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Great Haseley and District Horticultural Society - October 2018

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The lack of rain this summer is still making its presence felt in the garden.

While there has been the occasional spot of rain, there has not been enough to properly wet the ground and we are continuing to lose plants.

We survived an ill-chosen holiday in Spain in August in the extreme heat with our children and grandchildren.  Even the locals were suffering and I started to fantasise about the cold wet week we had spent in Sidmouth on our previous family holiday which is why we were in Spain!  On our return, we found the garden very dry and, much to my surprise, all my Hebes were completely dead and brown; these are now out leaving yet more gaps and I think the garden will look very different next summer.  I had not realised they were drought sensitive as they looked healthy and well when we left.

In the vegetable garden, we have had great success with carrots which we have grown in old bath tubs, a filing cabinet on its back and the old hot tub.  We have watered these and have been rewarded with large sweet roots.  The climbing French beans seem to have given up much earlier than usual, though.  Onions are looking great and we have masses of aubergines on a plant I picked up in a garden centre and simply put in the bed in the man-greenhouse.  The plant was riddled with red spider mite such that it seemed to have minimal functioning green tissue and yet still it formed huge fruits; I’ve no idea how.  I need to sow some spinach which should give an early spring crop and I will try some elephant garlic this year.
Red spider mite has been a big issue this summer for a lot of people and the heat and dry have meant it has also flourished outside, particularly on Dahlias according to gardening friends which have not performed well this year.  My Salvias have also not performed well and are generally much later flowering and I don’t understand why.  On Sunday I visited a garden in Bagshot devoted almost entirely to Salvias (for those of you who are RHS members there is an article about this garden in the September issue of The Garden).  The garden was beautiful, but it has been a difficult summer with daily watering required and many plants being up to six weeks later flowering than usual.  The owner commented that no amount of irrigation made up for lack of rain; somehow tap water just doesn’t do the job.  I would agree with that sentiment.

The other pest which is prominent in our garden is capsid bug which seems impossible to control without spraying which I am becoming less and less inclined to do. The Salvias have grown through it, but not so the tender Fuchsias which are only just starting to flower.  I fear they may have to go.

Our compost heaps, of which there are four, are simply heaps which are periodically turned by my other half.  They are relatively cool heaps so seed is not killed and we have to be very careful what we put on them and they take several years to rot down enough to use.  One heap has produced a rather wonderful array of flowering plants including massive Nicotiana sylvestris with its huge leaves and white flowers.  This is not quite the result we were aiming for, but they really have been gorgeous and we haven’t had the heart to remove these plants as the seed is tiny and I find them hard to grow.  In the past I have bought in small plants and they do freely seed in the garden, but generally too late to reach proper flowering size so this has been a real treat!  I cannot recommend enough making the effort to make compost.  All our new plants are planted in it with a helping of mycorrhyzal fungi and it definitely absorbs water and makes them more drought tolerant which seems to be becoming more important as the years go by.

I am certainly appreciating the cooler weather, but really look forward to some proper rain.  Why are we never happy with what we have got?

Liz Moyses

For membership details (cost only £5 per family per year), please contact the membership secretary, Carys Lindsay
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