The International Steam Pages

In the Summertime... 2012

For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:

This page is just one of several describing aspects of our '2012 new life', for earlier and later pages use the West Gloucestershire link above.

If you don't like flowering plants, please look away and try one of the other pages although since they are largely for the benefit of those in China they may not be too attractive either!

It's been a wet and miserable spring and summer, fortunately we had 'put in the hours' with our garden at the right time and because we're on a slope and most of the water drains away, it's survived quite well. As you will guess, we have been keeping the local garden centres, growers, internet suppliers etc (15 and counting) from going bankrupt and it's cost more than pennies. It's been worth it and next year it should look even better, especially as there have been a very large number of end-of-season bargains around this autumn.

The early colours were always going to be from plants that we had inherited, once the Daffodils and Bluebells had had their show, the Rhododendron at the top revelled in the extra light it was getting resulting from the cut back of the dreadful sycamore. Next year it will have two similar, but smaller companions, not to mention more than a dozen related Azaleas of various shapes and sizes.

And this bush which had been eclipsed by the dreaded giant Leylandia was now getting a lot more light too, don't ask me what it is but it grows very quickly:

Starting from the bottom down by the road, the 'new' flower bed was started off with half a dozen Potentilla, chosen to give a quick fix. They started off as rather straggly small plants and by the autumn they were still a mass of flowers and some half a metre across... The Azaleas and Aubrietia in amongst them have been totally swamped and next year we'll no doubt have to intervene to keep a balance.

The front lawns were a mass of weeds in 2011, most but not all have gone and we've invested in a number of flowering shrubs and small trees to break up the sloping sea of green; Magnolias, Lilacs and Camellia but as the budget doesn't extend to mature specimens, it would be unrealistic to expect them to be large enough to put on a good show for at least two or three years. The three bush roses seem to be slow growers, but they've since been joined by four more end-of-season bargains and the new retaining wall should be less prominent in 2013.


The above was shot in mid-July but, not long after, this year's mass plantings came into bloom and I wonder just how many people walking by below noticed how the view had changed:..

Progress in the bed next to the house was limited by the need to wait until we could safely lift and redistribute the Daffodils which were out of control, also it didn't get the horse manure treatment:

Instant gratification came in the shape of 10 (!) hanging baskets from Wendy, our village plant grower - note the Wysteria already threatening to overwhelm the Pergola next year!:

The patio climbing roses are 'work in progress' but the red brick should be less plain in 2013. However, the Osteospermums have kept going almost non-stop all summer:

Further up the new flower bed has brought a non-stop splash of colour from the Argyranthemums and Geraniums.

With several 'free' bags full of 'Giant Double Begonia' corms and 'Cactus Dahlia' tubers, I dug a bed for them behind the bench, not knowing the relative size. Alas the Dahlias are actually the giants and the Begonias, beautiful as they are, have been almost impossible to see. Note the new vegetable patch behind, a very late addition which has seen an averagely acceptable crop of Runner Beans and a set of Brussels Sprouts that are nothing like ready.

Beyond, the garden is half 'wild bulbs' and half disaster as Yuehong's much loved Lupins have succumbed to some sub soil predator and we shall have to rethink the large bed. At least the grass which occupies much of the upper area is under control, but overall it's not a pretty sight and probably won't be until I can get the Sycamores felled - not an easy job as apart from their size they lie on a common boundary and cannot just be 'removed' unilaterally.

Of course, I have 'left the best till last', one of the clinchers in 'selling' the UK to Yuehong was the promise of as many roses as she could find a place for in the garden. The total is currently 36 (37 if one very sick patient recovers) and despite the fact that for most it is their first year and in less than perfect growing weather, we have had some wonderful blooms:

Since it has been a cold and damp summer, autumn has crept up on us, but every day now the leaves have to be swept off the back lawns and our lovely Acer had lost its leaves by the end of October after a week of glorious colour, fortunately the sun shone for Yuehong one morning before they fell.

The central heating is on and in a few days the bungalow will be entrusted to Yiran and we shall be on our way to warmer climes...

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson