I generally have little interest in gardening in August, its normally too hot for me and I think I’m just waiting for Autumn to start appearing round the corner, one of my two favourite months. This year I’ve been even worse given the heat wave we have endured since May. However, apart from a bit of regular watering the garden has got on with things itself and to be honest I think the heat has not just stopped plants growing and flowers forming but also slowed down the weeds and the grass.
However, now we have had some good downpours of rain over the past couple of weeks and the temperatures are cooling down my gardening mojo has come out of aestivation. (isn’t that a good word – its equivalent to hibernation but due to heat) and work has started again.
First up was the greenhouse which has unusually been sitting empty for most of the summer. The temperatures, exceeding 50C, have just been too hot even for the succulents. With it more or less empty I decided to take the opportunity to give it a good clean out and despite its age it isn’t looking too bad now. The next job is to put new gravel in the gravel trays and to sort through the array of potted items to decide what is worth saving and what needs to go on the compost heap. I doubt I will be doing much serious seed sowing in the future, aside from ferns and some more unusual experimental seeds. I fail year after year with annuals, especially at the seedling stage and I’m tired of sad and leggy plants so I am ditching this approach. The greenhouse will, I think, be more for hosting my tender, succulent and fern collections through the colder months.
Next on my list to tackle was the old compost area at the top of the garden. I blogged some months back that I had gone to the dark side and now use a council garden waste collection service and I had hoped to clear the old compost space back in May but the heat put paid to that.
As you can see the compost heaps which had been sitting there now for a couple of years were full of reasonable quality compost. My pragmatic approach has been to pull all the compost out and layer it over the surrounding area. The grass here, which you can just see above, is dead, and has never rooted very well since it was laid some years back. I am working on the basis that the layer of compost is so thick that it will smoother the grass into dying. It way work, it may not but I have done something similar before and it was fine. I was quite triumphant as I managed to man-handle most of the pallets at least half way down the garden on my own before my son had to step in and take them the rest of the way and to the dump.
This is my new planting area a couple of weeks ago just before we had a day of heavy rain. I have done more work on it along the edges to tidy it up and plant it. A holly hedge has gone in along the fence line using some seedlings gathered from my mother’s garden. Then I have planted the space up with a collection of plants which have been waiting on the patio for a home. The backbone of the planting will be from a camellia, a couple of hydrangeas, a viburnum and possibly a tree peony which is being crowded out elsewhere. I have then added five assorted ferns. I hope to add more from my collection but I am waiting to see how moist the front edge of the area is. I have also this last weekend added loads of narcissus bulbs and some cyclamen hederifolium. I also plan to add snowdrops, some are in pots on the patio and I need to thin them out elsewhere in the garden. I would like to add trilliums and some other woodlanders so the plan is to let the leaves from the willow and prunus remain on the soil and maybe even add other fallen leaves from elsewhere in the garden to try to build up the leaf litter for these plants.
Now I’m moving on to the next projects – a new driveway, moving the fern border on the edge of the patio which has outgrown its spot, and finishing removing the old path along the top of the garden and planting the space is provides.
My hope is to create a more densely planted garden which looks after itself more allowing me more time for my textiles – we shall see if the plan works.