I always forget, as I run around in May and June planting stuff and keeping the garden relatively clean, that July is different. Quite suddenly, plants, grass, weeds, unwanted tree seedlings – in fact everything – just grows, without showing the least modicum of restraint or respect. Fecund to an extreme. Two weeks ago, you could walk along a nice path in the herbaceous border. Now, you have to wade through it.P1010817

At the same time, serious gardening becomes impossible. Usually it is the rain. This year, remarkably, it is the heat. But mostly it is the midges. They are especially ravenous this summer, even in the sunlight, which they normally avoid.  I suppose they hatched late because of the cold spring, and are now desperate for their blood meals (how I hate that phrase!) so they can breed again. Vampires have nothing on these creatures. Research shows an isolated gardener can be attacked by 40,000 midges an hour. I believe it.

July is also when you notice all the plants that are in the wrong place, or have grown too big. The campanula lactiflora in the picture above was once a well behaved component of the border, but it has gone rampant. You can’t move campanulas this size, so I shall either have to expend heavy labour hacking it out, or else live with it.P1010824

This gunnera is obviously bent on world domination too. I merrily planted it thinking it would provide some shade for a few primulas. Now there are no primulas, and it’s about to attack the white flag iris in the background. Then it will start on the bridge.  Sneakily, it will die back in Autumn so that I’ll forget about it and fail to do anything to stop it.

This should be peak season for primula florindae. But they are having a tough time of it in the unaccustomed heat, and flop badly as soon as the direct sun hits themP1010827.

They then have to spend the cool of the night pulling themselves back into shape. They are not built for sub-tropical temperatures. But they are tough; and will survive – but unless we get a lovely cool day with lots of  rain soon, (It’s not often you find me expressing that kind of wish!) I’ll miss out on the fragrance drifting over the pond.

Most of the colour has gone from the garden now, except at the top of the ‘creek’, where the remains of ‘Inverewe’, the water irises, and a big white persecaria combine well.P1010821


21 thoughts on “Overgrowth

  1. When I envy your various plants that won’t grow for me, I’d completely forgotten the midges. And there I was just bemoaning the number of flies here as the level of the pond drops, because the spotted flycatcher hasn’t arrived this year. What could Scotland be if you could only control the midges? I would have to garden in bee-keeping gear.

    • Scotland would be overrun with tourists (especially in these temperature) if there were no midges. Bee keeping gear won’t keep them out – you need a midge veil. But that just makes you look like something from a harem, so there’s not much point.

  2. Surely it’s better to have plants that grow too large than to have plants that grow too small… After all, you could dig up half of the gunnera and easily find a willing recipient, thus getting rid of your problem AND making somebody else happy.

    (Though of course that’d only be a temporary solution, and you’d have to find somebody new to make happy next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.)

    • I’ll put some in the post, Soren (still haven’t learnt how to do that O thing). Actually, air freight might be needed. Seriously, there aren’t many gardeners round here that I could make happy by giving them something so dominant!

  3. Hi Kininvie
    My goodness your plants are indeed vivacious– they look pretty great. Of course I can’t see the midges… Just be glad you weren’t the isolated gardener they did the 40K midge research thing on. (I guess he’s probably dead now.) Beautiful color indeed by your creek. But isn’t gunnera called the ‘dinosaur plant’ and is supposed to get big? Sometimes it would be nice if plants stayed put, more like furniture, but Søren is right that we don’t usually want them to shrink.

    • Yes, gunnera is supposed to get big, which is why I grow it. But what they don’t tell you is how quickly a plant becomes a clump, and then an ‘area’ and then a thicket, and then….
      I was under the impression your plants were never allowed to stay put anyway, but were constantly being trundled around in flowery wheelbarrows for the good of their health?
      Take a wee look at the video in my reply to Rachelle below – it’s a mini horror film.

      • Well if I move the plants that’s different than if they march around on their own. I did try to grow gunnera once and it died.

        I just watched your midge movie– horror indeed! I think they are like no-see-ums, but those only appear in my garden in the first warm days of spring, then they are gone. We have plenty of mosquitos but the midges appear to be much worse. You really must create a repellent spray I think. Make something out of a carpet planting of annuals, that might do it.

  4. I’m not alone then in feeling over-whelmed? Surely you can divide the campanula? I was given a big clump of it a few years back and it too is enormous now – I’m thinking of dividing it and using some elsewhere. My gunnera are still pathetic (though one is getting a little less shaming). I dream of the day that they are as bullish as yours. D

    • I’ve only once tried to divide an old c.lactiflora and the fork just bounced off. Also, the roots turned out to be fairly brittle, which doesn’t help. I managed to pick some small rooted bits off the sides – but conventional division was a non-starter. The smaller types are more amenable. Please, if you succeed, post a step-by-step guide.

  5. I can’t grow primula, gunnera, campanula lactiflora here. What are these midges? We have biting fly season and of course our mosquitoes are legendary, and the no-see’em have been particularly scary to my son when he sees me bleeding copiously from the head and neck after working in the garden…

  6. NIce, nice. I’m glad to hear you languishing for some rain, welcome to my world, mate. Gunnera is a very remarkable plant, in fact you shall not talk about it that way it makes a great statement in a garden. I also like that white persicaria (polymorpha, right?) I used to have one planted near the vitex but it miserably died thirsty last summer.

  7. Yes, persicaria polymorpha (well done!) But what you see is only the remains….it grew so huge that I had to take a spade and pickaxe to it a few years back. I planted the rooted bits in places where it didn’t matter how big they grew. I think perhaps you are lucky it didn’t do with you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the gunnera – but then I have a soft spot for world-dominating plants.

  8. I love crazy summer growth, especially when ti catches you off guard and surprises you with its lushness. I love how big your campanula is and that last photo is fabulous!

  9. Your creek is looking very good at the moment, obviously staying wet enough for your plants.I agree, we all need rain, if only it would come at night time! My bog is the only part of the garden that looks healthy at the moment, the rest is struggling in all this heat. I remember your Scottish midges from our holiday 2 yrs ago and am so thankful that our midges are nowhere near as aggressive!

    • The midges make gardening impossible, Pauline. Which is why I let everything just stay huge until winter cuts it back for me. Did you watch the horror movie (see link above)?

  10. Hi Kininvie, I must admit in June when checking the borders I can always find spaces to squeeze in a few extra perennials only to find that in July my new plants have disappeared under the new growth. You would think I would have learned by now. We do have midges in the east but they are wimpish and untroublesome unlike the monsters which I experienced on a visit to the west coast.

    • I never learn either. I never leave enough space between plants. Trees are just as bad, if not worse, becuase it is so hard to imagine twenty years ahead and leave enough room….

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