By now everything is in full bloom and lots of plants have gone over, especially in this heat and drought. So now it’s time to think ahead to late border filling and even plants for next year
10th July: Things I have been doing lately.
✂️ Tidying my borders. No I don’t mean Brexit, though it would be nice to get started. No, now is the time to start getting your flower borders in ship shape by dead heading, cutting back, tieing in and just generally rummaging around. Because of the weather everything has flowered very early and due to the heat is dying back much faster than it normally would. The end result is floppy flower beds that fall over paths and driveways.
The photos below show the state of some of my flower beds. From this you can see there is death decay and dying everywhere and it all needs tidying up and putting in order. The Marigolds in particular have gone over very early this year. But never mind you can see the best flowers which are now just blackened husks have been marked up with white tape so that I can identify them later for seed. If you haven’t done this, it’s your own fault, I told you to.
Anyway let’s get on with this. You can see from the photo below that I am all set to go. When I asked Cruella (my wife) to take this I was under the impression that I looked like a slightly older, but toned George Clooney, she informed me that I looked more like a baggy old looney.
I wanted to tackle two main plants. Firstly the Margeurites which are past their best and the cause of most of the flopiness. But also I wanted to take cuttings from and plant out some Chlorophytum (Spider Plant). The Spider Plant is the denizen of bathroom window ledges the world over, where it languishes in half light and covered with dust.
Margeurites are best left to sit in their flower bed as long as you can stand the untidiness. The reason for this is that they will set seed which will appear as seedlings as soon as we get any rain. Margeurites, In my opinion are difficult to grow from cuttings but easy from transplanted seedlings. Sometimes the main plant can be cut back to new growth and it will get going again. The photo below shows the only two plants that I thought were worth just cutting back, the rest are in the compost bin.
Spider plants which are often overlooked can look quite showy in dappled shade, where their variegated leaves really stand out. I already had some ready to come from the potting bench, but I also wanted to take some of the spiderlets from the plants already in the border. The two photos below show the existing plants ready to be shorn of their little spiderlets and the new little plants sitting proudly on the potting bench. Their day will come in November or December.
🌿 Cutting my grape vine back; yet again. You will remember that this time last year the grapevine that grows along the front of our house got mildew. This necessitated cutting back all the leaves. They come back, but you lose the grapes. Anyway, it’s happened again. As soon as I saw the mildew I sprayed, but alas it was too late. Now I have two other grapevines which grow along the balustrade of the swimming pool and after spraying they were fine. I think the problem here is air flow. Because the grapevine is so close to the wall there is not enough air which in turn encourages mildew spores.
The photos below show the grapevine in its mildewed state and its eventual nudity. In the words of the great Arnie; “it’ll be back”. By the way don’t compost mildewed leaves as you will only leave the pathogen in your compost bin for next year, throw them in the rubbish bin.
🌳 All things Figs. Now those of you who know me will know that I have a passion for Figs and a hatred of Onions. The latter can wait to another day, but the former is the subject of great excitement. We have an excellent crop of figs this year from our two trees, and I am picking 2 kilo of fruit nearly every morning. Cruella and I have been dining on all sorts of Fig meals too numerous to mention and she has been using them in all sorts of “Spells”. When the glut has got too much for us I have been giving them away to friends.
If after scoffing as many figs as you can – and remember the consequences of too many – and giving away some to friends, you still have lots of figs, then why not preserve them. The easiest way to do this is to sun dry them. Just halve the figs in two and place them in the sun on a rack suitably covered to keep flys away. It will take about 4 days and you have to turn them once a day. It is also very important to bring them in at night as Dew will spoil them.
The first photo below shows my daily crop of figs, whilst the send shows some figs drying nicely in the sun. I stole the rack from the kitchen whilst Cruella was out, I also borrowed one of her hats to cover them and some pegs from the clothes line to hold everything in place. Once fully dried I will put them in an airtight container, pop them in the fridge and I will be eating figs this Winter.
But also, and this is the exciting part, my friend Cath has a fig tree and I have been advising her on all things figgy. Well Cath has only come back and called me a “Fig Guru”. I am so pleased with this that I have decided to call myself Figuru. I told Cruella that in light of this I have decided to write an Opera about Figs called “Figuru”, but she just laughed and said it had already been done by somebody called Mozart. But, I don’t believe her and I’m going to look it up in the morning. Anyway, in the meantime I am still working on the script and music. I intend to have a major aria with Figuru singing “Figuru, Figuru, Figuru” good eh!
🐱 I wondered where all the water was going. I just found out that the cat has been stealing water from water feature. I know you have seen photos of the dogs before but here is a rare picture of the cat. She normally only appears with Cruella and not normally in day light.