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Seasonal garden diary of Jeska Hearne photographer, stylist and nature lover, living on the coast in East Sussex.
This is my first summer gardening with a greenhouse, and what an unusual summer it has been?! We live in a breezy coastal cliff top village so it has been quite the challenge for planting up the new cottage style garden that surround the greenhouse. We have had gales, torrential rain, a few super hot days, and the rest have been cloudy/sunny/drizzly, confusing and at times frustrating. A baptism of fire, but what better way to learn? The Rhino has been a safe and sturdy port in a storm and a gardening friend throughout this wild weathered few months.
Our Rhino is laid out with staging all along one side and a long bed on the other, we have shingle watering bed under the staging, another small shingle area at the southern end and finally after a little wait - a beautiful natural stone slab floor.
As I am new to greenhouse growing, I thought I’d start gently with five of my favourite tomatoes from last year (black cherry), plenty of basil varieties to accompany them and also plant a few ornamental and pest deterring plants of calendula, tagetes, love in a puff and a couple of loofas in between. Once the weather warmed up and we managed to stop the slugs beheading the marigolds - we were off.
The tomatoes continue to have so many fruits and have become our lunch of choice most days with a few nasturtium leaves and buds, baby beet leaves, edible flower petals and olives. Due to the cold and wet start my delayed loofahs have not produced and viable fruit but did make lovely vines. There is always next year to try again.
On the potting bench inside the greenhouse we have raised all our seedlings, learning the hard way about overwatering, under watering and how quickly things can dry out or get burnt to a crisp in just an afternoon! But the deep bench and shelves above have been home to hundreds of plant babies most of which are now thriving outside in the garden.
Outside the greenhouse in the garden, we grew an avenue of sweet peas, so magical to walk by a wall of scent o our way to the allotment at the bottom of our garden. Spring onions and strawberries made happy planting pals, the flower cutting garden has been a survivor of wind, pests, water logging and a fox determined to rotate on our behalf?! We grew coreopsis, cosmos, salvia, giant dill, borage and more. The Shirley poppies were a delight and have now self seeded, happily popping up all over the place.
This late summer burst of warm weather has given the dahlias and cosmos new hope and they have been flowering more than ever, they have both had a battle with the pests, but I think they are winning at last.
As the weather is changing to a decidedly autumnal feel we will prepare to overwinter plants in here, grow some indoor winter salads and enjoy a protected space to eat on nice evenings, this is now our favourite place to sit on rainy days, drinking tea with the sound of rain drumming on the glass.
I am seeing this summer as a test, we now know where best to grow taller things, to give our beetroots plenty of room, to leave the greenhouse open in the daytime for fresh air and the commuting pollinators to get in and out. Closing it at night as the slug and snail population is beyond anything I have ever seen in my eight years of living here, this year. Next spring I’ll grow plenty of flowers that the slugs and snails don’t like!
I have found the days running away from me all summer and must now get some more biennial flower seeds sown before it is too late. With our bulb delivery imminent I am also planning where to plant the daffodils and tulips so the Rhino is surrounded by colourful joy from March to May next spring.
This summer has felt like a whirlwind, with a late starting and now it feels suddenly over, but no complaints here, Autumn is my favourite season for many reasons and I will be back soon with tales of seed collecting, planting out winter salad seedlings, autumnal floral arrangements and adventures in bulb planting.
Wishing you a happy September, Jeska