Gibraltar Botanic Garden

butterflies feeding in Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
We’ve just returned from a weekend in Gibraltar where we were celebrating two friends’ landmark birthdays. There was time on Saturday afternoon to visit the botanic garden which was looking extremely dry and dusty after an absence of any rain since May. I failed to find any plant that was worth a photograph, but we did see some gorgeous Pasha butterflies which were a first for me. We might also have seen some Monarchs which have established on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Quite how they reached here from America is a bit of a mystery, but September is the time to see them in Gibraltar, even if they eluded us. I wish I could claim to have taken the photograph – but it is courtesy of the Botanic Garden website. Photographing things that move is not a talent I can claim, but for anyone on Instagram I can recommend BOB_PURNELL for his wonderful images of UK butterflies and insects.

A Colourful Kaleidoscope at Loseley Park

drifts of yellow flower
bishop of llandaff
close up of purple flowers
flowers at Losely park
flwoering annuals
grasses and flowers in border
michaelmas daisies
mixed flowers colourful border
more rudbeckia
orange and red flowers in a border
purple tall flowers
yellow and purple flowers together
yellow and red flowers
drifts of yellow flowerbishop of llandaffclose up of purple flowersflowers at Losely parkflwoering annualsgrasses and flowers in borderheleniumkniphofiamichaelmas daisiesmixed flowers colourful bordermore rudbeckiaorange and red flowers in a borderpurple tall flowersrudbeckiayellow and purple flowers togetheryellow and red flowerszebragrass

I’ve been back to Loseley Park to see its borders in early autumn and found thrillingly vibrant colours with drifts of flowers weaving through grasses  and the seedheads of plants that put on an equally colourful show earlier in the year. It makes me wonder whether I should be braver with my autumn palette – I have very little yellow – but I also have quite a shady garden, so there aren’t many places where these sunlovers would put on such a good performance.

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