It Ain’t Half Hot Mum


I write this post, naked from the waist up, basking in the sun at The Watch House. It’s not a pretty sight, but only I can see it. Beyond the garden gate bodies of all shapes and sizes litter the beach, reclining on vast towels, shielded from their neighbours by gaudy windbreaks despite there being no wind. Here in my little haven I am spared the sight of lobster-coloured flesh, but still get to enjoy the heated and very public disputes all families seem obliged to have on their way back to the car. Sometimes they even stop in the street outside so that I can enjoy several minutes of their impassioned performance. The roles are always the same – screaming mother, obstinate, unsympathetic father and wailing child / children. Occasionally there may be a cameo role for a pacifying grandparent or disinterested dog. I marvel at how indecision over where to consume fish and chips can cause such monumental rifts in a family, but we’ve all been there. That’s the heat for you: it makes us tired and teasy.

I have not been immune to the effects of the heatwave. I slept very poorly every night last week, not helped by an overnight stay at a hotel where I was compelled to sleep with the door open just to get some air moving through. I can’t decide whether it was the impact of the heat on others or on me that caused me to be uncharacteristically short-tempered at work, but I was relieved when it came to Friday and I could work from home. Even the drilling and chattering of the electricians putting my chandeliers up could not put me in a bad mood. Although the temperature has increased daily, my good humour is restored, for now at least.

It is nowhere near as warm in Broadstairs as it is inland, yet it’s still quite warm enough for me. I have been trying to clear the workshop so that the electricians can bring power through from the house next week. It’s a job that needs to be done ahead of my open weekend so that we have somewhere to plug the tea urn in. Facing due south the workshop heats up like a brick-kiln during the day and holds the warmth overnight, so there is no good time to tackle it. Serves me right for packing it full of stuff that ought to have been dealt with at the time. Just as I was looking my most hot and flustered who should pop her head round the door other than Torrington Tina and her husband, all the way from sunny Devon. Despite regular encounters in the blogosphere we had never met before. It was fantastic to finally be able to put a face to a name. I was soaking my airplants in a bucket of water, the horticultural equivalent of drying my Y-Fronts on the washing line, so I made my apologies and went on with an impromptu tour.

During this warm, dry weather the garden needs watering every other day. Even in my tiny garden that’s a three-hour job if I do it properly, longer if I am feeding as well, which I am tonight. On a weekday that means I must spend the entire evening with a watering can in my hand. Despite the time commitment, I find watering incredibly therapeutic. It’s a great opportunity to really look at the detail of your garden and make adjustments as you go. The downside, as you may have noticed, is that I’ve had very little time to keep this blog updated. I have ideas for new posts coming out of my ears, but they must wait. At times like these one must live in the moment, enjoy the wonderful weather and do what your garden demands of you.

Blessed with long, sunny days the plants have gone bananas; even the bananas have gone bananas! Both gardens are looking so good I could open tomorrow and feel reasonably content with what I have achieved. With another five weeks growing time ahead, I am starting to wonder how I’ll actually fit anyone in come August. Flowers are just starting to appear in numbers, starting with Lilium ‘Pink Flavour’ and Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’. I’ve already spied flower spikes forming on Hedychium yunnanense, which is extraordinarily early for a ginger to be producing flowers outside. Just for now I am happy to wait and enjoy this period of green anticipation.

First thing tomorrow I set off for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where once again I will be assessing the trade stands for the RHS. I would love to avail you of my thoughts on what I am going to see, but alas I’ve not so much as looked at the website, or my instructions, so it will be a pleasant surprise for us both. If you are there on Tuesday and spot a man with oranges printed on his short-sleeved shirt, that will probably be me. Do say hello. If it is not, you’ll have met a man with fabulous taste anyway.

Whilst I am posting less frequently I am continuing to update other forms of social media regularly, so do give me a follow on Facebook or on Instagram and you’ll be among the first to see what’s in store at the world’s largest (and possibly hottest) flower show. I shall also be making more short films and posting them to IGTV. In the meantime stay cool, keep your garden well watered (if you are permitted to) and try not to let the heat get you. TFG.