May was a cold, colourless month. The sunny days of June finally enticed the budding oriental poppies and lupins to display their beauty. I had to cut lots of bamboo stakes in an effort to reinforce their stance against the late gales! My Jerusaleum sage (Phlomis fruiticosa) is incredible and has spread itself flamboyantly on both sides of the bank. Overnight, it burst into a mass of rich yellow flowers and has cheered me up immensely. It contrasts brilliantly with the purple flowers of comfrey – this was a most exciting accidental liaison
The kitchen garden has again been a tedious affair – the alternation between extreme wet and extreme dry is definitely not good for vegetable growing. Cool night temperatures have also interrupted growth: even the lettuce seems to be standing still. I planted my all time favourite early potato ‘Home Guard’ in old compost bags in the polytunnel and kept piling any old compost in on top to encourage extra tuber growth. It has been an easy method which has proved surprisingly productive. I am enjoying a generous harvest of delicious good-sized spuds with no blight problems for once and very little scrubbing required. Of course the traditional butter and salt is a must but I also enjoy them with a blob of natural yogurt enhanced to perfection with freshly chopped Moroccan mint or spearmint. Coriander has almost come to an end – it always thrives better in the earlier part of the season. Any sowings that I make now seem to quickly run to seed. I will collect and sow some of this ripened seed in August with the hope that it may provide a late autumn or early spring harvest. My Greek oregano is so lush I end up using it in everything and anything: since my delicious dill died it has become my substitute flavour in egg dishes!
I have green and bronze fennel growing everywhere: it makes a superb ornamental foliage plant. Unfortunately I am not too fond of the flavour; anything aniseedy reminds me of liquorice and how I deplored it as a child. I found those long black liquorice shoelaces doubly disgusting: I could never understand how anyone would enjoy chewing on that rubbery substance! I do have a plant of liqourice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) in the tunnel: it is related to the pea and bean family but has never flowered. It is the root which provides the candy extract which unfortunately for me has a whole list of health benefits. I however prefer the cocoa bean extract. Give me chocolate any day!