I have never been a fan of June. I suffer quite badly with hay fever, and this year has been particularly challenging. Moody for weeks, exhausted at the end of each day, reaching for my inhaler daily, and yesterday (Saturday) was the first bed day I had had in quite a while. This year, however, there was something I looked forward to. This summer is the first one I have been able to garden without a moving date in sight. I can continue to pot up, harvest, deadhead, without thinking “what’s the point if we’re moving?”
I thought I might miss the allotment I had to give up when we decided to up sticks last year. To my surprise, I haven’t. I am enjoying growing in containers much more than I had anticipated. Sure, watering is a pain, but I am having a lot more successes than I had anticipated. Having reduced space has also made me curb my buying habits, although my bank balance would beg to differ – high numbers of compost-buying is also a downside of container gardening. Perhaps I should say that having reduced space has curbed my plant-buying habits. I have restricted my colour palette; blue, purple, white and green are the main colours in a garden that aims for serenity. Out in the front, however, I have chosen cream, peach, pale yellow, pale pink. However, A red nasturtium has weaved its way into the serene garden, and I am growing potatoes out the front, but that’s quite alright. These are not set rules.
Wildlife is also an important factor to me. I have attracted birds, and I have seen the odd mouse. I have relocated a green caterpillar (potentially an Angle Shade), and planned my attack on the ants that paraded around my decking, until I realised they were dealing with the black aphids that had decided to make a home in my garden. Did you know ants take off the aphid’s wings so they can then feast on them? I didn’t. I now let the ants be, and salute them when I spot them climbing up and down my borage or nepeta. Speaking of which, there are more visits from bees every day. At the start of May one lone bee ventured into the garden and feasted on the blue flowers that were just emerging. Six weeks on, there is a constant buzz of about 10 bees that alternate between nepeta, borage and valerian. They have just discovered the geraniums, the mangetout flowers and the lavender. The cerinthe is just getting started.
Another visitor I am delighted to have are tiny butterflies, not much bigger than my fingernail. I haven’t been able to identify them yet, but I am hoping the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust might help me. They flutter about unperturbed by our presence, but never stay on one leaf long enough for me to take a proper look at it. And just today I saw the funniest-looking caterpillar which turned out to be an a Vapourer moth caterpillar. I didn’t have my phone on me at the time, but I enjoyed watching it travel around by penstemon.
I have felt guilty that I have not been on social media enough, or updated my blog as regularly as I should have. But I have enjoyed working in the garden, and I have treasured the moments where I see a goldfinch fish for food in the brick wall, or when I see the first blooms of the achillea, or when I find my first mangetout pod. They are moments I treasure, and are not any less real just because I haven’t interrupted the precious moment by running back inside to get the camera. It was a moment for me to appreciate there and then. And to perhaps recount later.