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.

Prolific Planting

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I’ve had a busy couple of weeks digging grit and manure into the new border that is thick with enough sticky clay to open my own pottery.

I am really pleased with the effect of erecting the archway which has created a little ‘secret garden’. I want a screen of tall plants across this large border to add some height without being too dense. I have chosen Stipa Gigantia and Thalictrum ‘Elin’ which have now been planted along with Raewyn’s delphinium and the Verbena Bonariensis bought in January. I chose another climbing rose for the archway, ‘Dancing Queen’ which I bought from Bent’s. I know they are quite expensive, but it was there and so was I so I bought it. On the bright side, it does come with a 5-year guarantee.

My son was quite amused as he watched me ‘scrubbing the dirt off the dirt containers’. He was referring to the covers on the raised veg beds which were splattered with mud from last year’s watering. The smaller bed now contains several rows of beetroot and 8 cabbages.

The ‘Chelsea Border’ is looking very pretty, even at this early stage,  with the delicate shades of pink and lilac of the pulmonaria and primula denticulata. My treasured tiny tulipa has 3 lovely blooms which open during the day and close as the sun goes down.

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.

Cabbages and Cats

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Only 4 of my original 9 cabbages remain. I blame myself as I can’t see any evidence of them having been nibbled. I think I must have damaged the stems as I planted them in the soil as the stems are just sheered off. The remaining 4 seem to be quite sturdy now and 11 new ones have been transplanted from tray to soil. The beetroots have been thinned out and some ‘cut and come again’ salad leaves sown.

I must have been too keen when planting my peas as the new ones are now growing and look healthy enough. Lorra brought me a little scarecrow who now sits watching over them with his little sign which says ‘grow seeds, grow!’

A cat seems to have taken a liking to my carrot bag and has on several occasions jumped into it and left several deposits. The young seedlings have been thrown around on several occasions now and I am hoping that the canes I have ‘planted’ will dissuade it from using my carrot bag as a toilet.

It took me nearly all day to prick out what seemed like a million leeks, I didn’t realise how reliably they would germinate. I have managed to give some away so I won’t have to plant them all into the soil. The pots at the front are Cosmos Sensation.

Most of the dahlias have pushed out new leaves and have been planted in the back of the border, just need to remember to buy some plant supports for them. For a while it didn’t look as if my black leafed dahlia was going to make an appearance but I needed to be more patient, it just took a little longer than the red ones.

Flowers are starting to appear on the strawberries.

It is very kind of J Parkers to send me free gifts but don’t they know I haven’t got any room left? Two free camellia ‘Lady Campbell’ and ‘Debbie’ are in pots and 6 free echinacea are still waiting. I found good homes for the 100 gladioli!

6 verbena bonariensis have replaced those lost over the winter.

The orchid continues to flourish.