Bloomin’ Lovely

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Just look at this perfect specimen! Well, so far so good; my first and only Redlove apple. I just hope it continues to thrive and I eventually get to eat it, as it has been nurtured and cared for when I should have sacrificed it for the sake of the tree.

I suppose July and August are the times when you should be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours and we’ve certainly had the weather for it. We have enjoyed cabbages, which I have decided to harvest young as they taste much nicer. We have had a good crop of strawberries but they seem to have come to an end now. There is nothing nicer than going outside first thing in the morning to collect a handful of juicy blueberries to throw on your breakfast cereal.

By the way, if you click the images, you will get a bigger picture.

I just love this oriental poppy although it doesn’t hang around for long and the flowers end up a soggy mush if you’re not quick to catch them before they fall.

It looks like a delicious frothy dessert sitting on a matching saucer. Last year I planted some ladybird poppies and I am hoping that they will make an appearance again this year. There are a few smaller plants dotted around and I am hoping they turn out to be them.

This is my gorgeous Peaches and Cream hollyhock, given to me by my good friend and gardening guru Raewyn. I love the contrast of the fluffy, frilliness of these flowers compared to the openness of the cream hollyhock (see previous post). They have all been hit by rust but it hasn’t affected their floral display. I have another hollyhock which is yet to flower; I think it is a deep red one.

I spent this morning digging out lilies from the shady corner and planted 6 gaura, Whirling Butterflies and 2 Siskiyou Pink. I should have had 6 of each but they got held up in the post and some didn’t survive. It is my intention to put some hostas in the corner with the heucheras.

The following three images go along the back border:

Here we have the apple tree, sambucus, agapanthus, dahlia, salvia “Wendy’s Wish”, cosmos, “Swan Lake” rose and cream hollyhock… …leading on to the buddleja, eryngium, corydalis flexuosa, lots more cosmos and the new rhododendron “Rainbow” and centaurea montana… …after the hibiscus comes more dahlia, heucheras, poppies and pansies. The jasmine “Clotted Cream” is flowering quietly behind them all.
The nicotiana are growing well and seem to have produced these huge green leaves almost overnight. The osteospernum continue to delight and short-stemmed lilies with the long stems contine to produce some beautiful flowers. The tomatoes are now going from strength to strength in their lovely self-watering pots. The flowers are just beginning to appear. The blueberries are slowly turning purple, just enough each day for breakfast! These are my patio pots containing my favourite dahlia (I don’t know its name though), amaranthus “Greenthumb” and “Foxtail” and artemisia. The amaranthus spikes are soft and furry.

I am concerned that my potatoes haven’t flowered yet and the foliage is collapsing. The peas continue to fatten but I am never sure when to pick them as it will take a fair few to make a meal. The beetroot are probably about right for picking now before they get too big. The celery is doing well and we have only a few cabbages left. The salad leaves have just about finished and I don’t think I will sow any more just yet. The nasturtiums make a nice border to the raised bed but I haven’t tried eating them yet.

And finally, my poor neglected hanging baskets are beautiful despite intermittant watering from me.

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.

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.  

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.

December 2010

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For almost all of December, the garden was covered in 6-8 inches of snow. Didn’t venture out to see what was going on.  Very cold temperatures of -12, -18 – officially the coldest December since records began 100 years ago.

James and Rin bought me a lovely sign for my garden for Christmas.

Ordered veg seeds and potatoes for Spring.

October 2010

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They called it an Indian summer but that meant it just stopped raining! Night time temperatures went as low as 3 degrees. Towards the end of the month we had the coldest October night on record.

1st October:
Aconitum, anenome, fuschia, dahlias, pansies, verbena, penstamon, pink phlox and purple geranium all still in flower. Apples still on tree.

No sign of cyclamen germinating, might try them in the grow house. Cuttings doing well, throwing out new leaves.

7th October:
Aconitum looking better everyday as more flowers open. Purple penstamon and verbena still looking good. Standard fuschia and two others flowering profusely. Dahlias hanging on in there although I have lifted some. White mildew covering foliage of black leafed dahlia. Pansies still nodding their little heads.

Steve dug the rockery and I planted it up with some silver leaved plants, heucheras, aliums and miscanthus. The soil is very poor and full of roots and stones. Have added some manure and bonemeal in an effort to improve it.

Disaster with the Christmas potatoes. 2 sacks doing well, one attacked by blight. Very disappointed.

Steve added another water butt with overflow.

14th October:
Ordered raspberry canes plus 3 astrantia – Moulin Rouge, Major Florence, Venice and rudbeckia – Cherry Brandy.

21st October:
Frost just about finished off remaining flowers. Dahlias lifted and put in garage for storage. All potatoes succumbed to blight.

Ordered 2 raised veg beds 1.20 x 2.40 and 1.20 x 1.80 and some vegegrow soil. Cuttings doing well but no sign of seeds germinating.

28th October:
Rearranged Chelsea border, spacing things out more and bringing shorter plants to the front. Split verbena, penstamon and actea. They will either die or come back looking gorgeous. Took some cuttings of gaura but not sure if they will grow.

Raised beds arrived and erected. Just waiting for soil to come on 4th Nov. Then will have to plan what to grow in them.

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