So anyway, after two weeks of tropical 30c heat, here we are in mid-September, the rain finally came and the temperature’s dropped to a respectably dull 20c. Great, I think, I can start tidying up for the autumn, and then go on holiday. But when I get outside everything has started greening up and growing again!
All very confusing, for me as well as the plants! Summer: The cucamelons are overtaking the greenhouse and have taken the tomatoes hostage, the cucumber vine isn’t even mildewed yet, and the peppers are ripening. Autumn: Salvia cuttings and strawberry runners are potted up. Winter: Colocasias have been brought undercover. Spring: My T&M bulbs have arrived.
Talking of which, I‘ve gone all delicate for next spring: I’ve bought jonquilla daffs Martinette, Pueblo & Pipit, and Green Eyed Lady for the patio containers. For the raised bed out front I’ve bought scilla, aconite and puschkinia; lots and lots of them. I’m into naturalising from now on, partly to let nature increase its stocks and partly because I hate planting bulbs. Tulips are off – by the time they come into flower I’ve got bored waiting, and the minute they start to look off colour I pull’em up because I’m impatient to start planting out for summer. No point planting them in pots as Fred the Oriental eats the leaves! Alliums get on my nerves too, all those floppy leaves lying around amongst the pristine perennials. Oh didn’t I tell you? I’m a neat freak.
However, I digress. Actually I‘ve had a lovely morning in the garden. Been around all the borders deadheading & cutting back, planting up some divisions I took earlier this year to bulk up their parent plants, reducing clumps of thugs like achillea The Pearl, and relocating perennials to rebalance displays. I’ve even pushed the boundaries of taste (my taste anyway) and planted very garish (plant label refers to them as Bold) but stunning Rudbeckia ‘Summertime Orange‘ and Helenium autumnale ‘Red Shades’. Sedums seem to be very in vogue at the moment with several new varieties on offer. I have bought Jose Aubergine, a deep burgundy type with dusky pink flowers. (Why I have bothered to plant late summer colour is a mystery to me as I‘m only likely to see it on my way to the greenhouse and back these days.)
Since our last Open Day for this year on Sept 4th I’ve barely been in the garden for more than a few minutes at a time – too hot or too busy – other than to water. The auto-watering system keeps exploding from a key joint in the pipe on the patio. (As a result, frogs have been gravitating to the cool shady moisture of the patio from the scorching heat of the borders, straight into the jaws of Winky the Sphynx. One such happy incident resulted in seven cats staking out the sofa with frog in hiding underneath. David applied the glass jar and plate method of capture, frog relocated to pond and all was well.) Back to the matter at hand, consequently the irrigation system was rendered useless during the hottest September temperatures for the last 40 years so watering had to be done with hose and sprinkler twice a day for nearly a fortnight. A heated debate ensued amongst friends, as to the relative merits of watering as a means of relaxation as opposed to deadheading. My money’s on deadheading every time!
Since the summer holidays ended there has been a distinct change of pace (traffic, talks of Christmas) but my thoughts are naturally turning to Garden 2017. The summer house, currently decorated in the style of a 1930s tea room, is going to be transformed into a beach hut. On the patio we are going to fix mirrors along the boundary fence to reflect more light in and make it look bigger.
It’s time to reflect on the winners and losers of the season, now that this summer’s T&M trial period has concluded. Definitely to be repeated next summer are Petunia ‘Cremissimo’, minitunia Calabrachoa ‘Crackerjack’, Bidens ‘Bee Dance Painted Red’ and the un-named bidens which is being launched in T&M 2017 catalogue. Petunia ‘Crazytunia Mandevilla’ is not for the faint hearted, although stunningly beautiful and still going strong, it needs watering and deadheading twice a day at the height of the season and sulks if you don’t feed it every week. Although Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY never really got going I am hopeful that it will come into its own next summer. Patti Pans ‘Summer Mixed’ have been great fun to grow and are very versatile in recipes for stir fry, roasted, in soups and pie fillings. Having initially been disappointed in Tomato ‘Tutti Frutti’, suddenly, overnight it seems, the trusses have ripened to produce colourful little fruits, not my favourites but very pretty.
Ricinus communis ‘Impala’ has been a revelation, three magnificent specimens grown from seed, admired by all, and great fun to see people’s faces when you tell them that’s where the poisonous ricin comes from! But my absolute favourite product has got to be Cucamelon ‘Melothria’: A real curiosity on Garden Open Days, and second prize in the Any Other Fruits category at our Horticultural Society Autumn Show. (Hmm, David won first prize and Best In show for his Dinner Plate Aeonium, judged by the one and only Jim Butress no less.) So easy to grow from seed, three vines have produced dozens, no hundreds, of fruits that look like mini watermelons and taste like lemon flavoured cucumbers. They are delicious in salads dressed with raspberry vinegar or thrown into a gin and tonic (with lime juice ice-cubes) or Pimms. Anyone got any other recipes for cucamelon?
My next blog will be after the London Gardens Society awards in October; we have been shortlisted for Best Small Garden so fingers crossed…..In the meantime I intend to make the most of the autumn as it’s a long old winter ahead. Hope you do too!
Head over to our cucumber hub page to pick up growing tips and advice for these delicious salad plants.
I should take a leaf out of your book and think of alternatives to tulips . .but as we open end April for ~NGS I need some splashes of colour. They blend in with forget me bots and wallflowers and those little pink daisies . .to create a foaming sea of colour in a big smiling bed.
I like watering . . . growing so much in pots on tarmac …a part of the garden we can’t cultivate . .too polluted underneath .
Good luck with the London society . .do send me the proper link and I’ll think about giving you a run for your money next year.
Mind you . .difficult when David wins prizes too !
Susan and Earl x
Hi Susan, thank you for your comments. It seems you know Caroline. If you would like to write a blog, at any time, please feel free. We love to hear from our bloggers. You would be suprised at the amount of people who read our blogs. They are popular. If you do please email: email@example.com
Kind regards, Wendie
Hope you win you deserve to – not so sure about cucamelons – that just sounds weird.
Thank you for your comments. As Amanda is one of our wonderful bloggers we are rooting for her. But I would like to see anyone win with T&M products. Cucamelons seem to be a bit of a craze at the moment. Two of our bloggers have spoken of them. One liked them and one didn’t! All good fun though. Thanks, Wendie
Cucamelons sound amazing. Will give them a go 2017. Can I get seed from Homebase or maybe the Sunshine Nursery? Enjoyed the blog, the view of your splendid front garden Caroline and all info. Many thanks.
Hi Margaret, I have checked and Homebase don’t sell cucamelon seeds. I have provided a link to our site for cucamelon. https://www.thompson-morgan.com/fruit/fruit-seeds/half-hardy-annual-seeds/cucamelon-melothria/tt54737TM only £2.49. There might be a postage free weekend soon so I would keep an eye open. I am happy to hear you are enjoying the blog. As I said to Susan above, if you would like to write a blog please feel free. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org We have lots of competitions and giveaways to make it worth your while. Well happy reading, kind regards, Wendie
Lovely blog as usual, good luck in the Best Small Gardens competition.
You made me giggle again with the cat-astphoes you have. You remind me of my friend and her 5 cats who bring in all manner of pets and half eaten rodents for her.
Looking forward to you next blog.
Love Amanda xx
Hi Amanda, as we said Caroline is a hoot. Her blog is funny. Take care and speak soon. Regards, Wendie