It has been a scorching couple of weeks. It has been five weeks since our last rainfall. Then yesterday the heavens opened. I was driving home under the raincloud, hoping it would come with me all the way home. It did, and the garden got a much-needed drenching for twenty minutes. The temperature didn’t drop, so it was a very warm shower, leaving the garden steaming.
The smell of summer rain is a wondrous thing. Warm, wet earth, and leaves, and dripping flowers. Rain-heavy blooms lean into one another, making new colour combinations, creating different shapes and angles.
When I woke up this morning, the garden was shrouded in mist. The temperature had dropped overnight, but it was still warm enough to walk barefoot on the scorched grass.
All the colours were subdued, as were the sounds. There was a conspicuous lack of buzzing insects at that time in the morning. Even the birds were a little muted.
I have been recovering from Hampton Court for the last couple of days. Just one day away from the garden left me feeling behind. As so often happens when I am tired, I got a cold. But summer colds are very different from winter colds. An hour in the garden last night left me feeling refreshed, and energised.
I have been doing what Monty calls ‘editing’ the borders. Geranium ‘Brookside’ had reached maximum sprawl and was becoming more silver than blue, with all the seedheads. It has received what I am calling the ‘Hampton Court Hack’. (See Secrets of a Hacker). It has been cut to the ground. The roses can breathe; it is like they have thrown off their skirts, and can feel the breeze around their legs again.
The Salvias, like ‘Caradonna’ and ‘Ostfriesland’, have also had a little clip. The Bright Border is looking less blue and purple, and is concentrating on its zingy citrus colours: lime, lemon and orange…
The flower-forms are spiky and sculptural, with Hemerocallis and Crocosmia:
There are some berrylicious tones too, with Penstemons and Phlox.
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and ‘Anne Thomson’ escaped the chop: they are sterile hybrids, so will just keep producing flowers and set no seed.
I love the burnt toffee tones of spent Hemerocallis next to the magenta of Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’.
Hemerocallis fulva ‘Flore Plena’ is drying out in the sun.
I don’t have much yellow in the garden, but the Bright Border is the perfect place for it. Three years ago I planted a Helianthus (perennial sunflower) at the back of the border. These are the best plants for providing late summer freshness, with plentiful bright yellow flowers and equally lush foliage. I spotted bindweed creeping up the stem a month or so after planting. I have a terror of bindweed, and uprooted the lot. Then and there, in my work clothes. I keep meaning to plant another Helianthus, but somehow never get around to it.
But… I am blessed by happy accidents in this garden. Some of the orange Hemerocallis I planted turned out to be yellow. Even better, they appear to be just the variety I had been dithering over, ‘Bonanza’. These remind me of banana chews. I love the way they are all looking in different directions here, like spotlights.
I kept on floating along the border, over the mist. On to these Astilbe ‘Vision in Red’. I love the red stems with brightest magenta feathers.
And encountered a couple of quivering spider-webs, suspended from the fence.
The fragility of the spider’s web contrasted with the encrusted lichen on fence post.
At this point I realised that I really needed to get dressed and ready to meet friends for coffee. Even now, not yet 9am, the mist was lifting, and the day was heating up.
When I came back a couple of hours later, we were back to fierce sun and humid heat. The Hemerocallis were aflame.
The Euphorbia were glowing.
The Phlox had erupted.
The Clematis was smouldering.
And Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ was ablaze.
Time for the paddling pool.