|Doin’ The Dirt was a gardening series that ran in my first blog, ‘ A Guy Called Bloke, from 2018 to 2022, when the blog closed. Willow Garden is a series exclusive to the Earthly Comforts blog only.|
|Wonderfully coloured Fuschia hanging basket.|
|It’s not been a bad summer season so far. I have known worse. It’s most assuredly been a hot season—non-stop heat. As much as l love the beautiful weather, admittedly, l have struggled constantly with the high humidity here! The sweat falls from my brow like the waves of a sticky tsunami!|
Although the Willow garden is not a south-facing garden, it is west, so most of the garden is under direct heat in high summer from 10 am to 6 pm, although earlier can also prove to be uncomfortable working weather as well.
I remember thinking in early June that this year promised to be warm, which has proved to be a bit of an understatement! We had a milder winter, and we didn’t have the heavy rains forecast as we experienced from 2018 – 2020. The very nature of climate change is upon us now.
|It was first predicted in the late eighteen hundreds that climate change would be making waves in the future. I never realised the waves they were referring to was my sweat!|
Suze and l thought that this Friday coming, we might be under a hosepipe ban, not that we use a hosepipe to soak the garden here. However, the biggest issue with green spaces in the summers and significantly hotter climes are plants, whilst hardy, still need some water, and the liquid reserves we had in the water butt were expended way back in June. So we have had to be reliant upon water ing cans filled from the outside tap.
Many parts of Kent will have a hosepipe ban introduced on the 12th. We have had very minimal rainfall this year in Kent, and if you consider the lack of quality winter rains, it might not prove surprising that much of Kent is in the throes of a drought.
Luckily we have the water butt, which means we are allowed to fill that with water from the tap, so that is a blessing – it simply means we can’t use the spray on the garden, and with a potential fine of £1000, that is a significant deterrence!
|Hanging Baskets – Hill Daisies, Begonias and Fuschia.|
|Anyway – that aside – how has Willow been this year so far – growing wise? Well, not great, but not that bad considering everything.|
Some of you may recall in the earlier part of the year when l mentioned the hanging baskets l bought last year and all the colourful flowers l bought in the spring months to plant into the baskets so that the garden would be awash in vibrancy and colour? That didn’t entirely pan out – for a few reasons.
One of the main reasons was that the baskets were not the greatest to purchase as they let more water out than stays in. Secondly, the crows and the blue tits ravaged the lining l had used with the baskets, and many of the flower slips l had planted were destroyed, chewed or dropped out of the basket and died! A huge learning curve indeed and one l’ll not repeat anytime soon in the future.
Of the eight baskets planted up, four on each side of the garden, those hanging on the left side are now gone. All eight were taken down, replanted, and tidied up; now only four are still hanging on the right side of the garden wall.
They are currently performing remarkably well. The baskets on the left were taken out of circulation, and two now reside with herbs only on the garden table, whilst the remaining two had nothing left after repairs.
Once we get an allotment and reconfigure the garden’s layout, we will review everything thoroughly, including what stays here and moves there. Thankfully it’ll also mean we can streamline and slim down what we have growing here correctly.
The baskets haven’t been a huge disappointment. The style was the wrong type for this garden and for what l wanted to grow in them. They told me that if l were to buy hanging baskets again, l would have closed baskets, which would discourage the birds from stripping the good stuff out for nest building.
The plants growing within are doing very well of the four healthy baskets left hanging still. The fuchsia, begonia, hillside daisies and various herbs have all performed well, so that’s not a huge loss. Whilst l don’t have the abundance of colours dripping over the wall l thought l would see, l still have some charming flowers looking good, making what was ’empty wall space’ more inviting.
Not so much disappointment, just more a case of promising discoveries was that the so-called retail bug hotels and bird and bat boxes l purchased for the wildlife side of the garden were not significant for Willow.
So l am taking them all down and donating them to the Gazen Salts, who will be able to utilise them better than l. I think my garden or the activity within, such as composting and worm farming is too busy for the boxes combined with they weren’t ideal for the birds l had in mind.
No problem, just another learning curve.
We weren’t growing any vegetables this year, so that wasn’t a problem. We had to try and work in here, thankfully. We had opted to grow mostly flowers with just a few exceptions for fruit – such as strawberries, blueberries and gooseberry.
All of which did produce fruit or, in the case of the Cape Goose, is about to, just not in huge quantities, but these observations made us realise that once we can, we will grow higher quantities. Blueberries produced fruit but not massive amounts, and whilst we didn’t have to worry about pollination of the blues, we have discovered that having more than one bush is advantageous.
The strawberries did well’ish, but not in bumper crop terms, and way smaller than previous years. We decided that because our ‘strawberry’ plants were rescued from an abandoned and overgrown wasteland in 2015, maybe they were reaching the end of their growth functionality, and that come the newer growing seasons. We will have fresher plants.
The gooseberry, l think, has done remarkably well, considering l cut it down to mostly nothing last December and repotted it. It has flourished and has now produced a nice batch of fruit again.
Next episode, l will go into more detail on the successes and failures of some of the hopefuls here, but it’s not all that bad, just different.
|Bug Hotels and Bird and Bat boxes never aroused any interest from the local wildlife.|
|Thanks for Reading – See you next time.|