim, removing almost all foliage and any stems with no fruit, so that the plants’ energies go directly to the fruit. I have done this anyway periodically through the summer but this is the final push.

After this it was the turn of the flowers to get a trim. Some dead-heading, but not a huge amount, while J did the weeding. The gaura, which has looked spectacular with its firework sprays of pink flowers, has finally gone over and needed a good tidy up. The rudbeckia and coreopsis are still going strong and needed just a little neatening, as did the scabious – which seems to have been flowering non-stop since April. Our three small bargain-basement lavender plants are flowering away like made and proving popular with the local bees. The French lavender, which we’ve had in a pot since about 2004, which has looked increasingly unhappy for the last couple of years and which we put in the ground this spring in a last attempt to save it, has flowered all summer and is still flowering.

Both roses – the unexpected discovery on the bank, and the little patio rose in a pot – are on their second or third flush of flowers this year. The patio rose has some sad-looking foliage, but a good prune in the spring should see it alright for another year. The rose on the bank just continues to be a source of amazement and pleasure.

I took a few pictures once we were done, and though they’re not great, one or two came out well.

A general view. Everything leans to the south to follow the sun.


Coreopsis, still looking happy and sunny


The lovely rudbeckia. The flowers last for ages, and they make good cut flowers too but you need to be careful when touching them - the stems are covered with tiny sharp bristles.


The rose on the bank, flowering away again.


A bud on the little patio rose


Some of the annual begonias we planted in April - still doing well.

We’ll be having a visit from my mum at the end of next week, so that’s an excuse (as if we need one) to go to a garden centre and buy things to keep the garden looking nice through the winter. I would like a sarcococca (Christmas box) and a few other things to keep it ticking over… but we shall see.

We have saved some seed pods from sweet peas and lupins, so I will try growing them next spring – though I’m not getting my hopes up. And there doesn’t seem to have been any unwelcome cat attention for some time. We’ll need to keep on top of that once bare earth stars to appear over the winter, but at least we have started them wondering if there is in fact a lion guarding the property.

Till next time – keep calm and carry on gardening.

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