Sylvia Clare’s Column – August 2013

Published: July 31, 2022

Another day in the Garden – Monday 19th August 2013

What a great growing year 2013 became for us here on the island, once it got started; late but not any less triumphant in its closing stages. I say closing stages because wandering down to let my chickens out at 7 am this morning I walked through several early morning spiders' strands across the paths and the dew was quite thick on my boots, already too late in the year for flip flops first thing. We do of course have the rest of the year to enjoy still. But apart from a few days when we had to water copiously due to a short semi drought we have had plentiful supplies of both water and sunshine this summer. I know some hardy planters aren't that bothered about veg growing, but for me it is all part of the glory of gardening and many crops are also perennials such as globe artichokes and asparagus, plus all the fruit bushes of various kinds. I love that feeling of abundance that one gets this time of year bringing in all the harvest and stringing up chillies to ripen and dry, bottling and preserving everything that we do not eat immediately. I love it all so much.

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Blue self seeded buddleia with peacock and comma butterfly
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Blue self seeded buddleia with red admiral and acer flamingo in the background
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Buddleia with volucella zonarid, a hoverfly mimicking a hornet
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In the flower garden it is a bit in between though. The Monarda are just going over although several colours of crocosmia are still going strong. The Echinops are looking lovely, covered by bees and the asters are all budding up into sprays that will be thick with colour, so anticipation is still high on the agenda. I sowed some mallow seed this year called mystic merlin which is a lovely purple coloured one and it is still in a pot, but I will plant it out this autumn so it can grow to full height next year – up to 6 ft it says on the packet. We shall see. Also the sedum flower heads are beginning to open up with their various coloured flowers and thick sappy leaves. The late flowering Salvias are coming along although black and blue is still only in bud, plenty of time yet for it though – I usually expect this around the end of September so must remain patient – but I do love it's rich dark deep blues and will be taking many cuttings again this year so I can try some for all year around outside growing in sheltered spots as well as keeping them as pots in my courtyard garden.

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Fuchsia Fuji san
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Fuchsia triphylla adinda
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Kniphofia Green Jade
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Malva mystic merlin

I also grow tansy as a lovely late summer flower, good for drying and an excellent insect repellent. But we were observing it in the garden whilst stopping some major pruning work and saw it covered by little flies so I am determined to find out what insect plant specialism relationship is going on there. It is a little enthusiastic and some see it as a weed but for me it is definitely a welcome native for so many reasons. I am determined to try making tansy pudding one year too when I get around to it, a traditional old recipe. It is easily controlled enough and should be considered more by people. A bunch dried and hanging in my laundry room might help me keep clothes moth at bay, a high risk for us with all the bedding for our holiday letting guests. I am experimenting with herbs and plants that combined do serve to keep unwanted insets out and have several drying at present to experiment with. I like to use my garden to really provide for our home too as much as possible, wellington boot miles are also better for the environment than road miles. I think I probably do walk a mile or so a day at least around our grounds. Or run when I am being buzzed by the insects that have taken to feasting on my flesh with alarming regularity. I retreat indoors quite frequently to escape their voracious appetites for my blood and subsist on anti – histamines for much of the summer, but recently I have noticed that a glass of homemade elderflower wine which is quite pokey now seems to deter them. It must change the smell I exude in insect terms enough to let me escape relatively un-stung, bitten or generally drained of blood. We only attacked on a wasp nest this year because it was inside our chicken run and the poor girls were being harassed and with no way of escaping their attackers. Also I got stung tending to their needs and so did a little boy who liked to come and feed the girls every day but got stung twice which rather spoiled his holiday. Otherwise I let them be, since they cleared the blackfly off my runner beans in a couple of days and continue to patrol the brassicas for caterpillars. We have two nests in total and apart from making wasp traps to place by my beehives I have no argument with them. They sting because that is their nature and we interfere with them , we are no better by removing their nests and killing them than they are by protecting themselves and stinging us and I try not to be too species centric in my view points. But sometimes enough is enough and my chickens need tlc too, can you tell I struggle with these ethical dilemmas a bit!

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aug10 10

Helianthemum lemon Queen with bumble bee
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Crocosmia ember glow

Anyway back to what's doing well, my fuchsias are blooming well, including the lovely species F. procumbens and some triphylla types especially Adinda and Fiji San. Also I have a lovely climber which is kept in a pot and cut back and brought into the kitchen to overwinter called Dregea Sinensis, but it is worth the effort since it has such lovely flowers but its fragrance is just gorgeous on a summer evening sitting next to it by our kitchen door with another glass of ice cold elderflower wine (it didn't quite make the champagne we had hoped for!). Also at this time of year the buddleias are in full swing with a magnificent range of butterflies on them as usual. We have about 10 different species and colours and not all of them bring in the insects but most do and I have a selection of the most interesting with their visitors in this month's photos. Also great for the bees and other pollinators are the daisy types of Helianthemum ‘Lemon Queen', various Rudbeckias and all the fennels dotted around self-sown everywhere.

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Oiseau Bleu
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brightens a shady corner
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Another little newly developed shady seating area is now filled with the evening scent of Nicotiana sylvestris with its long white trumpets shining in the shade, a lovely plant indeed. Lovely combinations like the wavy hands of macleya growing up in front of a forest pansy and tonally red blending polygonum with the lime green developing rosehips of Rosa geranium which will form a lovely vivid orangey red display through winter.

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with its lovely little yellowgreen flowers

So it might be the winding down of the garden in some ways in August, and the most plentiful daily job is one of cutting back and dead heading, it is very much not over yet and the glory of colour and texture continue to abound.

Sylvia Clare

Text and photographs by Sylvia Clare, who has been an HPS member for more than 10 years.