Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'

Above: Dahlia "Bishop of Llandaff"

Garden diary: August

3 September 2006 - the Garden Chair

An afternoon's gardening today - the first for weeks. I've been out there every day over the summer, and most days I've managed to sit and look at it, though actual gardening hasn't been taking place so often.

But sitting and looking is just as important, as we all know. I prefer to look at the garden from the comfort of a cushioned chair, the kind with arms that you feel like you're able to relax in. Unfortunately at the moment we only have one of these, as we had to get rid of some decrepit old garden furniture, and I haven't found anything I like enough to replace it with. So - though we have a garden bench - we only have one comfy garden chair. This doesn't matter most of the time - the garden's not big enough to socialise in anyway - but occasionally it's a problem. Because any comfy chair with a cushion has 'This is The Cat's Chair' written on it somewhere. It must do, I'm sure.

Now we're back to the usual changeable British weather, the garden chair is brought back inside fairly often, as it's raining a fair bit, and wicker chairs and their accompanying cushions need some protection from torrential downpours. So when deciding to sit in the garden, I need to get the chair and carry it out, then go back inside and get my cup of tea. Inbetween these two short journeys, Rosie the cat is skilled at occupying the chair in a 'We Shall Not Be Moved' kind of manner. She lurks in the foliage, awaiting the arrival of The Chair With The Cushion. Once The Chair is placed in a sunny position, she magically appears there, and settles.

I'm not that soft that I'd let her stay there, and remain standing. I'm a human, and I work harder than Rosie does, so really I think she should give up her seat voluntarily, seeing me there all tired and in need of a rest. But she's a cat, and so she doesn't.

So having put down my cup of tea I have to remove her from The Chair. I'm sure she makes herself deliberately heavy at this point. Having struggled to disengage her from the comfy cushion, I feel guilty and have to resettle her in my lap. At which point she decides not to settle, but to stand up and move around a bit, and wave her tail in my tea. This is obviously a plot to get me out of the chair, as cat hairs in your tea make it immediately unappealing, and you have to get up and go and make a fresh one. This, added to the Pressures of Work (which Rosie is of course blithely unaware of) means that in the Battle of the Chair, Rosie usually wins.

So today, while Rosie slept, curled up on the cushion of The Chair, I did some gardening. And it was only in doing so that I found buds and fruits I didn't know were there. So perhaps she knows best after all.

1 September 2006 - dahlia season

It's been ages since I last added an update from the garden. I've often thought about it, when sitting out there in the hot summer sunshine (in July), or sheltering in Millennium Shed in the rain (in August), but I guess composing updates in my head hasn't quite translated to the computer. And now it's the first day of September.

The recent rain has made everything suddenly break out into more lush growth, and areas that were looking a bit tired and dried out have greened up again. Woodland Corner looks far more attractive than it usually does at this time of year.

The dahlias are flowering, including a new one this year - 'Summernight' - a dark wine red (illustrated on the site's front page). I was surprised that it is flowering so strongly already in its first year, as when I bought it in one of those pre-packs it was such a small dried-up looking tuber I couldn't believe anything would come out of it. Isn't nature amazing.

So, it's dahlia season, and Bishop of Llandaff too is flowering. Absolutely enormous plant - as tall as I am. This too surprises me, as I'd found some large areas of rot in the stored dahlia tubers after the winter, and had to cut large parts out. But the surviving sections seem to have grown stronger than ever.

Another thing that needs mentioning is the second flush of bloom in plants I've not known do this before. They all have different patterns, of course, with some having a flush of flower at a certain time, then not doing anything much after that, with others blooming more sporadically over a longer period. When you keep the same plants year after year you notice if they change from their usual pattern. And this year for the first time I noticed late flowers on a couple of the roses that in previous years have only flowered once, particularly 'Mme Isaac Pereire', as well as on the hardy geranium 'Johnson's Blue'. I can only assume this was something to do with the weather patterns this year - the unusual amount of sunshine and heat in July, then the rains after.

Even the swifts seemed to hang around for longer. Normally they seem to be gone in the first week in August, but one evening this summer, in mid-August, I heard the familiar screeching call and noticed a group of six or more in the sky above the garden. Perhaps just about to leave, but it seemed they'd stayed longer this year.

I was hoping to write a book in August. Well, perhaps not the entire thing, but more than the couple of disjointed pages I've managed to do. Still, I've made a start. It's kind of about gardening, and related things. Whether it will become an actual book, or end up being put on the web instead, it's hard to tell at this stage.

Back to September highlights and diaries


Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'

Above: Helenium "Moerheim Beauty".

Garden diary: October