Thursday, 31 August 2017

Can I find summer in Lost and Found?

Hello, I am still around....but someone took my summer and ran away with it – I can’t find it! And now the weather forecasters on TV keep talking about autumn. Eh? Not yet please, I want July and August first, I have been too busy, last time I looked at the calendar it was late June.

This is what’s been going on here, my bathroom is not finished yet....but we’re almost, almost there. It’s been a very slow process with workers being off site more of the time than working here, but it’s only one small job left – and then it’s the inspection and signing off the work to do. I have promised not to plaster loads of photos on Facebook of the finished bathroom as it is really looking gorgeous (they let me choose fixtures, fittings, colours, floor and tiles etc so everything fits nicely together) – the surveyor from the council was slightly worried they would have a rush of people wanting to have the same. So I am not ‘plastering loads of photos on Facebook’, I am just posting ONE photo on my gardening blog, and quite frankly I don’t think there’s much risk of many council tenants in my borough reading gardening blogs from looking at most gardens in my neighbourhood. So here’s a photo from my renovated and especially adapted bathroom. The most important part of the bathroom is the bath lift which means that I now have a bathtub instead of the old, difficult to use shower and can safely get out of the bathtub on my own. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy having a soak in the bath after having been working in the garden in the evenings!

It has been extreme weather around the globe the last few months, London has not had anything we can call extreme but we have smashed a few records both in terms of cold, hot, dry and wet – all in the space of a few months. This photo is from first week of July when we had a long spell of mid 30s C. My neighbour’s cat knows where to find water.

The garden today is mainly about keep watering, I am not doing much else, it takes most of the time I have. It has been raining now and then, but a single day with rain is just so very inadequate. We need 3 weeks with constant rain. At least. The trees are already losing leaves because it’s so dry, and I didn’t get any apples this year because of drought. But the roses are growing like mad, they seem happy enough – if you can disregard the mildew here and there. Some parts of the garden you need a machete to get through. I can see some pruning being on my to-do list soon!

They say you can’t grow plum tomatoes in Britain without a greenhouse – so I had to try, of course. Despite a chilly August they are ripening nicely and taste delicious. I hope they all have time to ripen, failing that there’s always airing cupboard, works a treat for cherry tomatoes so I hope it will work for these too.

I have been eating food from my garden since early June.

Not sure what happened to these cherry tomatoes, they are not split so I don’t think it is my watering regime. It was only one branch, but in any case – they tasted just as lovely!

Today’s harvest.

The raspberries are the most productive food plants I have – they have become a jungle next to my front door. These autumn raspberries were meant to be small and compact, suitable for containers. Hah! I have cut down, pruned and pinched since April and it’s still a jungle – and I pick a bowl of raspberries every day. The pharmacy driver who delivers all my medication is interested in gardening and keeps asking questions about my plants, I know he has a much bigger garden than me so I have given the 2 containers to him. Once we have had frost and the plants have died down he will get them and the plants will get a new home in the ground where they will be much happier (and bigger!) and provide food for his family for years to come. I have already bought some new (definitely compact!) raspberry plants for next year.

I have taken so many photos since last time I wrote a post, I can’t possibly show you all, but I have made some collages to enable more photos today. To best view the photos you can click or tap to get them full size. More photos will be on my Facebook page in the next few weeks.

Rosa ‘Wildeve’

Rosa ‘Wildeve’

My brugmansia, now so big I can just about squeeze past to get into the kitchen!

Brugmansia.

Brugmansia cutting, and the cutting I took in November last year, now a flowering 1m tall plant. Yikes!

The last of the lilies, no more lilies until May next year.

The darkest rose ever!

Rose ‘Gaujard’

Hydrangea ‘Mega Mindy’ is an amazing hydrangea, the flowers slowly changes colour from white to red over the course of summer into autumn!

The soft pink stage is very pretty.

And this is the colour today. Will it be even darker red?

Cosmos

Dahlia Gallery......can't remember which one, but she is sweet :-)

Zantedeschia aethiopica

Gladiolus callianthus murielae.

My experiment with cucamelons has been more than successful – I have cucamelons coming out of my ears!! I am giving away to anyone coming here, and I knock on my neighbours now and then and give them too – I have even given away to Tesco delivery drivers if they have wanted....well, better than putting them in the compost bin. They really need to be eaten the day you pick them and are best when they are firm like a cucumber. They taste a bit sour, I think they taste a bit like cucumber with lime, some people say they taste a bit lemony and some say just a bit sour. I guess we all taste a bit different – if you leave them too long they go soft and loose the flavour and don’t taste much at all. They should feel like biting into a cucumber and that’s when they are really yummy. You could go and just eat them like that, or cut them in two and toss in a salad or a stir-fry or anywhere you use cucumber – or find inventive use for them online. I bought mine as tiny seedlings online and as they are perennials I will try to keep them for next year. Failing that they are easy to buy from nurseries here.

Dahlia ‘Onesta White’.

My only martagon lily – I can’t make up my mind what this colour is – orangey-pink?

I keep getting questions about the foxes, yes, they are still here, I see them every day and they often pass me in the garden unaware that I am sitting by the table working - suddenly we end up face to face and the foxes run for nearest bush to take cover. The cubs are getting quite big now and only when you see them together with their mum can you see there is still a difference in size. There is however still a marked difference in their bark and other sounds, and when the cubs are play fighting in the garden it sounds like they are tearing each other and the whole garden apart! I have had to go out quite a few times to break up their fights as I have been afraid they would make too much damage to my poor plants. Fortunately they are still afraid of me so cubs and mum scatter as soon as I come out and give them a stern talking to!

I have been trying to take photos and movies of them ever since they were born, but they didn’t emerge from behind the shed until late April and being so shy it has been very difficult. I never carry my phone around in the garden, and neither my camera, except when I am taking pictures, and the few times they seem opportune to appear right when I am standing taking photos you can bet your life all I get is a blurry line. This photo I took the other day is the closest I have got to a cub photo, and you probably have to enlarge it to see the cub next to the rubbish bin in the background. Cue the chilled out cat in the foreground! The foxes and the cats live side by side here and don’t bother each other. It is a myth that foxes eat cats – foxes are scavenges and the foxes in London would much rather have a half-eaten Mc Donald meal than having to go through the trouble of killing and eat a cat :-)

I have managed to film one of the cubs though, a small piece is part of today’s garden movie at the bottom of this post, around 3:15 minutes into the film.

My most successful pelargoniums, they are mostly surviving outside all year.

Hydrangea cuttings from my previous garden.

Cosmos.

Last photo - of beautyberry flowers. Soon these flowers will turn to gorgeous dark plum berries and it will be autumn.

My garden movie was filmed Monday this week – apparently the hottest August Bank Holiday Monday on record, it was 31 degrees in my garden during the day and filming had to wait until early evening.
Music: Song to the Moon from the opera Rusalka by Antonín Dvorák, performed by Joshua Bell.

As always, my movies are best viewed with the sound turned up, in HD and full screen if you have the speed for it.



That was a brief update, so much to tell – so many photos to show you. Monday this week we had sizzling tropical summer, 3 days later we have only 18 degrees C – it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of the British weather. If you have found my summer, please return it to me, I could do with another month or two :-)
Until next time, take care.

24 comments:

  1. Dear Helene, thank you for sharing these colorful pictures of your jungle... The weather has been rather dreadful this summer in Italy too. It has been awfully hot and without a single drop of rain for several days and watering was needed every evening. However some plants were almost burnt by the sun!I particularly enjoyed the video.

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    1. Lovely to hear from you again Guido, I am aware of your summer being painfully hot this year, our heatwave in June and beginning of July was nothing compared to what you had to endure in Italy! I hope your garden is happier by now, mine is - the cooler weather helps when rain is so inadequate.

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  2. Hello Helene, so nice to see your new post! The bathroom looks great (I mean equipment and colour solution) and the lift looks vreally furtive. Roses and hydrangeas are beautiful, but I can see you fight with chlorosa too, what do you use during the autumn? Sulfate pottasium? I am thinking about it as I don´t want to use any morte azotic fertilizer at the moment. If I buy another pelargonium next spring I have to have this Applebloosom variety, it is simply georgeous! Do foxes make too much mess while the whole fox family is living there?
    Regarding the weather it is everywhere the same in Europe, yesterday we had a tropical day over 30 degrees, today it is raining (Thnks God!) and we have 11 degrees less... Take care, Helene! I will check fb for new pictures from your garden.

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    1. Hello Helena, the Appleblossomn pelargonium is my most treasured pelargonium - easy to take cuttings from and the most hardy of them all, it survives down to zero and I have even had one outside all winter taking minus 1 (forgot to put it in the shed!) I usually put my pelargoniums in the shed only when forecast is for plus 0-2 or lower, which is not very often so in total it's a few nights in a row now and then during the winter, that's all.

      As for my hydrangeas, one of them suffer from interveinal chlorosis which can be caused by a number of things - I haven't had the time to investigate what could be the reason, but simple things like water logging and compaction can also lead to this (they grow in containers) - and more complex things like iron deficiency and other deficiencies.....take your pick, but one simple thing to start with is to take the plant out and check drainage holes, next might be remove some compost and replace with new, fresh ericaceous compost to lower pH. It's on my to do list... If you have the same problem I suggest you do the same :-)

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  3. Both your bathroom and garden are lovely and what a lucky delivery man. I bet with your garden being enclosed that the scents are lovely too.

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    1. Thanks Sue, I still can't believe my bathroom is finally done! As for the delivery man - anyone coming here who shows an interest for my garden, asking gardening questions and looking at my garden usually walks away with a free plant in a bag or something edible grown in my garden - or both :-)

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  4. It's lovely to see your garden again, Helene! Your garden looks spectacular even though the bathroom remodel undoubtedly competed with the plants for your attention. Congratulations upon the near completion of your bathroom - I imagine that signing off on the final work will be a tremendous relief. It was fun to see the fox too and I'm glad to learn that the foxes coexist peaceably with the neighbor cat - the same cannot be said the the coyotes that populate my own neighborhood.

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    1. Hello Kris, it has been a long process but yes, almost there now. I have no experience with coyotes, but I imagine they could have cats on their menu yes...the foxes are mostly a nuisance and not dangerous unless you corner them and try to catch them. But I would prefer the foxes to move to a different garden so this winter I am planning to take steps to get rid of that cosy place they have behind my shed!

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  5. You can have my summer, all of it, though no rain will be provided.

    Despite extremes of weather your garden is gorgeous. I'm happy for you to have a bathtub you can easily and safely use. Wishing you a mild autumn!

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    1. Thanks, uhm, not sure if my garden is ready for your summer, even if I wouldn't mind! I think many of my plants would suffer, sulk or even die. Hence the very different style of planting we have :-)
      A mild autumn would suit me well, at the moment it is chilly, breezy and in weather like this we could just as well have pouring rain - but we haven't.

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  6. Helene, what a lovely garden you created! Your roses - not only the flowers, but the leaves are so clean and healthy! And your tomato plants - OMG! There is no green mess there; they look like soldiers! Thank you for the video; I enjoyed watching it!

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    1. Hello Tatyana, glad you liked my tomatoes, it's the first time I am growing plum tomatoes, but I have had cherry tomatoes every year in the past. I am growing the plum tomatoes like this and cutting away most of the leaves so the tomatoes can get as much light as possible, once the tomatoes get to a good size. And staking them like 'soldiers' means they need less space and won't topple over if it is windy.
      Glad you liked the video, I usually make one at the end of every month.

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  7. Hej Helene!
    Ser fantastiskt fint ut i din trädgård. Allt ser frodigt och fint ut. Vi har haft en torr sommar, soligt och varmt, först i augusti har vi fått lite regn.
    Ha det fint /Marika

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    1. Hei Maribel, fint å høre fra deg igjen. Her er det opp og ned med været med altfor lite regn så jeg har måttet vanne mye i sommer. Mye arbeid! Håper på en høst og vinter med mere regn enn i fjor :-)

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  8. Dear Helen, What a inspirational post! It makes me feel to run to my garden! My absolute favorite are your dark roses. Congratulations on completion of your bathroom project! Now it is time to enjoy! Have a lovely day! Angela

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    1. Hello Angela, lovely to hear from you, the 'Black Baccara' rose is also one of my favourite and it is even darker than my camera can manage to capture. A lovely rose to have next to a pale pink rose, but it needs a little shade as it easily gets sunburned in hot, sunny weather :-)

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  9. Helene, I liked your new bathroom, the lift is useful for you and the rug is nice! Your crop is awesome, tomatoes seem to be tasty and healthy. I was not successful with them - Phytophthora killed all my tomatoes in one night after the heavy rain. I also love your plants, cosmos and martagon lily is pretty. The cucamelon is new to me, I've never seen it before.
    As always your video is interesting, the young fox is not afraid of anything. The second photo is amazing.
    Kisses and take care!

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    1. I can't send you summer because I lost it too. June, July and half of August was as spring, enough cool. :-)

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    2. Hello Nadezda, it seems summer has been rather unevenly spread out between us this year - extremely hot in Italy and Spain, much cooler further north. We had a very nice and hot June and first week of July but after that it's been rather so so. Not bad, but below average for the time of year so flowers, fruit and berries are maturing and ripening slower.

      I think you can grow cucamelons if you can get hold of them, but probably only as annuals. I don't know if mine will survive the winter yet, time will tell :-)
      Hope your autumn will be warm and sunny!

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  10. Giving cucamelons to Tesco delivery drivers made me smile! Your bathroom looks gorgeous - I hope that you have taken delivery of something wonderfully scented for your bath! I hadn't appreciated before how productive your garden is. I am impressed with the plum tomatoes!

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    1. Hello Sarah, I have a Yankee Candle in Cassis scent in my new bathroom, appropriately colour-coordinated with my aubergine towels (of course!) - it smells lovely :-)
      I try to grow things I like to eat and instead of having a dedicated 'allotment' part in the garden, which would kind of spoil the look of such a small garden, I just plunge edibles in between flowers wherever possible. Having a small garden is a bit like having a studio flat, everything is on display, there is nowhere to hide things and all the plants have to work hard to also look good whilst producing. I have a couple of new edibles on the go for next year too...one is Chilean guava, maybe I will get berries next year :-)

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  11. You have an impressive harvest! My heart beats for that 'Wildeve' Rose! Wow! Actually, all your roses are gorgeous. I have very few roses here because of all the shade. But in my little patch of sun, the tomatoes are doing very well this year. A little more sun because a neighbor's huge, old Oak fell down in a thunderstorm earlier in the summer. Our summer has been weird--hot at the beginning, tons of rain in the middle, and now fall-like temperatures for a few days. I'm looking forward to the warm-up: 20C to 26C for the next 10 days. Don't you just love Cosmos? They're great for arrangements and they have such a long vase life! Great photos, as always, Helene!

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  12. Congratulations on your new bathroom, Helene. I understand how thrilled you are with the lift as I love a soak in the tub too after a day in the garden. Your blooms are stunning as ever. A friend who lives near me has successfully grown a Brugmansia. I couldn't believe it would survive the cold winter temps. here. I lost summer too this year and can't believe fall is upon us. P. x

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  13. Precioso tu jardín. Por España, Cáceres, todavía tenemos verano. En agosto fue muy caluroso y las plantas sufrieron bastante, ahora bajaron un poco las temperaturas. El vídeo es precioso. Un beso.

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