Where are the flowers? Well, certainly not in my backyard. Disappointingly, this is the second summer for me in my 20 plus years of gardening that I have not had a patch of earth yielding some floral delights. The fencing was only erected last week so at least now I can begin to see ‘defined space’ (or lack of it) to plan some planting. As a stop gap I have stuck a few pelargonium and sweet pea plugs into pots, but they went in rather late and show no signs of blooming yet.
Feeling flower starved I trotted down to the local florist. I think like many small businesses old fashioned florists have had their casual, walk-in trade almost obliterated by the big supermarkets undercutting them. It seems to have left florists with the traditional wedding and funeral business plus the odd corporate event. The consequence of this change in retail habits has resulted in some florists, understandably, reducing the range of flowers being stocked in their shops. I was disappointed with what was on offer especially considering that we are in high summer. Dispiritingly this is the best I could manage
and the arrangement includes stealing a blousy hydrangea bloom from the single surviving shrub at the front of the house.
The local park has offered more treats for the florally deprived with swathes of English lavender contrasting with clumps of achillea.And, last month there were field poppies blooming cheerfully in the unexpected heatwave.However, back home it was a disappointing and scentless flower situation until a visiting friend came to the rescue with a gorgeous scented posey of flowers from her garden.Sweet peas and cheerful daisies. I really don’t think you can beat homegrown flowers. In this case there are no air miles, very few road miles and no excessive irrigation and/or glasshouse heating costs. There is just a delicate, visual treat and an intoxicating, seasonal scent filling my workroom.
So far it’s four months since I packed up my home and said good-bye to the flower garden and I am most definitely missing some summer floral interaction! These photos were taken in the local park, Holywells Park, a five minute walk from my temporary home.It isn’t a huge park, but it is a most welcome sanctuary of green only five minutes from the very busy Ipswich Waterfront and less than a 20 minute walk from the city centre.
The park is spread across 67 acres and features a variety of wildlife habitats including ponds, woodland and meadow areas as well as more than enough space for humans to walk their dogs.
Plenty of lavender to attract the bees.
Terraced area between the clock tower and conservatory where the old house would have been.
For a gardenless person like me, there are also more formal plantings. Borders full of flowers, mostly lavender and alchemilla mollis, that soften the edges of the terraces between the old buildings. We have had some hot weather during the last month and only a couple days of any rain, and I think that the phlox has bolted and is running to seed, but it is still providing plenty of food for the bees.
Nettles invaluable to wildlife, especially butterflies, left amongst the flowers.
From the walled garden and terraces out to the park.
It was a very pleasant space to spend a quiet half hour during the early morning and I couldn’t believe the noise and pollution that hit me as soon as I ventured back out into the morning rush hour! At least these beautiful lilies bring the scent of a summer garden into the flat.
So few words capture such a melancholic sentiment – I bow to the brilliance of Robert Browning using autumn to deepen the overall sense of forlorn disappointment running through his poem, ‘Andrea del Sarto’. As for us mere mortals we can only observe nature’s steady familiar preparations for the coming winter and hopefully record tiny slices with our cameras.
It is also time to collect seeds. Salvia sclarea turkestanica will self-seed, but just in case we have a hard winter it always worth having some seeds to sow next spring and they are ready to collect now here in East Anglia.
Poppy seedlings pop up all over newly turned earth, but there’s no harm in helping nature along. So a gentle shake of the heads into a brown paper envelope or bag and you’ve got some seed for next year.