Summer highs in the garden

Allan Jenkins

More than halfway through the year. The sun soon dipping, just off its high. It is hard at first to see it in the glory of the growth.

These are the perfect garden days. Everything exultant; here in its summer splendour. All the work – the digging, the sowing, the hoeing, the weeding, the feeding – paid off.

Peas and potatoes are being eaten. The climbing beans have conquered the cliff face. Your babies have grown into adolescence, even adulthood.

Nasturtiums have spread and the calendula uncurled, a show of astonishing oranges and yellows. The tagetes, too, are tall, almost waving in any breeze.

Your salads are being eaten. Basil is growing, parsley and chervil, too, and dill and fennel are soon to be towering. We have left most of the coriander to flower. I brush against it for its heady, spicy scent.

Across the allotments, early beetroot and carrots are coming. Tomatoes also. Courgettes and summer squash are spreading, greedy for feed and space. Bees slumber in our flowers as though drunk on pollen. Soon they will be glued to the face of the sunflowers.

In these perfect moments it is easy to feel content, a proper gardener, a hunter-gatherer returning home with bags of homegrown fruits and roots and leaves, ready for the table. Food for the family or just you; flowers for jugs on the table.

Job done, just maintaining the growth now, you tell yourself as you stand knee-deep in chard or chest-high in corn. You watch the blackbirds and robins join you when you water. Every square inch abundant, crammed, as you wander round feeling pleased and proud. But then it hits you, the occasional slight chill in the morning, the first hint of slowing down. Autumn cool is coming. And you are maybe not yet ready.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from