Gardening

There isn’t a whole lot to do in the garden this time of year but I wanted to try out my new secateurs.

Here they are! Japanese and very sharp

I ended up chopping a load of lavender that I hadn’t wanted to cut back at the end of August as it was still flowering quite well, some grasses that had got out of control and some nepeta.

I still have a globe thistle that is in flower and the winter flowering heliotrope is doing awfully well.  Everything else is pretty dormant – perhaps unsurprising as it got down to 2C the other night.

Winter flowering heliotrope

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

Lavender

I’m watching the Election 2017 right now – I won’t comment on it here because whatever I write will be wrong, wrong, wrong by the time you read it. Instead, I thought I’d mention how nice the lavender outside St Paul’s Cathedral is looking.

The lavender outside St Paul’s Cathedral has started to flower

The gardeners have been doing quite a bit of new planting.  I’m sure it will look brilliant once it gets started.

Like this

A bit off topic but I’ve just read a super book, “Only Ever Yours” by Louise O’Neill.  It was recommended by someone on Mumsnet – she did tell me that it makes The Handmaid’s Tale look like something out of Disney.  It has a terrible title but basically it is fairly dark Sci Fi.  Someone else said that we should all make our teenage daughters read it but I’m not certain that I would want my daughter to read something so unpleasant.  In any case, she is three so we have a bit of time to go.

Rose garden

My roses seem to be doing rather well.  They aren’t fully flowering yet (there are loads of rosebuds yet to blossom) but the flowers that are there are looking very pretty indeed.  They’re also quite fragrant – the rain has done them good.

Gertrude Jekyll
Gertrude Jekyll
Claire Austen
Claire Austen
Munstead Wood
Charlotte – not yet in flower
Rosemoor
Anne Boleyn
William Shakespeare
Gertrude Jekyll – this seems the best flowering
Rose garden

The lavender has lots of bracts but isn’t yet flowering.  This is probably a good thing – it tends to be the last thing that flowers and once that is done, that is it (more or less) for the summer.

Thyme is flowering
Giant fennel

I got the roses from David Austen a couple of years ago – I planted them as bare root plants in February / March (it was drizzling at the time).

Things to consider

My son announced yesterday that he wanted to make a model alien from this Project X Alien Adventures book.

Here are the things we need to make the model – I don’t have them all

Obviously, I don’t have pipe cleaners.  Or sticky eyes.  I’ll buy some the next time I am in Cass Art.

There are a couple of things that I need to add to my shopping list – pretty much all plants.  The slugs have now eaten all my petunias, most of the pelargoniums (bit of a surprise, that), the flowers (but not the plants themselves) of some alpine plant I’d put in there and all the bugle.  The Greek oregano that I’d planted elsewhere is much reduced.  However, they have also started eating the bastard creeping yellow buttercup.  Which is a hideous weed – it is super invasive and is basically my nemesis.  On balance, I think I prefer slugs to the buttercup weed.

The question is, what can I put in the flowerbed, given that the slugs have eaten everything but thyme?  I absolutely love heather but my husband really wants small plants in that bed so they don’t clash with the box hedge.  I’ve seen heather up Headon Warren that comes up to my waist so that’s out (I have no idea how you would prune heather).  I would just bung some more lavender in there but my husband has got a bit sick of the endless lavender (to be fair, it is one of the only things the slugs won’t eat, apart from winter flowering heliotrope).

Perhaps sedum?  More sea holly?

…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