After the intense heat this month, plants are much less bountiful with smaller flowers.
The scarcity has resulted in my appreciation of the ones that are blooming. I’m using them as much as possible, pinching off calendula for salads, tiny cornflowers, too small for bouquets, in drinks and herbs in everything. Our lemon verbena plants are getting a decent size this summer; I've cut leaves to dry and store for cakes and syrups in the dark winter when I know I will want to be reminded of the heat and blue skies of this hot summer.
This week saw the biodynamic transplanting period with a good window of opportunity for leaves (mostly herbs, shrubs for me) and flowers. I’ve been sowing seeds for next year already and filling in gaps in the beds with lettuce’s, radish and basils for quick crops. Plants that have sat around labouring in their trays got swiftly placed into position to replace others. I am glad I kept sowing successionally. Even though some were months apart in germination, they are catching up now.
Keep deadheading, watering, feeding - plants will conserve their energy, making small flowers and going to seed quickly. I predict bountiful flowering come September as the nights cool, heavy dew dampens the soil and the days are shorter. Help the plants get along until then, keeping the faith.
In other news, I am sowing and learning about green manures. This is much more an ‘agricultural’ approach than horticultural so I am starting from scratch. I ordered small packets of seed from Chilterns earlier this year and experimented, now bumper bags of seed have arrived from Tamar and Green Manures. Now, as crops are lifted for the next rotation (early annuals cleared ready for ranunculus etc), I am researching sowing quick green manures to fill the space for a couple of months. These will feed the soil biology and replenish with nutrients before the next plants are planted. I have under sown dahlias with mustard to cover the bare soil around the base, aiming to smother weeds and bind our dry, sandy soil together, holding more water. They should also provide plenty ‘greens’ for the compost heap too. I will let you know how I get on. Have you used green manures?
On the picking list this week are last of the echinops, eryngium, sweet peas, gaura, cosmos, nicotiana, scabious, coreopsis, persicaria and dahlias. The atriplex has seeded beautifully, much earlier than usual, of course like everything!
So, the 3 top tips for the weekend are -
1. Sow radish, salad leaves or green manures where there are gaps in the planting and bare soil.
2. Snip off your flowers and enjoy in food and drinks - use cornflowers, calendula, dahlias and snapdragon petals.
3. Finally, alas, we don’t have one, but one of my favourite gardening jobs is to summer prune wisteria.
Right now cut back any long wayward growth back to 20cms of the framework to help the plant conserve energy for those flowers next year. In anticipation of the big winter prune, helping create and maintain a beautiful framework.
Cutting and conditioning flowers for a 'Kit and Caboodle' Wedding Package
A view from a keyboard
Flowers on everything
Fitzwilliam Dinner Flowers this week.