End of Month View

Time again to join Helen the Patient Gardener for her end of month view.

May and June are usually the best months for me; the weather is warm enough to enjoy meals outside, the garden is full of flower and everything is lush and full.  May was almost like this, but there were cool evenings which meant no meals outside.  The beginning of June was very windy so again not many meals outside and the plants in the garden took quite a battering.  In the middle of the month the temperatures soared AND there were hot winds!

I usually delay turning on the automatic irrigation (except to the vegetable garden) for as long as possible; 1, because I want the plants to become tough and search out water deep down and 2, as all the water comes from a well 100 m deep there is considerable cost in terms of electricity to pump the water to the surface.

As it was cool in May, especially at night, there was always dew on the ground each morning so I felt it correct to wait before beginning the irrigation this year.  With hindsight this was a mistake; the desiccating effects of the wind were pulling water up out of the ground via the leaves.  When I went to Prague I didn’t want to begin irrigating without being there to make sure there were no damaged pipes (there was one so I was right about that).  The wind became even stronger and the temperature rose to 37° – 39° Celsius over those four days and when I returned the garden was scorched, I used the term “flame gun” and this wasn’t really an exaggeration.  The irrigation is on now, I have been hand-watering to try to help some of the plants that were really suffering, but with temperatures now pretty much set for the next six to eight weeks the summer hibernation of the garden has started early!  Some plants do continue to bloom with minimum irrigation and I’ll be showing those over the next weeks.

Some plants will reward me with abundant blooms with very little water.  Rosa mutablibis is one that only needs minimum water to flower almost continuously.  Gaura lindheimeri is another that with just a little irrigation or run off from nearby roses flower profusely.  The groundcover Verbena near the terrace is flowering much more than usual because I’ve been watering pots on the terrace and water has run off from there to reach them.

Ground cover verbena benefits from a little irrigation to ensure it flowers all summer

Figs grow all around the Mediterranean and I’ve seen them growing out of cliffs with no soil, but mine needs water every year!  In past years this hasn’t occurred until August, but just look at my poor tree, and this was even before the last week of June; the first crop of figs hasn’t been harvested yet although any day now some should be ready.

Poor tree, it must have lost half its leaves

Crumpled, yellow and brown, the fallen leaves under the fig tree

Rosa Rimosa again has had only run off water from watering pots on the terrace is giving a great second display.

See more about this good tempered rose here.

However the grasses are beginning to light up the garden, especially in the evening when the last rays of the sun shine through their flowers.

Pennisetum villosum lighting up the garden

Another Pennisetum, possibly Karly

June is the month for Lavender and the sound of bees buzzing all day collecting nectar and of butterflies fluttering and dancing in the air above.

With the extra pruning this year I can just squeeze through the lavender surrounding the formal beds

A honey bee doing what they do best!

Silver-Studded Blue Plebejus argus

May feast – The supporting cast

In our gardens we all treasure its stars, the plants that we patiently wait to flower, enjoying every bud about to open and every falling petal as it dies; roses are perhaps one example of this but we all know which these plants are for us.  It might be a tiny treasure, almost hidden from view that we search out and sigh over or a difficult-to-grow plant that isn’t really suited to our conditions.

However there is a large supporting cast to these stars that we don’t always give a second glance, but without which our gardens would be diminished.

Today I would like to share some plants with you that I wouldn’t want to be without but that are rarely mentioned.  Some are beautiful for a brief moment, others seem to flower for ever, creating a background for the stars, others fill gaps between shrubs making the garden feel full and bountiful.

Erigeron karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus begins to flower in March and continues throughout the summer and into winter, only stopping when the weather is really cold.  It will cover a large area and smother weeds.  It can be invasive but is not difficult to pull out.

I grew these aquilegia from seed

They are such a pretty pink

And it flowers so profusely

Philadelphus

Philadelphus may only have a short flowering season and it isn’t the prettiest of foliage plants, but who would be without its wonderful fragrance.  In wetter areas they are good with a large flowered clematis climbing over them but it’s too dry for that here.

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ has been slow to establish and maybe once it has established itself well and produces more abundant leaves it will become one of the stars of the garden instead of one of the supporting cast.

Gaura lindheimeri has begun its long period of flowering

Rosa rubrifolia glauca

Rosa rubrifolia glauca is versatile taking on the role of provider of beautifully coloured foliage and exquisitely simple coloured, but it is most appreciated in autumn for its wonderful hips.

Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’

Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’ is another tolerant plant that has a long presence in the garden.  A tough plant that withstands all the gardener can throw at it, flowering in sun or shade and not minding too much drought or flood!

Knautia macedonica – a new addition this year and an up and coming star

I don’t turn away the wild poppies that germinate on bare soil

A narrow leaved sage adds a splash of colour now and can be used in the kitchen to add flavour to port dishes like saltimbocca

In close up its flowers are a delight

Verbena bonariensis is one of the signature plants of my garden, maybe it really deserves a post of its own but for today serves to show that without the supporting cast the stars would have no show to star in.

What are the supporting players in your garden, what wouldn’t you be without?