A Walk Around My Garden, Sunday 23 August 2020

It’s been a challenging few weeks. We wanted rain. And we got it. A month’s worth in four days. Followed by Storm Ellen and 40 mile per hour winds. Anything not firmly staked, flopped over. Sunflowers and cosmos took a bashing. It’s taken a couple of days to prop up plants, tie them in, and sweep up twigs and leaf litter. I sometimes wish I was passionate about interior design instead of gardening. Wouldn’t it be lovely to create a scene, and have nothing smash it to pieces. But, sadly, I’m not remotely interested in being indoors. I’m only really happy when I’m outside, in the fresh air. Anyway, to cheer us all up, here’s some photos of what’s in flower in my garden today.

My new rose, Belle de Jour. Rose of the Year for 2021. Flowers open clear, bright yellow and fade to sunset shades of peaches and cream. There’s a delicate fruity scent and plenty of pollen for bees. Nice healthy green leaves, which is good for an organic garden like mine.

I think we can definitely say these flowers stand up to the weather. Some roses ‘ball’ in the rain. They fail to open and turn to mush. Luckily, Belle de Jour copes with a deluge; there’s not a mark on the petals. My rose came, by post, from Roses UK which promotes the British rose trade. I’m sure the new rose will be a huge success. It’s looking lovely in my garden already. And I’m always pleased to support British nurseries.

I’m growing a new variety of courgette, ‘Summer Holiday.’ Isn’t it pretty. I don’t know why, but this photo makes me so happy. It looks such a gorgeous little thing, bright yellow, with a twisty green stem. It’s a joy. And so easy to grow. I’m in favour of anything easy, this summer. Everything seems to have been hard work, so a highly productive trouble-free plant is very welcome. There’s a recipe for courgette and cream cheese soup to follow. It only takes ten minutes to cook.

Courgette flowers look beautiful too. They only last a day, but are a sunny, joyful sight. I’ve planted courgette and squash all along the base of my climbing bean frame. They make good ground cover and smother weeds.

Here’s the beans I’m growing this year. Don’t they look colourful.

Yellow: Climbing French bean ‘Sunshine’. A new variety.

Green: Climbing French bean ‘Limka’.

Purple: Dwarf French bean ‘Red Swan’.

All growing together along the hazel A-frame support, with blue morning glory intertwined. The dwarf French beans grow to around 122cm (4ft). Climbing beans are around 2.5m (8ft). Every day, I’m gleefully throwing handfuls of beans into the freezer. They will be such a treat mid-winter when fresh greens are in short supply.

I have a newly-planted border all along the path to the front door. It was infested with couch grass. Over the winter I dug out all the plants and turned over the soil, searching for every scrap of tiny white couch grass roots. I had to do this four times before getting on top of the problem. In May, I planted the border with annuals; sunflowers, nicotiana, cosmos, and underplanted them with salvias, which I treat as bedding plants as they are not very hardy here.

I favour dark dusky-coloured sunflowers. This one pictured above is ‘Black Magic.’ It’s a multi-headed sunflower the colour of dark chocolate. Bees love it, and the seed will feed birds in winter. I won’t bother growing ‘Italian White’ again. The first sign of a gale and the petals curled up and dropped off. Not hardy enough for my windswept plot.

If you like yellow sunflowers you would love these, growing in the back fields behind my garden. We cheered when we saw the farmer sowing the seeds in spring. It’s a wildlife -friendly mix to attract pollinators, and the seedheads feed birds and mammals over winter.

The ridgeway footpath goes all along the side of the sunflower field. We walk along it twice a day, as we are still in the habit of our lockdown exercise regime. And some of us are still not venturing far, as we can’t take any risks. I’m still getting over a serious illness from three years ago, and although surgeons gave me a second chance, I’m not strong enough to fight off infection. Doctors nowadays are forthright. And mine, straight to the point, said a ventilator wouldn’t be an option. So there we are. I have to be careful. I’m not dwelling on it. I’m just grateful for small mercies, sunflowers included, as I can gaze at them and feel happy. I don’t know how, but I can.

We still have swallows flying here. They must be finding plenty of insects. I’ll miss them when they go. I think of the journey they have to make, such tiny birds. Such a long way. It’s always an anxious time waiting for them to return in spring. Maybe, I’m going to have to get my courage up, and be like the swallows. Set off into the unknown. I can’t stay here forever, as lovely as it is, and as tempting as it’s become to say how well I’m coping. Someday soon, I have to set forth. Wish me luck!

On the footpath, going home, I pass by this old crab apple tree. It must be 100 years old, the size of its trunk. It makes a natural arch over the pathway. I like to gaze into the distance and wonder how the view might have changed over the past century. Probably not a lot as it’s still all farmland round here. But the people who’ve passed by this tree, their lives would have been very different 100 years ago. We have so much to be grateful for.

Nearing home, by our field gate, you can see the row of trees we planted 30 years ago when we were in our 20s. We never thought those little saplings would grow into a wood. And we didn’t know how much joy they would give us, watching the leaves change through the seasons, and giving a home to birds and wildlife. This summer, these daisies suddenly appeared. On sunny days, they have a strong chamomile scent. They may only be weeds, but they are a lovely sight, even so. Don’t you agree.

How has your garden fared this summer with the heatwave, drought and storms? It feels like we have faced many challenges, all round. Let me know what’s looking good in your garden right now, and whether you are managing to get out and about yet, or like me, waiting for your moment.

Links:

Karengimson1 on instagram and @kgimson on twitter

Roses UK: https://www.rosesuk.com/

Rosa Belle De Jour: https://www.apuldramroses.co.uk/

Summer Holiday courgette: https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Vegetable-Seeds/Courgette-Seed/Courgette-Summer-Holiday_2.html#.X0GQChB4WfA

Beans: https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Pea-and-Bean-Seeds/Climbing-Bean-Seeds/#.X0GQPhB4WfA

Sunflowers : https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Flower-Seed/Sunflower-Black-Magic-F1-Seeds.html#.X0GQbRB4WfA

Six on Saturday meme : https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/six-on-saturday-22-08-2020/

13 thoughts on “A Walk Around My Garden, Sunday 23 August 2020

  1. I agree with you about the courgette – it makes me want to reach out and touch it… Shall be looking out for your soup recipe too! Love the look of your dark sunflower and your new rose is attractive too. I am currently dithering over new rose selection – I have already added several more since you and your Mum visited!!

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  2. You’re not alone ! Just discovered your blog after following on Twitter. I was enthused early in the year but been dispirited by the gales and excessive rain of late. Roses took a battering but perennial border of prairie planting has been fantastic although going over a bit now. Stipa Tenuissima been great with heleniums ,asters and self-seeders poppies, escholzia, verbena bonariensis. Aim next year is to pile on more compost, but I’ll have to buy as don’t really want to make compost bins.

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    • Thank you David. What’s your twitter name, so I can look out for you over there? Yes, the storms have been very destructive. Currently sitting through the latest ones, Storm Francis. My sunflowers are now at 45 degrees. I spent a few hours yesterday adding more canes. So glad I did. Today has been swirling 50 mile per hour winds. First they were blown to the left all day, and then the wind changed to the right! Poor plants! Yours sound wonderful. I can highly recommend Plant Grow fertiliser if you are buying it in. I’ve also just piled my weeds and household peelings into a cardboard box, and that’s composting down nicely in the heat. The box will be part of the compost eventually. So you don’t need to make a compost bin, or buy one. Thanks for reading. Good luck with your garden. Karen

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  3. A beautiful rose Karen, and such a pretty courgette! When I see old trees like yours I often wonder who planted them and who will one day use its wood for a fire or to build with. We don’t have swallows, but house martins galore, all on the wing now the last batch have started flying. (We had eleven nests this year!) I do wish you luck if you decide to break out and go somewhere. We are both staying home as much as possible simply to avoid having to wear those pesky masks in such high temperatures. I have been making soup and sauce with all my tomatoes and will be picking up some plums from a friend next week for German ‘datschi’. I love being in tune with the seasons and seasonal produce. Enjoy your beans Karen. They look delicious!

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    • Thank you Cathy. We didn’t realise the trees would be so useful- and essential! We just harvest one a year, and it gives us enough wood for the woodburner all winter. Free fuel is very welcome! We currently still have a tawny owl fledgling in the trees. Yesterday it peeped from morning till night. Some magpies kept harassing it, and I repeatedly ran out and saw them off! I’m hoping it’s faring ok today in Storm Francis. We have had 50 mile per hour winds all day-and into the evening. I’ve got some very good masks from a leicester knitwear company. They usually make special clothing for premature babies, so the masks are seam- free and very soft. I’ll post the details tomorrow. I think we are going to need them for a long time to come. Enjoy your cooking. I’m just looking up ‘datschi’. Karen x

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  4. Your rose is thriving, rain or shine. With a field of Sunflowers, I wonder if the farmer is growing an oil crop. They really must be a ‘sunny side up’ field when at their peak.

    Your courgette is a smiler, indeed. Did you hear that there have been some issues with home grown courgettes this year? The advice is, wipe your finger on the flesh, (not sure if it’s a dry or wet finger) and if there is a bitter taste, do not eat! A natural toxic chemical is abounding in some of the courgette varieties, causing unpleasant illnesses.

    We have a border of ‘weed Daisies’. They arrive, as if to order, each year. They have lovely confident flower heads. They strike me as being the Sunflower of the Daisy species as their blooms are so much larger than their counterparts.

    Our garden is in an unsettled state at the present time because we had to temporarily re-site settled plants. Temporary, has been longer than we anticipated.

    When I wandered out into the world of essentials again, I had someone with me for the first time to show me the ropes as so much had changed. I felt simultaeneously daft and relieved. I have noticed that there is a lot less choice in the grocery stores I go to. I don’t have as much queuing to do now to get into a store. We are mandated to wear masks in shops and if we use public transport (not much of it in our locality, it has been cut back too). I find wearing a mask okay, I am glad of it. The first week or so, a mask took some getting used to. I think there may be a blog in that subject. 😉

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    • Thank you. I’ll look out for your blog on masks. I’m going to write one at some stage. I’ve got a lovely soft mask from a Leicester knitwear company. They usually make clothing for premature babies, so there’s no seams. Very soft and comfortable. I’ve heard about the courgette problem. I’ve checked the packets, a luckily, mine aren’t the ones with the cross pollination problem. I hear people have been seriously ill. What a problem, if you’ve grown a whole patch of the type that are poisonous. What a year we are having, when even courgettes can’t be trusted! I love those daisies. I hope mine return again next year. Yours sound lovely. My garden always seems to be in an unsettled state. There’s always more to do here. Well, I’ve managed to get deliveries for almost all our essentials. We have milk delivered from a newsagents in Melton; fruit, veg and cheese comes from Crowndale Food, a catering company. Essential food deliveries is keeping them afloat, they usually supply weddings, parties, restaurants and cafes. And now us, and half the village. We hadn’t had any chocolate since February (probably not a bad thing) but recently the local co-op is doing deliveries within 2 hours. So I haven’t need to go shopping as such. And that’s the problem. I’ve convinced myself that I don’t ‘need’ anything. If I don’t start going out and about soon, I’ll become a recluse. I’m getting quite settled here and accepting this very different state of living. it couldn’t be further from how we were before, always rushing about everywhere, trying to cram as much into life as possible. I’m enjoying this life-in-the-slow-lane. We’ll see how long it lasts! Have a good week. Karen x

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  5. A lovely rose, such a soft colour. I love how the farmer planted a whole field of sunflowers. I get a lot of joy out of the birds visiting mine.
    Like you, I am staying close to home. I found that after the initial adjustment period, I’ve grown to prefer a quieter life. We’re lucky to have such nice gardens to keep us busy. 🙂

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    • Thank you Eliza. Sunflowers and birds have been a joy this summer. Yes, I’m surprised how quickly I’ve settled into this being-at-home life. I too prefer the peace and quiet. I’m not sure I can cope with crowds any more. We are indeed lucky to have a garden space to keep us busy. Enjoy your week. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. 🙂👍

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