Earlier in the year a friend gave me a lovely Brugmansia (once known as Datura) complete with five flowers. Thanks to our long summer it has grown enormously and has burst into flower again – I’ve counted twenty flowers and buds. The scent in our courtyard in the evening is amazing. Once the cold weather arrives I will cut it back quite hard and keep it ticking over undercover for the winter.
I’ve been taking lots of cuttings of half hardy plants over the last couple of weeks – the warm weather means that everything is still in tip top condition and there are lots of non-flowering side shoots which are ideal. It really is easy-peasy – cut below a leaf joint, strip back the lower leaves and then pop the cuttings round the edge of a 10cm pot (for some reason cuttings root better round a pot’s margins). Water and cover with fleece to retain moisture or pop the pot in a plastic bag. I find the fleece better – the plastic bag tends to fill with condensation which can cause the cuttings to rot. So far I’ve taken cuttings from salvias, lavender and pelargoniums, although I can’t claim to have done so one the scale they do at Loseley Park where I photographed their pelargonium cuttings recently.
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.
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.
Recently, 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!