SUMMER HAS ARRIVED
The summer must be here. The sun is shining, not too many clouds, great weather for killing weeds, but it is too hot to work. This is the time to relax on the patio with an ice cold lager and lime as the lilies, now in full bloom waft over the garden. To keep cool while still working the land, many gardeners get into their shorts and give their fair skinned legs a wee airing, but you do not want to see the photos.
Garden problems are beginning to disappear. Weeds are under control, pests have been wiped out, and diseases, mainly mildew, sprayed with a rose fungicide which worked.
Weather on the garden
Now is a good time to assess the damage on those plants that suffered from the hard winter, spring gales and early summer thunderstorms.
Outdoor hardy fuchsias are now growing strongly and are in full bloom.
Cistus shrubs are only just alive though they have been flowering, but there is now no re-growth of buds near the centre, so after a tidy up pruning, they will be monitored to see how they recover. They are not yet off the replacement list.
Cordyline had reached a height of about twelve feet but was wiped out right back to ground level. Previous experience has shown me that they do recover, so I was very pleased to see some new shoots push up from below the ground. They will recover.
Broom, Cytisus praecox, was so badly damaged in the gales it had to be removed.
My mature Eucalyptus has lost half of its foliage and the canopy looks thin, but there is a lot of new young shoots to replace them. They can grow quite rapidly in warm moist conditions.
Courgettes and pumpkins are still on the sick list, after the tops got separated from the roots in the gales, but seem to be trying to make a recovery. Fingers crossed.
Tomatoes have suffered from cold temperatures, cloudy skies and damp weather. Flowers bloom then fall off, foliage has blight, which then gets botrytis. A lot of leaves have had to be removed, weakening the plants, which were prey to an attack of greenfly. This is not their year.
Nature always has a reason to throw up the unexpected. I have no idea why my Hellebores (Christmas rose) have decided to come into flower again. It should be semi dormant as it builds up its strength for its peak flowering period in winter, but now it is trying to compete with the annual Shirley poppies. These were sown in spring from seed saved from last years display.
The tubs, pots and hanging baskets have now all recovered from the gales and after a fair bit of watering and feeding are looking fantastic. I have a hanging basket just outside each door planted with geraniums, lobelia, impatiens and the deep blue petunias which provide a strong scent when you are close to them.
Tuberous begonias are in full bloom in a large bed at the front of the house. They have never looked better. They are in good soil and get plenty of sun beside a south facing wall.
Maincrop strawberries are now finished, but the perpetual variety, Malling Opal has now started and should continue to fruit till the autumn.
Apple and pear grafts are growing very strongly, especially, pear Beurre Hardy and The Christie, both of which seem to be forming fruit buds along the base of long shoots. If we get a long warm dry autumn these shoots will ripen up and I may get a few fruit of these new varieties in 2012.
Fig bushes suffered a lot of die back in the winter and a lot of young fruit buds were killed, so this year’s crop will be a bit meager, but it has made a lot of growth that could ripen up in autumn for a bumper year in 2012, hopefully.
Sowing summer salads has continued, with lettuce, radish, and golden ball turnip whenever some spare ground becomes available.
Spring cabbage April was sown in pots as club root risk is too high for an outdoor sowing in a seed bed. They germinated very quickly and will soon be potted up into large cellular trays.
Cauliflower All Year Round was planted out for an autumn crop. These were potted up to give them a better chance against clubroot.
Aberdeen Art Fair
The garden and allotment have kept me occupied during the day with planting, sowing, harvesting and preparing produce for the freezer and wine making, but evenings have seen me back at the easel preparing the last of my new paintings for display at the Aberdeen Arts Fair which runs from Saturday 13th August to Sunday 14th August 2011 at the Music Hall in Union Street.
As well as bold flowers on large box canvases, I will also show some of my latest figure studies including a portrait of Lady Gaga.