It is mid-summer, the longest day of the year, and of course it is raining heavily. Only the ducks and the primulas enjoy this kind of weather. Back in April when it was unseasonably warm, conversations in the shops usually went: “Lovely weather,” “Aye, but we’ll pay for it later.” And so we are. P.G.Wodehouse wrote that it “was never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.” He was right enough, but if he had lived in this climate, he would know the reason.
With all the colour leached from the garden by the grey sky, the shapes of plants become more important. By the pond, gunnera tinctoria the ‘Chilean rhubarb’ is reaching its full size.
gunnera tinctoria is hardier than its Brazilian relative gunnera manicata, but does not grow quite so large. On the frost-free west coast of Scotland, g.manicata grows in huge clumps, but it is too tender further inland. Here, even g tinctoria gets knocked back by frost, but this is no bad thing as the clumps can become very unruly and start spreading in the wrong directions.