With the summer upon us, August is a time to reflect on our gardening efforts of the year so far and sit and enjoy the garden or balcony. It can be a thoughtful time to plan ahead for Autumn and get inspiration from our travels, near and far.
I have school-age children so the end of summer term is a milestone in the calendar. It’s an end of the academic year and the culmination of much hard work, end of term reports and presentations. And it is nice to end the summer break in high spirits and with warm good feelings, which is what I did this week.
I work with patients and staff on their kitchen garden at a hospital in Richmond. We went for a trip to visit Ham House’s kitchen garden and found much delight in their giant Globe Artichokes and yellow Tansies, our's being a foot high and their's six foot high. Our similar planting of courgettes, cabbages and beans were reassuring and I was especially pleased with the patients’ pride in our work and that they were the happy recipients of carrot cake (of course).
So when you let your garden go a little, over August, it is also like letting go of all the stresses and strains of city life. It might get a bit wild but will be all the more interesting for it and can be reined in during September. As long as you don’t get a first warning on your allotment, which I sadly managed to last month, I think a little letting go is just the ticket for August.Travelling in England and abroad or just being a tourist in London, is a wonderful opportunity to visit other gardens and bring back treasure for your own, even if just in your mind.
I have been admiring a marvellous pink tree in a front garden of a local road, with beautiful under-planting of tulips, lavender, rosemary and a fabulously large pink hydrangea. I found the pink tree again on the seashore of Dorset and identified it as Tamarisk (Tamarix ramossissima). It thrives in coastal regions and the streets of Shepherds Bush! It goes really well with purple Hebe (Hebe ‘Neil’s Choice’) and the succulent Sedum, which does so well in dry conditions as well.
And what can those holidaying in the Mediterranean introduce to their garden on their return? I love silver leaved herbs such as Lavender, Rosemary, Sage and Verbascum. Also Olive trees manage London’s micro-climate well. The pungent smell of Eucalyptus leaves and delicate blue of Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) can keep the hot lazy days, near the Med, fresh in our minds.
Having been rather negative about Lavender in an earlier article, I am going to give this remarkable and popular plant a second chance. I have discovered a supplier in Sussex which recommends certain varieties for our London soil, namely Folgate, Melissa Lilac and Cedar Blue available from www.downderrynursery.co.uk , home to the world’s only Scientific National Plant Collection of Lavender. Otherwise ask Fulham Palace Garden Centre or W6 Garden Centre to get them in for you. At Ham House, the historic parterre with Lavender and Cotton Lavender is a joy to the senses.
And if you are London based this summer, there are some lovely gardens to visit including Kew Gardens, Chelsea Physic Garden, Geffrye Museum (showing the history of gardens over 400 years), Fulham Palace gardens renovated walled garden, Ham House and the Garden Museum.
So, really a lazy gardener is an oxymoron, as gardeners on the whole are busy industrious people, but now is the time to enjoy a summer break.
For advice on edible gardens, city gardens, kitchen gardens, community gardens and children’s gardens, please contact: Sarah Heaton at Sarah Heaton Gardens email@example.com or follow her on twitter @SarahHeaton4