End of Month View June 2016: hope feels a long way away even though it’s only fifteen miles

The solstice might seem an arbitrary point in the modern calendar, but to plants it’s all too crucial: the inversion of changes in daylight length cause leaf crops to bolt, and garlics to cease swelling their bulbs. How we garden ends up changing gradually too. In which case, now we’ve passed midsummer, I want to use this End of Month View to take stock of what’s happened in the garden so far this season.

I can’t say I’m in the best of moods at the moment, and looking back on the first eight months of the new garden, there’s a lot to be disappointed with: the landscaping is stalled, logjammed even; few cuttings have rooted (there’s more dead buddleia, which I didn’t even have the heart to report); and I’ve never experienced a season in which so much has been eaten by pests.

Well over half of the leaf crops, and all of the carrot seedlings, have disappeared. Even broadbean leaves and ornamentals have been grazed, and sometimes stripped bare. That combined with my inability to make large-scale changes that might dry out the garden and protect the crops has been completely demoralizing.

But hope springs eternal. Here’s what hope looks like:


Not the nearby Peak-District village, but lettuce seedlings. Sown after midsummer, they’ll either bolt to blazes, or they’ll actually get confused, and not bolt at all (this does happen with coriander, I think.) But I just have to hope, because I don’t have much else left.

Well, I do still have two sage cuttings from my forays with Grow Sheffield, and five squash seedlings:




After these photos, I put water bottles in the two large tubs, to permit watering the roots without rotting off the stems. Shortly after that, one of the two squash seedlings was consumed completely, down to a stump.

However, at least the Tiarella “Sugar and Spice” has bounced back from being eaten:


The Cirsium rivulare (Atropurpureum) has done too, although it’s still missing all except one flower spike:


The Geum “Prinses Juliana” behind it is apparently inedible. Meanwhile, the Impatiens omeiana “Pink Nerves” has recovered to about the point where I originally bought it:


Shortly after this photo, it went back under cover, having started to be eaten again.

Miraculously, the two lots of peas “Latvian” have not just thrived in themselves, but also protected the lettuce “Buttercrunch” underneath them:


They’ve also just started flowering the most gorgeous claret-and-geranium-coloured flowers:


Rainbow chard and Salvia “Ember’s Wish” are doing OK:


And this random rose—which I saw elsewhere, so more about later—makes me think of candyfloss and strawberry Chewits:


Finally, we’re having to trim our hedges, even though many of them are to be removed eventually. They’re just out of control. So I took the opportunity to turn our once-square-blocky front hedge into a vaguely topiarized chain of more interesting bobbly bits:


I’ve had this go-with-the-flow idea for trimming in the back of my head, ever since Monty Don tried his hand at a bit of topiary in Big Dreams: Small Spaces this year. In the programme, he suggested to a wannabe gardener (both of them with shears in their hands) that she should try to cut the long priet hedge in the shape it wanted to be cut, rounding it off whenever it felt right to do so, rather than trying to turn it into a geometric, straight-edged wall of green.

“If it’s going to end up looking like a caterpillar,” I think Monty said, “then so be it.”

So be it.

(Thanks to Helen Johnstone for hosting the EOMV meme.)



  1. Alison · July 3, 2016

    I love the bobbly hedge.

    Slugs have been a menace this year, I’ve really struggled to keep any seedlings from being munched, it’s been heartbreaking at times.


    • jpstacey · July 4, 2016

      The bobbly hedge will get bobblier as it grows into its new shape. It’s been straight as a die for too many years yet.

      Heartbreaking is the word. First I planted carrot seedlings too early, and they germinated then froze underground; then I planted a second set, and they came up, and they were 100% eaten by compost-heap inhabitants (I hate the layout of this garden); then I planted broad beans because surely nothing finds broadbean leaves palatable….

      I’m just glad it’s not only me! And I’m trying to raise seedlings high in the growframe now, and plant them out where they can’t be found (I was surprised that the peas were able to hide them, actually.)


  2. Julieanne · July 5, 2016

    It’s such a hard year with germination & slugageddon. I’ve given up on on so many veg after constant creature attacks, and not really expecting my remaining squash & courgette plants to produce much, unless the weather improves. It’s good to focus on what’s positive in such situations as you have done here. Still lots of good happening in your garden J-P.

    Re the Latvian pea, the mature peas don’t taste as good for fresh peas. So either pick it young for fresh peas, or leave them for drying/soup peas.

    LOVE the caterpillar hedge 🙂


    • jpstacey · July 5, 2016

      You had told me about the Latvian peas, but I’d forgotten, so good to know. Only a few flowers have started to go over yet, though, so it’s early days!


  3. Pingback: EOMV July: all still stalled | The next square metre

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