Monthly Archives: August 2014

End of month view – August 2014


July’s End of Month View was thrown together well before the end of month, just before we left for the States, and as a conclusion I wrote “as I write this I wonder how they’ll cope with a two week absence.  Fingers crossed.”  Well sadly, the answer, despite having housesitters who were apparently watering, was very badly indeed.

We flew home overnight on the 2nd August, arriving back around lunchtime on the 3rd, but despite my sister and brother-in-law’s heroic efforts over the final few days, the damage had definitely been done.  The sight that greeted me almost reduced me to tears – no veg, few flowers (certainly no sweet peas) and very sad looking pots.  And whilst I know there are far bigger tragedies in the world, seeing six month’s worth of effort shrivelled up in front of me was pretty hard to bear.

Consequently, the month since then, has been spent vacillating between intensive garden recovery activities and sitting inside sulking.  And if I’m honest, there has been so much of the latter that my End of Month photographing this morning resulted in me looking at things I haven’t looked at for weeks, so it’s been somewhat of an eye opener for me.

So let’s share.

The left hand Swing Bed above isn’t looking too bad now – the verbena are complete stalwarts and have been joined by the lovely Aster Frikartii Monch, of which I wish I had more.  There are also salvias, nepeta and phlox, and the St Swithun rose is having a second flush.  What there isn’t, is pretty much any sign of the numerous annuals I planted, or the dahlias which I thought would do a marvellous job of providing late colour.  They have survived and are now, finally, in bud, but are still so short I’m not sure they’ll ever appear over the top of the plants in front.  We’ll see.


The right hand Swing Bed is suffering similarly, but you can see there are some annual Cleomes towards the left of the photo, but little sign of any cosmos or the dahlias here either.

Surprisingly, the troughs have done well and I love the exuberance of the Cosmos Purity.


Opposite the troughs, I’ve cut back the verbascums in the Grass Beds, and there’s not much to see apart from the grasses. The first year we were here I planted Cosmos in this bed and they were great.  I definitely need to rethink this bed next year. Nothing apart from the grasses and the bulbs early on really last long enough, so I think I need to find something that’s a better ‘doer’.


On the other side of the garden, the Oak Bed I’m always so dissatisfied with is actually looking ok, largely as its shadiness has protected it from the ubiquitous shrivel!IMG_4637


Similarly, the Shady Bed is fine, as would the Hostas be if they weren’t so painty.  But the Hydrangea Petiolaris seems to have turned its toes up.  To be honest it wasn’t doing very well anyway, so perhaps it’s a good excuse to plant something more exciting.



Meanwhile the veg bed had a lot to contend with.  Firstly drought, but then the aftermath Hurricane Bertha, which caused a general collapse of all the bamboo structures which are now held up by strings attached to the bay tree.  This makes picking somewhat of a limbo dance – now that there is finally some more veg to pick.


In the greenhouse, where there is a drip hose system fitted, things are looking far more promising




The plants at the left hand end of the photo above are Cucamelons, one of James Wong’s ‘Homegrown Revolution’ suggestions.  The taste is supposed to be (funnily enough) a cross between a cucumber and a melon, however I certainly think there’s a lot more cucumber taste than melon.  The plants seem to be very leafy and not particularly productive, and the fruits are only grape sized (although pretty).  I’m not sure I’d grow it again.


And to finish, a view which isn’t even in my garden.  This is a bed in a neighbour’s garden which I’ve commandeered for my loud orange annuals, Helianthus Claret, Tithonia and various Marigolds.  They look even zingier in the evening when they catch the west light.


So that’s it.  And guess what?  I feel much better now and will stop sulking and get on with enjoying the rest of the gardening year.

And, having this very day delivered my son to uni, perhaps I’ll have a little more time to do it.  (Although he has taken my laptop with him, which seems to be causing a few problems on the photography quality front as I battle with an older laptop with different software.  Apologies!)

With many thanks, as ever, to Helen at the Patient Gardener,  for hosting everyone’s End of Month views.



Return to the Duver, Wildflower Wednesday – late August 2014

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It’s a funny thing, living in a ‘holiday destination’.  You spend most of the year with it largely to yourself, and then, come the school holidays, you find you have to share.  And that’s just fine.  Different, but fine.

My ‘Return to the Duver’ walk this month actually took place on the Sunday of the Bank Holiday weekend, which, bearing in mind the change in the weather since then, was probably just as well.

The photo above shows the Oenothera biennis still flowering, (albeit rather more sparsely) having started in May. And below, the chamomile is going from strength to strength, and much more prolific than last year.  In looking for the Latin name on Wikipedia, I saw the following excerpt.  It appears there are many ‘chamomiles’ and they’re not even in the same family.

The majority of the plants on the Duver are very low growing which I think is the Roman chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile, but there are the odd clumps (second photo) which are a lot taller, which I think could be the German chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla, but I’m not convinced and happy to be corrected!

Wiki:  ”

A number of other species’ common names include the word “chamomile”. This does not mean they are used in the same manner as the species used in the herbal tea known as “chamomile.” Plants including the common name “chamomile,” of the family Asteraceae, are:




Along the path by the inner harbour is a plant I hadn’t previously noticed.  I think this must be Sea Aster (Aster tripolium).  The colour in the photo is a little bleached compared to the original, but it wasn’t a very strong colour (definitely not like Aster x frikartii monch!) but still an attractive clump by the water’s edge.


Another blue is this little flower below.  It’s only about a couple of inches tall and seems to grow within the grass sward.  I wondered whether it might be a milkwort, but the colour seems a little pale.  I’d appreciate any suggestions.

IMG_4576 (3)And as well as the flowers there was this lovely fern, IMG_4560

and plenty of blackberries and rose hips ripening.  But I con’t bear to think about that yet, that seems far too like Autumn for my liking.

Let’s stick to summer as long as we can.

IMG_4577 (2)With many thanks, as ever, to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesday.


In a vase on Monday – cheating!


So, my vase wasn’t created by me, nor are the flowers from my garden, but it’s a stunning arrangement which I enjoyed at Hinton Ampner, when I visited on Friday.  

The flowers were all from their garden and I just love the scale and exuberance of the display.  Perhaps one day I’ll graduate beyond posies!

With thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting all our vases.

Harmony and disharmony


One advantage of having a musical daughter is that her concerts give us the perfect excuse to leave the island.  And so it was on Friday.  With the concert not due to start until 7pm, we were on the 11am ferry with plans for a day out.  Our destination, Hinton Ampner, a National Trust property in Hampshire.  

The property seems a little unlucky – it was rebuilt in the 1960s after fire destroyed the original, and has suffered further damage this year when, on February 14th, a storm took the roof off. The ground floor of the house has only just reopened, but the first floor remains closed and repairs are ongoing.

We’d visited previously in June, a couple of years earlier, but it had been chilly and I hadn’t been overly impressed.  On Friday, although blustery, the clouds were friendly and the garden had plenty to recommend it.

The house faces south, and has fabulous views over the South DownsIMG_4498Beyond the wall to the left of the photo above, is a formal area, with really effective massed dahlia planting.  I’m not sure which one it was, but I assume from the leaf colour it was one of the Bishop series.



IMG_4507 (2)Further west from here, less formal planting included this lovely combination of Salvia darcyi together with a silver shrub.  I thought it might be an Eleagnus but it has a very dainty leaf.  The photo doesn’t show it, but both were over 5ft tall!


To the eastern end of the dahlia beds was a much more informal area with rather uninspiring planting (plenty of buddleia), but I did come across this fabulous shrub.  And clues?

IMG_4524From here, we wandered on to the kitchen garden which was entered via this stunning gateway:



The kitchen garden was really striking, certainly not just vegetables


but flowers for cutting and some ancient espaliered apples and pears.




IMG_4556And before we left, we were intrigued to visit an exhibition relating to when the house was used for evacuees from Portsmouth High School:

IMG_4553There were plenty of quotes from ‘old girls’ who’d been evacuated to Hinton Ampner, but one of the most striking comments related to the fact that they were still sufficiently close that they could hear the bombs falling on Portsmouth, which of course, for many of the girls, was where their parents were still living.IMG_4552

From sobering thoughts of evacuated, fearful girls, we make a quick visit to beautiful Winchester and stumbled across the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which just happened to be showing.  I love this exhibition and for years visited it at the Natural History museum and so was delighted to see it on Friday.

So, up until this point, largely harmony, and it certainly continued that way during the wonderful concert.  So where was the disharmony?  Well, try leaving the concert on a melodious high, and then finding the A31 closed for roadworks and consequently missing the 23.45 ferry home.  And the next ferry?  04.15.  

I really am too old to be sleeping in a car.

Garden bloggers’ bloom day – August 2014


The garden is continuing to struggle with lack of water – particularly after our two week absence – and consequently I’ve decided to get ‘up close and personal’ for today’s GBBD, and have taken my macro lens on safari.

My first stop was a bed I’ve ‘borrowed’ from a neighbour (no, not the cutting garden, featured in last month’s GBBD, another neighbour) where I’ve planted a lot of orangey annuals – Helianthus Claret, Calendula officinalis Neon, Calendula officinalis Indian Prince and Tihonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.



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Back in my garden, I also have a couple of orange blooms.  Firstly Abutilon Orange Marion which we bought last year at the end of the summer, from a reduced stand at Wisley.  It was overwintered in the (unheated) greenhouse, and did look very sorry for itself, but was cut back hard and this year has done really well in its position in a pot on the barrow.  During the spring it had lots of little seedlings around the main stem and these have all been potted on.  I’m not entirely sure the garden needs six more orange abutilons, but how could I resist?




And the second is unnamed as it was a gift, but it has small flowers, as you can see, raised above chive like leaves.  I have a number of these in pots after I divided the original, which are destined for the Med Beds, but like so many things, remain unplanted.IMG_4415

Away from orange, I have a number of (also unnamed) salvias flowering now




as well as plenty of pelargoniums.  The first is dark. like Lord Bute, but doesn’t have the paler edging.  The second is a lovely dainty scented leaf variety and the third is Pelargonium Sidoides.  I love these flowers too, but I’ve found they are getting a little ‘leggy’ by this time of the year.







And to finish, I love green flowers, and my Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevis) have been best ever this year.  IMG_4394

Unfortunately, I’m not so convinced about my so called Aster chinensis ‘Hulk.’  I don’t remember Lou Ferrigno bursting out of his shirt and turning pink, but perhaps that’s just me.


With thanks as ever to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting GBBD.

My over-the-road-oak August


It’s August and my oak is currently enjoying its view of holidaymakers on both the Duver and the beach.

However, its Hebridean Sheep companions, mentioned in last month’s post,IMG_4336

have eaten through their habitat and yesterday were moved to a new, tastier location.   I’ll miss them.  

With August moving on a pace (and school uniforms appearing in the shops!) I thought this month I would think ahead to harvest.  And of course for oaks, that means acorns.

A little Googling introduced be to the word ‘mast’ which I hadn’t previously understood in this context: (thanks



the fruit of the oak and beech or noun other forest trees, used as food for hogs and other animals.
before 900; Middle English; Old English mæst;  cognate with German Mast;  akin to meat
Associated with the term ‘mast’ is the recognition of very variable ‘mast’ harvests.  Some years seem to be boom years, with multitudes of acorns seen littering forest floors.  During these so called ‘mast years’, which occur every 2-5 years, really large oaks can produce up to 10,000 acorns.  In between these years the oaks have few or no acorns at all.
This of course prompts the question ‘why?’ and the simple answer is we don’t seem to know for sure.  Strangely, mast years do not appear to coincide directly with particular weather conditions. Whilst pollination and acorn maturation will be affected by weather, the annual fluctuations in rainfall and temperature are just not as significant as the variance of the acorn harvest.

So, if not simply weather, what is the cause?  It appears there have been numerous explanations proposed for this phenomenon, including environmental triggers, chemical signalling and pollen availability, but as yet there is no clear answer.

What does seem to be accepted is that the boom and bust cycles of acorn production do have an evolutionary benefit for oak trees through ‘predator satiation.’ The idea is that in a mast year, predators (squirrels, deer, etc.) can’t eat all the acorns, and so some are left to grow on into oak trees.  Conversely, having lean years keeps the predator populations low, so there are fewer animals to eat all the acorns in a mast year.  The overall result is thus a proportion of the acorns surviving to create new trees.

So, is 2014 a mast year?  Well I think not.  I had to look long and hard to see any acorns at all (although to be fair the vast majority of branches are so high I don’t think I could have seen the acorns without binoculars) but I did find some:IMG_4351I also found some small oak apples, actually about the size of acorns – much smaller than the apple sized one featured in my May tree post. IMG_4354

So, if not 2014, then when?  Well, I will certainly be watching my oak for its next mast year, and I’ll keep you posted.

Lastly, to go out with a bang, my over-the road-oak lit up by fireworks for my son’s 18 1/2th birthday (because we never did it on his 18th).IMG_3787

With thanks again to Lucy at Loose and Leafy for hosting this ‘Follow a tree’ meme.

New England round up


Whilst I was away, I still enjoyed keeping up with my various blogging friends, and was much entertained by Chloris’ Taste in flowers post on 21st July, where amongst other species, she named certain ‘over-hybridised and vulgar’ Hemerocallis amongst her dislikes.

Fast forward five days, and we were getting ready to move from Boston to a rental house in Rockport, Massachusetts for our second week.  Whilst Boston had been great fun, I’d been missing a proper flower fix and so was looking for a garden to visit.  I came across the Tower Hill Botanic Garden online, and decided that should be the one.  

There was a small issue persuading the attendant family members that it really was a good idea to go due west to a garden, when we needed to travel north east to get to Rockport, but they’re an indulgent lot (well they were that day) and off we set.

And what did we find?  Not only a garden heavy (vulgar? ;-)) on daylilies, but we had also stumbled upon the annual ‘New England Daylily Show’.  Chloris, where were you?

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I’ll restrict myself to showing two, which demonstrate the kinds I like and dislike.

Can’t say I like this one (Hemerocallis ‘Looking Rosy’).  Petals too ‘fat’ and starting not to look like a daylily at all.IMG_4078

but I do quite like this one (Hemerocallis ‘Rocket Man’), much more spidery petals, and it reminds me of a Crocosmia.  (And has a name definitely superior to ‘Droopy Drawers!)


Moving on from the daylilies, there were plenty of other plants to admire.  These Mallows were new to me (I thought Mallows were Lavatera, but apparently not here) –  Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) and Bush Mallow (Callirhoe bushii)


and this climber, the Violet Tube Flower, Iochroma cyaneum ‘Royal Blue’ was stunning.  What a colour!  Not royal blue at all, very much the deep purple shown in the photograph.


In addition there were some lovely drifts of more common RudbeckiaIMG_4088

and Echinacea.IMG_4115 (2)

So after our detour we arrived at the rental house, where what the details described as a ‘lush yard’, turned out to be a really attractive, good sized gardenIMG_4207



with some fabulous potsIMG_4208


and a pretty, little, impressively flowery pond.IMG_4192


Other than enjoying the garden, the only other flowery outing was a trip to the very tranquil Halibut Point State Park.  There weren’t a great deal of flowers to admire, but I loved the sun on these berries (what are they?)IMG_4306

and this Vetch with an Atlantic viewIMG_4314

And one last photo – no flowers at all, but it makes me smile.IMG_4174 (4)