August is always a good month in the garden, the beds are full, visitors are streaming through the gates and the gardeners are happy. Harvesting is the biggest job at this time of year, it can be hard to keep up with the demand for fresh peas, new potatoes, kale, beetroot and salad leaves for the café, but it’s a lovely to see the garden earning its keep. For me one of the greatest pleasures of the summer is harvesting the first Apricots. They start off firm and tangy and slowly turn soft and fragrant as they ripen, I just can’t help tasting them as I work my way along the south facing wall picking them.
It’s amazing the difference a couple of degrees can make! The weather has gradually warmed up and plants that I thought were a write off back in June have started to flourish. French beans are twisting their way to the top of the poles and the pumpkins are snaking their way out of the veg beds onto the paths. Our courgette plants have doubled in size in just a week and in the blink of an eye their tender little fruit will turn into whacking great marrows. Our leeks are starting to bulk up and the onions are getting a good baking in the sun ready to collect and string up in the potting shed in a couple of weeks time.
After a difficult few months, at long last our tomatoes are ripening. They’ve battled their way through nutrient deficiencies, cold weather and an overly acidic water supply, but now we’re being rewarded with trusses of colourful fruit from 14 different varieties. Tangy ‘Orange Fizz’, super sweet ‘Golden Crown’ and the exotically striped ‘Green Zebra’ are brightening up the green house but to be honest you can’t beat plain old ‘Gardner’s Delight’ for taste and reliable cropping. We grow our tomatoes alongside big pots of basil, both plants like the same conditions, with the addition of some stringy mozzarella and a little olive oil you’ve got an instant summery salad!
Anyone who works outdoors can be in little doubt that the climate is changing. I have no time for the small minority of politicians who pretend global warming isn’t happening! As gardeners we’re finding the weather increasingly unpredictable. It seems we’re getting long spells of extreme conditions; from weeks of unseasonably cold and wet weather this summer, to almost three months without a drop of rain last summer. We’re trying to do our bit in the Walled Garden, we only use biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable punnets for our produce, our vegetables go from plot to plate using zero fossil fuels for transport, and I’m pretty sure all the trees we’re planting will offset any carbon emitted by our tractor and mowers.
There’s plenty you can do in your own garden to help combat climate change. Most of the fruit and vegetables we consume are brought in from abroad so growing your own produce has to be one of the most environmentally friendly hobbies possible, cutting down on packaging, transport and refrigeration. Planting fruit trees will help absorb carbon and whilst I’m as fond of a neatly cut grass as the next man, why not try turning part of your lawn into a wildflower meadow? Meadows only need be cut once or twice a year, they’re wonderfully beneficial for insects and save you the bother of mowing every week!
In between all the harvesting, we spent August gearing up for our Big Flower Weekend on 17th & 18th August. To celebrate all that is great about Scottish grown cut flowers, we invited local florists and flower farmers to the garden to give talks and demonstrations and decorated the garden and potting shed with all sorts of wonderful blooms. Our own cut flower beds were a riot of colour at the moment, overflowing with dahlias, scabious, sunflowers, cosmos, gladioli and a host of other floral delights. Our next big event is our Garden Market on 28th September. Head over to our events page to find out more!
I love the garden at the height of summer, everywhere you look plants are spilling over, bees, butterflies and birds are darting to and fro, mice are scuttling across the paths and gardeners are busy hoeing, watering and tending to the plants. The walled garden seems to take on a life of its own in August, all we can do is try and contain its exuberance a little and do our best to harvest the fruits of our labour!