July was a hot month. It started hot, got even hotter, and ended with a dramatic storm. I made quite a few garden visits, starting with a friend’s garden open under the National Garden Scheme – such a beautiful potting shed! Then, the next day, a trip to Sissinghurst, where there was still colour in the borders despite the lack of rain. The view from the top of the tower was amazing, as was Vita Sackville-West’s study in the tower.
A couple of days later I was in London for the HarperCollins summer party, on a really very hot evening. It was in the John Madejski garden of the V & A, where we had a localised downpour for an hour – probably the only rain seen in London until the end of the month! The party retreated inside, amongst the marble statues and into the gift shop. All slightly surreal – but a spectacular evening.
World Cup fever was all over shortly after – or at least, England’s chances were. I had the second visit of the month to Goodnestone, where the Magnolia grandiflora looked suitably splendid, the hydrangeas were out and the wild flower border was spectacular.
By mid July, the crops in the local fields were ready to harvest and the roses were bravely managing a second flush, by dint of watering every day, alternating front and back gardens. The grass, however, was dried to a crisp.
It was lovely to have the grandson (and his Mum and Dad) here on his first visit. No need to worry about the weather – hot and sunny, perfect for an outing to Deal to pick up a bit of a sea breeze.
The sunny theme continued with the temperatures rising steadily, into the 30s, until a dramatic thunderstorm arrived. It rolled in across Pegwell Bay while we were enjoying music in the open air at the aptly named Belle Vue Tavern and sent us scurrying inside from the sandstorm whipped up by a fierce wind.
The drive home had an apocalyptic feel and the storm carried on through the evening, but the rain was more than welcome. The next morning, I was off to the countryside near Milton Keynes, to another lovely garden. A walk around the garden was followed by lunch with friends of over thirty years, then a walk over the fields to make room for tea, cake and more food before it was time to take the motorway to London for a family lunch the next day – and grandson time.
Back home, it felt like a long time since I’d walked locally due to the heat, so I made a circuit via the orchards to see how the fruit was coping with the dry, hot weather. The pears looked to be doing well – the apples a little on the small side perhaps. And with no rain in the forecast for another couple of weeks it’s back to watering the garden again!