Thanks to Helen, the Patient Gardener for organising this meme, I think it is the one I enjoy reading more than any other because everyone approaches it from a different angle.
Unbelievably the weather has remained spring-like all this month. The mornings are chilly, and there is always heavy dew, a good thing as there hasn’t been much rain, a couple of showers and that’s it. Some mornings the dew has looked like frost but no plants show any signs of frost damage. I am still picking strawberries not many but it is lovely to have them at this time of year. This is the first time I’ve ever grown strawberries as in England we lived near a pick-your-own and it never seemed worth the space to grow them. In Italy they are only available in the shops for a relatively short time. I didn’t even expect a great crop this year but I’ve been amazed at the quantity and quality of fruit.
I still have some peppers growing outside and they still ripening slowly.
The two grafted plants in the greenhouse didn’t produce all that well during the summer, I think it was too hot and probably they needed even more water than I gave them. Now they have grown to over one and a half metres and have lots of peppers that are ripening well. They are larger and more ‘meaty’ than during summer. A couple of weeks again when I was listening to the podcast of Gardeners Question Time it was mentioned that a trail is being done to find out if peppers will over winter in a cold greenhouse during the British winter, this has encouraged me to think that I will try to grow these two plants as perennials. The programme suggested that during the coldest weather the plants would need to be cut back to the thick, almost woody, main stem. As the grafted plants should have a large established root system now, I am hoping that if they do survive the winter, the root system will be better at taking up all the water available and that they will produce more even during the very high temperatures of July and August. The plants are covered in fruit and I have pinched out the all the growing shoots and picked off the top flowers hoping that all the fruit will ripen. I will let you know how they progress.
I mentioned some time ago that I wanted to plant some fruit trees in an area that is outside the fence in a zone protected from the north winds by the slope of the land and a tuffo ‘cliff’ – I’m not sure what you’d call it really; the perennial weeds were removed and it was all ready to plant when the flood from the surrounding field engulfed the area in a layer of mud. This occurred in September and the ground is still very damp. After the flood lots more creeping grass (gramigna) grew as the farmer had spread seed to grow to feed his sheep! So last week I went and chose some trees. I wanted to try some peaches and was, as usual, pleasantly surprised by the variety on offer at my local supplier. I opted for three peaches which should fruit in July, September and October; I chose late flowering and fruiting varieties as having tasted those available in the shops these later varieties have a more interesting flavour and the late flowering should mean that they won’t be damaged by a late frost as has happened repeatedly with an Apricot that I planted in the vegetable garden as quite a large specimen and that I intend removing. I also planted a cherry. I want to try and grow the peaches as espaliers but I couldn’t buy whips so will have to try and prune the small trees as best I can – any advice would be very gratefully received.
An amusing addendum to the purchase of the above is the labels, some of which were handwritten, obviously incorrectly copying the English Red Haven and changing it to Rhedaven!
What else is happening? Well, despite the mild, warm, sunny days most of the plants know that winter is approaching and their leaves have changed colour or they have dropped. The wisteria is still hanging on but only just. There seem to be more leaves that have changed colour this year rather than just losing their leaves, this must be a result of the long, slow, gentle change from summer to autumn to winter.
Walking around the garden today it was the light that I found so enjoyable – the sun is so high in the sky in comparison to in England, for me it made the day seem like a day in September or May; it was so pleasantly warm and the sky such an intense blue I just wanted to soak in the moment.
Rosa Westerland’s sunny colour seems to sum up the warmth of the day.
Even though the Gaura was still blooming in the circular rose bed I decided the time had come to free the roses from the heavy growth that was choking them. The small seedlings I had left in the bed last year had grown dramatically, instead of a small root system there were tuber-like, hand-sized roots with a huge capacity to store nutriments and water. Many of these I’ve potted up; someone will surely want them next year, many I’ve moved onto the slope where due to the hot spring some of the small seedlings I’d moved there last autumn hadn’t survived the summer; I’m more hopeful that these larger plants will establish during winter and will be able to withstand the drought next year. It is nice to see the rose bushes again and they will surely benefit from the light and air; I really must keep the remaining Gaura in check and not allow them to choke everything else next year – perhaps the Chelsea chop will slow them down. A Pennisetum villosum had seeded into the edge of the bed and is now a full sized plant, I need to move it elsewhere but I’m not quite sure where.
The garden reveals its treasures in a relaxed way, the days make you want to linger and search for all that is changing. My last image is an Arbutus – its shiny, evergreen leaves combining with the ‘strawberry’ fruit and white flowers to attract a still-active bumble bee, it is a different variety than I usually see in the garden.