Running along the bottom of Hyde Park from the Albert Memorial to the top of Kensington High Street is The Flower Walk. Wide borders on each side, it has a sign at the end forbidding dogs and a little gate to keep them out. The planting is pretty good, in big blocks, with plenty of colour. Many of the flowers would be attractive to insects, and there are some nice trees. We walked along it yesterday, and as we reached the Kensington High Street end I made a discovery that was chastening or enlightening depending on your point of view. There was a large patch of Tithonia, and I saw what Tithonia look like when they are happy. The ones growing in Hyde Park are an awful lot better than mine, bright fresh green with scarcely any browning leaves, with well-developed, long, strong, flowering side shoots. The side shoots on my plants are still vestigial stubs, all the flowers are at the top, and I keep having to trim dead leaves off them. Now I know what I am aiming at, and the problem is not that Tithonia always make rank, horrible plants, but that I am not growing them right.
This morning I moved a couple of the plants on the terrace (or patio) into larger pots. Their roots were not congested and I was not sure if lack of root run was the main problem, but they have been drying out quickly, and if I can stop them doing so it might help. But perhaps they are going brown because of the wind, and there's nothing I can do about that. And I did not have enough pots, because I needed to move the Nicotiana mutablis into larger containers as well to stop them blowing over by the front door. Hyde Park's Flower Walk had them too, and I took some consolation from the fact that at least my Nicotiana were measuring up relatively well. For anybody who is considering repotting either species I can report that the Tithonia slid out of their machine made, terracotta pots very easily, but the Nicotiana hung on and I had to slide the bread knife around the outside of the rootball to loosen it.
After losing the first half of the morning messing around with pots I didn't feel like spending the other half going to the garden centre to buy more, and returned to the gravel. I finished planting out the tray of red leaved sedum, and the pots of Aethionema schistosum, and spread a couple more barrow loads of gravel which emptied the bag. Eyeing up the amount of railway garden there was still to go, and the bald patches in the drive, I had to acknowledge that I really needed two more bags. The aggregates company took so long to answer their phone I checked that I was not calling a random wrong number, and when I finally got through they told me that their computer had been down all day and that they could not take any orders over the phone.
Meanwhile, the Systems Administrator managed to mend the showers in the ensuite bathroom and the other bathroom that would be described as the family bathroom in estate agent's details, neither of which would work this morning, by dint of bleeding the system and soaking the limescale off both shower heads and the insides of one of the valves. It is never entirely satisfying to have got something to work without knowing exactly what was broken before or what you did to fix it, since doubt always lurks that it might stop working again, like an unidentified intermittent electrical fault on a car, but at least they are working now, and the SA has looked up all sorts of part numbers and is primed with theories of what to try next if they stop working again. I was impressed, since if the problem had been left to me to sort out I'd have been on the phone to the bathroom company at five past nine this morning.