It feels as though summer has happened too early this year

Or is it only my garden?  The buddleia are starting to go over, as is the lavender.  I don’t usually clip both back until the end of August.

Buddleia
Lavender

Although there are lots of bees still on on the lavender, all the wizened bits are making it less attractive.  One thing that do like is the globe thistle.

Here it is

The plant itself is not very pretty (well, it is a thistle) but the flowers are superb and the bees seem to love it.  Once it has gone over, I leave it for a while then chop it back.  It is a nice, hardy, drought tolerant plant and comes back each year.

Surprisingly, the bees don’t yet seem to be interested in the sea holly.  Maybe they’re still enjoying the lavender too much.

This looks GREAT – but no bees

They also seem to still like the six hills giant nepeta – but really, it does need chopping back a bit.  I am a bit reluctant – Monty Don has said that it starts flowering again once you chop it back but it doesn’t do so when I do that.

Six Hills Giant – now looking a bit tired

The thing is, once everything has stopped flowering, what happens in August?  We admire the berries and that’s about it?  The leaves start to fall?

Hydrangeas are still doing well – some aren’t fully in flower yet.  The Strong Annabelle is starting to turn brown though

Foxgloves 2017

My foxgloves are also looking rather pretty.  Most of them are in the lower garden, which was where I’d put the smaller plants (the larger seedings had gone in the wildflower patch – these flowered last year).  It doesn’t really fit in with the original “Japanese” theme of the lower garden but never mind.  Foxgloves are in flower for a short time and it is wonderful when they are.

I’m sure that you know this already but foxgloves are really poisonous.  If you touch them, please wash your hands afterwards (although, to be fair, this is a good idea whenever you’ve been gardening).

Foxgloves
The bees love them
It’s unusual for white foxgloves to get this tall
I just love this colour
Foxgloves at the back

Foxgloves in the lower garden

…and get into Autumn

Yesterday was the first day that really felt properly autumnal so far.  At the weekend we had rain but that can come at any time.  It was slightly chilly first thing in the morning – so I wore my (thin) cardigan.  Over the weekend, I gave my garden another prune, including the bracts on most of the lavender plants.  This often makes me feel rather guilty – although most are done, there  were still a few that bees still seemed to be interested in.  However, the plant itself will need the bracts gone if it is to have enough light on the leaves over Autumn and Winter.  Plus, I had a couple that were still going strong so I left those alone.  It’s funny, fancy varieties of lavender often have a short season or only a few bracts but the cheap “standard” lavender goes and goes and has super long bracts.  I counted six bees on one – perhaps it’s because they have less to eat now.

The first leaves have fallen
The first leaves have fallen

I also gave the little bay bush in the rose garden a reasonably hard prune.  I’m never quite sure what to do with bay clippings – yes, they count as a herb but they are also quite woody.  In the end I bunged them in the compost bin with the clipped lavender bracts and some marjoram; my compost bin is completely full.

The leaves on the trees in the IoW haven’t started turning yet, although I think they have started in other parts of the UK.  At present, only my large acer’s leaves have started to change colour (in spring, they are a dark red).

One of my acers
One of my acers

Ventnor Botanic Garden

The other day we went to the Ventnor Botanic Garden.  This is the sort of thing that you think the children will hate but you announce you are going there anyway on the grounds that you have spent days and DAYS schlepping to places that are almost or completely child centric.

In the end, they had a pretty nice time.  So did I – (perhaps unsurprisingly), they have some amazing plants.

Tree Echium - I've only ever seen these in the IoW
Tree Echium – I’ve only ever seen these in the IoW
White globe thistles - you can't tell here but these were covered in bees
White globe thistles – you can’t tell here but these were covered in bees
Giant lilypads
Giant lilypads
A dell
A dell

While we were there, we went on the tour of the tunnel going from the gardens to the cliff face (I think it was at 2pm but I have no idea whether they do it every day).  Don’t do this if you are afraid of the dark, claustrophobic or a bit unsteady on your feet.  My son carried the torch at the front after telling the gardener (a young, crusty dude, would look totally at home in a pub in Brighton) giving the tour that he wasn’t afraid of anything.  He hugged him at the end – think the gardener was a bit surprised.

Plants still left for the bees

My lavender is starting to look a bit tired in places.  I love lavender but, by the middle to end of August, it is often Done.  Thankfully, I do still have a few things still to flower or in bloom.

Hobbit Sea holly and Imperial Grosse lavender (this one is still going)
Hobbit Sea holly and Imperial Grosse lavender (this one is still going)
Sunflower!
Sunflower!
Globe thistle - nearly there
Globe thistle – nearly there
Marjoram - nearly there
Marjoram – nearly there

Where have all the bees gone?

Well, they’re on my cotoneaster.  I absolutely love cotoneaster – I know it has a dull, 70s / 80s feel but it looks spectacular when it is flowering or has berries.  It’s great for the June gap (when the Spring flowers like primroses have stopped but before the summer flowers like lavender have started) and bees love it.  I ended up sitting for ages watching them buzz all over it.  I took lots of pictures but I’ll only put one here.

Cotoneaster on a warm June evening
Cotoneaster on a warm June evening – if you look closely, you can see a bee

They’re also having a party in my foxgloves.  I know I bleat on about foxgloves  all the time but I love them so much.  They look terrific and bees love them.  Plus I get a thrill from having such deliciously witchy plants in my garden.  I think that in a couple of weeks, I’ll start off next year’s batch of foxgloves.

Foxgloves in the wildflower meadow
Foxgloves in the wildflower meadow
Foxglove that's appeared randomly somewhere else
Foxglove that’s appeared randomly somewhere else

Sea holly seedlings

So, after my attempt at growing sweet violets from seed (which wasn’t awful, just nothing happened), I am pleased that my sea holly seedlings seem to be going okay.

Sea holly seedlings
Sea holly seedlings

Last weekend, I had a go at repotting the larger ones – I didn’t have enough pots for the smaller ones but that is okay – now that they are thinned out, I can repot those in a couple of weeks.  This variety is the “Superbum” and I hope that most of these survive.

If they do all survive, it may be that I have more than I can plant (even allowing for my ability to overplant) so I may ask my gardener whether he would like a few.  They are very salt tolerant and bees love them.