I’m having a much-needed rest day and am home alone today so time for a few photographs and a catch-up post.
Despite, or more likely because of, all the rain the garden and allotment have never been better. Frogs, toads, hedgehogs and birds (I have a wildlife pond and never use slug pellets at home but have used them sparingly after transplanting French beans, Florence fennel, basil and Zinnia “Envy” at the plot) have been taking care of the slugs and snails. Interestingly and in my experience direct sown crops fare much better than transplants. I don’t use mains water on my garden (it goes against my organic credentials to use drinking water on an ornamental garden) so in a very dry period my garden can suffer temporarily but it always bounces back when rain falls and this year it has been wonderful to see everything looking so perky and un-stressed.
For weeks now I’ve been bringing home armfuls of sweet peas, sweet Williams, sweet rocket, anemone, Nigella (a new white one with a pronounced purple centre as well as the ordinary blue), cornflowers, cerinthe and borage from the allotment and my kitchen frequently resembles a flower shop.
I love this time of year. The main strawberry season is over for me but for about a fortnight I was making a couple of jars of strawberry jam every other day. The summer raspberries are now producing enough for two and the ever-bearing strawberries and the red gooseberry bush are just starting to crop. I’ve taken a dozen runners from my strawberry bed and soon I will dig up the exhausted plants, manure and plant purple sprouting broccoli. The new strawberry plants will be planted in fresh ground in September. The leeks are transplanted, the garlic is drying, the Charlotte potatoes are delicious and I’m awash with salad leaves. The broad beans are nearly ready and I have little-finger-sized courgettes on my three plants. The French and Borlotti beans are climbing (I had to start again with the French beans due to slug attack), the basil and Florence fennel have just about recovered from munching molluscs and five blue Kuri squash plants are effectively suppressing weeds as they cover the ground. I even found time to make a couple of bottles of elderflower cordial last week and have been making lemon verbena syrup which makes a delicious gin-based mojito with muddled lime and mint (recipe in last weekend’s Guardian magazine) which slips down very well.
At home the grass is green, the peonies have been fleeting, the roses are simply beautiful, the scent of philadelphus fills the air and clematis is in bud. Oh, and the pond is brimful and clear and teeming with life with yet another dragonfly currently eclosing on a flag Iris.
In the last couple of weeks we have been down to the sea several times for easy restorative shoreline walks and I’m finally getting over my bike fall a month ago which shredded my left arm and badly jarred my left shoulder which I normally take good care of due to an ancient torn rotator cuff injury. Unsurprisingly I’ve upset the old scar tissue which I know from experience takes weeks or even months to settle down. Amazingly apart from bruising and grazing to my left hip there wasn’t another mark on me and I know I was very lucky especially as I was coming downhill at speed and wasn’t wearing a helmet. I had a tentative swim last week and my shoulder held up so I hope to be be back to full strength very soon.
It has been an exhausting spring and early summer though. We are almost there with selling the cottage and we can say goodbye to our fortnightly mowing and weeding sessions. I am so glad I blitzed the cottage garden in early spring. I think we spent three long days pruning, weeding and burning but even so we’ve taken boot loads of green waste and other rubbish to the recycling facility and the compost heap is taller than me. Looking after the garden has been fine but it has never felt like mine (just like the cottage itself has never felt like home) and I neither need nor want the responsibility and work that owning a second home entails. Why did I not realise this earlier? We have done an enormous amount of work in a short space of time and I have learnt so much (not least about myself) but now it is time to regroup, focus on the things that really matter and get on with our real lives. I have to say that my husband, who is not a gardener, has been a complete star and has tackled everything I’ve thrown at him with aplomb. We definitely had our scary moments during the cottage renovation but we’ve come through it as a team.
Meanwhile our son has graduated (with a 2:1) and is now travelling through India with his newly-graduated girlfriend. He is posting occasional photos so we know all is well. We had a wonderful midsummer day with them both, the one sunny day during an especially wet, cold week, and I felt so positive and optimistic for all the young people graduating and then the Brexit axe fell. I do hope the UK is able to extricate itself from this muddle. We all make mistakes (see above!) but surely for all our sakes this is a decision that could be/should be reversed by parliament?
I’m so pleased to be joining in with Cathy and many other bloggers around the world with my flowers today. I have been picking and plonking regularly but have had no time to post lately so it feels good to be here today.