Monday, 3 August 2015

And August slouches in ...





I want to shout "Sit up straight everyone" and "Just keep your legs to yourselves" to my garden plants at this time of year, as they are sprawling like drunks at a party. They want to lounge over every available surface including the lawn, gravel and other plants. For many of them, canes and twine are the only way to stop them slipping down into the horizontal. Geraniums and Alchemilla Mollis are launching take over bids for all the paths, and every time I walk down the garden there is less path visible and more sprawl. I am itching to get my shears out, but am making myself wait until most of their flowers are finished.

Not everything is so badly behaved though, the bedding is just really getting to its best and filling the containers, and, with constant dead-heading, is providing little explosions of pure colour.




The jury is out on the flower meadow, however, but I think the black cap may be donned. This is the third or fourth year we have grown them, and I think we have only had one really successful season. The seed is quite costly to buy and the soil needs quite a bit of preparation before sowing, such as weeding and hoeing. If the results were fantastic, then I could justify all the above, but every year it just gets flattened so early in the season, and never recovers. A spell of heavy rain is enough to beat it down, and it seems unable to recover. This year we have chosen to grow short varieties rather than tall, in the hope of overcoming this problem, but to be honest, it hasn't really worked.



En masse, and from a distance it looks ok, but on closer inspection there are areas of little colour where weeds have taken over, and areas which have been badly flattened. Weeding is really difficult as to reach the middle section, you have to step onto the meadow ... and flatten it some more !



The black cap is donned, executioner booked and log store waiting for this poor thing! It is a twenty year old Weeping Birch which looked fabulous until last season, when there weren't many leaves in evidence. This season was the same again, new leaves unfurled but there weren't as many as usual. Then, at the beginning of June all the leaves suddenly turned brown, so I think we can safely say the poor thing has died, after a long time malingering. It has to go . I can see no evidence of any disease, pests, fungus etc, so its premature demise is unexplained.


On a happier note the sub tropical garden is just flexing its muscles . It is late to get going, but once it is up and running, it has colour, form and texture right up to the first frosts. Colour comes principally from Cosmos, Crocosmia 'Lucifer' plus orange varieties; various dahlias, Tithonia and Ligularia.




One of our worries this year was a poor little Tetrapanax which barely struggled through the winter. We both expected it to die, but it suddenly rallied and is now just loving the present warmth and the wet  and has developed massive leaves, as you can see in the photo below.


The red spheres in this photo are the seeds of Ricinus Communis, which are very poisonous. I am leaving them on the plant, not only because they are highly ornamental, but because I will harvest them  when they are ripe, to sow next year. Ricinus seeds are very expensive and this year I only achieved about 30% germination rate from commercially bought seed.

Some other high achievers in the garden this month are in the photos below.

This is a canna which we overwintered, and it was still flowering when the really cold weather came. It has grown so strongly this year and has made a handsome plant, on which the first flowers are just about to appear.



This dahlia, (unknown variety) is never dug up in the autumn, and stays out, unprotected, all year. It is about eight years old and is now massive and covered with large gorgeous flowers. The foliage is very dark, and a lovely foil for the pink of the blooms.



Below is a newcomer to our garden, but I think it will become a regular visitor. It is Fuchsia 'Millennium', which has many very large flowers, which are a strong, dark purple, coupled with a rich deep purple.


Sadly, my mind is already turning to next year, and the changes I will make, and the plants I will grow. I don't know why this happens around this time every year, as the season is still in full swing. I know I should just relax now, lie in the hammock, and deadhead from time to time, but I am  already fantasising about taking a spade to the bits which haven't worked out the way I planned.

Thanks to Helen, for hosting this monthly meme at

https://patientgardener.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/end-of-month-view-july-2015

It is a great opportunity to reflect on the progress in our gardens from month to month as well as swap ideas and learn ! 



















21 comments:

  1. I love the idea of telling plants to sit up straight. They do get so lolly at this time of year.

    It's always a bit disappointing when we feel compelled to get rid of planting schemes. Still.... another opportunity is presenting itself. Shame about the weeping birch though. The sub-tropical garden looks splendid! Perhaps taking a seat there might help you to achieve a more relaxed August holiday mood, and alleviate the need to plan which bit of garden you're going to dig up next?

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    1. Hi Sarah, trouble is when I lie in the hammock instead of thinking beautiful thoughts, I tend to make cunning plans involving spades and bow saws!!

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  2. The garden is looking splendid Jane, and loving all the colour!

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  3. Gosh, the entire garden is a little piece of heaven. But that bedding garden with all the pots is pure bliss! You obviously have an artistic touch. I can't believe you successfully overwintered Cannas! Congratulations!

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    1. It is my husband who does all the pots ! We have strict division of labour here!
      Our cannas do usually die long lingering deaths, so we are extra pleased that this one pulled through!

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  4. Lots of wonderful colour in your garden. It is the sign of a true gardener, now planning next year, what stays and what goes.
    It is impossible to choose a favourite plant from above, I am impressed with the height of your Canna, what do you feed it on?

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    1. Thanks Brian, for your kind comments. The canna is just fed fortnightly with a liquid feed, along with everything else, so no secrets there. It is the biggest, most vigorous one we have ever had.

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  5. I love your garden, Jane. I wish you didn' t live so far away, I would love to see it. I know just what you mean about sprawling plants. They really bother me in July. I know I should do more dead heading to keep things tidy but I like things to seed around.
    I have decided to do away with a large part of the wild flower meadow too.. It is pretty in Spring and early Summer and then it looks a mess and needs strimming and nobody likes strimming. I can' t decide between a Piet Oudolf type area with lots of grasses or a tropical garden. Seeing yours has made me think that maybe tropical would be the most fun.
    Wow! Your pots are really impressive.

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    1. Hi Chloris - the feeling is mutual as I love yours too! Go totally tropical and then we can swap notes - and maybe even plants and seeds !
      We have decided to kick the wild flower patch into touch from now on, as it just doesn't 'earn its keep', like yours, it only has a short period where it looks good.

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  6. The rain has made some of our plants sprawl too, sprawling plants or not your garden is beautiful

    You did worry me at first when you mentioned harvesting ricinus seeds

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    1. Hi Sue, did you think I was planning to finish someone off !!
      Thank you for kind comment about sprawly garden!

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  7. Oh my word Jane, your grden looks absolutely amazing! It's only now that I live in a colder climate that I wish I'd grown tropical plants when I lived in Lincs - I've been tempted to grow them here but tbh I don't think they'd make it out the polytunnel lol.
    I love your Canna, I keep losing mine over the winter.
    Sorry you have to lose your tree :( Do you know why it has died back? I have no idea baout how long these things are supposed to live.

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    1. Hi Linda, whereabouts did you garden in Lincs ? We still manage to lose cannas overwinter!!
      I don't know what my poor weeping birch is dying of, as it has no sign of disease or pests, so it is a mystery!

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  8. Your garden looks heavenly, and I really don´t know which part is the best, it´s all beautiful. I love the jungle of August on your first photo, in August a garden ought to look in that way. Your tropical garden is so special, I wonder if this type of garden would do in our country. I´ll put the fuchsia ´Millennium´ on my wishlist, it´s a beauty. Long ago we had lots of Fuchsias but our garden taste changed, nevertheless I still have a weakness for some Fuchsias.

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    1. Hi Janneke and thanks for kind comments.'Millennium' is really lovely, more subtly than a lot of fuchsias, and the colours are so dark and rich.

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  9. Your garden is looking great as ever but one thing I think we may share in common Jane is a dislike of staking plants, I am always undecided whether to stake the plants I know will tend to collapse from early in the year or to do it retrospectively which is normally the way I go. This year I have been very busy as the heavy rainfall we have been subjected to has flattened some which I would never have expected to be affected.

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    1. Hi Rick, we have experienced the same results from heavy rain, and seen 'sprawlers' we don't usually see! The whole of my Charles de Mills rose hedge was weighed right down the other morning!

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  10. I find it oh so annoying when plants get to this stage Jane. Even more so when I forget to put some support in - as happens more often than not.
    Your garden looking great and the tropical area is superb. Well thought out planting.
    It's never too early to start planning, isn't that what gardeners do year round?

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    1. Hi Angie, I have passed your kind compliment on to the Exotic Gardener, so I hope it hasn't gone to his head!!Are you planning for next season already ?

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  11. Cannot imagine how lovely is your garden...

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I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...