It's the first day of November and a glorious day so I planted up some autumn/winter pots, then I picked some dahlias. Very soon we'll have the first frost which will finish off the dahlias for the season, so these late flowers are a real bonus and they look lovely in a vase in the kitchen.
I didn't grow any busy lizzies this summer and I'm very relieved since so many plants around the country were devastated by downy mildew disease. There's a big debate going on currently between growers and retailers as to whether gardeners should grow them next year. At a big conference on the subject last week, attended by Peter Seabrook, he told me that it was suggested that cutting raised busy lizzies are much more susceptible to the disease than seed raised varieties. However, even seed raised varieties like 'Accent' are prone and the suggestion is that they are only safe if grown under cover, like a car porch, where the leaves won't get wet (the disease is spread through droplets of water).
My gut feeling is that we should all stop growing them for a year or two and grow alternatives such as Sunpatiens, which aren't affected by the disease. I gather that many of the big retailers such as B&Q and Tesco are considering stopping selling busy lizzies next year, whilst others, with an eye for profits rather than their customer, are planning to sell them with a health warning (I wonder if they'll be saying this plant may well die if it rains!) I realise it's a tough call for the industry as busy lizzies are the top selling bedding plant in the world but times change and I'll be urging every gardener to switch to other plants. My begonias have been stunning this year- and that's what I'll be growing again next summer.
In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has asked about Rosie, our gnasher-like dog. She seems to be as fit as a fiddle again.