pond dipping

We have finally managed to clear an enormous mass of blanket weed from the pond – so my baby-newt finders have been busy!  They tell me that there are ‘loads of babies’. Brilliant!  Our pond certainly is a haven for wildlife.  In the pond the irises are in flower and the water lilies are in bud, so if the weather stays mild these should be glorious for the July open gardens.

The borders in the garden are looking quite lovely.  Most of the roses have started to flower, as have the peonies (which are very late this year).  My ‘jewel garden’ is a picture – the Clematis ‘Westerplatte’ and Cirsium rivulare look stunning planted with purple thistles, deep red astrantia and pink roses.   I’ve kept white and yellow out of that border and the rich colours blend together beautifully.

However – while the borders are coming on nicely, my harvest so far this year is a totally different story.  There are a few things that are doing exceptionally well – and from memory these were planted out just prior to our very hot weather back in May (note to self, improve your records!) – but the majority aren’t performing as I would expect.  Not enough rain, now too much.  I have courgettes, carrots, sweet corn, beans, peas and strawberries that really need some good ‘hot’ weather.

But, as is life in the vegetable garden, it’s not all gloomy.  Had a gorgeous tea tonight using chilli, basil, mangetout and garlic.  I like to use one element every day – to have four, plus a vase of flowers – is enough.  If I remain focused on the aim of the vegetable patch – to feed us consistently through the year, including the hungry gap – then the kale bed and all the alliums are doing their job, in the timeframe required!  Must relax!




the essence of summer

Suddenly the garden is full of flowers.  I’ve had my first sweet peas, cornflowers and ranunculus, all going into a sweet posy to adorn my dressing table.  I’m a huge fan of a posy of flowers – always scented, preferably taken from the garden, usually displayed in a jam jar!  Small but perfect.

My cornflowers are an annual favourite, reminding me of many years ago when I visited Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech.  Planted by Jacques Majorelle and later owned and maintained by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, the stunning garden was brought to life for me by the buildings painted ‘Majorelle blue’.  The colour has been described as “strong, deep and intense, it accentuates the green of the leaves and makes them sing!”  In England, the closest I get is the cornflower!

In years past the essence of summer for me would have included intense heat, humidity, a swimming pool or the ocean.  My Buxton summer has included none of these!  We have had some warm days (22 degrees, not exactly hot!) and plenty of rain.  But when the sun does shine the countryside is so very charming and beautiful.

What makes the English summer so stunning is the flowers – cornflowers, roses, iris, sweet peas, peonies, floxgloves.  They make our summer very beautiful.  They are my essence of summer.

Please enjoy the earth laughs in flowers where garden bloggers share their ideas on the essence of summer!


first open garden

My first open garden has happened.  The ‘guinea pigs’ were 61 people from Glossop Gardeners, all needing tea, coffee and cake at the same time.  I made the cakes (5, yes, 5 cakes).  I had a good friend and my lovely daughter to manage the tea service.  And I had a wonderful time walking around the garden talking to our visitors.

It rained for a large part of the day, then just as they arrived the sun shone.  The gods were smiling on us.  The garden did look really lovely.  There were plenty of flowers – persicaria, euphorbia, rhododendrons, iris, astrantia, geraniums…  I could go on.  One of the most popular flowers was a beautiful pink lilac – in the 8 years that I have lived in this house this is the first time that it has flowered.  I didn’t even know that it was a lilac. I think the hot spring spurred it into into action.  Amazing.  The white climbing rose that I tied horizontally at the front of the house looked superb.

Most asked about plant was a new Filipendula ‘Red Umbrellas’ that I put in a couple of months back.  I’ll be surprised if the lady at Hollies Plant Centre doesn’t sell a few more in the weeks to come.

The vegetable patch has been roaring along – but has now started to slow as the weather cools down again.  I’m pleased that we’ve had some rain – with all the water butts empty the garden did need a really good soak – but I’m happy for the rain to slow down for a few weeks now!  The sweet peas have started to flower, mangetout are ready for picking, salads are lovely, cutting flowers are coming along nicely, chillis are excellent, herbs, potatoes, herbaceous borders…  there is a lot of good news.

What hasn’t been so great are the slugs.  I’ve done a double nematode application but they keep on coming.  The kale / early spring bed has not fared so well under the onslaught. And the warm, sultry weather has been terrible for greenfly which have covered the roses. I have been diligently spraying with warm soapy water and am now winning.  The other really sad thing in my garden is the absolute dearth of bees – I’ve had plenty of bumble bees, but very few honey bees this year so far.  Next year’s hive installation should fix that.