I thought I might have a bit more time on my hands once I had sent the book off to the publishers but that’s not quite how things have turned out. For a start there’s all the housework that has been a little neglected recently, the mess that is my shed and the area behind it that functions as a general dumping ground for old compost bags, pots with bolted salad leaves and that sort of thing. It has all needed some attention, as has my garden which has had to get on and do its own thing so far this year. So I’ve spent this week reacquainting myself with my borders, plants and paths.
The beautiful summery weather has been bliss. It’s been such a long time since we’ve been drenched in so much warm sunshine after last year’s dismal summer that this has felt like a reacquaintance too. We’re eating outside, the deck chairs have taken up residence and it’s a pleasure to potter about in flip-flops and feel the warmth radiating from every surface. The heat has meant a change in my gardening routine though. This is by no means a complaint. I would love this weather to continue until October and can’t bear to hear, after such a long, cold winter the person in the queue at the supermarket say after only a few days of sunshine, ‘Oh it’s just too hot’. I sigh inwardly as I remember only a few weeks ago the same person complain that we never get a proper summer. For me, gardening takes place early or late in the day now and I retreat indoors when the heat makes working too uncomfortable. Watering sessions at the allotment take the best part of two hours but I’d rather give everything a good soak every three or four days than have to go there every night.
Last year’s cool, dull and wet weather meant my tayberry crop slowly ripened over the course of six weeks providing a regular, and a manageable supply of fruit. This year is completely different. The heat and sun mean the fruits are ripening rapidly and I can’t keep up. And the blackcurrants are dripping in black fruit that need picking too. I think I need to get organised, and quickly, for a mammoth freezing session. Wellyman has been instructed to make some white sourdough bread for a summer fruit pudding and I have plans for some homemade cassis. Maybe we’ve become so used to awful summers but it’s taken me by surprise and I feel completely unprepared.
It also appears that I’m going to be reacquainted with a flower I’ve been eagerly anticipating for some time. About four or five years ago I bought a Trachelospermum asiaticum from a nursery in Cornwall. It was about a foot tall and in flower and it smelt divine. The plan was for it to scramble up the side of my shed and drape itself in a romantic kind of way around my not so romantic looking shed door. I hoped that its deliciously scented, delicate blooms would conjure up images of an idyllic cottage garden retreat rather than my concrete panel constructed shed which I can’t justify the expense of replacing with something much more aesthetically pleasing. Well perhaps I should have done my homework because as I have discovered trachelospermums aren’t the fastest growing of plants. It has taken all that time for it to reach about 5 foot but worse it hasn’t flowered. Nothing, zilch. But then, last night whilst watering, I spotted what looked like flower buds. I’m not getting carried away, I can only see two sets of buds so far, so we’re hardly talking a screen of heavenly jasmine-perfumed flowers but it gives me hope that one day my plan might come to fruition. Although we’ll have probably moved by then.