Lingering summer delights…thumbs nose at winter.

Well, I really can’t believe my luck.

It’s nearly Bonfire night, which by rights should be thick woolly hats and scarves and steaming breath in the cold night air, but still our wonderful weather holds fair.

A tad on the dry side, I don’t think that I have ever had to water pots and tubs this time of the year, (thankfully nearly all automated watering) but a lot of the plants are still well and truly hanging on in there.

In fact they’re not even ‘just hanging,’ they’re positively flying…

The Cosmos go from strength to strength, they now tower above me, poor old Henry has to keep putting in bigger and stronger stakes in an attempt to keep them upright.

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It’s quite odd really because now I’m torn between letting them set seed so that I can collect it for next year or deadheading them to prolong their flowering.

My weekly, eagerly awaited Friday evening treat in the form of Monty says to enjoy them while you can, I guess he’s probably right, so I shall.

Mind you, I’ll be totally ‘Twittering’ him if we get a sudden harsh frost and all is lost!

Then there’s the old Osteospermums that are putting on a jolly good show, in fact it’s the best they’ve been so far this summer.

Complete with resident Ghost spider, (or at least that’s what I was told they were,) now these incy-wincy ones I can just about cope with considering I have a phobia about all things remotely spidery.

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Even the Asclepias tuberosa are still brightening my patio pots with their fiery reds and oranges bursting forth like miniature sparklers.

I love these when they reach their ‘fluffy ‘ stage, the time when their silken seeds are bursting forth from the split pods, ready to be dispersed by natures breath.

Known commonly as the butterfly milkweed, I have to say that my Dorset butterflies have yet to acquire a taste for them.

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(Wo)Man of course has found many a use for these delicate silken ‘filaments,’ (to give them their correct term,) they are hollow and wax-coated.

Humans  ingenuity knows no bounds when it comes to harvesting nature’s bounty.

During WWII it was collected by the ton and used as a substitute for kapoc, nowadays it’s more likely that you’ll be laying down your weary head on it in the form of hypoallergenic filling for pillows.

Apparently it’s deceptive delicacy belies its strength, it’s found a use in cleaning up after the dirty old homo sapiens, insatiable man spills oil, nature cleans it up.

Because of this temporary holding back of winters greedy fingers, birds and insects are still busy bustling to and fro those delectable delicacies on offer, a few Honeysuckle buds appear here and there, not enough to scent the air, but enough to draw in the eager nectar seekers.

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The ornamental grasses though are just starting to go over.

A couple of the more dastardly devils that should have been dead-headed before they had a chance to set seed, have done just that..set seed!

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Set seed and shed said seed. (Try saying that with a mouthful of toffee.)

That’ll be clumps galore coming up all over next year then.

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Poor old Henry, he hates grasses at the best of times, let alone when he has to try and weed them out from between my emerging plants. It’s a miracle he still keeps coming back each week in an attempt to keep my plot under some vague sort of control…how his fingers must itch just to hack it all back and rein it in.

The only reason I can think is that I must make a mean cuppa and that’s why he stays. (I don’t even offer him biscuits with it…hhhmmm, maybe I should?)

We arrive next at the Salvias…well, what can I say.

They’re simply the bees knees, and their elbows, wrists, ankles, and any other joint you can possible name.

Hot Lips is still pertly pouting away at anyone who’ll ordain to give her a second glance…sexy little gal.

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Then there’s this one…Salvia or Agastache?

You tell me, i haven’t a scooby.

One of my ‘sown seed and since lost label’ plants.

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Of course, I am still eagerly awaiting the emergence of the huge Salvia buds ( unknown…again!) mentioned in my last post.

Will it ever emerge?

Eggs cracked…making omelette…

What’s this to do with gardening I hear you ask?

Well…we’ve finally got around to digging out the old raised bed and in the process of making a new one.

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I’ve wanted this done for a long time, in fact it could even be said that I’ve been more than a tad impatient for it to happen, but…it’s stepping off that ledge and taking those first steps on such a chunky project.

It’s actually me that’s been making all the the excuses under the sun, him indoors just LOVES these ‘get your hands dirty’ type of chores..

‘Wrong time,’ I mutter, when in fact it’s exactly the opposite. If you’re going to move plants, now’s the time to do it, that way the soil’s still warm enough to replant them and for them to get a foothold before the cold season digs its heels in. ( Point to point out…raised bed…drains well, so well in fact that the dug out soil from raised bed was dry right down a good 3 foot, how on earth those plants hung on I’ll never know, their fine roots must have travelled some distance.)

‘But they’re still flowering,’well, yes, but they will keep flowering until the first frosts, then it’s too late to move them!

‘It’ll disturb all the wildlife hidden in amongst the dry stone walling,’ guess they’ll get disturbed whenever it’s moved…

Having exhausted all the reasons why we shouldn’t start, him indoors got a tad frustrated and threatened to call off doing it at any stage, so, pots in hand, we moved in for the kill.

Me sat poised on my trusty garden stool, him indoors and his shiny new shovel started removing my precious plants.

Pot after pot after pot was filled with up-rooted plants and soil…how on earth did I have that many packed into such a small space?

Never mind the hundreds of bulbs that I made him sift through the dug out soil for as he shovelled it into bags…ten bags, twenty bags, thirty bags..was there no end in sight?

Poor bloke, to say the sweat was breaking out on his brow was no exaggeration!

One layer of clothing after another was being removed…I thought he was going to end up gardening in his socks and pants. (you may think I’m exaggerating, but after witnessing him clearing out pond, he was down to pants and wellies that time…mind you, the water had well and truly come over the top of said wellies and saturated his socks and trousers.)

Consequently we are now officially at the stage of complete and utter chaos, something that I struggle to cope with.

But I know only too well that you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, (see…snappy title)

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Big hole in wooden deck where raised bed once stood, bags galore of extracted soil lollop in all four corners of said plot, they cover the decked patio, clutter up the gravel patio, tucked away not quite so discretely down the side corridor..are they all really going to fit back into the new bed?

Not unless it’s about 10 foot tall!

It’s reconstruction has tentatively begun…but him indoors now informs me that he ‘has a very busy week ahead!’ 

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This is one of the few time when I really feel the frustrations of my limited energy due to health problems.

I keep staring wistfully out of the patio doors at the mess, I’m itching to get out there and sort it.

But if nothing else, us gardeners know the true meaning of patience…after all I have a huge Salvia with a single bud finally coming into flower.

I have waited 2 years for this…

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I don’t even know what species it is…label lost in transit.

For now though I’m going to focus on this, it’ll be the topping on my omelette.

It do be time to gathers in ze ‘arvest….

I guess I just have to finally admit it…summer is slowly winding down.

Bummer!

But on the positive side, it’s the time of year when I can be found bimbling around my green patch armed with a short stick and a stock of tatty old envelopes.

What am I up to?

Why, gathering in the natures bountiful harvest in the form of seeds of course!

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The said stick is my ‘don’t come near me you fat old garden spiders’ aid…don’t worry, I don’t harm them, just gently move them and their webs to one side while I search for any ripening seed pods. (Despite being a nature lover…I have to confess that spiders totally freak me out, especially if I have the misfortune to accidentally walk into one of their sticky webs….eeeugghhhh)

In reality I don’t need to be creating any more plants, we have more than enough shoe-horned into the borders, and tubs, let alone those ‘spares’ in pots and trays that strangely seem to mysteriously multiply like the proverbial ‘magic porridge pot.’

This ever expanding accumulation of home grown plants in their various containers stealthily march their way down the side drive as the season progresses, this is despite the fact that him indoors has built me a lengthy double tier shelving unit down said drive for them, and then some.

Every one who comes to visit us has to undergo the ‘would you like a few plants to take home with you?’ routine. Should they rather unwisely refuse, then like any good double glazing salesperson the pitch only steps up a notch. ‘You sure…quite sure? What about a few for friends and neighbours, the dustbinman, postie or lady in the corner shop maybe?’

By this stage friends, neighbours, colleagues, and any random door-knocker have given in and depart rather hurriedly complete with recycled carrier bag, (no 5p charge here…) filled with random plants.

This autumn gathering and sowing of seeds is verging on a compulsion.

Apart from tender or annual plants, most of mine are sown in the autumn, leaving time and the greenhouse relatively free for the spring time flurry.

If they fail to emerge, I simply sow a second lot in springtime, at which point the first sowings normally ordain to appear, then I end up with two tray-fulls to prick out.

I even harvest things like the scarlet seeds of the Stinking Iris, Iris foetidissima (or roast beef plant as some bright wag named it,would hate to have a roast dinner at their house.)

No matter that it is far easier to divide a clump than spend years waiting for it to reach flowering size.

I do it simply to prove that I can.

I do it because no matter how many years, or how many times I’ve sown and grown seeds, I still love that first stirring of the compost as the emerging seedling pushed forth into the horticultural world.

It gives me a massive buzz every single time.

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Even that notorious garden thug,  Acanthus mollis or bears breeches,(who on earth gives these plants their common names, I sometimes think they must have been smoking the  old whacky baccy or catnip round the campfire!) is being watched like a hawk, just waiting for the seeds to ripen in its fat green speckled pods.

This thing grows in my garden as if it’s on steroids, turn your back for a nano second and it has multiplied ten fold. There is absolutely no way Jose that I need any more of it.

But if truth be told, I also collect these seeds for another reason.

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I enjoy seed swopping or the surprise of Round Robins.

An ideal opportunity for like minded plantaholics to give away some of their ‘extras’ and to get exciting new ones in return.

A chance to grow things that you might not have tried if you had to buy the seeds, many of them are not even available in seed catalogues.

Don’t panic seed companies, I still buy from you, (big time I must confess,) there’s always something new I want to experiment with, just means I can grow twice the amount.

Sometimes seeds do actually get sown because I want to increase my stock.

Take for example these Eucomis, their winged triangular shaped pods just on the verge of being ripe enough to harvest. (Now, there is a perfect subject that should be known as the roast beef/chicken/pork plant, attractive as it is, it positively wreaks  of the after effects of a roast dinner.)

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I have two books that I often refer to when it comes to this time of year.

Well, truth be told, I like to read them, nod accordingly to their oh so wise words…then promptly forget/ignore what they say and do my own thing.

I love ‘Garden Flowers from Seed’ by my favourite garden writer, the sadly now departed Christopher Lloyd and his co-author Graham Rice.

It’s a book I dip into often because I just love Christopher’s wicked sense of humour, when reading his words I can almost visualise the twinkle in his eyes as he imparts some sarcastic comment, usually in the form of a dig at the more unadventurous horticulturalists and their ‘rules.’

Graham Rice makes a jolly good foil for naughty old Christopher.

Reading this book always makes me chuckle, it’s like eaves dropping into a private conversation between two wily old gardeners sat in their rickety potting shed.

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The second book is somewhat more high brow, a tad more staid in it’s presentation, but nonetheless it’s jam packed full of great photos and clear illustrations on propagation of all manner of things that grow.

From adventitious buds to gymnosperms, stipules to meristems, the answers to all the mysteries of plant propagation are inside these covers, group by group, plant by plant.

This is the RHS tome on ‘Propagating Plants,’

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Well, I’ve just found my ideal ‘spider removal stick’ and a few old envelopes, the sun’s now high in the sky and has dried out the seed heads, so I’m off to gather…

Oh for the life of me…what’s it called?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have an atrocious memory, ( him indoors is often heard muttering “memory of a gnat,”) and this is an attribute which can make horticulture in my domain a  fairly interesting challenge.

Seed sowing, potting on and  plant propagation always starts off as a well organised event.

Compost…check, pots…check, labels…check, permanent marker…check.

I make myself nice and comfortable in my chair with the tools of my trade around me…and so I begin.

All goes well to begin with, the first few completed  pots stand in a nice neat row, legible labels facing front like soldiers on guard, feeling very smug with myself that this year I’ve finally cracked it, I carry on.

Hail the arrival of the first distraction…the cat, who proceeds to nestle himself down in my nice warm compost tray and then looks disdainfully at me as if to say ‘I’m here now, you may carry on‘ at which point he normally slowly stretches himself out onto the compost surface, knocking  over all my pots, labels, pens etc in the process.

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Once he’s settled, I gather together my scattered implements and chuck them into the only remaining miniscule space left in the corner of the said compost tray.

From here onwards, it’s usually nowt but a downhill slide.

I have to scrabble around the edges of an apparently comatose cat for enough compost to fill pots, lift his tail to find my pen and labels.

Distraction number two.

Hubby slides open door and lets in gale force gust of wind, more scattered labels, seed packs, pots, compost…

By this stage, I’m frantically cramming compost, seeds, bits of plants, into pots before anything else goes wrong.

Any illusion of inner peace and calmness ‘left the building’ with said rapidly retreating flea in the ear hubby.

A few filled pots teeter dangerously on the edge of the work surface, awaiting their labels…but of course, although it might have been only seconds before that I’d done them, can I remember what I put in them…can I as heck!

Peering myopically into the pots, I try to see any signs of seeds having been sown, then begin to wonder if in fact these are pots that I’ve only put compost in and have yet to sow.

And so it goes, anarchy reigns in the greenhouse…pots with labels, pots without labels, pots with labels, but written on in the manner of a squiffy spider, pots without even anything in them!

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Any semblance of order and conformity long gone.

This in itself might not seem too much of a problem…at the time.

No sweat me thinks to myself, (who am I kidding,  I know only too well that it will be,) my ‘glass half full’ side of the brain assures me that ‘I’ll identify the mystery seedlings/cuttings/empty pot as they grow.’ The ’empty bugger’ mutters in my lughole ‘you kidding, you won’t have scooby doo darlin’

Consequently, my little paradise is full of pots of mystery plants, as yet to be identified, still working on that one.

My somewhat unusual hanging baskets flourish, albeit filled with towering monsters reaching for the skies, a medley of vegetables and mistakenly identified insidious weeds.

Those supposedly dwarf cosmos in the narrow bed by the path are now well over 7ft tall and are totally intent on smothering any access to the grassy area, their branches leaning, lolloping and tangling like Sleeping Beauty’s impenetrable forest over the paving slabs.

But, like Black Adders Baldrick, I have a cunning plan.

I have just discovered Twitter…

I throw and odd photo on now and then, a simple catchy phrase such as ‘todays mystery plant’ and people  think it’s fun…

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few clicks later and hey presto, I have my answer.

Now where’s those labels…what was it called?

The Race is on….will they, won’t they?

This year has been an odd one.

By that, I mainly mean the weather.

The summer was a non-starter really, despite the usual Express headlines of impending doom and gloom, (do they follow world news at all?) where the weather is concerned, that is wavering between devastating heat waves about to strike or the fear of weeks of snow and ice ahead.

Most of the summer it was dry here down in dear old Dorset, not particularly warm…but…well, just dry.

I’m not a one for watering my garden if possible, through necessity I like plants and gardens that pretty much take care of themselves, come rain come shine, but the devil drives and needs must sometimes.

I hung on and hung on before getting many of my home grown annuals into the borders, just waiting for that ever elusive downpour to moisten the soil even a tad, something which didn’t materialise. Consequently many of the, by then, fair sized plants in individual pots had to go in and be kept watered to stop them wilting.

For some reason though, watering with tap water just doesn’t cut it the same as water from natures pot.

I will get to the point of this post…honest.

Because of this, a lot of my plants seem to be way behind, and only just getting into their stride.

The Cosmos are taller and stronger than I’ve ever known them, but up till now only an odd flower poking its petals out to gently waft on the, (getting ever cooler,) breeze. Lots of potential buds though awaiting…tightly packed into the slowly unfurling leaves.

Another strange thing I’ve noticed is that some of the plants seem to be throwing out different coloured flowers!

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One all white plant has a single flower with beautiful stripes on? I wonder if seeds saved from that single flower will have the same characteristics?

Many of my exotics are way behind too.

Last year, due to size of roots and the effort of persuading a very reluctant hubby to move said pot, I took the decision to plant my Hedychium gardnerianum, (Ginger Lily,) into the soil. Well wrapped up against the winter, straw, fleece, etc…it survived.

Only problem was, without the extra heat of the cold greenhouse it was slow in starting back into growth, the stems are elongating day by day…but will it flower before those first frosts strike?

I’m desperate to be able to lounge on the garden sofa in warm sunshine and inhale its exotic scents.

Time will tell.

The larger Cannas are also only just getting into their stride, their stems really reaching for the sky this year, but the light through their variegated foliage looks wonderful, like stained glass.

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Plectranthus is very much a Marmite plant, some love it…some hate it.

I’m totally in the ‘thumbs up’ group.

I grow 2 varieties, both brought while down in Cornwall.

Said to be fairly tender, we bring in some plants under glass, take numerous cuttings, (which strike easily,) and others are left to take their chances.

So far so good, those outdoors have survived, cut back by frosts but shoot up from the roots.

I love their foliage, o.k., might not smell the nicest, but argentatus has super soft silver foliage that rivals lambs lugs any day.

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Their flowers might be small, but with the aid of photography, even those like myself whose vision isn’t exactly 20/20 any more, can appreciate their delicacy.

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Lobelia tupa too is just hotting up out the front, in its south facing, well -protected bed, last years planting has emerged this year as a mega monster!

In fact its ‘unashamedly flaunting themselves scarlet flowers’ are reaching for the hanging baskets above it…to infinity and beyond.

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Climber Lophospermum, (I’m sure I knew it as another name, but for reasons of slight memory failure, it eludes me,) sometimes known as the climbing Foxglove.

Last summer it put on a cracker of a display, this summer…nada…just spotted a single flower on one in a pot down my drive.

Gutted!

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Now I’m anxiously watching the Countyfile weather each week, just waiting for those first warnings of early morning frosts!

Please, please, please, oh great weatherman in the heavens, not just yet, there are still scintillating scents to be sniffed, a faction of exotic flowers to be fussed over and most importantly a succession of seeds to be saved,.

Just give us a few weeks longer.

Do marauding molluscs read the bloomin’ menus?

I hope you don’t read this post thinking it’s going to be all about pretty autumn flowers, fluffy clouds, blue skies and the like.

Nope…I’m on attack mode!

I don’t know about you, but I spend an awful of my night lying in bed thinking.

In the wee small hours, as him indoors snores for Britain…I can lie there and my brain goes into overdrive. I write whole novels, (we’re talking best sellers here,) make imaginary lists for what needs doing the next day,(never gets done of course,) solve world problems,(hhmmm)…you get my drift…I do my best thinking during these hours.

The other night my super-honed thoughts turned to my major problem of garden pests.

Which ever supreme being floats your boat, or Darwin’s theory of evolution…well, let me tell you, boy did she/he/they/it miss a trick or two.

Even I can work out that if all the slugs and snails of this world had been created to eat the flamin’ weeds instead of my precious,(or indeed, anyones precious,) plants, they would not be teetering right there on the very top of the gardeners hit list.

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It would have so been a win win situation for all sides.

No longer would they be subjected to any manner of ghastly deaths, from taking a dip in the good old briny bowl, to being projected spacewards over the hedge,(nope…forget that I said that,) Stomped on, sliced in half, battered…for heavens sake, I believe there’s even a book that celebrates their demise, aptly titled ’50 Ways to Kill a Slug.’

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As for slug pellets…what’s that all about?

Now before any purists jump down my throat, I do try my hardest to be as chemical free as possible, I don’t use sprays of any sort, I encourage all manner of wildlife into my garden to tackle said pests, I even let hubby out in garden sometimes…(not sure if he comes under the ‘wildlife’ or ‘pests’ category though.)

I do keep a tub of ‘organic’ slug pellets though for emergencies.

One thing I don’t get is what difference do these competing pellets have in the manner of their deaths?

Does the old fashioned poisonous pellets leave them writhing in absolute agony, swearing that if they should live, they’ll never touch another flower ever again, at which point they keel over, having had their last slobber over a Salvia.

Then presumably the  organic pellets gives them a ‘good death?’

Calm, serene, whale music playing in the background…you get my drift, a gentle hand mops their sticky brow, (do slugs have brows?) whispering sweet words, ‘there we go dear, just drift off nice and peaceful, try thinking of lying on a nettle leaf and all will be fine.’

Mollusc mortality, (or should that be murder in the 1st degree?) aside, my next ponderation was on the subject of what they eat and why?

What I don’t get, is how do they know exactly which plant, or indeed which part of the plant they will find the most palatable…take for example the Rubeckias that were planted this summer.

Knowing the voracious appetite those pesky marauders have for my precious plants, I try to grow them on as big and as healthy as possible before they even catch sight of border soil…stashed safely away on high shelves down my side drive, (see just how far I have to go to protect them!)

There they stay until I feel they stand a chance.

Who was I kidding?

Two large, and I mean very large, Rubeckias were put in this summer. Nurtured from tiny seedling to magnificent plants over two long years. Good strong root systems, luscious healthy leaves, tons of upright, tall flower stems and flower buds, heck…some of the beautiful yellow daisies were out ready to shine.

What happens?

This!

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Within a day of planting, not a single solitary bonny yellow petal was left on the flower heads, just a few tatters here and there flapped in the breeze.

Don’t even get me started on Lobelia Queen Victoria!

I have lost count on how many years I have been trying to get this growing in my garden.

Every, I mean, I kid you not, every single mollusc for miles around must descend on my Lobelia plants overnight…leaves, stems, flowers, the whole kitten caboodle…gone, munched, stripped, sianara.

This summer, I formed a dastardly plot in my attempt to succeed for once with this flaming beauty that I have lusted after for donkeys years.

Two tall pots out front, (well, vivid red sprayed dustbins if truth be told..but anyway,) A few exotics, and in pride of place two fully grown, packed with flower buds, sumptuous deep reds that you could only salivate over Lobelias.

This is all that is left!!!

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Nary a bud, flower, petal, leaf, they’ve even stripped the red outer layers of the stems…

These tall pots are stood on a hard drive, set up in filled water trays..so how on earth does a resident, (or even visiting) mollusc, spot these things from afar, even know they’ll like the flavour when they’ve got there after dragging their chubby, slimy  bodies over a fair distance of a scratchy, rough, unyielding surface?

Why all that effort for one plant, yet they bypass another from the same family without a backward glance?

Now, logic tells me that I should just stick to plants that they won’t eat, but those plants on the Molluscs Menu for Marauding Mouths  seem to be all the plants I’m desperate to grow…

…how does that work?

The End is Nigh……but there’s always Salvias.

I absolutely, with a real vengeance, hate the end of summer!

I’m an outdoor person, a right sunshine Susie, blue skies make my heart sing type of girlie, i need the warmth on my skin, the rays on my face…I detest the cold, hate the wet, (don’t mind snow…but we never see that here on the south coast,) simply can’t stand being bundled up in layers of clothing.

So…yep, you might have guessed it, I really do hate the end of summer!

Saying that, here down on the South coast in balmy old Dorset, we at least manage to prolong our summers by a few weeks.

Consequently I have just enjoyed a lazy morning, chilling in my garden,  hubby having shot out at the crack of dawn to fit in a game of golf, so a relaxed  solo breakfast for one it was, taken on the deck, where I soaked up the early morning sun, (though slightly chilly at first,) and surveyed my estate.

Decided to get my camera out to make a record of whats still in flower.

Not surprisingly, the Salvias are finally coming into their own.

I have no idea why, but I just love Salvias, they’re not always the most showy of plants, their flowers can be sparse, what’s worse, some are right slug magnets, but that doesn’t deter me.

I enjoy a challenge.

One of my latest acquisitions was from a great little Cornish place, Hardy Exotics Nursery, just outside Penzance, I can’t resist a visit to here when we are down in Cornwall, and mooching in their poly tunnels, you never know what you’re going to unearth.

This time it was Salvia confertiflora.

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When I first spotted it tucked away in their poly tunnel I was smitten, and then by a certain amount of wheedling and whining to hubby with short arms and long pockets, I finally got my sticky mitts on one.

I really didn’t know much about it.

Seems it comes from Brazil, grows fairly large, fairly quickly, 6-8ft in one season,(yes, old school, don’t do metric either! ) but it propagates very easily, slugs have ignored it, and appears to be doing well in a large pot.

I’m not convinced on its hardiness, so it overwinters in my unheated greenhouse, so far so good, though as I said earlier we tend to not have harsh winters here by the coast,( am I tempting fate here by saying that?)

As they do strike so easily, maybe I could risk trying a few in the borders next year, I have no shortage of back-ups should they fail.

Another Salvia just getting into it’s stride is Salvia uliginosa, the Bog Sage.

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It’s tall, thin elegant stems sway in the gentle breeze, or more likely, as in the past couple of weeks, whip around in the strong winds we’ve been having lately.

The colour is a most alluring blue.

This is another one that is a case of break a bit off, stick in pot and hey presto…new plant. So easy to propagate. Slug free too.

What more could you ask for?

This vivid coloured Salvia has done well for me, name unknown, but purchased from a little random nursery, (again  in Cornwall,) it is dotted around my garden, (I tend to squeeze in plants where ever I find a gap,) it forms quite a shrub, overwinters with no problems outdoors, flowers most summer in a vivid cerise pink, and keeps right on flowering until frosts stop it in its tracks.P1040823 It’s fairly similar in form and size to good old Salvia x jamensis Hot Lips, which also thrives in my garden.

Now these are two that sure do put on a good show flower wise…and all summer long.

My latest purchase…(this one was another clandestinely smuggled into the house while him indoors was otherwise engaged,)  Salvia Amistad, I’d never seen or heard of this before, so just had to have one.

Wow, what can I say, she’s an absolute cracker.

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So far anyway.

She has flowered her socks off with sumptuous rich purple flowers completely smothering the plant all summer and getting even stronger as the season goes on, The plant was set in a big terracotta pot and it has virtually overtaken it…not that I mind.

Time will tell if the cuttings strike so easily as the others, whether she’ll continue to fight off the marauding molluscs in my patch, or indeed, how well she’ll overwinter.

But not all my Salvias have done quite so well.

Salvia Black and Blue was a real disappointment this summer, the plant grew big and strong, the foliage a beautiful light green, but flowers? nada….the odd one or two here and there, certainly nothing to shout home about.

Not sure if they’ve been eaten by some invisible bug or just not materialised.

Here’s a few of the other more exotic plants still just about hanging on in there…

Isoplexus canariensis.

When out of flower it has nothing going for it.

In flower, I love it.

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The tall, light and airy Althea cannabinus.

Every year I think it’s lost, then up it pops and shoots away like nobody’s business. It now towers above me, the impossibly thin, wiry stems bending in the breeze, every now and then conveniently lowering their delicate pink flowers to my level.

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Leonotis, not certain if this is leonora or nepeta, sometimes known as Lions Ears, not quite sure why.

What I do know is that the seed pods are damned vicious when trying to get the seeds out!

This is a plant that I’m still undecided about.

I love the shape, adore the vivid orange flowers, but their one downfall is that they don’t all emerge at the same time on each ‘pod.’ Consequently they tend to look a bit ‘something and nothing.’ I can’t get the setting right in my borders to make them pop, perhaps they need to be planted in bigger numbers to make them zing.

I’ll keep trying, it’s easy enough to collect seeds, (apart from damned prickles,) and grow them on each year.

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The last few blooms of Ipomoea, the weather hasn’t been to their liking this summer, (in fact…what summer?)

The seeds were sold to me as supposedly Heavenly Blue…but its certainly not very heavenly and definitely isn’t the startling azure blue that I have had in the past.

Don’t think I’ll bother saving seeds from this one!

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Another impulse buy while on the way out of a nursery…I’m sure hubby knows really…all I have to do is mutter ‘golf balls’ and ‘how much?’ and he soon shuts up.

Tibouchina.

New plant for me, will see how she overwinters and flowers in the second year.

In a large pot it’s flowered non-stop this summer with large purple blooms, they’ve literally smothered the plant, so in essence I’ve had my moneys worth even if I lose it.

i have taken cuttings as insurance and I will move the pot indoors.

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A few other annuals are still hanging on in there despite the wet, the wind and some pretty chilly nights, Cosmos, Calendula, Ageratum, long may they flourish…’cos I sure don’t want summer to end!