The Orange Tip

details in the dirt

Month: June, 2012

Gooseberries

We’re now entering our second season of difficult growing. Having come through a Spring of hidden sun, heavy winds and soggy damp, even the most reliable of the annual catalogue are struggling to say much for themselves. And now some weeks into what is usually considered Summer, the top players are most notable by the gaps they’re leaving in the borders.

The cosmos, scabious and dahlias are all very behind this year as a consequence, still only just developing their first flower buds. In the veg beds, aside from a couple of meagre potato harvests, things remain equally bleak. The runner beans are slow to clasp the poles and keeping slugs from devouring any new growth on the broccoli is a doomed endeavour. The strawberries are out however, and full of fruit, but without a few days of steady sunlight they’re retaining their immature green.

But all is not lost, there is one triumph this year. In fact so much of a triumph as to even be earlier than usual, and that’s the (now) trusty gooseberry. Nice one gooseberries.

Given that last year we lost almost all of our gooseberries to the birds and the squirrels I decided last month to throw some industrial netting over the bushes, just as they were beginning to ripen. Although not doing much for the ‘rustic’ aesthetic of the garden, it seemed to have done the trick, and the usual wound-inflicting picking process felt much more celebratory this time; my sole success so far..

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Toadlet

I love this time of year when the mass of new frog and toad-lets appear suddenly all over the place; springing up from under your feet or moving about quietly under the geraniums.

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A Few Early-Flowerers

Meadows

The weather has been throwing as many different extremes around as possible over the last few months, and yesterday was pretty much the peak. We’ve had burning hot, dry days, long, wet weeks, extended cold periods and heavy, gale-like winds. The combined force of the latter two elements were what made yesterday so disastrous and almost impossible to work in. I was set on getting a recently weeded border bark-mulched; a deadline already a few days overdue. And so belligerently, and in a bit of a determined stupor, I busied about with the wheelbarrow beneath a creaking and groaning sycamore canopy as it dropped limbs and showered leaves all around until the late afternoon. The winds were unbelievably powerful and seemed to spring up from nowhere.

And so currently most of the garden is smothered in a litter of debris. Thankfully, however, I did manage to do a round with the camera the day before, when the sun was shining and there was something more like a breeze in the air. The meadows, particularly the lower three, have actually done very well this year, despite the haphazard and unstable weather, and much to my surprise and joy. The top meadow though, which is on shadier ground and with a slightly different seed mix, will need some work this year. Due to a large portion of it having once been a pond, the area is still fairly fertile and needs to be impoverished in order for the wildflowers to flourish. Consequently there are ever-encroaching nettles and alkanet patches which will need getting rid of and re-sowing. It’s always a slow process developing meadows, but there are definitely positive signs of change within the species make-up and diversity already. Interestingly, a big player in that top meadow this year over previous years has been the white campion,┬áSilene latifolia. And so far, unlike last year, there have been no signs of ragwort at all (although it is still early days).

In about 2-3 weeks time I’ll be doing the June cut for all four meadows. This needs to be done once the flowers are beginning to set seed, and it will bring about a second run of flowering, before a final cut at the very end of the summer. It’s a huge task, but a satisfying one. So for now it’s a case of enjoying the view while it’s here.

Growing Up

Chesney now showing his true colours..