The International Steam Pages

How does Your Garden Grow? (Late June 2013)

This page is part of a series of monthly garden blogs and other items from 2013. Click here for the index.

Yuehong considers I have spent too much time helping Yiran in the other gardens but at least there I can avoid her 'jackboot':

At least she doesn't yet tell me how to grow 'fruit and veg', probably because they don't produce pretty flowers. Nothing exciting, just broad beans, runner beans, Brussels sprouts and peas. It wasn't just the cold spring, living 100 metres up and in a shaded position, my vegetables are running later than I was used to. The patch they were on was solid clay and so needed priming with horse manure and lots of autumnal leaves. Behind is Yiran's favourite, an inherited rhubarb. The plastic netting keeps out most of the slugs and snails and equally importantly will act as a minor deterrent to our marauding squirrels.

On the same level, our huge honeysuckle spreads it scent over the garden. Next to it is a small strawberry patch installed last year by the simple expedient of dumping an inch or two of earth on the lawn. Nearby one of our 10 bargain basement rock roses (cistus) is in full daily bloom:

Down at the front, Yuehong's favourite blue bush has swarms of bees (as do two more smaller ones at the back). It gets bigger and bigger each year, I believe it is a hardy geranium, most likely 'Johnson's Blue' also known as Cranesbill.

There's no doubt that the soil in the front favours the roses more than that at the back, of those installed last year, these are the strongest and earliest bloomers.

The dwarf willow seems intent on proving it was misnamed and the pot bound rock roses seem more than happy. They'll need to watch out for the creeping nasturtiums though...

Last year we got a brilliant late season display from some snapdragons which were slow to sell down in Birdwood, this year they have come again and much earlier:

Last year our greatest disaster were the lupins which failed spectacularly in the top bed. However, a few have come back. Yuehong has mass plantings of her seedlings, but most likely they will only show up with flowers next year unless we have a long summer:

We have an on-going debate about wild flowers in our garden, by definition they do 'their own thing', which Yuehong finds untidy. For the time being though, the foxgloves are doing very well as last year I removed just about all the competitive 'weeds' except the bluebells which are now well and truly over. The picture does not do justice to the display which is greatly loved by our bees which seem to be be enjoying a much needed good summer after a disastrous year.

And so to July. It should see our fuchsias making up for lost time, the roses in full bloom and the begonias and dahlias starting to flower. Yuehong has got lobelia, campanula, asters, poppies, sweet rocket, not to mention a mass of snapdragons all now planted out. We have a couple of visitors from the Far East in a couple of weeks to impress who will have seen only the 'virtual show' so far.

Click here for the next installment.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson