Summer is here – whether I like it or not

I was away from the garden for less than a week to visit the Chelsea flower show and in that time the weather changed from a cool spring to sudden summer.  I knew it would happen but it still always shocks me.

It was a cold, dry winter followed by a cool (pleasant) dry spring, now it is summer and next week our temperatures are forecast to be into the 30’s °C; what does this mean for the garden?  Well, I can tell you it means that many plants are already stressed; I don’t remember seeing the garden (or the countryside) looking so parched and stressed this early in all the years I’ve been gardening here in Lazio (since 2007).

The major players in the garden have come and gone; the tulips were fabulous and I had them to pick from the end of January until April; the Irises were outstanding this year, they were slightly early but because there are a lot of different varieties they were flowering until I went away on 20th May.  The garden is still providing flowers, more the supporting flowers than the stars but the heat is already shortening the time I want to be outside working or even walking around with a camera.

Jasmine attracts many insects and butterflies, here I think a variety of Hawk Moth

Here is the Upper Slope Path now (30th May)

Upper Slope Path 30th May

and a reminder of how it looked earlier in the month.

Upper Slope Path with Irises 5th May

Upper Slope Path with Irises 14th May

Stipa gigantia is doing its wonderful thing in the lower island

The Vertical spikes of Sisyrinchium striatum took over from the verticals of the Irises

Looking across the garden with Cistus and the Alliums with the pergola above the terrace now thickly covered with Wisteria foliage.

Wild Alliums

When this area was part of the Formal beds I tried to establish wild Alliums to grow by sprinkling seed whenever I found any ripe heads around the garden or in the countryside; very few ever made an appearance – I think they needed more time to build up their bulbs because this year the gravel is full of them!

These wild alliums have been making a statement all month

The cut flower beds

The cut flower beds are all planted now the Larkspur is the most prolific plant at the moment!  All self seeded from plants in the same place last year.

Trachelospernum jasminoides is now forming the ‘walls’ of the secret garden

I’m pleased with how quickly the Trachelospernum is covering the wires that will enclose the secret garden; I’ll trim it quite closely once the flowers have finished so that it is kept a narrow wall.

The cut flower beds

Trachelospernum jasminoides is now forming the ‘walls’ of the secret garden

Trachelospernum jasminoides flowered much earlier than usual and is now beginning to climb onto the arch over the entrance to the Secret Garden

Caesalpinia gilliesii

LHS border with Madonna Lilies

In the bright light, photography is difficult.  With strong shadows making for a Chiaro Scuro effect.

Under the Melia Hemerocallis and the Salvia that was everywhere at Chelsea

There are many more yellow flowers in the garden now but perhaps this is enough for today.

Enjoy the weekend.

34 thoughts on “Summer is here – whether I like it or not

  1. Even with the stress on the garden, everything looks gorgeous. Here we have had one of the wettest springs and very cool. The temps I like but the rain has kept me from gardening and weeds and mosquitoes are outnumbering flowers….also the hot weather veg beds cannot be planted still so I am weeks behind. They are forecasting above normal temps for summer. I hope to get some normal temps and rain for the this garden and gardener.

    • I think it will be a very hot summer here too. A cold winter is often followed by a hot summer. I had a similar problem with planting out the summer vegetables. First it was too cold with frosts predicted and then so hot I needed to plant in the evening so the plants had time to acclimatize.

  2. Christina despite the heat the whole garden looks lovely. The Stipa gigantia with its long, steamy spikes I love. The Sisyrinchium striatum will be all summer with its beautiful cream flowers. What a good idea the wild Alliums! The Secret Garden is getting beautiful with the Trachelospernum Jasminoides and its beautiful white flowers. I’m glad you liked my garden: thank you very much. As far as my father is on discharge, the surgeon will go there. Here in Madrid they also forecast temperatures above 30º C from Tuesday. Good weekend. Greetings from Margarita.

  3. I love the wild Alliums, Christina! The larkspur is wonderful too – I haven’t tried growing that here as I was sure it would perish in the heat but perhaps I’ll give it a try. I need to find a place for Caesalpinia too. I hope your garden doesn’t get too stressed by the heat before the plants can adapt to the weather change. You may remember that my garden was severely impacted last year by a horrific start-of-summer heatwave (106F) – it didn’t fully recover until the miraculous rains arrived in winter.

    • That’s what worries me Kris. The winter and spring have been the driest since we bought this house and I think the summer will be very hot. I will water the stressed plants while there is water in the well. I need to put in water storage tanks like you.

    • Yes, I’m pleased with the progress of the Trachelospermum, especially as after the winter some if it had really suffered and not grown st all during the winter.

  4. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. I’d be stressed if it was that hot.
    Plants here have been, and are, suffering albeit on a lesser scale mostly through lack of water. It all makes gardening even more of a challenge. xx

  5. It’s always a bit sad to see the end of Spring, but your early Summer garden looks lovely! Your bearded iris were so beautiful and the growth of your Trachelospermum is very impressive! What a lovely concept, using this beautifully-scented climber as a living wall for your secret garden!

  6. Oh it sounds and looks rather hot in your neck of the woods Christina. Is the long range forecast predicting a hot summer? Those alliums are making a great show and I love the stipa gigantea towering over the sisyrinchium striatum. I have the stipa at the allotment and it’s looking its best ever this year.

  7. The overall impression is wonderful Christina, and I think only a critical eye would notice any plants looking stressed. Still, I hooe you get some summer showers before the heat really sets in. We have had some very light rain here at last, but barely enough to dampen the soil surface and my rockery is parched!

  8. I love the verticals of those wild alliums, and the Madonna lily in the shade is straight out of a Fra Angelico. After some very hot weather, we have cold and damp, and slugs!!

  9. What wonderful shots there are of parts of the garden we don’t get to see very often – as others have said, it doesn’t look stressed to those of us us observing digitally. How easy would it be to install water tanks, and where would you collect the water from? I am amazed at how quickly the trachelospermum is growing – is that because it is warmer in Italy? Isn’t it exciting to be picking from the cutting beds? Only the cosmos and sweet peas here, but seed sown dahlias are just about starting

    • I could water more but I choose not because in a world that is short of water I feel it to be wrong. However that may change when the farmers start spraying and wasting water all over the roads etc. we have a well for all our water and when it goes wrong or there is no electricity I am made even more aware of just how precious water is. So for now I continue to irrigate the vegetables and cut flowers and hand water stressed plants.

      • Likewise here with the water, although I did use tap water for the borders during May’s dry spell this year, the first time in many many years, because of the forthcoming openings. We have 9 water butts but there are times when they are all empty and I only top up the stream with rainwater so that takes priority when it’s hot. Does Italy ever have hosepipe bans, or similar?

    • I realise that temperatures are relative. It is unusual for temperatures to rise above 40°C, but it is even more unusual that it is as hot as it is, this early in summer. It is now too hot for me even in the shade. I imagine that our humidity is higher than your desert is too and I know from experience that makes it feel much worse.

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