Glimpses of blue sky are precious this year. We've had rain and low grey clouds for weeks, it seems. The weather forecast in my sidebar is reasonably upbeat for the next couple of days, tho it's drizzling at the moment rather than the perky mix of sun and fluffy cloud that it's meant to be. Then we take a mid-week dive into rain and cool(er) temperatures, and then just cool temperatures. I have started a regime of Vitamin D tablets for myself and my daughter, to compensate for this summer's lack of sunshine. The male members of the family either don't believe in this nonsense, or are currently lying in the sun in the Canary Islands.
So even if it's a weed, if there's blue sky behind it - it merits a photo. This is our charming garden weed - red valerian. It's entirely self-seeded. My Reader's Digest 'Guide to Creative Gardening' describes it as being easy to grow, and that 'the fierce red flowers of this valerian brighten ancient walls and cliff faces all over the south of England.' I'm gratified that the wall at the back of our garden, which is all that remains of a old railway siding wall (late 19th century/early 20th?), could be classified as ancient. The Reader's Digest goes on to say 'its seedlings shoot up all over the place, though usually not in sufficient numbers to be a nuisance'. Well, it seems to love our cool, damp climate. From its lofty perch it rains down seeds which sprout merrily all over our garden. I would classify it as a lovable nuisance. And here it's got blue sky behind it.
My fragrant Alba rose is blooming, although not in such profusion as past years. The hard winter gave it quite a knock, and it's been slow to pull away in this grudging weather of the past 6 weeks.
The honeysuckle by contrast is rampant. The frosts seem to have killed off the aphids which normally plague it, clustering blackly round the emerging flower spurs and sucking the life out of them. It's busy with bees from early morning until late into the evenings.
I do have a few more blooms - just a few, however. This year I've decided to take stock and think about what will really thrive in our difficult back garden, and to dig wider beds and enrich the soil with green manure. So I'm off to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for inspiration from around the gardening world.
Will it work? Or is it just another gadget promising the earth (forgive the pun) from a piece of plastic? Eventually, I got my French beans planted out at the weekend. The slight saving grace is that with the delay I missed the tearing winds that have stripped leaves from trees. Still, they haven't been happy beans lately, constrained even in their root-trainer modules. And they're my precious French French beans, brought back from last summer's holiday.
The idea is that molluscs' tiny brains and impressive gmynastic powers will be flummoxed by having to turn that sharp corner underneath the rim. I suspect that big snails might find it too much, but that slugs will just pop up happily in the middle of the ring and munch away, but I'll find out if we manage to get to the plot one evening this week.
And they're expensive pieces of plastic, so of course I have more beans than barriers. These defenceless beans will just have to take their chances. I'm trying to look on it as a controlled experiment, but I feel a pang at having abandoned this lot at the end of the row.
One lot of plants in, another lot earmarked for coming out. We have to face it that the raspberries have had it. Even though new canes came through in the spring and began to put out leaves, they're withering. Fruit that has already formed is just shrivelling up. The canes have been fed, watered, mulched and watered again, but we have to face reality. I don't know if they have a disease, or if they just don't like their location, but I don't have time and energy to embark on a research and treatment programme. I am puzzled, because I come from a family for whom raspberries are an annual surfeit, to be given away to passers-by. My father has a rota of friends whom he invites to pick his berries, and happily receives home baking and jam in return. I thought raspberries just grew, so it's quite a blow to discover that I haven't inherited the family raspberry gene.