Now, I do like my hardy annuals! I know they’re a bit of work with all that pricking out, watering and whatever, but at this time of the year, up until the first frosts, these little fellows flower their heads off while much of the rest of the garden can go into ‘snooze mode’!
The youngest’s sunflowers have been a great success; all now in flower, they’re not too tall and make a grand statement in the rear part of the garden. We’ve given them a large flower bed all to themselves; I think we’ll do the same next year although I might inter-plant them with cosmos – another large bedding favourite which will extend the season a bit on either side.
Our summer’s gone a bit, well, ‘mixed’ as is so often the case at Edinburgh Festival time so it’s nice to have the bright Dahlias and Mesembryanthemums out now, although of course the latter only show their faces on sunny days! The dahlias are real class acts; we have a dwarf bedding variety between the Yew ‘tea-cups’ which are very cheery, although I do prefer the longer-stemmed and dark-leaved Bishops Children; they have even brighter- coloured flowers but are not too big to require staking.
Some find all this brightness a little gaudy, but I like it, and the late Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter relished it; one of these days I’ll get to visit this marvellous, trail-blazing garden!
The recent rain has unleashed a new flush of weeds and brought the grass back from its suspended animation, so hoeing and mowing is the order of the day until the end of August, when we’ll start the annual hedge-cutting.
I did make some time though to paddle in the pond recently to chop back the Yellow-flag irises which were starting to make their presence felt in the pond. I know I was recently raving about them, but everything in moderation so I set to with my pruning saw as these monsters have rhizomes 2-3″ thick and they need a firm hand!
I’ve mentioned the fruit from time to time this year and the family have been furiously picking the blackcurrants in the walled garden and the wild raspberries down the Glen. Both are giving excellent crops this year and the jam-making season has started! The plums will be next, with apples and pears to follow, not to mention the medlar fruits from our new tree.
And finally, if you are visiting the Edinburgh Festival, and are missing your garden, I’d strongly recommend a visit to the walled garden at Floors Castle, just outside Kelso; its herbaceous borders are quite spectacular and well worth seeing, and at this time of the year, with the harvest now underway, the Scottish Borders are a picture. The range of colour, and variety of herbaceous, at Floors is staggering. What is more, the Walled Garden is free, there is an excellent potting shed tea room, a ‘more difficult than it looks’ adventure trail for the young gardeners, and a very comprehensive plant centre, selling quite a number of plants grown in the castle nursery, all in distinguished blue pots with the Roxburgh crest on them!