Cosmos in bloom with blue dragonfly, Sat 9 Nov 2019. (Photo by G)
It’s been monsoons – too wet & mucky to garden. Last weekend was a complete wash out. This week there’s been flooding up North and one woman died when a river overran its banks. Yikes.
This morning started with heavy mist – the hills of the heath were invisible in the milky skyline. But by mid-morning the sun started shining and it looked like it would be nice, so we went out to the allotment. Brought up three more water jugs to use as cloches in the early spring, as well as the bag of onion, garlic and tulip bulbs – and the little dragon fly garden twirler that Peej sent for my birthday. Put together the little dragonfly right away and installed him to watch guard over the blueberry pot. After that I only got the garlic planted, as by the time we were done with that simple task it had started to drizzle.
Actually, let’s not. I’ll let these pictures tell a thousand words or more.
Our new shed, only recently completed and already looking part of the habitat. As seen from standing behind the raspberry bed, September 2019.
Last winter we took three cuttings from the damask rose. At first, all three took and thrived, but eventually there were two, and then, just one. But what a one that one is!
It’s been repotted to a large handsome terracotta pot. And has set bloom. This is the third mature bloom. And all from a twig mere months ago.
P.S.: Squirrels were burrowing into the pots to scavenge crocus bulbs, hence the pea netting around the base of the pot. We’ll have to work on finding a more attractive solution.
The success of our small strawberry patch last spring heartened us to increase its size. We’d left all the nigella (aka love in a mist) to flower and go to seed, and now have dug over the previous wildflower plot, added some manure and extra soil to improve the clay, and started a new bed. We’ve also raised the height of the bottom bed to help level the ground and make it easier to tend.
Expanded strawberry bed, September 2019. The new bed has been raised up; the established strawberries are at the far right and their bed remains the original format.
Can you Adam and Eve it?! There were simply too many berries for us to eat fresh. We were gorging on blackberries every evening – with meringues, with yoghurt, with whipped cream, with vanilla ice cream. Berries ’til we were blue in the face.
So we made jam. Using the original family jam-making spoon I used with my folks when I was under the age of ten. I just love its utilitarian simplicity! It has a small slotted tongue so it can sit neatly on the edge of the pot, as shown.
Michelob said the jam was delicious.
Where did summer go? We started gloriously, with a modest harvest of garlic in June…
Followed by good crops of calvero nero (black Italian kale), beans, courgette, onions, and an almost impossible steady supply of delicious sweet blackberries.
We’ve also had good crops from the cherry tomatoes – both yellow and red. The red ones were round and sweet. The yellow ones tear-shaped and equally delicious. Yum!
The sea holly, which had disappeared during the heat wave last summer, has re-appeared. The big dude’s delighted. I’d protected and marked the spot with a broken tool handle, which we’ve now removed. It’s likely that the very heavy clay soil it’s planted into is not good for it. As coastal plants they would naturally prefer well draining, gritty ground. We may adjust the conditions by adding some grit around the base of the plant. And we’re also not going to over-water it. With any luck it will come out stronger and more resilient than ever.
The great Malink had been very vexed when it disappeared last summer, and repeatedly threatened to dig it out. But I always cautioned against it – on the principle that the plant might come back, and also that even dead roots keep weeds out. And here we are: the super-powers of plants!
In the top left corner you can see the small glossy leaves of wild celandine growing in under the rose hedge. Probably considered by some a ‘weed’, I love celandine – low growing, glossy, found in shady spots that are otherwise empty of interest, that sport bright cheerful yellow flowers (also glossy!) in the early spring. So I’ll leave it growing.
Bearded iris in flower, 28 April 2019.
In the back patch the long flower bed that runs beside the railway path is fairly well established – and full of perennial flowers of all sorts: iris, hollyhock, day lilly, gladioli, asiatic lilly, climbing roses on the pergolas, and so forth.
Also wormwood, peony, lungwort, cyclamen, hyacinth, daffodil, campanula, low growing saxifrage….
So well developed that I’m now starting to plan to dig out, divide and spread some of the plants elsewhere – into the woods!
Went up this morning, despite some light drizzle. There were tomato to plant in (two cherry red tomato and one yellow tomato), as well as the beans (starter plants purchased at Homebase). Overcast and rainy is just about perfect for transplanting – but not so much for people!
I was going to give up after planting in the beans but as the conditions were perfect I chivvied myself to stay on even though I was starting to get damp. Luckily once up there the rain let off – eventually!
So the beans and tomato are planted in. I re-sited some of the calvero nero growing in the salad bed as the plants were growing too close together.
Moved the blueberry to the end of the patch in its new planter.
Sunday morning – intermittent sun but pretty chilly if the breeze blows. Lots of new growth on the raspberries – looking lush! Strawberries all coming to life and coming into flower. And signs of seedlings in the basket bed of radish and coriander (more signs of radish than the middle line of coriander, but fingers crossed).
But some losses too. Slug and snail damage to some of the early planted brassica. And the mini-cukes are completely gone. The potted summer squash is looking sickly – we’ll have to dump out the soil, wash the pot and start completely new.