In a strange summer, take pleasure in small triumphs

First morning back in London. I am at the plot at around 7am. The allotment site is still lush, a symphony of near-impossible greens.

The long grass is flattened by days of heavy rain, and many of the wilder flowers, too. Our poppies lie exhausted and battered. Snails are on poles, on plants; slugs on the grass, on the ground. I throw them as far as I can, over the fence into the wild beyond. They’ll likely be back before I leave.

The sweet peas have suffered. Long stems are hanging, broken by rain. Many calendula lie prone. I head into the communal shed, tool up and pitch in.

I tie soft, loose twine loops to encourage support for the sweet peas. I salvage the least bruised and broken flowers. The peas appear almost over, finished before they fully began. The beans, too, have taken a hammering. Stems severed. Curled leaves hanging yellowed, limp.

It is not all grim. Howard and Rose have weeded and separated the chard seedlings and scattered them through the plot. They stand upright like soldiers.

The sunflowers are out: Higgledy Garden Harlequin, a Franchi red. The star, though, for me is a single perfect tagetes, deep scarlet like femme-fatale lipstick.

I pick a couple of handfuls of assorted beans and gather the sweet pea stems. The sun will shine and much of the flattened planting will recover. I will sow climbing nasturtiums where the tear peas are fading, though I know it is already late.

It has been a strange growing season, of course. Easier to take joy in the small things. A sort of gardening motif through the year. Intense spots of brightness in darker days.

The scented sweet peas will sit in a jug on the kitchen table. The beans will be served with a mustardy, anchovy dressing. Late summer gifts from Plot 29.