Six on Saturday: Airing Our Dirty Linen

It must be over 20 years since we had any washing strung up in the garden, although I can assure you it was not dirty linen we were airing in public today. With an always-on gas Aga in the kitchen and a washing pole out of sight and much further down the garden, it didn’t take long for us to get into the habit of drying our clothes (whatever the weather) above the Aga. However, the always-on Aga was surprisingly not on this morning, and despite being restarted several times it quickly extinguished its own flame and clearly requires the attention of our friendly Aga service engineer. With an overnight wash needing to be dried, necessity became the mother of invention and the Golfer strung up a couple of lines between the pergola and the rose arbour. I had forgotten that there could be something strangely pleasing about seeing clean clothes wafting in the breeze like this – but not the fresh-air fragrance they will be infused with once they are brought in.

I have struggled to keep on top of picking sweet peas this summer, and knew the recent heat could be the last straw for them. Despite regular deadheading, there always seemed to be another batch ready to be removed as soon as my back was turned. I was surprised, however, to find they were ready for cutting down almost a fortnight earlier last year, when it was probably equally dry, but certainly not as hot. It didn’t take long to cut them off their supports today and dismantle the structure, but I shall their colourful and fragrant presence. Perhaps I should make a late sowing as well next year so I have more young plants ready to be planted in their place?

Round the other side of the greenhouse, in the cutting beds, I am pleased to finally have some zinnia blooms, the only plants from my original sowings. As you can see from the picture, the plants from the very late second sowing made at the beginning of June are not far behind, with many in bud. The demise of the first batch seems likely to have been weather-related, and although it has not happened before it may still be worth retiming the first sowing, which is usually the end of March – and there is definitely some sort of a lesson to be learned from the incident.

Next to the zinnias are four different varieties of cosmos, not that you would notice! Daydream has been flowering well since the end of June but the others, all in the Double Click series, have done very poorly so far. Cranberries is just starting to flower, Snow Puff is finally thinking about it and the Rose BonBon seedlings are barely 6″ tall. They were all sown around their usual time in March, and their tardiness could also be weather related.

The same is true of the dahlias, normally all flowering well by the end of June but still some way off their flowering peak. Admittedly, I did pinch some of them out to keep their height in check, but I think the dryness of the year and cooler May and June, along with the recent extreme heat, have definitely played their art too. There is plenty of life in them yet, as is the case with the zinnias and cosmos, so perhaps we can look forward to an especially floriferous August and September.

Up to this week, the garden had been coping fairly well with the warmth and dryness of recent weeks; however, the extreme heat experienced by the UK on Monday and Tuesday and in other European countries and parts of the USA had an immediate impact on a number of plants. I mostly stayed inside for the two days (exercise clases in an air conditoned sports hall were wonderfully refreshing!) so, when I braved a proper inspection of the garden on a cooler Wednesday, the crispness of foliage on those afflicted was very apparent. With temperatures reaching 42°C they had been well and truly air fried, and I just hope the plants themselves will survive, especially as small trees like my pink pussy willow Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ (being comforted by Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’) and my very special witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Strawberries and Cream’ are amongst those that have been fried.

It was such a relief when temperatures dropped to something rather more comfortable, and the lightest of showers on Thursday and Friday seemed to refresh the whole garden, despite barely wetting the surface. It is certainly not an experience I would like to repeat, and I would like to think the recent widespread extremes will be a wake up call for nations to take climate change more seriously.

No doubt other Six on Saturday contributors will have further temperature tales to tell, so please visit our host Jon the Propagator’s blog to check them out

This entry was posted in cutting beds, dahlias, drought, Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday, Summer. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Six on Saturday: Airing Our Dirty Linen

  1. Heyjude says:

    You do seem to have been affected buy the weather this year, thankfully it wasn’t that hot here, though hotter than usual and we have had some rain today which hopefully has at least helped the beds I don’t water. I have been having to water my containers all week though.

    • Cathy says:

      Hope your rain was enough to make a difference – here we have just had the lightest of showers and only a few mm in total. It’s been generally overcast but bright, with a breeze, so very refreshing

  2. Rosie Amber says:

    I like your phrase ‘air friend’ I certainly have some of those plants in my garden after the scorching days.

  3. Cathy says:

    42 is very very hot. We haven’t had it that hot here, but it was the heat and strong winds at the same time that frazzled my plants last week! My remaining Cosmos are only just getting going too… the orange Polidor ones seem uninteresting to slugs though, thank goodness. Hooe the Aga gets repaired soon.

    • Cathy says:

      I am surprised ithasn’t been as hot for you, as you are even more landlocked and further from the sea. With energy prices so high, I am now wondering whether to switch the Aga off for a couple of months over summer as many people do – but it’s what we cook on and has so many other benefits. Normally there’s only short periods when it makes the kitchen ‘too hot’ and really is the heart of the house

      • Cathy says:

        I think it was a lot hotter in the towns and cities here. Our normal temperatures at this time of year are upper 20 s and low to mid 30s. A warmer day today with 34°C so far. I can understand why you keep the aga going as English houses not only heat up quicker in a heatwave, but cool down quicker overnight. Once it gets hot in our house it will take days to cool down.

  4. My goodness. I had to translate 42C to Fahrenheit, that is really unbearably hot. I hope your trees recover. Your zinnias and cosmos look wonderful, they are loving or tolerating the heat.

  5. bcparkison says:

    You have an AGA…how wonderful. I would love to have one but since I don’t do much cooking these day seem it would be a waste. I also love air dried clothes …especially sheets. My zinnias are 5ft. tall …is the normal.?

    • Cathy says:

      The Aga is great for so many things and of course for instant oven and hob space with no heating up time. It was such an investment 😊

  6. tonytomeo says:

    In my former neighborhood in town, it is illegal to hang laundry within view from the road. A neighbor actually called the police about my laundry because he could see it over the fence from an upstairs window in his monster home behind my garden. Well, the police officers explained that if my laundry is that objectionable, the neighbor does not need to look over the fence to see it. I relocated the line close to the fence so that the neighbor could only see it if he came out the the fence, got on a ladder and looked down over the fence. Anyway, I grew zonal geranium in a row paralleling the laundry line, so that some of the larger laundry items blew into the foliage. It was like fancy scented fabric softener, but without the softener.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh I had to laugh at this Tony, visualising your ex-neighbour perched on a ladder to look at your washing! 🤣

      • tonytomeo says:

        Oh, it was not very funny. He enjoyed complaining. He did not want me to park in front because he did not think that my Buick was appropriate for the neighborhood. (He (from Chicago) told me (a native) that to live in Los Gatos, I ‘need’ a BMW.) I parked in back. Well, he had the trees between our homes cut down (without a permit), and then complained about the car in back. That was about the time that he complained about the laundry and the vegetable garden (which he believed attracted rats) and the color of my bathroom (because it glowed blue if I turned the light on at night). I offered him whatever trees he wanted to obscure my home from his, but he declined. From my home, I could see all the old appliances and cabinetry that were removed from his kitchen and dumped out back when he had his home rebuilt as a ‘monster home’ (with windows that had views into all the adjacent homes). The junk stayed in his backyard until I moved away. He complained about the old television antenna on my roof. He complained that I mowed my own lawn. He complained that the fence between my home and another (different) neighbor was too short. There was not much that he did not complain about. Well, after peeing in the dark for a few years, I relocated. I replaced the old bathroom before I moved out, and got his approval of the paint before painting it. A few months later, he called me to complain that the people who moved in painted the bathroom!

        • Cathy says:

          Oh Tony, thanks so much for taking the time to share this 🤣 I know it won’t have been amusing for you at the time, having such an inneighbourly neighbour, but in the long term it makes a very funny story, one I read out to the Golfer too, so he could share in it as well! I hope you have better neighbours now – or perhaps you chose to have none at all?!

          • tonytomeo says:

            I chose none at all, on acreage and near the end of a road in a gated neighborhood. There were only two houses past mine. However, people walked for miles just to walk past my driveway and complain that I was not building my home fast enough, and that it was bringing down their property values. Yes, according to them, my lack of development was supposedly bringing down their property values.

          • Cathy says:

            Sounds like a completely different world, Tony!

  7. Horticat says:

    42 in England!!! Oh Cathy, having lived there for a while, I can’t imagine how much of a shock that must have been. Hopefully all of your special plants pull through.
    I keep old sheets and use clothes pegs to attach them to cover delicate plants during our Aus heatwaves.

    • Cathy says:

      It was just bizarre – and seemed so unreal of course! An elderly gentleman who lives in a house I pass most days covers the bedding plants (loads of pansies this year, but sometimes begonias) in his front garden with hessian when its hot, something I have never seen anywhere else

  8. Pauline says:

    The heat has taken its toll here too Cathy, even though we didn’t quite get up to your temperatures. I’m sure we will all find that we have one or two losses when next year comes, but I think most will cope, plants are so resilient, especially their roots.

    • Cathy says:

      Sorry to hear that Pauline, and I hope you prove right that things will survive – the salix certainly sports some fresh foliage as well as the crinkled bits

  9. pbmgarden says:

    Goodness, that temperature is shocking Cathy. Hope everything bounces back. Love the clothes swaying in the breeze.

    • Cathy says:

      Thankfully only 2 days of it, Susie! We have had some unexpected light showers on several days, which makes the garden feel refreshed, but the ground will still be very dry

  10. I hope your plants recover, the Hamamelis looks so sad. My Dahlias are also shorter than last year and were beginning to pick up steam until the heatwave. Hopefully, they’ll start again soon.

    • Cathy says:

      Me too! I agree that dahlias will probably pick up, particularly if we have some proper ran, and looking at the zinnias today you would be hard pushed to tell which were the earlier and which were the later sown ones

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