Six on Saturday: 10 July 2021: tribulations

Coping with loss, failure, and disappointment is as much the gardener’s lot as the more celebrated joys and triumphs of successfully growing beautiful plants and bringing in bountiful harvests. Perhaps inevitably, we highlight the good stuff and tuck away the bad stuff, well away from the camera lens and our brightly edited versions of our gardens. But this year has been tough in more ways than one, and the garden has not always been a source of undiluted pleasure. So far, summer in northern Europe has been unrelentingly wet, and a boom in slug and snail numbers of which locals have never seen the like has wrought untold destruction. Of course, it can never be all bad in the garden, so this week there’s still some solace among the slimey trails. For example:

1 Dahlias. Yes, this is the beautiful, almost black Dahlia, Chat Noir. The reason I know that is from the label. I was looking forward to these sultry beauties contrasting with the daylilies, but alas it was not meant to be. Despite numerous slug patrols and controls, Chat Noir was too tasty. But apparently not Dahlia Antibes, planted right alongside. This was was unscathed until the hapless gardener took a photo, and then recklessly knocked the bud off while attempting to move a potted Dahlia into the empty space occupied by the Chat Noir skeleton. Can’t blame everything on the slugs.

Rest in peace: Dahlia Chat Noir
Dahlia Antibes

2. Lavender and weeds. More tribulations. This is the first year I’ve seen bind weed take hold here in the lavender hedge along the front path, where it grows in a sweet spot unreachable from both our side and our neighbour’s side of the fence. Someone’s going to have to crawl under and attempt to locate the roots, and I get the feeling it’s going to be me. But perhaps I can take consolation from the more welcome weed that has self-seeded just in front: the wild mallow, which is looking a bit dishevelled but rather pretty.

3. Cosmos ‘Xanthos’. Somehow this made it through the ravages of slugs and weather, and is adding a welcome lemon tone to the front path border.

4. Ligustrum ovalifolium: Privet. Look what happens when you leave Privet to grow into a small tree, saved from the clippers. It produces sweetly scented flowers in abundance, that are a magnet for honeybees and other pollinators, including hoverflies. It also does a good job of screening the neighbour’s bright highlighter-orange brick shed. Another consolation.

Phone photo of privet, with salvia in the foreground

5. Hemerocallis. I have been awaiting these daylilies in the vibrant border with much anticipation, and here they are at last. A deep terracotta brick colour with a golden centre, it really works for me. They contrast quite nicely with the allium seedheads too.

Hemerocallis, unknown variety
Allium seedheads with Hemerocallis behind

6. Blackcurrants. So, I’ve lost a bell pepper and a chilli pepper planted out in the veg patch to slugs, and I can tell you the courgettes are valiantly struggling through but it’s looking iffy for them too. Thankfully these juicy blackcurrants are not to the molluscs’ taste.

That’s all from me this week, although you might see more from me next week as my teaching commitments are easing off now that most of my students are off on their holidays, quite a relief. You’ll find more in the way of gardening trials, tribulations and triumphs on The Propagator’s Six on Saturday page. Wishing you all a great weekend.