My plot thickens: the good, the bad and the ugly

July? More like October!

Canary Island date palm
Canary Island date palm

I am mightily sick of rain, grey skies, low temperatures and gastropods.

Apart from the week I was in Lanzarote (obviously), the weather so far has been awful here.

This was brought about, I am sure, by my wish to have a tropical-looking garden with more succulent-type plants, because I love swirly spikiness.

I also foolishly bought two new garden chairs and brought the 13-month-old barbecue out for its first use.

Come on jet stream, you need to move north!


I have a fascination with plants from the Canaries, so treated myself to a Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), hardy to -8C, which we haven’t had here for many a year. It’s in a large pot, so is draggable to the greenhouse for overwintering should the North Atlantic current switch off.

I love Echiums, another Canary Island staple, so much so I’ve got four on the go from seed this year – the Tenerife native E. wildpretii, E. fatuosum, E.fatuosum Blue Dwarf and Red Rocket. The last of the plants sown in 2013 are nearly finished flowering (E. pininana) – some flowered last year – and are seeding themselves everywhere. One exception is a massive plant that isn’t flowering and it’s in its third year – can anyone explain that? Looks different from the other E. pininana. I love a freak.

The bouquet lilies are out, always a pleasure, especially when they take no looking after whatsoever (apart from squashing the odd red lily beetle).

Looks like a good year for apples – the Red Falstaff in half a barrel is covered wih mini fruit (I’ll have to thin them) and even the old tree grown from a pip has fruit.

Bananas have all moved to the greenhouse and been repotted – the Abyssinian Red has hit the ceiling already, quite an achievent since it was cut to a stump in March. It is on a shelf, so I’ll panic when really is 7ft tall. The two Dwarf Cavendish are slower than last year, but I’m sure they’ll put on a spurt now.

Got my first decent picture of rose Desdemona – reminds me of a Dutch Old Master on a black velvet background…

Sweet peas finally out – a month behind usual. Cupani’s furthest ahead, with one bloom out from new variety Harrogate Gem – hurry up!


Much to our neighbours’ delight, we’ve finally cut the hedge with our new all-singing, all dancing cordless trimmers. Late-fledging birds and continual rain/wind has made this cut the latest ever and I was aware the mixed infants walking past were getting prickled by the hawthorn (I didn’t plant it). The original buy, a telescopic type that extends to about 100ft, is impossible for me to lift up and control, so Gary has to take charge of it, much to his delight. I bought another one from Argos, a cheapie Sovereign model at £35 and it’s great – not too heavy and the charge lasts longer than my arm muscles. In two stints, we had the job done. Cue a date with new best friend, Sciatica.

hosta Empress Wu
Untouched Canna and mauled hosta Empress Wu

Poor old Empress Wu. This huge and magnificent hosta has had a blighted existence. She’s been moved three times before her present location in the long border, so I protected her from snails with a large copper ring.

Fine earlier in the season, until a bumper crop of sweet rocket grew up around her, providing convenient bridges for the gastropods to maul her. I’ve been out nearly every night in my pyjamas in the rain pulling the little gits off. I’m always too late.


The arch, now finally covered with a rambling rose and Japanese honeysuckle has crumpled, cheap bit of tat. I’ll have to bodge it for the rest of summer and replace it in the autumn.

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