Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet'

Above: Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet'

Garden diary: July

31 August 2005

In late August the first few brown leaves begin to gather under the street trees, on the pavements on the road into town. In the garden a few leaves are gathering too, particularly under the golden hop, which begins to lose its lower leaves very early.

The apples are turning red already on the apple tree, and occasionally one falls to the ground in Woodland Corner, landing with a loud thud, startling Rosie the cat who is usually lounging out there on the garden chair.

The main impression is one of abundance and fullness. As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, it's not a picture of perfection, as the usual mildew covers the sweet peas, and the rose on the wall, and another rose is suffering from an unsightly rust attack. But there's so much to look at, so I try not to worry too much about these defects, and concentrate instead on what's doing well.

The daylily has almost finished flowering now. It's a large clump, so carried a lot of buds this year, and flowered for many weeks. The dahlia in the centre of the garden is now very tall, and still flowering, while the ones to the side of the garden, planted out slightly later, are only just beginning to flower, and should carry on flowering through the autumn.

A surprising success is the half-hardy annual Rudbeckia 'Green Eyes'. I've three plants that are flowering now in the central part of the garden, with golden-yellow petals and a green centre to the flower. This is a suprise as they survived through the winter, despite not being hardy. I sowed the seed last year, rather late, and then didn't get around to planting them out, so they stayed in their pots, and they remained in the sheltered corner with other plants in pots, protected by fleece in the colder weather.

The perennial rudbeckia flowers too, with similar coloured petals but a dark brown centre. And around the rudbeckias are nasturtiums of various colours, which have artistically draped themselves in the gaps, and through other plants. There have been problems with caterpillars eating the leaves, and the usual blackfly, but still they continue to produce more lush leaves and more flowers. All grown from seed, sown at various points in late spring and early summer. Good value, certainly.

I've noticed this year how many things have had a second flush of flower. Clematis 'The President', which flowered in May originally, doesn't usually do much later in the season, but this year carries even more flowers in this repeat flowering than it did earlier, though the blooms are smaller.

Another surprise repeat display comes from the rose 'Bridge of Sighs', which I don't recall ever flowering after its main June display. This year it has carried a couple of late buds. My sister Kay, who died in 2001, bought me this rose. One of its buds opened a couple of days ago, coincidentally flowering on the anniversary of her death.

9 August 2005

It's August, so the garden has that floppy, overgrown, slightly mildewed look. I've not made it sound attractive, have I? I should add that it's also colourful, and full of interesting scents (and not just the smell of the inevitable cat poo).

Beautiful bergamot

A star of the garden just now. In the early years of gardening here I had this plant - Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet' - but it must have died out during a dry summer, or got overwhelmed by other plants (a constant hazard in my very full flowerbeds). I've missed it in the last few summers, so have recently bought a new one. And indeed a similar red variety, Monarda 'Squaw'. This variety is said to suffer less from mildew, and this does seem to be the case so far. Cambridge Scarlet's flowers are perhaps more impressive, but its leaves are rather disfigured with mildew. Both of them are a lovely cheery red, and the whole plant has a lovely refined scent when brushed against.

Riotous colour

The garden is full of red-flowered plants just now. Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff in the centre of the garden appears to be competing with the nearby rowan tree in terms of height. It's a great big clump of dark bronze leaves and deep red flowers. Another couple of dahlias in other parts of the garden haven't started flowering yet, though they're now in bud. This one must be happy in the central flowerbed, where it provides a good focal point.
Next to it, the Crocosmia 'Lucifer' and the daylily 'Sammy Russell' add more fiery colour, and have been flowering for weeks. In front of them are some pots of purple heliotrope, so there's a lot of colour that could be seen as rather garish and clashing - but I like it.


The swifts have been flying above the garden since early May, and in recent weeks had increased in number, presumably with this year's young joining the group. I've had fun times trying to photograph them in flight, and have failed entirely to capture the truly enchanting sight of a group of around forty of them whizzing over the rooftops. Forty is a rough guess, as there's no way you can count them, as they move so fast.

It's quietening down now, and I guess that most of them have departed on their migration. I know it sounds odd but I feel slightly sad when they go. It's not the end of the summer, but it feels a little like it, just like it feels like the start of summer when they arrive.

Back to August highlights and diaries



Above: Heliotropium

Garden diary: September