Sweet pea

Above: Sweet pea, July 2004

Garden diary: June

26 July 2004

"Everything is beeeauuutiful, in its own way". (You have to think of the song, there.) The line from the song came to mind while I was looking at some woodlice in the garden this evening. There are a lot of woodlice in the garden this year. Not conventionally beautiful, but I do like the way they trundle about looking all prehistoric.

July was rubbish to begin with. Partly the weather, partly that for some reason every year I don't like the garden for a period between late June and the first weeks of July. I remembered, this year, that this dissatisfaction is an annual event - caused by an apparent hiatus in garden interest, after the roses and delphiniums are over, before the daylilies and heleniums get started. So I just waited for it to pass, which it has now, as the garden is all blooming and lovely again.

I've just been out there deadheading the nicotiana and sweet peas. The mildew that happens every year, on the sweet peas, Clematis 'Jackmanii', and other susceptible plants seems to have been kept at bay, more or less, by a weekly spraying with dilute seaweed solution. (You can get this bottled, thankfully, produced by Maxicrop. I'm not fermenting bits of seaweed in buckets.) I'm assuming that this is what has made the difference. It's something I've always meant to do regularly in early summer, since I read it as a recommended tactic in a book by Geoff Hamilton, but I seemed to lapse in previous years in what seems to be the crucial period in June and early July.

There is a bit of mildew on the sweet peas, on one of the batches in particular, so I may have to remove this particular patch quite soon, before all the others succumb. There will be plenty left - I always plant too many, and now they're well into their flowering period they're rampantly flowering all over the place. I know it's important to remove any developing seed pods, so this has to be a regular garden task too, as they're so exuberant once they get going, they can quickly run to seed.

The Crocosmia 'Lucifer' is brilliant this month, the brightest red. I moved it into the middle of the central flowerbed and made sure it was properly supported with stakes, as last year it was too near the edge, and being very tall, flopped into the path and looked rather less stately and impressive than it should. This year I'm pleased to see that all that effort has paid off, and the flowerheads are held up properly in the middle of the garden.

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' is a star plant too. I carefully over-wintered the tubers in the outhouse, under cover. I love plants that form big robust tubers, as this dahlia does. There's something very satisfying about planting something so substantial. I know that seeds are amazing - the way that a whole plant, with flowers, can grow from a tiny brown dry-looking seed makes you think there must be a god. But seed-sowing involves being very careful and delicate. Planting a big hefty dahlia tuber is, to my mind, much more satisfying. Especially when something like this comes out of it.

Back to July highlights and diaries


Crocosmia 'Lucifer' in bud, July 2004

Above: Crocosmia 'Lucifer' in bud, July 2004

Garden diary: August