A funny old summer. A couple of blisteringly hot energy sapping days interspersed with temperature plummeting days of solid rain and normal english summer weather in between. Today it’s raining heavily again, on Saturday it was warm, sunny and humid, a couple of flashes of lightning on Saturday night.
The tomatoes in the re-sited greenhouse aren’t ripening very quickly as we shift into autumn gear. The greenhouse is more shaded then previously, it used to get full-on south facing light most of the day. One Gardener’s Delight today is displaying a faint blush, Costoluto Fiorentino and Big Rainbow are still in various shades of pale jade green, Gypsy is a darker green altogether with even darker green shoulders.
I was hoping to do some gardening today – forget it! The oceans of Fat Hen that came in with the cow muck will have to await uprooting and the cutting back too. I’m not in the mood for being showered and slapped by sodden and rotting foliage. The hornbeams should be trimmed – but not today.
I also need to start taking loads of cuttings, maybe this afternoon i’ll retreat to the leaky potting shed and commune with the spiders whose webs festoon everything, Miss Havisham would be proud. My auriculas also go un-repotted
Late summer flowers and produce
As I look down the rainy garden border blobs of doubled white Shasta Daisy Beauty of Droitwich catch the eye, then on to the downward belled Galtonia candicans towards the cloud of golden daises of Rudbeckia triloba. Dots of blue agapanthus add a more subtle eye line down the front of the border. In the rose bed Lilium Black Beauty (in reality dark ruby and white) rear over 6 feet up out of the surrounding foliage, heads bowed by the rain.
The courgettes have started sulking with the dull cold weather and maybe i’ll get two squash out of 3 plants this year? This morning a Lungo Bianco courgette presses against the greenhouse glass palely looming out of the shadows, maybe the last at this rate!
The new greenhouse position has suited Epiphyllum oxypetalum, the Queen of the Night, a great gangly grower with paddle bladed leaves, she rewarded me after quite a number of years of sulking with a huge white heavily scented flower a few weeks ago. The flower did stay open into daylight but certainly darkness triggered the dramatic opening. There is another scaly maroon bud on its way but I may have to move her back to the lighter conservatory which may upset things!
An abundance of empurpled golden Victoria Plums plop to the ground from overladen branches where legions of flies are enjoying the harvest but seemingly few wasps. One can only eat so many and the jam is a bit insipid attested to by the fact I still have jars from two years ago lurking in the back of a cupboard.
No hornets so far are seen to be taking advantage of the somewhat smaller apples this year which are littering the ground unchewed, tipsy Red Admirals are few and far between.
The fruits of the Merryweather damson whose leaves were damaged by a heavy infestation of aphids earlier on are just turning (the aphids were also in the hazel trees, sticky honeydew rained down on my washing annoyingly for a couple of weeks and left sooty streaks on the polygonatum leaves before presumably nature balanced things out again). The Greengage decided not to flower this year and the Quince flowered with no set. Whichever critter likes the Early Rivers plums whipped them again, one minute the sparse crop was there, next day gone.
Brambles are aggressively thrusting their way out of the hedges, putting on it seems inches daily in another push of growth and the honeysuckle which has been cut back a number of times tries yet again to envelop bordering plants.
Self-seeded and planted Wild Angelica add a fuzzy froth of off-white to mauve flowers to the late summer streambanks and wood margins. The flower heads appear less defined en masse than some umbels, the supporting branches held aloft on sturdy stems complemented by broad leaves.
I’m enjoying Thunbergia gregorii bought from Hill House Nursery earlier this year. Huge orange flowers emerge from rusty furred pods. It’s only slightly behind a Morning Glory in the race to the top of an obelisk.
Crickets, blues and hobbies
Last weekend in the parish field a number of Common Blue butterflies (I think) were shut up for the night each having attached itself high up on a browned grass stem, and amongst the grasshoppers Dark Brown Crickets chirred. The Speckled Wood butterflies have emerged and occasional Peacocks and Commas dodge the showers. A new crop of Cabbage White caterpillars is steadily chewing it’s way through the rampant self-seeded nasturtiums.
The swirling Tree Bee activity stopped a few weeks ago. Our odd Starling is still it seems living in the nest under the eaves emerging in the morning and in the evening. We thought we saw a Hobby pass by a few weeks ago with its distinctive Swift outline. The Sparrowhawk has come crashing through the shrubs in the main border twice in the past week.
A mole is as usual taking advantage of the softened clay to go earth swimming, some plants in the newish (not as shady as I thought it would be) border are continually being uprooted by one of the many velvet coated pests which infest the garden!
The honeyfungus issue is still vexing me, I’ve lost a Stachyurus suddenly as well. How does a manky old plum tree survive? And honeyfungus must exist in a woodland environment so how does that work? Do other fungi compete with it and lessen its impact?