So what has been good about this summer's non-show summer and continuous rain? I planted new roses and hydrangeas in spring and these have bedded in nicely. Bare root trees have thrived. Umm. Full stop! Or perhaps there have been other positives, it has certainly taught me some lessons about trying to sow more in autumn rather than relying on spring sowings which completely failed.
Yes, I confess that outside spring sowings failed completely - from thousands of seeds (larkspur, ammis, corncockle, cosmos, zinnias, statice, bupleurum, dill, gypsophila, scabious galore, asters, and the rest) I believe we had nine white corncockle plants outside! Not the best ratio. Very little germinated and if it did get that far it got slugged and I am too reluctant with slug pellets. Then there were the later sunflowers. Again, thousands went in. I haven't seen a single one reach more than the earliest seedling stage. But this time it was the pigeons - they sat in the oak trees and waited and watched, and dialled all their friends to tell them it was baby sunflower time.
Oh yes and actually most autumn sowings rotted off too but some survived. The tunnel came up trumps for crops of stocks and larkspur, so much so that I did briefly fantasise about more tunnels but have disregarded the idea as I do not want to grow in tunnels, it's such a different thing.
The rain hasn't stunted the perennials which have largely thrived, but have often been impossible to pick because the flowers have been too rain damaged or the plants have lain down on the ground in submission. Or we haven't been able to reach them for the overgrowth of weeds, I was vaguely amused to hear radio commentators this week telling me it has been an excellent year for brambles, nettles and goosegrass, they really don't need to tell me, four of us spent a whole day trying to banish goosegrass a couple of weeks ago and my happy tunnel vision hasn't got as far as the brambles yet.
But despite it all there are flowers aplenty, I am terrifically impressed with the stalwartness of lots of my flowers, they really do put in that extra effort and are getting out there and they do still make up into the most lovely bouquets and arrangements. It is just taking a whole lot more effort than usual, on their part and mine as I have to employ far more people to try to control weeds (and falling far short of success) and I have to watch the weather forecasts like the proverbial hawk in order to catch the right time to pick so flowers have a chance to go the distance without being damaged by the weather.
If I had started the business in a year like this one I probably wouldn't have continued long as it has genuinely been a bit dispiriting, but on the other hand it is such a total joy to get a good day (like today) when we can really crack on and this evening I picked bucket loads of glorious blooms, including some of my favourite scabious varieties, eryngiums, sanguisorbas, francoa, trollius, catanaches, centaurea macropetala, phlox, stocks, nepetas, ammi, bupleurum, hydrangea, asters (already!), monarda, sage, sweet pea..... And now it is raining again.
I hope it may stay dry enough to get the rotovator out for only the second time this year, I am going to try some really late sowings and see if they come to bloom for a lovely autumn show. I feel sure they will. And the second sowings of annuals are doing Ok now, though we have lost a lot to the dreaded slugs - even though I did concede I had to buy some slug pellets I seem pathologically unable to use them efficiently.
I'm sure I have learnt a lot from it all. And I do still so love my flowers.