The garden in summer
It is hard to believe that the time for summer holidays is really there. The longest day has come and gone. Our nightingale, that continued singing in the hope of finding a mate all of last summer, was obviously more successful this year: he has stopped his wonderful chant.
Deadheading on the arrival of summer in the garden
A sure sign that the summer solstice has taken place, is that Thea, our head gardener has cut back the catmints for a second flush of flowers, and filled gaps in the border with summer annuals like Nicotiana mutabilis, Cosmos and Cleome. Next week the Alchemilla mollis will also be chopped back, to prevent it from seeding and obtain a fresh crop of leaves.
The Shade Walk is heaving with stunning hydrangeas, taking over the lead from the roses. Their first flush of flower is coming to an end and need deadheading to tidy them up and encourage new shoots for the late-summer flower display. Just remember if your have roses that produce particularly good rosehips, to leave the faded flowers. You can just shake off the faded petals if need be.
Filling summer holes in the flower beds
I love using annuals such as tobacco plants as well as dahlias to fill irritating holes in the border. The work involved pays off great dividends, as they will continue to flower to the end of the season. I like to raise the plants in advance in pots, so I can put them out now as they start to flower. Like that they stand a better chance of survival in amongst the taller neighbours, and I have more flexibility in placing the plants exactly there where I need them.
Make sure you soak rootballs of any plants you may be planting at this time of year, and fill the planting hole with water. Give it a good, soggy start!
Visit your own garden
This is the time of year for visiting other gardens as well as your own. Your paradise is not only there to be gardened in; it is also there for your enjoyment. On lovely summer days it is bliss to have breakfast on the terrace in the early-morning sunshine, or take afternoon tea (or coffee!) in the shade of a tree, surrounded by your flowers.
On hot, sweltering evenings, retreat into the dark greenery of your garden, just lit up with enough candles that you can move around safely. Listen to the noises of your garden-nightlife, enjoy the smells of the night-pollinated flowers such as Buddleja or Evening Primrose and simply relax. These excursions into your garden will give you a totally new perspective of your surroundings. You will go to bed after a wonderful evening sitting in the darkness of your garden, all relaxed and happy.
Harvest and successive cropping
– zur deutschen Version – For those of you who this spring have kept busy growing vegetables the harvesting and picking season has started and should continue for many months. You may also be watching the ripening fruit crops – there is an abundance of cherries this year, and the first glasses of strawberry jam and redcurrant jelly are made. I love this busy season harvest, thinking up recipes and processing all this delicious produce. Below Is my favourite recipe for my favourite summer desert.
Filling gaps in the vegetable garden
Where early crops have been harvested, fill any gaps in the vegetable beds with follow-up sowing of lettuce, carrots, radishes, turnips and dwarf French beans. The days are still sufficiently long for the plants to develop strongly, and it is a shame to leave empty spaces turn weedy and neglected. Draw little channels in the bed with the side of a hoe, and water these rills before sowing, then scatter the seed thinly, and cover lightly with soil before watering it once more. Keep an eye on your seedlings, making sure they do not dry out during hot, sunny spells!
Sit back, enjoy, harvest. I will be doing the same, as I take a summer break, and will be back with my regular gardening thoughts in the middle of August. Have a wonderful summer!
Recipe: Summer Pudding
The soft fruit that is so abundant at this time of year, makes the finest of English deserts: a summer pudding. It is refreshing, and is the perfect finish to a summers lunch.
- A mixture of fruit
- Grated lemon rind
- White bread
- Greek yoghurt, cream or vanilla ice cream
Pick a bowl-full of any soft fruit you can find like red or black currants, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blue berries.
Briefly bring the fruit to the boil, just long enough to soften them, adding a little sugar and the grated rind of half a lemon. How much sugar depends on the type of fruit and the sweetness of your tooth!
Slice the bread, removing crusts. Line a round dish with the slices of bread, fitting them tightly. Then, using a slotted spoon, ladle the fruit into this dish, leaving some for a sauce.
Cover the top with mor sliced bread, then put a plate on top, weighed down by some heavy object such as jam jars. Put in the fridge to cool for at least 4 hours.
Bring the remaining fruit and juice to the boil, and cook on a high heat to reduce the liquid until it becomes a slightly thicker sauce.
To serve: turn the pudding out onto a plate and pour some of the sauce over it. Serve with yoghurt, cream or ice cream and a little more of the sauce.