Well, August was a funny old month wasn’t it? The heatwave seemed long lost by the second week and it rained. The nights began to close in too and there has been a real feeling of autumn some days, with the temperature dropping close to single figures. There were berries everywhere you looked, with hedgerows and borders giving up flower for fruit. I saw a Pyracantha dragging the ground with bright berries and Rowan similarly laden. The borders have stayed full, but the vegetative growth does seem to have come through at the expense of some flowers, perhaps September will give us a colour burst. The vegetable harvest has been steady, the beans have been good and the ground crops have greatly enjoyed the wet. I am still trickling in bits of salad seed. Marrows and courgettes have had an interesting run with a lot of fruit rotting from the blossom end. Damp traps between the dead flower and the fruit and rot sets in quickly, so take a bit of time to flick off the flowers once a fruit has formed. It will fall away easily and you will be rewarded for your attentions.
As we move into September and gaps appear, we can start again. The winter pansies are everywhere as indeed are bulbs. I do love to see the bulbs and in particular savour the joyous carnival of Tulip colour. A chance once more to marvel at nature’s ability to conjour shades that man could never dream of. Anyway the range of bulbs grows ever bigger, so do check them out. There are plenty of short varieties to satisfy the patio need too and if patio planting is your thing then do revisit dwarf conifers. In recent years the favoured centre piece has been the Hebe, but they do get thumped if the weather goes wet and cold, so conifers are making a slow comeback. They have been in the wilderness thanks to the mythology of the Leylandii and the expectation that conifers pull your house down. They are back and worth a space, many only growing two or three feet.
And finally, the caterpillars are back. A few weeks ago, people were saying ‘there aren’t many butterflies about’. They must have been in hiding making a plan I think. Cabbage Whites are everywhere and picking of the marauding munchers has become a full time job. I do hate spraying, so am back to picking off by hand every day. Crawling beneath the pigeon net is a bit of a drag I must admit.