Monday, 10 August 2009
Last week the weather was so wet that I took one day out from the mud and desecration to go to the wholesale nursery and choose some shrubs and foliage plants, both of which I am desperately short of. I am still slightly limited in what I can grow here but the hedge in the field is just beginning to provide a little shelter, and I am now fairly confident that I can grow slightly less robust species in the top garden between cottage garden and field. I have tried various artemisias with little success so far but am having one last go as their grey fluffy or serrated foliage is so good for some wedding arrangements, and I particularly like Powis Castle which is probably the hardiest even though I have lost several in different spots. I am also stocking up on basics such as various euonymus, physocarpus, loniceras and viburnums, and couldn't resist a few berrying treasures optimistically hoping I'll get there before the birds! I stumbled over the lovely lemon scented nepeta so carried home quite a few of those to try, the scent is similar but to my mind even more evocative than the lemoniest geranium leaf. Quite heavenly.
And of course as soon as I got things home that really need to be in the ground the rain stopped and the sun came out. I must remember that trick to change the weather in future!
Cosmos is finally thriving, better late than never and it means I'll have lots very late in the season, but one patch in the main designated annual area is failing, as soon as the flowers open they crisp up and fold. The variety is Psyche, I haven't grown it before and can't imagine what the problem is. I shall use the feathery foliage instead if the flowers continue to fail, it is a good green and pretty texture and can be lovely in bouquets, giving off the distinctive cosmos scent. Another thing that is thriving is amaranth. I'm not at all sure whether I like them or not, slightly too brash perhaps but the green one is interesting - I think! Stokesia is not quite what I was expecting, never having sown it before. I'm not at all sure I like that either....
But I do love cornflowers, the traditional blue ones are past their best in a couple of areas but I have lots of white, pale blue and black ones coming on now so they should last well into the autumn. I also love scabious and the seed heads of ping pong are as pretty as the (short lived) flowers. I seem unable to get S. caucasica or any of its forms thriving in the field, I don't know why but it never really comes back which is a shame as the form is so attractive, and perfect for bouquets and for buttonholes.
The different pinks of achilleas are stunning now, and I have some excellent dark red dahlias, some lovely deep pink ones, and some very marginal tomato red pom poms which i can't believe I ordered, I was expecting something pink and white. That can be the problem with using the cheap large sellers, the varieties are not always at all reliable but I shall probably persevere as it is not that important for me if something clashes, unlike in a more conventional garden where design plays a larger part.
I sent off a package to the north of Scotland today, the very limit of the next day posting service. I shall be interested to hear if it does get there tomorrow. People knock the reliability of Royal Mail but I have nothing but praise for the service, Special Delivery has been incredibly reliable and it's still a wonder to me that something I send off from here will arrive in northern Ireland or western Scotland the next day. But they do get there. Invariably. And my local Post Office is fantastic, they have even opened several times on their half day specially so I could send off bulk orders. While other couriers wouldn't even quote me when I started as they considered me too small fry.
On that track, I was rather fed up last week when I went to the box for one of the two remaining rolls of cellophane (biodegradeable, not plastics based) to pull it out and find it was not cellophane but black plastic film, as was the last roll. I phoned up the supplier who asked if I had not checked the order when it arrived. I said that I had done so but hadn't bothered to pull out all three rolls from this final box as I assumed if one was right the others would be. The woman on the other end of the phone first tried to tell me that the cellophane would go black if it was kept in a damp shed (It wouldn't. It wasn't). Then refused to exchange the faulty goods as I hadn't complained within 7 days of receiving the original order. Even though she did admit it must have been their fault. She wouldn't even take the film back although i cannot use it and actually don't know what to do with it, it is definitely far from eco and quite hideous.I have bought all my florist supplies from this wholesaler since I started, I'm quite sure I'm not one of their smallest customers, but they have lost me now.
Pat the not-so-young WWOOFer left on Friday, and I haven't any others lined up for the moment. It's interesting, having volunteers, but next year I shall be more prescriptive with whom I would like to have here. It's great having interesting young people, and great that they try it, but I have realised that what I really need at the moment is not an interesting cultural exchange but independence, enthusiasm and muscle!