For the last few years I have taken part in the End of Month view series of blogs, hosted by Helen at Patient gardener. It has been an interesting exercise and, for someone who is trying to make a new garden where there was field before, a really useful way of looking back and seeing that there is progress. Even when I feel that everything is taking so very long and nothing is coming to fruition as I imagine, a look at the end of month photos since 2009 shows me that I am quite wrong. Things are settling and maturing. It is very cheering.
This year the garden has very much taken second place to the rest of my life. I had a big crisis of confidence with it last year and, although I recovered myself as spring returned and I fell back in love with my garden, I have had more time away from it than usual. I have felt this year that I was running to catch up with myself, falling back through the door from a week in Devon with my parents, gathering myself, wandering around the garden and finding it full of weed and clamouring jobs to do, scrabbling about a bit and running off again. (If you are reading this Mum and Dad, I am in Devon when I am there because that's where I want to be, ok? so no wondering please!) It has been a consolidation year: weeding, looking, thinking about it, not a year for great expansion and imagination and change. I didn't completely stop taking the photos of the end of month in the garden but I did stop posting. I think I have needed that space for nothing much to happen.
So here I am, back again, at the end of a glorious summer in which being in the garden has been a lazy pleasure just as often as a list of jobs to do. Time for a reminder of what happens at the end of August.
The side garden, which has been full of flower from the tulips and alliums, through the scramble of geranium Anne Folkard, the poppies, the day lilies, is now mostly foliage. There is one last flourish to come of swathes of michelmas daisies but they haven't yet come in to flower. I like foliage and for years accepted that this part of the garden stopped flowering in late summer but the inspiring influence of Karen at Artist's Garden, whose garden peaks gloriously in September and October, has finally cracked my addiction to spring and early summer, just a little crack. The border at the back of the picture now has five rudbeckia goldsturm in it, not that they are doing much this year.
As you see. But perhaps next year ....
Out in the field there is a real sense of harvest.
There is a huge apple harvest.
The mixed edible hedges are full of hips and haws, although disappointingly few sloes. This is the first year that the hedges have had real height and substance. I love them and I love the way they are full of life, full of insects and birds.
The cutting garden is the best it has ever been, thanks mainly to dahlias and sweet peas. I can't keep up. I could cut three or four times a week and there would still be more.
This year for the first time we have meadow brown butterflies. I wish I knew more. We must be doing something or growing something which explains their presence this year, or perhaps it is the heat and the sun. I must do some research. This is a good place for butterflies and every year we have peacocks and admirals and painted ladies and cabbage whites in large numbers. Ian has netted the brassicas against the cabbage whites but they seem to be finding all sorts of other things to eat while leaving our broccoli and kale and cauliflowers alone.
The native tree bed isn't doing much. All through spring and early summer it was full of hellebores, pulmonaria, hardy geranium and foxgloves. Now it is just waiting for the dogwood leaves to turn. I think that is fine. This is the area where I have been thinking about creating a more enclosed sense for a long time now. I think I am getting somewhere with an idea for another hedge and a greater use of grasses. I might blog about this area in particular when I am ready.
The sunny bank is also an area on the turn. The new crab apple, malus Sentinel, which replaced the dying quince tree has a good crop of crab apples beginning to turn bright red and the sedums which are the major feature of the bed in autumn are moving from green to red. Even now, before they are fully in flower, the sedums are thronged with bees and butterflies. I have been working on the end of this bed to try to take out bindweed and grass which has grown through the irises.
The kitchen garden is all shaggy and soft. The hedges are waiting to be cut. The blueberries, in the pots on the right, are fruiting madly. The green plastic fencing around the bed by the greenhouse is an anti hen device. Theoretically the hens live in the fenced area of the garden beyond the greenhouse. Actually the cockerel and three of the hens like to roam. Five of the hens live peaceably behind the fence but the roamers cause havoc. I was blaming slugs and snails for reducing our chard to stumps until I looked over the hedge and saw the two Frisian hens shredding it for lunch.
So there it is. Some of the garden is a bit tired. Some of it is fruiting and gearing up for harvest. There is lots to do but it has given me a lot of pleasure in the long hot days of summer.