As the trees spread their shade in the garden, much of it consists of textures and shades of green, but there also some star performers that provide splashes of colour, especially in shades of pink. The earlier cool, wet growing conditions has meant that the plants that successfully outpaced the slugs and snails have reached giant proportions and I find myself looking up at many of them. The Nicotiana have never been finer and although they tend to wilt a bit in the heat, they quickly recover.
It is also a wonderful year for hollyhocks with many of them over two metres high and flowering their socks off. The dahlias have been more variable with Rip City munched to oblivion (I’m about to dig it up and see if I can resuscitate it) while Hillcrest Royal has never looked finer.
Given that we haven’t yet had a summer worth mentioning, it may seem unnecessarily pessimistic, but we have just had a log delivery. The advantages are that it’s a quiet time for our local woodsman so there’s no waiting for the delivery, and as we have a dry and airy log store they can stay there and continue seasoning until we need them. It’s hard work getting them from the driveway to the log store, but they look great once they are stacked and promise a cosy winter to come. Now all we need is some summer!
Every time it has bucketed down recently the garden has started to smell decidedly unpleasant. Initially I thought it must be the compost that I used as top dressing, but I have now tracked it down and it is – Geranium palmatum! Given that there is an awful lot of it in flower in the garden right now it’s not surprising that the rather rank smell is so dominant. I’ve never noticed it before, but then things aren’t usually so consistently wet. Another reason that I hope the weather improves soon – and not just for a day.
Everything is growing skywards – the weather may bear little resemblance to summer, but the plants are loving it and (as I wrote before) rebuilding the vegetable plot seems to have dramatically reduced the slug and snail population in that part of the garden. Actually, for some unfathomable reason, there generally seem to be fewer in the garden, despite the predictions, and those I have seen have focused on munching the cornflowers to extinction while leaving most other plants untouched.The courgettes and squash growing in the straw bales are very happy – because they are growing in a medium that has remained slightly warm, the cooler wet weather has not affected them.
Next to the straw bales are the beds that I refilled using hugelkultur principles – log base, followed by brushwood, then bark chippings and finally compost and soil. The peas, broad beans, runner beans and sweet peas planted there have all grown at a quite astonishing rate. The broad beans are the best I have ever grown – I started them in pots and planted them out in March and they are now taller than I am and cropping prolifically.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are flowering their socks of and starting to set the first fruit, while their outdoor blight resistant relatives are rapidly approaching the top of the support posts and I will need to put something taller in.
I’ve never had much luck growing strawberries in the ground or in grow bags so this year I invested in some wrought iron troughs which I have attached to the sturdy handrail (they are heavy) round one of the beds. Slugs, snails and woodlice can get nowhere near them and netting keeps the birds off – resulting in strawberries for breakfast every day.