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Great Haseley and District Horticultural Society - Junel 2017

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The garden looks very different from last year at this time when it was a very cold late spring and a Malus flowered a full two weeks later than it had done for the last 20 years since we planted it.

This year it has flowered a full two weeks early.  We have had a very dry spring and all our water butts were empty when we left 10 days ago for a week of walking on the Costa Blanca in Spain.  It is unusual for us to be away at this time of year when our garden and greenhouse are full of plants being prepared for the fete.  Many thanks to Wendy for taking care of things for us.

We arrived back a week later to a tropical jungle as a result of vast amounts of rain; it has made such a difference to everything.  Plants are growing well, being lush and green – so lovely to see.  Flowering for a lot of plants is well ahead.  The sweet rocket spread around is in full flower and looking magnificent in white and shades of mauve and roses, peonies and irises are opening and everywhere is so full of greenery that the weeds are going to struggle now which is always a relief!  The fragrance of perennial stock wafts around when the sun shines.  It is blissful.  A couple of weeks ago there was a very heavy frost which has caused a lot of damage to the English vineyards and also caught the new growth on our Clematis montana ‘Elizabeth’.  She looks very sorry for herself and, as there is a lot of old, tangled growth on her, we are taking the opportunity to cut it all away and allow it to regrow from the base.  This regrowth may take some time and we do not expect any flowers next year, but this is an opportunity not to be missed and she looks a mess in her current state.  It also allows us to cut away a winter flowering jasmine which has suckered horribly along the same wall and yet bears very little flower.  It is simply not worth the space it occupies.  The frost also caught Rhododendron fragrantissima and there has been no flower this year which is very sad, but just one of those things; I should have covered it with fleece.

Elsewhere, in the meadow, which was cracked and dry when we left, the growth has been phenomenal and there is a yellow carpet of buttercup and yellow rattle which is a huge pleasure to see.  I have found one patch of cuckoo flower where we have not seen it before.  This is not a plant we have sowed, but it appears sporadically in the wetter areas, but only in some years.  The buttercups are normally more spread out in their flowering time and we have not had such a carpet before.  Sadly, I still can’t see any evidence of orchids, but I am ever hopeful that they will appear one year.

Heavy rain following drought stimulates plants to grow flower and set seed quickly. There are some beautiful photos on the internet of the Californian desert where there are magnificent carpets of flowers for this reason.  On the Costa Blanca, we walked through lovely hillsides of grasses and wild flowers where there were many orchids of different species.  There were few people walking as it was hot, but the trails are well marked and easy to follow.  I don’t know if this is usual for the time of year, but the winter, as we all know, has been unkind to the Spanish farmers with cold and large amounts of rain so I wonder if this wonderful floral sight is later than usual?

Liz Moyses

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