My mid-summer garden looks totally and utterly scruffy. But doesn't this happen every year? It comes with the season, and I can easily explain it. Justify it, even. I blame the light and the roses. And...

Bright Lights...

Firstly, the mid-summer light quality is harsh, southern hemisphere bright, making all the flower colours glare and the greens look washed out and tired. There's no dreamy haze (AKA air pollution, hee hee) to put a soft filter over everything. It's brash and uber-bright, hopeless for garden photographs.

 Annuals and messy roses.
Scruffy Summer Garden

Here's another reason. In mid-summer the roses are in transition, between their main 'flushes'. The 'Oh no, I don't ever spray' policy of the Head Gardener becomes rather evident. Black-spot has completely denuded some of the hybrid teas. The wind has battered even the most robust of floribundas. Climbing rose canes can be seen flapping wildly. The roses, in general, do not look fresh and healthy. Oops.

 A scruffy climber.
Casino Rose

The perennials need to be carefully trimmed. Flopped flowers can be cut to fill the house vases, as long as they are not dahlias. These need dead-heading. The daylilies are the worst - far too annoying to keep well-groomed. I've trained myself to 'see' the beautiful flowers and ignore the surrounding rubbish. They are by nature a messy perennial, and, perversely, that's exactly why I love them.

In mid-summer many flowering annuals are at the end of their useful ornamental lives. Any pansy with half a plant-brain has given up in the heat and gone to seed. The Angelica, so lush and green, is over - its seed-heads are dry brown. The cornflowers, so pretty in spring, have just a few flowers left. And old flowering annuals can't just be pulled out. Seeds must be collected, and placed in labelled envelopes. Some spent annuals need to be cut up and scattered as mulch. This will take hours and hours, and the results will be spectacularly invisible. It's small-minded, dedicated gardening, slightly unappealing in the summer heat.

Wait a minute...

Wait. A word of caution if these explanations seem plausible and you are nodding your head in sympathy. Stop right now! In a sudden flush of honesty I'll start again.

My mid-summer garden looks scruffy. And do you know why? Because the Head Gardener has been spending all her mid-summer hours visiting friends, reading books, playing the piano, doing her jigsaw, drinking fruity cider, watching tennis on TV, going hiking in the mountains, lurking in cafes, and generally lolling around. Oops...