What a wash out!

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The  has been so awful that the garden has been left to take care of itself for the most part. However, it seems to have thrived without my interference. We also had a week away during which, seedlings which I had given up on, sprouted up.

Despite the weather, I haven’t been able to resist buying new plants. The front border between the two houses is full of shrubs and trees and is quite shady on my side. A gap in between was crying out for some shady plants so I bough some hostas. When I tried to dig, the ground was so dry and thick with roots it was impossible to make any headway. My gardening buddy, Raewyn, offered me an old stone trough which was pretty battered and insanely heavy. It fitted perfectly into the space and is now planted up with hostas.

I am really pleased with the new dividing border and archway created earlier this year. The plants are really developing well, despite the very poor soil. The thalictrum ‘Elin’ and delphiniums are 6 feet tall although the stipa giganteum is yet to reach 2.

I seem to have more aliums than ever this year. Those that have failed to produce flowers previously have flowered in even the gloomiest parts of the garden.

The cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ seeds that germinated so readily have produced perfect plants but are only 6″ tall! The angelica archangelica planted last year is magnificent. The umbelifers are huge and stunning and attracting lots of bees. The climbing rose against the fence is bigger than it has ever been in the 7 or so years it has grown there. It has one beautiful bloom, hope there are many more to follow. I am pleased that the Swan Lake rose has flowered and hasn’t gone into a sulk after being moved last year.

Two beautiful acers have been added, one fine-cut and feathery and the other varigated and drooping.

The Ladybird poppy bought from the Tatton Flower Show in 2010 was no where to be seen last year and I thought it was lost. However, it appeared last month in all its glory. The aquilegias have been particularly pleasing this year although most have gone now.

There are lots of apples on both apple trees, including the graft that has never produced fruit before. Fingers crossed that they stay on the tree long enough to be edible. The strawberries are starting to colour and the raspberries are growing tall and strong. The blueberries are plumping up although I may have been a bit harsh with the pruning last year.

My friend at work gave me 6 swedes and some white and red onions, all doing very well. The beetroot is also doing well but I only have one moth-eaten cabbage. The carrots are looking a bit sparse and quite disappointing. Haven’t done too well with the veg this year.

Hope summer arrives soon.

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We wet our plants!

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My lovely neice brought a smile to my face when she posted this on Facebook.

We have had some glorious sunshine for the past couple of weeks, but we should know it won’t last. The forecast for this week is very much cooler during the day, frosty nights and the threat of rain, or even snow, mid-week. We are desperately in need of some rain.

The garden is at that magical Spring stage where something new comes up every day.

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I spent some time removing all the ugly ‘Honesty’ planted last year. The seeds were free with a magazine but the leaves are so big and unattractive, they had to go. I finally got around to digging up the pink phlox which was badly in need of splitting. It has now been redistributed to the new border and shared with Raewyn. The Gaura seeds didn’t take long to germinate and have now been potted on.  The Night Phlox looks a bit delicate but is beginning to stand up a bit more while the cosmos are now producing proper leaves. I sowed the white sunflower seeds collected last year as well as the nicotiana so am now waiting with baited breath. I received a free packet of centarea ‘snowman’ which also germinated really quickly. The Orlaya Grandiflora is yet to make an appearance. My previous sowing of verbena bonariensis came to nothing as I think I covered them too thickly with vermiculite. The additional seeds I scattered over the top seem to have made the required response.   The free tomato seeds received with Gardeners’ World magazine have been sown and I am intending to grow them in hanging baskets. The chilli seeds kindly donated by James and Rin have been planted in a hanging pot. I’m not sure whether they will germinate but thought it worth a try.  The echinacea seeds haven’t germinated, I think I planted too deeply. The trollius has been retired to the fridge for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t resist ordering Cerinthe Major Purpurascens and some Schizotylis, Pink Princess and Fenland Daybreak which are due to arrive at the end of April.

The carrots have been sown in their usual bag and purple mange tout in Quadgrow. The donated onions are doing well and the beautiful white blossom suddenly appeared on the damson tree. The two apple trees are about to burst into blossom also, I just hope the forecast frost doesn’t kill it.

Finally, I dug up three heucheras to split and redistribute.

A busy couple of weeks but I suspect activity will be curtailed with the deterioration in the weather. However, having turned the conservatory into a small nursery, I will have plenty to keep my eye on.

Prolific Planting

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I’ve had a busy couple of weeks digging grit and manure into the new border that is thick with enough sticky clay to open my own pottery.

I am really pleased with the effect of erecting the archway which has created a little ‘secret garden’. I want a screen of tall plants across this large border to add some height without being too dense. I have chosen Stipa Gigantia and Thalictrum ‘Elin’ which have now been planted along with Raewyn’s delphinium and the Verbena Bonariensis bought in January. I chose another climbing rose for the archway, ‘Dancing Queen’ which I bought from Bent’s. I know they are quite expensive, but it was there and so was I so I bought it. On the bright side, it does come with a 5-year guarantee.

My son was quite amused as he watched me ‘scrubbing the dirt off the dirt containers’. He was referring to the covers on the raised veg beds which were splattered with mud from last year’s watering. The smaller bed now contains several rows of beetroot and 8 cabbages.

The ‘Chelsea Border’ is looking very pretty, even at this early stage,  with the delicate shades of pink and lilac of the pulmonaria and primula denticulata. My treasured tiny tulipa has 3 lovely blooms which open during the day and close as the sun goes down.

Spring is in the air

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What a strange month February has been. It started off with freezing night time temperatures, down to -10 and not getting much further than 1 or 2 degrees in the day. Towards the end of the month we had some lovely sunny days where we could dare to venture out in the flimsiest of clothes with the temperature hitting 17 or 18 degrees, only to plummet the following day back to 9 or 10.

A new arrival of snowdrops could only sit forlornly on the windowsill while the soil remained stubbornly frozen outside.

Some parts of the country are threatened with drought while, here in the north west, we continue to be blessed with persistent precipitation!

However, that hasn’t prevented quite a fruitful month’s garden activities and now we are at the beginning of March, the future can only be bright.

The snowdrops were eventually planted and didn’t seem to suffer too much from their ordeal. The daffodils are in full bloom now, I really must plant some more for next year. The tulips are making an appearance, tentatively daring to poke their pointed leaves out of the gravel of the pots. My lovely hellebore has been flowering for weeks although the new ones I planted last year have only leaves. There are encouraging signs off life all over the garden with sedum, phlox and even eryngium emerging. It is so exciting when they appear as if by magic after their disappearing act over the winter.

Last weekend was spent sorting through envelopes and packets of seeds to organise what should be planted and when. My utility room quickly turned into a plant nursery with trays and pots delicately draped in polythene and the promise of new plants. My big problem is the number of seeds in a packet. Surely no-one needs 250 Zaluzianskya Capensis (Night Phlox), but despite my best efforts to only plant a few, they were so fiddly I ended up just scattering the whole lot! I also planted 30 Gaura Lindheimeri which I didn’t mind at all because a garden can never have too much gaura! I also planted some seeds that I collected myself last year including sweet peas and candy stripe phlox. Imagine my pleasure when, less than a week later, they had both germinated. Now someone more knowledgeable and experienced than myself will probably tell me that these spindly specimens will amount to nothing but disappointment but, for now, I am immensely pleased that they have germinated at all. Also adorning my new plant nursery are Trollius Europaeus (which I may have to put in the fridge at some point) and one of my absolute favourites, verbena bonariensis. Who could resist 10 Echinacea seeds called “Pow Wow Wild Berry”? However, after lovingly planting them in pots, I re-read the packet to find that I should have surface planted them. Oh well, there’s no way I was going to find them again so I am hoping that they still manage to survive in spite of me.

I have found another gardening buddy at work, Gill. These buddies come in very handy and Gill had just planted some onion sets and decided she had too many so she gifted some to me including some red ones. They now occupy half of my large raised veg bed which are under cover at present.

This year’s major garden project also got under way with the erection of my new garden archway.

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January Blues

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Well, it’s the end of January and most days have been torrential rain and even hail. Some days though, like today, have been tantalisingly sunny if a little chilly. And so I was lured outside to plant the two cornus shrubs purchased a few weeks back, ‘Alba Sibirica’ and ‘Flaviramea’. They look so lovely in the winter sunshine with their bright red and lime green stems.

There are now lots of snowdrops scattered about the place and I spotted a tiny iris in flower beneath the hibiscus. Signs of daffodils, tulips, sedum and aliums emerging. The new growth at the base of the verbena bonariensis indicates that it is now time to cut away last year’s remaining stems. Leaves have been cleared away along with fallen branches in preparation for a flying start once the weather improves. The Miscanthus Sinensis has been cut down to reveal new green shoots.

I am looking forward to planting the first seeds of the year next month.

Cold at Last

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This week’s weather finally felt something like normal for the time of year but at least the cold temperatures are accompanied by clear skies and brilliant sunshine. After such a warm autumn and winter, I’m sure the poor plants don’t know whether they are coming or going and these freezing temperatures must be a real shock to the system. It certainly halted my gardening progress but it hasn’t prevented the customary purchase of ‘dead’ plants.

It is at this time that Raewyn and I visit the nurseries for bargains and we weren’t disappointed. We went to F Morrey and Son at Tarporley. I can’t say that we came home with a boot full of ‘bootiful’ plants but it was full of anticipated promise and for just a few pounds each.

Of course, they don’t look at all like the pictures below but hopefully one day…

Phygelius ‘Moonraker’ Phygelius ‘Devil’s Tears’
Hebe Albicans Red Edge Daphne Mezereum ‘Rubra’
Anthemis E C Buxton Geranium Endressii

Tidy Up Time

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Yesteday was spent with my lovely friend, Raewyn who invited me to join her for afternoon tea. Where will this friends’ reunion take place I hear you ask? Well, any garden centre will do so we did a few! We started at Fryers’ because I wanted to check out the roses for my garden arch and their tea room is a delight. Then we called in at High Legh as it was on our way home, no we didn’t have tea and scones there as well! Must be the first and only time we have ever come home empty handed, but we did come home with lots of ideas. I am looking for tall shrubs that will act as a screen alongside the archway such as, Ilex, Daphne, viburnum or even a flowering cherry.

This morning I decided to spend a couple of hours pottering.  At first, the sun was making every effort to shine, but in the end, it was just me in the cold and rain. I started by digging up what was once a beautiful yellow rose with blooms like huge buttercups. When I first planted it, it was floriferous and I was forever trimming it back to fit the small space it was occupying. Last year I decided to move it and it was not at all happy. It hardly grew at all, just a few small leaves on spindly stems and no flowers whatsoever – it was in a real sulk. I am hoping that, if I can revive it, it would be a lovely specimen to grow up my new garden arch.

I also dug up a spirea from the front rockery. I don’t know why I planted it among the silver leaved plants, it just didn’t look right so it too is in temporary accommodation until I can find a new home for it (not necessarily in my garden). I trimmed away all the dead leaves from the strawberries. The new leaves are already well-established so at least now they can see the light.

I was so excited to see the first of the snowdrops that I planted last year.  Several pretty primulas have been happily flowering since November
This solitary anenome has also been stoically flowering since before Christmas I love this helleborus, it never lets me down and, true to form, the beautiful flowers are in hiding beneath the evergreen foliage.

 

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