After spending quite a few hours tidying up our garden this weekend I enjoyed a nice cup of tea sitting enjoying the colours of late Summer.
For Christmas I was given a collection of Sarah Raven Seeds to create a `Cutting Patch’ . I was promised that I would `fill my house with vases of cut flowers for most of the year with these seeds – the very best, most beautiful and productive cut and come again flowers – for a small cutting patch, with the right balance of flowers and foliage.’ Only 1 problem….I’ve planted so much in our garden I didn’t have the spare space for a Cutting Patch 3.5m x 4m in size! I improvised and filled pots with the plants I had grown from these seeds and dotted the rest where I could find a free space. I have been pleasantly surprised about how well my pots have worked. Usually I put geraniums in my pots, so it was nice to have a change growing something different.
I was particularly pleased with two varieties of Cosmos – Purity and Dazzler. Cosmos ‘Dazzler’ has large, open buttercup-like flowers of carmine pink with delicate, feathery foliage. Purity is a white flower with yellow centres. Cosmos really are fantastic flowers. If you keep dead-heading the flowers go on and on. They are so pretty the way they dance in the breeze welcoming you in to our garden from their pots. They even make Mr Smiles smile! I also saved some seed from the Cosmos I grew last year. I gave some of this seed to a friend who grew them and then donated some of the plants to another friend. Three of us have enjoyed Cosmos all Summer from my seed collecting exploits. Yippee!
The other success from my seed growing exploits has been Zinnia elegans ‘Envy’. This flower is a fabulous zingy Chartreuse-green. I also grew multi-coloured zinnia. However these have been slow to flower – I am still waiting!
I loved the colour of Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’ which has trailing chenille tassels of bright apple-green. It looked fabulous in my pots against the purple blue salvia.
This year I am embracing dahlias in a big way! Dahlias were once reserved for allotment plots . However they have become more popular in recent years. They can be used as striking statement plants and are a great source of late summer and autumn colour in any garden. I love them and enjoyed the display at Chelsea Flower Show this year.
I tried to save my tubers from last year, but they were eaten by mice so I have planted fresh tubers this year.
I am particularly pleased that our garden is becoming much more `bee and butterfly’ friendly. I have deliberately tried to plant foliage and plants that are attractive to bees and butterflies. I have planted a buddleia as I know butterflies love them . I must admit it is not my favourite plant, but I like the butterflies! Although I am not so keen on the cabbage whites destroying my cabbages!
I have also grown huge magestic teasel plants from seed to try to attract birds in the Winter.The seeds are an important Winter food resource for some birds, notably the European Goldfinch. Unfortunately I forgot to read the seed packet and they are HUGE! They are 2 metres high and my neighbour calls them my `triffids’.The bees love my triffid teasels.
My blue Globe Thistle (Echinops) has also attracted the bees.
For the second year running I have grown Globe Artichokes in the raised vegetable beds. Again we have forgotten to eat them and they are blooming beautifully. They have fantastic architectural leaves, in shades of silver green, followed by huge purple thistle flowers. I really must draw and paint them when I get a moment.
I am very fond of Honesty as it reminds me of my Gran. It was very popular in the seventies to grow and cut statice and honesty for dried flower arrangements. My Gran did just this and the dried flower arrangements were left to gather dust for months on end. I think this gave me an aversion to dried flowers. I can’t see the point, when there are so many beautiful fresh flowers which can be cut and arranged. That is one of the reasons why I love painting Bridal Bouquets. I aim to re-create the beauty, colour and freshness of the flowers in a way that is difficult to achieve by drying them. However I do appreciate Honesty growing in the garden. In the Spring the dainty violet flowers made a nice contrast to my bright yellow daffodils. Honesty is a plant best known for its seed cases rather than its flowers. At this time of year the seed cases dry and shed the outer casing revealing shimmering silver pennies. I am going to let my silver Honesty pennies remain in the garden to cheer up the Winter garden. No dusting for me!
Other flowers I have enjoyed seeing this month in the garden are our stately hollyhocks.
Now we have got into September our garden is having one last fiery display of colour as we advance into Autumn. We are beginning to see a riot of warm yellows, reds and
oranges with heleniums, marigolds and sunflowers in full bloom. Helenium Moerheim Beauty was a new addition to the garden last year and she is stunning.
Last but by no means least is the wonderful vegetable harvest we have had this month. We have enjoyed courgettes, tomatoes, runner beans, potatoes and lots of fresh herbs. Mr Smiles presented me with fabulous bruschetta made with freshly picked tomatoes, basil and garlic. Unfortunately it was so yummy I eat it without being able to show you a picture! Here is this weeks harvest freshly picked for dinner.
I’d love to hear about the successes in your garden this Summer.