Thursday, 6 September 2012

End of month view for August or confessions of a rubbish gardener

I wish I wasn't so erratic about gardening.  I really thought I had cracked my tendency to lose interest in the garden in August.  Inspired by Karen I have begun to engage with September and October in the garden and while my first love will always be spring, I have come to love the golden light of late summer and early autumn.  Maybe it is like a biological clock - you know, the stuff about whether you are a morning or a nighttime person. Perhaps you can have the same thing with times of year.   I have been keeping gardening diaries for ever. Year after year the detailed planning entries and commentaries on what is working and what's not from the early months tail off in mid July into disgruntled little notes "Looks tired", "No colour", "Everything's flopped" or even worse the pages of emptiness where I have clearly got fed up with the garden and gone walking.

But the thing about Helen's end of month view posts is that the discipline makes you go out into the garden with the camera and re-engage so I do and I find that some of it is fine and some is downright dreadful but it is definitely time to say hello to it again.


The side garden is one of the fine places.  I am really pleased with the contrasts in foliage and calmness and greenness of it.


It's not all green.  There is a fabulous clematis (Etoile Violette I think) given to us by our friends who live in Provence - thank you B and J!.  It has clearly loved the wet summer and is cascading down the metal support like purple water.


This trusty double Shasta daisy has been flowering for weeks, as has the persicaria behind it.


This is a new one for me, a present, like quite a lot of stuff in my garden, from Karen.  I think I remember that it is South African but other than that I have forgotten the name - help!  It is a lovely thing and seems quite at home in the densely planted beds that make up the side garden.


Then it is downhill all the way out into the field.  The orchard and the cutting garden don't look too bad from here.  In fact that is the wonder of photography and having someone mow the grass.  Everywhere is overrun with weeds but you can't tell from here.


And apple trees always look beautiful so we can get away with that one.


But come any closer and it is very clear that the cutting garden is a total mess.  Have I been weeding it? No. Have I been trimming the edges and doing the things that make it look a part of the garden instead of an accident?  No.  I haven't even been cutting the flowers really which is a shameful confession.  This has been the best year for the cutting garden and putting the dahlias in it was inspired.  They simply don't look right anywhere else.  So it should have been a triumph this year but somehow I have failed to make the most of it.  I have cut the sweetpeas but the dahlias and marigolds and cosmos sulphereus have just flowered away all by themselves and have not been brought into the house.  You see, it's August.  In August I disconnect from the garden.


The annual meadow has been both a triumph and a disaster.  This is the triumphant end, where the fire site was.  At this end we have had mainly flowers: poppies and tansy and ammi majus, calendula and fennel.  That accounts for about a third of the area.  The remaining two thirds have had so much grass in them that the impact of the meadow has not really worked.  I couldn't bring myself to take a photo of the total disaster end.  If you imagine tallish grass with some docks in it you will be on the right lines.

I haven't decided what to do with the meadow next year.  When Anne Wareham came she suggested that the area should be bigger. (Actually she said "So why does this stop here?")  She is right.  It should be much, much bigger so that you walk right inside it and through it to emerge on the other side as if you have been on a bear hunt.  I might just let the grass grow and see what comes up but I don't think I want a real perennial wildflower meadow, lovely though they are.  I want at least some of the flash and dazzle of the annual wildflowers and maybe even some perennial wildish plants, wandering out from the borders.  I don't want docks and hogweed, even though I have them in quantity.  I am still thinking.


The sunny bank doesn't change much.  It is just the sunny bank: pleasant, sunny, a place to sit and look at the view, although there are salvias making their presence felt in amongst the sedums and the odd espresso shot of california poppy.


The kitchen garden always copes quite well with neglect, not in terms of what it produces but in terms of how it looks.  I think it is the structure of the raised beds which makes it somehow look intentional even when the beds themselves are overflowing with out of control hellebores and self sown poppies, elbowing out the tattered slug eaten remains of the salad stuff.


It even looks quite pretty here and there  entirely accidentally.


But the truth of the matter is, here at the beginning of September, this looks like a garden whose owners have gone on holiday for August, down to the South of France, where they have sat in the shade of a pergola and drunk cold rose wine and dreamed amongst the bougainvillea and left their garden to its own devices.

But we didn't.

44 comments:

  1. The weather has not helped. I have disconnected with mine a bit. I was so excited to get a job where I have a 3 day weekend to spend in the garden, but it has either rained or been so wet that I couldn't do anything!
    If I was you I would retire to the shepherds hut and make plans for next year!

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    1. I am torn between retiring to the hut with the Peter Nyssen catalogue and doing something about the mess which is the cutting garden!

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  2. It's a huge garden, absolutely a full time job to have it perfect all the time, so if you know you need to switch off sometimes (August) forgive yourself the temporary neglect and maybe plan for plants that need little attention in high summer. I think it looks like a lovely place to be :D

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    1. I do forgive myself the neglect (I have to! it happens every year!). One thing which is tricky is that you more you disconnect the harder it is to get back to it. At the moment it is just not happening!

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  3. I can only say I wish I were as rubbish a gardner as you.

    We have absolutely no fruit on any of our trees this year - so disappointing.

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    1. Our fruit crop is poor too - no plums, no damsons, a few pears and about a third of the usual apple crop! Something to do with the spring!

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    2. we have a plum tree,covered in blossom, so perhaps this year will bring fruit. Can't ID your South African bulb, perhaps it is more a northern summer rainfall type? Might your meadow work if you added some perrenials for structure, and mowed patches to plant the annuals? Love to look at meadows but I don't do them. Don't have all that space, but it is still getting away from us. Today was rained out, which is good, as we move towards summer.
      Your side garden is indeed a Fine Garden!

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  4. It all looks wonderful to me and it is such a large area to take care of.

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    1. As I was going for honesty I should have photographed the more derelict parts, then you would see what mean!

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  5. Maybe I am seeing something different than you . . . I think your gardens and meadow and places of green are wonderful . . . I like the peaks of color . . . the variety, vines and trees and so much more . . . I love the views of your place among the welsh hills . . . Thank you for sharing your pihotos . . .

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    1. The views are fabulous, you are right about that!

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  6. I think it is just gorgeous. I love gardens that look a little bit natural though. (Or I am just a lazy gardener....)

    We could never have a grass/wildflower meadow near the house here. The snake risk (and the fire risk) is so big that all grass is mowed or sprayed each spring so the houses are safer. I think your meadow is lovely.

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    1. That is a timely reminder of the fact that we are lucky to be here wherevsnake and fire risk are rare.

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  7. So gorgeous. We're going to starve here, so poor was the veg and fruit. We haven't a single apple on 6 mature trees as we lost all the blossom too early. Boo..... send supplies!

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    1. We still have loads of apples even though the plums failed! Just come right over!

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  8. Rubbish gardener what rubbish! Gardeners are never satisfied and have a tendency to gloss over the glories and despair at the deficiencies. So enjoy it warts and all - I among others think it is lovely.

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    1. I think we do despair easier than glory! You are quite right. I need to plant bulbs I think!

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  9. oh you are being harsh on yourself (though I'm as bad). It looks great and dont forget the side garden has been establish much longer than some of the areas you dislike.

    I think if you could tackle the grass at the disaster end of the meadow and make it bigger it would be fab. Why not sow some yellow rattle as that is meant to weaken grass or maybe even do a controlled burn off of the area - with grandsons of course they would love it.

    I disengage in August and struggle to keep blogging, for me its the end of the gardening year. Now that Autumn is upon us I am thinking of next Spring and planning and moving forward.

    I'm glad you find the EMOV meme helpful but dont get too depressed :)

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    1. I am interested to find how many others disengage in August!

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  10. Hi there..
    I'm just visiting from Lynne's blog, and I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts, and what you've got going on with your blog.
    Beautiful gardens.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Enjoy the weekend.

    *smile
    K.

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    1. Thanks for visiting. Hope you will be back!

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  11. Your photos are amazing and the garden is beautiful.

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  12. Yes, yes - August is never a "doing" month in the garden for me, either! First off, it's too bloody HOT out to be weeding anything while getting devoured by mosquitos, and as you pointed out it's almost fall... and in the fall, I never touch anything but the grass, keeping it just short enough to stave off the village employees whose dubious job it is to go 'round telling people when their grass is too high. I just try to get things in tip-top shape during the spring, so that the garden can "coast" through August right into autumn. Once autumn is nearly winter, then I make one good go of pulling vines, major weeds, and neatening things up a bit. I have a lazy gardener's philosophy that waiting until weeds are good and developed makes them much easier to pull out. Going around with tweezers trying to pull out weeds that are merely green shoots is just too hard on the back!

    P.S. Your photos tell the truth, no matter what you say. Your gardens are GORGEOUS.

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    1. I agree entirely about letting weeds get a good size! Not lazy, efficient I call it!

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  13. This is glorious, Elizabeth. Yes, I buy your plausible theory about biological clocks and gardening seasons. The weather is glorious this week and thus we are able to lower ourselves gently in the new season without having to get nostalgic for summer. It's perfect. I'm reaching out for autumnal fare: purple grapes, squashes, etc. but kidding myself gently that we are still enjoying summer. I am not a summer person though. Winter sets my imagination on fire but spring is my favourite time of all, like you.

    I love 'Etoile violette'. I almost named one of my linen hares after this favourite clematis of mine.

    I hope you are enjoying this weekend, Elizabeth. Your apple tree is full of jewels, isn't it? I wonder what you'll be making with them.

    Stephanie

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    1. I love the idea of lowering yourself gently into the new season. I would love to do that but autumn is well and truly arrived up here now!

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  14. I'm so glad to discover I'm not the only one with an August problem

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    1. Might now have become a September problem too!

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  15. I am in love with your side garden, it looks like the perfect place to sit and relax. And thank you so much for confessing about your cutting garden! I too tend to get a little bored and fed up with it all come August, though moving to a new place has, at least for now, changed all that. But I am certainly guilty of planting flowers for cutting and then never quite getting round to the cutting part. Or the weeding. I harbour a secret hope that, because everything will be so visible and close here, this will change. We'll see. In the mean time, a larger meadow, enjoyment of the colour in the cutting garden, and wandering into the side garden with a freshly picked apple and a glass of something nice should tide you over!!

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    1. I am glad I am not the only one to have a cutting garden and not to cut it!

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  16. I lose interest by August too and I think I'm much more of a rubbish gardener than you. I've put Etoile Violette on my shopping list - what a stunner! There's a big lack of flowers here so I am in deep envy for all of yours. I don't know what happened to mine, they just didn't show up this year. I have a rudbeckia though. And a sweet pea. To me your garden looks just fabulous.

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  17. It still looks wonderful and expansive to me, but I do know what you mean about seasonal favourites in terms of the garden calendar. Everything dries out here most Augusts and I try to be eco-xeric (translation, too lazy to haul water everywhere). An apple tree would be inspiring, I think, and every year around this time we do think we should plant a few fruit trees and then we don't get around to it. Hmmm, perhaps this year. . .

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    1. Definitely go for the apple tree. They are wonderful in spring and autumn

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  18. I do feel sad that you are writing off a perennial meadow, as this could mean you will be digging up more ancient grassland (I bet) to make a lot of hard work (annual meadow). If you were to fill it with spring bulbs (you say spring is your favourite time..)and cut it two or three times a year after July I think you would get something beautiful.. Ours does give us great pleasure (see http://veddw.com/north-garden-elizabeths-walk-meadow-orchard/).

    But - it might take a year or two to get rid of nettle and dock under that regime..

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  19. I would love to be sitting enjoying the view from the sunny bank. You have a lovely garden. Such a large space .... only the Disney World garden team could keep it weed-free!

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  20. I've just popped over from Kamo Lady. I'm trying to recover some order - while maintaining a managed wilderness effect after my husband died two years ago. Am enjoying this NZ spring and the return of interest in the business of gardening. Regarding long overgrown bits... last summer, I had to call a hay cutter in to deal with unkempt lawn. I'm delighted to see that after that cut, which must have been after seeding time, a lovely flush of fine grass has replaced the earlier rough grasses. Your photographs are beautiful by the way :-)

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  21. In my experience, your last sentence is pretty typical of gardens this time of year. They are tired. We are tired. Time to close up shop. :<) And if that's 'rubbish' well, I don't know what to say. It is beautiful to me!

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  22. Perhaps you really should pack up for August and decamp to the South of France? Great excuse.....

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  23. Hello, Hello, Hello (a bit late but it is only now I have my life back on track!!)
    The plant that I gave you is Schizostylis coccinea 'Major' or if like me you cannot say that its other name is Kaffir Lily
    Your garden is looking wonderful - and I particularly like the low shot of the meadow and while you may not have cut the flowers in the cutting garden, the riot of colour and texture is a joy.

    I think everyone has disconnected from their gardens this year after such a rubbish summer, it is only now that my garden is starting to behave like it should and it will be such a fleeting thing this year.
    K
    xx

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  24. Sorry to say but if this was my garden I'd be thrilled. The side garden is not only green but beautifully dense. The cutting garden just got confused and thought it was the wild meadow. That's a lot of acreage to manage and even if you do peter out come the late summer it's only because you are in tune with the seasons. Plus you've got apples- there is a dearth everywhere else

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  25. I wish I could show my garden you blog. I think it might encourage it.

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  26. I am fainting with envy. My little garden is very loved, especially in September when I've always in the past been shut inside at work. But I would LOVE a big garden like yours. Sigh. Drool.

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