End of month view

At the beginning of August I was out of love with the garden - gaps, tired foliage, few flowers and those that were flowering ones I had lost interest in.  This always happens.  For some reason August is just not my time.  Taking these pictures as September came in made me realise that I am engaged all over again.
This is the side garden.  I know it will look better when the four different types of honeysuckle have grown up over the trellis but I think it doesn't look too bad.  The shapes of the foliage, meaty hellebores, airy verbena, spikes of crocosmia and clouds of fennel and cosmos, all please me.  At the front of the borders the alchemilla and the hardy geraniums which were cut back a few weeks ago have regrown into satifying hummocks.

Some of the individual plants are stars too.  I have grown dahlias this year for the first time with some serious attempts to make them settle into my stony soil.  Previously I have chucked the odd one and let it take its chance.  This year I dug proper deep holes with compost in the bottom.

This is, I think, Dahlia Honka with its elegant, starred shape and finely curved petals.  I have this one in white and in yellow and prefer whichever I am looking at at the time.

I need to find the name for this one, a Sarah Raven variety I think.  The exploding saturated colour is fabulous.  The plants themselves are half the size of the ones I used to grow in a rich clay soil but I think the flowers might be better.  Next year I should have more of these varieties which are the ones I love and junk the ones that failed to satisfy.  It is a hard world, gardening.

Here is the kitchen garden.  The apples and pears are full of shoots and of some fruit.  This is not the best place for fruit.  The new orchard in the field is much more productive but I love the trees for themselves and for the flowers and although the trees are old we always get some decent apples.  The pears are much more unreliable, sometimes barely fruiting at all and on other years weighed down with hard green fruit which ripens inside the house to a sensuous drippy sweetness.  There were onions and salad vegetables in the two empty beds here earlier in the summer.  I sowed rocket and spinach and kale and more beans a few weeks ago.  There are tiny traces of new growth but nothing that could seriously be called a crop. I should know by now not to sow directly into the soil.   It always works best here to sow in pots or lengths of guttering in the greenhouse or a coldframe and wait to plant out until the plants reach a decent size.  I don't know whether it is the soil or the height at which we garden but seeds have a hard time of it when they are small.

This is the cutting garden, full of cosmos, echinacea, pinks, lavender and zinnias with three walls of sweetpeas.  The sweetpeas are as always stunning.  Individually each of the other flowers looks beautiful.

Next year I shall work harder at the design of the beds themselves.  I wonder if blocks of colour would work better than stripes or whether a bed that mixed the evergreen and the foliage plants that I might use in bringing the flowers inside would be more satisfying to the eye than the rows of mainly annuals.

Elsewhere in  the field there are apples in ludicrous quantities, and walnuts and rosehips on the new hedging.  I have sent off a bulb order for more native daffodils for round the orchard trees and snowdrops to line the walk under the native trees which we put in three years ago.  These are underplanted now with hollies and cornus.  I want the path to shine with snowdrops and hellebores in the spring before it disappears back into the wildness of summer that comes with letting the grass grow long in this part of the garden.

Up on the sunny bank there are tiny quince on the tree.  The penstemon is in bloom and the sedum is starting to colour.

There is a bright pink salvia too which I keep trying to take cuttings from to protect myself from its loss over winter.  They keep turning up their toes.  Is it too late?  Are they getting too much sun in my bright greenhouse?  Any suggestions gratefully received.

But mostly I love my garden again.  It will always be a spring garden in its soul I think because that is what makes my soul sing.  But it is beginning to be a place where the colours of autumn produce a counterpoint.  I just wish I could exterminate the bindweed.


  1. Your garden just looks so beautiful - so many vistas. That dahlia looks like Chat Noir / Black Cat to me. Some list it with the french spelling, some with the english!

  2. Your kitchen garden looks amazing! I have vegetable envy! :-D

  3. You people must go bonkers in the winter.

  4. My garden is quite good in August, I suppose because things bloom later here. Mind you, my garden would fit into one of your flowerbeds.

  5. I have serious garden envy. You should see mine at the moment. It's small but could be lovely except that the recently aquired mutt has flattened everything. I am so sad but will spend the next few months re-designing and re-planting, then I will just shoot her (pellets of course) if she goes near anything!

  6. You can see how hard you've worked. I'm amazed to see sweet peas still, ours get dried to a crisp very early in the year.
    I always resisted buying white-flowering plants but must now admit, after spending way too much time with designer friends, that white accents do increase the visual impact of the colors.

  7. I think it all looks wonderful Elizabeth. Flowers aren't the be-all; anyway in August you should be sunning yourself on the lounger!

  8. Think your Dahlia might be Chat Noir looks very much like mine.
    I wonder if part of the reason you have reengaged with your garden is due to Zoe's positive comments and feed back from the blog, I always find this helpful. I prefer my garden now to in August - think my garden has a lull at the beginning of August but is peaking now

  9. Your garden looks beautiful. I'm wondering how many hours a week you spend working out there. In comparison, my place looks like it's suffering from some serious neglect!

  10. It's all so very beautiful Elizabeth. I am very out of love with our garden. It always happens as it just becomes so tatty in dry weather due to our sandy soil. Every year I intend to work on the soil content as it is so crucial, yet never get around to it. Ah well, I can look at yours instead! x

  11. That is a stunning vase of flowers at the top of the page!

    Well, all I can say is you have heaps more stamina than I. My garden is teeny tiny by comparison and I've just let it do what it wants this year. I've almost lost interest in it entirely, which is odd.

    Anyway, I also have that hot pink salvia of which you speak but mine just grows (sprawls, really) in a border and I leave it alone until it gets too big for its boots then just chop some off until it's smaller. It survived the most recent appalling winter with all that snow so I think it's pretty hardy. It might not be happy in the greenhouse.....

    Mrs Jones/Boudicca23

  12. Ahhh, Elizabeth - how truly scrumptious your garden is. I so miss our get togethers this year and especially visiting my PC friends gardens.

    My garden has been free to grow and roam as it pleases this year - it is such a shame. Next year I'll get it back under control!


  13. Isn't it nice to love your garden again? I'm just so happy with the deer fence that I haven't had a moment of falling out of love this year - everything is so new. I had to laugh when you said 'next year I shall work harder....' You put me to shame!

  14. I loved that last comment about the bindweed - but I think if I were a seed I would wilt and have a hard time of it as I shyly poked my head above the bosom of the earth and looked to see how I might be expected to grow up. One can imagine all those flowering and fruiting plants being just a tad unwelcoming - "You'll never be like us," they might be saying and so I'd be left with a sort of ugly duckling feeling and might just shrivel in the wind. Still there would always be the bindweed. "Why don't you climb with me?" it would whisper seductively and then I would look around and imagine growing way taller than any of the snooty dahlias or other flowers with fancy Latin names. I think of this and stand on one leg. "I might be a hop." I'd say. A lovely golden one. And desperately perrennial!

  15. I think August is a difficult month for every gardener - then the late things - rudbeckia, crocosmia, echinops, second flowering roses - all come out, especially this year when we have suddenly got a spurt of wonderful weather. Haven't sweet peas done well - I have never had so many.

  16. Pebbledash - thank you and I think you are right about the dahlia.
    Croila - hi and welcome. We have just eaten a meal with all our own veg again, but I do have vast numbers of courgettes and cucumbers which I am ignoring!
    Tom - ah, winter normally comes as a sort of relief. By then I am all gardened out. Sitting by the fire suits me fine for quite a while. It is by about February that I start to go bonkers.
    Isabelle - I think there is partly just an August gap and partly I just run out of steam in August and go off it all for a bit!
    Expat Mum - I haven't shown you the vast nettles and the brambles taking over where some of the herbs should be. Selective photography!
    English Rider - sweet peas do well as there is loads of added manure and they will flower until October I should think. I think white is hard to use in the garden but I agree that it wakes things up. I had to move some astrantia earlier this year because the white, which I like, was a muted, slightly dirty white and it looked all wrong next to clear colours.
    Cro - we haven't had the weather for sunning this August. I am very much hoping that when we go to visit our friends in France in a few weeks that Provence will still be having lounging sunshine.

  17. Dahlia Honka is just the coolest flower name ever. I think it should write a romantic novel.

  18. Bindweed nothwithstanding (couldn't see any, anyway!) it looks lovely to me!

  19. Helen - I am quite sure other people's interest and encouragement is a help but I have always had this dip in August. I suspect most gardens have a "gap" and mine tends to be August although I have friends who have a June gap. Maybe we just need a break!
    H- you do need to remember that I am the one holding the camera so no photos of nettles or the brambles invading the herb garden. It is much, much messier than it looks on here I promise you.
    Pipany - well whenever I see photos of your garden it always looks very beautiful to me!
    Mrs Jones - thanks for the salvia tip. I have taken some cuttings so might leave the parent plant out and see how we go.
    BM - with luck next year will be the year you get out and about again. Would be wonderful to see you up here or anywhere that suits you just as soon as it seems a good idea!
    Pondside - I always feel I will do things differently the next year. I think all gardeners have a version of this. What actually happens is that I do some bits better and some bits worse!
    Fennie - the bindweed has plenty of company: nettles, brambles, dandelions. We call it wildlife gardening but we don't take any pictures of it!
    Weaver - yes, we have had fabulous sweet peas this year and they are still going strong.
    Fran - feel free to use Dahlia Honka as your nom de plume if you want to experiment with genres.
    Geranium cat - It is lovely. It does have bindweed.


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