ANYONE FOR HOSTAS?
Its 7.30am on a June Sunday morning and you wouldn’t want to see what I am wearing as I type this! But if I leave it until later and go into the garden, I know I won’t come in any time soon.
Flaming June? I’ll say! Flaming nightmare more like. Working outside has felt like running on the spot: Maximum effort, minimum progress! The recent gales, which always put me in such a foul mood, have played havoc. No stakes are tall or robust enough to support the towering thalictrums, meadow rue, climbing roses & veronicastrum. Trying to control these wayward giants puts me in mind of plate spinning! Add hot dry air coming at you through some invisible wind tunnel and everything is burnt to a crisp and dry as dust! And then the deluges: Roses, so good this year, rendered brown and soggy, their stems bent from saturation.
Don’t you just love the propensity of us Brits to open a conversation with The Weather? Well, at least it’s got me started on my June blog.
It seems strange not to be opening our garden this June. Our choice admittedly, enabling me to concentrate instead on organising the Hampstead Garden Suburb NGS Open Day 25th June. We’ve been opening mid-June since 2010 so have always worked towards a well-oiled deadline. This year however the mid-summer garden has been somewhat chaotic to say the least.
But as we approach the longest day (what, already? Its downhill all the way from now on!) we seem to be in the midst of some stable conditions at last and diligent pottering has resumed. In a rush of enthusiasm (and relief to be outside without protective clothing) David has installed his new water features: copper kettle and teacup in the ornamental pond at one end of the rill and his washing dolly (the mind boggles) at t’other. Oh, the arguments about what constitutes an acceptable position for the aquatic plants, so as not to obscure the view of his masterpieces, you wouldn’t believe!
I have been unleashing my inner artiste whilst creating the patio displays. No holding back this year, containers a combination of T & M Begonia Non-Stop Mocca Bright Orange, Begonia Glowing Embers and Petunia Mini Rosebud Peachy with cannas, gingers & eucomis, whilst hanging baskets are crammed with foliage plants ipomoea, T&M nasturtiums, coleus Redhead and Campfire, heucheras and – hope over experience – hostas.
I blame esteemed Horticultural Society Chair, Doc Page, entirely! Fancy giving away two sacks full of hosta divisions to a plantaholic like me! So I diligently potted them up for charity sales, back in March, and nurtured them from slugs (and cat, more of that later!) , only to become so attached to them that I have planted them into every suspended receptacle I could find. But they are spectacular, and having smugly displayed them out of Fred’s reach, I now have to find a way of protecting the canna leaves from his grazing. And whilst we are on the subject of Fred, he and his feline cohorts are enjoying the benefits of a superfluous basket, which now hangs resplendent from the pergola, complete with fleecy lining, doubling up as a sun lounger! (Note to all interested cat lovers: Billy our Sphynx cat has actually got a sun tan).
Right, back to hostas, briefly: I think I may have started a local trend. Whilst selling said plants at our Hort Soc Summer Flower Show yesterday, any customer considering the wisdom of purchasing one of these slug magnets, was instructed to grow them in hanging baskets!
I’ve been having fun with my potatoes too. (Good grief, my excitement knows no bounds!) I am trialling a new T&M variety, which is supposed to produce bumper crops from the smallest grow bags ever made. No problem with space then, they are wedged into a gap on the patio. These triffids were growing before my eyes & needed earthing up daily. It can’t be that long before they are ready to harvest and it’s all I can do to stop myself poking around in the bags for clues. Oh sweet anticipation! And a recent delivery of trial dahlia plugs, 3 each of four varieties, is a learning curve for me. Having only ever grown dahlias from tubers I am not entirely sure I know what I am doing. But for now I have planted each trio into a large pot, smothered them in gravel, (didn’t take long for those pesky snails to sniff them out – do snails have the olfactory sense?) and hope to grow them on to the stage where I can plant them out with previous successful T&M dahlias on the allotment.
At last I feel Garden Ready! In fact we unofficially launched the New Season with the grand opening of the Beach Hut (you would find me celebrating at the opening of an envelope!) It’s all under control, (haha we make plans and God laughs) everything in its place, and the sun is shining. There is of course the small matter of the severed irrigation system, the leaky hose, the gap that nothing will fill, the patio wall that needs painting………………..ah yes, gardening is about the process not the finished result, ‘innit.
So next month’s blog will no doubt be full of our NGS Hampstead Garden Suburb Group Open Day 25th June. If you are within a 50 mile radius of NW11 please come along, I am so bursting with excitement I just can’t contain myself!
Caroline Broome has been gardening for more than 20 years. Having passed the RHS General Certificate, she has since developed her East Finchley garden into a “personal paradise” that she and her husband invite the public to visit each year via the National Garden Scheme. Learn more about our contributor using T&M’s ‘Meet the experts’ page.