A summer of gloomy skies and relentless rain means gardeners are grateful for small mercies
During the most plant-punishing summers any of us have ever known, it's hardly surprising that the most exciting plants on my terrace are the sempervivums, and that other less hardy succulent, the glossy mahogany Aeonium Zwartkop.
Flowers are harder to come by: bedding such as callibrachoa, which usually flowers its heads off, is much slower, given such little warmth and sunshine, the dahlias are on the skimpy side and the half-dozen pots of lilies are still in bud - and refusing to budge.
I am still nursing a hanging basket of new pepper Sweet Sunshine in the greenhouse because putting them outside seems like putting a baby in a pram out in a rainstorm. The RHS says that plants are two to three weeks' behind in growth - and I reckon that's a conservative estimate.
In the kitchen garden, the most successful veg - and the most colourful - is the beetroot, which thankfully doesn't need much sunshine to thrive. I daren't earth up the early potatoes - it will be a miracle if they haven't escaped becoming waterlogged and scabby - and the runner beans, what's left of them, have made little progress.
A whole row of young frilly red lettuces - such a pretty colour, such early promise - have been wiped out by rain, wind, slugs, you name it, but the perpetual spinach, which is perpetually resilient, looks positively lush. In summers like this, you learn what thrives, what merely survives, and what sinks without trace.
Once the courgettes got going, they've proved their worth: courgette Romanesco, the fine ridged variety, producing their enormous golden flowers that just beg to be stuffed with ricotta and fried in tempura batter. If only it would stop raining, I could get out and pick them.
This year I have 12 cucumber plants on three hazel wigwams, four poles apiece, and so far, have had one cucumber, but it's early days. I discovered a few years back that cucumber plants, so long as they've got a bit of sturdy growth on them when they're planted out, keep on trucking, however gloomy the weather.
Last week the sweet peas finally started showing some colour, and to date I have managed to pick three jugfuls.
During this summer of gloomy skies and relentless rain, we gardeners are very grateful for small mercies.