Cool Cool Convolvulus But Hot On The Plot

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We’re having a two-day heatwave here in the UK, temperatures in the 30s. That our summers for the last few years have been fairly heat-free seems to have erased memories that in times past we also had heatwaves. I remember baking to a crisp day after day on a Welsh beach back in the mid-1950s, and that was in May. And then there was the prolonged drought of 1975-76 when, due to severe water shortages, bathing with a friend was the catch phrase du jour. Wikipedia says this about that year:

Heathrow had 16 consecutive days over 30 °C (86 °F) from 23 June to 8 July[ and for 15 consecutive days from 23 June to 7 July temperatures reached 32.2 °C (90 °F) somewhere in England. Furthermore, five days saw temperatures exceed 35 °C (95 °F). On 28 June, temperatures reached 35.6 °C (96.1 °F) in Southampton, the highest June temperature recorded in the UK. The hottest day of all was 3 July, with temperatures reaching 35.9 °C (96.6 °F) in Cheltenham.

Whatever the weather, this gardener usually tries to avoid going away during the main growing season. At the best of times, watering the allotment vegetable plots and polytunnel seems too big an ask of fellow allotmenteers, and especially so during a dry spell. Summer for me, then, means garden watch. And so with the promise of a hot day ahead, this morning I was off to the allotment at 6 a.m. to see what rescue remedies might be needed after yesterday’s heat.

I needn’t have worried. The polytunnel (a sweat-inducing structure even in coolish weather) was fine. I’d left both doors open and the tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines, lettuce and herbs looked happy enough. Meanwhile out on the plot, and since I was there, I damped down the mulch around the climbing peas and beans, courgettes and sweet corn, then picked raspberries that were looking a bit cooked, and gave vulnerable beetroot and leek seedlings a good soak.

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And then I wandered around and took these photos, and was home by 8 a.m., by which time it was definitely warming up.  The BBC forecast says 35 C now at midday, though the Norwegian Met Office site YR (which I usually follow as it’s pretty good) says 34. In any event, it will be a much cooler 22C max tomorrow, and in the 20s for the rest of the week. I just hope we get some meaningful rain showers along with the returning coolness.

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Back in the home garden, the borders are definitely struggling  through lack of rain. I can’t begin to water everything. The driest area is over the back fence in the guerrilla garden. Plants there simply have to take their chances, but even so, the tansy and golden rod are running rampant, towering over my head, and the late flowering Michaelmas daisies and helianthus are catching up. Meanwhile Ann Thomson geranium is holding her own against the lot of them. She may get cooked each day, but she’s still comes back flowering each morning. Oh, for such repeat resilience.

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And this summer in the garden I’m really pleased to find that one of my favourite  wild flowers, yellow toadflax, has decided to colonise the upstairs path. I grew it from seed a couple of years ago, and now it’s taken off. I first fell in love with it as a child, on trips into the Shropshire hills where it grows along the lane verges in high summer…

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And talking of the Shropshire hills, I’ll leave you with summer views of the Shropshire-Wales borderland, taken a week or so ago on a visit to Mitchell’s Fold prehistoric stone circle.

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Lens-Artists: Summer Vibes

This week Solaner has set the challenge.

45 thoughts on “Cool Cool Convolvulus But Hot On The Plot

  1. you are quite the market gardener Tish – I thought of your effulgent allotment as I planted my few veg seeds! Those raspberries drew both eye and saliva! By tomorrow we can feel normal again – whatever our normal happens to be.
    p.s. I agree with you about avoiding summer breaks whilst flowers and veg demands so much attention but I have to be away in Israel for a couple of August weeks and will have to ask neighbourly daughter to act as caretaker!

      1. Oh, I think you are being too modest! Now, another thing, how many stones still standing in that Stone Circle?

      2. Only that main one in the photo. The others are either very flat or very short. As stone circles go it’s a bit underwhelming, especially under midday light. Better in the bleak mid-winter.

      3. That, I think, is why I never went with my parents when they lived in that area…my pa wouldn’t have done underwhelming

  2. Stay cool and enjoy whatever the weather throws your way. Here, it is usually hot and breezy. We plant things that grow low to the ground. Except grapes, I’ve a bumper crop of grapes this year.

    1. I get more pleasure from veggie gardening than flowerbeds, but you have set the bar very high indeed. Excellent stuff. I remember that summer of ’76. It was the first time ever that I didn’t enjoy heat, being pregnant with our first born. I had it lucky compared with this week!

      1. We were living way up in North East Scotland in ’76. It was the one and only time we grew tomatoes outdoors. We had loads of sun but some stiff North Sea breezes which made getting sun-burned all too easy.

  3. Every thing looks good to me. Hot is a regular here and the humidity is what really kills” us. But the morning dew saves the plants between showers. Looking forward to a bumper crop of figs after very little last year.. Guess I’ll be in the kitchen making fig jam and wishing for fall.

  4. I fear it will be a long, hot summer — in Southern California, we’ve had weeks of heat already, and it promises to be hotter still! Stay cool — keep that beautiful garden going, and enjoy the summer!

  5. What a shame that you had to pick those raspberries. I suppose you had to eat them as well. Such a shame! 🙂 We’ve been watching the Tour de France so we’re aware of the European heat wave. In a few more days, it should drop below 110F for a change. 🙂

    1. We really did have to make ourselves eat those raspberries, Janet. Oh dear. And now it’s 22 today, around 72 F and very gloomy. I should think that’s pretty cool for you.

  6. Wow Tish – what an amazing array of beautiful flowers and fruit. We’ve been reading about the UK heat wave. frightening. Hope it’s short-lived.

    1. Thank you, Tina. Today the heat has been and gone, and it wasn’t uniformly over-hot everywhere, mostly mid-30s. A lot of the higher temps were recorded at airports!

  7. The unusual temperatures in Europe is also making news here. I think your time in Africa, where such temperatures are quite normal, probably stand you in good stead at the moment, Tish?

    1. The thing is, Dries, the weather in Central Kenya, and especially in Nairobi was rather benign, being at nearly 6,000 feet, usually mid 20s in the hot season, which to us felt like perfect ‘English summer’ temps. It was hotter and steamier down at the coast of course, but then there were also good sea breezes. Zambia was pretty air-conditioned too being at 5000 ft. The UK press is making a big hoo-hah about a few hot days.

      We’ve had big heatwaves in the past. August 1930 had temps of 36 C and press reports at the time also referred back to four other like events that century, including Aug 1911 when there were high temps in the UK and across Europe. So unusual yes, but not abnormal, and something to do with a lot of hot air and dust blowing up from North Africa. Anyway today it is 22 and very grey and cloudy. Such a change. I’m thinking there’s a lot we need to learn about weather and climate.

  8. You definitely rise to a challenge, Tish! The allotment is looking great. And that nice quiet spot in the garden- do you get chance to sit there? I like the look of that golden flax too. At least your heatwaves are short-lived, and usually washed either side with a downpour. Ours may well continue till October, excepting of course the 2 weeks we’re in the UK. Enjoy it while it lasts!

    1. Thanks, my dear, for those words of praise. And yes we do indeed sit in the shady corner. Been having our supper there lately too. I don’t think I could cope with a heatwave that lasts till October. Today the heat has gone. No rain but very gloomy clouds and a breeze. What a change from yesterday.

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