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!

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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January Blues

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Well, it’s the end of January and most days have been torrential rain and even hail. Some days though, like today, have been tantalisingly sunny if a little chilly. And so I was lured outside to plant the two cornus shrubs purchased a few weeks back, ‘Alba Sibirica’ and ‘Flaviramea’. They look so lovely in the winter sunshine with their bright red and lime green stems.

There are now lots of snowdrops scattered about the place and I spotted a tiny iris in flower beneath the hibiscus. Signs of daffodils, tulips, sedum and aliums emerging. The new growth at the base of the verbena bonariensis indicates that it is now time to cut away last year’s remaining stems. Leaves have been cleared away along with fallen branches in preparation for a flying start once the weather improves. The Miscanthus Sinensis has been cut down to reveal new green shoots.

I am looking forward to planting the first seeds of the year next month.

November 2010

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Bonfire night saw the turning point for day time temperatures, dropping dramatically. Rain and gale force winds brought down the bulk of the Japanese maple leaves from next door. Then disaster strikes! Gale force winds blew the grow house over and all the seedlings and cuttings were scattered far and wide. Spent 1 and a half hours re-potting but don’t hold out much hope. Towards the end of the month the day time temperatures barely get above freezing, record low temperatures at night.

1st November:
Cut down aconitum, verbena, actea and sedum. Not sure if this is the right thing to do. Bought lavendar and dianthus from B and Q for 50p each and planted in front rockery

7th November:
Emptied compost from veg bag and distributed around flower beds. Steve skimmed off the grass around raised beds to create bark chip pathways.

14th November:
New plants arrived but I’m not sure what to do with them. I think I should plant them out but it is so wet and muddy I might just put them in pots for now.

Planted more tulips in Chelsea border and front rockery, came free with new plants.

21st November:
Put raspberries in pots and gave 2 away. Advised not to protect over winter so they have been left to the mercy of the elements.

2 tonnes of soil has gone in to the raised beds but they are far from full.

28th November:
Another tonne of soil arrives but remains a frozen lump in the driveway.

September 2010

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This was the first month that I kept my Gardener’s diary correctly so it becomes more detailed.

September began dry and sunny but by mid-month it was wet and unsettled. The end of the month saw the first ground frost and a definite nip in the air heralding the end of summer and the imminence of autumn.

There are still plenty of flowers in the garden and 3 apples on the tree (one fell off). The dahlias and lillies are fabulous but I am still waiting for the buds on the aconitum to flower.

1st Sept:
I finally removed the hydrangia which has been in the garden since we moved in but I have never really liked it. This opinion was consolidated when Jean referred to it as ‘old ladies’ hats’. In its place is a beautiful but small buddleja with an unusual dark purple flower.

The remaining potatoes have been harvested, like discovering buried treasure! Decided to plant some for Christmas. Jean and I shared some Kestrel and Beauty of Bute. Why do they sell them in such large numbers?

Planted the strawberry satellites in the new tub.

Planted purple and orange tulips.

If we could decide where the new shed was going, we could organise where everything else could go.

7th Sept:
We have had a damson tree in the garden since we moved in and it has been the bain of my life. I didn’t even realise they were damsons at first. Wherever the damsons fall a tiny tree appears overnight like magic beanstalks so I am constantly combing the grass for fallen damsons. Each year I severely prune the branches in an effort to stop the fruit from forming but the harder I prune, the more damsons are produced. One year I even meticulously removed all the blossom! The final straw came when our unwelcome guest, affectionately known as Roland, was seen peering out from under the shed with a huge damson bulging out of his mouth. Steve was immediately instructed to remove and dispose of all remaining damsons from the tree (I didn’t know what else to do with them). However, this year I had a change of heart and decided to make damson jam which was delicious and I am now looking forward to next year’s crop.

Took some cuttings from penstamons and put in grow house.

We have decided to have some paving laid for the shed so it could be another two weeks before it is erected.

14th Sept:
New plants include corkscrew grass, echinacea, gypsophilia, pretty pink hebe – Nicola’s Bush, weigela, euphorbia and a couple of varigated sedums. Ordered some cyclamen and cosmos seeds.

Paving for shed arranged for 15th. I have asked the man if he will take the soil round the front and create a rockery on the other side of the fence.

Moved pennisetum rubrum to underneath the silver birch where it looks lovely against the white trunk and gets more sun.

21st Sept:
Have planted some winter pansies in the Chelsea garden just to fill the space up for now, they are pretty though. The Japanese anenome is about to flower but the foliage doesn’t look very healthy.

Paving completed, the shed has finally been erected. The man made a right pig’s ear of building a rockery and Steve will have the dubious pleasure of digging it out again and making it good.

I soaked the cyclamen seeds overnight and sowed them in chinese takeaway containers then put them in the conservatory.

Rearranged main border and am much happier with the arrangement. Removed a huge clump of crocosmia which was taking up too much room and replanted as a ‘swathe’ weaving around other plants.

Raewyn gave me some more penstamon cuttings from her garden and I also took some from the new silver leaved plants for the front rockery.

28th Sept:
Japanese anenome in full flower now, still concerned about the leaves though, very geometric discolouration. Dahlias still have some flowers.

Ordered some ornamental grass for front rockery – miscanthus sinensis ‘Kleine Fontane’