Mandy, stop being so bloody melodramatic
Once we get into the second half of August, I always develop a wistful air that summer’s on the way out. There’s something bittersweet about watching the landscape change.
With our house perched halfway up the hill in Gateshead looking west, I can see over the Team Valley to the fields and woods of the Ravensworth Estate beyond, watching the fields get progressively yellower as harvest approaches.
Every year, after these thoughts, I give myself an almighty rhetorical slap. It’s as if the gardening journey’s more important to me than sitting looking at the end result.
Late August shows up bad planning in the garden, or earlier summer disasters. That’s why I’m such a fan of growing dramatic plants in large pots. It’s the equivalent of the ‘gardening comb-over’ – hide any bald patches with geraniums, cannas, etc.
A large canna is at the moment sitting in the hole where giant hosta Empress Wu should be, if she hadn’t been mauled to shreds by snails.
Scented geraniums are good in so many ways and will tolerate more shade than zonals or the ivy-leaved type. There’s a couple of pots filling gaps next the path opposite the huge lavender, so you get a double burst of fragrance when you brush past.
Also on the bright side, the greenhouse tomatoes are starting to ripen and we’re in for a glut.
The conservatory plants are always first and we’ve had a steady stream of fruit from them, the best-tasting being Suncherry Smile and Sunchocola.
It’s time to say goodbye to the last flowering Echium pininana Blue Steeple, which has kept going for over two months. Of course, it’s set seeds everywhere, but considering how I used to mollycoddle them, that’s no bad thing.
This year’s babies, well, aren’t babies any more. E. wildpretii, E. fastuosum, E. fastuosum Blue Dwarf and E. Red Rocket are whoppers already – I’ve had to repot some that were already in small tubs.
The real problem patch this year (and one which I’ll be tackling in autumn/winter) is the fruit/veg raised beds and the opposite apple tree bed.
It’s my own fault – I squeezed in three 2x1m beds when I should have had two, leaving myself no room to get alongside them – or reach the water butt on the other side.
My basic plan is to double the height of the beds, but move them so they’re easier to access. Hard work but straightforward.
The bigger problem is the apple tree. It’s beyond redemption and needs to come down, along with the collapsed rambling rose arch next to it.
It will, however, open up that area, which has never been a great success.
It’s going to be a busy ‘off season’…