Friday, 19 August 2016

SUMMER FLOWERS



SUMMER FLOWERS



Every year has a different story to tell in the garden as no two years are alike, and one year’s climate can affect plants over several years. Many plants require a good autumn to ripen up the summer’s growth to allow initiation of flower buds for flowering the following year. Similarly some plants also need a cold winter to set flower buds, so when things go well we get masses of flowers. However this can often weaken a plant so it can have an off year to give it a rest. Last year was cool and not all that sunny up north so plants had a quiet time.
Anna relaxing beside Rose Gertrude Jekyll
This year we have had a fair bit of sunshine, and constant warm weather coupled with ample rain so plants could put on plenty of growth. However there was enough sun to let these plant make up for last year’s poor weather and burst into a riot of colour. The spring display of flowering bulbs from snowdrops and crocus to daffodils and tulips was one of the best ever. This was quickly followed on with rhododendrons, azaleas, forsythia, ceanothus, iris and many other plants. The herbaceous border had a great time with oriental poppies quite outstanding, then the roses took over, especially those trained up south facing walls, as the sun heats up the brick and bathes the plants in warmth.
Cistus purpureus
Nearly all fruit crops are also having a bumper year. My Saskatoon bushes are yielding three times as much berries as last year, and all other soft fruits are at record levels. Apple trees have had to be thinned as the June drop did not remove enough fruitlets, and still the crop potential is looking brilliant. The freezer is bulging with fruit, so wine making is in full swing with fresh fruit going straight into fermentation buckets. Five kilos of fruit will give me three gallon of wine. Red currants are now bubbling away happily in four demijohns while five kilos of crushed Invicta gooseberries are fermenting in a bucket, and I have not yet started to pick my red Iona gooseberries.
Summer scents in the house are provided by a constant supply of sweet peas grown on the allotment to brighten it up and also supply cut flowers. Garden scents are more exotic as my oriental lilies come into flower. I have two borders heavily planted up with scented lilies and continue to buy in new varieties to try them out.
African marigolds
One border is mass planted with grape hyacinths flowering in early spring and smother out any weeds, but then tulips planted below the grape hyacinths flower later. When these all die down and the old leaves are cleared away the lilies take over for a summer scented display. As the lily bulbs do not have a lot of foliage Anna has utilised the space to sow some summer salad leaves.
Back on the allotment my gladioli and early flowering chrysanthemums are now starting to flower so there is plenty choice for cut flower for the house and still leave a great show on the plot. This is further enhanced with my flower border of roses, marigolds and Iceland poppies. Opium poppies gave a great display, but they are not repeat flowerers so they were removed once flowering finished and Californian poppies
Hydrangea Charme
have had their first flush and been cut back. They will have a second flush in late summer. Poppy Ladybird continues to flower all summer provided you remove all seed heads as soon as the flowers fall off.
I use Lavender and Shasta daisies as flowering ground cover, and summer is their peak time so we get impact, scent from the lavender and they are both good at smothering weeds.
From mid summer onwards my best shrubs are Fuchsia Mrs Popple and my new Hydrangea Charme, a white with a pink picotee edge looks great when caught in full sun.
 
Luke watering the tubs

Wee jobs to do this week

As the weather continues to be a bit damp, there is always a tendency for botrytis to form on older leaves of tomatoes. This can soon spread, so remove any diseased leaves or bits of leaves as soon as seen and keep the greenhouse well ventilated. Continue to remove any older leaves from the bottom of each cordon as soon as they begin to turn yellow.

 End


Monday, 8 August 2016

SUMMER HARVESTS



SUMMER HARVESTS

The summer harvest season is now in full swing with soft fruit and summer vegetables all ready to pick. My row of early potatoes Casa Blanca have all been lifted and will keep us supplied well into August. At first they were all salad sized potatoes but the last ones to be lifted were all baked potato size. Casa Blanca has thin smooth skin which only needs a wash and peeling is not needed. Other potatoes are growing quite well and so far there is no sign of blight though the weather has been quite wet.
John picks the summer crops
Cauliflower Aalsmeer was over wintered from last autumn and all matured at the same time so the whole crop was cut in the middle of July. Two people can only eat one cauliflower a week, so the rest all ended up in the freezer. Summer cabbages are not yet ready, but kale has grown quickly and is now ready for picking.
Pea Kelvedon Wonder was picked over two weeks in early to mid July for using straight away and some for the freezer. Another sowing of mid season pea Hurst Green Shaft will be ready in August and hopefully this will be followed by another sowing of fast growing Kelvedon Wonder now that spare land is available after lifting my Casa Blanca potatoes.
Cauliflower Aalsmeer
Lettuce, radish, spring onions and rocket has been available for many weeks as a fair bit got over wintered from an autumn sowing, then this year another early sowing was grown under low polythene tunnels. More salads have been sown on spare land after clearing off my pea crop and broad beans which all ripened in early August. Broad bean harvesting is a fair task first picking the pods, then lifting the spent plants to be chopped up for the compost heap. Then the beans have to be taken out of the pods. The task continues as the beans get the skins removed before bagging up for the freezer.
Turnip Golden Ball and Purple Top Milan have been ready since early July as I don’t mind lifting a few small turnips then leaving others to grow bigger as this gives us a longer season.
Onions are still in full growth and looking great, though the mild wet spell has seen some white rot fungus appear on a few plants. These get removed immediately and destroyed.
Onion Hytech ready to lift
This has been a great year for rhubarb which enjoys warm weather with plenty of moisture, i.e. your typical Scottish summer. There has been plenty of stewed rhubarb, crumble and loads available for the freezer to keep us supplied all winter.
Redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries have all been very heavy croppers this year, and although I have just started to pick my saskatoons, the potential crop looks huge.
It has even been a great year for my outdoor cherries which I managed to harvest without netting and our local blackbirds only had a few.
Bramble Helen ripened at the end of July this year, and looks like another bumper crop for picking.

City Road Allotment Gardens are open to the public for their Open Day on Sunday 7th August from 11am to 3pm.
Garden lovers are welcome to come along to our allotment site and see how we grow fruit, flowers and vegetables. Children welcome to see our plot holders kids perfecting their sunflowers and growing huge pumpkins. Our Café is open with fresh home baking and there is ample garden plants and produce, including jams and tablet for sale. Bring along your garden problems as there is sure to be someone with help or an answer.

Wee jobs to do this week

Moss has been a big problem on lawns this year due to the wet but mild summer. It can be killed by applying lawn sand or use sulphate of iron at a rate of one large spoonful in a watering can and water the lawn on a dry day. This kills the moss and turns it black so it then has to be removed by raking off with a springbok rake. The same chemical can be used to kill moss on paths.

END

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

City Road Allotments Open Day

City Road Allotments Open Day

 

THE BERRY SEASON



THE BERRY SEASON

June and July were the traditional times for soft fruit picking on the farms, but today we can grow our own berries in our gardens and allotments. The berry season starts early as growers cultivate strawberries and raspberries under tunnels, and using a range of different varieties and planting dates with cold stored strawberry runners the season can extend well into the autumn. Although most amateur gardeners do not use walk in tunnels we can still enjoy a long season with a range of different varieties and some low polythene tunnels for the earliest strawberries. In a good sunny dry season the crops can give a heavy yield and this means a commitment to picking, and processing for fresh fruit to eat, fruit for jam and fruit for the freezer. The hard work and long hours are rewarded with fresh fruit over the whole summer, jam, compote and frozen fruit available about all year round and then working outdoors on a sunny day is not a great hardship.
John picking the Glen Fyne rasps
Looking back a few years (over sixty) I remember being introduced to our local berry field in Dundee amongst a wee gang of tearaways from St. Mary’s. It was pure magic. The farmer was happy to pay us a half penny a pound for picking. At eight years old I became a working man with some money and a belly full of fresh raspberries. It must have made an impact on me as I have been growing raspberries and strawberries ever since.
Tayside and Angus are famous for their soft fruit crops, and now new fruit crops are accompanying the traditional rasps and strawberries. Blueberries have made a major impact, and now honeyberries and cherries are being tried out quite successfully.
The chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa is also being grown as the black berries are very high in anthocyanins and vitamin C, but the fruit has an astringency so is best processed in jams, compote and fruit juice, though I also use the fruit for one of my best home brew wines.
Perpetual strawberry Flamenco
Blackcurrants have also made a huge impact with local growers. Over the years I have grown many different varieties of blackcurrants with my favourite at present being the Ben Conan. It has quite large berries and is quite sweet when fully ripe. It also makes a fantastic wine. However it now has competition with the new Big Ben variety, a very heavy cropper bred for its large size and extra sweetness at the James Hutton Institute. So far it is proving to be sweeter than others, but I have not found it to be any bigger than Ben Conan, though my bushes are still young and berry size could be better in another year or so. However it is lovely eaten fresh straight from the bush.
Gooseberries are another popular crop and the new variety Iona bred at the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie is an absolute cracker. This red gooseberry is mildew resistant and has very few thorns so picking is a pleasure. I also grow Invicta, a yellow variety which has sweet delicious fruit that makes it a must to grow, but picking always ends up with a bloodbath on the hands as you strive to pick those last few berries hidden away deep in the middle of the bush.
Anna making some strawberry jam
Research at James Hutton has been intense with Nikki Jennings the soft fruit breeder creating new varieties of raspberries both for normal season as well as autumn fruiting. At present my Glen Fyne is proving to be an excellent summer fruiting raspberry, but now I can extend the season with Glen Dee which crops later. Autumn fruiting raspberries have also seen many new cultivars appearing with both Autumn Treasure and Polka very promising. I have had Polka a couple of years and found the very large fruit to be of excellent quality and much bigger than my Autumn Bliss.
Figs and saskatoons may not yet have taken off in Scotland, but both have been very successful with me so maybe in time they will have their day.

Wee jobs to do this week

Summer bedding plants in tubs and hanging baskets have a limited supply of nutrients so this is a good time to give them a boost with some liquid feed every two to three weeks to keep them growing as flowering can exhaust them in mid season.

END

Sunday, 24 July 2016

ENJOY THE SUMMER FLOWERS



ENJOY THE SUMMER FLOWERS

Our unpredictable Scottish summer could never make up its mind whether to come or go and garden plants take every opportunity to respond to highs and lows of sunshine and rain. Summer in May was brilliant but then the rains came in June and early July, so plants put on a great spring display then had a quiet spell while they returned to a growth period. Weeds were just as happy to make up for a late start. My garden and allotment was weed free before I took a week’s holiday at the beginning of July, but on return the weeds were all back and growing just fine, so the hoe had to reappear and give them a fright. Weeds had to be removed as frequent showers help them re-establish.
John checking his new dahlia collection
Although each type of flowering plant will have its own season of a few weeks, there is always an overlap, and some kinds have a flurry, then a wee rest and if the summer continues they will put on a burst towards the end of the season.
Summer flowering shrubs like Philadelphus, Senecio and Cistus have been brilliant, but the show stopper has been my hardy Fuchsia Mrs Popple. My bushes are now quite big, and seem happy to flower themselves to death. I am hoping for another harvest of berries from them to make a healthy summer drink. They put on massive growth during the mild wet weather, but then while I was on holiday, a thunderstorm passed by and several large branches weighed down with flowers could not cope and broke off.
Red petunias and marigolds
Rose borders, shrubs and climbers put on their best show in mid June, but with plenty dead heading they will continue to flower throughout summer and into the autumn. Shrub rose Ispahan was a mass of flower buds at the end of June, but unfortunately peaked during the wet week at the beginning of July, then sulked a wee bit, but now it is having another go at flowering so all is not lost, provided sunny days return.
Herbaceous plants such as the Oriental Poppies and flag Iris had a great show in June, but now it is time for the Delphiniums and Oriental Lilies. The exotic perfume from these lilies is fantastic, so I buy several bulbs every year to increase the stock and flower power. They are quite happy to grow amongst other plants such as dwarf Japanese Azaleas, peonies, Shasta daisies, so long as drainage is perfect and they can get their heads into full sun.
Delphiniums grew very strong with the mild damp weather but then the flower spikes were massive. However despite plenty of tying in for support, the thunderstorm which came while I was away on holiday did them no favours, and many of the spikes broke off at the top of the stakes.
Lilium After Eight
My deep purple Delosperma cooperi revels in the sunny weather. This succulent ground hugging plant thrives in the crevice of a south facing stone wall devoid of soil.
Hanging baskets with fuchsias, geraniums, petunias, lobelia and Impatiens were late to come into flower, but are now putting on a show alongside plant tubs filled with tuberous begonias. I bought these tuberous begonias over thirty years ago, and save the corms over winter. They have always been very reliable and as they grow bigger each year I just divide the corms in spring to increase the stock. They do not seem to be bothered with any pests or diseases and will keep flowering provided they get an occasional liquid feed.
I keep several dahlias for display as well as cut flower for the house, as they are another easy and reliable plant to grow.

Wee jobs to do this week

Pumpkins and courgettes are now well established but to get the best results from these hungry plants give them a weekly feed to boost growth, and fruiting. Pick courgettes when they are about six inches long as this encourages continued cropping.

 End


Friday, 15 July 2016

BEAUTIFUL BUT DEADLY



BEAUTIFUL BUT DEADLY


We grow plants for their beauty, and taste when we want to consume them, but all plants have a desire for survival so to deter predators many have developed a massive array of poisons in roots, bark, leaves, stems, seeds and flowers.
Poisonous plants are very common in most gardens, e.g. rhododendrons, narcissi and aconites, and council land and shopping centres are often landscaped with a wide range of poisonous plants including laurel, snowberry, azaleas, laburnum and yew trees.
Even in the home we grow hyacinths, poinsettias and oleanders which all contain toxins. However we need to keep this danger in perspective.
Azaleas in autumn
Most poisonous plants are so bitter or foul tasting that they would not normally be eaten, and some require very large quantities to be ingested before reaching a critical dose.
The leaves of rhubarb are very toxic containing oxalic acid, but nobody would ever want to eat them, so there is little problem.
Then there is the humble spud, a member of the solanaceae family, which has some very poisonous relatives such as the deadly nightshade and Datura stramonium, the Angel Trumpets containing tropane. It is used in summer beds, tubs and borders. It has large highly scented trumpet flowers that are at their best at night. Every part of the plant is toxic. South American native Indians use it as a drug because of its hypnotic and hallucinogenic affects.
The toxic house plants include hyacinths, poinsettias and dumb cane which can cause immobility of the mouth and tongue, great difficulty in breathing and asphyxiation.
Drift of Aconites
Toxic weeds include hemlock containing alkaloids, deadly nightshade which contains the alkaloid atropine and giant hogweed whose sap is phototoxic and can cause a severe rash and blisters.
The most toxic tree in UK has to be the yew tree. Its toxins have protected it so well from foraging predators that it can last for hundreds of years. The yew was revered as a sacred tree by Greeks, Romans, North American Indians and in UK by the Celts and Druids. It was associated with immortality, rebirth, protection from evil and access to the underworld. Every part of the tree is extremely poisonous, except the fleshy aril around the seed. The stems, leaves and seeds contain the toxic alkaloid taxine. The Druids would plant them in circles to protect sacred ground and monks would use them to mark and protect the routes of their pilgrimages. Many very old yews survive in churchyards as the sacred ground is protected.
The oldest tree in Europe is the Fortingall yew near Loch Tay at over 3000 years old.
Laburnum
The Laburnum tree has beautiful yellow flowers, but all parts of this plant are toxic including the seeds. The castor oil plant is grown as an ornamental dot plant in bedding schemes, but the seeds contain ricin, a poison, but in low doses. No poison is extracted when the seeds are cold pressed to give us caster oil.
Foxgloves may be attractive as an herbaceous plant, but reproduces from seed very easy so can be quite invasive. The entire plant is toxic.
Red Opium Poppy
Opium poppies are commonly grown for their lovely pink flowers in summer, but all parts of the plant are poisonous. Opium is extracted from the latex in the seed pods, but the seeds themselves are edible and used in many recipes.

Wee jobs to do this week

Any spare land cleared from a previous crop such as spring cabbage or early potatoes can still be used for sowing lettuce, radish, turnip, peas, carrot and beetroot. These will be ready to harvest from autumn to early winter.

 End


SUMMER REWARDS



SUMMER REWARDS


A two week spell of summer weather with quite dry conditions followed by a very wet week, was great for plant growth, but not so great for flowers. However this is summer in Scotland so we are in the garden on every dry day unless it is too hot when we then relax on the patio. When the rain comes I am back in the studio to crack on with my latest painting project.
The first of this season’s fresh fruit and vegetables have been picked and as the harvest is just starting there is a lot more to come.
Potato Casa Blanca
First early potato Casa Blanca was lifted in mid June when the first shaw gave me 1.5 lbs of small but delicious salad potatoes. Although this is not a heavy cropper, it has flavour, texture and freshness, so I will continue to lift them as required.
Strawberry Elsanta brought on under low polythene tunnels has been ready from the end of May, and another row adjacent but without protection is just hanging with fruit ready to follow on.
Summer salads of lettuce, rocket, spring onions and radish are getting picked as we need them to keep them fresh. Turnip Golden Ball and beetroot are swelling up nicely and should be ready for picking in early July. Allotment life in summer can be very rewarding.
Pea Kelvedon Wonder is now showing a lot of pods swelling up and ready to pick.
Rose Myriam
Rhubarb just seems to love this weather, and the more you pick the more fresh leaves start to grow.
This is a very pleasant time of year with healthy living, sunshine and with most of the gardening hard work completed there is plenty of time to relax.
Oriental poppies
The garden flowers have been giving glorious colour and scents all year, as the mild winter never held them back. Dry weather plus the cool spring helped them to last a long time, but as the last tulips faded the azaleas and rhododendrons took over to have their month of dazzling colour in the  limelight. They were followed on with the oriental poppies, flag iris, cistus and numerous other flowering shrubs. However as we go into summer it is the time for the roses to take over as the main display. This year my red climbing rose Dublin bay was the first to appear followed by the golden Arthur Bell, then the white highly scented Margaret Merril blossomed. The only niggle to spoil the pleasure was awaiting my new red scented rose Humanity supplied by Verve to our local garden centre store. It turned out to be a very weak disease ridden specimen with pink flowers. Lessons to be learnt: never believe what the label says and never buy in winter when there are no flowers on the bush.
As summer progresses the highly scented lilies will create a show as will outdoor fuchsias, which have started to bloom but still to reach their peak.
Apple Red Falstaff young fruits
In my orchard, (four trees) the prolific crop of apples will need some serious thinning, as they are just laden with fruit. However I will wait till early July to give the trees a chance to shed the weakest fruit in the June drop process. Then I will reduce apples to one or two per spur.
In the greenhouse my tomatoes are romping away with flowers now on the fourth truss, so they get regular watering and feeding with a high potash liquid feed.
Indoor grape vines have been very prolific this year with numerous large bunches of grapes. However a week of continuous rain and cool weather caused a bit of botrytis rotting in the bunches. These had to get cut out while doing some thinning of the grapes in the bunches. This was done on a dry sunny day so the cut ends could heal up without further botrytis problems.

Wee jobs to do this week

Foliage of spring bulbs such as crocus, tulips, daffodils and most others has now all died down so it can be removed and added to the compost heap. Avoid seed heads as many of them will regrow and some such as bluebells and grape hyacinths can be invasive. If any bulbs get accidentally lifted out, just replant them back again.

 End


Monday, 27 June 2016

THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN



THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN

The world today is vastly different from our world when we were kids. As people moved away from city centre slums to the new housing estates around the town periphery, everyone suddenly had a garden, and soon learned about growing a few vegetables. As this was a source of cheap food, every family got involved including the kids. It was our job to do the digging and weeding as well as watering. However we soon reaped the rewards as the first radish were quick to appear, followed by early pea pods. In autumn we chose the biggest swede for our Halloween lantern as pumpkins hadn’t been invented for that task. As we grew up we started adult life with an understanding about
Sophie weeding the tub with fuchsia
gardening and a love of outdoor activities. Today electronic gadgets have taken over our kid’s lives and very few kids go outdoors to play thus knowledge of nature is being lost. This is a recognised problem, so now many adults and schools are taking steps to get our kids involved in nature and gardening. Kids love to be involved in seed sowing, planting and watching their own plants grow. My kids wanted to grow their own apple trees, so after eating an apple they kept the seeds and sowed them in pots. They got a dozen apple seedlings which they then planted on my allotment. Realising it would take about fifteen years for them to mature and fruit, I quietly grafted some shoots of Cox, Laxtons Superb and Worcester Pearmain onto them in spring. They all fruited two years later and my kids were really chuffed.
We just love the tulips
Some quick growing plants are great for the kid’s garden as they see results soon. Radish, lettuce, peas, rocket and beans are all favourites and the runner beans let them see how plants can grow tall quite quickly, but for a really tall plant give them some sun flower seeds.
Pumpkins are another favourite to see how big they can grow them, and then they get the biggest for their Halloween lantern. To carve a scary lantern is another skill to master.
To get them involved in cooking the produce, rhubarb picking for a crumble fits the bill. It is easy to grow, easy to pick and the crumble is delicious. Another summer favourite for kids is strawberry picking, but try to stop them eating them all before you get them home.
Even garden pests can prove attractive to kids as they search the cabbages for a pet caterpillar to take home in a ventilated jar and feed it up with fresh cabbage leaves. Then patience is required when it forms into a chrysalis and hibernates over winter before the butterfly emerges in spring.
Garden birds can be encouraged with feeders well stocked up, and kids can learn to identify all the different types.
Smith family planting pumpkins
Another good idea is to get kids to plant up a scented garden of herbs and flowers to see the variety of scented leaves and flowers that also attract butterflies and bees. Lavender is perfect for bees.
Although there is a massive range of different flowers, they are all involved to seed production, so it is a good idea to let children study and draw the different parts of the flower and the function they perform. This also involves the flowers of trees that are wind pollinated. Kids find this knowledge fascinating. This can also involve collecting leaves in the autumn for plant identification, as well as seeds and pods. Many plants will come true from home saved seed, so the kids can grow plants from their own seed collections.
Back at home the windowsill is a perfect place for a small cactus collection, many of which will flower if they face south and kept on the dry side.

Wee jobs around the garden

The war on garden pests continues, and with recent wet weather the slugs and snails are very active. I use slug pellets for lettuce, strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower and Kale and French marigold flowers which they seem to just love.
Greenfly are also breeding in plague proportions so an insecticide spray should sort them out.
The same spray will work on scale on the undersides of rhododendrons, which is becoming a new problem.

END

Monday, 20 June 2016

Figurative oil painting, Waiting Patiently

My figurative oil painting of "Waiting Patiently"can be seen in my studio in Dundee.
Waiting Patiently is a figurative oil painting

A FEW FAVOURITES



A FEW FAVOURITES

Gardening is a year round activity with flowers, fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers for the house, winter landscaping and digging and trying out new plants and ideas. I grow a very wide range of plants and am often asked, “What is my favourite plant”. I suppose everyone has their favourites, but I like so many that I cannot single out just one, so I thought I would look at those that have the biggest impact on me throughout the seasons. I try to create a garden that has at least one area of impact for a couple of weeks or so then another area has its day. This means bringing together plants that flower at the same time, rather than have them scattered around the garden.
Betula jacquemontii
Winter
There is a distinct lack of flowers in the garden from November to the end of February when the snowdrops appear and indicate that winter is coming to an end. Though the last few years, with mild winters, the snowdrops have been coming into flower from December onwards. My winter border has Kerria, Japanese maples, cornus and other coloured stemmed shrubs that brighten up the dark winter days, with my favourite, white stemmed birch tree, Betula jacquemontia. The main trunk is a brilliant white and on a clear day with blue skies it is very dramatic.
Spring
Once the warmer weather comes along there are numerous plants all competing for their two to three weeks of glory. At ground level the crocus can make a great show followed by daffodils then tulips in late spring, but this is also the time for rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias to flower as well as the flowering cherries. It is very hard to pick a favourite as each group can make a bright splash of colour in their own time before the next one has its turn. Last year my favourite would have been my red Camellia Adolph
Doronicum with tulip Negrita
Audusson, but this year the biggest impact was from a large group of yellow Doronicums which I had underplanted with a purple tulip all flowering at the same time.
Summers
This year after a long cool spring summer arrived and lasted a lot longer than we could have hoped for so the garden just burst into flower. Summer colour usually belongs to the roses, but before they came into flower I got a fantastic show from my oriental poppies, flag iris and Euphorbia polychrome.
Climbing rose Dublin Bay
Then at ground level my deep pink phlox and bright yellow Delosperma were outstanding and both came with a fantastic perfume. By mid summer my red climbing rose Dublin Bay stole the show as it covers the front of the house from ground level right up to the roof. Just a pity it has no scent, but for sheer impact it has to be the favourite.
Autumn
Fuchsia Mrs Popple
As summer fades and autumn takes over the dazzling colours of deciduous trees and shrubs will brighten up most gardens with my maple Sangokaku hard to beat, but Fuchsia Mrs Popple comes into flower from mid summer and last year continued till the first frosts arrived. It was definitely the favourite with the added bonus that the mass of flowers all produced a wealth of edible fruit. These all got picked and put into the juicer for a delightful and very different drink.


Wee jobs to do this week

The allotment has benefitted from great growing conditions, but now many rows of radish, lettuce, dwarf French beans, beetroot, chard, turnip, Swedes and parsnips are all needing thinned out. I usually do this in two operations with the first to remove weeds and give the seedlings room to develop, then the final thinning is to select the strongest plants and thinned to the desired spacing.

 End