Growing towards the light

It might be August, just, but it looks as if the weather has decided that that’s it for this summer. I suppose we can still hope for a few bright and balmy days in early autumn.

As a child when we used to come to Suffolk for our family holidays the neighbouring back garden was full of one type of flower – hollyhocks. The entirety of their little plot was hollyhocks. I suspect now that they were mostly self-seeded as it was an open area of free-draining soil and hollyhocks seem to do well in our part of the country. Ever since then hollyhocks have been in my top ten of favourite flowers. Wherever I have been gardening I have tried to squeeze in a few of these essential, cottage garden beauties.

This year I have had pink, white and a very dark, dark red and they have all managed to flower. It is just as well that I took a moment to get some photos of these naturally tall plants before Storm Francis blew in.

Hollyhocks aren’t the only tall flowering plants I’ve grown in my backyard this year. As usual I have grown some cosmos from seed. The packet for this pink variety definitely said ‘dwarf’, but they have grown to over five feet tall, searching for the light. I do think they would have started blooming much earlier and remained dwarf if they had full sunlight all day. As you can see from the almost ‘ethereal’ photo above, the plants only get full sunlight in intermittent bursts. Obviously, this has not been enough and the plants have become etiolated.

At least most of the pink cosmos eventually flowered, but then Storm Francis decided to take down a few plants pulling over the pots at the same time. Luckily, and surprisingly no pots were broken and who doesn’t appreciate having plenty of cut flowers to bring indoors.

I survived the tail end of hurricane Bertha!

agapanthus bronze fennel
Survivor, but a little battered.
Agapanthus Headbourne hybrids and Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’
When old mother nature comes knocking at our door in the early hours of the morning what can we expect? I understand from the weather people that the UK has just been hit by a large, summer storm system that was the tail end of hurricane Bertha. Over the weekend there has been torrential rain and flooding and very strong winds.

In the garden the flowers have been bashed, half my raspberry canes are down and the runner beans have flopped over. But I am lucky I live at the top of a hill (yes there are few hills in Norfolk), and I feel very sorry for all the folks who have woken up to flooded houses. I hope the summer wind will dry out their rooms as fast as possible.

Meanwhile earlier this evening I set about saving the beans and spied this little beauty struggling on in less than ideal conditions.

monarda cerise pink bergamot
Monarda cerise pink.
Also known as bergamot or bee balm.