Solstice

As the march of the sun up the sky comes momentarily to a rest above us, before beginning its slow journey back down, it is turning out to be rather a strange June as far as the weather goes.

Ammi majus flowerbuds about to open

Some days are cold, damp and grey, often punctuated by showers; sometimes the sun breaks through for an hour or an afternoon; and every now and then there is a rare day of wall-to-wall sunshine followed by a languid summer’s evening. We seize as many of the long dry evenings as we can to spend in the garden, trying to overtake the merciless march of weeds in the vegetable garden; sowing, tending and planting out crops. One cool dark evening, I conceded my efforts as the heavy air seemed to hum with impending rain; although I couldn’t help but admire the clouds as I retreated, woven strips of grey silk that flowed across the sky.

Cloudy June evening sky

The bees seem undeterred by the winds, which have ransacked the garden and left the once-perfect mounds of Geranium x magnificum splayed helplessly awry.

Bee on flower of Geranium x magnificum

Bee on flower of Geranium x magnificum

Their sprawled stems still drone with the industry of dozens of bees, even as mischievous gusts of wind make landing a fine art. The garden does seem rather full of bees; the raspberries vibrate with them, while they can usually be found emerging from the deep bells of the foxgloves, or busily foraging among the mountain cornflower blooms.

Bee on Centaurea montana flower

While the statuesque globes of Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ are waning now, their petals lost and seed beginning to ripen, the baton has been passed to the next wave of ornamental onions: the blackcurrant majesty of Allium atropurpureum.

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' immature seed head

Allium atropurpurea

Sweet williams are also getting into their stride in a lovely array of pinks and whites, while the white pinks are coming into bloom (I must confess that the concept of ‘white pinks’ does always make me smile: I believe ours are Dianthus ‘Mrs Sinkins’ ). In general, while we long for a run of warm sun-filled days, the garden seems to relish the cooler mixture of sunshine and rain; everything pushing up lush and tall – especially the lawn!

Xander in the garden

Foxgloves in the long border

In the greenhouse, the first fruits have set on our tomatoes, while the cucumbers are also in flower, so we can look forward to harvests in the not too distant future. My chillis and aubergines are quite behind this year, though – I sowed them late, and the cooler temperatures have given them a rather measured pace – unlike the radishes outside, which are cropping fast and furiously!

A bunch of radishes from the ground

Round and long radishes

Mix of round and long radishes from the gardenIt seems too soon for the days to be shortening again already. Fingers firmly crossed for some balmy summer days and nights to enjoy the garden at its best.

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16 thoughts on “Solstice

  1. Wow! That woven strips of silk sky pic is amazing and a perfect description. My purple sensation are at the same stage as yours. They’ve lost the vibrant purple but are still interesting.

    • The sky was lovely, I stood and gazed at it for a while! The purple sensation are indeed still interesting despite losing their colour, such perfect spheres.

  2. The sky is amazing. My Allium atropurpureum didn’t come back this year, even with all the rain, but I might try them again, they are a fabulous colour. If it’s any consolation I started my aubergines in January but with the cold weather and the clouds making light levels less than usual mine are also very behind – I have a few flowers but no sign of fruit yet, the hot weather now may spur them on.

    • I only planted a handful of the A. atropurpureum in the autumn, so they may be one-year wonders, but I love their colour. My aubergines are not even thinking about flowering yet! Still, the salads outside are happy, and not bolting quite as fast as usual, so as always there are winners and losers…

  3. That sky-scape is a painting surely? – gorgeous. Interesting weather ain’t it? Yesterday it was so hot at work I could barely take three steps without breaking into a sweat. Plenty of rain helps make everything just GROW and so, like you, I’m constantly haring about trying to keep on top of it all. Pleased you’ve got so many bees – me too! Dave

    • The sky’s quite something isn’t it? I was very taken with it.
      Yesterday was sweltering – and our office radiators came on! I’m sure that system is rigged up backwards: cold in winter, hot in summer…
      It’s good to see so many bees about, despite worries about their decline.

  4. happy solstice Sara, beautifully written, poetic with a touch of wistfulness, I always feel a tinge of saddness on the summer solstice, now we are heading into the darkness where as the winter solstice cheers me as we head into the light, your weather sounds similar to ours except we do not have hot days but warm, I love all your blues and purples, Frances

    • Thanks Frances – happy Solstice to you too! I think it is best not to think of the approach of winter just yet: while the days may be shortening, they are still summer days (in theory) and shall be for a couple of months to come.
      I’m really pleased with the repetition of purples and blues through the beds, even my husband commented favourably on that out of nowhere!

    • Thank you, snowbird. The cat does love nothing better than roaming the garden, chewing on the catmint or ornamental grasses. We’re doing really well with salad crops at the minute.

  5. Our June has also been cooler with more rain, and our plants also seem to respond positively, though they are certainly blooming later than last year. However, we seem to have fewer, not more, bees.

  6. I love that Allium atropurpureum, a lovely dark purple, I might have to try that next year, I’ve got the ‘Purple sensation’ but the darker purple one coming out after that would be lovely. Lots of plants for bees. What an amazing picture of the sky.

    • Thank you; it’s a beautiful dark purple to follow on – and a different shape which contrasts well. Our borders are just humming with bees: a happy sound.

  7. So many of your plants we have here too. I like that very much. I have been beating myself up about not growing the demanding and interesting stuff but your pictures cement my sense that simple combinations are hard to beat.

    • You must have good taste πŸ˜‰ Simple combinations bring so much pleasure, and there’s quite enough work to keep up with in the garden without too many plants that need cosseting.

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