September is one of my favourite months in the garden, and this September is no exception. We’ve had glorious sunshine and bright blue skies, but it’s not so hot that the plants are parched and desperate. The Verbena bonariensis, Knautia macedonica and Anemones are hitting their stride and, as long as the weather remains mild, they’ll keep the garden looking good for many weeks to come.
The Macleaya is holding up – protected from the wind by a wall and my neighbour’s crab apple tree beyond – and the nasturtiums are ramping through the beds, suppressing all the weeds. It’s a bit unkempt, I know, but I rather like it that way, so there really isn’t much to do except sit back and watch as the garden slides into autumnal decline.
But I’m busy making plans for next year because, although we have made huge progress since we terraced the garden in April, there is still LOTS to be done. But most of it can wait until spring, only the path needs fixing now. Oh, and the bulbs. They haven’t arrived yet, but I think I’ve signed up for quite a lot of back ache in October and November.
On our return from France yesterday afternoon I was hit by a delayed panic about the garden: had it survived without being watered for two weeks? I braced myself for a scene of devastation – beds filled with scorched, parched vegetation, bare earth etc.
Instead, my nasturtiums have formed a hedge and the verbena towers over our heads.
The nigella has flowered and the sedums are starting to take on their autumnal blush.
And last, but by no means least, my anemones are looking rather lovely, better than they’ve ever looked before in fact. Phew!
An abundance of things I have had no hand in growing… nuts from our hazelnut tree whose life, once again, hangs in the balance – more of which in a later post.
Nasturtium flowers from various plants which have grown happily in spite of my neglect – delicious, as well as beautiful, in salads.
And finally, a huge haul of delicious raspberries (with the odd blackberry for good measure) from my mother-in-law’s allotment. These will become jam.
My own harvests this year have been pretty sorry affairs – the slugs feasted on the courgettes – which went in too late and were not especially happy in the shade of the hazel. My cucumbers were great, but not exactly plentiful. Ditto my runner beans. I didn’t feed either of these plants and I think that feed is probably essential when growing vegetables in pots.
I have been offered a couple of beds on my mother-in-law’s allotment as an experiment and I shall use this space for beans, potatoes, leeks and beetroot. I’ll grow the cucumber on the terrace next summer, where it will be easier to reach so I will have no excuse not to feed it.
I began this blog as a means of charting the progress of the garden. But looking back, I can see two things: first, I have not written about the garden that much; second, I’ve made very little progress with it. I think it is fair to say that the former is linked to the latter.
Back in April and May, those crucial early summer months, I was preoccupied with looming building work which I knew would wreak havoc in the garden, and at the same time our eldest daughter was very, very ill – now, fully recovered. Getting ahead with sowing seeds, and thinking about what I might like to see later in the year, were not a priority. We really only got the garden back at the start of the summer holidays, by which time I’d missed out on tomatoes and courgettes and my beans were looking scraggly and sad.
Late July was not the moment to start landscaping or embarking on grand new planting schemes – the kids wanted to take over, so I let them, and apart from the odd dousing with the hose, I left the garden to look after itself. The garden is now in a very sorry state, so I decided to get ahead with the Autumn tidy-up. But, despite the neglect, there were still pockets of loveliness and I was cheered by this happy combination of Sedum and nasturtium. I was reassured that, although I might have lost my grip on the garden, all is not lost.
And so to the view at the front of the house. Below is my tragic-looking window box. In the spring it was a rather pretty combination of carex and muscari, but for the
entire summer it has just looked dead and awful. But today I noticed green shoots and duly chucked a jug of water on the lot, the first drink they’ve had since March, probably.