An Instagram retrospective of summer 2018
June began with paeonies...
My paeonies seem to be lagging a little behind most people’s, and the roses are out first. Still, roses and #paeonies, can’t grumble! Here’s Coral Charm, fighting its way through the Nigella, nectaroscordium and the goosegrass in order to present the first flower. 🌸 Oh, strap yourself in @pitcombe123, that pink wave is coming! 💕 #thepinkstagram #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #fb #peonyperfection #peonies
...and continued in the same vein.
The aptly named Sarah Bernhardt paeony always brings a ridiculous, froufrou glamour to my garden at this time of year. The flowers are huge, and very heavy, and this year the plant has achieved a height it’s never reached before. I’ve even got enough to cut for the house while leaving sufficient baubles in the border. Sarah, you spoil us. 🌸💕 #thepinkstagram #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko45mm #peonies #peonyperfection
Pause. Let me pause the year, just here, a while. While foxgloves are fresh, and the paeonies in bloom. While the rose is in her fullest, first flush, and the faint memory of spring still lingers on the morning air. Time yet for bright sun, warm evenings, big daisies, seeds...all that to come. For now, let’s just rest here a while. 🌸🌹 Is it just me getting old, or is this year motoring by with indecent haste? It seems more important than ever to sink into each moment, and get away from the phone (the irony’s not lost on me as write!). There’s daylight to suck up and, much as I love my sleep and function so much better well-rested (who doesn’t), I don’t want to miss any of it. Today will be a day of sniffing roses. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #savourtheseasonalshift #flowersgivemepower #peonies #peonyperfection
...though hardy geraniums and astrantias managed to muscle in on the action, albeit in a supporting role. Less ostentations, more dependable, I’d say.
Between us I think we’ve decided that this geranium is the purple cranesbill, Geranium x magnificum (it popped up on my grid a few days ago and some of you were particularly helpful with the ID when I confessed I’d forgotten what I’d planted!). Along with several other varieties, it’s been brightening up my garden with its luminous violet petals since May – not showy, not demanding, just reliably getting on with it. High maintenance divas are all very well in their moment, but there’s a lot to be said for surrounding yourself with reliable characters who add beauty to your world. 💜💙💚 ✨ #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #savourtheseasonalshift
Is there such a thing as “too pink”? Asking for a friend. 🌸💕 This is the first year the #astrantia have deigned to come back – I’ve discovered they’re easily insulted by competition (mostly alpine strawberries and wood avens in this bed) and will flounce off over winter, at least while getting established. Maybe they also like their new home with the paeony? #thepinkstagram #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #savourtheseasonalshift #peonyperfection #peonies #astrantia
My, but it’s HOT today. I’m in search of cooling tones, and these slightly past-their-best astrantia flowers over a bed of snail-nibbled Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ are fitting the bill nicely. A bit knackered, a bit dog-eared, but still somehow wonderful. Hope for us all. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
The roses seemed to be loving the hot weather...
It’s pink rose season again on my grid, though I’ll try to interrupt with the odd paeony. Year two, and they’re already bulked up considerably from last year and popping out blooms like some eccentric marshmallow machine on overdrive. Not that I’m complaining. Here’s Scepter’d Isle, along with the fabulous geranium whose deep violet petals have confettied the garden path for the past week or so. It was the first geranium I planted here, probably ten years ago, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is, nor where it came from. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko45mm #sooc
Don’t they say seven tenths of an Iceberg are supposed to be hidden below in the depths? I’m not sure if that’s true for the #rose that goes by that name (Schneewittchen in Germany), but I can confirm that the above ground parts are splendid. This is a climbing form on Shed #1 (possibly also inside it too, it’s always knocking at the window). I’ve discovered it’s fiendishly difficult to photograph in the late evening sun while retaining any detail in the petals, so I hope you get some idea of it here. Very white, very floriferous, very little trouble. If I’m being fussy, the one thing that prevents it from achieving utter gorgeousness is the leaves could be a darker green, and a tad less floppy. Oh, and the scent isn’t particularly strong. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
...and while the plants in the borders bulked up, I was left berating myself that it was now too late to do some of the jobs I’d meant to do in spring, whilst wondering how the most rickety of our sheds was still managing to stand upright.
This is the current view to Shed #1. I’m not quite sure how this particular garden structure is still standing, seeing as the holes in the roof are surpassed in magnificence only by the gaping maw in the floor, which is probably some Buffy-style hellmouth, though I’ve not seen any demonic forces emerging from the shed. Maybe they’re confounded by the Wilko’s padlock. Anyway. To the front of this (the left of the photo) is where the newish pink rose bed lives, and right now I’m staring at the spirea that’s been sitting in a pot outside the back door for almost a year now, waiting for me to remember where in the Name of Arse I thought I’d be able to squeeze it into that planting. Might have a go early tomorrow morning over coffee, should be worth a giggle. In the foreground, to the right of the fork, the eagle-eyed of you might discern the echinops that was Oh So Ready for splitting in March that, naturally, I didn’t get round to splitting. Is it just me, or are other people’s gardens full of things they meant to do but didn’t? You have to be relaxed about t, or it would drive you mad. Either that, or start keeping spreadsheets. Which amounts to the same thing. 🌱🍀🌿🍃📶📉🤪 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #myrealview #mygardenrightnow
The erigeron had a fabulous summer. Everywhere.
Surely the bane of fleas worldwide – but particularly, so the common name would suggest, in Mexico – Erigeron karvinskianus (or Mexican fleabane) is also one of the best things you can grow in and around walls and paving. My neighbour, with whom we share a (pretty revolting) block paved drive (not a big fan of the block paving, especially when it’s the colour of corned beef) is forever hoiking it out of the driveway, while I do all I can to encourage it to stay. Fabulous billowing pillows of pink and white daisies – honestly, what is not to like? Hmm? Unless you’re a Mexican flea, natch. Also, my buddy @eb_ceramics (of the awesome porcelain bud vases and groovy circular pendants) greatly enjoys intoning the Latin name. The first bit. Not the bit with “anus” on the end, she’s far too sensible to find that remotely amusing. (Pfffft...) #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenepl7 #mzuiko17mm
And, as the sun continued to beat down mercilessly with no sign of relief, I took every opportunity to spend a few moments in the shade.
Find me shady places today. I’ll happily share them with foxgloves and ferny things – just keep me out of that merciless summer sun. Actually, I have arranged spot in the shade (mostly inside a hedge) from which to work this morning. But in the afternoon, there’ll be no escaping the yellow face – I may have to warn my clients I’ll be wearing little more than an irresistibly charming smile and factor 50 while attending to their greenery. Perhaps some kind of hat would also be in order. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenepl7 #mzuiko45mm
I almost feel like a fearful misery guts waking joyfully to grey skies and a cold breeze. Almost, but not quite. I’ll be getting slowly roasted by mid-morning, so a few hours relief is welcome. In another note, the foxgloves seem to be going over now, a few more weeks while the seeds form and dry, before the merry dance through the borders can begin, swinging a rattling stem in each hand and scattering next year’s dreamy spires around me. I feel there should be music for this occasion, though can’t decide on something mystic and wonderful, or the local Morris troupe. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
Lawns turned from green to brown, and mowers were retired for several weeks – there was nothing to cut.
On the plus side, skies were blue and cloudless...
Blue sky, bright sun, no rain in sight. No hosepipe ban here either yet, though that can’t be long coming, surely? It’s all a little unsettling, if I’m honest – I can’t help wondering if I’ll be spending autumn ankle deep in mud while biblical rains beat down upon me. The joys of climate change – Mother Nature, of course, will adapt. She won’t – quite rightly – take any account of us, though. Let’s hope she’s in a forgiving mood. #blessedbe 🙏🏼✨🌿 Althaea cannabina in the photo. It’s the most wafty of wafty, diaphanous plants you could wish for – makes Verbena bonariensis look almost pedestrian. Much taller too – I think this is currently about eight feet high. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
...and by midsummer, the big daisies and prairie plants were making the most of the strong light.
It may have been an effect of yesterday’s heat, but I could have sworn I was surrounded by chocolate truffles with orange fondant decoration, dusted with the finest grating of tangerine zest. Managed to realise it was only the helenium flowers entering the next stage of their gorgeousness, just in time to prevent my taking a bite out of one, but still... Hoping for slightly cooler conditions today, this constant hot fug is making me feel punch drunk. 🍊✨ #bigdaisytime #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko45mm #RHSPhotoComp
Yellow gets a bad rap in the garden. I’ve a sneaking suspicion that it’s because it reminds us of weeds, and we’ve been programmed to think that dandelions are BAD (they’re not). In summer, some of my favourite yellows appear, and these rudbeckias are leading the way in the prairie garden just now. More crazy daisies for #bigdaisytime. 🌼💚 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko45mm
Alright, officer...it’s a fair cop. This shot is from last week, and some of the colours have faded a little since then (the veronicastrum went over super fast, the heleniums fading now). But I’m not NOT going to share this bonkers sweet shop of a view because it might be slightly less than Insta. Tardigram? We all do it. Victimless crime. Ok, I’ll tell that to the judge. Meanwhile, we’re off to the fabulous @sussexprairies later today, in the hope that there’s still some colour left there. Bill’s coming too, as it’s a rare dog friendly garden – he’s going to love it. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko45mm
In all honesty, it was a little too hot and dry, and even those summer perennials you’d have thought would relish the conditions were showing signs of heat stress, demanding extra irrigation, or just going to seed faster than usual. By the time August arrived, the worst of the drought conditions had passed, the rain returned, and grey skies settled in. Traditional bank holiday weather. And with the appearance of zinnias...
Something a little mother and child about this image, don’t you think? Or am I just imagining things? Quite probably. Anyway. Zinnia ‘Queen Red Lime’ which, in all honesty, is a fascinating stonker of a flower to grow – first time here, from seed (not too tricky). Slugs have been kind to it, interestingly, but that may have been due to the prolonged dry spell. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more photos of this over the next few weeks. If you’re lucky, I might even get one in focus. #skilz #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
...it seemed we might even begin to think about a change in the seasons.
Not quite autumn. This is a view of the wheelbarrow this morning. Not very summery, is it? @hardysplants was asking on Twitter at what date do people consider Autumn to have begun? It’s not even September yet, and much of what we’re seeing in terms of fruit and leaf drop is the result of heat stress. But underneath all this, as much as many remain in denial (and who really wants to say goodbye to the daylight?), the transition from summer Ito autumn begins this month. Not there for a good few weeks, though. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko17mm
But whether you prefer to think of this time as high summer, or early autumn, the end of the summer holidays brings harvest, and fruit begins to swell and blush on branch and vine.
Oh, the crumbles we shall have. It’s cold, clear and bright this morning. I’m actually considering lighting a fire, my mind turning to the copious amount of ash that needs logging, hidden in one of the flower beds. The garden is calling, and I’ve not even had coffee yet. And I’ve just remembered I baked cookies last night, and even left some for this morning! It’s going to be a good weekend. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #impressionsofautumn #thisautumnlife
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but HOW GOOD DO HOME GROWN TOMATOES TASTE??!! Omnomnomnom... The whitefly are less scrummy. But the advantage, I’ve observed, of having tomatoes in your greenhouse, is that they attract all the whitefly away from your pelargoniums! Anyway, that’s what SB Plant Invigorator is for. Sun on the way today, so I’m hoping to have more delicious ripe, red toms. But looking at the forecast going forward, can’t help wondering how much green tomato chutney there’s going to be this year! #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare
And even, down on the shingle by the shore line.
Big fat red hips on Rosa rugosa, perfectly at home here above the shingle at Camber sands. In its native Asia, it’s often to be found romping away on sand dunes, and the harsh environment by the sea bothers it not a jot. Perhaps the strong winds cause it to hunker down and hug the ground, but it’s healthy and happy, and seemingly deep in conversation with an equally tough-leaved blue-green sea kale. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenepl7 #mzuiko17mm
The beginning of September sees the start of meteorological autumn. Is summer done with us? Perhaps not quite yet.
I’m so glad I made time last week to get down to the @the_rhs gardens in Wisley while the sun was shining. Having a look back through the photos is proving just the thing for a gloomy bank holiday Monday. I’d gone in particular for the exotic garden and the dahlias, but also with the intention of snagging some cake while I looked through the contents of my camera. What I hadn’t bargained on was this cracking view back to the laboratory building from the end of the new wisteria walk, which was planted with fabulous cosmos along its entire length. And you know how I love a big daisy – add in some ferny foliage and I’m sold! Particularly as in all the zinnia growing excitement, I somehow neglected to sow any of my own cosmos this year. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #olympuspenf #mzuiko17mm #rhsphotocomp
And while there are still dahlias, there’s hope, and light.
How have you found summer in your garden – gloriously hot, or suffocatingly dry? I’d love to hear, either on twitter, or in the comments below.
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Hello! I’m Andrew, gardener, writer, photographer, and owner of a too-loud laugh, and I’m so pleased you’ve found your way to Gardens, weeds & words. You can read a more in-depth profile of me on the About page, or by clicking this image.