Sunday, 27 September 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
No, I’m talking about the poor tree mallow, Lavatera Barnsley. The one I planted in the most exposed position in the garden; the one that bloomed prettily for one season then spent the winter with its root ball alternately frozen or rocking in salt winds; the one that for most of its second year was a cluster of wizened twigs with an occasional yellow leaf drooping off it; the one that ended its short life two weeks ago in the wheelie bin rather than the compost, in case it was diseased.
Sigh. It was a pretty plant. So pretty in fact it inspired my neighbour to go online and order one for her garden. This arrived, a healthy little plug plant, in the spring and responded rapidly to the care of a competent gardener. In a couple of months it had achieved almost a foot of growth and was covered in buds.
Then Angus ate it.
There was nothing left.
Oh, the wailings and gnashing of teeth. Angus had his hairy bottom soundly spanked. (Perhaps I should point out that Angus is my neighbour’s puppy, not her husband).
We commiserated with each other but were both aware there was one more Barnsley tree mallow in the village. This one was in a garden right by the shore and was thriving, obviously well adapted to its salty, windy habitat. The elegant flowers could be seen, blushing daintily, over the fence as less fortunate gardeners drove by with hot, hungry eyes.
The temptation was too much to resist. Last week my lovely neighbour stopped her car and asked the lavatera’s owner if she could have some cuttings. Gardening and generosity seem to go hand in hand, as the cuttings were happily supplied and four of them have been passed on to me.
I have no doubt that my green fingered neighbour will get her mallow established. I’m less certain that my brown, blighted thumbs will have similar success. Time for a quick prayer to the patron saint of lost causes.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Saturday, 12 September 2009
Another grey start but the sun soon burnt off the clouds and we had a spectacular day.
This helicopter buzzed the garden several times. Don’t know what he was doing, just playing around I suppose.
Friday, 11 September 2009
The sun soon broke through and encouraged Smudge to behave like a floozy........again.
I discovered this lovely lady by the wheelbarrow. She is beautiful and is catching midges so it looks as if the wheelbarrow is out of bounds for the moment.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
The weather forecast predicts three days without rain. After six weeks of constant downpour this feels like heaven. Apparently we have had three times the normal amount of rain for August, in fact the heaviest rainfall since 1984. Part of the main road to Glasgow washed away yesterday but now, at last, the clouds are lifting. It's time to start assessing the damage and deciding who's a garden hero and who's a fainthearted pushover.
“Pushover", is just the word for my white lavateras. Such a disappointment, at the first hint of rain and wind in July, they took a dive like a team of premier league footballers, and lay there wailing for the rest of the Summer. Oh they bloomed alright, but what's the point of being covered in flowers if you're whimpering on the ground and the insects are ignoring you? There will be no annual mallows present on any of the tiers next year.
I still, however, have half a packet of seeds and am gardening on a budget so can't afford to waste things. I may plant them in large containers at the front of the house in spring. This is concrete wasteland at present, where nothing grows and nobody goes, so their lack of attraction for insects won't matter. There are sheltered places I can put tubs and they may soften the house's rather austere first impression.
I said, "nothing grows", out the front, that is not strictly true. The pots of fuschias, pelargoniums and surfinias did eventually put on a show but it was a pretty poor effort. I did like the blend of lilacs, lime greens and yellows but the number of flowers was not worth the effort, so next year there will be no more tender bedding plants.
Instead I am going to try collecting seed from my bidens. These have worked so hard. Through every dreary day of rain they have been a band of gleaming yellow on the second tier, promising sunshine to come. I think I will plant them up with the blue pansies (if I can get them to set seed, not a certainty in this climate) and lobelia.
I mentioned this little self seeded lobelia before. It has lapped up the rain and put on a show of flowers when everything else was lying stunned on the ground. I will try to collect seed from this but also still have some old packets of bush and trailing lobelia from my Tilly days. I stopped growing these because I was always away during the sunniest periods and they dried out too rapidly, turning into miniature haystacks which never recovered their bloom. That is not going to be a problem at Midge Farm, so I will try the old seeds in spring and hope they germinate.
Monday, 7 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
It doesn’t look as if there is going to be much of an autumn show but one or two plants are still struggling to flower for the first time. This little nasturtium self seeded under the rowan tree and is only now putting out intense orange flowers. It clashes horribly with the pink anemones but is welcome none the less for its splash of cheerful colour.
I grew these verbascum phoeniceum from seed in the spring. They germinated well and I had plenty of plants to dot around the beds on the first tier. I hope they will look good with the foxgloves next year and be as popular with the insects. I had more plants than I needed so I dibbled a few in on this awkward ledge. Of course the only ones to flower this year, would be the ones that I can’t see unless I clamber into this difficult space at the side of the garden.
And finally this honeysuckle. It was a very old bushy plant which struggled with an endemic black fly infection. It was covered in the pests last year and they appeared again, very early this spring, in numbers that obscured the few flowers struggling to open. Then some mad woman went and chucked bowl after bowl of coop antibacterial washing up liquid over the bush which promptly went, “Arggggh,” and dropped all its leaves. At that point I cut it back to a few twisted woody stems and thought I would soon be digging it up and throwing it out entirely. I had a very pretty climbing hydrangea from Mum and Dad which I thought would be perfect in the spot. The honeysuckle had other ideas, it immediately sprouted new growth, has grown vigorously all summer, and is now showing these very pretty flowers which are even providing shelter for hover flies. It’s a scarred battlefield hero and has earned its place in the garden. As for the hydrangea, it is now flowering happily beneath the summerhouse and I hope will one day clamber up around the decking.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Lots of recipes for fried green tomatoes on the web so thought I would give them a go. I cut each tomato into three thick slices, dipped them in egg and coated with flour, seasoned with smoked paprika, cayenne and tumeric, then shallow fried coated slices in veg oil. Verdict: OK, nice texture, but a bit flavourless. Won't repeat, may just lay out all green toms in a dark cupboard and see if I can have a supply slowly ripening through the Winter.