Bring me Sunshine..

Main image: Looking back at our street from across the River Esk. The end of our terrace in view with the day centre to the right. I never get tired of this view.

Apparently, the five weeks of blazing sunshine we had in June/July was it. If memory serves me well it has rained on pretty much every day since the last day of the ‘heatwave’. Which is fine I guess, it meant I didn’t have to water the grass every morning, finally. But it has led to me having to prop up all the taller flowers… a lot. I finally had to resort to fashioning my own out of thin garden stakes and duck tape as it was getting ridiculously expensive to keep buying them.

I think I understand now why gardening can tend to be the preserve of the reitired. It’s a) expensive and b) time-consuming. I noticed first in lockdown how much gouging goes on with online buying, in particular Amazon. While a lot of things can be bought for fairly reasonable prices, gardening and pet supplies went through the roof during lockdown and they’ve never really come down. Pet supplies can be particularly egregious.

It’s getting to that time now where I’m eyeing up the plants that aren’t doing so well now we’re in the arse end of summer. Perhaps not quite the arse end, but the wildflowers and sunflowers are starting to look extremely tatty so I may cut them back soon.

Look at this absolute unit of a sunflower though. I hope the birds appreciate me for leaving this eyesore still standing!


The difference between these sunflowers and the ones I planted in a pot back at the bungalow is like night and day, yet they are from the same seed packet. I can only assume that the root system is a lot more vigorous when planted in the ground rather than a pot, resulting in much bigger blooms and super-thick stems. The two largets plants have stems that are thicker than our young rowan tree.

What worked, what didn’t

Summer isn’t completely over yet, not that you’d know it from the inclement weather, but I feel I can at least step back and look at the successes and failures of the garden so far this year. This is the first time in my life I’ve had a full garden to look after so I’m sure I’ve made schoolboy errors but hopefully the garden will mature as my experience grows.

The border

Yikes, this has been an odyssey. The border is very narrow and on reflection some of the planting was a bit OTT. The rudbeckia and calendula make for a lovely large display of (sadly similar) colour but with the weather working against me they have a tendency to hang over the path, forced down by the rain, making it a bit of a task to stay on the paving slabs when walking down the garden. When looking down the garden it all looks a bit untidy. Although it does look pretty nice when viewed head-on. I do like the lobelia encroaching on the path, it gives it a nice ‘cottage garden’ feel that I’d like to aim for.

Border - View 1
Ahhh dahlia – the dropped petal gift that keeps on giving
Border - view 2
The jasmine is finally growing, although I think it might be a year or two before it looks anything close to good

The Rudbeckia looks good, but next year I think I’ll stick to one type. The ‘rustic dwarf’ seeds didn’t exactly do what they said on the tin and I planted them in threes. The more standard plain yellow daisy-like plants seem to keep their shape better and fall over a lot less, so next year I’ll grow only those type from seed. They also sit really well next to the shasta daisies. The calendula clearly work better in a border, despite being called the ‘pot marigold’.

Regarding marigolds, I’ve vowed never to plant African types again. Leaving aside the ‘too much orange/yellow’ problem, they’re not pollinator friendly and can take over a border too much. Plus they failed for the second year running. I’ll stick to calendula, it’s a native wildflower anyway, so more in keeping with what I want to achieve with a wildlife friendly garden.

The begonias are going well, and seem to cope with the weather better than something like busy lizzies would. However I’m not that enamoured of them. The snapdragons are having a second wind and I’ll definitely bring those back next year. The daisies took a while to get started, but are a riot now, competing with the rudbeckia for space, and I hope can be left in the ground for next year.

The birds gifted me an aramanthus from the seed table. Looking forward to seeing this bloom, it’s very rigorous but also quite a tidy, structured plant.
Garden Longview
Heavy rain made the rudbeckia collapse a bit and there were too many anyway. This cultivar is one that I won’t be planting next year

We now have a barrel pond!

This is my current project. Still a bit to do, I’ve weather-proofed some jute rope which we’re going to wind around the top to cover the untidy parts of the pond liner, double it and knot at the back. I’ve got a bunch of stuff coming today to improve the planting – a kidney shaped trough, aqua soil, pond gravel and basket liner to prevent the water from getting too dirty. I need to make it safe for wildlife as well. We have at least two toads who visit the garden, so I’ll be making a wooden ramp up and a way for anything to get out if it falls in.

Lots to do. Looking forward to it. I’ve currently got three aquaria running in the house as we have both fish and shrimp tanks now.

Barrel pond

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