Monday, August 17, 2015

Heat Wave

      It's going to go to 31 degrees today, and the rest of the week will be in the high 20s. Not too nice for working in the garden, though I did do some renewing of shrub roses, cutting back a couple of Therese Bugnets, a Hansa, a Snowy Pavement and a Jens Munk.  I have more to do, but once it got to 11:30 I left the outdoors to bake on its own and came in. I did drag all the detritis to the burn pile, as roses like these have many too many thorns. They never compost down, the thorns, so for safety I have been burning them.  Not today, of course, but some cool damp day in September or October.
      I have been working on the pathways and seating area to the west of the house - finally got the landscape fabric and the wood chips spread for the seating area - now to work on the seats! I have a plan to sand down and spar varnish our old Ikea living room furniture - 2 loveseats and a sofa (or 2 two-seaters and a three-seater) and put outdoor fabric on the cushions. This may not all get finished this year! Anyway I could put them in the seating area, perhaps with the blue sunshade over them - or maybe we can get a screen house! (I have simply given up with the bloody mosquitoes - they are everywhere when I'm outdoors, probably because we have such good shelter - there's no wind to drive them away. I travel in a constant aura of Off when outside.) So, the woodchips need quite a bit of packing down, but we'll be able to get some of that done when it comes time to put the wood in the basement.  Tramp tramp tramp.
      It's a bit sunny there at the moment, but later on in the afternoon the linden will shade it - and there's usually a westerly breeze along the upper driveway that makes it nice for sitting. Or at least I hope so. The logs will be replaced by Island sandstones, as I locate them!
     We have been enjoying the woodland garden's coolness too - I put the hammock up in there, and it's a great spot for an after-lunch nap - or a reading spot. The lounger is there too, so Fred can nap too if he's having a day off. I have planted a couple of rhododendrons there - a Lepidote "Aglo" and another of the mini ones - like Karen Seleger but this one is white. And a tiny offshoot of Karen Seleger which was in the pot when I bought her, and I nursed her along in the cold frame and in the pot, but she wasn't showing any sign of growing so I put her in the ground too. I hope there will be enough light for them in there - of course we are planning to take down a few of the old pinus niger trees and that should improve things light-wise.
Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea

       I have been doing some propagation- the "Invincibelle Spirit' hydrangea had a broken limb that wasn't quite severed, but the blooms weren't coming out on it, so I cut it off and made up 9 cuttings. I had started a pot of Glowing Embers hydrangea earlier - still no sign of roots but I'm no givin' up! And the other day I pruned a lavender and had to take off some lower, dead stuff and one bit had some live stuff above, so I have a couple of pots of lavender. And, a propos of the woodland garden, I took some sprigs off the yew at the Hall, and I have them in pots now, too. I'm mostly using the shelf under the East window in the office for this - it is MUCH TOO HOT in the polytunnel for this stuff.
      Apparently yew loves the dark, and while I have not been able to source any of the fancy particular ones I've read about (that don't grow too big, etc.), I figure the bog-standard variety will be challenged enough in the woodland garden to stay a reasonable size. That's what I'm hoping, anyway.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August is upon us.

New berberis and goat's beard

      After a gloomy almost couple of weeks we are getting a good long stretch of sunshine. The gloom didn't actually result in a lot of rain, so I expect that there will be a need to water very shortly.
       I confess that, after potting up 8 tomato plants in the greenhouse (and one on the veranda) I ran out of room and steam, so some are out in the open garden. I can only hope that they don't succumb to the dreaded blight. They are all grown from supposed "blight-free" seed, so I may hope for a tasty outdoor crop. The quinoa plants, large and mainly healthy when they were planted out, are doing what they did last year - just shrivelling up on the stem. I don't know what to do to make them produce. We have had home-grown potatoes - one pot has been sacrificed, and they were very tiny - but now the commercial ones are starting to be a good price, so I may just leave the rest to swell a bit more.
      The Cornus Kousa is losing its bracts at last, though I have hopes of a few fertilized fruits as a result of them being available to the pollinators for such a long season.  I'll be trying to germinate them for sure. It feels like I've been away from the flower garden for a while; I have been working on weed suppressing and laying more wood pellets on the west side - and now I'm having to buy them so that is painful. But, I've put weed barrier and wood pellets on the big circular area for seating, and will attempt to get it all packed down like the original pathways are. It will not be easy - the pathways have been there for 3 years or more! I suppose when the wood goes in we'll be tramping it down quite a bit. I would like to put the patio table and chairs out there, though it doesn't make a lot of sense as it would be so very far from the kitchen.
     While the rains were upon us I started to make valances for the five big schoolhouse windows, using the rest of the vintage linen we found at Value Village. I had used a part of it to cover the Mission bench we got last winter, and I have enough left to make five valances exactly 16.5 inches long. I am lining them (of course) and allowing a tiny quarter inch to roll to the inside at the bottom. I know what the sun does to linen.
       I am waiting patiently for the raspberries, as we had the usual terrible crop of strawberries - I think I made a dessert for the two of us - once! Yesterday I found a ripe cherry on one of our three hardy cherry shrubs. It was on the one which had bloomed most profusely in the spring, and there had been small berries, but they all dropped but this one. Oh well, maybe next year! The shrubs look really healthy - but I am wondering if they need some sort of pruning. They have a lot of very low branches, which might come off, if that doesn't just stimulate more growth down there. AS the shrub cherries are a new thing, the pruning books aren't much help. Anyway, it looks like there will be lots of raspberries again - barring acts of god or whatever. Plagues of locusts.