We woke to gentle rainfall this morning, the long hot weeks of sunshine finally faltering to give way to a greyer day, the morning laced with light rain: a temporary reprieve by all accounts and therefore all the more welcome.
The garden already seems to have perked up with this welcome drink; just last week I had found myself having to water by hand parts of the borders which sagged with thirst: the usually sprightly leaves of water avens (Geum rivulare) suddenly sprawled flat on the ground. Otherwise the garden has prospered in this long hot summer. The sweetcorn are ready for picking; nearby sunflowers have opened in a flourish of gold – though somewhat frustratingly they have fixed their faces away from the house towards the easterly skies, so that we must walk to the very end of the garden to enjoy them in their full glory.
The greenhouse is producing tomatoes and cucumbers in profusion: more than we can eat fresh, so that the freezers are fast filling up with portions of tomatoes, some slow roasted whole, others chopped and briefly cooked before bagging.
We are growing a mix of Shirley, Sakura and Sungold this year; the sweet orange cherry tomatoes of Sungold are particular favourites in our lunchtime salads.
This month I have been particularly enjoying the purple spires of Teucrium hircanicum ‘Purple Tails’, which sing out against the lime-green froth of Alchemilla mollis here at the front of the field border. Having grown these from seed and planted out the strongest plants in the autumn, I then inadvertently weeded out several in the spring, mistaking their foliage for the deadnettles which proliferate here. Fortunately a trio survived, and I hope to sow more seed next year to increase them further.
The shape of their lofty tails is repeated above, as July also brought the buddleia into flower, and with it a host of Peacock butterflies arrived to join the Small Tortoiseshells and Whites that have filled the air all summer. The peacocks favour the buddleia, while the tortoiseshells are more often gracing the tall clusters of Verbena bonariensis flowers that bob through the borders.
Returning for another year, the seed-raised Pennisetum villosum are once again covered with striking flowers which glow in the sun above a nest of fine foliage, arching towards the lawn alongside similarly shaped crocosmia spears.
While the leaves on the Echinops ritro tend to fray a little at the edges, this does little to detract from the glory of their blue-starred globes; pictured here with the first starry flowers just beginning to emerge, though now we are enjoying dozens of these globes opened into full splendour.
I am thrilled with the mounds of white-tipped crimson scabious that abound in the field border, threading through leucanthemum daisies, the plumes of Stipa arundinacea and a small self-sown teasel. I think that these are the annual Scabious ‘Fire King’ whose seed I scattered loosely through this border in the hope that they would bloom again this year, but I didn’t make a note of this. Oops. Whatever their origins, they make a striking show.
The late Dutch honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ is in full stride now too; this is my favourite honeysuckle, with its crimson and cream flowers.
The ‘giant of the year’ award this summer must go to the last standing Cardoon; though it has as usual been plagued with snails, and I have had to remove many of its scruffy lower leaves, it has pushed up flowering stalks of at least 8 feet, clustered with buds which are now opening up in puffs of purple. The height doesn’t appear to put the bees off though, this skyscraper nectar bar is unfailingly abuzz.
July has been such a rich month in the garden, with glorious weather and a feast of flowers and produce, and August looks poised to take over seamlessly tomorrow. I hope that the summer is treating you well so far too…