Tales from The Walled Garden : What a summer! – August 2018

Can I tell you a secret?

I am, just a little bit, tired of this amazing summer we are having.

I know, I know it won’t be many weeks before I’m wearing thermals and shivering again and I am reminding myself regularly that I must enjoy it, but oh that rain last weekend was fantastic!

I think we had ¾ of an inch on Sunday and it was a blessed relief, our water butts were all but dry and we gardeners were melting on a daily basis.  On the plus side the grass stopped growing so there is a lot less mowing and only a few whiskers of grass to cut when edging the borders.

But the weeds are amazing, no matter how much stress they are under they continue to battle on and disperse their seeds no matter what, so we have been kept busy with weeding and watering in the last month.

We have started the summer pruning of the fruit trees.  Our pear and apple trees are espaliers and so benefit from a summer trim.  Reducing the new growth, which is more than 20cm long, to just 3 leaves above the basal leaves allows light to reach the developing fruit.  We started the pears a couple of weeks ago and when they are done will move onto the apples.

We are also enjoying the fruits of our labour, the summer raspberries are just about over but have been delicious.  The autumn raspberries are coming thick and fast and equally as good. We have been harvesting cucumbers, the tomatoes are about to turn colour and the runner beans are on their way.  They are all requiring daily attention and watering.

Some plants have faired better than others in this heat.  I think it is important to hold your nerve when the weather is extreme, it is all too easy to yank out plants that don’t seem to be performing, but I have learnt not to be too hasty.  Plants are amazingly resilient, and often come back from the brink of death with a little tender loving care and water.

And that is what I need to remember when I’m fretting over the lack of rain we have had and whether the garden is going to survive…of course it will Mother Nature is far wiser than us.

By Stella Weir, Gardener at Houghton Lodge Gardens

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