I love blue hydrangeas. They’re gorgeous… er, when they’re blue.
But keeping them blue is a bugger. I have neutral soil, so it’s extra hard. But even if you grow them in a pot of ericaceous compost, you have to shovel in absurd quantities of aluminium sulphate – regularly – to stop them reverting to pink.
I’m failing with this one. There’s been so much rain [soilman.net 2012, passim] that the colorant is leached out of the pot almost as fast as I can pour it in.
Anyone got any tips for keeping ‘em reliably blue?
PS I’m beginning to fear the corn will fail this year. It’s SO fucking cold and wet that it’s put on pathetic growth. I can’t see it having time to fully grow, flower and form ears before the frosts.
Posted on 8th July 2012
Under: Flowers, Rain | 2 Comments »
I’ve had a few weeks away from the allotment. Lots of reasons: family issues, busy at work, tired of gardening after a long season battling weeds in the rain. I needed a break.
The crops have pretty much dried up now, apart from the winter roots. My dahlias, though, have been producing as never before. This variety, Mrs Eileen, is new to me… and it’s a screaming success. Apparently never ending flowers in the gaudiest, most outrageous orange you can imagine.
Lovely to see some bright colours in the gathering gloom of the autumn vegetable garden.
Posted on 9th October 2011
Under: Flowers | 4 Comments »
Quite a mixed bag tonight. I appear to have grown Britain’s biggest beetroots to go with the exhibition cauliflowers. I may have to make that weird summer salad the Greeks like so much – you know, the one that’s a mixture of cooked and raw veg, purple because of the fresh beetroot. Rather nice.
This is turning into an extraordinary year in the vegetable garden. From a very inauspicious start, I’m getting bumper crops in almost all departments.
The ghastly weather helps, of course. Rain sucks, but it makes fierce vegetables.
Posted on 17th July 2011
Under: Cucurbits, Flowers, Potatoes, Roots | 4 Comments »
The last flowers of these lilies – an oriental/trumpet cross – always presage the end of summer for me. The final blooms usually drop off at the end of August; they’re early this year because of the extraordinary weather.
And wow, what a year it’s been. Can’t remember a summer like it since ’76. I’ve moaned continually on this blog about the lack of water, but this is kindergarten stuff compared with the nightmare they’re enduring in Russia. My Muscovite in-laws are choking on smog, smoke and 40ºC. People are dying from it.
If this is the future – ie if this is what global warming looks like – we’re all in for a very bumpy and painful ride. Hold on to your hats.
Posted on 10th August 2010
Under: Flowers, Summer | 4 Comments »
This year’s peonies have been disgracefully beautiful. Must be something about the harsh winter. Peonies grow very well in Russia, so I assume a hard frost suits them.
This one is growing in my garden, and it’s gorgeous. So gorgeous that I’m toying with the idea of splitting the clump and planting half on the allotment.
Just one problem, as peony fans will know: this flower HATES being transplanted, and can sulk for up to 3 years before it flowers again.
Question: Have I got the patience to wait?
Posted on 17th June 2010
Under: Flowers | 9 Comments »
Notice anything unusual about this rose foliage?
To my utter astonishment, there are no aphids on the new growth. And I mean none – I’ve hunted, believe me, and there’s not a single aphid of any hue anywhere on these plants. And it’s May, FFS.
It’s not because I’ve sprayed them; I don’t do that. So how come?
Well, to apply Holmesian logic: If I’ve not sprayed them, and nobody else is spraying them (the midnight Derris Duster?), there can only be one conclusion:
There are no aphids because it’s been SO FUCKING COLD.
Posted on 6th May 2010
Under: Flowers | 8 Comments »
OK, time to ‘fess up: I’ve been in Marrakech, Morocco. A very special treat in February for a SAD sufferer, and a huge boost to my flagging morale.
The sun shone every day, and it was glorious. Interesting from a gardener’s point of view, too; this is a shot of Yves St Laurent’s garden, the Jardin Majorelle (which contains a rather dignified and touching memorial to the man).
The yellow and blue theme runs throughout, with cacti and limpid pools making a rather special visual experience. Bizarrely, there seemed to be only French tourists there… which seemed a waste. If you’re ever in Marrakech, don’t miss it.
Posted on 28th February 2010
Under: Flowers | 9 Comments »
Not exactly a typical garden scene for the UK in February. Here’s a clue: it’s not the UK (although it IS February).
Here’s another pic to help you figure it out…
Posted on 25th February 2010
Under: Flowers | 11 Comments »
Lilies are marvellously predictable. Their seed pods ripen and split a day or two either side of mid October. They’re metronomically reliable.
I’m passionate about lilies. I’ve bred some of the varieties in my garden myself, and it’s a thrill to see them thriving. There is no flower more dignified, beautiful and elegant.
Posted on 21st October 2009
Under: Flowers, Seed saving | 3 Comments »
I hate seeing rosebuds in October. They’re as gorgeous as ever, but – to corrupt the song lyrics – their lovely promise won’t come true. One sharp frost and it’s all over.
On another note: when did Jerusalem artichokes become so popular that they’re at risk of theft?
I ask because I dug some up for my mother a week or two ago, and somehow – perhaps when I left the bag unattended at the plot for a few minutes, or after I loaded them in her car – they were swiped.
Which blows my mind. I mean, Jerusalem artichokes?
Christ, it’s not the crown jewels. Whatever next? Are my gold fillings safe? Should I perhaps nail my car tyres to the driveway?
My only consolation is the sure and certain knowledge that if the thief eats that many artichokes at one sitting, he’ll fart his colon out of his arse.
Posted on 18th October 2009
Under: Flowers | 1 Comment »