Nothing to see here!

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Or that’s what I thought when I decided to venture out into the bog that once was a garden.

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It was freezing outside but I could wait no longer. I donned two pairs of gloves, fleece lined jacket and wellies and went outside to weed the veg bed. I have two parallel veg beds, one was completely clear of weeds, the other covered in them as well as a blankety moss. As usual, one thing lead to another and I was soon weeding and tidying up the fallen twigs. It’s so wet that the borders have been invaded by liverwort.

I was amazed to see the number of flowers that are already in bloom and thrilled to see that the flower buds on the ‘last chance’ camellia still looked healthy despite a short frost not so long ago. One tiny yellow crocus stands bravely in the middle of the lawn, wonder where the other 249 are? The snowdrops are finally coming into their own, standing out brilliantly against the dark soil and other less ostentatious plants. What a surprise to find a sprinkling of tiny pink Daphne flowers along the otherwise bare branches. It would be easy to overlook the one very short, greyish blue iris beneath the hibiscus bush.

Well, I made it half way round the garden before I gave in to the cold and decided to leave some weeding for another day. Thursday promises temperatures in double figures, could be positively barmy!

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I didn’t mean to!

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I don’t know how it happened, it certainly wasn’t my intention. I didn’t even put my coat on, it was a matter of  “I’ll just have a quick look”. Some horrible laurel leaves were strewn around from next door’s pruning so I suppose that is where it started. Next thing I know, the gloves are on and general picking up and tidying taking place. Before long, out come dad’s trusty secateurs and trimming is happening. So there I am pruning and weeding on this beautiful January day when I should be ironing and cleaning. Well, what would you rather do?

My post-Christmas spirits were well and truly lifted when I spotted at least 3 flower buds on a camellia I bought about 5 years ago that has never flowered. This was its last chance. It has been positioned all around the garden over the years as I was convinced that this was the problem. I noticed another tiny specimen (free with something or other) was thriving near the patio, so this is where my mature and pampered plant has spent the last 6 months or so. Let’s hope the frost doesn’t get it before they open.

It’s amazing to see how many signs of new growth are apparent. Daffs, alliums and sedum all making an appearance. I am fairly certain that the primula in the front rockery haven’t stopped flowering all year. So pleased to see that my lovely Angelica has decided to spend another year with me. All the foliage has been cleared from the helibores to reveal plump flower buds threatening to burst open at any moment.

Maybe I’ll just nip out and have another look!

Cabbages and Cats

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Only 4 of my original 9 cabbages remain. I blame myself as I can’t see any evidence of them having been nibbled. I think I must have damaged the stems as I planted them in the soil as the stems are just sheered off. The remaining 4 seem to be quite sturdy now and 11 new ones have been transplanted from tray to soil. The beetroots have been thinned out and some ‘cut and come again’ salad leaves sown.

I must have been too keen when planting my peas as the new ones are now growing and look healthy enough. Lorra brought me a little scarecrow who now sits watching over them with his little sign which says ‘grow seeds, grow!’

A cat seems to have taken a liking to my carrot bag and has on several occasions jumped into it and left several deposits. The young seedlings have been thrown around on several occasions now and I am hoping that the canes I have ‘planted’ will dissuade it from using my carrot bag as a toilet.

It took me nearly all day to prick out what seemed like a million leeks, I didn’t realise how reliably they would germinate. I have managed to give some away so I won’t have to plant them all into the soil. The pots at the front are Cosmos Sensation.

Most of the dahlias have pushed out new leaves and have been planted in the back of the border, just need to remember to buy some plant supports for them. For a while it didn’t look as if my black leafed dahlia was going to make an appearance but I needed to be more patient, it just took a little longer than the red ones.

Flowers are starting to appear on the strawberries.

It is very kind of J Parkers to send me free gifts but don’t they know I haven’t got any room left? Two free camellia ‘Lady Campbell’ and ‘Debbie’ are in pots and 6 free echinacea are still waiting. I found good homes for the 100 gladioli!

6 verbena bonariensis have replaced those lost over the winter.

The orchid continues to flourish.

An Extra Hour

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It’s amazing what a difference a few sunny days will make and now that the clocks have moved back, I am looking forward to lots of productive evenings to come.

I now have two beautiful flowers on my orchid which I am very pleased about and lots of buds yet to open. To think I was going to send it off to the great compost heap in the sky!

The plants around the round patio don’t seem too upset by the dousing they got from my jet-washing. I have been down on my hands and knees removing the old cement and filling in the holes. The Pave Fix Plus takes 4 days to ‘cure’ but I don’t think that includes the days when it’s been pouring down. Steve jet-washed the decking and the furniture ready for the teak oil but I think I’ll wait until it stops raining.

There are now 9 cabbages emerging under cover but I’m not sure at what stage to transplant them into the soil. I intend to sow some more soon, still with an eye on a successional harvest.

I opened the flaps of the PVC covers when the sun was shining to let some air flow through then closed them again at night.

Have planted 5 sacks of Kestrel potatoes.

I’m not quite sure why I only have one pea plant (or possibly two) but I am certain there are some signs of beetroots.

I have to say, I am very pleased with the colour arrangement of these narcissi and tulips. I wish I could say it was intentional but I bought a mixed bag of apricot and purple tulips and it seems that I have planted the purple ones in the front and the apricot ones in the back; what are the chances of that?

My unhappy camellia is still unhappy and the leaves are turning yellow. I may just have to admit defeat. On a positive note, the zinnia are still alive!

I have ordered lots of plants and seeds with ambitious plans for gorgeous pots as seen in the Gardener’s World magazine! Well, I’m off to put my Oenothera ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (evening primrose) in the fridge.

Spring is sprung

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It’s been such a busy week, mainly due to the lovely sunny days we’ve been enjoying. Night times are still cold and we have had some frost.

I planted the English bluebells as soon as they arrived this week.

I am intrigued by my new apple tree. It’s the Redlove which, I am reliably informed, has red flesh and a flavour of berries. I have been looking at it for a long time and pondering whether or not to buy one. I have taken the plunge even though I already have an apple tree with 3 varieties grafted on one trunk. There must be a limit to how many apples two people can eat! Whilst visiting Plantation Nursery this week for afternoon tea with Raewyn, we spotted some lovely bright blue pots for half price; perfect for my new apple tree and my unhappy camellia (see below).

Charlotte and Danielle bought me a lovely orchid when they came to visit about a year ago. I have to admit, I don’t have any house plants as they just die. I’m not sure whether I kill them with kindness or inconsistency but it happens every time. Of course, when you buy an orchid, it comes complete with lovely flowers and all seems very cheerful and so it was for many months. The flowers disappeared and I was left with a pot full of leaves, healthy and increasing in number. As time went on, nothing happened. I suspected that it was getting too big for its pot, probably due to having lots of protruding rooty stuff. The question was, do I spend money on a new pot and orchid compost, or do I cut my losses and send it on its way to the great compost heap in the sky? I gave it a good talking to and warned it that if it didn’t do something soon, it would be shown the door. On a visit to the garden centre, I was drawn to the orchid section and, in a weak moment, succumbed to the necessary purchase. On returning home, I carefully repotted and watered and spoke sternly to said plant. Imagine my excitement when it threw up a stem full of buds! This week one, just one, burst into flower and what a flower it is! So, I am pleased for two reasons; I have managed to keep a houseplant for more than a few weeks and my money was well spent on nurturing this little treasure.

I bought a camellia a couple of years ago when down at Charlotte’s, I’m pretty sure she bought one too. Last year one tiny bud formed, right at the bottom of the stem – and there it stayed. It never turned into a flower but the rest of the plant seemed quite healthy with lovely green shiny leaves. This year I was quite excited when many buds appeared and I was in anticipation of a display of bright flowers. However, my hopes were dashed when the buds turned brown and that was obviously that! Raewyn told me that camellia don’t like the early morning sun. I had planted my poor camellia in the exact spot where the sun rises and shines between the two houses first thing in the morning. I treated my precious plant to a new pot, some new ericacious compost and a new position. A couple of the leaves are turning brown but my fingers are crossed that it will cheer up soon.

7 cabbage seedlings are now out in the open but I think my successional sowing hasn’t worked as both sets are coming up at more or less the same time. Maybe I didn’t leave enough time between sowing?

It occurred to me this week that the two remaining euonymus shrubs that have been climbing the back fence since we moved in to this house, were not really adding anything to the garden so down they came. It just remains for the long-suffering Steve to do the back-breaking work of digging out the roots. There were several more of these around the garden but they too have been gradually removed as my interest in the garden has grown. Sometimes I think I don’t see the stuff that’s been around for a long time. Anyway, I thought there were more attractive things to grow up the fence. A text to Raewyn and we’re on our way to Fryer’s for afternoon tea! Fryer’s are rose specialists so they have a huge variety to choose from. Did I tell you how hopeless I am at making decisions? After a discussion with the ‘rose man’, I chose a white rose with a pink tinged centre called ‘Swan Lake’.

I also chose a Jasmine called ‘Clotted Cream’.

I fear I may have made a huge mistake in cutting down my red climbing rose. It has been climbing the fence for a few years now and I have had a handful of the most beautiful roses from it but never in great numbers. I suspect it doesn’t get enough sun in its current position and I may ultimately have to move it. I had been out earlier in the month to prune it a little and reposition it on the trellis. Raewyn showed me an article about how to prune roses which said to remove the weak shoots and thin end bits (that’s a technical term!). On close inspection, I noticed that most of the shoots were weak and also that the main stems had at some point been split by I’m not sure what. So I took a deep breath and the secateurs and chopped it right down. I now live in hope that it will be rejuvenated and not killed!

I never seem to leave Raewyn’s house empty-handed and this time it was some tiny Zinnia seedlings. Of course I had no idea what Zinnia were! Have decided to plant them behind the little box hedge.

February 2011

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Much warmer, some days in to double figures!

8th February:
More signs of life every day, daffs seem to have grown overnight. Giant aliums pushing through and tiny specks of green on raspberry canes.

Put second and larger of the covers on raised bed. This went on much easier than the smaller one.

Planted box hedge around patio, could have done with a few more plants though.

 13th February:
Tulips have appeared and daffs continue to grow. Little green shoots are sprouting from the onions.

Ordered 6 more box to complete hedge. Bought 375 litres of compost for £9 – bargain!

Threw all cuttings away except for a few. I suspect they had too traumatic a time! When I re-potted after the wind they had developed a good root system but I think the frost was just too severe. Maybe I should have brought them indoors.

14th February:
New box plants delivered and planted immediately. Ground very wet and sloppy though, not sure they are going to like it.

17th February:
Planted dwarf lavendar. Filled up carrot bag and planted 6 cabbages in modules and placed under the cover of raised bed.

24th February:
What a magical time in the garden. Every day brings a new revelation. One sunny day makes all the difference. Daffs and tulips continue to grow. Hellebore is bursting into flower, the first ones in the garden. Fresh green leaves of aconitum and geranium emerging as well as phlox and aquilegia. Buds appearing on apple tree, sambucus and camellia.

Planted leeks and 4 tomato seeds under cover.

Ordered some snowdrops “in the green”.

28th February:
Ordered Pyloria and free Paeonies.

April 2010

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April saw the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano. Air travel was severely disrupted as the ash was blowing across the UK in the upper atmosphere.

Daffodils and flowering quince were in full glory.

Planted:

  • 3 strawberry plants (Elsanta) in a hanging basket.
  • Onions in veg bag
  • 9 carrot seeds and 6 beetroots

Ok, so I didn’t understand the business of sowing and thinning seeds. I did sow more when I realised!

Planted Hellebore and Camellia and put Phlox and Lillies in pots until I decided where to put them.

The patio received its annual jet-wash and was sealed to protect against further staining from algae – we’ll see.