The Heat Is On

I love a bit of sun as much as the next man, but when the mercury rises above 25 degrees I am not at my best. I become sluggish, irritable and less inclined to get up and go. If I were a plant, I’d be an alpine, at my best in the spring and enjoying a cool, bright position.

Has anyone found a front door?  I seem to have lost mine....
Has anyone found a front door? I seem to have lost mine….

Thankfully the plants in our seaside garden don’t share my sensitivity to the heat and continue their extraordinary midsummer growth spurt. Canna iridiflora x ehemanii (top of post), which was slow to get going, has suddenly started producing leaves of banana-like proportions. Flower buds, which will open to reveal trusses of nodding carmine flowers, are just starting to form. All this growth makes reaching the front door quite an experience. The canna cannot stay where they are, but where else to put them? Digitalis canariensis is about to produce a second flush of burnt orange flowers and Hedychium ‘Stephen’ is right on cue with flower heads just beginning to emerge. The leafy stems are already 6ft tall, dwarfing Cautleya spicata which is another member of the ginger family.

A riot of colour including Dahlia 'Amercian Dawn', Agapanthus africanus, Cautleya spicata and Lilium 'Debby'
A riot of colour including Dahlia ‘Amercian Dawn’, Agapanthus africanus, Cautleya spicata and Lilium ‘Debby’

The effects of the heat are not all positive. The lilies have gone over in record time, and will be a fragrant memory by our open weekend. Smaller pots are drying out exceptionally fast, which is a problem when I am not around to quench their thirst. Thank heavens for the wonderful Vanessa, who pops in regularly through the summer to keep everything watered. I couldn’t keep the garden going without her. Everything needs staking, propping or tying-in as the foliage grows taller and taller. I am excited to see if Ipomea indica, the blue dawn flower, makes it into flower in time for me to show it off. A member of the convolvulus family, it’s regarded as a noxious weed in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and California. I think global warming has some way to go before it becomes a problem in Kent.

After their annual molestation by capsid bugs, the leaves of Geranium palmatum are luxuriant once again.
After their annual molestation by capsid bugs, the leaves of Geranium palmatum are luxuriant once again.

With 8 days to go we are now down to the real nitty-gritty; what size plastic cups to buy and what to collect the entrance money in? It’s all high-brow stuff. From having no guaranteed help over the weekend, we now seem to have lots, with friends coming from as far away as Cornwall and Southampton. Quite where we will put them all (and how they will get in!) I am not sure, but many hands make light work.

A cooler spell would be welcomed by the garden and by me, preserving the flowers for longer and making it more pleasant to work. Will it be too much to hope that the fine weather will last another 10 days for the big weekend? Fingers crossed.

Click here for more details of our open weekend on August 2nd and 3rd 2014 and here to access the details on the National Gardens Scheme website.

Will Debby dazzle or droop come the open day?
Will Debby dazzle or droop come the open weekend?