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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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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All change

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Dissatisfied with the left border, I bribed Raewyn with home made scones and jam to come and cast her expert eye over it. I just keep sticking plants in wherever there is a spare inch of soil, giving no thought to how big things will grow or how everything will fit together. Raewyn sat pondering with pencil and paper and rearranged the whole left border and some of the main border.  The trouble with friends with an expert eye is that they leave you with lots of work to do!  Having spent all weekend in the blazing sun digging, uprooting, planting and watering. The Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ has been gathered from around the garden and planted together in a feathery fountain. The astilbe was really unhappy at the lower level so has now been planted in the deeper soil of the higher level.  I am now much happier with the overall appearance which will be finished off with an architectural angelica archangelica at the back.

First of all I got rid of all the winter pansies that had brought so much pleasure in the early months but were now past their best. I dug out great swathes of crocosmia that was crowding out so much all over the garden and even found some things I forgot I had.

August 2010 May 2011 July 2011

Unfortunately, I managed to knock the one flower off the red rose, let’s hope there are more where that came from. Now the crocosmia has gone from the main border, the beautiful salvia “Wendy’s Wish” has been brought forward into the sunshine and looks lovely with the dark red dahlia.

The front rockery is completely out of hand. I made a big mistake planting so much cosmos all over the garden; I didn’t realise how dense the feathery foliage would be. The artemisia has really spread out and made itself at home and the aliums tower above slowly turning from green to purple. However, the smaller candy stripe cosmos has worked well with the anenomes in the dividing border.

May 2011 July 2011

Although most of the leaves were covered in red rust spots and were removed, the hollyhock flowers are rather majestic.

The veg have been enjoying the sunshine and quietly getting on with the business of growing. The cabbages are huge and one provides 3 or 4 meals. Now I have removed some of the bigger ones, the later ones have more room to grow. The salad leaves are lovely and enjoyed by the whole family and neighbours alike. I keep nibbling on the peapods and some have developed the sweetest tasting peas. The carrots have encouraging foliage although I haven’t investigated further and the onions are pushing themselves up out of the ground; much more successful than last year.

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

January 2011

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A couple of warmer days to melt the ice and snow, -3 and -4 at night but the days are managing to stay above freezing.

9th January:
Tidied garden, removing remains of perennials and raking up leaves. It’s amazing how many things are showing signs of life already, sedum, aquilegia, clematis.

Pondering about whether I need a PVC/insect net cover for raised beds. Cost £178 so I need to be sure.

Cuttings in grow house not looking too good.

18th January:
No sign of daffodils yet but I think I can see some aliums.

Greenthumb came to scarify and aerate the lawns.

Potatoes (Kestrel) have arrived so they are waiting patiently in the conservatory. Veg seeds also arrived so I have some planning to do.

Bought hoops and covers, need to get them on to warm the soil.

Used winter tree wash on apple tree. Should have been done in December so I hope it’s ok.

25th January:
Some daffodils daring to emerge in to the cold. I’m sure I will have lost lots of plants due to the severe winter.

Managed to get one cover on so at least I will be able to get my onions in soon.

New box hedge arrived and needs planting as soon as possible. I was going to put them around the edge of the round patio but will have to see whether the damson tree roots will allow it.

30th January:
Onions planted in covered bed 10cm apart and 20cm between rows.

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.