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.
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.
I am linking today’s post to Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for End of Month View.
Until next time, take care.