Thursday, 15 September 2016

What to do with a plum glut – GBBD Sept-16

Here in the South-East of England we have now clocked in exactly 2 months of amazing summer weather. I know it hasn’t been the same all over Britain, but here in my little corner it seems like we have been living in our own little bubble in terms of the weather. The yellow strip of dead lawn outside in the car parking area is a testament to how little rain we have had and I have had to water my garden practically every evening for the last 2 months. The amount of days we have had any rain at all can be counted on one hand – with spare fingers, and often the rain coming down has been very sparse. I can’t wait for a week of good, old British downpour!

Before I start my post today I have to give you all a big apology for being so absent in the blogosphere, I so appreciate all your comments and I read and treasure everything you write on my blog. In an ideal world I would have liked to visit all of you and commented back on all your posts too, as I know how much of an encouragement commenting is for blogging. Since I had my slipped disks back in May I have been struggling with recovery and I can’t sit with my computer for as long as I used to. In addition I have been battling the joy of getting adaptations done to my new house in order to get the house better suited to me – I have finally got approval for everything I need but it has taken since moving in last year to get there. Now phase 2 starts – getting the work done by the council, which probably isn’t going to be any easier or speedier from past experience. So between all this and watering my garden every evening to keep it alive it simply hasn’t been time to visit you all. I haven’t forgotten you, and some of you I have contact with on Facebook which for me is a quicker and easier way to make a short update. Please send me a friend request if you would like to keep in touch that way too, link to Facebook is right here on the left side.

And now to today’s photos, the first one is probably speaking for itself, but outdoor temperature is in bottom left corner, indoor temperature in the middle, photo taken Tuesday this week. And 33.8 degrees C is 92.8 F and 27.7 is 81.8 F - British houses don’t come with air condition normally, heatwaves like these lasts a few days or a week and then it is back to more manageable temperatures. We have had quite a few of these this summer though and I have really missed my old, Victorian house which had a very nice, cool downstairs all through the summer. It was 30 degrees this afternoon and almost the same indoors – living in a bungalow means there is no escaping the heat - the sun heats up the loft and acts like a duvet keeping the heat inside the house and I basically get almost the same  temperature indoors as outside.

The garden has been thriving in the nice weather (thanks to all the watering), and after a quick look at my GBBD post a month ago I can see that it looks almost the same – most of the plants in flower are the same. The lilies and agapanthus are finished and there are fewer roses, apart from that everything else from last month is still in flower. There are a few yellow leaves on the big tree next door, but that’s probably due to lack of water, apart from that, autumn has not started here.

The few times we have had any rain at all it has been a disappointing event, I took this photo Saturday 10 days ago, the last time we had any rain. This was the forecasted ‘A Whole Day Of Rain’ that I had looked so forward to. The photo is after 8 hours of on and off drizzly rain and you can see that it is still dry under the tree to the left and around the containers, not exactly bucketing-down-kind-of-rain! Maybe Friday’s forecasted rain will be any better? It is supposed to rain for 12 hours, some of it on the heavier side....but I don’t know, I have seen so many forecasts like that this summer and it just fizzles out before the actual day. We’ll see....but it is finally set to cool down a bit from now on, I am ready for some gardening work so I am fine with that!

OK, enough about the weather, I’m not really complaining, the last 2 months have been really good and I feel after a long, nice summer that I can meet the winter months in a better way and although the winter is short here, I am better prepared for whatever it throws at us. But first we are having a 3 months long autumn and the dahlias are the star of that.

The few dahlias that survived thanks to me being slow to get plants in the ground are looking good, these are all called ‘Happy Days’ and are bedding dahlias – meant to last one season and then thrown away. I am not very good at throwing out plants so I just kept them and they came back the following year. That’s 4 years ago and they are still happy in the pots.

I have finally got some echinaceas too - after failing spectacularly with the bare-root plants I bought in February I gave up and bought 2 pots in flower. They are still in pots (along with lots of other plants), but I hope to get them in the ground and fingers crossed, they might come back next year. Growing echinaceas in Britain is not easy, the winters are too wet and too mild.

These are ‘White Swan’ and ‘Magnus’ – the swan is a bit tatty at the moment but I am sure they just want to get their roots in the ground.

My experiment with cosmos in window baskets has gone very well, I grew them from seed and they are now much taller than me. Some are just growing and growing and haven’t started flowering yet, whilst the shorter varieties have been flowering for about 6 weeks. In front of them is my absolute favourite dahlia which returning visitors probably will remember from my previous garden.

This is Dahlia ‘Mary Eveline’. They used to be much taller in my previous garden, but there they grew in the ground. I will give them bigger containers for next year and hopefully that will make them a bit happier and make them less prone to drying out.

The 2 begonias I have are just starting to flower, they have been really slow this year and living up to their name ‘Primadonna’! I expect them to go on flowering until we get any frost, if we get any.

I have harvested the last of the plums, I don’t eat them myself because although I like plums it seriously upsets my stomach. Instead I have given the plums away to friends and neighbours and lately to anyone passing by in the street. I have had so many plums this year it has been unbelievable. I should have thinned out the fruit in June and July, but at that time I was mostly cooped up in bed in pain with my slipped disks so thinning plums was the last of my priorities. The result was loads of fruit, smaller than they should, but absolutely loads. (By the way....if you wonder....I haven’t forgotten how to spell my name, I sometimes write my name like that just to make things simple as this is what people here know me as – you see, although I usually write my name the Norwegian way, living here in Britain it is easier for everyone that I call myself Helen as no one can pronounce my name the Norwegian way now you know ;-)

Seeing all the plums still left on the tree a couple of weeks ago, I got this idea that even though I can’t eat the plums, maybe I can DRINK them?? I don’t drink wine as I get migraine from any kind of wine, but I can drink liqueur and similar things – even though I must admit I rarely drink any alcohol at all and whenever I am asked about alcohol consumption when I go to hospital and doctors I usually have to think if I have actually had any alcohol at all the last year - and the answer is often no. Anyway, I did some research on the Internet trying to find a good recipe for plum liqueur and like most things there were many, widely different ones.

I chose a combination of several recipes and for the first time in my life I bought a bottle of Vodka – 1 ½ litres and a small bottle of dark rum, and the sugar I chose is light muscovado sugar. I thought this combination sounded nice, the result will be a long wait!

All the recipes I found said to leave the plums to ripen properly before picking them so I tried to do that. Big mistake. I am not sure what has happened with these last plums but I picked 5 kg plums and almost half of them were rotten on one side even though many of them were still slightly green on the other side. I am rather new to growing plums, but the ones harvested earlier on I picked while they were more orange than dark red and they were all fine. Perhaps they were supposed to be orangy-red then? Not sure what kind of plumtree I have as I inherited this tree. Or maybe it is because most of the last plums were all the small ones?

No idea, but the earlier ones were beautiful and looked like this and I tested several batches before giving them out to see that the stone slipped easy out – and I gave to family and friends who would have been honest and told me if they had not been good.

Anyway, from those 5 kg I managed to get the 4 kiln jars filled with OK plums, and I was happy with that. I made 2 kiln jars with just Vodka, one with Vodka and a bit Rum and one with Vodka, Rum, a cinnamon stick and 2 star anise. The kiln jars are stored in my larder and needs a shake every day for the next week until the sugar has dissolved. Then it’s just a matter of patience. After 2-3 months the plums can be strained off and discarded and the liquid tasted to see if it needs more sugar, and then bottled. The liqueur will apparently change in flavour over time, 3-6 months after straining it will be drinkable, but will possibly be better after a year. Considering how little alcohol I normally drink I might have plum liqueur for the next 10 years! Or alternatively – this might be another thing to dish out to friends and neighbours if my stomach fails the taste test....

OK, back to the garden photos – here are my incredible sunflowers, they look like they have been fed with steroids, but they haven’t actually been fed at all, and the watering has been minimal so I have no idea why especially one of them is so tall. One of my garden helpers climbed up a step ladder and attached some extra bamboo poles for me as I was afraid it would break and we measured it to just over 4m tall. That was 2 weeks ago. I have no idea how I am going to deadhead it until he comes back next time as I can’t reach it with any tool from the ground.

The sunflowers have lots of buds further down and I think I will simply ask my garden helper next time to cut the tops off so the rest can develop into flowers – although it would have been nice to see how tall it could grow into!

In the same corner of the garden is my Fuchsia boliviana and it is now developing fruit. I can’t wait to taste it for the first time, it is said to taste a bit like kiwis, just not as sweet.

I am still harvesting tomatoes, this is what I got today and there are still lots left to ripen. It has been a good year for tomatoes and I have many bags in the freezer and have given away heaps too.

Here is a photo from my front garden in late afternoon and I have still not decided what to do here so it is a bit of a pot-jungle.

Inside the fence there’s only one thing planted, a rose I inherited with the house. This will be a project to get started with when we have had rain for a while and the ground has got softer. I had another count of pots today as I haven’t done that since last winter. Since then I thought I had planted loads, but it turns out I have an incredible 504 pots and containers counting everything not in the ground – from the smallest cutting pot to the largest container. I wonder if my pots have found a way of making offspring on their own?? No wonder it takes such a long time to water every evening!

Back in the main garden there are still lots of things in flower, this is the pretty Alstroemeria 'Duchess Louise'.

The Cannas 'Magic Pink' has been the most pleasant surprise this summer, flowering for the first time. I have only seen cannas on TV, in magazines and online so having my own and realising that they just go on and on flowering has been just amazing – I didn’t know! They throw out these stalks with really big, blowsy flowers and before you can cut off the last of the flowers there is another set of flowers on the same stalk. These are the last of the flowers I think, but 2 months of flowers is really good - happy with that!

Also here in my tropical corner is my Zantedeschia aethiopica, which is enormously big and I cut off its last flower just a week ago. I think that was it for this year, but compared to last year it has flowered for much longer, I have never had flowers in September before. It might be a combination of the plant getting more mature and the good, warm weather. My Zantedeschia keeps most of its leaves over winter and just looks a bit tatty for a couple of months. Come March it will start to produce new leaves and by May it will be in flower again.

The tropical corner is next to the Woodland Bed which is rather green at the moment, but come next spring it will burst into action again in the flower department.

Only exception to that is the hardy fuchsia which was here when I moved in. It has been flowering since June and is a welcome addition to my garden which otherwise has no other fuchsias apart from the miniatures and the boliviana. Next year I will start to build a new collection of large flowered fuchsias and fingers crossed, I hope to avoid the dreaded Fuchsia Gall Mite.

Also in the Woodland Bed I have an absolutely fantastic aster. I have never been able to grow asters successfully, they just end up with mildew, but this Aster ageratoides 'Ashvi' does not get this issue. It thrives even in dry shade and I grew it in a pot in my previous garden. Here on the edge of my woodland garden I have planted it in the ground and it has really taken off, probably doubled in size from previous years.

Those pretty, white flowers are like little lanterns in amongst the otherwise green foliage in the Woodland Bed.

I have always wanted a wisteria. Yep, I know – you need a big house to grow a wisteria against, preferably a mansion or at least a 2 storey big house. Not a tiny bungalow. Failing that you could always have a really big, walled garden and grow the wisteria along the whole wall. I do have a wall, but it is not big and not long. But I really, really want a wisteria. I have never seen one, or smelled one in real life – as with so many things I have just seen them on TV or online. But I want one. So when I finally read about the American wisteria I thought; Eureka! That’s the wisteria for me!

So I bought one, and a nice plastic container to plant it in. Yes, a container! The American wisteria, Wisteria frutescens 'Amethyst Falls' grows very differently to the Japanese and the Chinese wisteria, slower and with less invasive root system, and crucially – it doesn’t grow for miles on end. It is apparently suitable for container growing. I have seen photos online of this wisteria growing in containers, but I don’t know how old those plants were when the photos were taken. I dithered for a long time before buying the container. Not too small, not too big.

I just have to show you this photo of the daughter of a friend of mine, testing out the size of the wisteria container. Perfect size for a toddler! Her name is Jetta and she is so cute standing in it, I just had to include this photo :-)

And here is the wisteria after I planted it, this plant was £19.99 and I felt I got a lot of plant for my money.

However, it was growing on a trellis, twined up and down and all around it – and I wanted to grow a straight stemmed wisteria tree like I had seen online.

I carefully cut away the trellis – and the result was this. I counted 7 stems, most of them quite long. How do I turn this mess into an upright tree?

By being brutal! It will never get a nice shape unless it starts out right.

I couldn’t get myself to cut away everything down to a single stem so I left the 3 nicest stems and twined them around a garden pole I already had. It is a plastic coated metal pole meant for plants and I might get a new one just a bit taller. Or I might just leave it at this height, not sure yet. It needs a cross at the top to carry the canopy because once the desired height is reached, whatever grows afterwards can be trained outwards to make an umbrella shape and from that, the flowers will form and hang down. That’s the idea at least. Once the umbrella is formed, all the leaves on the stems can be removed.

This type of wisteria flowers on new wood, and usually flowers twice a year from a very young age, mine has a couple of buds and hopefully I might get to see some flowers this year. This is also a very nice feature as opposed to the Chinese and Japanese wisteria, which apparently need to be a good few years old before you can have any hope of seeing flowers. However, after having received my wisteria I have dived into reading more about it and I realise there is some contention about the scent of the flowers. Some places it says they smell beautifully, some places it says they smell very little whilst other places it says they smell like male cat wee! I would really like to hear from anyone growing this particular type of wisteria to hear your view on the flower scent, just so I can mentally prepare myself for it!!

Here is the wisteria in place in my front garden, in the sunniest spot, next to my not-yet-flowering bottlebrush. Maybe the bottlebrush can pick up a trick or two from the wisteria and get on with flowering, it is about time!

I haven’t showed you any roses yet so maybe it’s about time? This is one of my £1 pot roses from ASDA, I think all the soses have been suffering from lack of water lately – or for the containers perhaps more the constant drying out and watering. Watering once a day is simply not enough to get them through to the next. At least I hope that’s the reason for the brownish outer petals on many of the roses, it’s certainly not rain damage. Hopefully when we get cooler weather and the plants get a more constant supply of water the roses will look better again.

I haven’t really had a big second flush of roses like I normally have, I am blaming that too on the low water table. I have prioritised water to all the pots and containers and even though I have given the roses in the ground some water I probably haven’t given them enough. This one is gorgeous as always though, ‘Scepter'd Isle’.

This is the unknown rose growing through the apple tree, still throwing out new buds.

And this is another pot rose, with larger flowers. This one is also suffering from brownish outer petals.

And finally, another photo of Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ – with a little visitor. The bees really love these flowers and I can just sit down on my stool at any time I want to get a ‘bee on a flower photo’ – they will turn up in minutes.

That was the end of the tour for today, thanks for hanging in there, I know this was a really long post :-) My next post will be on the 30th September, with a movie from the garden.

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. I am off to try to reply to some of the comments you made to my previous post 2 weeks ago and I will try my best to make a round to you all this time.
Until next time, take care.


Just to let you know, we got rain last night and today….and after a week of hot weather and the hottest day of September in 105 years last Tuesday, the build-up ended with post-heatwave storm which brought flash floods causing widespread disruption many places. I heard the rumble of thunder early this morning, but the thunder never came over my house. It has rained quite a lot, but not enough to cause any flooding or problem around here.

I placed my washing-up tray that I use for deadheading around the garden in the middle of the patio last night to see how much rain we might get, and as you can see we got a nice amount, there is almost 2 cm in the tray. More than we have had in any rainfall since June. I can see from the news that there are flooding problems many places with roads, schools and underground stations closed. The very dry conditions here makes rainfall like this a huge problem as the rain doesn’t seep into the ground, it just stays on the surface and has nowhere to go. It has stopped raining now and the sun is shining again. No more rain on the forecast for the next 10 days for my area. 


  1. Helene, having a lots of plum you will have liqueur for 10 years? Wonderful! Lovely photos of roses, interestingly, they are in bloom till now, perhaps the weather is warm, "endless summer". Your Echinacea are very pretty, I'd like to grow them too.

    1. Most of my roses will flower on and off until Christmas, some even until I cut them down at the end of January as our autumn and winter is so mild. I have no idea how the plum liqueur will taste so it will be an exciting wait for it to mature enough to be ready to drink. I will keep you all posted about the progress :-)

  2. Hei Helene!

    Plommelikør er sikkert morsomt å lage når en har så mange plommer. Din Wisteria ser spennende ut! De er unektelig flottere å se på når de er oppstammet. Wisteria er en hagedrøm, men ikke særlig sannsynelig her. Nydelige roser!

    God helg!

    1. Takk Marit, jeg finner det vanskelig å motstå fristelsen til å kjøpe planter når det er så mange nydelig flotte ting som kan gro her! Jeg har en ønskeliste som kan fylle 3 A4 ark….men har nok hverken lommebok eller hage stor nok til det meste av det. Ha en fin helg!

  3. Wow, those plums are amazing! Wish I were close enough to grab a bag. All your plants are beautiful, but I particularly love that dahlia.

    1. Thanks Dorothy, the dahlias are the star performers for the next month or two, depending on the weather and I just love those amazing colours.

  4. Helene, only a dedicated gardener like yourself could get results like this, so many would have become tired with the continual watering. Hope they get cracking with your house modifications.

    1. Thanks Alistair, it has been a hard slog but it seems the summer is over from today….yesterday we still had 30 degrees – today it is 16, it feels cold!! As you might have seen from my update and probably have seen on the news, we got rain in the morning and some got a lot more than they would have liked! Have a good weekend.

  5. I'm glad you put the name of that dahlia as I have the same one and I hadn't made a note of its name. It's a beauty isn't it?
    Our plums have had a lean year this year. Usually they have a bumper year and then one where they do not produce much fruit at all. Unfortunately all of our trees - 3 plums nd 2 greengages -!have the same timetable.

    1. I guess you mean Dahlia ‘Mary Eveline’? I have had it for a good few years now, I think I had 5 originally but I have away 2 last year. They are real beauties and so photogenic :-)
      I am quite new to fruit trees so I am not sure what to expect, I thought I had a lot of fruit last year, both apples and plums – but this year is much better. I assume it has something to do with all the rain we had this spring and early summer.

  6. I could not help laughing about your plums. I still have plum liqueur left from last year and the year before last year. Yet I had so many plums again this year, so I made it again in two big stoppered bottles. I always use dark rum, sugar and cinnamon sticks.
    At last we have today better temperatures after a night with thunder and flashes of light but.....only a short heavy shower, sigh... I hope you are more lucky with the Echinaceas than I am, I tried them several times but they never survived the winters, I have a rather wet garden in winter, so I don´t try them again.
    Regards, Janneke

    1. Hmm, maybe we should go together and see if there are other people making plum liqueur, maybe there are vintage years where the liqueur becomes more valuable and we might sit on a goldmine :-)
      I didn’t get as much rain as I had hoped for, and some places over here they got incredible amounts so the rain was not exactly evenly spread out over here. I hope the echinaceas will survive, this is probably my last attempt, I gave up in my previous garden but this garden is very different so I thought I should at least try once!

  7. Dear Helene, your garden is still full of lush foliage and gorgeous flowers as well. Even if it's the 16 th September and in spite of the heatwaves and droughts you have had, it just looks as spectacular as it usually does. You must have been watering it very well! Have a good weekend and maybe a bit of rain too.

    1. Thanks Guy, yes I have been watering a lot, almost every evening for the last 2 months. But without watering, the garden would have died, maybe perhaps with the exception of the trees. Next summer I hope to have a watering system in place as I can’t have another summer like this with manual watering :-)
      I have tried to find your blog as I would like to visit you back and leave comments – but I can’t find a blog for you on the link embedded in your name. If you have a blog can you please leave the address for it in a comment here so I can find it?
      Have a great weekend!

    2. I am rather sorry.I created this blogger account a few months ago because I wanted to have a gardening blog myself, but then I realised it would have taken too much time to publish photos and articles, so I changed my mind and I did not create my own blog.

    3. Blogging takes a lot of time!!
      But I am very happy that I started it way back in 2011 and I think I will continue even though I am only doing 2 posts a month now. I am pleased you keep coming back to read and comment even though I am not able to reciprocate, if you want an easier and quicker way of writing and posting photos about your garden, try using Facebook instead. Or even easier – if you have an iPhone, use Instagram. You will find me on both Facebook and Instagram under Heleneutaylor :-)

  8. Despite the heat (93F/34C is verging on intolerable even here where we're used to such temperatures and have AC) and the lack of rain (I can sympathize there too!), your garden is bountiful! In prior years, I've put bags of lemons out for passers-by to take just as you did with your plums but this year the combination of drought and a horrific early summer heatwave cost me every single lemon on our tree - those that didn't drop overnight rotted in place until we removed them. For the first time in the 5 years we've been here I've had to buy lemons. You've handled your heavy harvest in a very clever way and I hope your plum liqueur provides you with years and years of gift giveaways. I've limited experience growing plums myself but my recollection is that the plums that grew at my parents' house didn't bear heavily every year (as was also true of the apricot trees) so maybe you won't face a plum deluge next year!

    I look forward to seeing how things work out with your wisteria tree. A prior owner planted wisteria here up against our 1-story house and, although I love the flowers, I'm afraid of what it would do to our roof so I've been trying - unsuccessfully - to remove the plant ever since we moved in. Wisteria confined to a pot strikes me as a much safer proposition. Happy gardening!

    1. Hello Kris, I had less than half of the plums last year so I guess this year was either a good year in a cycle or just simply good because of all the rain we had in the spring – I think fruit trees like a wet winter and early spring. I am in two minds what to do with the plumtree as it is way too big for that space and ideally I would just like to have someone chopping it down for me. A shame when you see what it can produce! So this week I have simply pruned all the branches a bit, I will leave it like that for now while I am dithering!

      I guess your wisteria was a Japanese or Chinese one? You would not be able to grow either type in a container, no matter how big a container you had! But the American wisteria I have bought is much less invasive and will be possible to grow in a container (after what I have read), but might need some root pruning when mature. It is far less invasive, but it is a wisteria after all!
      There is only ONE American wisteria, the one I have, Wisteria frutescens 'Amethyst Falls'. Anything else is either Japanese or Chinese and will invade you, the house, the garden and beyond, but that’s OK if you have a big house and a huge estate :-)

  9. I hope your wisteria thrives. I had one growing up the end gable of our last house and really miss the Spring spectacle and the scent. But it was a lot of maintenance. I shall follow your pot grown plant with interest.

    1. Hello Jessica, as I said to Kris, there is Wisteria and then there’s Wisteria. Which one did you have? If it was a lot of maintenance it was probably either a Chinese or Japanese and as I said to Kris above, you can’t expect to grow either of them in a containers. Only exception is as a Bonsai, I have seen them grown like that, but my goodness, if you grow one as a Bonsai you are in for a lot of work the first 10 years until the plant realises who’s the boss! I found this online: ‘the difference between Chinese and Japanese wisteria is that Chinese wisteria vines spiral clockwise while Japanese wisteria vines spiral in the opposite direction.’ I have no idea if this is true, but mine doesn’t spiral at all, apart from what I have twined it to do, and it doesn’t have shiny leaves – and it flowers on new growth, so it can flower several times a year. I suspect you will see more of my wisteria next year :-)

  10. Hej Helene!
    Det är så mycket som blommar hos dig fortfarande. Vi har haft väldigt torrt och väldigt varmt, trädgården ser bedrövlig ut, har inte vattnat tillräckligt. Ljuvliga plommon, hoppas din likör blir god, och att du kan njuta av den.
    Ha en fin helg / Marika

    1. Hei Maribel, vi fikk godt med regn sist fredag så det har holdt til i dag, men nå må jeg vanne igjen. Er heldigvis litt kjøligere nå, godt å få gjort litt i hagen igjen. Jeg kommer nok til å skrive om plommelikøren neste år, håper det smaker OK etter alt dette :-)
      Ha en fin uke!

  11. Best wishes for your echinaceas, Helene! They are so beautiful. Mine have all succumbed to a virus. I will be interested to see how yours do in a milder, less humid climate than mine. I love how you potted the wisteria; it should do very well. Your garden is lovely. I am glad you finally received some good rain. The last month has been extremely hot and dry here, but today we have had rain off and on all day. I am looking forward to milder weather!

    1. Echinacea are notoriously difficult to grow in Britain – nigh on impossible. Best way to grow them is to buy new ones in bud every year, that’s what the professionals advice. But some people manage to get them to come back year after year, not sure what Echinacea actually need to be happy but I have obviously not managed to give them that so far!

  12. Hello Helene, i've remembered you most with this spelling as our common name here is Helen. But i pronounce yours as He-leen or long e at the 2nd sylable, don't know if that's correct. Anyway, your plants are so plenty for someone with a slipped disc. I hope you don't tire yourself too much in the garden, or the position is always right. Take care Helene, our health is more important than our flowers, hehe! But your flowers are really amazing, a lot of colors. And those plums, oh so plenty, recipients will be glad.

    1. Hi Andrea, I am afraid vowels are pronounced very differently in Norwegian than in English – and the same vowel is pronounced different depending on which consonant it is in front of, making my name with 3 E’s sounding completely different in my language. I was married to an English man and I tried to teach him to say my name the correct way but he could not get his head around it and ended up fairly as you have – so back when we met he asked if he could call me Helen instead –and since then (that’s 17 years ago and we divorced long ago) everyone calls me Helen, but I still write my name mostly the way it says on my birth certificate :-)

      This summer I have just done the most important in the garden which has been watering – all the other chores has been waiting for my back to get better and the weather to cool down. I haven’t got a deadline for those 504 pots, they will be planted when I get around to it :-)

  13. Helene-your gardens are looking fabulous and all the tender loving care that you put into them is very evident. I love all your photos and the one of Jetta in the flower pot is one of the most adorable pictures I have ever seen! Your roses and the last photo of the echinacea with the bee are absolutely gorgeous! Happy GBBD and happy September!

    1. Thank you Lee, Jetta is a beautiful little girl - I will tell Jetta’s parents what you wrote:-)
      Happy September to you too, hope you have good gardening weather!

  14. Beautiful Dahlias! Lovely garden...

  15. Hello Helena, thank you for the sent (nearly 48 hours lasting) rain! Such a relief after nearly 4 weeks without a single raindrop...I really admire you are able to keep your garden so green and fresh as our land has resemled Sahara nearly the whole August and a part of September as well... I view your plum tree and plum harvest again and again and it seems to me a little like a greengage plum tree then a classical dark blue/violet plum which we have in our garden. I don't know if it is legal in UK, but where I live gardeners can distill a certain ammount of spirit from fermented fruits in official destilleries. It is very easy to preper your own fruit mass in a tun, you just have to pick up windfall and overriped fruit (not rotten!), add a little bit of sugar for easier fermentation start and sometimes mash and mix the mass by a big potato masher or a proper stick and put properly cover on a tun after any manipulation to avoid insects and fresh air in a canister. After fermentaion runs over, you bring your canisters to local destillery, pay and wait for a good quality slivovitz, calvados, etc. So if you decide to leave a plumtree in your garden for future seasons you can try easier way of making home made spirit:-). I wish you beautiful late summer/early autumn with some moisture! Hela

    1. Hello Helena – I am a bit confused about where I have ‘met’ you before – are you the same person as Heluše Milská which is on my friend list on Facebook? Only I can’t find a blog for you….do you have one?

      Thanks for the suggestion about my plumtree, I am still not sure what to do with it as the tree is way too big for that spot – just as the apple tree is too big where it is growing too. I suspect when they were planted they were just some small twigs, back more than 10 years ago. I think perhaps I will take out the plumtree and leave the apple tree for now.

      I hope you have a beautiful autumn too, please let me know here if you have a blog too as the link on your name doesn’t lead to any blog.

  16. I'm so happy for you that you finally got some rain, Helene. We've had a hot summer here, too, but it has rained on a regular basis--too much at times--so that I haven't had to do much watering at all, thankfully. Love the photo of your friend's daughter--now that is a clever way to judge the size of a pot:) As always, you have so many different lovely blooms, but what I was especially drawn to were the cosmos. An ordinary flower, some might say, but one of my favorites, and one that didn't come up for me this year, sadly. I hope the Echinacea do well for you; they really are bee magnets. And by the way, my grandmother's name was Helene, too, so I've always thought your name was beautiful.

    1. Thank you for your comment about my name, that’s kind of you to say :-)
      You have been very fortunate to have had rain on and off, I heard on the news the other day that this summer has been the hottest ever – for the whole planet, which has never happened before. I am happy we have had a good summer, but I am equally happy autumn has started so the weather is cooler and I can get a bit done in the garden. I cut off the leaves on all the strawberry plants last week-end and I am pleased to have got started on things like that, much more to come the next 6 months!

  17. Dear Helene,
    yes you are right, I am the same person who asked you for friendship on FB. I don't have a blog as I am very short of time and if I have at least a little bit more of this rare matter I would give it to our garden which despritely needs it :-)! Tell me something about plants which were incontinetly planted as small twigs... We have aprox 40 year old grandiose spruce in the middle of our garden and have been hesitating from our occupancy what to do with this giant...
    Regarding magiun and absolut alcohol made from fruits it is no problem to make is from apples as well. May be your digestion would be happier anyway. If you decide to try magiun, choose the way with no stirring, just 24 hours long boiling on the lowest heat with no touching! Just a few last hours you can stirr the upper part which is the least boiled. Yesterday night I was sitting on the footstole, reading your blog and waiting for another batch of plum magiun boiling on the stove. Now I close my eyes and see just a mass of dark violet plums...:-). Enjoy your beautiful garden! Hela

    1. Well, I am glad we have cleared that up, I also feel that posting to Facebook is quicker but I try to post here twice a month :-)
      I am not sure what you ask me regarding the spruce, have you got 1 spruce or several? Do you know what kind of spruce it is? I have never been afraid of chopping down a tree if it is not suitable or if it has got too big – it’s just another plant, even if it is a bit bigger than other plants in your garden! Only exception would be if it was a very old tree, like hundreds of years old, maybe I would be more reluctant to chop it down.

      In my previous garden there was a tall cedar tree when I moved in, with branches all the way to the ground. It took almost a quarter of the garden and some of next door garden. I ended up removing the lower branches so I could plant under it, and as the tree grew it got a nicer canopy, a bit like a palm tree. You can see a post about it here from May 2014:
      Depending on what kind of tree you have, you could always try to lift the crown first and see for a year or two if you like it, if it looks terrible then chopping down could be the next thing.

  18. One day I will visit the UK, its on my bucket list, then I will come and peek over the fence to see your garden ;-) Love your tropicals, Cannas should grow well for you, my aunt in Germany grows them for many years. I know she digs up the rizomes and stores them in sand in the basement. Here in Florida they grow like weeds but they do get lots of rain (wish I could send some your way).... ah, the wisteria. I am looking forward to growing reports. I tried to grow mine, a white flowering variety, into a standard, but I could not keep up with cutting off the many meter-long tendrils, holding on to everything and everyone in their reach ;-) I finally let it lose on a pergola. I am thinking yours will do much better and will obediently become a beautiful wisteria standard :)

    1. I assume your wisteria was either Chinese or Japanese as the only American wisteria is the one I have and it is blue – and this is the only one that will be possible to grow in a container or to a happy standard long term although I have seen Japanese wisterias on photos as standards when young – I suspect they are a huge job to keep in check as they grow older. I will post about mine when I have some news, at the moment I am hunting for a suitable cross to fit on the top of the pole for the umbrella canopy. I think I might have to make it myself….
      If you do come and visit UK and come to London you can do more than peek over the fence – you can come and visit me! I have already had blogging friends visiting me from America before, and from Russia too – you are very welcome to come for an afternoon and see my garden, just let me know a few days in advance :-)

    2. And thank you so much for your message on my website guestbook, my gingerbread section springs to life every October or so and has very good visitor numbers for a few months – incredible really, since I haven’t really made any updates since I stopped baking in 2002. But the visitor gallery is really amazing, I am stunned at times to see what people make from my recipe and pattern!

  19. Hello Helen !
    You have posted on so much I am afraid I am going to forget to comment on something that made me smile .. little one in the pot was too cute ! Jetta ? so sweet !
    The plum glut is amazing and how kind of you to package them up for people to have ... all of your garden and pots are amazing .. I can't get over how much you have to contend with and all of it being so pretty .. I too love wisteria but know it would be too much for me .. I loved the one our neighbors had when we lived in Holland .. Looking at your garden reminds me of those times which were amazing.
    In any case ... I hope you are feeling better .. I know too well how painful the back can be .. it takes such a long time to heal and even then we have to be so careful !
    Our so called rain days were also disappointing ... this season has been wicked .. broke many records here too ..
    Lets hope next year it will be a more gentle kinder one for us gardeners ?
    Take care !
    Joy : )

    1. Thanks Joy, I am always mindful of my back when out in the garden, but I didn’t actually do anything special this time (my 8th slipped disk in the lower back), it just happened. Arthritis is what I struggle most with in terms of gardening, but my goal is to get out and do a bit of pottering every day as long as it is not raining – all year round. As you know, my gardening year doesn’t stop for winter, and I love the quiet time in January and February where I have time to do all the things there never seem to be time for the rest of the year.
      As for wisteria, I have high hopes for mine and I especially hope everything I have read about the American variety is true – or else I will be failing to grow it in a container :-)
      Take care of yourself and enjoy the autumn in the garden!

  20. Dear Helene, gosh, your garden looked simply beautiful in the middle of September. I always admire its lushness and considering that you had so little rain that is quite extraordinary! You truly must have done a super good job with the watering.
    I love, love, love your dahlias, especially the single ones, they are all so pretty! I wanted to grow dahlias for the first time in my garden this year, but failed to plant the tubers on time. I think I got them in the pots only in July and even August. Two out of the four tubers failed, but the other two grew into nice plants and I have the first two buds on one :-)! Can't wait until they open into real flowers! But boy, the snails are after them. Dahlias seem to be their favorite snack.
    Regarding the brown edges on your rose petals, could it be that you simply have thrips? These tiny insects are very common here in the summer. They prefer heat and humidity and maybe the conditions were just right for them in your unusual warm summer.
    Wishing you that your recovery from the slipped discs continues in the best possible way!
    Take good care,

    1. It’s funny you mentioned thrips, I had thought about that too – the cold and wet start to the summer, then very hot for very long. Perfect for thrips. I don’t usually have a problem with them as I regularly have to spray for greenflies with my special fermented soy spray and that works against all sucking, munching pests, including thrips. But this summer I have hardly seen a greenfly so I haven’t sprayed since June! It’s been almost weird how absent the greenflies have been, not that I am complaining – but by not spraying I have then ended up with thrips instead. The greenflies are back now that the weather is cooler so I have already sprayed once. It might not be enough for the thrips so I will try to keep on top of it now. The things we battle with in the garden…. :-)
      Have a good weekend!

  21. A friend goes absolutely nuts over Japanese plum wine, so I bet your liquor will be good. I hope it won't trouble your stomach after all that work.

    Your garden looks great despite the lack of rain. I hope you get more, but in nice, steady showers instead of floods. I drove through some heavy downpours Sunday and when we got back to our campground, we found it dry as a bone. Odd how one area gets too much while another doesn't get any.

    1. We are promised a whole day of rain tomorrow, I hope it will come because I didn’t water my garden tonight. Some of the rain will apparently be heavy showers. And after tomorrow there is no rain at all the next 10 days. A bit more spread out would have been nice, but I am grateful for every drop we get :-)
      I will report back about the plum liqueur once it is ready to be tasted – about this time next year!

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