Nipped out in a brief break between showers to dig a few carrots for tonight’s stew.

I love the smell of fresh carrots being scrubbed in the sink – it’s one of the scent milestones of the year (following on from the glorious smell of pinching out side-shoots on tomatoes).

an hour of autumn tidying

A sunny (but chilly) spell this afternoon, and with enough painkillers I could actually use my hands properly! Front rose and scarlet sage pruned.

Tomato plants cut down (they’ll go in the once-a-year garden waste collection, as if seeds get in the compost it’s a bugger – they end up coming up everywhere!). The few remaining tomatoes are in a bowl in the kitchen, where hopefully most of them will gradually ripen.

garden bits

The delicate pink flowers of cyclamen have appeared above the creeping thyme. I’ve very fond of these – my grandparents lawn had a very large colony of them, spreading out from a flowerbed. I took some corms from them to my London flat in the mid-1980s, and thence to my first house in Worcester, and now on to my current place. After a hesitant start, they’ve settled in well and are multiplying.

Elsewhere, the green courgettes are having a bit of a break (though as there are flowers, I should have a few more if the frost holds off), but the yellow “shooting star” is still extremely prolific! And over the past two days I’ve managed to prune both espalier apples (sadly, both have developed numerous ailments, including canker and wooly mildew …)



Some three weeks ago I decided to deal with the yucca in the brass pot in the front room – it had nearly reached the ceiling.

All the books say that you can simply saw the trunk off, halfway up, and it will strike out again. If you like, you can replant the top end and it will strike roots. I must say, I was extremely doubtful!

Anyway, I went ahead. The remains of the trunk were re-potted and put outside, and the top was potted in a fairly free-draining mix.

Today, there are the first signs of life in the old trunk. yippee!

garden bits

My first real chance to get into the garden after last week’s gales and the following heavy rains.

The most urgent job was to sort out the raspberries, which had got flattened. Hardly surprising, as they are now rather over eight feet tall (these are “Joan Squire”: I wish I knew another variety that tastes good, bears prolifically when subject to a 2-crop-a-year pruning regime, but were slightly shorter!). A few berries just starting to go orange, so should be picking a bowlful early next week.

The Black Russian tomatoes, which had outgrown their stakes, have half their top third folded over by wind. I doubt the few tomatoes on the damaged bits will ripen – if there’s no sign of them doing so in the next couple of days, I’ll pick, stew, and freeze them as green tomatoes, to be added to the mix when I make green tomato chutney at the end of the season. The other two varieties have escaped damage.

In the flower garden, the gladioli suffered, so I’ve cut them off and now have them in a vase on the coffee table. Most other things seem to have survived OK.

Another batch of spinach beet has run to seed, and been pulled up. The kale has suffered insect damage – hopefully it will sort itself out! Courgettes continue, as do runner beans and chard. I’ve just planted out – about six weeks too late – the final batch of leeks, so fingers crossed for them!

The strawberries are starting another bout of flowering – sadly, the fruit will probably ripen while I’m away on the Broads in the first week of September. In the bathroom, the “peter pepper” chilli has produced four fruit, despite having been persistently covered in aphids.

The washing line runs over the lawn, so I’m waiting for washing to dry before doing the mowing and strimming. And I must have a final go at the pond pump, though I fear that it’s completely dead. I’ve had a lot of trouble with baby water-snails getting through the filter and jamming the pump solid, so I think it’s finally expired. £70 for a replacement pump/filter/UV unit, sadly, and a fair bit of grovelling about to route the electrical cable safely. The “wildflower bank” behind the pond has been flattened by storms, but I’ll leave it for another three weeks so that any possible seeds can ripen and be shed. Hopefully, the assorted plug plants and seeds I’ve put in there over the past couple of years will manage to establish themselves.

garden bits

The drumstick alliums (Allium Sphaerocephalon) have come into full bloom, and are attracting masses of bees. It makes a change – usually, it’s mainly bumble bees in my garden.

Elsewhere, the agapanthus is in full flower: an almost incandescent blue in the shade of the fence. The geranium on the patio has more flowers than I’ve ever seen on it before, and the wandflowers are nodding gracefully up by the pond. The largest tomato on the Black Russian is now the size of my fist, but only vaguely thinking about changing colour and ripening.


The first signs of colour on the tomatoes! The variety is “Latah”, which claims to be ripe in just sixty days after planting out – as I put these outside just after my birthday (so around 22nd/24th April), they’re pretty much spot on.

A fairly tasty variety, and exceedingly prolific, but even the seed catalogues admit that it’s almost impossible to prevent the plants becoming a “sprawl” … I’d actually say “messy sprawl”, though so far this year I seem to have them not too far out of control.


The “Empress of India” I put in as small plants just after I’d put up the rose arch have now started flowering. Well, one flower, anyway. In this fairly dark and somewhat shady bit of garden, it does the job of leaping out like a flame!

Hopefully, nasturtium flowers to include in salads will be not far away.