Midsummer in Barbara’s Back Yard
It’s June and I have finally managed to replant the hanging baskets with petunias and fuchsias – bought this year – geranium cuttings overwintered in the conservatory – and Busy Lizzies (Impatiens) bought online as plug plants and planted out into pots when they arrived. Couldn’t get any lobelia so used Mexican Fleabane (Erigeron Karvinskianus) instead – it’s a mass of tiny white daisies and grows anywhere.
Last year I split up the Oriental Poppies and planted some on the rockery. They have been absolutely stunning in the recent sunshine – poppies always make me think of Enid Blyton’s story of Greencaps the Goblin who made caps for the poppies to protect their buds – and Cicely Mary Barker’s poem describing the seedheads ‘poppies with their pepperpots…’
A few years ago, an adjoining field was left wild. People complained because it was full of thistles and ragwort – but there were also some really lovely wild flowers – pink campion, wild roses, white dead nettle – all of which relocated over the hedge and now grow in our field. They do of course go a bit wild so you have to cut a lot of them down before they seed but I love the variety of wild flowers.
Last year I bought a packet of wild flower seed – not a lot of them germinated but the knapweed, ox-eye daisies and bedstraw have regrown this year and have been really beautiful. Ox-eye daisies make excellent cut flowers – fresh, simple, and they last for ages.
There’s a Broom bush (Cytisus) which has seeded itself in the big field and has been truly magnificent this year. I love Broom and my Dad bought me an orange version from a garden centre which I planted by the hen house.
Unfortunately it got blown over one winter and died but I found a seedling in the polytunnel – absolutely no idea how it got there – so I replanted it by the hedge and, to my amazement – it has turned out to be a beautiful variegated version.
The foxgloves are just coming out. My aunt told me the story of how the fairies hide their dancing shoes in the foxgloves but – according to Enid Blyton – they hide them in the white dead-nettle flowers so the mice can’t steal them!
The fields have had a haircut – they look so different shaved of grass. Good job they don’t need to go to a hairdresser, we’ve all had home hair-cuts this summer – and all the men have grown beards! Farming is something that will not wait for anything – life goes on and haymaking is only restricted by the weather. The little wild field has not been cut – it’s left to its own devices most of the time and provides a wonderful habitat for voles and mice – it’s full of butterflies in the summer – they love the bird’s foot trefoil and ragwort – as well as the not-so-wild buddleia.
The herb garden has excelled this year – and the bees love it – all the purple flowers – chives, hyssop, rosemary, marjoram, sage, thyme. And I keep finding different uses for them – lovage soup was not very successful – but adding some angelica when stewing rhubarb makes it sweeter – so you don’t need as much sugar.
Today I finally finished weeding the herb garden – planned for last week but then the heavens opened! Started early because it’s so warm – and had a lovely time. Took me two hours but during the morning, apart from bees and butterflies, I saw ladybirds, damselflies, a big dragonfly, a green shield bug, a beautiful red and black cinnabar moth – and then a toad crawled out of the chives and disappeared into the angelica. I don’t mind toads, they crawl, frogs hop and make me jump. The herb garden is near the wild pond, full of yellow flag irises at the moment and surrounded by wild roses and honeysuckle.
A lovely morning topped off with some home-made elderflower champagne!