After the disappointment of June, we can, at least, hope for a decent high summer. July is normally the hottest month of the year; hoorah. By rights there should be plenty of heat for us to enjoy and for our plants to use. After such a cool and damp start to summer when the soil has been damper that average your plants have had a kind start and should be raring to go. I am looking forward to much better displays of phlox, dahlia and hydrangea than we had last year when plants were brown, tired and generally droughted.
All gardening is a contrivance with the challenge of gathering a few plants from nature and assembling them in a convenient way to paint a picture of some imagined scene: the English colour-coordinated herbaceous border, the boldness of bedding plants or the classical formal rose garden. I think most of us would be hard-pressed to exceed the simple beauty of the show of poppies and other wild flowers on the earth bank (or bund) surrounding The Green. I don’t know if the seed was sown purposely or arrived naturally in the imported soil, but it has made a pretty defensive rampart. That many of the poppies were Opium Poppies, Papaver somniferum, (and what an appropriate Latin name), as a consequence of our council’s efforts, made me smirk.
Our roses have been lovely this year growing strongly and flowering generously. We have several climbers on 2 arches which allows one to see the flowers close up and get a good sniff to enjoy any perfume. The David Austin ‘English Roses’ just work for us: generally healthy, clothed in fresh green leaves and masses of scented flowers. Growing roses on an arch or pergola is a test of the good gardener who needs time to tie in and guide the long whippy stems and feed and spray to ensure the plant and trellis are furnished with lush green foliage (and not a greenfly, black spot of mildewed leaf to be seen). Ours are far from perfect but are still glorious. David Austin has a splendid display garden at their nursery near Wolverhampton, where you will find the inevitable shop and café to enhance the experience and empty the wallet.
The National Garden Scheme, Yellow Book, has several local gardens open in July. I am intrigued by their description of the garden at The Old Rectory, Lower Basildon, which has a substantial vegetable garden and a crinkle-crankle wall: how wonderful. It is open on Sunday 14 July, in the afternoon.
On Sunday 7 July (afternoon), Swallowfield Village is opening seven separate gardens and serving home-made teas to make the 20-mile journey worthwhile.
The NGS website is a mine of information about local open gardens, with descriptions, dates and photos to whet your appetite. Many of the open gardens offer tea and cakes. The NGS is the largest single funder of nursing and caring charities in the UK; NGS garden visits raised £3 million in 2018. The perfect way to enjoy an English summer?
Happy Gardening, Giles Derry
Dates for your diary
Saturday 7 September. Autumn Flower Show at 2.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Sadly, autumn approaches, but this is our biggest show of the year and the hall will be brimming with Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, vegetables and fruit. The handicraft and food classes are always impressive, the photography classes attract lots of entries and the children’s classes are always fun. Do join in or at least come and view out efforts. If you need ideas and enthusing contact Michael Pocock 248213 or Giles Derry 248716.