Apologies for missing July’s ramblings. Life happenings took precedence.
Well, here we are mid August. We are told July was the hottest on record and now many parts of the country are facing hose pipe bans due to lack of rainfall. Both of these happenings seem to be becoming more of the norm these days and I’m afraid we are all going to revise many of our gardening habits as a consequence. For many, it’s becoming a disheartening prospect but for others, it represents new opportunities.
As for the here and now I’ve had the pleasure of visiting three gardens in the last few weeks which show off gardening at its best from which we can all learn. The first was the RHS garden at Rosemoor in North Devon. A magnificent setting which over the decades has built upon an existing garden developed in private hands before being handed over to the RHS. The second and most exciting was a visit to RHS Bridgewater located near Manchester. Many of you will have observed its progress from the planning stage to the not quite finished article we see today. I had the opportunity to have a guided tour of the vegetable gardens in which I was particularly interested. Several of the plots were tended by volunteer groups providing therapy to its participants. The rest of the site exhibiting herbaceous borders, greenhouses, trial areas, woodland walks and water features was truly inspirational. All with an interest in gardening should make the effort to visit if they can. It is a new addition to the RHS ‘s portfolio and is proving to be very popular. Get there early if you want to make the most of your visit. The third and final garden visited was Holehird near Windermere. Run entirely by volunteers from The Lakeland Horticultural Society it showcases what can be achieved in an alpine type setting and is home to a fine collection of hydrangeas and the national collection of astilbies. Well worth spending a few hours in particularly if you want to get away from the crowds of tourists in Windermere and Ambleside.
As far as my own garden is concerned, it is looking very sorry for itself. Lawns are a buff colour. Borders have great cracks and plants are generally suffering from the lack of rainfall. Sweet peas that I pride myself in growing have been a disaster. In the greenhouse, results have been generally poor.The tomato crop is on course to be about 75% down on previous years. My three cucumbers planted successionally have finished cropping and now are due to be removed. On the positive side, sweet peppers and chillies are doing nicely. You may remember I advised earlier in the year that I was trialling growing okra in the greenhouse having failed with it outside last year. Well, I can advise that they have done remarkably well and will give me something different to display at the upcoming annual village show.
Outside in the vegetable plot, results have varied quite noticeably. Beetroot, french and runners beans, courgettes, leeks, carrots and squash are all doing well. Onions and shallots have both done well and were harvested yesterday. Mange tout, spring onions and lettuce have struggled. One particular disaster has been with my sweet corn. We have had successional nightly visits from the badger who has destroyed the lot!
I have completed the summer pruning of my cordon trained fruit trees and thinned the crop to ensure large specimens. The lack of rainfall doesn’t seem to have affected crop size although my plum tree has produced fruit two weeks earlier than usual which I put down to the heat rather than lack of rain.
This time of year seems to be all about harvesting crops but it also gives the opportunity to plan for next year. What has done well or poorly and why. What different things shall I try? It is also the time to make final plans for what to enter into our village show and I encourage as many of you as possible to enter your produce. I know a lot of things are of a lesser quality than we would normally expect due to heat and lack of rain but remember, it has been the same for everyone. Please do enter as much as possible and help make the show a success and event of which we can be proud.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there on the day!
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