We wet our plants!

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My lovely neice brought a smile to my face when she posted this on Facebook.

We have had some glorious sunshine for the past couple of weeks, but we should know it won’t last. The forecast for this week is very much cooler during the day, frosty nights and the threat of rain, or even snow, mid-week. We are desperately in need of some rain.

The garden is at that magical Spring stage where something new comes up every day.

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I spent some time removing all the ugly ‘Honesty’ planted last year. The seeds were free with a magazine but the leaves are so big and unattractive, they had to go. I finally got around to digging up the pink phlox which was badly in need of splitting. It has now been redistributed to the new border and shared with Raewyn. The Gaura seeds didn’t take long to germinate and have now been potted on.  The Night Phlox looks a bit delicate but is beginning to stand up a bit more while the cosmos are now producing proper leaves. I sowed the white sunflower seeds collected last year as well as the nicotiana so am now waiting with baited breath. I received a free packet of centarea ‘snowman’ which also germinated really quickly. The Orlaya Grandiflora is yet to make an appearance. My previous sowing of verbena bonariensis came to nothing as I think I covered them too thickly with vermiculite. The additional seeds I scattered over the top seem to have made the required response.   The free tomato seeds received with Gardeners’ World magazine have been sown and I am intending to grow them in hanging baskets. The chilli seeds kindly donated by James and Rin have been planted in a hanging pot. I’m not sure whether they will germinate but thought it worth a try.  The echinacea seeds haven’t germinated, I think I planted too deeply. The trollius has been retired to the fridge for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t resist ordering Cerinthe Major Purpurascens and some Schizotylis, Pink Princess and Fenland Daybreak which are due to arrive at the end of April.

The carrots have been sown in their usual bag and purple mange tout in Quadgrow. The donated onions are doing well and the beautiful white blossom suddenly appeared on the damson tree. The two apple trees are about to burst into blossom also, I just hope the forecast frost doesn’t kill it.

Finally, I dug up three heucheras to split and redistribute.

A busy couple of weeks but I suspect activity will be curtailed with the deterioration in the weather. However, having turned the conservatory into a small nursery, I will have plenty to keep my eye on.

Blighted!

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Despite my best efforts to nurture my sickly tomatoes, I came to the conclusion (with the aid of the Gardener’s World magazine and my dear friend Jean) that they were not wind damaged as suspected but blighted, so they had to go. I felt I was cheating by going to the garden centre to replace them with 4 lovely specimens. I was so spoilt for choice, I bought 4 different varieties: ‘Moneyspinner’, ‘Beefeater’, ‘Shirley’ and ‘Italian Plum’. I’m not sure it was worth the aggravation of growing them from seed, apart from the price of course!

Last year I planted one of those mint plants you get on the fruit and veg shelf in Asda. It provided us with lovely mint all year but did not survive the severe winter. Well, I say it didn’t survive, it did actually provide another few leaves but, once picked, that was it. Still, not bad for an Asda herb. When shopping for new tomatoes, I also picked up a couple of different mint plants, one is lemon mint and the other a black peppermint.

The garden is very green. I think this is what’s known as the ‘June gap’ when everything is just on the verge of flowering but very little is. My lovely salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ continues to flower profusely whilst there is just the hint of an emerging purple dahlia. I must admit I am finding the crocosmia quite thuggish in overshadowing its neighbours; probably not suited to my small garden.

I can’t begin to describe how thrilled I was to discover pea pods! I was unsure about the pollination of peas but have since found out that they are classed as self-pollinators as pollination takes place within the flower without the need for insects.

Since opening the mesh covers, the pea plants have gone mad. I have run out of twigs and supports for them so they are just hanging on to anything they can get their tendrils round.

I harvested my first perfect cabbage this week and gave it to my son, James.

The strawberries have provided another bowlful. I just hope they are as tasty and juicy as the last lot. Monty Don says that the best way to eat them is warm from the sun, sprinkled with white pepper. I haven’t tried the white pepper but they are certainly better when they have not been chilled in the fridge.

When visiting Powerscourt House and Gardens last week, Charlotte and I were fascinated by the candelabra primula on sale in the pavillion. Imagine my delight when Raewyn spotted one when visiting a little garden centre in High Legh. It is still in the pot but I am sure I will get at least 3 new plants from it. Raewyn also spotted 2 different geums after I admired her’s. It’s worth knowing what things look like when not in flower.

Agapanthus Alba Eryngium Osteospernum
Zanzibar Pink Bicolour

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

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.

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.

July 2010

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This month is very dry and we have a hose-pipe ban.

The red climbing rose and buttercup rose are both in full bloom (I didn’t kill it after all!). Fuschias, iris, lillies, dahlias and gaura are all putting on a beautiful show.

Steve widened the left-hand border and Jean named it the Chelsea Garden (rather tongue in cheek!).

Jean and I once again visited the RHS flower show at Tatton Park and came home laden with new plants. These included eryngium, some lovely ladybird poppies and Jean bought me a present of some bunny tail grass.

I’m not sure when to harvest these vegetables especially as we are going on holiday to China for 3 weeks at the end of the month. I  pulled up some carrots just out of curiousity and was thrilled to find them plump and straight.

My sister, Lorra, gave me a courgette plant which I have grown in a pot on the patio. It has produced endless courgettes which I have tried to make use of but to be perfectly honest, I just don’t like them. Lots of tomatoes are appearing on the hanging basket.

May 2010

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May was cold with some frosty nights.

Dahlias started to sprout in the grow house and the potatoes and other veg were growing well.

Planted wisteria sinensis and astilbe and also tumbler toms in a hanging basket.