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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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!

It’s starting!

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The garden has been just green for weeks and I have been waiting in anticipation for everything to burst into flower. I rather thought that it would all happen at once but it is happening slowly with each day presenting a new treasure.

So many things have given me a thrill this week.

The two roses have each got two blooms.

 

We have been eating rather a lot of cabbage this week!

It’s difficult to see in these photos but my lovely corkscrew grass has got amazing flowers.

The anenomes really zing out amongst the candy stripe cosmos The agapanthus is huge and beautiful
Fabulous colours in this hanging basket

The dahlias are almost fully open

This phlox is very pretty but it probably would have benefited from the ‘Chelsea Chop’

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.