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

Reflecting on my week #89

Thankfully the weather has improved since last week, though I’m still carrying my umbrella in my handbag just in case. There’s thunderstorms threatened and some more rain, but somehow in London we’ve got to that stage where a thunderstorm to clear the air would be welcomed, as it’s already got to the “too hot” stage for some. I could do with less muggy-ness, but I’m pleased it’s warming up.

There’s been a sudden burst of fruit activity in our garden and we’re regularly picking - and eating - handfuls of strawberries. I love it when plants just carry on producing when left to their own devices, it’s the best type of home grown veg. Short on effort, but long on flavour.

Strawberries from our garden

It’s been a funny week in Greenwich. There’s been a couple of big events at the Old Royal Naval College, where a tremendous amount of fantastic flowers have been brought in to make a stunning place look even better. Then on Friday some cattle arrived and took up residency in a large gilt picture frame as part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.

cows at the old royal naval college

They were hefty old cattle and while I was keen to have a peek I stayed firmly on the outside of the picture frame and did my best not to make eye contact. There was an electric fence, but let’s face it this city girl wasn’t going to put that to the test. It was quite an attraction though, and without the cattle I’d have happily tried the picture frame seat for size.

On Sunday we realised why people have those collapsible fold-up chairs for picnics and such like. We headed over to Greenwich Park for one of the first Bandstand concerts of the year. Sunday wasn’t as nice as Saturday, but armed with a picnic blanket and an impromptu picnic which mostly contained cheese, which was perfectly fine by me. It’s been a few years since we’ve been to a concert in the park, and in those years it seems the ground has got a lot harder, and a lot more uncomfortable!

The bandstand concerts in Greenwich Park
cheese - an impromptu picnic

There’s plenty more bandstand concerts to come throughout the summer, and we’re hoping to go along to more where we can. Each weekend there’s a different ‘flavour’ to the music, this week was country. The one I’m hoping to get along to sounds as if it might be more Cuban, with a band name of Here to Havana, i think there’s a fair chance, don’t you?

The other thing we’ve been picking from the garden over the past week, while enjoying the heady jasmine smells, is cherries. We’ve bowlfuls of them - the pigeons have stripped the top of the tree, but seem reluctant so far to strip the tree bare. So we’re making the most of it, and of my photo editing software as you’ll see below.

editing fun with just one of the bowl of cherries we've picked

I’d been wondering how we could use them, as while some are sweet enough to eat as they are, I prefer them cooked. Today, while having a bit of a browse of the Craft Gin Club site I spotted a recipe for a boozy gin and cherry trifle. Yes, i know, I wasn’t really looking for this, but once I’d found it I knew it would be useful. While we could make our own swiss roll and custard, I’ve opted for some specially made for us by Marks & Sparks, so we can concentrate on the main event, i’ll let you know how we get on!

PoCoLo

Elderflowers, the scent of Spring

* These items were gifted by I Love Cosmetics

There’s certain scents that immediately bring the current season to life, whether it’s cinnamon at Christmas, wet leaves in Autumn, freshly cut grass in Summer and for me what screams Spring is getting a whiff of Elderflower. In previous years we’ve been on holiday in France, luckily with the car, staying in quite a fancy hotel close to Lumbres in Northern France. The country lanes around the hotel were jam packed full of elderflowers in flower, so I had the bright idea that we should forage while we were there, and so we arrived home with a bagful of elderflowers ready to turn into our own elderflower fizz.

At times you have to feel sorry for MOH don’t you? Not too much, mind you…

We have our own elderflower plant in the garden, but it’s a plant that loves the sun and often it’s flowers sulk and face our neighbour’s garden. When we got back from Portugal this was all that was left of one of the few flowerheads that remained. I wasn’t going to get my Spring elderflower fix from that, now was I?

where's my elderflowers?

But luckily, this year I didn’t have to as I received a range of Elderflower Fizz products from I Love Cosmetics to try out. And after a day of gardening there’s nothing more welcoming than a hot and fragrant bath. On Sunday evening that’s just what happened, and it’s been a long, long while since I’ve had bath salts. They have a bit of an old-lady reputation don’t they? And they do remind me of my nan, who by very definition was an older lady. Hers were in square packages though and I remember being very strongly scented, these are quite different to those memories.

Elderflower fizz by I love cosmetics

As well as the elderflower, there’s also jasmine, apple and cucumber. We’ve jasmine in our garden too, and I’ve written before about its heady scent and how a holiday in Seville, where I learnt that smell. The apple brings freshness and the cucumber its cooling properties, and for someone with an often missing ‘nose’ I’m pretty impressed with myself.

Philadelphus and Elderflower Fizz

While my elderflower in the garden is sadly absent and my jasmine has yet to flower, we are enjoying another strong scent: the mock orange, or philadelphus. That too has its own scent story. It was in full flower on our wedding day, and we held our wedding reception in our garden with the tables for the sit down at the rear of the garden. Our table was next to the mock orange, and that’s when we learnt it’s one of the plants in our garden that makes MOH sneeze and wheeze, cue hayfever tablets for him!

Elderflower fizz body butter from I love cosmetics
I love cosmetics elderflower fizz hand and nail cream

It’s not just me though.  I’ve placed the reed diffuser on our bookcase, replacing the one that has long lost its smell.  After a day or so, MOH commented on the scent, not realising that I’d put the new one there.  He was trying to place the scent, his words:  fresh, summery and something he’d smelt before.  He wasn’t wrong, he was probably recalling that car journey home from France! 

He’s lucky, it wasn’t the one where the car smelt of goats cheese - but that’s a story for another day.

* These elderflower items were gifted by I Love Cosmetics to review here on my blog, as usual all views and opinions shared are my own.

PoCoLo