December Cheer? or Drear…?

November has passed seamlessly into December, with little change in anything. The rain and wind continues, the rain infinitely more bearable than the wind. This morning it is raining pleasantly and thankfully the hurricane force winds in evidence for the last few days have dropped in the night. I’m happy to say the temperatures have stayed at quite bearable levels so far, but Summer is of course, yet to come.

Some of the roses have had magnificence, especially the polyanthas which flower later in the season along with the ramblers (from which most are descended) This is Mme Jules Thibaud, another sport of Cecile Brunner, and my opinion the best.

The roses are definitely trying to be magnificent this year, but it’s hard for them to really strut their stuff with constant buffeting from the elements. The Species garden fares better than most in this environment, with many single flowers and hardy types that require less cosseting. I spend quite a bit of time down there at the moment, admiring those that won’t be seen again till next year. There are plenty of roses in the borders which are also once flowerers of course, but they have a sameness about them re colour and form (and scent) whilst the Species are all so different.

A constant task at the moment is the lawns. They are growing very crazily! I have a wonderful Kubota ride on mulcher mower, which makes mowing a pleasure…lucky as I’m having to do it every 3 days at least to keep them under control. If there’s no fine spell available in that time, they grow so much I have to “raise the bar” and cut them longer, or the mulcher can’t handle it. In those instances I have to mow again the next day .

The other busy task in this crazy wet season, is spraying. Of every kind! I’m seeing some really yuk fungus in lots of the roses, even ones I’ve never seen diseased before, so am equally grateful for my 100 litre sprayer on my buggy, so I can get the job done without breaking my back…

OOPS!!!! December has passed seamlessly into January, with little change in anything… I’ve been very slack on the computer of late. It’s not that I don’t have inside time, when the weather insists, which is quite often lately, I just find other things to do. ie make the jigsaw puzzle I got for Christmas, or play word games. I had a feeling I had started something a while ago and not completed the job!

What can you say about this growing season? Only that it has been raining pretty much non stop since June. Daily drizzle and soft rain, interspersed with days of hurricane winds, thunder storms, cyclones and then some more rain. The sun came out for our Open Day last Sunday, it was unbelievably hot! I’m not prepared for the sun! Then we had 20 mil of rain in the night to keep things in perspective. My gardens are pretty rampantly out of control at present, I’m currently working at weeding and amending them a little at a time. Also planting things in the gaps I produce, which is not something one would usually be doing in January, but we’re having a very extended planting season this year!

I thought considering how unusual it is to have as much Summer rain as we’ve had, it would be interesting to point out what’s happy and what’s not. Lots of things clearly like a lot of rain…1. All the Liliums and Callas, including the Day Lilies.  I’ve never seen them so big and flowery. 2. The Begonias, tuberous and woody, in pots and in the garden. They are ecstatic! 3. The Dahlias. Huger and happier than ever before (i discovered they were from Mexico, so that explains it) 4. The Pulmonerias, Astilbes (of course) and Heucheras. 5. The Hydrangeas, no surprise, are having a bumper season. 6. The vast majority of the Salvias, including the really drought tolerant ones. Alice and I did a “salvia survey” in our gardens last month, and counted 76 I think, between us. What an amazing genus they are. 7. The asparagus. I’ve had trouble keeping up with picking them and have now let them run to fern. I think they’re the only vegetable on the list that has been truly happy.

I know there are countless more happy campers in the garden, but I’m sick of that side of the coin now and am moving onto things that aren’t happy…1. All the vegetables except the asparagus (the beans are pretty good too) 2. The roses are having a lot of trouble opening acceptable blooms, although a lot of them are growing vigorously despite the lack of sun. 3. Annuals. a lot of these are lying sideways following fast growth and terrible winds. All my cosmos and antirrhinums have crashed, and the Sunflowers had to be picked up off the floor and staked. A lot of the annuals which would usually shed their petals and keep looking chipper with no input, have dead or rotten flowers clinging on, which really lessens their appeal.

These Hollyhocks were a bit too happy and grew to about 3 m high . The seeds were harvested from a Cathedral garden in the city where the same plants have been growing for more than a century, imported from Europe with the Clergy. They seem a lot hardier than modern varieties and a lot less rust prone.

So I better stop talking now and publish this long overdue missive. It is actually not raining this morning! Though there are showers available for anyone who’s missing them. I have hung out a large load of washing in the spirit of hope…

We have a lot of roses still available, quite a few new Old Fashioneds I haven’t grown before, so I’d recommend buying a lot and planting them in this SUPER growing Summer!