Today is Grandad’s 88th Birthday which he almost remembered… “I knew it was sometime this week!”. It is also Patrick and my wedding anniversary…31 years – amazing! There was a lot of rushing around this morning because I thought Hillingdon’s Arboricultural manager was coming at 10:00am. As I knew it was going to be ridiculously hot today, I was out soon after 8:00am watering. But before I could start I had to re-tie every tomato, cucumber and sunflower in the polytunnel again, because they have grown so much and I don’t want to damage them with the hose. I then rush to get Grandad up, accompanied by Pip who seems to know it is his birthday…it is already very hot so I open every window, put the fan on and fuss about him drinking plenty of water. I dash out of the Annexe at one minute to ten, to be told she is coming at 10:30! At least that gave me time for breakfast.
The young lady from Hillingdon duly arrives and is very nice and sensible when discussing what is needed with the trees growing on the land on top of our arcaded wall. She agrees some trees need removing, others cutting back and the work should be prioritised because of the historical significance of the wall. The visit was very helpful and she arranges to return with the tree surgery manager.
Not long after the Hillingdon lady left, the ‘bee-man’ arrived with the bee inspector. Diane, Patrick and I accompanied them solemnly to the bee hive enclosure and the careful examination of the four hives began. I waited apprehensively for some time but decided it was obviously going to take a while so thought it best to leave them in peace. I went down to the polytunnel which I gave another ‘hose-down’ to cool it down before I started work. Today I’ve decided to plant the hanging baskets, ironically it is less unbearable in the tunnel that outside! Not long after arriving in the tunnel I’m informed the bee men have finished and the bees are…HEALTHY! Hurray!!! It is going to be a good day, the girls and I celebrate by going in the pool and having lunch!
After lunch, Aideen and Meave go in the office to help Patrick, Diane continues to move the bricks on her own – good girl, she moved two pallets on Tuesday evening and by the end of Wednesday, she moves another three! I’ve decided to plant up all seven of the hanging baskets and then sit them on the wall (in partial shade) together for a few days for me to check they are thriving and keep them copiously watered before hanging them up. While the weather is this hot I don’t want to plant little plants outside, however uncomfortable they are in their trays they have more chance of survival remaining under my close supervision than out in the big wide world.
For our tea break today we had Aideen’s new strawberry ice cream which was delicious and a cake and candles for grandad. Even at 6:00/6:30, it is incredibly warm, not a cloud in the sky.
Having planted out the seven baskets I decide to spend some time dead heading, first all the new marigolds in the brassica corner (we want these to bush out and become good plants, not frazzle away to nothing), then the new dahlias (this job isn’t too bad yet – soon dead heading dahlias will take an hour!) I then cut down all the big seed head/flower spikes of a very large clump of lupins at the top of the field border. This might encourage re-flowering but my chief object is to take them away because they are smothered in aphids…is it the hot weather making aphids such a nightmare this year? Unfortunately, some lupins have spread aphids to the sweet peas which is annoying!
I then dead head the sweet peas around the fruit cage uneasily remembering Monty’s words on Gardeners World, “sweet peas hate drought”…I have to keep them watered!
At 8:30pm I start watering all the newly planted vegetables which now include celery, celeriac, beetroot, spinach (going to flower, but useable), coriander, caraway, chervil, quinoa, turnips, lettuce, courgettes, red and green cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, sprouts, swedes, Chinese cabbage (the green Chinese cabbage is trying to go to flower) kale, chard, endive, chicory, runner, soya, French, borlotti and edamame beans and onions, and all their companion planting!!! The potatoes, garlic and perennial veg are still looking after themselves because they are more established.
I am very happy that most of the veg is in the ground hopefully sufficiently established to survive this weather with my assistance. Only the leeks and the later cropping cabbage and cauliflowers are waiting to go in and fortunately I moved the leeks to root trainers, so they are happy at the moment. I finished by watering the dahlias, incredibly the Bishop of Llandaff was still holding its tall flower heads up even after such a blistering day, so I gave him some words of praise (yes I do talk to my plants). I then watered the sweet peas and inside the fruit cage (that I notice desperately needs weeding) and finally my ‘bête noir’ the organ bed…by this time the buzzer is going and it’s time to put the ‘Birthday boy’ to bed!
It is now late but I’ve put champagne in the fridge to celebrate our anniversary (better late than never). James makes a bbq and I sneak in the pool for a few minutes to cool down which was lovely… ‘life’s not so bad!’