It is said that the major topic of conversation in England is the weather. Well, that is hardly surprising when you think that we have just seen the longest day this summer come and go and still the rain pours down and gales continue to assault the house and do great damage in the garden. It has been so cold that we have turned the central heating on again – in June, for heavens sake.
We have always had one problem: the terrace faces south and the wall of the house is painted white. When the weather is hot, the terrace becomes rather unbearable as the walls act as heat reflectors and there is no shade other than that made by an umbrella. We have had a running battle with Dennis on this subject every since we came here. Dennis is the local painter and decorator and over the years has become a very good friend. Our reaction to this huge slab of white was to grow something up it – wisteria would have been good but then so would a vine or a Virginia creeper – but Dennis would have none of it. Apart from making painting the place very difficult there was the risk of damaging the walls.
|Dennis, in Marcia's study.|
So, not knowing that we would be leaving here this year, I had a brilliant idea. I would grow tall things in pots. I would stand the pots against the wall during the summer and they could be moved to a more sheltered environment from the winter and, of course, when Dennis came to paint the house (which he does every three years).
It was a very bad mistake.
For example, I have these lovely spindle trees – three of them are quite short bushes of the species Euonymus alatus and three of them are tall spindly affairs: probably Euonymus bungeanus although I am not sure as these were given to me by a friend. Being very invasive, there is merit in keeping them in pots (although that raises problems of feeding and watering) so they were perfect candidates for this going onto the terrace.
|Two of the tall spindle trees flanking a Euonymous alatus and some lupins.|
|One of the other E. alatus. In the autumn the foliage turns a wonderful colour (which is why we bought these). We shall be taking these with us when we leave.|
So, I thought would a container of sweet peas and a few lupins. These were also brought on in a sheltered part of the garden.
Of course, what I had not taken into consideration was the fact that we would be buffeted by so much wind. The taller spindle trees are now showing all the signs of suffering from damage to their roots thanks to wind rock (and that despite being staked), the poor sweet peas were wrenched and battered and we though we had lost them although they are now showing signs of recovery and the lupins have had chunks torn off as the gales howled.
|Sweet peas, battered but bearing up bravely.|
Meanwhile, Colin – he who helps me keep the garden from becoming a wilderness – has had very few days here because there is no point in coming over when the rain is pouring from the sky. Suddenly, about two weeks ago, we had three very hot days one after the other. He seized one of these to weed the lavender hedge that we planted last year and it was so hot he had to wear a hat to protect himself from the sun.
No wonder we talk about the weather!
As I expected, the last of the froglets have now gone, returned to the margins of the upper pond which, being horribly overgrown, makes a perfect sanctuary for them.
Will there be any tadpoles to care for after we move? Tell you next year.