The state we’re in; and Gardeners’ World

Just in case anyone thought I was a little impolite about Wightwick in the last post, I’m going to come clean about the state of our garden. It hasn’t been a great year. We have been uninspired, and it’s been hard to get much enthusiasm going. There always seems to be such a lot to do at weekends, and never enough time in the week to make much of an impact. This year has been mostly about minimal intervention, and a great deal of letting everything do its thing, with mixed results.

In the positives column, several plants have self-sown in a pleasing cottage garden style. Last year’s nasturtiums have been a great success with plants popping up all over the place, and the phacelia has done likewise. I’m hopeful that the one nigella I managed to rear from seed this spring will do the same. The lychnis has been prolific and we will probably be removing seedlings for years to come, but for this year it has filled space and flowered well, which is pretty much all we can ask. The camomile has taken it on itself to colonise the patio, so we are letting it. Most plants have settled in and continued to put on new growth, and though some losses are inevitable, on the whole it’s not been too bad.

Our first raspberries were lovely, and next year we might even get a few gooseberries to go with them. The tomatoes have lots of fruit and the Sungold are delicious, but the red varieties haven’t been quite so good – the skins have been a bit tough, though the flesh tastes fine. Not sure what has caused that – none of the varieties (Shirley, Aisla Craig, Alicante and Moneymaker) were unfamiliar and we haven’t had that problem before. We did get a bit of blossom end rot on the Ailsa Craig but only on a couple of fruits.

On the negative side, we have lost a rather pretty little variegated hebe, which is a shame, and the containers have struggled despite having special compost which was meant to retain water for longer. The nicotiana did well, but some of the other container plants struggled, and the geraniums took ages to get going (flowering well now, though). The dreaded bindweed has continued to make its presence felt in the front garden and I have continued to throw everything I can at it.

One negative which may actually be a positive: this morning J informed me that the compost bin was full and not breaking down, and we needed to put some more accelerant in. When I went to do so, I found that in fact it is full of (mostly) usable stuff, so that’s good. Now we just need to decide whether we get a second bin, or whether we just try to lift this one off the heap and start again next to it. A second one seems to be the favoured solution, and I’ll look into getting a second water butt as well.

The back garden now looks like this, and while it’s not great, it’s a lot better than it was first thing this morning:

SONY DSC

 

A few special mentions:

Camomile, making itself at home in the crazy paving. It remains to be seen whether it survives the winter, but in the meantime it's fine.

Camomile, making itself at home in the crazy paving. It remains to be seen whether it survives the winter, but in the meantime it’s fine.

The hydrangea, covered in flowers, and the annual rudbeckia making a lovely contrast

The hydrangea, covered in flowers, and the annual rudbeckia making a lovely contrast.

Scabiosa Barocca - my lovely purple scabious - has been lovely again.

Scabiosa Barocca – my lovely purple scabious – has been gorgeous again.

Annual rudbeckias are just coming into flower.

Annual rudbeckias are just coming into flower.

Hardy rudbeckia looking fantastic - hard to believe it was another one of our garden centre bargains.

Hardy rudbeckia looking fantastic – hard to believe it was another one of our garden centre bargains.

Asters also starting to flower.

Asters also starting to flower.

It looks as though deciding to put all the asters in a curve at the end of the lawn is going to pay off once they're all in flower.

It looks as though deciding to put all the asters in a curve at the end of the lawn is going to pay off once they’re all in flower.

So, while I was weeding the patio this afternoon I was having a ponder (as you do). The Star Letter in this weeks Radio Times was about Gardeners’ World, which we have pretty much stopped watching. Not so many years ago it was required Friday night viewing – lots of useful ideas and information, Joe Swift and his allotment, and we always took away from it something that we felt was manageable for us as enthusiastic but not necessarily competent amateurs.

Now, as the letter writer said, it all seems to be millionaires with huge tracts of land, and how to manage a compost heap the size of most people’s gardens. We don’t watch because it has stopped being relevant – national collections of this or that plant are all very well if it’s something you want to grow, but most of what they show you seems to need a small army of gardeners to maintain. Unless you happen to be a person of leisure who gets to spend their whole life deadheading, repotting and propagating. If only! Perhaps what I need is someone who will pay me to garden and write about it – any offers?!

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