In a Vase on Monday: one last hurrah


Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’ (Mexican sunflower) has been the stand-out annual in our garden this year. When I sowed the seeds back in April I had no idea what orangey gloriousness was in store for us. I planted out about 10
1ft-high plants in June and they took a while to get going but, once they settled down, they romped away – one of them by the back wall grew to over 7ft tall – and they have been flowering profusely since July. The flowers are a most intense satsuma-like orange and the bees and hover flies have absolutely loved them. I’ll definitely sow more next year.

This jugful is the last of the blooms – I cut down and pulled out the plants yesterday. The wind and rain this past week have taken their toll and it was time to say goodbye. I chopped them up and added them to the compost heap but saved these flowers to brighten up the kitchen table and so I could join in with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. She has been producing lovely vases of flowers every Monday for two years and many bloggers from around the world have joined in. The links to many gorgeous displays are on her blog.


October garden


I am ignoring the rugby (England v Australia) which is currently on in the other room. My boys have just left the room in disgust. It’s just too much
to bear.

So… It’s been a glorious week, weather-wise. There was a keen wind here on the south-east coast earlier in the week but the days have been sunny and lovely and warm in sheltered spots. Yesterday, the wind dropped and I threw open the doors and windows to listen to the birds singing and fill the house with fresh sea air. Gorgeous.

There is still quite a lot going on in the garden and loads of jobs to do.

The self-sown marigolds are looking jewel-like with the dark purple nicotiana.
The self-sown marigolds are looking jewel-like with the dark purple nicotiana. This really is one of my favourite colour combinations.  I hoiked out the marigolds (calendula) this afternoon as they have somewhat swamped the other planting and I want to see where all the perennials are and fill the gaps. The planting here was rather thrown together for the Garden Safari back in June and I’d like to give it more thought.
The Tithonias are still flowering their socks off and providing welcome autumn nectar for bees and hoverflies. I’ll keep deadheading them and see how long they last.
Our autumn raspberries are laden with fruit. 'Joan-J' is the stand-out variety with large, well-formed delicious fruit. The 'Autumn Bliss' canes, while just as prolific, have smaller, less tasty fruit.
Our autumn raspberries are laden with fruit. ‘Joan-J’ is the stand-out variety for me with its large, well-formed delicious fruit. The ‘Autumn Bliss’ canes, while just as prolific, have smaller, less tasty fruit (in my opinion!). I’m picking about half a colander-full of raspberries every other day at the moment (some don’t make it into the colander) and we’ve been enjoying them with Greek yogurt. 
The border along the back wall needs a good weed and tidy but it's still colourful.
The border along the back wall needs a good sort out but it’s still looking lush.
This pretty clump of pink Japanese anemones is on one side of the front steps and a large swathe of white ones is on the other side. The whites are much more invasive and have started to creep across the steps to join their mates.
One of our two cats – Alfie – posing for the camera. Those meddlesome white anemones are in the foreground. The Erigeron on the steps has been flowering non-stop since April.
Erigeron is also growing in the back garden wall. This plant can spread itself all over the garden if it wants to. I love it.
The wilderness at the bottom of the front garden. We sowed chalk grassland wildflower seeds here in May but there are too many weeds that have out-competed the wild flowers. Some, such as the ox-eye daisies, have come up though. It's a tricky area and we need to rethink it.
The wilderness at the bottom of the front garden – we sowed chalk grassland wildflower seeds here in May. Unfortunately we didn’t do a thorough enough job of clearing beforehand and too many weeds out-competed the wild flowers. Some, such as the ox-eye daisies, have come up though.
The climbing rose (unknown variety) at the front of the house has been flowering since May.
The climbing rose (unknown variety) at the front of the house has been flowering since May. You can just see the lavender in the background – it’s put on sturdy new growth since its hard cut at the end of August (phew).
Cassie has been enjoying the autumn sunshine too.
Cassie has also been enjoying the autumn sunshine.

Wishing you all a good rest of the weekend, with plenty of sunshine and relaxation wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

School’s out for six weeks…

Tithonia (my current favourite flower in the garden), sweet peas and Setaria ‘Lowlander’.


The long summer school holiday is finally here. Last week was a round of school performances, farewell assemblies, farewell gatherings and, well, farewells. For my daughter (and me) it was all A Bit Much. So we’ve had a few days of being quite lazy – we’ve pottered in the garden, taken the dog for walks, been to the cinema and watched far too much tv ( the weather has not been enticing us outside). We are not going away this year, so we have the challenge of fulfilling the differing expectations of two teenage boys and an 11-year-old girl while getting the things done we need to do.

The eldest boy (15) rises late and tries to avoid family contact until he wants a lift to the station or a conversation about his various social engagements. We are trying to enthuse him about potential family days out or camping trips. (‘What?! There’ll be no wifi!’) My middle child (13) has his own fitness regime all planned out (he’s been out running – with the dog!) and has embarked on various artistic endeavours. I am totally impressed by this. He can teach me a thing or two about motivation and is quite determined when he sets his mind to something.

photo 2
My son is part-way through an acrylic painting of rudbeckias. He took the photo below and transferred it to my iPad so he had it close at hand for reference. I love his bold brushstrokes and colour mixes.

This is the photo he's copying from.

My daughter has been trying to get us organised. She has made a ‘Summer Holidays’ wall calendar and we’ve been making plans. Other than that she’s been helping me in the garden (a little) and painting her nails (a lot).

photo 1
A handful of recent pickings from the garden. The tomatoes and autumn raspberries are starting to ripen, the strawberries are nearly over and this is the first cucumber. I’m pretty chuffed with this and probably picked it a little too soon (it was delicious though).

Here’s to some sunshine, warmth and happy days ahead.



A few happy things for a Friday

A mug of mid-morning coffee is definitely one of my daily pleasures. Proper coffee from the filter machine, fairly strong with a dash of milk, no sugar. Ahh, that’s better. Oh, and some toast. To keep me going until lunchtime.


This is a photo of me on the left, my mum with my brother. You can see that he wasn’t too keen on having his photo taken. I’ve often wondered what my mum was saying… My dad was the photographer. I was about 6 and my brother about 2, so it was taken in the early 1970s. This is one of a very few photos I have from my childhood – it’s tucked it in a mirror frame and it makes me smile when I look at it. And the sweetpeas – I am especially fond of these sweetpeas from our garden that fill the room with their delicious scent. It’s such a treat to be able to go out to the garden and cut them every few days.


The Tithonia has started to bloom. The colour is completely stand-out and looks fabulous with the large, dark-green leaves. I’m really delighted with these plants as I raised them from seed sown in March. They are about 1m tall and stand proudly at the back of the border. The flowers are good for pollinating insects – I managed to snap this one with a hoverfly on it.


Our tomatoes are ripening. We have eight plants of two cherry varieties – Sungold and Gardener’s Delight – and they’ve grown very tall with lots of fruiting trusses. There’s nothing quite like the taste of a home-grown tomato fresh from the vine but I suspect we might be sick of tomatoes by the end of the summer.


Do you remember the pot-bound agapanthus that we cut into quarters and planted in the border? Well, here it is. It survived the hatchet-job and is flowering. There are only two flowers so far but that’s better than none and suggests it’s not too cross, thank goodness.


The achilleas are still going strong. I can’t remember the name of this variety but it’s a gorgeous, cheery colour.


Finally, here’s Cassie, worn-out after a good, long walk this morning. She’s usually curled up like a cat on this chair because she’s too long-legged to stretch out on it properly.

Oops. I’m supposed to be working on something… Back to it!
Wishing you a very good weekend.