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.
I didn’t know that there are bees specific to ivy. They are cuties. 🙂
Yes, so cute. Bright-eyed, furry and I like their distinct stripes, which are slightly ridge-and-furrow-like. With them feeding almost exclusively on ivy, you really don’t see them until ~September, but there are tons around this year.
I love bees and your picture of the wonderful Caryopteris is beautiful. I’ve never heard of ivy bees before so it’s interesting to learn something new.
4C was very low for Sept, yes?
Yes, we’ve had one or two mornings where frost could almost have been an issue. Back to 10deg now though and finally proper rain. Ivy bees are new on the scene in the UK.
I’ve been looking all summer for pokeweed flowers and berries, because I need some for a post! And here you are, with them growing at your place. I suppose I’d best get out again and see if I can find some. It’s a fact that one the berries have ripened, they aren’t at all hard to spot, even in the thickest tangle.
Looking forward to your post!
That kiwi berry vine has my attention. The fact it’s put up w/a bit of neglect makes it all the more attractive. One of my neighbours has pokeweed in their garden & every time I pass, I think how odd it looks (being an American living in the UK). It’s propagated babies outside their garden as well, so I was tempted to steal a seed or 2, cuz I love the purple stems. We used the berries to dye wool when I lived back home.
Oh that’s interesting. What colour was the dye? I’ve recently bought a book about plant dyes, so this could be my first experiment! Thumbs up for the kiwi berry vine. Things have to be tough to survive in my garden.
Mostly in the purple/pink range, but if you boil it longer, you can send it toward the autumn oranges. The dye doesn’t set as well as some others, so you may want to research that aspect of it – there’s plenty of natural dye enthusiasts online. It’s been 20 yrs, but I think we used a salt set w/ours. Good luck & if you try your hand at dying, be sure to put photos up. It’s another aspect of the garden, for sure. (Now to wander down the street to my neighbours for some seed.)
I lost all my baby kiwi flowers in the spring because of 2 cold nights… but I remember the year before as there were tasty !
I would cut down the caryopteris almost to the ground ( 20cm) each year , at the end of winter ( March) ( This encourages new shoots to grow without being submerged by a large shrub.
I think am I going with total re-genesis for the caryopteris, so thanks for this info. Sorry to hear about your lack of kiwi berries this year. It is hard when a crop is wiped out so easily so early in the season. 😦 Here’s to next spring
I was very interested in reading about your Kiwi vine, they were speaking about it on GQT last week. I’ll have to look for one.
I would definitely recommend them.
Wonderful photos. I’ve never seen or heard of kiwi berries before now. You learn something new every day, so they say!
You can occasionally find kiwi berries in the supermarkets, so that is worth watching out for, to try them first.
Did your kiwi fruit in the first year? Wow! Mine has been a four-year journey with frost-hardy (fuzzy) kiwis. Last year was the first harvest of 4 fruits. This year? 140! (of course I counted)
Yes they did. Maybe because I received nursery grown plants just before flowering. 140?! Lol, I guess you like kiwis.
Kiwi berries sound interesting. The pokeweed is a fascinating plant. My friend inherited one in her garden. I keep meaning to take a bit.
I grew my pokeweed from seed, so it would be worth asking for some berries. The kiwi berries have been a revelation. I’ll be interested to see how they overwinter.
I shall pinch a few when I see her next
I think you have just solved my problem of what to plant in my allotment fruit cage where the raspberries have failed. Kiwis would be perfect. Just need to get hold of one or two.
FYI, I bought my kiwi vines from Mr Fothergill’s: https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Fruit/Kiwi-Arguta-Issai-Plant.html#.XYnRq2Z7mUk