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.