Well I seem to be late for everything this month. And so it is with the unmissable Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens, which for some time now I have been using as a way of stepping back and looking, properly at the garden and where it is in the year (instead of just seeing the usual tick-list of jobs that became urgent last week).
I blame a certain lethargy brought on by the impending frosts. And the recent demise of Slide.com, which was my way of indulging in loads of photos without the guilt of having to inflict them on anyone unless they wanted to sit through them all.
So I’m afraid this month you’ll have to look at all my photos, one by one: either that, or log off right now and go do something more improving instead.
Since it’s undeniably autumn now – the swishing sound as I walk becoming less and less easy to ignore, or indeed wilfully deny – I’ll start not with flowers but with berries, filling my garden gradually from the yellow buttons of Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ to hips and cotoneaster berries and the little jewel-like Tomato ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ tumbling over the tubs on my patio.
There are always lots of wildlings in my garden – and several are having a second flush at the moment.
Some aren’t strictly wildings but sort of naturalised garden plants: the Anemone x japonica ‘Honorine Jobert’ is going mad in the front garden and will have to be sorted out at some point. Not now though.
But there have been two annual stars which have really stolen the show. The first is my bronze fennel: a lovely foil for other plants while they have their summer spell in the spotlight, but now a fireworks display of golden yellow.
So adorable have they been, in fact, that I’m going to follow some advice Chris Ireland-Jones gave me on my recent visit to Avon Bulbs and try to overwinter them in the greenhouse. He says if you can cut them back hard, pot them up and bring them in, they have a head start on the season next year. Twice this display will be quite, quite ravishing. Can’t wait.
I turned up at a client’s garden for the first time in a little while the other day to find this.
The reason I’m so bloody furious is that I can’t grow the damn thing. Never have been able to. I must have wasted twenty quid over the years on buying its funny-looking bulbs and though I have planted them by the book – partial shade, moist but well-drained, lots of leafmould – they stubbornly refuse to do their stuff. Yet here they were: a little clump, nestling among the spring bulbs on the rockery. And she hadn’t even really done much other than plonk them in there. When told of my incredulity at the ease with which they sprang up she just said, “Really? I’ve never had any trouble.”
Why do gardeners always say that?
Dog’s tooth violets are not the only thing I can’t grow. There’s quite a long list, actually.
- snowdrops (going to try the elwesii types at some point though -you never know)
- chillies (this year’s failed to germinate, again)
- trilliums (but I’m in good company)
- heliotrope: how do you overwinter them?
- Nicotiana sylvestris: germinate beautifully and then sulk, permanently
- morning glory: ditto (going to try sowing in late May this year)
And if any of you lot say you’ve never had any trouble, I’ll torture you till you tell me which plants you can’t grow and then show you how brilliantly they’re doing in my garden. So there.
Just got back from a week’s holiday in the Isle of Wight – lovely, thanks, and more of which later, but in the meantime I had a few pics from the Thompson & Morgan open day in Suffolk which I went to just before I left.
Now this is something of a fixture in most garden journalists’ calendars but it was the first time I’ve actually made it along. Bedding isn’t really my thing so I hadn’t really made it a priority before. How wrong can you be.
Now I’d better declare a blatant attempt at bribery on the part of the T&M people, armed as they were with oodles of freebies and a slap-up lunch. But – honest guv – I didn’t really need all the buttering up. This was an amazing display of gorgeous flowers which just bowled me over.
Not that there wasn’t any good old-fashioned traditional bedding: in fact there were buckets of it, including many in those awful gaudy candy-pink shades that old ladies love so much. However – stay with me here: in among the god-awful colour clashes there were some superb plants: ones which caught my eye included Begonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire’, in sizzling, sultry red, and much more subtle greeny-yellow Petunia ‘Susanna’ – as cool and reserved as the begonia was in-yer-face.
My only complaint was that we didn’t get to see more of this – the trials field, where T&M develop their new varieties, so you get a sneak preview of varieties in development. Quite apart from anything else, the whole (highly commercial) process of breeding new variations that might become tomorrow’s stalwarts is fascinating.
Still – maybe next year! I haven’t even mentioned the fruit & veg, either – lots of great ideas (standard-trained fig, anyone?) The trials are open to the public too – T&M’s open day has been and gone, but all the major seed companies do it so get along to one if you possibly can (even if you are a bit sniffy about bedding!)