Arthur's Blog: 18th August

18th August 2015

Arthur's Blog: 18th August

August can be a month where the garden feels tired – the lushness of the spring green has long since gone, and it takes a good knowledge of planting combinations to ensure a full and rich feeling. I’ve grown just enough plants to keep the garden looking full – but only by a whisker. The raised beds are thirsty for water, so watering and feeding of the beds is key to success. They will need a good sprinkling of manure come the winter.

The courtyard garden at least seems to be brimming with single-flowering nectar rich blooms, and looks none the worse for choosing such varieties as opposed to more gaudy and traditional summer bedding plants. As well as being great for insects, they are also good as cut flowers, and are to be seen in vases all over the shop and café.

One of the best and easiest plants to grow for bees, moths and butterflies is Buddleia davidii. It is often forgotten about by gardeners, seen as a weedy thug adorning derelict buildings, railway embankments, walls and wasteland in almost every part of the UK. Across the road from the factory is the site of a long-demolished building – only its foundations remain, and here the Buddleia has flourished. Self-seeded into every nook and cranny, at the time of writing it is in full heady height of violet, indigo and white bloom. Some of the flower tassels are huge, made up of thousands of individual little flowers, each one of which is packed full of nectar.

For the past few weeks I've been picking them to use in the shops as well as at the Collectors Club Days. They smell beautiful, though sadly last only 3 days (despite putting their stem ends into boiling water for 30 seconds to help them last longer before arranging). The cutting of these ‘wild’ Buddleias will actually help them. They are woody shrubs which just get wildly and tall if not cut, producing fewer flowers each season. This is why those in gardens are pruned hard back in late spring to ensure a good profusion of flowers each summer. You can buy dwarf Buddleias that are happy and beautiful when grown in a pot, staying at a more delicate and manageable size but still just as good a magnet to pollinators. Larger garden cultivars include the white and my favourite, the deep blackcurrant-jam- blooming ‘Black Knight'.

The sweet peas have begun to slow down now, with the flower stems getting shorter week by week and the leaves losing their vigour, often succumbing to mildew – especially if they are stressed though lack of water. I have replaced them on one wigwam with Cobaea scandens. Cobaea is like a morning glory on steroids, and makes a good exotic cut flower. It climbs fast and should flower until the first frost.

In the greenhouse the tomatoes have started to ripen – albeit in a trickling fashion! I am sowing lots of wallflower seeds now too. These sweetly scented bi- annuals look beautiful with tulips and last well as a cut flower, so they are well worth growing despite them not currently being at their height of fashion.

Finally, Matthew and I have just finalized our list of tulip bulbs to be ordered for the factory; if you miss the boat with ordering tulips and bulbs of many kinds you don’t always get the varieties you want, so it’s worth looking at bulb catalogues now.

With very best wishes

Arthur Parkinson

18th August 2015