I called at the Clacton garden centre after going to the dump, to stock up on gardening gloves and string, and they had given up on summer bedding. Where there had been a row of Dutch trollies with packs of petunias and arctotis there was just an empty space, and one trolley with a few vegetable plants on it. They must have taken the view that the bedding plant sale stage of the summer is well and truly over, and binned anything they hadn't sold.
The garden is starting to assume that late summer air of weariness. The wet June kept it going remarkably well, but after the hot spell it has started to flop. I must have another session removing old foxglove stalks and the iris stems I missed last time, plus a few flower stalks of aquilegia and poppy that are still hanging about, but no amount of tidying could clear away the feeling of heaviness.
The ground is getting too dry to weed in places. The Systems Administrator scratched around in the railway garden yesterday, but pronounced the soil too hard. I generously offered the use of the hose for a couple of hours to soften it, but the SA has not taken me up on that suggestion. Even though it's not as hot as it was last week, it's still dreadfully muggy to be crawling about in the gravel. I managed a brief stint weeding the turning circle until a rain shower too sharp to ignore drove me indoors, though at least that means we'll get supper at a reasonable hour tonight. I am still planting seed raised evening primrose into the gravel, since they've got to come out of their pots before winter comes and I can't do everything in October, but it's going to be tricky remembering where they are to water them.
Meanwhile I am looking at the July and August chapters of books that go through the garden month by month, plus Marina Christopher's book on late summer flowers, searching for ideas on how to rejig the rose beds so that they are not such black holes of boredom by late July. Things that will grow in evil yellow clay that can sit wet in winter but dries to concrete in summer, in an corner of the country where average annual rainfall is sub 500 mm. Next to an active rabbit colony which is set to remain active until such a point as the energetic kitten's emerging hunting skills and the Systems Administrator's sniping from the bedroom window manage to finish them off. Easy peasy. I am sure there are lots of lovely things that will grow beautifully. Joking apart, planning is part of the fun in gardening.
I would not like to leave you with the impression that there is nothing flowering by now. Au contraire, various things are looking very good. The Romneya coulteri has never been so splendid, several of the clematis have responded really well to the wet June and last winter's feeding, Verbena bonariensis is at full clatter and I have some more young plants in pots ready to slip into gaps, magenta flowered Geranium 'Ann Folkard' has outgrown the rabbits to make huge pillows, mingled with pink and white everlasting sweet pea, the pots are looking good with fuchsias and cosmos and dahlias. If I had only finished the edges and the de-browning and trimmed the whiskery hedges it would be up to open gardens standard in terms of overall amount of floral interest. It's just that I can see bits that could be better.