Time for another garden post. Two weeks ago I mentioned the unusually late spring we’ve been having. Well, summer is now officially here – with the help of 20,000 druids camped out at Stonehenge to see in the Summer Solstice – and the garden is blooming.
The picture on the left is our new acacia. I wasn’t expecting it to start flowering this early – it’s only about 3 years old. Note the colour of the flowers. I’ve always thought that the acacia was an ‘almost’ tree. It’s sparse branches and pea-like leaves gives it an elegant, graceful look. It’s a good-sized tree. Come May, it’s covered in an abundance of flowers. But … you can hardly see them as the contrast between the light green foliage and the muted off white flowers isn’t enough. If only there was an acacia with red flowers!
Well here it is.
Another tree I’ve always thought would benefit from a splash of colour is the horse chestnut. Our common horse chestnut – much sought after by small boys for conkers – has prominent panicles of white flowers. Here’s the red version we planted ten years ago. Living in the sheep field, it needs protection against the woollies who will bark it, and push against it whenever they need a scratching post.
And to redress the balance for white flowers, here’s the climbing hydrangea I mentioned two weeks ago. Yes that’s the gable wall of a large barn it’s climbing. It’s enormous, and covered in florets of small white flowers. The bees love it and the smell of cinnamon from the flowers can be smelled from fifteen feet away. It smells like you’re walking past a hot cross bun factory.
Finally, here’s our vegetable garden. Foreground left we have perpetual celery and tarragon in front of our carrot cloche. We cover the carrot bed in spring to deter carrot fly. Unfortunately it attracts cats, who view the tunnel as a spa for cats and the roof as a cat hammock. It’s a toss up which is the biggest pest – the carrot fly or the cats!
Foreground right we have gooseberries (red and green). Middle left we have our runner beans and their climbing frame (cut from the hedge last year). Then come the lines of peas, and on the right is our currant bed – blackcurrants and whitecurrants. The red currants are in a further bed out of shot.
Further back we have our brassica bed then the line of tomatoes (you can see the wooden stakes. Behind that are our potatoes, then the sweet corn and finally the hedge of raspberries. Behind that are our onions, garlic, asparagus, strawberries and kiwis.
If it ever stops raining it looks like being a good year – late but bountiful.
Chris Dolley is a NY Times bestselling author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novelette, What Ho, Automaton! was a finalist for the 2012 WSFA Small Press Award for short fiction. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf . An Unsafe Pair of Hands – a quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand? Medium Dead – a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen. What Ho, Automaton! – Wodehouse Steampunk. Follow the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves. It’s set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins! French Fried – the international bestseller – true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell. International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth? Resonance – “This is one of the most original new science fiction books I have ever read. If it is as big a hit as it deserves, it may well be this book which becomes the standard by which SF stories about … are judged.”