Wordless Wednesday 31-08-2016



End of month view – August 2016


The lack of change between this view now and a month ago belies a definite change in the feel of things. A month ago the floral trajectory was up, now it is unmistakeably down. Around mid August it peaked, timing it badly for the end of month meme.

It’s now the season of taking stock and planning the changes to make over the winter so that next year is better. It needs to be done while the evidence is still fresh and notes taken and stored where they will not get lost. The pink Dahlia must go from the group of orange, red and purple. Miscanthus growing too lush and flopping might be moved into the rootzone of the big conifer, or do I want that for a seating area.


One of this year’s projects has been to revive our collection of old, tired Fuchsias. On the whole it has been a success, though cuttings of some were hard to obtain. I have found top dressing with purpose made professional fertilizer much more effective than liquid feeding for getting growth out of tired and hungry plants. Growth of young plants has been extraordinary, too much really, to the detriment of flowering in some instances.

Dahlias, or rather growing more and better dahlias, has been another focus. I bought 20 plug plants from the National Collection at the beginning of the year. I have to say I have had mixed results, one or two losses, one or two not true to type, or at least different from their display plant, some growing very strongly, some less so. I want them to integrate into the garden, I’m not into growing them in serried rows with lines of stakes.


In this picture you get a sense of how I have a line of strong colour running from the house in the foreground up to the dahlia in top left. This is the part of the garden that gets sun for most of the day. To either side there is a lot more shade and the planting reflects this.


Fortunately the dahlias at the furthest point from the house have grown huge and are visible over everything in between. The semicircular paved area by the glasshouse was another failed attempt at creating a seating area. Fortunately we don’t do a lot of sitting.

In other news, as they say; this pretty clematis is flowering. It was a seedling from one my mother grew aeons ago. My onions have done well, best I’ve ever grown, lifted on sunday. One sunflower survived the relentless ravages of the slugs. And I noticed yesterday that the yucca is about to flower for the first time. We must have had it fifteen years.

As ever I am indebted to Helen at https://patientgardener.wordpress.com/ for hosting the end of month meme. Doubtless she will post hers in due course and links to many others will get attached.

Pruning the apple tree

Well it’s done now, for better or worse. There’s no going back.

I have to admit to a degree of trepidation each year when the third week of August comes around and it is time to prune my Suntan apple. It has to be done; in a garden the size of mine there is no question of allowing it to grow unchecked. So I have a quick look at the RHS website to remind myself what I should be doing and then get stuck in.

Three leaves above the basal cluster for laterals, one leaf above the basal cluster for sub-laterals. Clear enough.

No it isn’t! There is no line marked on a shoot to say “the basal cluster ends here”. There is no clear difference between laterals and sub-laterals. In truth it doesn’t matter that much. I know that now because I have been through this for four years now and the tree flowers beautifully. I don’t get a lot of fruit, but that is not because of my pruning.




The first pass is from the ground, cutting everything I can reach. It’s not a great deal, perhaps a third. Then out comes the stepladder, from which I can just about reach the rest. I end up with a fair sized pile of prunings on the floor.

Those prunings represent reduced leaf area, which translates to reduced vigour in the tree, favouring production of flowers rather than growth. I live in Cornwall and our climate certainly encourages lots of growth, so there is an element of compensating for that in what I do. The timing is important, doing it now should mean little or no new growth before the tree drops its leaves and goes dormant. Doing it later reduces the effectiveness of the treatment.


Lower half completed.



The lack of fruit is down to poor pollination. Suntan is a late flowerer and Until last winter I had nothing flowering at the same time. I have now planted Newton Wonder and Lanes Prince Albert, which should in time rectify the situation, as well as providing me with cooking apples. Those I shall try and grow as spindle trees, curtailing vigour by tying down their laterals. I shall also graft a few bits onto my “family” tree, which is behind Suntan in the picture, and possibly onto Suntan itself. Then if they grow too big I can get rid of them.


The prunings, which will be shredded and composted.