Summer Madness

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The beetroot looked as if it might be ready before we went on holiday so I decided to pull a few. One of them was a decent size but the rest were quite small so I left some in the soil to grow bigger. Of course, once pulled, action had to be taken so I made my first attempt at pickling using red wine vinegar, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and a bay leaf. My big mistake was forgetting to add some sugar so the result was beetroot spicy enough to blow your head off!

The buddleija Davidii is a really vivid purple which is lovely alongside the pink phlox and eryngium. This is a rather cramped corner with dahlias, rudbeckia cherry brandy, oriental poppies, geums, jasmine, heucheras and alstromeria. Maybe needs some sorting!
The short-stemmed lilies have now finished and those that were in the shady corner have been removed so these are the only remaining lilies in the garden. The heavy scent carries right across the garden. This poor rose seems to survive in spite of me! It was chopped almost to the ground last year, then I accidentally knocked the first bloom off with my hoe. However, it refuses to be beaten and has presented me with more beautiful blooms.

I’m rather concerned about my Kestrel potatoes as they haven’t yet flowered. The foliage looked a bit sorry for itself after our holiday but has revived with a good soaking. I’ve looked on the internet and some forums say that Kestrel don’t flower. I suppose the only way to check is to have a rummage and see if there is anything there. I might not grow potatoes next year as the compost is very expensive and the results have been less than good value so far.

The peas are a different story entirely. They have exceeded expectations. I should have harvested a bit sooner however, as some of them had started to dry out. I realise now that I should have kept them as they would have been next year’s seeds. They have now been safely harvested, podded and frozen. Haven’t eaten any yet though, I don’t even like peas!

The apples are plumping up nicely.

 

The tomato plants are very sturdy with a few tomatoes although there are a many flowers.
The nicotiana has finally flowered both in the pot (Tinkerbell) and in the garden (Lime Green). I planted nasturtiums in the raised veg bed to keep the cabbage whites off my cabbages.
Right Left

These two silver birch trees are having a short back and sides this week. When we moved in they were nothing more than twigs. Funny thing is, I never even noticed them growing into these towering giants. Mind you, I didn’t notice my two sons growing to over 6 foot either!

Rain, rain go away

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It’s hard to believe that only a couple of weeks ago we were basking in glorious sunshine. Now it’s wet, cold and windy. It’s enough to put off even the most motivated gardener. Now, never let it be said that I am a fair weather gardener, I have been out in wind, rain and snow but even I am getting fed up with being soaked and chilled to the bone. However, the plants won’t wait until the weather improves and I have leeks and celery that desperately need to go in to the ground and the Cosmos is rapidly outgrowing its pots.

I have managed to plant Cosmos Candy Stripe in the reclaimed strip of garden between us and next door. This has long been the short cut through for the postman and paper person. I thought that once the cosmos was planted it would be obvious that this was no longer an option but a broken plant proved me wrong. I wouldn’t mind but it is easily possible for even a short legged person like myself to stride over, but I always seem to have a big footprint right in the middle of the bed. The problem has now been solved by sticking a few garden hoops in side by side to create a little fence – got the message now?

The rhododendron which has been in the garden since we moved in, is really looking sorry for itself and I am thinking of replacing it. I agree with Carole Klein when she said that every plant in a small garden has to earn its place and this one is past its best.

Last year I had a thing about aliums after they were so abundant at the Tatton Show and I planted hundreds of them all over the garden. I am beginning to regret this as their foliage is so uninteresting and takes up so much room. I can see some of them being pulled up in the not too distant future.

My potato sacks are now topped up with compost to the very top. I can’t help thinking that this is more banking up than they would ever receive if planted in the ground. It seems like tons of compost. The question is, what do I do with it after the potatoes have been harvested? Can I use it again? Can I distribute it as mulch around the garden? Will it carry disease? Answers on a postcard please! (or you could leave a comment at the bottom of this post!)

I have put the tulip bulbs in trays to dry ready for planting again at the end of the year.

I invested in a QuadGrow Slim for the tomatoes which arrived this week. The tomato plants have now been transplanted into their pots outside and hopefully, the reservoir beneath them will keep them happy.

Raewyn took me to my new favourite nursery Primrose Cottage which inevitably resulted in the purchase of new plants. I bought two agapanthus from the RHS Show at Tatton last year but the harsh winter finished them off so they just had to be replaced with a white ‘Arctic Star’ and a blue ‘Grasskop’ . I picked up a lovely kniphophia that I have been meaning to buy for a while ‘Green Jade’, a purple and white salvia ‘Madeline’ from the reduced bench and another with unusual drooping flowers ‘Wendy’s Wish’ with some bedding plants for a hanging pot completing the shopping list.

After watching Gardeners’ World at the Malvern Show, I ordered some seeds, Orlaya Grandiflora, Zaluzianskya capensis and Trollius europaeus. I know it’s a bit late and I might leave them until next year.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had any luck with the nicotiana I sowed for the second time but the purple and white honesty has germinated which is very pleasing. Some of the sweet peas have collapsed.

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.

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.

The Mystery of the Missing Peas

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Decided to have a poke around in the peas to see if I could find any sign of more shoots but I didn’t find a single pea apart from the two that have already emerged! Where have they gone? There are no signs of anything having dug them up. Have sowed another two rows.

 

The tulips continue to delight me, gleaming like jewels in the beautiful sunshine. The darker ones flowered a little later in the back garden than the apricots which is why I thought I had planted one colour in the back and one in the front. Strange that it was the dark ones that opened first in the front garden even though they are all facing the same direction.

 Spent a lovely day at Ness Botanical Gardens in Neston, Merseyside. I can’t believe that it’s only 40 minutes away and I have never been. Of course, there’s no visiting a garden centre without making a purchase.I found this tiny tulip but all it says on the label is ‘tulipa specie’ which is not very helpful. It’s not looking its best in this photo. The spiky petalled flowers open up in the sunshine and close up again when it’s dull; it’s really pretty.  
 This picture was taken at Ness Gardens and shows the mass of Summer Snowdrops growing under a tree.  
 This is mine!  
  I love the little green dots around the edges of each bell’ ‘.
 The lovely weather encouraged much activity in the garden this weekend and the Jasmine ‘Clotted Cream’ was finally planted. I stole the trellis from a clematis which meant another trip to the garden centre to replace it. I didn’t even know it was 20% off weekend so I had to make the most of it!We saw these Primula Denticulata at Ness but they were quite expensive so I was thrilled to get them at a bargain price along with some scraggy yellow primula from the bargain bench, left over from Mother’s Day.  
  I also purchased a Spiraea Arguta and planted it in the top of the front rockery and an obilisk and some sweet pea seeds ‘Elegant Ladies’.We put some of the new trellis against the front fence and made an effort to untangle the poor clematis that was clinging desperately to itself. The convolvulus was removed as I accepted that it really hadn’t survived the winter.I can hardly believe the difference in the Aubretia in aweek.  
The blossom is out on the grafted apple tree and gone from the damson.
This corydalis flexuosa is one of my favourites.Finally this weekend I sowed some Nicotiana, ‘Tinkerbell’ and ‘Lime Green’ and the sweet peas. I can see signs of my second batch of cabbages.