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!
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A Guided Tour

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I’ve been unusually unbusy in the garden this week. The rain over the past couple of days has been very welcome and seems to have roused the garden  from its sunbathing stupour. Everything is fresher and more alert.

I’ve had another seed disaster with Nicotiana and Oenothera, neither of which has germinated. Some seedlings appeared but I am sure they have wafted in while the trays were outside in the sunshine. Both have been sown again and I am going to keep them indoors until they germinate, or until I learn to recognise plants from weeds, whichever is sooner! Of course it’s back to the fridge with the Oenothera for the next four weeks. Sowed some purple and white honesty that came free with my magazine along with the free WHITE sunflowers.

As I haven’t done much this week I thought I would just do a progress report around the garden so hang on to your hollyhocks as the saying goes. Speaking of hollyhocks…

The apple tree is looking much healthier this year, I only got 5 apples on it last year. Most of the blossom has gone now and I’m sure I can see some tiny apples forming, or it could just be wishful thinking!

The Redlove apple tree is also looking splendid with its rosy foliage. Even if it wasn’t going to provide me with juicy apples, it would still be a very attractive tree. The blossom was the deepest pink although there was only a tuft at the top and on one of the branches. Lorra says I shouldn’t allow it to fruit this year but I think the temptation of producing an apple with red flesh might be too much to resist.  
This is the first aquilegia I planted and was kindly donated from my sister, Charlotte. I spend much of my time pulling up the seedlings (these ones I do recognise) but they are so pretty I have allowed them to spread into other areas of the garden. I even shook a seedhead under the silver birch tree last autumn to fill a space and the seedlings are dependably flourishing there.Now I have two more lovely aquilegia to keep me busy.  
 I am so disappointed with the giant aliums this year. Although I now have 5, increased from the original and huge 3, they are very much reduced in size.  
This is the black leafed dahlia I thought I had lost, it took ages to show any sign of life this year. I don’t know its name but I am very fond of its dark foliage which forms the perfect backdrop for the profusion of bright yellow flowers which continue until the first frost. I think I bought it after a trip to RHS Tatton. I’m not sure how it will fare in a pot, I’ve always put it in the garden in the past where it’s had lots of room to expand.
 In the foreground is my magnolia stellata which was free except for postage. I was very disappointed when my little twig arrived but, although it’s still not much more than a twig, I am happy that it has some lovely, healthy  leaves and I am sure it will be stunning when it grows up.The short-stemmed lilies in the background were also free with one of my numerous orders. I gave some to dad and put the others in this pot. They look like little palm trees.  
I am very fond of this purple geranium and its abundant flowers pouring over the edge of the garden. I didn’t know I liked geraniums as I had only met pelargoniums before and wasn’t keen on them. When Raewyn told me I needed one in my garden I was none too pleased. Now I have two! Now I know I said I wasn’t going to buy any more plants but I do have another 4 geraniums on order and I am hoping they will arrive later this month. My new hellebore can just be seen peering out between the winter pansies which have also sprung into life. I had started to remove the pansied as I put in more plants but now they look at me with their little faces and I haven’t the heart to take them out.  
I am so pleased with the new rose, Swan Lake. It looks so radiant with its glossy new perfect leaves. I am concerned that it is a bit overcrowded by the sambucus.
I was very concerned about the sambucus when I planted it last year. It seemed to get lost and couldn’t really be seen among the other plants but this year it has come back with a flourish. I love plants with dark foliage and these feathery leaves sway so rhythmically in the slightest breeze.
I had a thing about grass last year and bought this rye grass at RHS Tatton against Jean’s advice. I put it in a pot as I didn’t want it to run riot. It didn’t do much last year but it seems to be making more of an effort at present. I am hoping it will soon throw up some flower spikes so I can justify my purchase.

Well, that’s the flowers, now for the fruit and veg.

I just wanted to introduce you to my little scarecrow who sits in the raised veg bed encouraging everything to grow. He hasn’t got a name but has been known to pop up in another part of the garden. Strange that this only seems to happen when my younger sister, Lorra, has paid me a visit!

I remember sitting on the patio last year and eating blueberries straight from the bush. Can there be anything more pleasing than that? The flowers are all but gone now, replaced by a blue haze with such promise.
I had some lovely beetroots last year although I think I cooked them too long – about 3 days I think! I am hoping for a good harvest this year and have thinned them out a little but I try not to disturb things too much, preferring to sow thinly in the first place.
I feel I have struggled with these cabbages this year but have you ever seen a more perfect specimen? Not a nibble or a blemish on their perfect leaves. I am convinced now that the initial failure was due to my heavy handedness when transplanting from tray to soil. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they continue to develop without further mishap.  
The carrots have now got proper leaves and seem happy. Again I have sowed thinly because, according to Monty Don, a carrot fly can smell a disturbed plant from half a mile away. This is just one section of the bag. The section on the right is where the cat like to jump in a leave deposits but my ‘cane garden’ seems to have stopped it in its tracks and even the disturbed seedlings are finding their way to the light. I will plant up the two remaining sections as soon as I get round to it.
It took a good few hours to prick out these lovely little celery seedlings. Celery anyone?
The potatoes seemed to take a while to get going but now they are positively rampant! The compost is almost up to the top of the bags. Admittedly, I have fed them this year with potato fertilizer so here’s hoping for a bumper crop.
I am so pleased with my peas after the disastrous start. No one ever told me what a ‘pea stick’ was so I’ve just used twigs I have found under the trees in the garden and they seem to be doing the trick. They are so pretty, I hope I haven’t planted them too close together.
The raspberries are growing well under the tree. Some of the leaves of the sickly one that was removed died back but it seems to be surviving. I will have to think about supports for them soon.
I sowed these salad leaves about a week ago and can’t believe they’ve come up so quickly. Another couple of weeks and they will be on the dinner plate!
The strawberries are looking good and have had many flowers. The three plants in the top of the planter are last year’s main plants, the rest are the runners.

Out of Control

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Such glorious weather and two bank holidays has meant lots of time to spend in the garden. Everything is growing at an incredible rate and I feel I am losing control – if I ever had any!

A trip to Gordon Rigg in Todmorden with Jean saw the purchase of a lovely new potting tray with a handy shelf. Now I can keep the tables relatively clean.

Banking the potatoes up seems to have given them licence to grow.

One of the raspberry tubs is looking rather sickly so I have moved it out from beneath the damson tree.

On Jean’s advice, I dug up all the tulip bulbs and put them in big pots to die back. It has given me more room for planting and I don’t have to look at the boring foliage. I am wondering whether I should have done the same with the daffodils but they are still in place.

The clematis at the back of the front rockery is looking particularly splendid at the moment with beautiful lilac flowers as big as saucers.

 
 I couldn’t resist these pretty little aquilegia even though I know I could regret it later. Their names were irrestistible too – Winky Rose and Winky Double White.The veg bed is looking very healthy at the moment. The cabbages are doing well and the peas will soon need supporting. I just need to find out what a ‘pea stick’ is! The beetroot have been thinned out and the celery has been pricked out into individual modules. The salad leaves have germinated in a matter of days.  

The Adams Family

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I must admit, I felt like Mortisha when she was trimming the flowers from the rose stems as I removed the little hopeful faces of the pansies this morning. I’m sure this can’t be right but they were so straggly, the stems not the flowers. I’m not sure how long pansies are supposed to last, do I keep them in forever, will they produce any more flowers?

I planted all the little Zinnia seedlings and scattered some slug pellets to be on the safe side.

Nothing in my garden ever gets the chance to self-seed as I am obsessively weeding all the time. Can somebody please tell me how to recognise the seedlings? The only thing I do recognise is the aquilegia and that seems to get everywhere.

Once again the garden is tidier than the house!

June 2010

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Some very hot days which kick-started everything into life. The latter part of the month became very wet.

Many flowers are now in bloom including giant aliums, small aliums, fuschia, geranium, penstamon, aquilegia and iris.

Planted hollyhocks, euphorbia and some pretty blue grass, all given to me by my generous friend, Raewyn.

My long-suffering husband chopped down 3 trees to make room for some raised veg beds and the new shed.

The apple tree we planted at the end of last year is one with 3 varieties grafted on. Only one variety has produced apples and I don’t know why.