What a difference a break makes

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Have just returned from a wonderful holiday at Abhainn Ri luxury cottages in County Wicklow. Despite my concerns, the garden seems to have thrived without me. I got the feeling that it was rather relieved to have a break from my fussing and apart from the hanging baskets looking a bit sorry for themselves, everything seems to have continued to flourish.

This morning I harvested my first bowl of strawberries with the promise of many more to come.

The apples are developing nicely although I wonder if there are too many and that maybe I should sacrifice a few to benefit the others.

 This is my one tiny Redlove apple which I haven’t got the heart to remove.

You can hardly see the tiny buddleja ‘Buzz’ which got held up in the post when we were away on holiday. At least it looks as if it might survive which is more than can be said for the other sorry specimen which I have put in a pot.

This tangled mess is the raised bed containing leeks and onions.  I am so proud of my lovely cabbages. They are not developing firm hearts but I am not sure when they will be ready to eat.
 The peas have gone mad and the covers have been removed to allow for pollination of the flowers.  There are plenty of salad leaves for us to feast on and the celery is coming along nicely.
I am really worried about my poor sickly tomatoes. They have been fed and kept watered but they are just not happy. I have grown them from seed; maybe I should have just bought plants?  
 Short-stemmed lilies
 Amaranthus and dahlia

Say hello, say goodbye

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This has been the week of the Chelsea Flower Show. I must admit I had every intention of watching but have only managed to dip into a few programmes.

The rhododendron has been in the garden since we moved in. It is old and miserable with puny flowers and unattractive foliage so, as it is not earning its place in my small garden, it has to go. I’m quite sad about it really but I’m sure it resents being cut and contained to fit such a confined space. Raewyn took me to Dunge Valley Rhododendron Gardens in the Peak District National Park to find a replacement. What a beautiful and fascinating place, (you must read the ghost stories on their web site). I chose a gorgeous specimen called ‘Rainbow’. It wasn’t in flower so I am depending on David’s advice that it will produce deep pink to white flowers next year. It will grow to 6ft in 10 years and has a more open structure than the existing one.

The Old and the new

I also purchased a couple of meconopsis poppies from Dunge Valley which were planted along with my 3 free poppies fom Thompson and Morgan. Raewyn gave me some aquilegia and some pansies which were planted along with the recently germinated Honesty. I finally got the nicotiana to germinate but it is so tiny, I daren’t plant it out just yet.Steve and I payed a visit to Gordon Rigg in Todmorden to buy some terra cotta plant pots and plant supports. A little way down the road on the way home we heard a bump and a crash from the boot and on investigation discovered that the newly purchased pots had fallen over and smashed in the boot. We returned to said garden centre and bought some more, this time carefully wedging them behind the seats in the car. Oh, and by the way, I couldn’t resist buying two hanging baskets as well! Some amaranthus Foxtail and Greenthumb have been planted in the new pots.  

The giant alium have been flowering for weeks now and are still looking good. The bees love them!

I am sure I originally planted these as aliums but I’m not convinced. They are pretty though.

 At last year’s Tatton Flower Show, Jean and I bought some delightful ladybird poppies. I was hoping they would self-seed but with my penchant for weeding and my inability to discern weeds from plants, I never thought I would see them again. However, I spotted these little beauties and am really hoping they are what I have been waiting for. Either that or I am nurturing weeds again!  
Raewyn gave me this lovely blue grass a couple of years ago and it has slowly established itself in the back rockery without doing very much except growing. I was delighted when it threw up these gorgeous seed heads!I am concerned that the garden is now looking a bit jumbled as I keep cramming in more and more plants. I need to reorganise!

Plants, plants, plants!

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I’m going to have to stop buying plants, I’m running out of garden and Steve won’t let me have any more lawn!

This has been a really busy week in the garden, not least because of the almost daily delivery of plants I forgot I’d ordered. They’re always so disappointing when ordered online. The pictures look lush and beautiful but what arrives is just a bunch of roots or a leafless twig. I know they will grow into the lush and beautiful (if I’m lucky) and I suppose that’s the exciting part.

I had another grow house disaster. Hundreds of Cosmos seedlings were upturned when a strong gust blew it over again. I don’t know why I didn’t secure it after last time when all my autumn cuttings suffered the same fate. However, undeterred, and determined not to lose a single one, I set about carefully gathering them up and repotting. It seems to have paid off as some of them now have two pairs of leaves. The offending grow house has now been secured to the fence.

I refuse to plant the 100 gladioli bulbs so generously provided free with my online orders of plants. I just don’t like them and I can’t be bothered with all that staking. I have had glads before and they spent their lives lying horizontal across the lawn before I eventually got round to removing them. Does anyone want 100 gladioli?

The Magnolia Stellata arrived and has been planted in the pot to replace the dead rose. It doesn’t look like a Magnolia, it’s just a couple of twigs with a few leaves.

This week has also seen the planting of 3 helleborus orientalis and 1 Queen of Night, 3 penisetum alopecuroides beneath the silver birch and 12 pulmonaria – 3 each of Majeste, Blue Ensign, Rubra and Opal.

Two paeonies went from pot to ground but ‘Shirley Temple’ is still in the pot until it is bigger; I didn’t think it was going to grow at all.

The dahlias are still in pots but most are showing signs of life. The black one, which has been my pride and joy for the past two years is sadly not producing any leaves at present.

A couple of Amaranthus seedlings have magically appeared in the conservatory trays but still no sign of nicotiana or sweet peas.

Second cabbage crop is doing well in seed tray, I won’t be so quick to transplant this time as I killed a couple of the first lot. Still no sign of celery.

I dug up a few feet of border in the front garden that the postman uses as a short cut through to next door. Here I have planted 100 anenomes. Now I have to find a way to deter the postman from trampling them.

A trip to the nursery with Raewyn saw two more additions: Dicentra Spectabilis and Dicentra ‘King of Hearts’

 I love this candy stripe phlox nestling among the rocks. It was quite puny when I planted it last year but it is really making itself at home now. I know I’m going to regret planting these cornflowers because of the way they seed themselves but they are pretty.

Damson Blossom

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This is the beautiful sight that greeted me this morning; is there anything more pleasing?

The cabbages have now been transplanted into the raised veg bed alongside the beetroot seedlings that are sprouting. I have now planted some more cabbage seeds and some celery. Removed PVC covers from raised beds, leaving netting in place as the temperatures are quite warm.

The alstroemeria arrived from Hayloft Plants and have been planted in pots. 3 varieties: Saturne, Neptune and Rivale.

Have also planted carrots in two sections of bag, leaving other two for future planting.

Amaranthus ‘Green Thumb’ and paniculatus ‘Fox Tail’ sown on top of compost in module seed tray in conservatory.

I think this is aubretia. It was given to me by my sister, Charlotte as a tiny cutting a couple of years ago. I don’t know where the tiny viola came from but the woodpecker came from dad who felt sorry for me when I told him I didn’t get many birds in the garden.