gardens choose to tell.
The garden this year is telling a different story to last. Last year it was fast moving, a high paced drama. It was a dry summer for us which meant that plants flowered briefly. Flowering herbs turned in a moment while my dahlias were slow to start. The echinacea were ever present, embracing the heat and sun. In short, things that are bee friendly and like dry conditions thrived, those that didn’t, limped along. It was a lesson in how important it is to have a mix of both in the garden. A bit of everything so there is something for the pollinators to forage on no matter what type of summer we have. This year, it is a different story. The garden is slow moving, it is like a long lyrical poem. Lily flowers take a month to bud and bloom. My echinacea are just starting to think about flowering and the Dahlias are lush masses of leaf and flower head. I realise if I want a successfully blooming garden it is about paying attention to the climate and then adjusting your garden practices and your expectations.
On my planting day last week I ended up pulling out sweetpeas from a pot which I had grown from seed. They were some of the few that survived what I must admit are my best attempts to be an unsuccessful sweetpea grower. I have perfected this art. It requires the combination of not paying enough attention when starting the seedlings inside and then optimistically putting seedlings outside when they really are not ready. The sweetpea plants I removed have seed pods. Again if I had been paying more attention I would have regularly picked flowers for a longer flowering period but I didn’t. My attention however is sharply focused on the seed pods as it reminds me, as does the slightly cooler start to the days, that Autumn will come and seeds will need to be collected and I might as well start now. I have found plants grown from collected seed works well for me as I know that those that make it through the my terrible seed raising practices are no doubt as stubborn about growing as my airdeales are about coming inside when they don’t want too. Both will do as they wish.
Five plants that I did manage to grow from seed that I am loving in the garden at the moment are :
Orlaya - It is my first time growing this from seed and I love it’s presence in the garden. It often stands in the background of some beds, flowering, not demanding attention. It is one I will be adding more of in the garden next season.
Larkspur - The larkspur in the garden are all from seeds I collected the year previous. I had a marvelous strike rate (well for me) and have sprinkled them all around the garden. They are just simply a lovely plant to have about the place. They are slowly turning to seed so I will be out collecting them again shortly.
Scabiosa - One of my favs and one I did employ the neglect and see if you survive seed growing approach. My favourite of favourites is Fata Morgana. I had some beautiful seedlings who got snaffled by a late frost. Lesson learnt. The garden how ever does have some lovely pink scabiosa starting to flower which both me and the bees are delighting in.
Cosmos - I collected a mass of different seeds from different supplies this year with the desire to make a forest of cosmos which is starting to build up in a mass of flowers. My favourites this year are doubles. I have a slightly mad looking pink and white stripe which is just wonderful.
Matricaria - I grew these from seed for the first time last year and promptly feel in love with this lovely white ball of happiness. I’ve discovered another variety, snowballs, which is so weird and wonderful and takes a great photo. I had many seedlings which means it pops up all over the place in the garden.
Special mention Poppies - technically I didn’t grow these. I did attempt but have admitted it is not something that I do well. The poppies in the garden are a lovely mix of self seeders and seedling plants that I purchased. The self seeders I am happy to see them in the garden and I let them wander where they will. They just add so much and I love the unexpected places that they grow.
It has started to feel like the garden is pausing at the moment before it starts to head towards Autumn flowerings. The budding anemones at the bottom of the garden hint at this. Most of my garden activities of late consist of the odd bit of weeding and deadheading. I deadhead to ensure repeat flowering. By doing this I am extending out the life of a repeat flowering plant - it is a gardening practice I have embraced so that the pollinators have a food source for a longer period of time. Walking around the garden with the secateurs does mean I have plenty of time to reflect on how the garden looks. I see things that are working well and things that need improvement. For some reasons I seem to have a lot of tall flowers in beds this year and the layer below seems to be missing in parts of the garden. Jinny Blom in her book “What makes a Garden” notes it takes 5 years for a bed to fill in and become it’s true self. I am a frequent plant mover and I realise that all my regular plant moving doesn’t often give some of my flower beds a chance to settle and grow into themselves. The flower beds where I have left things alone have settle nicely. Observing your garden over the days and weeks that make up a year I am finding is the best teacher in how to become a better gardener.