A potager stocktake

Have I told you how much I love September? I probably say this every year. But there is something about the light that changes on the mountains that just make me yelp with delight.

There is a particular bend in the corner on my daily (it’s not that fast or far) power walk that makes me grin and really contemplate getting my phone out and snapping the particular scene of mountain and meadow and sky.

But by the time I think I must, the moment has gone and I’m plunging back into the forest on the way down to the river.

But I’m not going to pass up this chance to snap things closer to home.

Potager. Cut flower garden.

I have promised to talk about all the changes I want to effect this autumn and winter. But instead I have half an ear out for the electrician who is due to swoop, and the list of prep for the next house guest.

So instead, I offer you this.

I did a stocktake of what I actually grow in the vegetable and cut flower garden. Rather than those dreamy mid winter plans of what you want to grow. It was illuminating.

I had to grab an old laminated copy of the 2013 potager – those were the days. Keen, tidy, organised, on top of it all. These days it’s more of the sow, grow and fling at the beds without much of a plan.

No plan actually. That could be because I’m so much more experienced. But I suspect because growing fruit and vegetables is no longer that challenging.

Compared to the rest of the farm and garden.

And what amazed me … apart from the appalling number of cucumber plants I have in this space … were just how many dahlias I have.

And considering I usually only offer you these two vistas with dahlias:

Mainly because I love the contrast of flower and house.

Or this one because it is so crammed with flowers (six different dahlias, sown from seed agastache, self sown zinnias, and a few swamped lilies from spring) and I’m always at this bed for a spot of instant flower arranging. I don’t need to move far to fill a vase.

You might be gobsmacked to learn there are 35 plants in buckets sunk into the soil all over this vegetable garden.

I was surprised, amazed and a bit appalled. Is this the Imelda Marcos of dahlia growing? (Do millennial even know who Imelda Marcos was? Quite the obsessive shoe collector wife of the dictator of the Philippines.)

I must stop dividing the tubers each year, otherwise I might as well open a shop and be done with vegetables all together.

Some of the 35 have not flowered at all. This one has only just started and it’s already September.

I’ll be inspecting all the shy to flower ones carefully this autumn before I haul out the buckets for the changes.

And others are shaded by the now lusty Melrose apple tree in the far end of the potager. Those are the dark red Karma varieties I first dared to buy.

Dahlias to me seemed very grown up and organised back in the day. The point where you change from scrabbling about to fill your vases with blooms around and about to the full on non-stop colour and delight that these plants can bring.

I was nervous. And only seemed to buy crimson and inky dark ones.

Things have changed this year in a big way.

Nothing on the colour chart is safe. Apart from the Mel’s Orange Marmalade that failed to flower.

And some amazed me just because I bought them on a whim from a half price tuber sale at a hardware store and didn’t expect them to do anything at all.

I think this Dahlia was just labelled ‘Red’. The stems aren’t long, so they are more decorative than functional. But right now I can barely brush past on the path to reach the cucumber plant beside them.

These pale yellow ones are not my favourite. Which means I have so many flowers on the plant I don’t know how to mix them in with others in the vases. But I love the dark foliage.

But if I label them correctly at the end of the season (let’s not take a sweepstake on that possibility), I can give them away and make room for the more fun things like this.

Please don’t ask me to go outside and scrabble about looking for the label. (It might be Julie One). I will trip over the pile of laundry that needs attending to in the hallway. And that will trigger the reminder I need to get the sheets out of the washing machine. And then I’ll remember I haven’t made the beds in the guest house, And ….. so it goes.