End of Month Review, August

The bee eaters have been flying low around the house as if to say goodbye until next year.  Normally they are high in the sky and although we know they are beautifully coloured, as we see flashes of iridescent blue and gold; we’ve never been able to see them so clearly before!

I don’t claim any credit for these photographs, my husband who is quite keen on bird watching took them.  I did try, but the birds flew so fast and only hovered in a tantalising way before diving off in unexpected directions.

On 15th August, GBBD I reported about the difference in the weather this year – cooler, more rain – on the 16th the weather changed completely!  The daytime temperatures rose from the mid to high twenties to the high thirties and I believe one day 40° C!  No rain, not even a little morning mist and the night-time temperatures were the same as the daytime ones a few days previously.  Only in the last couple of days have temperatures become more tolerable – I hate the heat!  Many of the trees I had planted in 2009 became very stressed; the persimmon lost all its fruit; the fig that has always been here lost half of its leaves and the September fruit, which had been growing and ripening well, is now dropping of the tree and although we are able to eat some, many the ants get first!

Miscanthus with fig tree (almost without leaves)

The sun sets earlier and one of the pleasures this brings is to see the grasses, most are flowering now, with their seed heads being lit from behind.  I am going to make a determined effort to collect some seed and try to grow more.  Many don’t need water and so would be great on the bank which is very steep and therefore always very dry; even some of the Gaura succumbed to the intense heat of the last couple of weeks.

Pennisetum villosum with Sedum Matrona in the small island bed

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' on the upper slope

Pennisetum 'Little Bunny'

The almost impossible to photograph Eragrostis spectabilis with in the background Pennisetum 'Karley Rose'

Some Miscanthus are already flowering and most are much more tolerant of drought once established than the books would have you believe.

Above is either Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ or M. Graziella, I moved it to the circular rose bed this spring as it grew less tall where it was before and I thought it would fit better here; luckily Rosa ‘Queen of Sweden’ is also growing taller than expected and so the Miscanthus forms a pleasing division between this rose and the shorter deep coloured ‘Tradescant’.

In this general view with the umbrella pine you can see how the seed heads and grasses combine with the flowers to create an overall ‘fullness’ in the garden.  I like the very solid forms of the Box cubes and bay that contrast so well with the airy grasses and ephemeral Gaura.

My plans for September are to divide and move some of the plants that have begun to outgrow their allotted spaces.  I’ll begin next week with Irises as they won’t mind even if it stays quite hot, then some Hemerocallis that were on the list last year and are very squashed where they are now.

Finally I’d like to introduce a new meme I’m starting about Foliage in the garden.  It can be foliage plants that don’t flower at all, foliage when the flowers have finished, grasses which I think count as both flowers and foliage, new growth that might be very different from the mature leaves and of course we are coming into autumn (at least in the northern hemisphere we are) so I hope for some fabulous autumn colour.  It will be the 22nd of each month.

If you would like to read more about what’s happening in other gardens all over the world visit Helen at The Patient Gardener.  Once again a big thank you to Helen for hosting this meme for us.

18 thoughts on “End of Month Review, August

  1. Super photos of the bee eaters, lovely coloured birds. All your grasses look really good after all your heat – 40C – last time I was in that heat was in West Africa ! Looking forward to your foliage meme, will be different.

  2. That’ll teach you to talk about damper wetter weather! I’m glad the ants haven’t had all your fruit, but what a shame. The grasses look beautiful, they add such grace and movement to the garden when they flower.

  3. Best figs are the ones picked from the neighbor’s tree!!!
    Very very nice pictures of your garden, Christina.

    Do you have asters too? I’m trying to understand the ones suitable for our summer heat… This year I tried some new ones, tomorrow I’m going to Treviso to buy others: any advice?
    I’m working on a pretty important order I’m placing to Bianco for irises too, I only have pallida now…

    • Thanks for your comments Alberto. I do have some Asters, but I bought them as quite small (9 cm pot size) last autumn, so far they are still small and began flowers for me at the end of July! I don’t have any expert advice for you except to say that A. ‘Monch’ seems to do well everywhere. I have some bearded Iris that grow very well indeed for me here. Most I bought from a friend but I am interested in buying others; can you let me have the web address for Bianco, I didn’t find it via my search engine. Christina

  4. Your grasses are absolutely lovely – and that general view is a stunner.

    I do love seeing everyone’s gardens in the EOMV, and I shall certainly try and join in the foliage meme, deadlines permitting. I need to get out there and look at my – wild – grasses in more detail now…

  5. I love several of your grasses, myself being new to incorporating them into my garden. Eragrostis spectabilis is especially interesting to me at the moment. Thanks for the hard work of capturing its thin veil!

  6. your grasses look beautiful in the low evening light Christina, I bought 3 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ this year they have done well considering our unusual weather this summer,
    I don’t normally like the square clipped box seen in many books and magazines but I can see what you mean with it in your freer style of garden and I think it looks nice,
    tell your photographer I think the birds photos are wonderful, must be great to see them in the real,
    weather seems weird everywhere, I’m sorry you are loosing fruit from your trees, Frances

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments Frances, I didn’t used to like box either in the past but I think a very free style of planting needs something strong to hold it all together and box does that well and once its established it doesn’t need water so is ideal for me. Christina

  7. I like your combination of the solid box with the airy grasses. I like some wildness and freedom in my garden, but I like to contain it. I use boxwood and also yaupon holly, a shrub with a similar appearance.

    It looks like you have a lot of figs! I planted a tiny fig tree in a large pot this year, and it lost nearly all its leaves during a particularly hot spell this summer. But the three figs it produced did not fall, and I think one will be ready to pick tomorrow! I am hoping next year will see more fruit, as the tree is now putting out new leaves and has grown quite a bit.

    • Yes there are a lot of figs but many are dropping because of the earlier heat. I have made a couple of fig tarts already and I just love eating them with prosciuto crudo or just by themselves. Christina

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