This Month in the Garden, September with Kate Hill

Like many people I can’t wait for the summer to arrive but this year I’ll be glad to wave it goodbye. It’s been such a huge effort trying to keep everything in the garden alive whilst using as little water as possible. Who needs a gym when carrying buckets of ‘grey’ water from the house not to mention goodness knows how many watering cans provides a workout? The plants may not be drooping but I certainly am – bring on the rain!
There are of course some plants that will not mind the dry conditions  – euphorbias, strappy-leaved phormiums and cordylines and of course lavenders spring to mind. Good old helianthus (perennial sunflower) is also pretty resilient. It flowers from July to October and whilst it can be something of a thug – its roots spread very quickly – nevertheless it makes a cheerful splash of colour and I’m fairly sure it is one of those ‘bomb proof’ plants that would be hard to eradicate (not that I would want to I hasten to add).
Helianthus Lemon Queen, pictured right, is a more well behaved variety with delicate lemon yellow flowers which forms a clump that does not spread around.
Other plants that are performing well are the white flowered clematis John Huxtable, shown left, and Perle d’Azur (see top of page) which has the richly deserved RHS Award of Garden Merit, as does the dusky pink flowered Comtesse de Bouchard, shown right, (my personal favourite). All three of these clematis varieties can be relied on to do well year on year – like all clematis they are hungry plants and like their feet to be cool and moist and their heads in the sun.
As I’m writing this a dunnock is hopping around on the path right in front of me and a family of long-tailed tits has landed in the birch tree intent no doubt on visiting the feeders below. Dunnocks are often dismissed as “LBJs” (birdwatchers’ speak for Little Brown Jobs) but on closer inspection their markings are just as beautiful and intricate as some of our more colourful garden birds and long-tailed tits are everyone’s favourite whenever our birdwatching group sees them. Every year I look forward to the arrival of the house martins which nest under the eaves of the houses opposite mine. They are a joy to watch in the evening chattering to each other as they swoop and dive for insects and when they depart for their winter quarters in Africa it is a sure sign that autumn is on the way and I’ll be sad to see them go. On reflection perhaps I’ll be glad to hang on to summer for as long as possible after all……