The Flâneur Husband and I are spending our summer holiday in that most exotic of places, the garden. We took a week a few weeks back, and now we have another week off in the run-up to our annual summer party – this year we will be 16 people for lunch and frolicking in the garden.
The weather last week was perfect summer weather – hot and sunny every single day – so it was great for our two mothers who arrived at the summer house on Wednesday. We, though, arrived Friday for the last sunny day, and since then it has been a very mixed sort of weather – blue skies alternating with dark clouds. A quintessentially Northern European summer, so much better than the summer so far!
My Mother-in-law left on Sunday, and my Mum left on Monday, so it’s not like we’re spending our entire holiday under adult supervision, but it was really nice to have them here – and they got loads done while they were here alone; they painted part of the fence around the courtyard and one of the facades, not to mention that my Mum weeded the Evening Border and most of The Ambitious Border. (The Sunny Border is still too new to need much weeding, whereas the other flowerbeds definitely benefited from it. I wouldn’t trust my Mother-in-law to know the difference between weeds and perennials, but my Mum knows, especially since we hardly have any perennials that she didn’t used to grow in my childhood garden.
Also, my Mum HATES slugs. I mean HATES! She’s the sort of person who brings a pair of scissors when she’s weeding, just in case she’ll unearth some slug burrowing in the flower bed – and then she’ll cut them in halves! On Friday evening I noticed that just 55 hours after my Mum arrived in the garden there were significantly fewer slugs than I’d normally see when I arrive for a weekend in the garden. And after a whole weekend with my Mum AND me in the garden, well… This morning I just killed 5 slugs, and not because I didn’t feel like killing more but because I didn’t SEE more. I’ll be lucky if I end up killing 20 slugs today, where I normally kill a hundred in a day.
Anyway, I promised I’d stop just posting close-ups, so here’s a view of the side of the garden I’ve done the most to so far since we bought the summer house. To the right is The Sunny Border, which is at the same time a success and a failure this year – its first. It’s not as lush and full-bodied as I had planned/dreamt it, and I definitely don’t like how much bare soil is visible, but on the other hand… The dahlias have survived in spite of slugs – MANY slugs – and a severe flooding – it was under 4″ of water Friday before last, and that seems to have killed off a lot of growth and a couple of plants entirely – and the ones that flower are spectacular. Also, The iris germanica from my Mum’s old garden bloomed well in May/June, and the Austin roses L.D. Braithwaite that my parents gave The Flâneur Husband for his birthday are doing well. The Anemone hupehensis seem all but dead, though; I’ve seen them grow in full sun in other gardens, but clearly they don’t like it here in mine, so most of them have died. Never mind; I’ll relocate the remainder to a less sunny spot!
To the left in the photo above you can see The Ambitious Border. There are several issues with this border; for one it’s too narrow! It needs to be widened, and of course if you look at the picture you can see that it has a gap between the border at present and The Puddles further down along the same hedge. Eventually I want The Puddles to join up with The Ambitious Border, but this year I prioritised creating The Sunny Border. After all, the South-Western facing part in front of the house is probably one of the best planting areas in the garden!
The Puddles are doing well in their end of The Ambitious Border; the sedums I planted look somewhat tumble-down, but that’s to be expected since I moved them from a spot in tall grass and ferns to a spot where they have to hold themselves up. Likewise the slug damage to the hostas was to be expected, though it’s still appalling. And the Perry’s Baby Red water lily is getting ready to bloom, hopefully in time for the summer party!
Oh, and I didn’t mean to, but… Yeah, the internet is a dangerous place, full of temptations, so yesterday the mailman brought me a box full of these… Three double day lilies Firecracker, three day lilies Frans Hals, three hostas – one of each of Northern Exposure, Tardiana Halcyon and Regal Splendour – three alchemilla mollis/lady’s mantle, one astilbe Purple Rain, one purple astrantia major – Lars and one Echinacea Purpurea.
I’ve wanted some Lady’s mantle for a while since that’s a perennial my Mum used to grow in my childhood garden, and the hostas are just because hostas are lovely and the Evening Border needs filling-out. I’m finding it hard to argue for the astilbe and the echinacea, except that they are pretty flowers, and of course the day lilies are vital, considering that I’ve discovered that we have far too few perennials that bloom in July. (If you look carefully at the picture above you can see that one of the Frans Hals day lilies was even delivered with a flowering stem that survived the postage!) The purple astrantia is also a must-have, and since the Flâneur Husband likes our “normal” pinkish-white astrantias I’m sure he will LOVE the purple one.
The star of the garden right now has to be the white dahlias; for some reason they seem to do better than the darker ones, both in terms of slug resistance and flood survival. They are blooming in profusion and quite saving the Sunny Border from being a mediocre place, simply by virtue of the size of their flowers and the generally stunning appearance.
Finally I’ll give you another cloudscape; I do not garden in a vacuum, and the fjord is very much part of the identity of this garden – and part of what gives this neck of the woods our very special micro-climate. We might have had a rather too wet summer, but generally speaking this is one of the sunnies places in the country since clouds have to first pass the sea, then land, then sea again before they hit us, almost regardless of where they come from.
-And if you look closely you can even find a fragment of a rainbow in the picture above…