On Monday, the first task of the day is to walk the estate and check, by observation and intuition, if any of the newly planted trees or shrubs are suffering from the continued dry spell of weather. In the vegetable garden the espaliered fruit trees are watered by a trickling hose-pipe along with the soon-to-crop currant bushes whose fruit will swell with the extra water. The fast growing courgettes, tomatoes and pumpkins are amongst those given a quarter of a large watering can’s worth each day and needless to say that the pots and containers receive their fair share of water too.
The sun beats down relentlessly and my wife keeps nagging me to wear a hat but sadly I have never found one that fits or that doesn’t make my head hotter than without or doesn’t make me look like the village fool. I do apply copious amounts of sun-block though, roll my shirtsleeves down, put my collar up and drink gallons of water.
In the village store the locals are beginning to complain about the weather being too hot and humid, ice-cream sales have soared and knobbly knees, both male and female, are to be seen in abundance. As the week rolls on, a low pressure tries to move in from the west bringing clouds and breezes and the promise of showers.
A brick wall divides the vegetable garden from the main herbaceous borders with the espaliered fruit trees on the vegetable side and climbing roses on the flower side. The wall itself is some ten feet tall – one needs a pair of steps to tend the roses – and is topped with tiles as is the fashion in these parts.
Half way along the wall grow two cardoons – or cynara cardunculus to give them their posh names – which are still young and virile with their handsome silver-blue-grey leaf. They are beginning to flower and parenthood will cause them to grow tired and ragged with all the effort, especially in the hot summer sun, but for now they are at their youthful best.
The cardoons are grown six feet apart and between them and the wall grows a large group of cephalaria gigantea, or giant scabious as they are called, which grow around five feet tall and have flowers that are well-described as being a delightful primrose-yellow.
An obelisk to the front of the cephalaria supports a rosa ‘konigen von denmark’ whose warm pink alba blooms blend beautifully with the primrose-yellow of the cephalaria. An ocean of geranium ‘magnificum’ and iris sibirica ‘silver edge’ grow in front and have been competing boyishly for attention for the past month with their blue and violet shades but are now just going over.
Charlie and Bones are busy mowing the lawns but are setting the mowers far too low for this dry season. Every year I tell them to mow higher and every year they nod their heads in agreement and then continue to mow at the same low height and I guess that some things are reluctantly never meant to change.
The prize lawn that adjoins the grand patio is reserved for croquet matches at the weekend. Economy dictates that only this lawn receives the five-star treatment: scarification, aeration, top-dressing and mowing twice a week and the green sward with stripes is our pride and joy and offsets the herbaceous borders in a stately manner.
Wimbledon nears its finale and the Duchess has taken up residence in her chambers and is not to be disturbed and Cook Jenny has promised to jig down the village high street if Andy Murray should lift the trophy…at the time of posting Andy is due to face Nadal this afternoon.
Charlie and Bones spend their lunch-break debating England’s demise in the World Cup and the Frank Lampard goal that was disallowed despite the ball clearly going in the net and crossing the touchline by a country mile or two. I cannot repeat what they would do if they could ever get their hands on the referee but apparently it would involve baling twine, creosote and a pitchfork!