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Fruit but few flowers

July has turned out to be rather a dull time in my evolving garden, I will have to get some more plants which bloom at this time of year. I think the problem stems from my focus on plants which look good off-season; the result is that I've rather neglected summer flowering staples. I do have some buddleja, salvia, fuchsias and hydrangeas all of which are flowering but they are widely dispersed and overall the garden looks quite bare.

The kitchen garden, however, has been doing well. At the beginning of the month I enjoyed blueberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries and later on I was harvesting tomatoes, potatoes and runner beans. I've still got plenty of the last three to go, and signs are good for courgettes, raspberries, blackberries and elderberries in the next few months.

Top to bottom and left to right: tomato plants, tomatoes, runner beans, potatoes, courgette flowers, blueberries, gooseberries

Did you know that you can eat courgette flowers? Male flowers are the more showy, they grow on stems rather than immature fruit, but you can also eat female flowers with the young fruit attached if you want. Find out more here:

One vegetable was a bit of a dissapointment. My daughter had spotted a road-side stall selling "kale" plants and snapped up a few for me. Unfortunately, as they matured I realised they were actually sea kale rather than the more common vegetable related to the cabbage. The young shoots and leaves of sea kale can be eaten but they become bitter as they age and I didn't realise what they plants were early enough to make use of them.

This year I've planted my carrots in tall bags full of very sandy compost, as they don't grow well in my garden's clay soil. I've interspersed them with garlic chives (as shown below) because I've read that the smell of the latter confuses carrot fly and so far this seems to be working. A lot of the seeds failed to germinate however so I don't think I'm in for a particularly good crop.

During this month I had to say goodbye to my miniature model village (see The laundry basket I used for it was made of wicker which, as you can see below, biodegraded over the past couple of years. I've kept the models and for the time being they're sitting on top of a garden table until I decide what to do with them. Most of the plants had died but I rescued some cuttings from the succulents which are now planted in containers to see how they get on.

I really hate bare walls in gardens, particularly modern red brick ones, to my mind they make the garden look like a 1970s university campus. I do my best to cover them with greenery which has tended to mean English ivy up to now because it grows so well and is easy to look after. As explained in my April post ( however I've been having some problems with it this year and have reluctantly removed this from parts of my garden walls. On one side the wall is in a sunny area so I've I've erected trellis along its length and planted a selection of climbing shrubs. Luckily that part of the garden is fairly sunny so hopefully they will soon get established and in due course it will again be bursting with greenery.

On the other side it's a different story. That part of the garden is in very dry, deep shade due to a combination of the wall itself and a huge Monterey Cypress tree in my neighbour's garden; the latter also contains compounds which inhibit growth beneath its canopy. I've tried and failed to establish numerous plants in this area but the only thing which seems to grow is ivy, which should be fine because the wall's in good condition, but my neighbour hates it. There is hope in sight, however: quite by chance a stray bit of euonymous started making its way up a trellis on which I'd unsuccessfully attempted to grow a climbing solanum. So I've removed some of the ivy, erected more trellis and transplanted some small euonymous shrubs from elsewhere in the garden. Euonymous is generally happy in shade so if I manage to get it to grow I'll gradually replace the ivy with this plant, which will hopefully keep both me and my neighbour happy.

Left: trellis affixed to wall, waiting to be covered by young plants. Right: if this euonymous grows I'll try it out under our neighbour's Monterey Cypress tree in the hope of replacing the ivy currently growing there.


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