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.
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!
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.com