Summer’s arrival, Tillie’s advice

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Someone flipped the ‘rain’ switch to ‘sun’ (happens every July here) and now it’s summer with quite lovely bright days–not too hot– and starry, cool nights.

The jasmines are blooming.

Common jasmine

This one is common jasmine (Jasminum officinale)–You may remember the simple bamboo support I made for it last spring. It’s growing and vining and blooming in the most delicate, lush and fragrant way imaginable and difficult to capture with my little camera.  (It deserves a wide screen in a movie theater.)

The Star Jasmine is blooming this year too, even though some unorganized gardener has placed it in mostly shade on the west end of her greenhouse.

Star Jasmine

The Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ is better every year– a nice development in any pleasant aspect of life.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'The party-striped nasturtiums bloomed, and I didn’t have to call the fire department about the color after all. (Coulda been worse, Gracie.)

nasturtiums variegated leaves & peach bloom

I grew the annual Bachelor Buttons, or Cornflower, again this year. I had the idea that one must stake up these tall plants but of course I mostly failed in this regard, which was just so lucky, because now I see the trick of letting them fall over so they send up shoots of bloom all along the horizontal stem.

Batchelor Buttons, Centaurea cyanusThey really are pretty perfect to put in a jacket button-hole, even if you aren’t a bachelor.

This Nicotiana sylvestris plant volunteers every year. Mr. O and also hummingbirds quite like it so it is permitted space even though the flowers are strange but at least not hot pink.

Flowering tobacco

Which brings me to the next plant, which I will confess I grow almost entirely for the cute name: Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate (Polygonum orientale). Because of course the blooms are that pink which I don’t really like, and I don’t even have a properly oriented fence for growing it over, but the hummingbirds like this one a lot and it doesn’t need staking so I forgive the color.

Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate

The Bluebells of Scotland (Campanula rotundifolia) are happy in most any light and among most any other supportive plants.

Bluebells of ScotlandNote: they are especially nice with ferns.

You may want to stop reading now. Because today I am relenting and allowing Tillie to answer some emails which inexplicably arrived asking her advice about garden issues. (What were they thinking?)  So as I said you may want to just stop here and go load the dishwasher or walk the cat or do something else that is useful…

Tillie writes backADVICE FROM TILLIE–

because not everything can be fun, buster.

Dear Tillie,
I have a very smart dog who helps me in the garden. I taught him to dig up weeds in the flower beds so that now he takes care of all the weeding for me. But the other day he dug up a yucca plant my wife had planted. I think he thought it was a weed since it’s so ugly but she says the dog is stupid and needs to go. What do you think?
–Love my Dog

Dear Love Your Dog,
The woman is stupid and needs to go.

Dear Tillie,
The house next door just sold and the new neighbors have parked an old red 1936 Ford pickup in their driveway just behind my exquisite purple and yellow perennial border. I break down in tears each time I think of this ensemble of mismatched color, not to mention the dents, and the garden tour is on Saturday! Please advise.

Dear Hysterical,
Calm down.  Just get those flowers out of there fast.
How did they get dented anyway?


Dear Tillie
An odd rosebush (blue flowers) volunteered in my garden, and has been blooming constantly for two years straight. The neighbor women are calling me a witch, which is awkward at church. Help.
–Too Many Blooms

Dear Too,
Apply for a patent, and don’t forget my percentage when the profits roll in.

About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
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42 Responses to Summer’s arrival, Tillie’s advice

  1. Dear Tillie,

    I’ve just killed 81 slugs, and now I’m considering whether Buddha would approve. It was in self-defence, though, or at least in defence of my dahlias and hostas. Will I be reincarnated as a garden pest, do you think?

    • linniew says:

      Oh my gosh, 81 slugs? Do you make a notch in the shovel handle for each one?) I can see why you have these karmic worries about it Søren… Maybe you need a chicken to eat the slugs, which the gods will forgive since eating slugs is just chicken behavior, plain and simple.

      • If I had to make a notch in the handle of my slug-killing hoe, I’d soon have to replace the handle… My personal record is 179 slugs killed in one evening, so you can see how I’d soon have reduced the handle to a toothpick.

        And since my garden is by our holiday home it would seem sort of unfair to get a chicken. After all, while it could undoubtedly eat its fill in slug several times a day during summer, I suspect it would find winter a bit rough on its own.

        Perhaps I just need to define “killing slugs with a hoe” as Søren behaviour, plain and simple? Interficiam slugs, ergo sum​​ could be my new motto…

  2. Susan says:

    I’m having trouble finding cornflowers in Calgary. I buy seeds which say cornflower but they look nothing like I remember growing in England. Is this a case of early settlers finding something close enough and giving it a familiar name?

    • linniew says:

      I’m afraid it may be a case of there being two varieties of English on this little planet. The cornflowers I grow are a kind of double sort, from seeds I was given by another gardener. I wonder if they look at all like the English ones you recall…

  3. kininvie says:

    Dear Linnie, As you know, I am very jealous of your hummingbirds. But I have yet to see a photograph of one. Do you think you might oblige? There are many things in this world for which photographic evidence of existence would be useful (such as flourishing clematis cuttings for example). Maybe if you hung around that pink thing for long enough you might be able to digitally ensnare a hummingbird for me? Hope so.

  4. Love it! Tillie is a goddess. 🙂

  5. Holleygarden says:

    I have been needing to add a few more plants for my hummers – I’ll remember the fun name “Kiss me over the garden gate”! Your other flowers are looking good, too – they must be very happy getting all that sunshine. I think Tillie deserves her own advice column.

  6. Grace says:

    Well, it’s good to see that Tillie is still in her stride. Did you ever introduce her to Mr. Eighty’s-Glasses? Remember the photo I sent you? I thought they would make such a lovely pair. I hear he’s good with a hammer.

    You are absolutely right about the Nasturtium. It looks sweet surrounded by such fine leafery.

    My “common” Jasmine (we have to be careful that it’s not listening) is also in full regalia. More so than most years. I think it’s the mild winter that made it especially happy. Between it, the Star Jasmine, the Daphne and the honeysuckle, my olfactory is singing. (How’s that for a word picture?)

    It saddens me that you’re not a fan of hot pink but oh well. I love my Kiss-Me’s, for the color and the stature. I love the Nicotiana too. I don’t have this variety, just the more “common” (shhh) flowered ones.

    I don’t mind the cloudy, cooler weather at all.

    • linniew says:

      Hiya Gracie!
      Yes we are weather-fortunate this year. Might even get the tomatoes in the garden to ripen before fall.

      Great now Tillie is stomping around wanting to meet your Eighty’s-glasses hammer guy. (She can be very noisy.)

  7. b-a-g says:

    Question to Linnie (definitely not Tillie) : Does the nicotiana get pollinated by anything other than hummingbirds? It looks like nothing else would be able to enter.

    • linniew says:

      The nicotiana is most fragrant at evening, so I would guess it might socialize with some well-designed moth– not that I’ve seen that happen.

      • Alberto says:

        I grow that nicotiana too and it self seeds every year, even though I don’t have any hummingbirds here (and yes, I’d like to see proofs too). So I guess we have well designed pollinators here in Europe as well and the nicotiana could reproduce. In fact there is a hummingbird-like moth that buzz around the garden in summer, and after all we can count on aunts and other tiny bugs that don’t dislike having a walk up that pipe.

        • linniew says:

          I think the moths (hawk moth?) are just amazing. I have seen one here exactly once ever in my life. It was much easier to approach than the birds are, and I could see it had antennae, but otherwise, with it’s nose in a flower, I’d not have known it wasn’t a hummingbird.

          I honestly completely admire your English skill Alberto but I have to laugh at ‘aunts’ climbing up the nicotiana. Maybe looking for a cigarette?

          xo L

  8. Alberto says:

    Anyway I love that jasmine of yours, do you keep it outside in winter? Because it wouldn’t survive here… And I love that clematis, faintly leaned on the fence, maybe watching something funny that still hasn’t started? Like a dog race? Or a wheelbarrow race? You should bring her a cold drink and some pop corn.

    • linniew says:

      Alberto, exactly how cold does it get in your part of Italy? I can grow jasmine (and an olive tree) and we get snow and ice-storms and temperatures well below freezing… I’ve had evergreen Star jasmine perish in a terribly cold year, but if they’re planted in any sort of protected place they are quite dependable, but the common jasmine is certainly a very tough cooky.

      Now the lounging clematis is Jackmanii, so it’s a guy I expect, and I think he’s waiting for a beer and maybe chips and salsa.

      • Alberto says:

        Zone 9. But the problem is the damp and frost we have in winter that kill some plants. Maybe I should keep it in a pot.

        Jackman named clematis after all his family members (like David Austin) so cl. jackmanii could be an entire family and you should refer to it as ‘them’ and maybe they are waiting for a family pizza to be delivered… (did they use your phone?)

        • linniew says:

          My garden is Zone 8. I think you should try a species jasmine on a nice trellis someplace away from your aunts.

          Do you think, Alberto, that Jackman used all the family names on one plant? Wouldn’t this promote cases of split personality in vines?

          The clematis only used my phone once, but there was that large mystery charge on my VISA…

  9. Roberta says:

    Dear Tillie, my neighbor implored me to hire her 12 yr old daughter a few hours a week around the house. I am considering having her clean the chicken coop. Do you think defending oneself or running away from a ten pound raging rooster is at all beneficial to a child on their path toward adulthood?

  10. Bridget says:

    Still lots of colour in your garden. Love that Clematis, my Mother has it so it always reminds me of her. Envying your Jasmines, the scent must be gloriious. The weather here in Ireland seems to be settling down at last. Some sunshine would be lovely. Here’s hoping! Miss Tillie is certainly worthy of her own column maybe even a blog!!

    • linniew says:

      Hi Bridget
      Yes it’s now or never for summer–but somehow YOU manage to grow great things no matter what. Tillie loves the appreciation but to be honest she is much too lazy to keep a blog. Which is probably lucky.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Glad to stumble upon your blog! I just found a comment you kindly left me in April, haha. I am an aspiring gardener living in the desert and with no idea how to garden, so I will have to follow you!

  12. Alistair says:

    Fabulous Summer arrivals Linnie and although the flowers of Nicotiana sylvestris may seem a little peculiar they are indeed fascinating and we have often had them in the back garden. Phew, so glad I didn’t miss out on Tillies new found fame as an agony aunt to deranged gardeners like myself. As her agent you must tie her into a binding contract as there are many out there who will try to tempt her away.

  13. Rebecca says:

    Dear Tillie,

    You Rock!!

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