Delayed Autumn Chores

It’s hard to believe that it’s the middle of October already! The Summer seemed to last for ages, probably due to the constant rain, and now we’re having some sunny days it’s difficult to find time to squash all the chores in. I’m resisting the urge to tidy the garden up too much as there are still quite a few butterflies and bees relying on the nectar. The bumble bees are looking a little tired now and it’s taking them longer to warm up – maybe I should suggest that they do some extra star jumps before starting work for the day?

Agastache

The Agastache is still performing really well and has even started to send up new shoots with the recent sunshine.

Even the Lavender is looking happier – it’s hated the wet soil beneath it’s feet this year…

Beds To Clear

… although, judging by how much the herbs have grown you wouldn’t know this. If you look at the photo above you will notice that I have cleared one bed already. This had the sad remains of the sweet peas and courgette plant. There are also some asparagus crowns that did spectacularly poorly so I’m hoping that next year they will show a little more appreciation in the spears department! I gave them a good stern talking to whilst tucking them up in a duvet of mulch. There’s a ground frost in the mornings now so it won’t be long before all these flowers are gone.

Still going strong

Garden Surprises

The decidedly damp weather here hasn’t stopped the flowers being spectacular and, whilst the giant sunflowers have not fared well, the lemon “Vanilla Ice” sunflowers from Sarah Raven have been delightful. They haven’t needed to be staked and the wildlife love them too. There are lots more butterflies around now and the bumble bees and honey bees are having a party in the nectar bar! I love to listen to them as I dead head the flowers.

Aren’t nice garden surprises great? It made me smile to see this little primrose flowering underneath the Coreopsis. Maybe it thinks this milder weather is the end of Winter!! It was quite a timely discovery as I’d not long visited wonderful blog of Gardening Nirvana where Alys has found a few surprises of her own. It seems many of us experience the unexpected flowers that have seemingly been planted by birds… or fairies!!

Autumn is coming…. and I’m so excited as this is my favourite time of the year. There’s something in the air now, the garden has a slightly different feel and when I came back from shopping yesterday I saw my first glimpse of blackberries!

Floral Dance

The flowers are certainly thriving now that the sunshine has arrived, in fact, we’ve been over run with poppies! I’ve cut the seed heads off the poppies before they can spread further. I do think they’re pretty but I want to limit where they’re growing at the moment so I cut their heads off (how cruel) before they can set seed. I’d like to dry them in the hope that the seeds can be scattered in the paddock… the problem is that seed heads are usually left on the plant to dry. Has anyone managed to dry them from the green?

Dead heading is great therapy and a good snipping session always makes me feel better – especially as I know the reward will be further flowers!

There are several stars in the floral department and most of them have come from Sarah Raven. I am a huge fan and I’ve been very impressed with her plant selections, reliable service and customer care. The small sunflower Vanilla Ice is such a pretty lemon colour and compliments many other plants. I still love the Cosmos and will definitely be growing more next year.

Helianthus “Vanilla Ice” and Cosmos “Antiquity”

In the herb bed the Curry Plant is a clear winner… I love the smell if this plant so much and, although it’s not the edible variety, the flowers are pretty enough to use in bouquets and aromatic enough for a pot pourri.

Curry Plant and Agastache

Three Agastache plants were carefully labelled as, until they flowered, I had the urge to weed them out thinking they were dead nettles! The insects certainly love them, especially the bees, so they have earned their place in the nectar bar.

Despite the floral dance that happens this time of year there has been a distinct lack of butterflies. I assume that this was due to our very soggy weather this year – any ideas? I’ve seen the odd Cabbage White trying to access the netted brassicas or the odd Fritillary or two. In your experience, apart from Buddleja, are there any other plants that butterflies go particularly mad for? I want the Flutter-By’s back x

It’s Here!

Finally, the sun has arrived and it hasn’t rained since Saturday! The butterflies have started to show themselves and I am convinced I can see the bees smiling as they hum their little songs.

Everything has grown so well – especially the Broad Beans! They had started to look a little tired (probably from trying to turn into monsters) so I decided to harvest them all together and chop the plants down. It wasn’t as cruel as it seems – I have some Dwarf French Beans (yellow podded and purple podded) that were sheltered beautifully by the Broad Beans. Now the weather has improved I want to give the little French ones all the benefit of the sunshine, fresh air and nutrients.

My lovely husband volunteered to remove the pods and shells… no mean feat but “tenacious” is his middle name and he did a great job! Once they were green and naked they were put into boiling water for 3 mins before being plunged into ice cold water. They were gently patted dry and put onto baking sheets to fast freeze. Now this has been done we will look forward to having Broad Beans as we wish.

The shallots were looking in need of harvesting so most of them were dug up and left in the sun to dry. There were a few flower heads starting to appear so it was time and I want them to dry naturally in the sunshine. The garlic is not quite ready yet but it smells delicious! I just need to carefully decide what other crops to plant in their place as otherwise it will be beetroot again :-)

Finally, the cosmos are doing really well. It’s a variety called “Antiquity” from Sarah Raven. The flowers open as a deep burgundy but gradually fades to a dusky pink. I was surprised to see a funny looking bloom this evening and thought I was seeing double at first!