Most of the year the cacti sit in their hanging baskets looking at best boring and at worst plain ugly but come October and they are splendid. Their strappy, uninteresting leaves trailing to the ground become garlands draped with enormous flowers rioting in a range of colours that is literally breathtaking. My collection ranges from white, through palest cream to gelati yellow and on through baby pink to scarlet and most dramatic of all, a stunning flower, the size of a cantaloupe, with a vivid cerise (verging on purple) centre surrounded by a hot pink skirt. Their perfume is subtle but sweet and the bees are as enamoured as I am.
The roses are spectacular too just now. Not quite as exhibitionist as the cacti, they go for the massed bouquet look. I wasn't expecting too much of them this year. The mild winter meant they never lost all their leaves and the Queen Elizabeth climber managed at least a couple of flowers all through the cold season. They are beautiful though in their first flush of the season. The Peace, Apricot Nectar and Princess de Monaco standards are rewarding me for taking them out of their pots and planting them in the garden. They are all smothered in blossoms. Up close they look a little ragged now after the wind, rain and hail of the weekend but from a distance they are still glorious. The Icebergs, on the other hand, seem quite happy to produce continual flowers, even in their pots on either side of the steps. Mr Lincoln, Papa Meilland, First Love and Pascali are not quite as generous with their blossoms but when they come they are a joy especially the two crimsons which produce a heady perfume that wafts in the back door.
And now to give everything a good weeding. They deserve it.