We cut the beech hedging last Monday – the hottest day in the UK for seven years.
I normally cut it in early August but by then there will be a houseful of guests so I thought I’d get the job done now. Wielding heavy petrol cutters and long-reach trimmers was slow, exhausting work in a punishing 34°C. It took three of us a whole day.
The beech is high and it is wide; shaping the arches is especially time-consuming. It involved cutting a bit off, jumping down from the platform, standing well back, looking, judging, climbing back up and taking off a tad more; a process I followed dozens of times.
Here it is afterwards. The new arch is coming along nicely – though it’ll be a few years yet before the saplings on the right catch up. Eventually there will be three arches leading from the car-park into the gardens.
And I’m training yet another arch; this one will be flat-topped and, I hope, will meld into shape next year.
As I had all the hedge-cutting gear out, I tackled the yew hedging too. The new plants in the foreground are struggling a little – it has been fiendishly dry here in Sussex with no rain for several weeks.
At the moment, the strongest scent in the garden is, by far, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). It continues to colonize the ditches and pond margins and I love it. The smell envelopes you as you approach the west pond and the ditches beyond.
And I like the ribbon of white it forms along the main ditch joining the two ponds.
The so-called ‘flower’ meadow continues to disappoint. It is more of a grass meadow really but knapweed and various vetches are spreading in from the ditch and thankfully
the yellow rattle seed I sowed last December has germinated. I have several patches dotted about the meadow and
I’m now collecting seed from the ‘rattles’ and casting it where I want. (Yellow rattle is a semi-parasite and draws nourishment from the roots of grasses. This reduces the latter’s vigour and so allows flowering plants a chance to grow without being smothered by taller, thicker grass).
It is just as well that I am a patient man. Patient and hopeful; hopeful that in the years to come flowers will continue to grow and spread across the site.
I meant to rejig the long borders last year but did I? I did not. Perhaps this year?
Personally, I would remove the yucca but I do concede that its flowers this year have been impressive.
I’ve added various grasses to the mix to give some extra height. In the background you can see the rose tunnel.
I’m rather pleased with how it is maturing
but there are still gaps where I need to plant four more ‘Sander’s White’ (after much deliberation I have decided that this is the variety that I have inherited – and a fine rambler it is too).
The sheer weight of blossom can be a problem – I sometimes absent-mindedly walk face-first into a sweet-smelling but prickly cushion of white blooms.
The kidney beds (so-called because of their shape) have been fine this past month or so. Though why I persist with that enormous echinops puzzles even me (centre, left-hand bed).
This week I cut back alchemilla, centaurea and hardy geraniums (they should all put on a second flush)
just as day-lilies and Crocosmia lucifer came into flower.
The Campanula lactiflora ‘Pritchard’s Variety’ is over now. I intend splitting this large clump but Mr Kininvie has warned me that this is easily said. I’ll let you know how I get on.
My main crop potatoes (above) were OK this year though the new potatoes were rubbish – I harvested just one bucketful. (I don’t think I watered them enough).
Garlic and onions have been good
and in one greenhouse, I’m beginning to harvest cucumbers
and the tomatoes aren’t far behind. I’m trying a new variety this year called ‘Ukrainian Purple’ (above) as well as ‘Gardener’s Delight’ and four cherry toms in pots.
So no problems in the older of the two ‘houses.
But in the newer one I’ve had a long, bitter and protracted battle with aphids.
They have overwhelmed my aubergines and sweet and hot chillies. I’ve tried rubbing them off, spraying with soap and washing them off with the hose. But during my weekend absences their numbers recovered. Then, one day, I found a ladybird and without really thinking, popped her on an aubergine plant. A few days later a clutch of yellow, conical eggs appeared and a little after that
the larvae hatched. And do you know what?
They are my heroes. I want to draw on my ra-ra skirt, grab my pom-poms and cheer them on. And on. Where I failed, they succeed; effortlessly clearing away the green-fly. How brilliant and very, very satisfying. It is also nice just to have an insect on my side.
So there you go – a quick whizz around the Priory in July.
It’s been a tough month – very, very hot; hedges to cut;
still plenty of compost to cart about as a mulch and endless, dreary watering.
And I haven’t even mentioned the tropical border in this its second year. (It’s doing alright, since you ask. I’ll write a more detailed post about it soon and explain the antirrhinums!).