Saturday, 1 August 2015

July and a fine British Summer.

What a disaster July has been for weather, after a promising start the weather became wet, dull and even cold, there has been barely a day when one could be confident it wouldn't rain. Of course it is all my fault for growing bedding plants after a gap of a few years after two particularly bad summers when I vowed I never would again.

 My single Cardiocrinum flowered earlier in the month but lost its petals quickly in the adverse weather conditions. I know many gardeners probably think I am fortunate to have one but I do miss when I had five in flower together, they are a breathtaking sight and the scent is totally over powering. Click on the lily page to see them in their true glory near the top of the page.

 Unusually I bought this plant of Meconopsis napaulensis rather than raising it from seed as I have done in the past. One thing with many Meconopsis is that they die after flowering (monocarpic) so you have to be prepared to keep a continuous supply of new plants. This Satin Poppy is the yellow form which was a bit unfortunate as I would have preferred the pink one, still a lovely plant though.

This is a truly wonderful plant, the Japanese Water Iris, Iris ensata, needs the exact opposite in growing conditions from the large flowered rhizomatous irises, preferring damp cool conditions to give of their best. These are grown from seed which means that a diverse range of colours has been produced.


By contrast the flowers of the Gladwyn Iris, Iris foetidissima are totally insignificant but with a bit of luck, if the slugs don't get them, the seed heads will open to reveal large deep red seeds through the winter months.

Here are a few pictures of what has been going on in the borders in July:

The shell pink of the Geranium contrasts well with the brunnera.

 The Giant Himalayan Cowslip, Primula florindae has now taken over from the candelabras.



   Although thought to be "common" by some, Astilbes add some vital colour at this time of the year in a damp garden like mine.


Early in the month as the Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' fades to pink the flower bracts of Cornus kousa are showing.


 In the "woodland" the lush berries of the toxic Actaea rubra are showing.......................

............................Funnily enough these Arum italicum should have seed heads of a similar colour come winter, the spathes are so uninspiring I am always tempted to pull them up but the promise of the seed heads has so far dissuaded me. 
I have scrapped my old poly-tunnel after years of service and three new covers and replaced it with a new one, these pictures of some of this year's seedlings were taken last week and will be the last from the old one. I can actually stand up in my new one instead of constantly stooping which didn't do my back any good, the irony is that I have been hobbling about since re-gritting the staging etc. having strained it!

Notice the self sown farinosa type primula seedlings growing on the bench.

 The seedlings are mainly Meconopsis and Primulas, first sown cold in early January and now many are ready to be potted on again into 1 litre pots and may even be planted out later this year.

Here is a "clump" of containers holding a mixture of perennials and some of the dreaded bedding which is the reason for all this bad weather!


  1. Your Cardiocrinum, astilbe and especially your iris ensata were magnificent.
    Here we had perhaps 1cm of rain in the last 4 weeks. Everyday was hot and sunny - very nice on a beach, not so nice in a garden. Every night is spent watering. They forecasted rain for today and the next three days but we hardly had a cloud today.
    A few things are happy, most are very thirsty.
    In the poly-tunnel here (where I just have tomatoes and squash), temperatures were at least 50C at noon (with both ends completely open). Which July weather is better - yours or mine, I think it would be hard to decide!

  2. Hi Alain, the problem we have in a year such as this is that pretty much every day is a "grey day", those in summer being warmer than those experienced in winter. Although you have your extremes I am sure many gardeners here would prefer to have a better delineation between winter and summer with more typical weather for each season.

  3. Rick, I guess the weather was better last year, at least your Japanese Water Iris are thriving and look great.. I dont have much bedding in the back garden, the front,, well , quite a lot. Its actually been looking good for about seven weeks, rather tatty now but I cut a lot back in the hope of a second flush. Ah well, August may bring an improvement.

  4. I am never sure when to cut bedding back Alistair, as you say it does look a little tatty after a while, during a wet summer I don't give it the attention it deserves and tend to just let it get on with it.

  5. I love the large opulent petals of the Japanese Water Iris! We too had a washout in July, and not only was it rainy and grey, it was really chilly. Any plants venturing to open their petals were washed out very quickly. The Petunias were definitely not amused!!
    The Cardiocrinum is a joy to behold.

  6. Thanks Jane, the iris is something to behold and was grown from seed by chance, one year I decided I didn't have enough architectural plants and bought several packets of different iris seed, Iris ensata being one. As I am typing this the garden is suffering an absolute deluge, surface water standing everywhere although it should clear up later. Definitely no need to water the containers today!

  7. I have never seen such big, luscious-looking berries on the Actaea rubra (which we call Baneberry here). Poisonous, of course, but very ornamental.

    1. Yes Jason, they do well here, almost good enough to eat ?!!!!!!

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  9. It is very hard to plan when the weather is so unpredictable and extreme. This post makes me think how differently we view our gardens compared to other people. You are aware of what didn't happen as you hoped, but from the outside the garden looks stunningly beautiful. I love the look and am familiar with most of the plants, but it is interesting that none of them grow in my garden.

  10. Thanks for your kind words Sue, we are always our greatest critics, I frequently don't post about things because I don't think they would be of interest, after you have been around a while you tend to take things for granted and don't realise that to pass on experience, no matter how mundane to ourselves, is perhaps a good thing. Having a shady damp garden I must admit I am not surprised that none of my plants grow in your garden, sun lovers are definitely out for me!

  11. I am slowly making the round to everyone, sorry I am 6 weeks late!
    By now you have of course experienced most of August the same way as second half of July was, at least it was that down here in London – much colder and, for us, finally with some welcome rain. It’s been a strange summer, even my tomatoes gave up, too cold at night for them I think. A poly tunnel sounds great, I am aiming for a tiny greenhouse to start with for my own garden, that would be a luxury to me as I have never had anything to put plants in.
    Your garden looks nice and green and lush, and so great to see all the cuttings and seedlings – so, it’s not just me making offspring ‘just in case something happens’ :-)

    1. Hi Helene, I expect you really have your hands full with the new garden, myself I have had so many things going on I have only just got round to creating a new post in the last few days and still haven't finished it. Because my garden is in shade a cheap and cheerful mini poly tunnel is idea for what l need but if I had a nice open aspect I would definitely have a proper glass house glazed with polycarbonate. I love raising plants but sometimes struggle for a place to put them.

  12. Thanks for the link Rick
    Can't help you with the persicaria - as you know I am very bad at names
    You might not have been blogging but you have been busy with the camera
    ps the link takes you to my latest post. I expect you know that to get the actual post about my open day you go there and copy the bar

    1. I just linked into your latest post Roger, never thought to link it in to your open day. I have to ask are you considering doing another open day in the future?