There are many different types of rain. It may not surprise you that the Scots have words for almost every type of rain in much the same way that the eskimo group of languages are fabled to have inumerable words for snow.* ‘Drookit’ for example is the end result of driving rain that is brought in on heavy winds leaving gutters over-flowing, stems bent and flower petals washed away. ‘Haar’ is the rather ethereal damp mist that drifts in off the North Sea and leaves you inexplicably wet without actually seeming to rain. And then there is a ‘Smir‘, a ‘Dab‘ or a ‘Smuggy‘ all variations of the best kinds of rain for the garden, the fine continuous drizzle that leaves everything nicely watered without doing any damage. A bit like leaving a sprinkler on your veg patch for a few hours. That is what we have had this week and combined with some long periods of sunshine it feels as if someone has just turned up the volume slightly on everything in the garden.
It is six on Saturday again, a weekly garden diary for many gardeners around the world all hosted over at the perfectly tended propagator blog.
1. The start of a summer border
The East border along the back garden is possibly at its best just now in early summer. The alliums are bulking up after a few years and I do like the combination of their purple flowers with the lime green bracts of euphorbia characias and the citrusy flower heads of hemerocallis. Also dotted in and around there are fennel, verbena, scabious, coreopsis and a lot of smaller annuals at the front including my favourite night scented stock which will line the edge of the path. The bench makes for a nice spot later in the day as the sun moves over to the west.
Further down the same border I had planted sweet williams, sweet rocket and honesty earlier this year to take over from the hellebores and primulas. I am not sure whether I might have overdone the planting of the hesperis. The seedlings looked so diminutive back then but are now erupting in a froth of white that is backlit by the early morning sun. I may thin them out a little after flowering but no doubt there will be plenty seed left for next year.
3. The first roses
The first roses are in flower now. Next to the front door is a soft pink climbing rose, the David Austin classic ‘A Shropshire lad‘. What it lacks in scent it makes up for in longevity. It is one of the first climbing roses to flower and one of the last to give up – last year as late as December.
4. Veronica gentianoides
For a long time I have been putting off re-pointing the wall next that divides the top and bottom ponds. It is a slightly tricky job that would involve standing precariously knee deep in water with a bucket of cement. In the meantime this dainty speedwell has made itself at home in the cracks between the crumbling stone. I may put off the building work a little longer then….
5. The vegetable garden
In March and April the young plants and seedlings seem to sulk a little after being planted out like hesitant children on their first day at school not really quite sure what to do with themselves. A couple of months later as the temperature nudges upwards they are confidently running around the playground screaming their heads off.
6. A viola harvest
A nice little surprise as I was potting up some annuals I noticed that hybrid violas have been gently seeding themselves amongst the gravel on tops of pots that have been out over the winter. Nearly all of the pots had at least one or two growing in a mixture of colours. Rather than weed them out I potted them on and now have at least three full trays of free violas in the cold frame!
* The often repeated claim that the ‘eskimos’ have over two hundred words for snow is sadly not really borne out by evidence. Part of the confusion apparently comes from the fact that there is no single ‘eskimo’ language but the term actually refers to an array of dialects. Secondly these languages are ‘polysynthetic’ which means that suffixes form different word roots can be combined in to make ‘compound words’ in an almost infinite variety of ways. In all likelihood each dialect probably doesn’t have many more words for snow than we do in English. The Sami languages of northern Scandinavia on the other hand are thought to have over 180 words for snow in total. Estimates of the number of Scottish words for rain are currently somewhere around the 50 mark!
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