My garden in August

August has been a mixed month weather wise, hasn’t it? Warm days and very warm days, and days when it felt like summer had left completely, and then coming back warmer than ever. The very warm weather isn’t for me, that is, it isn’t for me when I have to function normally, which at home I do. Give me a beach and hot weather, and it’s a different matter. That’s also a different post, so let’s get back to the garden.

August was the month that finally the agapanthus really bloomed. They’ve been every-presents throughout the month, and even survived the strong winds. It’s definitely the month that they’re at their best, they’re also right by the conservatory window so we get to see them every day too. The second smaller pot, never managed any flowers, so I’ll need to rearrange the pots so they get the conditions they need to thrive. With plants, there’s no point trying to grow them where they’re not happy, as they just won’t and you’ll only be disappointed. We’ve had some success in previous years where they are now, but I don’t think a wet winter helped.

agapanthus in flower

My garden accessory of the month has had to be twine. I’ve finally finished this ball - the last throes of the ball seemed to last forever. The fence and trellis on the patio has been the main recipient of most of the twine, which I’ve used to rearrange the overgrown climbing plants which I’d saved after quite a bit of thinning. I think we’ve gained about three foot of garden at trellis level, so the garden has a much more open feel to it.

twine - my garden accessory of the month

At the back of the garden, in my new pots the lettuce has reached and grown through the chicken wire, no doubt helped by the rain. It’s also kept us fed and avoiding those plastic bags of salad. It’s still going strong, and I’m hoping while the weather lasts, so will the salad.

lettuce under chicken wire

Here’s the work in progress, and where the twine has ended up. It now looks a lot more tidy, and the plants are already filling the trellis again providing privacy once more. There’s good news too in that the honeysuckle has survived, and I think it will benefit from a bit more space. All of this enforced tidying and pruning was as a result of some overzealous ivy removal from our next door neighbour. They cut the ivy so it died, but then just left it there looking ghastly and brown, so with some help from my side of the fence it was released to the floor, and subsequently the green bin.

tidying and tying up plants on the fence

Time for another agapanthus picture. Enjoy.

plenty of agapanthus photos this month

In the sleeper bed the Lords and Ladies have thrown up their hand grenade ‘flowers’ which have started to turn orange throughout the month. I’m not sure they’re coping so well with this latest bout of warm weather, or if they’ve just got top heavy and given up.

Lords and Ladies turning orange

The everlasting sweet peas on the patio have been enjoying the early evening sun and golden light of the evenings, just as much as me.

sweet peas in the sun

This month we’ve been reminded again of the wildlife in our garden. The foxes have been noisy, and while out investigating one evening we almost tripped over this toad. He went into survival mode, and stayed dead still. I thought I’d trodden on him, so was feeling a bit guilty. However after a poke with my flip flop (sans foot) the poor thing acted like one of those frogs from the board game of old. It was still alive, but then I soon felt guilty again as it seemed to fly head first into the base of our parasol. Whoops. After that I left him to his own devices, I’m sure he was grateful.

a night visitor in the garden

There’s also been time for some annual maintenance, the yew had it’s yearly shape and trim. This year I mostly directed MOH, until it got too painful and the shape we’d been growing towards looked in jeopardy. Our hedge trimmer though is heavy, so it makes sense to split the trimming between us, and let’s be honest who doesn’t like a bit of power tool action?

reshaping the yew

As well as the lettuce, the courgette has started to flower. No vegetables yet, but I’m ever hopeful. The seeds were planted quite late so I’m not too upset with no yield yet, I suspect we might not be in glut territory with this plant, but that’s ok too.

flowers on my courgette plant

Look, all of our hand grenades are orange, but as you can see the largest had already collapsed.

fully ripened Lords and Ladies

And finally we have beans, in pots. The runner beans failed to germinate at all, but we still have some dwarf beans - although they seem to have taken a shine to climbing up the pea sticks, which is a little odd.

beans in pots

So despite the weather, the garden has done really well. The tomatoes are taking forever to ripen, but I think I know why. Our trees are at the tallest they grow to, so there’s less sun coming into the garden, and onto the greenhouse, so getting those cut will be on our list before the growing season starts next year.

How’s your garden coped this past month?

My garden in July

Well, how wrong was I? In this post last month, I said I thought we’d had the hottest and wettest weather. Then, as the saying goes, July said hold my beer!

We melted one day, and squelched the next, and what’s more, the seeds I sowed last month started to germinate and grow. Some in the greenhouse, and some outside in pots, like the beans below. Although on one morning inspection - yes often I pop out and check on them before I head to work - I noticed the squirrels had decided to have a closer look. So the spare gabion basket was quickly deployed to prevent them digging up any more seeds, and the bean seeds that were on show were quickly prodded back under the soil with my index finger.

impromptu protection for my beans

It seems to have worked though, as the beans have germinated. Although some of the dwarf beans have decided to reach higher, and are behaving more like climbing beans, and the runner beans failed to germinate. That pot is now home to a courgette which is taking its time to produce.

regrowth in the mint pot

I’ve had more success with herbs though. I’d chopped the mint pot, and as I hoped it would, it’s sprung right back so clearly I need to drink more mojitos. This month was also the month that our agapanthus flowers started to break free from their pod.

early agapanthus

It’s fascinating to watch, and when I mean watch, I mean observe as it’s a really slow moving drama.

growing lettuce

The lettuce seeds germinated and were pricked out into the new oblong pots. To prevent any wildlife interest, the pots were quickly covered in chicken wire, which was most probably left over from the fox-proofing episode a few years back (which is still ready and waiting for use if it’s ever needed!)

Our patio and alongside the conservatory was filled with the scent of jasmine on the balmy evenings, at times it could be quite overpowering, but still quite lovely. This cascade of jasmine, which is alongside the conservatory was tamed and tied into the trellis, and I’m really pleased with how it’s progressing along the trellis, providing privacy.

scented jasmine

The jasmine hasn’t made it to the agapanthus yet, but as you can see, as the month progressed so we inched closer to flowering agapanthus, but not quite yet.

agapanthus progress

We had a couple of days of in July and used some of that time to tackle the pear tree. It was, of course, festooned with pears, but as we’ve never managed to eat one of them in all our time here I felt less guilty about some severe pruning. We’ve not managed to eat them because, like the cherries, it’s a race to get to them before the wildlife, and those that are left are still rock hard. I’ve tried cooking them but with little success. In fact the most enjoyment I’ve had from the pears is when I find a decomposing one in the beds, that’s almost perfectly preserved, it’s fascinating (and clearly not edible)

sizing up the pear tree

We took a few of the large branches off, aiming to straighten out the profile of the tree, which had started to lean over for the light. At some point we’ll have to get the gardeners in to prune the laurel which is claiming all the space.

before making the cut
we lost quite a lot of pears

There were several trugs carried out to the green bins, and our gardening time was restricted to how much space we had in those. As you can see it’s a much smaller tree now, and the plan is (if the tree understands the plan) to remove the older branch once the tree has recovered and is growing more upright, but for now it’s there as a bit of an insurance policy.

lots of pear trimmings to dispose of

I’m hopeful that it will do what’s required, and while this is quite a severe pruning, if it behaves like the forsythia we cut a month or so back, it’ll be ok. The forsythia has put on much fresh growth and now you’d not realise it’d barely been sticks after MOH had tackled it.

I’ve jasmine growing throughout the garden and the one in this pot was starting to look straggly and the canes a bit skew-whiff, so that had some attention too and is looking much more compact, and has since filled out a bit. Having a cone of flowering jasmine, sounds a perfect addition to the garden and I’m already looking forward to when it flowers.

training a pot of jasmine

Talking of flowers, the overwintered geraniums continue to bloom, and bring a welcome pop of colour to the garden.

geraniums pretty in pink

Our strawberries are done - it was great to eat so many fresh from the garden. The redcurrant plant produced some berries, which of course disappeared the weekend we were in Liverpool and I’m waiting for the salad to grow enough so we can eat it. I also need to pot on (or probably out) the parsley, and the kale which is still in the greenhouse, but that’s venturing into a job for August.

How was July in your garden?

My garden in June

Well June was a funny old month, I think it must have clocked up the wettest and the hottest day. Not at the same time, though with the humidity in the latter parts of the month, maybe that’s not such an obvious distinction. We were away at the start of the month, and arrived back from Portugal and the wettest day. Of course, we were in sandals and holiday clothes and looked completely out of place in a grey and drab London, as we dashed from the DLR to the bus with our cases. I mean, it’s not everyone that carries their impromptu shopping home in a suitcase is it?

Checking the garden after a holiday is one of my rituals, but this time, no matter how much of a ritual, it had to wait a few days. But when there was a break in the weather one evening, I couldn’t put it off any longer and headed out there armed with my phone. Not only did I discover we’d had our best year for peonies, which were struggling in the rain, but I also remembered how fresh and inviting rain makes plants look.

peonies in the rain
rescued peonies indoors

The peonies were rescued on the basis that if we were to enjoy them this year, they’d need to be in the dry. So indoors, and into a vase they came, and they lasted a good week before being returned to the compost bin.

Rain made the cherries look all that more appetising too. I’m always surprised to find cherries on the tree, and this year was another good year, although if you read yesterday’s post, not quite so good for making the cherry compote for my gin and cherry trifle.

cherries

The foxgloves too did well this month, I heard Monty on Gardeners’ World say it was a good year for foxgloves, and while we have fewer than I think we had last year, I’ve pink and cream varieties, which are still going strong.

foxgloves in flower

Our Gertrude Jekyll rose started well and gave us some big blooms, but despite deadheading (and despite evidence to the contrary in this photo) it wasn’t as prolific as I’d like.

Getrude Jekyll in fine form in our garden

The jasmine took over the garden during June, but not as you can see until later. The clematis is still going and looks great with its dark flowers amongst the sweet smelling spots of white jasmine flowers.

clematis and jasmine

The Philadelphus, or Mock Orange, also treated us to weeks of flowers. And now since they’ve dropped fragrant ‘snow’ too. It’s time for this one to be chopped right back though, so that it continues to repay us with plenty of flowers. I need to sort that out, but I bet I’ll be saying the same again in next month’s post…

mock orange in full flower and full scent

Somehow I missed the six or so agapanthus buds during a busy week and was surprised to see this, the tallest, standing so proud.

the promise of agapanthus flowers

The sweet peas are starting to flower too, there doesn’t seem to be quite so many of these yet, but maybe they’re working up to a good showing. I’m hopeful.

the start of the sweet peas

And then after the rain came the sun. And high temperatures. And on that day there was nothing else for it but to down tools, in truth they hadn’t been lifted very much so it wasn’t so much trouble. And that weekend our sun loungers got plenty of use. After all, what’s the point of a garden if you don’t get to enjoy it? That’s the theme of this month’s The Garden Year, so do pop over and share how you enjoy your garden, as it’d be great to see you.

the hottest day - gardening tools were downed

The other big news this month is that I’ve finally made it back into my greenhouse and finally I’ve sowed some seeds. I’m not sure why, but i’d temporarily lost the gardening, or growing bug, but I’m hopeful that with some tasty, and fast growing, crops I’ll be back on track. I’m also hoping to be eating our homegrown lettuce, herbs and beans in the not too distant future too.

finally sowing some seeds
toadstool cane toppers

Back in May at Grand Designs Live we bought ourselves a new hose, one of those self-retracting ones that extend to, in our case, over 100 foot. The thing is I’ve been paranoid about using it, as the lady demo-ing it did such a good job of scaring me into how powerful its retraction abilities are and I’ve visions of clumsy me getting caught up in it and being catapulted the length of the garden, along with the hose. I know it’s completely irrational, but the visual image is strong, and it even amuses me, but on the other hand, it could happen… (It probably couldn’t!)

A new hose which extends and retracts
time to enjoy an aperol spritz

And at the end of a day’s gardening there has to be a reward. Back in May I tried to persuade MOH to get on board with Bank Holiday Cocktails, and making that a thing. It seems, I’ve had less trouble persuading him more recently, so Aperol Spritz and teeny, tiny fava bean snacks it was (and yes, I know they look like peanuts, they’re not).

How’s your garden been this past month?

PoCoLo