I said I would return to the subject of Viola cornuta, or at least I said that was another story, the implication being I might return to it. I bought four different varieties as part of my viola order. Originally I was going to buy them in sets of three of each type, as I planned to use them among the roses and one plant doesn't go very far, but then I thought that maybe I could propagate my own and went for a single one of each type to use as a stock plant. Now, looking up how to make cuttings, I see that I should have cut them back in July to promote a strong flush of regrowth, since what I want are strongly growing basal shoots two to three inches long. Perhaps subconsciously I delayed getting on with them because until the rabbit problem is resolved there doesn't seem an awful lot of point going to much trouble to make new viola plants for the flower beds, since they will probably get eaten. As it is I've got a batch of plants raised from seed that came free with a magazine languishing in a cold frame, because I can't enthuse myself to plant them out.
Ah well, I will just have to get my four stock plants through the winter and try again in the spring. I shall follow the advice given in an article I found by Val Bourne (written for Saga. I wouldn't think of the Saga magazine as the first place to go to for gardening advice, but Val Bourne is a sensible journalist who writes on the basis of having done stuff herself, rather than regurgitating ideas out of books). She says that I should cut my plants back in September so that they make some new growth before they stop growing and go into winter as nice tight, weather resistant domes of foliage.
There will be a lot to cut back, because Viola cornuta has a rambling growth habit, making long trailing arms that continue to lengthen and flower as the summer progresses. They will weave through other plants, and hoist themselves a little way up the stems of shrubs, and are altogether delightful (when not eaten by rabbits). I already have an un-named blue form, and did have a rather nice light blue named 'Belmont Blue', though I am not sure if it has survived the combined onslaught of the rabbits and the rampant growth of its neighbours. Meanwhile, the plants in pots have got a bit straggly by this stage of the summer, but not disgustingly so.
They are 'Victoria Cawthorne', with flowers in a clean shade of mid mauve with delicate purple rays, 'Victoria's Blush', a pale pink with mauve staining on the lower petals and purple rays, 'Alba' which is white (as you'd expect) and 'Clouded Yellow'. The latter is very pretty, having pale yellow petals mottled with soft purple, on the other hand it is not what I ordered. I wanted 'Pat Kavanagh', a plain yellow I've admired often at Chelsea and thought would look well under yellow roses with the plain blue form. Ah well, next year. All are delicately scented, not the sort of strong perfume that carries on the breeze, but a subtle fragrance that's clearly there if you put your nose close to them.
While I was at it I potted on a tender salvia bought at last year's Dixter plant fair, which is flowering but not increasing in size or looking as happy as it should. It seems as though shrubby salvia can be very miffy about being given an inadequate root run, or at least being potted on cheered up S. confertiflora enormously, and my 'Stormy Pink' also bought at the plant fair doubled in size seemingly overnight when it was finally released from its pot into the freedom of a border.
I'm not sure where else the day went. I took a super off the big colony, put a clearer board on another, peeked into two more and decided the honey was still not quite ready. I washed the kitchen floor since it still seemed to be rather sticky, dead headed the pots and some of the lavender, did the watering including feeding the pots that get liquid feed at this time of year, and planted all of two Dianthus carthusianorum into the gravel. And looked at the wildlife camera card (foxes, one muntjac, one sighting of Our Ginger at three in the morning, blackbird, squirrel, no rabbits) and wrote out a cheque for an order of auricula pots from a Yorkshire pottery that doesn't use PayPal (why on earth not?). How can that be a full day's work? August always feels as though normal life had been suspended, no Pienaar's politics and the film review programme presented by stand-ins. It is very ungrateful not to be revelling in the lovely hot weather, but I look at the asters wilting and feel that they and I would be perfectly happy if the thermometer didn't rise above about twenty-two degrees.