Usually this blog goes strictly in chronological order but I was so busy last month that a few items got squeezed out, this is a bit of a catching up exercise. Here's Denis, one of our friendly blackbirds, intent on his own catching up exercises.
I have been planting summer plantings since the end of May but there have been interruptions. First there was the long Jubilee weekend, and I only popped in to work to do a bit of watering in the greenhouse in between eccentric Cotswolds celebrations.
Then there was our 'Potty About Plants' weekend - with, I know now, a rare dose of good weather. Rosie Hardy of Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants brought a fabulous selection of plants and a seemingly endless supply of useful information and tips.
Tim Penrose of Bowden Hostas and Ferns entertained us all with his gorgeous foliage plants and some hilarious anecdotes about his previous life as a funeral director. Both Tim and Rosy gave free talks for our customers which were so well attended we had to rush about finding extra chairs.
Richard and Suzanne Kerwood of Windrush Willow are regular 'exhibits' as well as vendors at Whichford Pottery events - they make really beautiful baskets, obelisks, fish, dragonflies.... and made our willow arbour. They are always happy to chat while they carry on making.
Rip it up
When I start planting for the summer Babs helps me enormously by dismantling some of the winter/spring plantings. We had to leave the Great Warwick Pot in the stock yard (where all my plantings are variations on red/white/blue this year) until last because the Allium 'Mont Blanc' stood up to the preposterous weather so well.
This allium even looked fantastic as a seed-head, so eventually I chopped it down and put it in one of the Ali Baba jars so that we could get on with reviving the displays.
Words can't express how pleased I was with 'Mont Blanc' - I was a bit sceptical about it at first because I thought it would just look like an abandoned onion, but its regal bearing suited the Jubilee theme and bees, visitors and my colleagues loved it. We intend to have it again at our Bulb Sale, which starts on 7th September this year.
Red, white and blue
One of the first displays I planted this summer, also in the stock yard, has developed nicely. It started off like this: (see below)
After a month it looks like this (see next two pics). The dahlias, 'Bishop of Auckland' and one we've had for ages which may be 'Nuit d'Eté' have begun, reluctantly, to flower. My spindly Argyranthemum foeniculaceum have recovered and fluffed up their blue foliage, and Pelargonium 'Voodoo' is blooming bravely despite being engulfed in Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens', which last has done far too well but will start to die down eventually and make room for the perennials.
If the sun ever comes out again I'm hoping to get some brighter photos of these plantings as you can't really see the detail. On the right, Lathyrus grandiflora 'America', an 1896 variety from Pennard Plants is growing up a willow support, and Ipomoea 'Crimson Rambler' is twining between the pots and up the rose on the wall, but as soon as it flowers the rain shuts it up again. Amaranthus cruentus 'Velvet Curtains' and Lobelia 'Delft Blue' are also struggling to make their voices heard.
I have planted a POTager of sorts by the entrance to the garden, as so many people are interested in growing edibles. It has done surprisingly well in this weather, although I have had to watch out for adventurous snails. Here it is (below) soon after planting at the end of May:
I'm not an experienced veg grower but it'll be fun to see whether anything harvestable is produced. Meanwhile I am tinkering with it and changing the smaller pots about as the season progresses, mixing veg with some yellow, orange and blue flowers. I think it looks quite decorative so far.
At the moment this group includes strawberries, kale, pumpkins, runner and french beans, peppers, chillis, edamame beans, tomatillo, aubergines and tomatoes. I'll give a bit more detail in later posts but at the moment I'm pleased with this potful of Dwarf Runner Bean 'Hestia', Kale 'Red Russian' and a few Nigella seedlings. You can tell I'm still planting with my eyes rather than my stomach - I have no idea whether I'll get a decent crop as I do tend to fill the pots very full. But they are big pots so it may be OK. I don't care if the Kale never reaches its full potential as I can't imagine we'll eat much of it, it's one I've used in the pots for a long time for its decorative foliage.
I'm experimenting with training Tomato 'Black Cherry' in a spiral up a hazel tipi. It's another heirloom variety from Pennard, a tall, indeterminate variety which likes to climb and should work well outside as long as this weather doesn't bring us blight. We'll see. It's looking intriguing anyway.
Last weekend I went to watch the Olympic Torch being carried through Chipping Campden. Campden is about 20 minutes' drive from Whichford and is home to the crazy Cotswold Olympicks every year, involving sports like 'Shin Kicking'. I digress. Julie Darwin was the torch carrier, we had to wait for a long time but the smile on her face made it all worth while.
As we left I noticed something familiar outside the Cotswold Hotel: a small version of my boss Jim Keeling's 'Golden Cypress' sculpture, looking suitably flame-like.
Well I'm nearly up to date now, so with a bit of luck my next posts won't be quite so lengthy - thank you for your patience! I'll leave you with an unusually sunny picture from the pottery garden this week - I think the sun is still up there somewhere behind the rainclouds...