Well, what a glorious week that was! But it’s been cold in the mornings. The car said 4.5 deg C on Tuesday morning and the heating came on unexpectedly on Monday morning (since I hadn’t bothered to turn the thermostat down since spring). The weather is all set to change next week apparently. Happily the prediction is for some rain at least. Meanwhile, with daily watering, the vegetable garden continues to crop copious amounts of toms, beans and gourds. The pile of courgettes and cucumbers on the kitchen counter keeps growing, because I can’t quite keep up. Not doing too badly though.
I will start this week’s Six with an unusual fruit crop, a first for me:
1) Kiwi berries
I reported in April that I had taken delivery of some Kiwi Berry vines. These seemed like a perfect fruit to have a go growing, being pop-in-your-mouth-sized (like grapes) and lacking the outside fuzz (no peeling etc). I gave one plant away (it was a buy two get one free offer), but now I have to admit that the remaining two have been neglected. They remained in their pots until we went on holiday. One was planted out in its final position and the other tucked into a shady spot to await clearance of its new home. I crossed my fingers until we got back and, needless to say, the potted plant looked pretty dead when we returned and the other looked sad. Good news is that the ‘dead’ one has bounced back, while the other has plateaued. Both had flowered in the spring and it only occurred to me this week to check on the state of the fruit of the one growing in the ground. Amazingly there were five kiwi berries left and they were slightly soft to the touch, so we have got to try them after all. Well, they are delicious. Certainly tasting similar to normal-sized kiwis, but distinctly sweeter, a bit like a super ripe greengage. Now I can’t wait till next year!
2) Canna indica
My cannas have done really well this year and have been very bright and floriferous. I think that zero rain on their petals has helped the flowers to open fully. Even the ones that I started from seed back in February (Canna indica from Chiltern Seeds) have flowered well (see above photo). Since all the seeds in the packet germinated, I have been able to line up about 20 new plants along the new picket fence round the veg patch. So far there seems to be a fairly even split between their flowers emerging as bright red with orange ‘tongues’ and ones with orangey-yellow petals with red markings.
I need to do something about my Caryopteris clandonensis, because over the years the bush has lent further and further over and now extends across the border to flower at the end of branches that overhang the driveway. This week I’ve been clearing away the surrounding plants to figure out how best to deal with it (hack it and try to take cuttings, try to pull it upright and prune or start over??? Anyone with experience of pruning this shrub?). Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying watching large numbers of Carder bumblebees feast on it.
4) American Pokeweed
I’ve been growing Phytolacca americana since I saw it looking all architectural and exotic at Abbotsbury subtropical gardens in Dorset. Its tall red stems are a nice precursor to the anticipated dogwood displays of winter. Right now though, it is in flower and although the flower spikes are quite pretty in their own right, the developing seed clusters are the real stars of the show. They appear first as tiny green pumpkins sitting on top of rigid magenta stalks, but then fill out and turn into shiny black berries. Yes, it is poisonous!
5) Ivy and the Ivy bees
Ivy is breaking out into flower now and although the display is easy to overlook from a human point of view, the flowers are irresistible to just about every insect out there. And since 2001, or there abouts, we have ivy bees (Colletes hederae: a ground dwelling mining bee) marking the season in southern England. They are spreading northwards quickly though and this year there are already reports of polytunnels filling with the emerging bees. In fact, on Monday we noticed a few of them in the polytunnel at Wimpole, but by Thursday there were hundreds. We are leaving the doors open.
6) Salvia uliginosa
This is my favourite salvia (OK that’s probably a lie, since I love them all and say ‘favourite’ about whichever the current example is). Anyhow, this one is … as blue as a September sky.
Thanks to Jon, The Propagator, for hosting Six on Saturday. Hop over to his blog using the link to enjoy many more wondrous gardening show-and-tells.