Madame Lumière’s Late Bloomers

From about July the weeds were time-consuming to deal with.  Quite apart from the fact that the plants were managing to go to seed before I could get to them, I am now convinced that a lot of seeds come through our rapid composting process.  Digging all Nick’s compost into the garden is definitely improving the texture and workability of the humus-poor sandy soil we have in St V, so we probably have to grin and bear it in the short-term until we can manage to reduce the quantity of seeds getting into the bin in the first place.

But the soil is beautifully and deeply wet so I am starting in the top right-hand corner where the Allium schubertii grow beneath the roses.  The Himalayan strawberry, Fragaria nubicola, which I allowed to grow around the lovely late-flowering blue Salvia uliginosa (Bog Sage) further along, has sent its stealthy tendrils to the top region of this flower bed and has to be rooted out.  The red berry fruits are pretty, spherical and very pippy.  They taste very watery so are not good eating, but they do look nice.

There are bushy self-set St John’s Wort to root out, also Nicandra which are everywhere and other large invasive weeds. When all this junk is removed there are delphiniums and helleborines in need of rescue.  In fact one delphinium is still in flower with another tall bud spike in waiting, for which the jury is out as to whether it will flower before the frosts.  Standing back I can see that there are lots of late blooms to enjoy and some of my plantings over the past 4 years need to move house and that needs thought……and a bit of persuasion.

Over successive days I clear out the narrow border by the gravels and re-edge with scallop shells, residue from a recent supper.  I always ask the fish man to leave the scallops for me to shuck.  I harvest every scrap of muscle which is attached to the shells and I cut off the frills to bizz up and use for fish bisques.  Only the gills and digestive gland are chucked.

The next bed to get its autumn-cleaning is the one by the back gate.  I dig out the vast Chicory plant (Cichorium intybus) and clean up the large taproot through which roots of the dreaded convolvus are entwined.  Lots of other vegetative junk is excavated.  The Chicory is divided, a sizeable piece put back and 8 pieces potted to give away.

Monsieur le Cool pays frequent visits as I kneel on my piece of foam, and fork and rake around the plants.  He pushes against my knee, looks up at me with his big pussy cat face and penetrating stare.  In the end I have to go indoors and eek out a few more of his daily ration of biscuits.  He is only allowed 60g of dried cat food a day, which looks so little, although he does wash it down with rainwater from the orange bucket so it swells up some inside him.

I’ll keep working round the garden until the end of the month, weather permitting.  Nick, who loves to see clearance of any kind is admiring of progress.  So much so that he finally agrees (after a year of demurring) to the creation of a new flower bed to accommodate “delphiniums blue” ……. and irises in all their irisy colours.  (The “geraniums red” will just have to go elsewhere!)  Mum and Dad’s bird bath is a trigger for the choice of shape and placement.  So the bed gets cut and will lie fallow through the winter so nutrients can leach out of the compost and the frost can cut the ground.

And now for a gallery of late bloomers….


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