Although this post is about what’s growing in my summer garden in 2021, it feels like we are on the precipice of autumn. The sun is setting earlier and the air has that crisp, damp essence to it. Summer 2021 has been very wet in the UK, with only a brief heat wave in July. Some of my plants have benefited from the cooler, wet weather, while others would have enjoyed more heat. A garden is always a work in progress, and in my case an epic battle against snails and slugs! I am headed to the garden centre tomorrow to pick up some autumn bedding plants, and hopefully some ferns to fill in bare patches. Otherwise, the apple trees are loaded with fruit and we are just about ready to harvest! Come along with me for a virtual tour of the home garden.
Vibrant Reds and Oranges
Any British gardener will tell you that late summer is the time for crocosmia. These gorgeous albeit common perennials are within the iris family, and are native to African grasslands. They come in bright oranges and spread through underground corms (sort of like a bulb). They aren’t too fussy and grow in a variety of soil types, and prefer partial shade. The easy-going nature of these plants is perhaps why you see them in so many gardens. In the photo below you can see the crocosmia behind the border of coral bells – this is a favourite hiding spot for our resident frogs.
A new addition to the garden this year are the five bunches of gladioli. I planted these bulbs in both the front and back garden. In the photo above, you can see the beautiful red/pink gladiolus spear in the front garden, with pink geraniums (slugs don’t eat them!) and the St John’s Wort bush and lemon balm in the background. Unfortunately, I was foolish to think I could plant bright coloured spikey flowers in the back garden (Wilbur’s domain). He likes to destroy my plants, and as soon as those red flowers poked out, they were attacked! Perhaps I’ll relocate the gladioli to safer locations in autumn.
This year the container vegetable garden was fenced in to keep a certain tiny critter out. Technically, this is an outdoor dog run but Wilbur hates it, so I use it instead to fence off the garden. If I don’t fence off the pots, Wilbur comes in the house with a snoot full of dirt! As you can see in the photos, I do a mixture of flowers and vegetables in the containers. This year, the runner beans were a bit more successful, as were the tomatoes and carrots. It didn’t get hot enough for the peppers, and the basil bolted in the mini-heat wave. Additionally, I’m fighting a losing battle to keep my dahlias from being eaten. Despite slug pellets, as soon as a new leaf pops up, it’s eaten within a day (empty black container on the centre right in the photo).
My biggest success was planting romaine lettuce with marigolds, and I’ll be repeating that combination next year. In the photo on the right (spot my foot!) you can see runner beans, calendula, marigolds, and borage was was also in that container (not-pictured). Everything that you see in the container garden was grown from seeds.
The Joy of Wildflowers
Wildflowers are underrated garden plants, and are sometimes deemed weeds. The reality is that they’re great for pollinators and biodiversity. These free (or at least inexpensive) plants offer a pop of colour and might even self-seed, meaning you don’t have to re-plant next year. My favourite wild flower to grow in containers is California poppies. If you stay on top of the dead-heading, you can have a vibrant patch of colour for months.
A wildflower/weed that self-seeds throughout our garden is cinquefoil. I don’t mind because the little red flowers are so cheerful and the bees love them (and the slugs don’t touch them!). In the photo below on the right are my not-so-successful sweet pleas, and very pretty Canadian wildflowers. These were sown from some seed paper that was from both a candle wrapper and an Elate Cosmetics packaging.
The garden is definitely starting to wind down as we head into September, and I’m looking forward to some autumn colour and the yearly pruning to get everything ready for winter. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of what’s growing in my summer garden for 2021. If you kept a garden this year, what was your biggest summer success? Do you have wildflowers dominating your garden?