The herb garden is slowly creeping out of the borders and into pots with the help of Little D. It has to be said, and it has been said in plenty of posts here, that summer has stalled, started and on some days has completely stopped. We're writing this on a Sunday, and even though it may go up later on the blog, it has been a Sunday that has been devoid of sun. Even daylight has been wan, boxed in by heavy clouds and showers. The heat we have experienced over the last week has sunk away like a fox from a chicken coup at dawn, and we are faced with late autumn temperatures. What surprises and delights us is how the new herb garden has hung on in there. Yes, there has been casualties, some seeds never germinated, and a few plants didn't make it but we sowed enough to make sure we had back ups. However, the herb garden grows and with it a plume of pots. Found pots, donated pots, pots from skips; we have several tall black ones from years ago that were dumped on a fly tipping verge, they sat there for several days and when we were driving back on the fourth day we slowed down opened the car door and scooped them up, took them home and washed them clean. We have pots full of old rosemary from Drovers, they're there for show but for cuttings too. We even picked up some rosemary from a supermarket, one of those herbs sold to be eaten but rooted (an odd thing that has crept into supermarkets over the last few years). It was in the clearance section for 51p (67 cents or 61 euro cents) and we took a punt and it's growing fiercely.
We have cuttings from atar of roses pelargonium sited by the front door so they can be brushed up against and their scent fills the air each time we walk in. They have already made their way into jams. Likewise we have mint and spearmint, both from cuttings and great to catch with your hand, your fingers smelling of mint all day. They're in pot because anyone who has ever grown mint will know that mint is aggressive and invasive. If we planted it in the borders it would quickly colonise the soil and choke everything around it. The dahlias we grew from seed back in March are on the verge of flowering. The seeds sowed by Little D have sprouted.
He is delighted that the dill, coriander and giant parsley are on their way. We doubt he will like the taste but he is pleased with the strawberries in the main bed, patrolling them each day for ripe berries and often welcoming us with guilt and full cheeks.
The sweetpeas have been planted in those black tubs we found dumped on the verge all those years ago. They are on their way to scrambling up the hazel wigwams that gives height to the garden. There are more terracotta pots waiting for fresh herbs. We need oregano, we need lemon balm and we have a good king henry to split from the back garden, it sits in the cottage garden. The mint has already come in useful, Carol had an off stomach last week and she headed for the garden, and mint tea was infused and drunk. The stomach ache went and the herbs are waiting for other uses, there's Russian tarragon waiting for medicinal and culinary uses. We could have grown French but it is too soft for our borders and pots, it would die quickly here and would sulk throughout this summer but the Russian variety is tough as old boots, bear like in its sprawl out of the pot.
The hollyhocks and fennel we planted through the gravel are also working well in the poor soil beneath. There is real promise that they will soften the edges of our ugly porch which will be the last thing on our renovation list to go.
The pots are loving the southern aspect and the warmth of the house letting out the heat at night. Even the growbags, a temporary structure full of courgette rugosa and custard squash, are loving the heat let out by the stone walls at night.
We are waiting on the courgettes and patty pans to fill our kitchen. There is lavender and sage to come, being hardened off to be included in the pots. In the borders there are signs of life, the bulls blood lettuce is growing but the chard isn't, nigella cumin has shown up, so has the rocket artemis, and there are signs of the red valerian. Sadly, it's been too cold for the alexanders and the fresh planting around the utility box is largely sulking in the yo-yo temperatures.
Finally, we end with a positive as the dahlias have started to give up their secrets. Growing bishop's children is always fun, as you never quite know what colour the flowers will be but we have had the first of the flowers, literally opening as we typed this, a ruby red dahlia flower open for bees and business.