A strange time of year to start what will mainly be a gardening diary but here goes:
Thursday 21/8/08
The day started cloudy but dry so decided to start cutting the cypress hedge down the middle of the garden. This is around 2m high and 50m long so this is one of the largest tasks in the gardening year but it only needs doing once, usually in July but the weather has been so bad this year, with regular showers or heavy rain virtually every day that it still hasn't been done. It has now become urgent to at least cut the side facing the drive otherwise the postman, milkman and the odd delivery van won't be able to drive up it.

This is one of the few tasks which I use a powered tool for, an electric hedge trimmer. Even so some of the work needs to be done by hand, especially trimming the top with a pair of long handled loppers. The branches are too thick for the hedgecutter. My wife as usual collected up the cuttings and stacked them near the compost heaps. Later we will need to shred them so they can be composted; another task which needs mechanisation using a petrol driven chipper and shredder. More on this another day.

Eventually it did start to rain again so we had to give up. At least I had finished the sides by then

Friday 22/8/08
Heavy rain overnight but it had cleared by the morning. We decided to visit Whixall Moss in the afternoon. This is close enough to go by bicycle. The weather was quite dull when we set off but gradually improved as you can see by the photographs I took. Later in the day the clouds were just right to shoot a spectacular sunset behind the house

Saturday 23/8/08

A better day so managed to continue cutting the top of the hedge.

Sunday 24/8/08
Continued cutting the hedge. Also transplanted the last of the savoy cobbage seedlings into the polytunnel. That completes the supply of greens till next summer. We already have calabrese and cabbage and later there will be early brocolli followed by brussel sprouts, kale, winter brocolli and late cabbage.

Decided to pull up the last of the Sweet Williams which had finished flowering. Replaced them with some remaining begonia and French Marigold plants still not planted out. It may seem a little late to be still planting summer bedding but often we don't get an air frost till well into December giving another 3 months of summer colour.

Some of the Sweet Williams I planted last year have never flowered. This happens sometimes with the Wallflowers as well. Decided to leave them for another year hoping they might flower earlier than usual in late stpring.

Monday 25/8/08
Another dreary day with heavy cloud most of the time and temperatures only around 17°C. Typical Bank Holiday weather but at least it didn't rain.
Finished cutting the drive side of the big hedge and then dug up the second early potatoes, A reasonable 10:1 yield considering the weather. The maincrop looks better but these won't need lifting until late September or October. At least there is no sign of blight not like last year when we lost 75% of the crop.

Tuesday Wednesday 26-27/8/08
Two rather miserable overcast cold days. I have also been unwell with the usual symptoms of asthma, aching, dizziness, tiredness and IBS so nothing much done in the garden apart from a little dead-heading. Maybe tomorrow the weather will improve and I might feel a little better?

Thursday 28/8/08
A better day both health and weatherwise. Still overcast but warmer with less wind. Received some plugs of winter salads which I potted on into 6in pots. 5 each of Komatsuna, Mizuna, Mustard Red Giant and Mustard Sheurifong. I will place these outside to grow until the weather starts to cool and then move them into the polytunnel. Hopefully this will supply us with some tasty green salad during the winter and early spring

Put some mulch on the narrow bed in front of the house where I dug up the Virginia Creeper earlier in the year. Moved the pots of short stemmed Chrysanthemums back onto this mulch and added some more pots of incurved Chrysanths to join them. A good water with liquid fertiliser should get them going with a really good display of colour as the summer bedding starts to wilt.

I have decided this bed will be used to grow some grapes instead of the Virginia Creeper. The wall faces alomost due south and is very sheltered with the conservatory to the east. I will probably buy two or three wines and grow them in large 25L pots in a double cordon. There will still be room in front for the Chrysanthemums. Whether the fruit will need protection from birds and squirrels we will have to see!!

Moved the 15 x 12 cell trays of Viola, which I planted out with bought in miniplugs a couple of weeks ago, from the polytunnel to the cold frame. These join trays of Pansy, Sweet William and Wallflower which I grew myself from seed. The Pansy and Viola are already flowering and will continue to do so all winter and early spring when I use  them to replace the summer bedding in October/November.

CinerariaThe Cineraria remain in the polytunnel. Some are showing signs of flower buds promising a good show of colour and scent on the windowsills of the conservatory throughout the winter. These are some I grew last year. They really do brighten things up in the dark days of winter and also have a delightful perfume similar to primrose. They also prefer the high light and temperatures of around 5-15°C of the conservatory in winter

Friday 29/8/08
Another overcast day but dry and quite warm so we decided to go to Colemere in the afternoon.

Saturday 30/8/08
Another warm, still overcast day but with a few short reaks of sunshine.Continued weeding the herbaceous borders.

Received the overwintering onion sets, white Bianco, yellow Radar and red Electric. Planted these in 12 cell half trays in JI no3. About 240 in total. These will stay in the polytunnel till they are well rooted for planting out probably in early November. I do this partly to give them a good start and partly to stop the birds pulling them up looking for food beneath them. We usually get a better, earlier crop of ripe onions from this autumn started sets than those we plant in spring.

Sunday 31/8/08
Yet another overcast day with frequent rain showers. Went for a walk in the afternoon and got back just before it rained again. We noticed several signs of autumn, especially some of the oak trees starting to yellow and swifts and swallows gathering in large groups on telephone wires as if they are about to start their long migration south.

Is this early? If I had been keeping this diary in earlier years I would know Smile

 Septemner 2008