Susie’s Gar­den

At the end of an event­ful grow­ing sea­son, Susie White re­caps what went well…

My Weekly - - Contents -

What a year it’s been for weather! We had the worst snow for 50 years, fol­lowed by three months with no rain, then a wet and windy late sum­mer. So how did the gar­den cope with these ex­treme con­di­tions?

Dur­ing the drought we wa­tered the veg­etable gar­den, but the flower gar­den had to man­age with­out. Vi­tal to its suc­cess was its mulch. We laid down wood­chip be­fore plants grew and it held in the mois­ture; they sur­vived all those weeks with­out wa­ter­ing. When I added plugs of an­nu­als, I scraped away the mulch, planted and re-cov­ered the soil.

It’s been a great year for an­nu­als. In wet years I find cos­mos can make too much leaf and flower late. This year it did well from early on, pro­longed by reg­u­lar dead­head­ing.

Cal­en­du­las ‘Snow Princess’ and ‘Golden King’ bright­ened the veg gar­den and brought in pol­li­nat­ing in­sects. The top an­nual for bees was Echium ‘Blue Bed­der’ which flow­ered for months on end.

My an­nual bor­der looked amaz­ing with ‘Blue Bed­der’ at the front, African marigolds at mid-height, then taller zin­nias and a rich pur­ple-black glad­i­o­lus called ‘Espresso’. The zin­nias were ‘Molo­tov Mix’ from Sut­tons in jazzy sweet­shop colours

– just look at the range of colours I’ve floated in a blue bowl, above.

My ab­so­lute favourite has been an African marigold, Tagetes ‘Burn­ing Em­bers’. Its fiery-red flow­ers have gold edg­ing and yel­low backs to the petals. Last­ing at least four months in the bor­der, it also does well as a cut flower and, grown around to­ma­toes, it pro­tects against aphids.

I filled pots near the front door with laven­der, pan­sies, aga­pan­thus and nas­tur­tiums. In a pair of large pots I tried a new dwarf sun­flower called ‘Sun­Be­liev­able™ Brown Eyed Girl’ from Thomp­son and Morgan. Win­ning third place in this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year com­pe­ti­tion, this bright yel­low sun­flower flow­ered amaz­ingly and stood up to the wind. It’s def­i­nitely one I will grow next year.

Tasty Veg

The weather af­fected the veg gar­den in un­pre­dictable ways. We had a mega crop of straw­ber­ries from plants that were never wa­tered, sur­pris­ing for fruits con­tain­ing a lot of juice. Leafy veg­eta­bles didn’t do well, with the drought mak­ing plants such as spinach, let­tuce, co­rian­der and dill run to seed. Af­ter a cou­ple of weeks, the broad beans weren’t worth eat­ing be­cause they were dry and mealy-tast­ing but French beans and run­ner beans cropped heav­ily.

We gave the cour­gettes lots of wa­ter as they are thirsty. They re­warded us with a bumper crop – so many that we had to be in­ven­tive with recipes and give lots away. Same with cu­cum­bers, grown in the green­house. Gar­lic, onions and shal­lots loved the heat and are now safely stored.

There have been win­ners and losers in this strange year, and I have en­joyed ev­ery mo­ment of shar­ing my gar­den with you. I hope to see you all again next year!

Cal­en­dula ‘Snow Princess’

Echium ‘Blue Bed­der’

‘Sun­be­liev­able Brown Eyed Girl’

Vi­brant Zin­nias

David with a trug of veg

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