Today will be a gentle day because I have to be ready (presentable!) to appear online before our next Zoom talk at 2:15 with Watford Park U3A, therefore, after getting grandad up there will not be much time to be in the garden.
Later in the morning the ‘bee man’ arrived to check on the hives. He visited us a few days ago for a ‘quick look’ and discovered the back two hives looked OK, but the front two hives looked suspiciously quiet. That is why he had to return today with his bee suit to check more thoroughly. Unfortunately, he discovered that one of these hives, the most recently established, was empty and full of wax moth. This is a great shame but we will have another go at establishing this hive next year. I managed to spend some time in the polytunnel before the talk and took the time to harvest all the red chillies. I am conscious that the weather will get drastically colder tomorrow and I don’t want the chillies to be zapped by frost. We are considering making these chillies into ‘chilli jam’ which will keep for quite a while in the fridge. I arrange the chillies very closely on a tray and bring it carefully inside to show Aideen.
It has not become particularly cold in the tunnel so far because the Black Eyed Susan is still going strong, as is the beautiful purple passion flower. I then spend the rest of my time sowing the remaining sweet peas, including; Turquoise Lagoon, Mayflower 400, Terrywogan, Alan Titchmarsh, Spanish Dancer, King Edward VII, Fire and Ice, Heathcliffe and Scarlet. I now have three root trainers filled with sweet peas each module sowed with two seeds which potentially will give me 96 double plants for early next year. When I finish with the sweetpeas it is time for me to come inside.
This is our third Zoom talk and these groups usually have at least half an hour before the talk to set things up and let people into the meeting room. Today’s group was quite large, 64 participants, and as with our previous talks, full of very nice, interested people. Some of them had visited the garden before, but at the end of the talk lots of people were keen to visit next year which is very encouraging. We had quite a long Q&A session over a range of topics, including composting, rainwater harvesting, box tree moth caterpillars and whether we sell our vegetables. I am incredibly glad that someone asked us to do a talk in the first place because the whole process has been so positive. I enjoyed writing the talk and although finding the photos was very time consuming, it was very interesting, and it is incredibly useful to now have them more easily accessible in a chronological order. But the main benefit has been the experience of giving the talks and being able to communicate with so many people. We have really missed people visiting the garden because it gives you such a boost when visitors enjoy what they see. Having the talks has a similar effect and all those people appreciating the talk have given us a tremendous lift which will encourage us to keep going with our various projects.
Not long after the talk, I had my online teaching which was rather challenging as the internet was being unpredictable and my pupils kept freezing, which makes it quite tricky when you are trying to listen to someone play the piano or listen to their response to an aural test! At one point, we even considered doing the lesson over the phone…so much for technology!
Wrapping the Bananas
This morning I had to stay in to receive a call from the hospital about dad. They have now discharged him back to our GP because the general opinion is that he is stable, comfortable and content. They now know that he does not want any more investigations or procedures, so it has been decided to leave him alone. Now, I will only contact the hospital if there are any further developments.
I am aware that the weather is due to become considerably colder, so my intention today is to check that anything vulnerable is protected. Diane and Aideen have gone outside the front of the house to use the remaining ‘type 1’ to level out the driveway. I start by cutting the dying leaves off the bananas in order to wrap them up. The biggest banana has collected water between leaf ends and its main stalk. I don’t want to leave water in the plant so I attempt to soak it up with a sponge to remove it! I then cover each of the four banana plants with an empty compost bag, wrap them is hessian and tie the covers on with a rope. They look very snug and I say a little prayer for their survival. I cut down the surrounding cannas and mulch everything with leaf mould. I have two enormous red leaved cannas that I put into the middle of the Aster beds at the start of the central borders. Each year, taking these cannas out and putting them back in is a monumental job. This year, I’ve decided to leave them in place, I cut back their leaves and mulched their crowns with leaf mould and I will hope for the best (and pray!).
We had a very welcome delivery from a lovely member of my adult choir of two huge lumps of Aster plant that had become too big for her garden. She had dug them up with her husband and brought them round to us.
In recent years, I have become very partial to Asters, ironic, as I didn’t used to be that fond of them… interesting how your tastes change. I have two beds at the start of the central border full of different coloured asters and they are a complete delight for weeks at the end of the summer and into Autumn. I had been considering adding Asters to the two beds at the other end of the central border, closest to the fountain, and then Chris asked me if I would have room for hers! It is funny how these things work out. I dug two large holes in the two beds and staggered in with the heavy clumps of Asters. I will look forward to seeing them bloom next year…maybe I could add some more to keep them company!
To finish up, I covered all the potted dahlias tubers in the cold frames with fleece and hessian and then started another heavy lifting job of putting the lids on the cold-frames. The lids are quite cumbersome and they were stacked at the far end of the frames, having not been on the frames for months. I moved twelve lids, leaving one section open, where I have seedling radish, carrots and spring onions.
When I came in, I decided I did not have enough sweet peas, so I made a list of another ten varieties that I will order tomorrow from Marshalls…there are so many different and tempting types of sweet pea!