Sunday, 31 July 2016

Summer weather in London

Summers in Britain  is a bit hit and miss, some are nice and warm with just about the right amount of rain – and some are cool and never seem to get started. We had an unusually cold spring and early summer this year, but 2 weeks ago we got a mini heatwave which I suppose could make up for the missing summer – but it doesn’t really work like that! We are not used to such high temperatures, and neither are the plants in our gardens – we all suffer a bit in 33-35 degrees C (91- 95F), and I have now quite a few plants with sunburned leaves and a couple of hydrangeas were burned to a crisp. The heatwave didn’t last long, we have been back to 22-25 degrees C this week and both garden and gardener is much happier with that kind of temperatures.

I don’t mind weather like this if I can stay horizontal on a sun chair and do nothing, but the garden still doesn’t water, tidy and deadhead itself and it was painfully hot working in the blazing sun so I ended up waiting till about 8pm before starting any gardening work that week.

We are now back to more typical British summer weather and here in the South-East it is quite nice and warm but not too hot. Not as much sun as I would prefer but hey – we can’t have everything here in Britain....I didn’t think I would say this after all the rain we previously had, but we could do with a couple of days with rain! The ground is very dry and by now it is impossible to get a spade in it thanks to the clay soil I have.

It is still lily time in my garden – some lilies are finished flowering while others are just starting, with so many and different lilies I have it usually takes into September before the last ones are finished flowering. Here in the corner behind the plumtree are some of my Goliath lilies, some are taller than me and I am 5ft 9” (175cm). The white lilies at the front are 'Casablanca'.

One of the most gorgeous of the Goliath lilies are ‘Black Beauty’ – still in a container from my previous garden so it hasn’t grown very tall yet, but if I plant it in the ground it will take off within a couple of years. Look at that colour!

Here it is next to rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ – a lovely combination, I think I will plant the lily right here.

Let me show you my tomatoes....last year I almost didn’t get any tomatoes, the company I bought plug plants from had delivery problems and only delivered my 2 plugs in beginning of July, which gave me a too short harvesting season. I have had problems with tomato plant deliveries before so this year I decided to make sure I would have tomatoes. I ordered 2 plug plants from one company and 1 plug plant from a different company. My thought was at least I should have some tomatoes! But of course, this year there were no problem at all, one delivery came late April, the other came mid-May and I am growing 1 tumbler tomato on the left side and 2 tumbler tomatoes on the right side of the path in this photo. And they are growing like MAD and are taking over the space for the strawberries and I will have so many tomatoes I can give away to my neighbours every day and still have tomatoes until early November!

I have started eating the first ones already, yummy cherry tomatoes, perfect for salad.

Just in front of the tomatoes I have my agapanthus’, I have 3 different plants but this is the oldest one and it flowers best of them all. It is called ‘Navy Blue’ and the flowers last for a very long time.

I don’t have much proper blue in my garden so agapanthus is a welcome plant.

Speaking of blue, I have window baskets with frothy blue lobelia flowers out in the front. I had these window baskets straight on the ground at first, but I find it difficult to bend down to tend to them on the ground and dragging my garden stool all the way out here wasn’t something I’d do very often.

I got some cheap apple crates on E-Bay and 2 pieces of wood from a hardware store and when I get around to painting the fence I will paint this bench white too and it will blend in better.

Among the lobelias are some of my experiments with sowing seeds this year, this is Limonium suworowii, a beautiful annual with soft pipe-cleaner looking flowers. They have been slow to get off, only flowering now in late July.

Two of the five containers here have cosmos, also sown from seed in early spring and I will do this again next year but I think I will start later so I can chuck them outside sooner. The first batch I sowed was not happy indoors and got very straggly so I had to throw away most of them and sow again in early May. The result is that they are only starting to flower now, but the alternative was to buy plug plants.

The 4 cosmos on these two photos are all Cosmos bipinnatus, the deep red above is 'Rubenza' and the white is 'Dwarf Sensation White', above is 'Dazzler' and the soft pink is one from a 'Dwarf Sonata Mixed'.

My tropical corner has just become a bit more tropical – the canna lilies I have had growing in containers next to the tomatoes have just got bigger size containers and had to move as they were too big to stay so I thought they could move in with the two Leptospermum (manuka honey), the Strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise flower) and the Zantedeschia (calla lilies). And look! The cannas are flowering for the first time! I bought them as bare root in November 2014 and had them indoors the first winter in my previous house.

Since last spring they have been outside apart from a few nights in my shed last winter when the temperature was dipping just below freezing. I will continue to grow them in containers so popping them into the shed a few nights every winter won’t be too much trouble. I bought these because of the unusual flower colour, I had only seen orange, yellow and red cannas before, these were advertised as pink and are called ‘Pink Magic’ – but I am not sure I will call this colour pink, it is more coral. They are not too tall and easy to manage in containers. All I need now is a banana palm to complement my tropical corner – and yes, you can grow bananas in London, just not the edible ones you buy in the grocery store, but ornamental bananas are perfectly fine in a sheltered garden like mine.

A banana palm takes up a lot of space so for now I have opted for smaller plants here in this corner, like this cute Lobelia called 'Compton Pink'. I treat it just like my Lobelia cardinalis – with copious amount of water.

Another new plant in my garden is this Liatris spicata 'Alba', rather unusual looking spikes with tufts of fluff and I love this one among other plants. It is still in a pot but I can’t get anything more planted until the ground softens up again so all the rest of the plants I have will just have to sit it out.

Here is another newcomer in my garden – I have finally got a beautyberry shrub! I have seen them on other people’s blogs for years and so wanted one myself, but they take up a lot of space and you are advised to have more than one bush or at least make sure there is a beautyberry bush next door. I found this Callicarpa dichotoma that only grows to around 4 ft so I bought it last winter, but here in London they are not exactly common so I can’t rely on neighbours to help with pollination. If I don’t get any berries I will just have to buy another one same size, but some of these callicarpas are happy self-pollinators so time will tell.

And finally, can you remember from my previous post I was writing about my Fuchsia boliviana? The one I am growing for fruit production? It has just started flowering for the first time, it is soooo exciting! This fuchsia will eventually become a 7-10 ft tall tree, but at the moment it is about 4 ft. It has been herbaceous so far and died down completely every winter but I expect it to turn woodier as it matures and only loose its leaves in the winter. In mild winters it might even keep its leaves. I hope it sets fruit this year!

This month’s video of the garden is a walk in the garden – literarily. I usually stand with a tripod and film from different angles and then put the bits and pieces together with some close-ups in between, but this time I decided I would try to do an actual walk. It wasn’t easy with camera in one hand and a crutch in the other hand, but I have tried to show you what you would see if you walked the paths. I had already picked the music for this movie before I started filming and I knew I had 4 minutes and 57 seconds. Plenty of time to show off my small garden I thought – but once I started filming I realised walking around and trying to capture everything actually took a lot longer than almost 5 minutes so I had to cut off bits here and there to fit the music. Just shows how much I have going on in my garden!

As usual, if you have connection for it, my movies are best viewed on the HD setting in full screen, you can change the settings in the bottom right corner of the video.





The music was Summertime from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

That was it for today, next post will be Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the 15th August, but you can see short updates about my garden on my Facebook page, just send me a friend request to see all my posts.

Until next time, take care.

41 comments:

  1. Hei Helene!

    Du har så mye fint i hagen din! Hvilken tomatavling du får i år da :) Jeg har drivhuset fullt jeg også, men de er ikke helt modne enda. Vakre agapanthus, og så mange blomster på de! Har du de ute hele året? Her må jeg ta mine inn om vinteren akkurat som med camellia. Cosmos er så fine, og i år har jeg så nange som har selvsådd seg fra planter jeg hadde i fjor. De rekker å blomstre så vidt før frosten tar de.
    Vakkert med liljer og roser!

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    1. Mine agapanthus er ute hele året, men jeg har ingen eviggrønne typer – de er gjerne mere sårbare for frost, mine mister bladene om vinteren og siden jeg gror dem i containere så kan jeg flytte dem til steder hvor de er litt beskyttet mot for mye regn. Jeg behandler dem på samme måte som dahliaene mine om vinteren, de må all prøve å finne plass under den store benken min langs husveggen – der står de greit til vårsolen lokker dem ut :-)

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  2. Lilies blooming into September and tomatoes producing until November! Your garden never ceases to amaze me, Helene. I can sympathize about the heat spells - we're much more used to them I expect but the misery they bring is universal. Congratulations on the Canna and Fuchsia boliviana blooms. Cannas grow well here but I haven't grown any in recent memory because they need a lot of water but I've recently been tempted by posts featuring Canna 'Cleopatra' so I may try one of those in a pot next year just for the foliage.

    Best wishes and I hope you get that little bit of rain you want!

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    1. I looked up Canna 'Cleopatra' and what a colour on those flowers! Now that I have successfully managed to get 2 full pots of cannas to flower – from a bag of dried roots I bought more than 18 months ago – I might be tempted to try some more. I would love to have a deep red with very dark leaves - that would look nice together with the two I have.

      As for tomatoes – I feel I need to come with a small admission; my tomato plants does not produce ripe fruit all the way into November, I don’t have a greenhouse so everything has to grow outside. But I don’t normally prune the ends of my tomato plants, I leave them to continue to produce tomatoes for as long as they are able to – so once the weather starts to cool sometime in October I pick all the green ones left and take them indoors and they ripen nicely in a cupboard. And that way I have my own tomatoes usually in to beginning of November.

      By the way, I got the rain I asked for tonight – 14-15 hours of slight drizzle combined with some heavier downpours now and then. I bet you would have liked to have the same, it does wonders for the garden!

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  3. Two very special things from your garden that really interesting me are Fuchsia and Lily asiatic. They are really awesome. thank you for showing me their beauties

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    1. My lilies are not the Asiatic type, all the lilies are oriental – many different types of oriental lilies, but they all have one thing in common: they have a beautiful scent which Asiatic lilies often don’t have - even if they all are beautiful to look at :-)

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  4. I love to see your Lily's. I have tried so many times to grow this Lilly's but always turned out in a dissapointment. Within 2 days after planting there comes an insect and ruins the Lily in no time.
    And also in Holland this short heatwave burned the flowers of the hydrangia in short time. A pitty, because of the huge amount of rain the hydrangia's were the most beautiful flowers since years. But that's what gardening is about.
    Rosehugs
    Marijke

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    1. I am sorry to hear you have not had success with growing lilies – is it the red lily beetle that has been a problem for you? If you want to try again I can recommend the best treatment for lily beetles – apart from walking around, patrolling your lilies and killing any beetles and larvae you might see…..the best way is to spray them with a very good, organic spray made of fermented soy and herbs from Bakker.com. Just copy and paste this link and you will see what I mean:
      http://www.bakker.com/nl-nl/p/pireco-voorkom-bladinsecten-M47737

      Luckily most of the plants that got sunburned in my garden are deciduous plants so they will lose their leaves and get new ones next spring. It is far worse with evergreen plants when they get too hot or too much sun. Tonight we are having rain and I welcome it, the only rain in the last 2 weeks and no more rain for the next 10 days. Not much we can do about the weather, we just have to take what we get! Hope your weather is what you wish for :-)

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  5. Hej Helene! Tack för rundvandringen i din fina trädgård. Söt ekorre, har inte haft besök på länge. Dina liljor är så vackra och frodiga. Har några som inte blommat än. Tomaterna står i växthuset men de är alla gröna. Sådde också Cosmos, och de blev långa och rangliga, de är fina, så jag får följa ditt råd att så dem senare.
    Ha det fint / Marika

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    1. Hei Marika, vi hadde en uvanlig kald vår og forsommer så det er nok derfor mine cosmos er så sent ute med å blomstre. Her hos oss kan man så cosmos direkte ute hvis man vil fra mai måned, men det er kanskje litt for kalde netter hos dere til, det? Jeg har i hvert fall lært at jeg ikke har nok lys inne i huset til å så dem der, og siden jeg ikke har noe drivhus så må jeg enten så inne eller ute – og da må det bli ute for cosmos fra nå av og så får de heller vente litt med blomstringen :-)

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  6. We need a bit of rain too. Where does all that rain go? Your garden is looking beautiful. We have a deep blue agapanthus which I love too. I think it is called Midnight Star. I am with you where heat is concerned but you do have some lovely shaft sera in your garden,

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    1. I am trying to guess what your typo was actually meant to be…but I have no idea what lovely ‘shaft sera’ was actually meant to be….sorry Sue, what did you mean to say? :-)
      We are having rain this evening, a very welcome rain I must say – 14-15 hours of light to moderate drizzle will help a bit at least :-)

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    2. Sorry Helene, I am having eye problems and using speech recognition which sometimes has a mind of its own and I often miss mistakes. It should say shady area.

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    3. No problem Sue, I have tried speech recognition myself when my hands are too painful to type and I just can’t get Windows to get used to my accent, neither in English nor my native Norwegian – maybe it’s not just me who struggle with it?!

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  7. We also had a horrible heat wave here for the last 10 days or so. But then since Thursday it has been raining and that's good. The temperature has gone down though humidity is still high. And, the garden is enjoying all these water.

    Your garden is mesmerizing. And, you do have a green thumb. How can you grow such beautiful plants from seeds? And then growing so many plants in pots. Growing plants in pots very tricky as you have to constantly provide them with optimum water -- not too much or too little and then fertilizer.

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    1. Growing annuals in pots and containers are easy as I don’t feed them much, they are only there for max 6 months and don’t need much fertiliser apart from some slow release when planting up. As for perennials and bulbs in pots in containers – the biggest worry is always to water enough and not too much – either is just as bad. I walk around with a hose and water each pot and container – but again, in terms of fertilisers I don’t use much – only slow release here and there.

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  8. This has been a warmer than "normal" summer for us here in the Midwestern U.S., too. I like it, for the most part. But the days with heat indices of 115F (46C) make it hard to breathe. Congratulations on your success with the seeds. Wow, those Cosmos are really tall! They're such perfect cut flowers. Lovely blooms all around your garden, Helene!

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    1. Our heatwaves are usually called mini for a reason – they don’t last long. From a few days and up to a week and then it’s over. In the 18 summers I have been here in London I can remember 2 with an expended long period of around 30 degrees C and above, once in 1999 and then again in 2003 – a long time ago :-)

      I have sowed 6 different cosmos, they range from 45-90 cm and I am sure the tallest I have now must be more than 90 cm!

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  9. Your Black Beauty is just gorgeous! I tried agapanthus again this year but it can't take the heat. I'm curious about your winter weather if your summers are so cool. Are they really cold, or is your weather temperate year round?

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    1. I am surprised agapanthus is sensitive to heat, I have always thought of it as coming from a blazing hot Africa, but perhaps it is from a more temperate part of Africa? Our winters are short, often non-existent in terms of winter weather. We usually get a lot of rain in November and December, then drier weather in January and February and then it’s spring again in March. The temperatures during November to February range from 12-16 degrees C down to freezing, and here in London we usually have no snow and frost, just barely dipping below freezing for a few hours a few nights now and then. Not sure if you call that ‘really cold’ or not – I come from Norway originally so the winters in London are for me really nice and not cold at all :-)

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    2. Your winters sounds nice. We don't get much colder than that, but sometimes we will get below freezing for a couple of days in winter. I put the apapanthus in a pot next to the house and on the driveway. Not enough water and lots of reflected heat. I moved it to the flower bed and it looks better already. It was probably not getting enough water in the pot.

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  10. Dear Helene, your lilies look absolutely stunning this year! I think the combination of the Goliath Lily ‘Black Beauty’ together with rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll' is exceptionally beautiful. I love subtle tone in tone color combinations.
    I am really surprised that you have such a rich tomato harvest, lucky you, since home grown tomatoes are hard to top!
    The frothiness of Liatris spicata 'Alba' is quite lovely. I would enjoy to see this plant in my own white garden bed.
    All in all your garden in July seem to have been doing quite well despite the heat wave that you were having.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. I think you would like Liatris for your white bed Christina, mine is still a young plant and not even out of the pot it came in, when it finally get a permanent place in the ground, and a year more perhaps, it will become bigger with many more spikes.
      I have decided to plant ‘Black Beauty’ together with ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ – the lily might not like the soil in that bed, but I will try to incorporate some compost when it gets planted. I have to wait until it has died down so probably January or February and that will be better in terms of digging as the ground is softer and the roses will have been pruned down by then too.
      We are having nice weather still, not too hot, just mid-20s C which is perfect for me.

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  11. Your garden is looking as colourful as ever Helene, I bought 9 pieces of Canna root this year and have only had 4 actually sprout, on the other-hand my sister picked up three thriving multi-stemmed plants for me, at the total price I paid for the roots, from a farmer's market in Shropshire.

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    1. Congratulations with your new cannas, I hope we get to see some photos on your blog eventually. I must admit I am hooked on them now, and would like a few more – but not as many as 9 – I don’t have a greenhouse so I need to be able to fit them in my shed the few nights every winter when there is a treat of frost.

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  12. Thanks for your visit to my blog and your comment, Helene.

    Very nice photos and your garden looks lovely.

    Here in my unfenced Tennessee garden, those lilies would be known as "deer food." :P

    Also, interesting to see how your Cosmos are looking so fresh and lovely. Here, we've had months of 90+ heat and the Cosmos (despite good drought and heat tolerance for an annual) are looking so frazzled that I've started cutting them to the ground. I have lots and lots of cosmos and some are 6 feet tall and big as a bush, so it's a big task.

    You mentioned starting gardening at 8 p.m. I find that on really hot days, the only really cool time to garden is just after sunrise - say 5:30 a.m. until 8 or 9. Some days when it's cloudy (like today), I can manage to stay out a bit longer until late morning.

    Anyways, sorry for rambling on. I did enjoy my visit to your blog and expect I'll be back soon!

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    1. Thanks for your visit Aron, and welcome back some other time! I usually only post twice a month; on the 15th and the last day of the month, I do however write exceedingly long posts every time – I am not exactly a ‘one photo and one sentence’ kind of blogger! And every last day of the month post is with a video of my garden so if you want to see past videos (and the previous garden) you can look up the label ‘End of Month View’ or ‘Videos’. I moved house in May last year so building a new garden here at my new house is very exciting and exhausting and fun and frustrating and a whole lot more.

      Our heatwave lasted almost exactly one week – and that was it. We have been back to normal summer temperatures, which for the South East (where London is), is around 22-25degrees C (71-77F). It doesn’t rain much so the rain we got earlier this week was very welcome - one evening without having to water my pots and containers is very nice. I have LOTS of pots and containers to water, I still have hundreds of plants from my previous garden waiting to be planted.

      I suppose it would be more common to find gardeners out in the garden in the early morning – I have a very different schedule (I suffer from reversed sleep disorder) so I usually go to bed between 5-6am and sleep for around 7 hours. I don’t mind at all going out in the evening to do work in the garden, and I am often out still well after midnight. With floodlight in the main part of the garden I can still work even if it’s gone dark – besides, here in London it’s never completely dark.

      Oh, and don’t worry about rambling on - on my blog anyone can write as long as they want in their comments and my replies are often very long too. I think my visitors have got used to it, I don’t have many one-liners anymore :-)
      Next post will be on the 15th August.

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  13. Hello Helene,
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    We've the same climate here in Belgium, perfect to grow a lot of plants.
    Yesterday we had a whole day raining and my dahlias needed more training system.
    Are you on FB too ? You could find me at "Isabelle Olikier-Luyten".

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    1. Hello Isabelle, welcome to my blog!
      I have found you on FB – I must admit I don’t post on my FB page very often, but sometimes I use it to do some quick photos between my fortnightly blog posts.

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  14. Your banana palm surprised me, Helene, have never seen it! I also love your very tall lilies and cosmea - I can't grow simple cosmea, have no idea why. Your video is as always interesting showing off how your garden changes and is lush. Music is stunning : summer time, o o o...
    Have a nice day and good health, dear!

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    1. Over here in Britain it isn’t exactly common with banana plants, but there are more and more gardeners who choose these exotic looking plants. They are hardy down to around -15 so no problem over here. But they do take a lot of space so I am not sure I will ever grow one :-)

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  15. Your gardens are looking well Helene and your Agapanthus and Lillies blooming for August are lovely! We also had a severe heat wave and dry spell and like your hydrangea, my new Weigela got scorched by the sun and took a beating. Now the temperatures have gone back to normal and we even got some rain. It seems like our climates are very similar.

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    1. Yes, I think the spring, summer and autumn perhaps are quite similar – the last month over here has been quite good, steady temperatures in low to mid 70s which I am happy with, good gardening weather and the plants are happy. We do need some rain soon, but we won’t get any substantial rain until November here in London so until then it’s watering and more watering :-)

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  16. One of my favourite songs in your video! Gosh your lilies are gorgeous! Mine were decimated by lily beetles. I did my best to catch and swash'm but, there were just too many. I don't think it helps that I have lilies spread throughout the garden. It makes it harder to keep an eye on them. I have had problems with leggy cosmos too. I never seem to get things just right for them. This year I am thinking of sowing some directly into the garden in the fall.

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    1. I think perhaps I need to make a post about how to keep lily beetles at bay, as I don’t have any problems with them, and they are certainly present over here too! I have my lilies spread over the whole garden - in the ground and in pots and I have probably got around 200 lilies by now. I use an organic liquid to pour on the soil which gets taken up by the roots and make the lilies smell bad so the lily beetle won’t feed on them. The liquid is made by fermented soy and herbs and stinks absolutely vile when you mix it up! But once in the ground the flowers smell the same as before, the smell is not possible to detect for humans, only munching insects – and beneficial insects are not disturbed at all. It is a great product and I could not grow lilies without it! Not sure if you can get it in US, but it is available throughout Europe and I know an Irish company who sell worldwide. It is produced by Pireco. I will try to write a post about this soon.

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  17. Hello, Helene! It sounds like you had a touch of the weather we routinely have during summer.I am longing for fall! Your garden is lovely as ever, and I adore your Goliath lily! Beautyberry is native here and grows wild in the woods adjacent to my garden. I do love the purple berries it produces in the fall.

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    1. I am looking at my beautyberries every day, trying to ‘will them on’ to produce berries, so far they are still in full flower but I hope mine is a self-pollinating type! If not I will have to go plant shopping, how dreadful :-)
      My Goliath lilies have defied all rules, being so productive in that corner with almost 100% clay – the same corner that was waterlogged until May this year….lily bulbs should have rotted in soil like that, I hope it means they will be happy here for the future!

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  18. Helene,‘Black Beauty’ certainly lives up to its name. Your garden is still looking really good in spite of the changeable Summer. We use Cosmos a lot, I am very taken with your 'Rubenza' mind you ours haven't done so good this year. Your not going to believe what I am about to tell you. We are moving house) Heading back to Bonnie Scotland, gone for a new build bungalow which will suit Myra so very well.

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    1. I nearly fell off the sofa when I read your comment Alistair! I understood the move was difficult for Myra, but I had hoped you were settled by now. I know exactly how hard it is to move house, having moved myself only last year – and now you are doing it again?! Brave people you are! Are you taking the garden with you again or starting from scratch this time? I bet you have plants you just can’t leave behind, and lots of plants you took with you from Scotland that now will be coming with you back again?
      Bungalow life is suiting me well, although it has its challenges, I must admit I was longing for the cool, Victorian house I used to have when we had the heatwave. No such cool house when you have a bungalow, the walls are very thin and the loft is heating up the ground floor like a warm duvet. But I really appreciate having no stairs anymore! Good luck with your move!

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  19. Your lillies are magnificent, even when waiting in containers.

    Fruit from Fuchsias?!?--I will have to look that up.

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    1. Or you can take my word for it – all parts of fuchsias are edible, although the flowers don’t taste much at all but you can use them as garnish in salads or desserts. If you have never tasted fuchsia fruit (berries) you have missed out, some taste quite nice! Some varieties are admittedly quite bland, but I had quite fun tasting through all the fuchsias I had – that was until the Fuchsia Gall Mites invaded and I lost my appetite for them :-(
      I hope I have got rid of the mites by having a year without any larger flowering fuchsias – next year I will introduce a small batch and by then I hope my Fuchsia boliviana will be a prolific cropper…..I can always hope!

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