August 31st – all too soon.
It’s raining again today: another traditional Bank Holiday washout. As a remedy for the last-day-of-August glooms, I’m prescribing some pictures: a defiant rally of blazing colour from a couple of days ago in my garden.
Another old gardening book, ‘Adam the Gardener’, which I bought from a charity stall. It cost 3/- (three shillings) at the time and was published by the Daily Express. The dress worn by the woman in the advert on the back cover would seem to date this copy to the 1950s, although I believe Adam was also around in the 1940s. But looking at his face, it could have been the 1840s!
Adam is rather a dour chap: in the three-to-a-page illustrations he looks stern and serious, with maybe the occasional suspicion of satisfaction at a good job well done. The book gives week-by-week, month-by-month instructions: all way beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve, but obviously all really practical and sensible advice. The monthly summaries make it clear what should be planted, harvested and pruned – and when. I think I could make use of them as I stumble my way through the year…
This book has a wonderfully nostalgic feel; it reminds me of the way my dad and his older relatives used to approach gardening. Of course, when Adam the Gardener began, many people needed to grow their own vegetables because of rationing and its aftermath, and they had to be serious and organised about it.
So here’s some advice from Adam!
I found this rather attractive frog under the garden hosepipe stand. It was probably enjoying the shade and possibly hoping to benefit from some of the water dripping from it. (The hosepipe leaks!)
Of course, when it saw me, it froze. I was able to approach … closer … closer, snapping away like a paparazzo – until it took off disdainfully and hid behind some flowerpots. Who could blame it? My menacing reflection in its beautiful, blue-outlined eye makes me realise I would have done exactly the same!
I’m now a fan!
I didn’t know anything about growing freesias. They always seemed so exotic and delicate: blooms to be nurtured in a hothouse or glimpsed in a prize-winning display. Probably beyond my rudimentary gardening skills, and yet … something attracted me to the prospect.
Vaguely, somewhere in my early memories, I can visualise a perfume bottle with (I think) a pale yellow top, calling to me from my mum’s dressing table; I suspect I must have liked that particular fragrance because I can remember putting on far too much of it. I’m sure it was Freesia by Yardley of London. Who knows whether I had permission? I certainly caused some amusement. Freesias. Freesia. When I heard the name as a small child, I imagined it to have something to do with freezing.
So I planted some freesia bulbs, a chance find in a discount supermarket, not sure what to expect. I was rewarded with beautiful flowers in four different colours but, as far as I could detect, no smell. Bees loved them. They’ve finished flowering now, so I need to find out what to do next; this link looks like a reasonable place to start:
My old favourite Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ again, this time in a border* (not my garden). I think it looks amazing: such a fiery, blazing red, which works well against the cool and neutral colours nearby.
And here are two more ideas for colourful borders. Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of all the plants, although I think one of them is similar to Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, but here goes!
* I’ve included the top picture twice because I’m experimenting with a new theme: you have to roll over the featured image to see the colour. I like the idea, but didn’t want that glorious red to go unnoticed by anyone. I’d really welcome comments on whether the new theme suits my blog.