Bang goes the Theory

green tomatoes affected by blightRecently, after the first signs of blight appeared on my outdoor tomatoes I picked the crop rather than leave them to rot on the plants and wrote a post about my experimental approach to preventing the green fruit from succumbing to rot. My theory was that as vinegar is known to have anti-fungal properties – and blight is a fungus – soaking the tomatoes in a strong vinegar solution before drying them out and then storing them might do the trick. Readers don’t waste your vinegar – it didn’t work – they rotted anyway!

Small is Beautiful

Raspberries are delicious – it’s hard to think of anyone who doesn’t love them – especially when they are freshly picked, but they do need a fair bit of space to crop well – until now. Thompson & Morgan have a new, compact and multi-branching raspberry called ‘Ruby Beauty’ that can be grown on its own in a 10 litre pot, or three to a 40 litre pot. T&M estimate that each plant will bear 1.5kg of fruit. They don’t need much in the way of support, but a few twiggy branches will stop them flopping. My raspberry canes have broken out of their allotted bed and are popping up in adjoining raised beds and paths, so I can really appreciate the benefit of compact, contained plants. Of course they won’t look as pretty as they do in the picture all year round, but at least you aren’t dealing with 2m canes flopping all over the place. One 9cm plant costs £9.99, three £19.99 (saving £9.98) or one 3 litre premium potted plant for £18.99 from 08445731818; www.thompson-morgan.comraspberries growing in a wicker basket

Begonia grandis – a no-fuss late summer beauty

While many of the plants in the garden are looking a bit dusty and past their best and are needing a good tidy, or at least a deadheading, the Begonia grandis ssp. evansiana is flourishing and flowering prolifically in dry semi-shade. It is happy enough to be self-seeding, so I’m either leaving the young plants to establish where they are, or moving them to a vacant spot. I now have three plants species that thrive in my garden’s dry shade and require very little care. Earlier in the year it is Geranium palmatum and now it is Begonia Grandis and Japanese anemones. It makes me wonder why I put so much effort into growing other things. Nevertheless I’ve started sowing hardy annuals for next year and generally fussing about with the various prima donnas that are sure feature in the garden for years to come. I think it will be a while before I have a three plant garden.
begonia grandis spp in the garden in september

Heavenly Blue

the ipomoea heavenly blue is in full flower this September
There can’t be a more aptly named flower than Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’ – the morning glory. I’ve written about how much I love it previously on the blog – I find the pure blue of the fragile flowers heart-stoppingly beautiful. Most years the plants seem to have a death wish, but this year, for once, they are thriving. Admittedly it’s the smallest plant that is currently flowering it socks off, while the 10ft tall plant has just had the occasional flower so far, but there are hundreds of buds, so I am willing it to come into full flower before the autumnal winds arrive and tear the leaves to shreds. I think there are a couple of reasons why I’ve had more success than usual (other than the weather) – firstly I sowed 3 seeds per small coir pot and once they were growing strongly, potted them on (including pot) into a 20cm coir pot. Secondly, I kept them in the greenhouse until mid July before moving them outside, where I potted them on (again with coir pot) into a slightly larger terracotta pot. This meant that they had no root disturbance and they have certainly shown their appreciation of this treatment. I’m generally far less indulgent of my plants, but in this case the flowers are my reward.overall view of the ipomoea plant

Gardening on a Grand Scale at Bowood

looking down at the gardens at BoxwoodIt’s been a while since I last visited Bowood House and they have been very busy doing interesting things in the garden over intervening years. Under the guidance of garden designer Rosie Abel Smith, head gardener David Glass and his team have been softening some of the edges around the house. The glorious Italianate Terrace remains as wonderful as ever, but now the façade of the house has been embellished with shrubs and climbers, while around the corner the softening process continues on the Lower Terrace which now has a 70ft long and 8ft deep herbaceous border where lawn previously ran up to the wall.

The Italianate Terrace at Bowood

Top : Italianate Terrace, lower right : Lower Terrace herbaceous border

Border detail of Lower Terrace at Bowood

Border detail of Lower Terrace

I like the effect – look outwards and you see the perfection of the Capability Brown landscape with its sinuous lake and mature parkland – look inwards and you see a magnificent house rising from a froth of flowers.cooler colours in the border at BowoodNew too is the restoration and replanting of the private walled gardens where the external walls contain four one-acre walled squares. Previously they were fairly utilitarian and closed to visitors, but now they are in the process of being stylishly replanted to be both productive and ornamental and can be visited by appointment. There are cutting borders to supply the house and the hotel on the estate, a glorious ‘hot’ herbaceous border where the rich colours sing out against the high brick wall, a productive potager, trained fruit trees, and a wonderful wildflower meadow.

a pathway runs through the walled garden at Boxwood

Pathway within the Private Walled Gardens

close up of rose in Hot border at Bowood

The Hot Border The Wildflower Garden

The Wildflower Garden at Bowood

The Wildflower Garden

Families know Bowood best for its amazing adventure playground and rhododendron lovers visit its sixty acres of woods when bluebells carpet the ground beneath the vibrant rhododendrons, but visiting it in late summer made me realise that it really is a garden for all seasons which is probably why it won the Historic Houses Association Garden of the Year Award this year.