The International Steam Pages

How does Your Garden Grow? (Late July and August 2013)

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

Early July was glorious and it continued that way right through into early September.. My good intentions to blog things regularly somehow got lost. It wasn't so much that it was 'more of the same' as first we had visitors and then Yuehong discovered 'Steam and Vintage Rallies' which are the epitome of everything she likes most about England. As I write there are several videos of the steamier bits on our YouTube channel, and there are now (late September) also some pages for nerds at the end of the season.

On one of our several journeys with a hire car Yuehong bumped into a perfect garden table at a knockdown price 'as seen'. I dismantled and put some varnish on it and now it yet another obstacle for the lawn mower to negotiate.

The various lilies have been glorious and behind are our home grown lupins, asters and lobelia. Nearby the azalea bed has been overwhelmed temporarily by nasturtiums.

Having concentrated on the very private back garden in 2012, it was time to improve the more public front, giving it a 'country cottage' style, thanks to the picket fencing and a host of new plants. Almost out of sight within them are several azaleas which will provide early season colour in future.


But first, here's another new flower bed on our northern border with 31's greenhouse behind - the latter makes us rather envious and Yuehong has plans to go one better on it. It's mainly godetia and dahlias.

The godetia, grown from seed, were new to me, they provided some splendid colour while in the hanging baskets we finally found how to keep some cheap and cheerful begonias happy once the early petunias had finished:

Last year we had some 'free' begonias, we had no idea of their size and they got lost behind the dahlias... This year, they over-wintered successfully and have been simply magnificent although we had a long wait for them to shine.

This has been a perfect summer for dahlias, plenty of sunshine and almost no wind to damage their long stalks. I was far less successful over-wintering these and we had to top up with a job lot assortment of tubers. Wow! What a display they have made for the last month and a bit and we shall not only keep our fingers crossed we can make a better job of storing the tubers this year, we shall definitely be buying some more.

I have always loved fuchsias since I had one as a house plant in my student days. This year the hardy fuchsias were very slow to get going as the soil got very cold in March/April. However, the display has been excellent even if the growth has been a little restrained.

Returning to the 'home grown' stuff, the African marigolds have not had to worry about the slugs which decimated them last year and go well with the asters. Lobelia is always good for a splash of colour to fill the odd gap...

I'll leave you with a final close up of part of Yuehong's country cottage garden. From here onwards even though the runner beans are going strong and the Brussels sprouts still some way off, it's downhill all the way with autumn ahead. Yuehong is poring over the catalogues and planning for the autumn bulb planting in October. 

Click here for the next installment.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson