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.

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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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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.