Monday, 15 August 2016

No August slump in my garden - GBBD

I started last post by saying summers are a bit hit and miss here in Britain – but here in the South East we can’t complain about the weather the last 4 weeks, it has been just warm enough to be called summer, not too hot and with plenty of sunshine. Only thing missing would be rain for a few hours every night so I wouldn’t have to do all the watering – but I am being picky now! It has actually rained only once the last 4 weeks, it was a good rainfall of almost 24 hours, but being nearly 4 weeks ago it is now a bleak memory for my garden. The clay soil is bone dry and like concrete and I have given up getting anything more planted a long time ago, it will have to wait until the winter when we get proper, prolonged rain again.

The good weather makes everything grow like mad though, and with the variety I have of plants there is no August slump in my garden – I have plants in flower in all directions just as I have the rest of the year. I have much wider paths here in my new garden than I had in my old garden – but even so – you can still see the resemblance by now. Once I get everything planted it will be jungle every summer in this garden too!

I struggled a bit to take the photos for today’s post as it was too sunny both yesterday and today. A bit of a luxury problem I am sure certain bloggers from northern parts of the country will grit between their teeth when they read this – nevertheless, I was playing cat and mouse with the sun trying to capture at least the long shots out of the sun....

....because just see what a difference it makes getting rid of the harsh contrasts the sun makes and being able to see all the finer details in the shade. The sun was coming and going all the time from a puff-cloudy sky.

Let me show you my sunflowers, the first one is flowering and there will be many more to come. I have chosen a mix of orange and brown toned sunflowers this year, a bit unusual colours and they are so beautiful.

The bees and bumblebees love them and the squirrels have already had a few attempts at nibbling on them, I assume it is just a question before I find a squirrel sitting on top of each of the sunflowers.

I just had to take a photo of the leaves, look at the size of this leaf next to my quite large hand!

Also in here next to the fence is my incredible Fuchsia boliviana. Since last post the flowers has become much bigger, but they haven’t opened yet. I think I will need to repot it before the winter as it dries out too quickly. That’s going to be a delicate operation getting the plant out of that pot and into another pot! Not sure if I should risk it but if it dries out too many times it might throw the flowers and I won’t get any fruit.

Next to the fuchsia is one of the new anemones, this is Anemone x hybrida 'September Charm'.

Moving on in the garden, the roses are now well into their second flush and many of them will go on flowering on and off until January when I cut the roses down.

The Hibiscus syricaus I inherited with the house is in full flower too.

The colour of these flowers is my favourite hardy hibiscus, and although the flowers are quite small I really like them. But I am planning to try some much bigger hibiscuses too – think dinner plate size flowers – 10 inches wide :-)

And right here at the front, in the red container on the right side is exactly a hibiscus like that, I have had it for 3 years but it is still just a baby, I was hoping it would flower this year but it seems I will have to be patient for another year.

One plant that isn’t a baby anymore is this Lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria’ – I spent a few years trying to find out how to grow these plants. I killed the first one and this is the second which has been happy in a container for 4 years. And that’s been the key to growing Lobelia cardinalis in my garden – by growing them in containers I can swamp them with as much water as they like without annoying any neighbouring plants.

Just behind the Lobelia are some of my tomatoes – I have so many tomatoes at the moment that I am freezing any I can’t eat or give away. They won’t be like fresh once out of the freezer again but will be fine for popping into soups or stews or in an omelette or anything cooked.

And on the other side of this path is another tomato plant, this is a different type and a bit later so I hope it will still give me tomatoes when the others have finished. Behind, the dahlias have started flowering and the cosmos are still going strong.

I have 5 different cosmos and they are all in pink hues plus white.

At the very bottom of this path the Goliath lilies are still in flower, although in a week or two it will all be over and a whole year till next time I have any lilies. In my previous garden I used to have Goliath lilies well into September every year, but it was a much shadier garden so here in my new garden they have gone off quicker.

If I could find a shadier spot I would try to plant some of them, but I must admit there isn’t much shade in this garden except for right under the big cenaothus trees and it is a pain to dig there with lots of big roots. All the Goliath lilies are still in big pots spread around the garden – they would all like a space in the ground this winter, a LOT of digging....

A little update on the beautyberry bush – the question was if it was a self-pollinating type or not – and if I would need to buy another bush to get berries. Well, I have never had a beautyberry bush before, but from what I can see, there are berries! In this photo you can see the whole process, from unopened flowers to the left, through flowers and to the small berries on the right side. I am a bit surprised about the berries though, but I have only seen this variety online, never in real life, but if this is the berries they will be very small. I have seen other beautyberries in Kew Garden and the berries were much bigger. It is early days though, I’ll keep you posted :-)

And now to something completely different; I was given a plant in a plant swap in April and back then it was just a tiny seedling. The plant is called Althaea cannabina and I was told it would be quite tall and have pink flowers. We laughed a bit about the cannabina part of the name, and I was told it was perhaps because it had a resemblance to cannabis. I have later found out though that cannabina simply means hemp in Latin and as this plant is called hemp-leaved Hollyhock or Palm-leaf Marshmallow it explains the name. I must admit I had no idea what a cannabis plant looked like so curious as I am I looked it up – and now I know a lot more about cannabis too and that it is also used for hemp (among other things....) Hah, what do you know – all the things you can find by asking Google!
But back to my plant, it didn’t look much when I got it, and it grew a thin stem that still didn’t look much so I just placed it under my apple tree where the squirrels unfortunately broke off half of it.

But look what has happened to that feeble little plant – it is flowering! I have given it a bigger pot and it will possibly grow a bit bigger this year, but being a perennial I will try to find a permanent space for it for next year. Mature height is up to 2m tall so a back of the border plant. This is a keeper, the bees already love it and so do I!

While we are here at my apple tree let me just show you this planter with bacoupa – I do get the feeling they will outgrow their boots before the end of the season!

Lots of things are growing well at this time of year and I don’t really have an August slump to complain about – some plants take a short breather and then come back, but for most it is just full on the whole time. Like this pelargonium for example.

Let me take it out of the bed so you can see the size of it because it is massive! This is ‘Apple Blossom’ and possibly the hardiest of my pelargoniums. They don’t stop growing during the winter so as long as it is not too cold they just go on and on. My pelargoniums spend all winter outside as I don’t have a greenhouse, they just have a few nights in the shed when the night temperature dips just below freezing and that’s it – outdoors the rest of the time.

The flowers of ‘Apple Blossom’ are just exquisite.

And just next to this is another exquisite plant, the two cannas that started flowering a few weeks ago for the first time. I planted them as bare root in March 2015 and I am amazed to see how big they are now. I think I need to split them up as both pots are full of plants.

The coral flowers are very difficult to photograph, my camera goes absolutely crazy with colours like this and even trying to adjust a bit in Photoshop doesn’t really give a true colour, not on my screen at least.

A bit easier to photograph is the plant next to the canna then, another Lobelia – this one is called ‘Compton Pink’ and I treat it exactly the same way as Lobelia cardinalis – with lots of water.

Have I not showed you any roses yet? About time then! This is my inherited one, growing inside the apple tree in a very awkward place to prune and care for it. Even growing like that is not really ideal as many of the flowers just get broken from rubbing up the apple tree. But I can’t see this rose being dug up any time soon so I guess it will be staying where it is, it is such a lovely rose so it is a keeper for me :-)

This is the very first photo I have shown of my new rose ‘New Dawn’ – I have high hopes for this rose but for now it is a very small plant and will need a few years to get properly established. It is an....oh, I hate to repeat myself, but....it is an exquisite rose!

And so is 'Rob Roy'! He has been growing in a container for more than 10 years and is still looking amazing. I hope to let him loose this winter, if I can get some help with planting.

And this is a 1970’s-lipstick coloured rose that I got from a nursery with a wrong label – I ordered something completely different. I have never found out what this rose is called, the nursery could not help me. It has also been growing in a container for nearly 10 years, I think it will probably be happy to be let loose.

And here in my front garden is where both these two last roses are going, together with a rose that was here from before and another rose I have in a container. I also have 6 mature penstemons to plant here and a good size hydrangea cutting from the big, dark-pink hydrangea in my old garden. And I was a bit afraid it wasn’t enough plants for my front garden so I made some penstemons cuttings in the spring. I might be a bit too good at taking penstemons cuttings because they all survived. All 20. Do you think I have possibly got too many penstemon plants for this front garden? Surely not?! I am planning to have another plant swap day in late September and I will try to swap and sell some of the plants I don’t need. Some of the penstemons are going :-)

While we are here I can show you one of my less successful projects – my raspberries. These are autumn raspberries and I bought them in November last year as two sticks with some roots on. I planted them in pots and have later potted them on twice until they ended up in these big containers. The idea was that they would hopefully have enough space here for a couple of years until I could sort out where to grow them permanently. I have had raspberries many places I have lived before, but I have never actually planted them before, only inherited mature bushes. I had no idea what to expect but I did think they would grow up and produce berries the first year. Perhaps it was just wrong of me to assume that – I can’t really find any information about how long it takes. They started growing leaves in May and as you can see – there probably won’t be any berries this year! There is no risk of pot bound containers either, with such a small growth I just hope it will be berries next year. Or is it something wrong with the plants? Should I have had my first good crop ready soon? The raspberries are called Bakker’s Jewel, they are perpetual autumn raspberries and should flower and fruit from July into October.

Here is a newcomer to my garden, Amaranthus tricolour ‘Red Army’ - one of those I sowed earlier in the year and although it is an annual I will probably have it again next year. I love the colour of the leaves and the dark tufts in the middle. And you can eat the leaves – that is if you can bear to eat them, they look so pretty I just have to let them stay on the plant so I can enjoy them for as long as possible.

And here is another lovely plant I sowed from seed, Limonium suworowii – described as pipe-cleaner-like flowers. And that is a good description – that is, if you know what a pipe cleaner is :-)

My primulas are starting to flower – and I have LOTS of them. I know this always causes a bit of a stir on my blog when I say this – but here in southern England, Primula vulgaris are plants that start to flower in early autumn and they go on to flower the whole winter all the way to early summer. Then they take a short break during the height of the summer and start again in August or September. Hardworking plants in my garden! The fact that the first ones are in flower is just a reminder that we are going towards autumn. Not sure I want to follow!

But before we get to autumn I have dahlias in flower and they have just started. I used to have many more but most of those I planted sadly died as they didn’t like the clay soil here in my new garden. Thanks to my slow progress in the garden I didn’t manage to plant all my dahlias, and those still in pots are now starting to flower and look good. They all need bigger pots if they are to stay in pots permanently, but I think that’s the way to grow dahlias here. This is ‘Happy Days’ – there will be more dahlia photos next time.

I am ending today’s post with one of my lovely Regal Pelargoniums, it has gorgeous colours and is called ‘Ada Green’. Regal pelargoniums are called Martha Washington geraniums in US, but they are not actually geraniums they are pelargoniums. Whatever you call them, like the ‘Apple Blossom’ pelargonium above, I am keeping them outside all year except for those possible few nights with frost.

I am linking today’s post to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, please visit her for many more Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day posts from around the world.
Until next time, take care.

40 comments:

  1. Dear Helene, how wonderful that you garden is full of flowering, exciting and beautiful plants in August!
    I especially love Anemone x hybrida 'September Charm'. What a subtle color and dainty bloom.
    You kind of lucked out that you didn't get to plant all your dahlias into the ground and some are still growing in their containers. Dahlia ‘Happy Days’ looks to die for! Beautiful contrast between the white flowers and the very dark foliage.
    I have potted up my four dahlia tubers only in July and they don't look good. Two seem to die back and two other are so small still, that I doubt I will get any flowers. I just fed the two actively growing ones with liquid fish fertilizer and powdered rose fertilizer today. May I ask how you fertilize your dahlias?
    Wishing you wonderful summer days!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Hi Christina, I must admit I am still new to container growing dahlias and not really sure what I will end up doing in terms of fertilisers, but I grew them in the ground in my previous garden for many years and I only gave them slow release general fertilisers once a year, when they emerged – and then I fertilised again with pellets for promoting flowers once (lasts about 1 month) when they started to produce flowers. That was it really, I don’t fertilise much in my garden, even container plants have to do with very little and sometimes no fertiliser in my garden – too expensive to buy and a lot of work to apply! So that’s why I like slow-release so much, it only needs to be applied once and is very little work to me – and no heavy watering cans to drag around the garden, just a sprinkling at the base of each plant.

      This is what I have done with the dahlias this year too and it seems to be enough for them even though they are growing in containers now. Best tip I can give about growing dahlias, especially in pots and containers is to reduce the numbers of stalks you allow each plant to produce. This is done when they emerge, so you prune out and leave 1-2 stalks for a small plant and 3-4 for a large plant. Then you need to pinch out the tips to get a bushy plant – and possibly pinch a second time. All this has to be done early enough to not delay flowering too much so it is too late now but if you didn’t do it this year then think about it for next year.

      Did you buy your tubers this year? The size of the plant and the amount of flowers you get this year is partly dependent on how big and heathy tubers you got, and likewise - the growing conditions now will impact on next year etc. I don’t think I would give them rose feed - and fish fertilizer is high in Nitrogen so that will only give you lots of leaves, not flowers. It might be a bit late to rescue this year’s flowers but try to give a general slow release once now and then switch to tomato feed and feed every 2 weeks until end of September. Hopefully the tubers will come back next year and you can start out with feeding, pruning and pinching, get off to a good start and get good size tubers and the year after that you should have an amazing flower display. Sorry if this sounds like long-term, but it’s a good investment, dahlias can live for a long time and once too big you just dig them up and split them. I have dahlias I bought more than 10 years ago. Good luck!

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  2. It is a joy to have a walk in your garden. Your enthusiasm and love for the plants is palpable. So many different plants so much care....and everything so tidy.....Of course I found one which I definitely will put on my wishlist, that´s the Lobelia ´Compton Pink´, a real beauty.
    Wish you happy gardening and a nice sunny week with some rain at night.
    Regards, Janneke

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    1. Thanks Janneke, you will definitely like ‘Compton Pink’ and it has been a very good bloomer even for a first year plant in my garden and it is still producing new shoots. Hope you are enjoying good (hot!) weather like us right now!

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  3. Hej Helene! Vilken härlig rundvandring i din trädgård, den ena växten finare än den andra. Blir förvånad att så många växter trivs i krukor. Fantastisk lilja och en otrolig hibiscus. Jag har sällan pelargoner, de trivs inte riktigt, men den sista Ada Green får mig att gärna prova igen.
    Ha det fint / Marika

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    1. Hei Marika, det er mye arbeid med planter I potter og containere, men med begrenset plass og mye planter fra min tidligere hage som fortsatt venter på å bli plantet så ble det en sommer til med container jungel! Jeg håper det blir litt færre potter neste sommer for det har blitt mye å vanne med det fine varme været vi har hatt. Håper dere fortsatt har fint sommervær :-)

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  4. Du har så mye fint i hagen din Helene, og liljene dine er bare helt utrolige! Som regel så blir jo planter som har stått i potter små, men ikke hos deg, nei ;)
    Flotte solsikker med enorme blader og blomster! De liker seg godt hos deg, det er helt sikkert!

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    1. Liljer ser ut til å klare seg fint i store potter, så lenge de får nok vann – og jeg kommer nok til å fortsette med det for mange av dem vil nok ikke like seg i den tunge leire-jorden som er her i min nye hage. Goliath liljer blir opp til 2.5m høye og er litt av et syn når man planter mange ved siden av hverandre, de skulle klare seg bra hos deg også.

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  5. Helene, I love your garden in August, it seems like summer is endless. And I'm one of 'certain bloggers from northern parts' that envy your weather and blooming plants, although I understand that it's hard work to maintain all these plants in tubs, pots and containers in good condition. I can send you some rains, they are too often here :)
    Lovely sunflowers, I can't imagine a squirrel on it, I think he should break sunflower. Pelargonium are wonderful!

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    1. The squirrels here are rather daring, I find them doing the most incredible things and right now they are picking apples from the ground and burying them in my pots. Only problem is, the apples are really big so the squirrels can’t fit them in the pots and rip out the plants first. When I come out in the morning I find half-dead plants on the ground and half-buried apples in the pots. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been for those poor plants!
      I wish I could send you some nice warm weather and some sunshine in return for a few days of rain, over here we haven’t had any proper rain for 6 weeks and I am tired of all the watering. But I am enjoying the good summer, it makes the thought of winter more bearable :-)

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  6. We have sun 'up north' too. :-) Yesterday I was trying to photograph a barn owl flying towards me and just ended up with a white blob. (It was in a display unfortunately not a wild one!)
    We have the same hibiscus on our allotment which refused to grow in our garden but thrives there.
    As for the raspberries, I'd give them another year to settle in before showing them the door or gate.

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    1. I am sure you have nice sunny weather too Sue – I was referring to the grotty weather that seemed to be stuck in parts of Scotland around the time when I wrote this post. And it seems there is a north-south divide right now too in terms of the weather. We had 31 degrees here in London today and tomorrow will be a repeat. I will leave the raspberries to it for now and hope they perform next year, if not it will be off to the council compost.

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  7. Lovely Helene. What a lucky girl having such beautiful weather. You have created a lovely paradise.
    have a wonderful week ahead.

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    1. Thanks Marijke, the lovely weather is just continuing and after the really cold spring and early summer we are now having a very good spell of fine weather. I hope you are having good gardening weather too!

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  8. Oh my goodness Helene...Your garden never ceases to amaze me! Everything is looking great and your sunflowers and lilies are just absolutely gorgeous. Your passion for gardening definitely shines through in your abundance of blooms, all so lovely.

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    1. Thank you Lee, it’s starting to come together now, and even though I still have lots of planting to do this winter I can see the garden taking shape. Come next summer it will look like like the plants have always been here.

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  9. Notwithstanding your issues with the raspberries (which I'm certain will be temporary!), I'm not sure there's anything you can't grow, Helene! With this month's post, I was struck by how many really tall specimens you have - from sunflowers to lilies to cannas. My own sunflowers were a major disappointment this year - I thought I'd kept the seeds properly watered but only one variety ('Lemon Beauty') germinated and the blooms were generally unimpressive. I will try again next year. August is generally a horrid month for the garden here but my garden is also holding up relatively well this year despite a rough start to the summer. My fingers are crossed that we both continue to fare well in the weather department. I'd wish for rain here too but that's probably pushing my luck too far.

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    1. I am deliberately choosing tall plants spread around the garden as it is part of the ‘filled to the rafters’ look that I like in the summer. My winter garden has a very different look, with much shorter plants and only the trees to keep the height. With a small garden, the only way is UP :-)
      As for sunflowers, I gave up many years ago sowing directly, even though that’s apparently how you are supposed to do it. I have too many plants everywhere, and the sunflower seedlings get shaded out long before they grow up. Instead I sow in pots outdoors and repot a couple of times until the sunflowers are tall enough to be planted in the ground. That way I can ‘baby sit’ them better too in terms of water and prevent squirrels, birds and slugs from ruining them until they get big and robust enough to withstand most things.

      We haven’t had any proper rain for more than 6 weeks and I am fed up watering with a hose. Getting a soaker hose down is number one priority this coming winter. There is no proper rain on the horizon for the next 2 weeks and temperatures are in the high 80s this week with watering every evening. The things we do for the garden :-)

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  10. There certainly is no slump in your August garden! It is absolutely stunning and it gives me something to aspire to. Happy Bloom Day!

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    1. Thank you Dorothy, but I know you have higher average temperatures in August than we have so I guess I have a bit of an advantage in that way – we do have hot weather now and then but thankfully not all the time.

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  11. Wow, your lilies are huge! I'm glad you're having a pleasant summer, and your falls are usually pretty special, too. I can see why plants like your climate. Lobelia cardinalis is native here, and when it blooms the hummingbirds go nuts for it! Yours is so tall and healthy. Happy GBBD!

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    1. Thanks Beth, the last 6 weeks have been really good here and the good weather is set to last well into September. It kind of makes up for the awful spring we had – just about!

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  12. I loved taking a tour of your garden today! It is just lovely. Raspberries usually don't produce berries until the 2nd year, so don't lose hope yet! :)

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    1. Thanks Linnea, I will give the raspberries another year and see what they do, hopefully I will have a good harvest this time next year.

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  13. Oh you have a lot of flowers Helene. I love that unique Hibiscus syriacus, but what made me smile is the healthy tomato plant thinking it is also an ornamental, maybe later when those fruits become red. It is so useful both aesthetic and food.

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    1. Thanks Andrea, in my garden I always mix ornamental plants with what I eat as I haven’t got room for a separate kitchen garden. I think tomato plants are decorative plants :-)

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  14. I simply love your garden. It is so gorgeous, so full of lush flowers. Even in August.Here in Italy it is not so easy to have such astonishingly wonderful flowerbeds.It is much too hot and dry. However my Hydrangeas paniculata are still gorgeous.You should have one, maybe in your front garden, they are lovely from July to September and they do not get sunburned as the Macrophyillas ones sometimes do.

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    1. Thanks Guy and welcome to my blog. I can understand that gardening in Italy must be a challenge in mid-summer with the relentless heat you have – over here we might have really hot weather now and then but just for a few days at the time. I already have a Hydrangea paniculata, it is called 'Mega Mindy' but I bought it as a very small (cheap) plant and it didn’t flower this year, I expect lots of flowers next year. It is growing in my Japanese inspired bed and will be a central feature there once it gets mature.

      I am posting twice a month and next post will be with a video from the garden so you are welcome back on the 31st this month :-)

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  15. Your new garden is lovely, Helene, just like your old one. I hadn't thought of growing bacoupa alone -- I always use it in containers with several other plants and it can get crowded out. Love it in your boots. The primulas are my favorite and make me so homesick for my native land. Here they have a short growing period in the spring. You are an inspiration, dear friend. P. x

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    1. Thank you Pam, I tend to plant up containers with single plants and then group the containers together. That way I don’t have to rip out the plants after just a few months because they have grown too big for the container. I can also move the containers around depending on which plant is in season and according to need for sun etc. I see a lot of lovely containers crammed full of plants in gardening magazines, but those containers can’t last more than a few months. As a busy gardener I choose to make containers that last longer or ideally permanently.
      I hope you have glorious summer weather and that you are enjoying your garden :-)

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  16. Your garden is a lovely treat for my eyes. Lots of beautiful flowers there, I can't stop to scroll the pictures. thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Endah, my garden is all about flowers – all year round!

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  17. I always come away from your posts impressed with what you have done in such a short amount of time. I have a very similar hibiscus to the one you have inherited. It has taken three or 4 years to reach a decent size, but it looks pretty this year at last. I forgot to plant sunflowers this spring, so I only have a few that self-seeded. Gosh that leaf is huge in your photo! I wished my lilies and roses looked half as nice as yours Helene!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, I wish you could see that sunflower now, 10 days after that photo was taken – it is gigantic! I have no idea why one is so big and the other 5 are much smaller, but none of the other one has flowered yet so time will tell. I have a suspicion that the huge one to the right is an in intruder from a different seed packet – a mistake done at the nursery I bought the seeds from.

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  18. That Lobelia cardinalis is a really striking plant. May do well for me if it likes the wet! I have a similar beautybush with very small berries. They grow a little more before they colour up, but not much.

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    1. Lobelia certainly likes the wet, I keep them in pots and really flood them with water. I think I have seen them grown as marginal plants with just the leaves sticking up of the water so no wonder they like all the water I am giving them. I am looking forward to my beautyberries, camera is on stand-by :-)

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  19. Definitely no autumn slump in your garden, Helene! At the risk of repeating myself, I am just amazed at how beautiful your garden has become in such a short amount of time. I am captivated by that Amaranth--what a great contrast for all the green foliage. I may have to try that somewhere in my garden next year.

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    1. Those amaranthus were slow to get going and the first batch I sowed indoors got very straggly so I sowed again and took them outdoors as soon as I could. It still took till mid-July before the flowers appeared but look at them now :-)

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  20. It is always a pleasure to walk through your garden! I am totally jealous of your mild summer climate, though I know your hard work and planning have contributed more to the success of your garden than your climate. I smiled when you described the cannabina plant. I once had a Japanese maple growing in a pot on my patio whose leaves looked very much like cannabis. A friend was horrified, and I am not sure I ever convinced her it was a little Japanese maple tree!

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    1. Thanks Deb, the climate here is usually quite kind to our gardens, and when we have really hot weather like this week it doesn’t last, next week it is back again to more manageable temperatures for both the garden and the gardener!
      It is funny you mention the cannabina – since writing this post I have had visitors on two occasions commenting on my plant, both were asking if I grow cannabis – and neither are gardeners at all. Makes me wonder if it is just me who has never seen a cannabis plant before :-)

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