Summertime and we must all make sacrifices to the Sun God.

Apollo di Belvedere (Roman copy of Greek original, Vatican museum, Rome)

I wonder if the Vegetarian Society would forgive me if I sacrificed a bullock on an altar to the sun god Apollo. One big bullock is a small price to pay for a summer of sunshine and roaring temperatures. Since my holiday in Greece I have become besotted with the Greek deities who seem to be amazingly helpful to us humans if we only do the odd piece of animal slaughter. So if we have a great summer please don’t let on about my dark practices.

The reason for this burst of Apollo worship is the fantastic rise in temperature here in Southern England since the day before yesterday, Midsummer’s Day. Today we are up in the high 20s Celsius (high 70s Fahrenheit) with the promise of higher temperatures to come. This, after a miserably cold May, is the least we deserve so don’t begrudge me my new and rampant paganism.

We will need all the help that Apollo can bring because there is a whole load of low pressure waiting out there in the Atlantic and this, after-all is the time of year for the tennis at Wimbledon:

and great music at Glastonbury, Britain’s biggest rock festival:

And if those omens are not bad enough, yesterday we had the sun-hating, vampire-faced Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, proclaiming Austerity Britain:

So as I looked out of my study window and my newly colourful rose garden, I decided that only Apollo could save us.

My roses were only in bud when I went off for two weeks in Greece – where I was secretly studying to become a Apollonian priest – and when I came back my garden was a world transformed.

The garden is three years old now, everything in it has been planted in that time and I am very happy with the results. The roses have simply taken off:

The aptly cool Iceberg now dominates my West facing wall in preparation for its annual battle with the passion flower that is just beginning it late leafing.

Mortimer Sackler is reaching for the sky….
Dance de Feu is spreading its elegant wings over my virtually sunless North facing wall…..
and Golden Celebration is living up to its name in its South-facing bed.

Here is part of my East facing border where Mortimer Sackler is joined by the heavily perfumed Falstaff and two equally smelly shrub roses Gertrude Jekyll and Darcey Bussell. The perfume here is intense in the sunshine.

Gertrude Jekyll


Falstaff again, its magenta petals nicely contrasted with the mauve clematis

Next to Falstaff in this bed, two more perfumed roses, the creamy white, almost cabbage-sized Clare Austin and the ever-changing reds of Benjamin Britten whose sweetly scented blooms mingle seductively with the heavier perfumes of Clare Austin, Falstaff and Gertrude Jekyll.

I need Apollo’s help too for my experimental patio fruit and vegetable plot which is, at last, bursting into production. Potatoes, runner beans, salad plants and raspberries are all well on their way.

My peas are slow but, apart from a few dedicated to those small green caterpillars, I am still hopeful of at least one crop.

The strawberries are nearly ready in their Victorian strawberry pot which means the plants don’t need supporting with straw…

….and my first crop of gooseberries is just a weekend away.

My tomatoes are, after a slow start in the cold weather, are now growing rapidly and so are these hot pepper seedlings which are an entirely new experiment. So has anyone got a bullock they don’t need? I have sharpened my knife.

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