Last year you may recall that August was hit by a heatwave and a hosepipe ban was mooted. And this August? It’s been one of the wettest for a few years and we have no threat of a hosepipe ban!

It just goes to show how our seasons provide us gardeners with many challenges. One advantage of a wet summer, though, is that I have bumper fruit and veg crops that are being harvested earlier.

When we had the heatwave last year, many crops stood still and were too reliant on hand watering. This year watering hasn’t been an issue, but the strong winds have. Over the weekend, in between the showers and the winds, I was forced to reinforce the runner beans’ climbing frame which is completely covered in plant growth and bean pods. The large canopy of growth was acting like a sail in the wind, pushing over the poles supporting the growth.

I was forced to remove as many bean pods as I could along with some of the runner bean growth to lighten the weight on the poles and to allow the winds to pass through the plants. I then installed extra poles and hammered them firmly into the ground. This has now provided the extra strength to the climbing frame and will also support future cropping well into the late autumn.

I also noticed a number of my summer onion top growth were toppling – but not due to the winds. It’s more an indication that the plants are readying themselves for harvest and storage. For those onions with upright growth, I gently bent this over at the neck of the bulb and over the next couple of weeks these leaves will turn yellow as the die back. However, before storing onions they need to be lifted and left in the sun to firm the bulbs for a few days. I normally store the ripened onion in onion sacks, but before I do, I trim off what’s left of the top growth and the roots, also removing any loose onion skins. They then need to be stored in a cool frost-free place and will keep to well into early summer of next year.

In the next few weeks it will be time to planting the autumn onion sets along with garlic and shallots (the ones I planted last autumn were harvested and stored in early July of this year providing earlier crops than spring-planted onions, garlic and shallots). It’s the perfect time to order online, but make sure you have them planted by mid-September.

In my flower garden, it’s my ‘Swamp lily’ or Crinum x powellii that is making the focal display. These are summer-flowering bulbs which I leave in the garden each year as they are quite hardy.

The bulbs themselves are quite large and can take a bit of planting, but once planted you can almost forget about them. As you can see from my photograph, they form a grass-like clump which produce tall flowering stems with an umbel of pink flower, which are very fragrant. The bulbs are normally on sale for January to April, where they need to be planted in moist but free-draining soil – it’s best to add a bit of grit below the bulb at the time of planting. They like a sunny position but can grow in shady areas.

The swamp lily is of South African parentage, so for the first winter it is best to cover with a layer of mulch to give some added protection. As they become more established they will become hardier to your local climate. It may take a couple of seasons before they flower as these are rather sulky plants in that they hate any disturbance. All that said, they are easy grow and do bring a tropical look to the garden and are relatively pest and disease free (though slugs and snails do enjoy the new growth in early spring.)