There's Elephant Hawk moth caterpillars crawling among the Gerberas, Hummingbird Hawk moth on the Buddleja's at the other end of town, pesky Cabbage White's still trying to lay their eggs on my brassicas ( and succeeding ). Nesting season is over so no songs from the hedges. August is here, with its wind and rain but intervals of brightness, harvest time in the garden, lots of jams and pickles and juices bubbling away in the kitchen, apples, which have been excellent this year going into almost anything and everything. This is a good time to observe and monitor. What is doing well. How are the experiments coming on -compost tea - seems to be working, rhubarb insecticide- that's working, although there has been very little greenfly this year, don't know why. Red spider mite- thought it had passed by but there it was on the chillies, so it was outside and several hosings off. They are now transplanted, one in the green house and one planted in the bottom of the remains of the compost heap. Should be nutritious.
Dahlias have been splendid and continue to be so. Keep cutting them for indoors and dead heading and they will keep producing flower. Here in relatively mild North Devon I can keep them in the ground all year round. Something unheard of in Sheffield. They just keep getting better.
Similarly the roses keep producing new flowers as long as I dead head. They get sprayed with the compost tea, mulched with horse manure and thank us with gorgeous scents and colours that we can share widely among our friends, continuing that noble heritage that surrounds the Rose.
The wet weather has brought out that perennial nuisance, the slug, to the summer garden. The dry weather earlier in the year certainly limited their numbers so my garden is not over run by them. Not the case for other gardens though. An account written in the Times earlier this week described the difficulties gardeners have. Studies carried out by the RHS have shown that egg shells, fleece, copper wire, garlic make very little difference to their numbers. Biological control with nematodes works. The firm which supplies them, BASF in Littlehampton have been inundated with demand and have been unable to cope with the orders from garden centres. That leaves slug pellets which is one of the controls that the RHS says will work. Birds and frogs will feed on slugs, as will ducks, although I've yet to encounter any slug eating predator near my Hostas when it's wet weather. They must have better things to do.
All the cutting, moving around and tidying not only keeps my eye on hidden corners but also produces unexpected surprises.I have over the last few days spotted seedlings of spinach where they were a few weeks ago. They didn't thrive in the hot weather, but somehow I now have new ones coming up, which I will pot up in a couple of weeks once they are bigger and grow on in the polytunnel. Also I have another seedling Echium to join the others that have sprouted randomly around the garden. It was 2 years ago since they flowered so the seeds must have laid there all that time. I have just found out that Echium can be propagated from cuttings. I collected a few cuttings from the Devon Sculpture Park last month and they are rooting nicely already. This Echium is fastuosum which is not hardy here so this will be treated like a tender perennial next year. The greatest surprise however is to the seedlings of the Trachycarpus that have emerged. I planted 3 in the garden at least 10 tears ago and needed to remove one near my studio. The plants flower and then seed prolifically but I never took things any step further. When I cut the palm down I burnt as much as I could and left things like that. Some of the seed must have rolled down the slope and settled on the top side of my polytunnel which is where I now have a seed bed with at least 50 seedling Trachycarpus fortunei. Given that the original plants were grown from a batch of seedlings I bought wholesale when I ran the nursery I can now see that I will have the next generation available next season.
So, life moves on, seasons change and we change with them. As the kind soul I spoke to today said, perhaps life will be simpler now.
Landscape Designer, Sculptor & Artist.
Today was the first and last session of our new group. Now that the seriousness of the spread of the corona virus is worryingly loud and clear we cannot continue. To physically meet as a group, even outdoors and at a 2 m. social distance would be too risky. So from now on we will continue our work and keep in touch on-line, sharing guidance and information when needed.
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