Friday, 29 May 2015

In just two weeks

Hopefully just to encourage newbies - you don't have to wait forever to see things change in just two weeks since my last lotty photos this is where we are now.

Add caption
rhubarb flowering again in that time

and another few pounds more to pick

flowers already on the strawberries and a good amount

Eight new dwarf runner beans I have just planted

Look how the raspberries have filled out and they are covered in buds which means flowers and fruit

Salad leaves appearing

...   and the spring onions

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Don't give up on stuff

One lesson it has taken me years to learn is to hang on to seemingly dead stuff until there is absolutely no doubt.

When we added the conservatory we moved two roses and a jasmine off the walls of the house where it was going.  The roses did OK after the move and are doing fine right now.  The jasmine finished its season last year still looking chipper.  

After the winter the jasmine looked like this:

dead as a proverbial .....
When it was against the protective, south facing, warm house wall we used to have a few red leaves in the winter which eventually dropped off as new growth appeared.  I knew it was taking a risk moving it to a more exposed east-facing site but there really wasn't anywhere else for it.  We came home to it covered in red leathery leaves.

The bits of green you can see in the box are just weeds.

After I'd finished doing the pots I had a bit of a tidy up and thought I might as well chuck the jasmine away and put something else in the box.

every stem has shoots

On a closer inspection I realised every stem has the beginnings of new growth.  it is very far from dead.  I am interested to see how this will do this summer.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

What went in the pots

I love huge over the top hanging baskets - I know they are 'out of fashion' and somewhat frowned upon by the gardening elite but they simply make me smile and I feel I am surrounded by summer.

That said when I come to plant them myself, rather than buy in, I do like to have something of a colour palette for them so they are just as blousy but a bit less jazzy.

My back garden has all the cool colours - very pale pink, white, blue, cream.  The front garden houses all the hot colours - red, yellow, orange sometimes offset with deep blues and purples.  So the pots and baskets work within those 'rules'.

Front garden plants used for the pots:

one missing?

I have been silly strict and had the urge to stick to just three plants in the hay basket.  I regret it now and feel I should have added dark lobelia.  I might go back and slit the liner and poke some in.......

As you can see here the hay basket is trailing red geraniums, yellow Bidens and the missing card is for the trailing red verbena. They all came from B & Q.  They were in great condition as they were fresh in and at a good price.  I am sure you can shop around proper nurseries and get better prices but I opted fort the least trouble.

plus pale pink upright geraniums

Eight different plants went into the pots in the back garden, so something should be looking good by July!  I seem to have lost the card for the geraniums this time. I have a pink variegated trailing one in the chimney pot and two pink variegated leaf upright ones in each strawberry pot - they are always the stars of the show and these are the supporting acts.

Trailing double petunia - cherry ripple
Lobelia bush - Mrs Clibran
Calibrachoa - can-can apple blossom
Bacopa - snowflake
Bacopa - blue sensation
Trailing Lobelia - hot tiger

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Potting up the pots

I have just (finally) planted up my various pots for the summer.  When we had our conservatory built last year it took over our huge patio area so, much to my husband's joy, I swore off having loads of pots around.  He dutifully went round here there and everywhere and removed/blocked off various lines from our watering system and (for him) we were 'all neat and tidy'.  

I began by putting the hay basket on our wall at the front to make up for the loss:

hot colours 

I had a couple of plants left over so I just popped them in a pot.....

sad little thing

We have two hooks for hanging baskets at the front of the house.  At the moment it is a shame to remove the lovely little violas that are still flowering their socks off ......

the Spring basket

So the summer basket is round the corner in second place waiting its turn.

£12.99 from Park Farm

I bought this when we went for lunch at Park Farm.  they have some nicely planted baskets.  I think the larger ones are only £19.99.

OK - the front pots are done and dusted - off round the back....   

puny as yet
The chimney is a legitimate plant-up but 'unfortunately' I had bought far too many plants so there was no choice but to add two pots back into the mix.  I had two strawberry pots going begging...

I really did overbuy enough to fill two of these

I know that right now these are all looking very sad.  Hopefully with constant watering and feeding they will soon look like these from previous years:

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bird Cherry

I really love this tree......

Bird Cherry
It so light and airy and pretty and doesn't shed a ton of  blossom everywhere when it is on the decline.  I do love cherries (and other fruit blossoms) how could anyone resist their sheer exuberance, but for the ordinary, average, little suburban home something like this Bird Cherry is hard to beat in the Spring.
A baby.....

It is young yet in the life of trees - something like twelve years?  That said it is a builder's purchase and builder's planting, so it probably doesn't have the best of starts.  I live in hopes of it getting into full flood in a few more years time when its feet have escaped the rubble.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Lotty

We made our first visit to the lotty 4th May with the intention of cleaning up the three plots and planting up one of them.  It only took a couple of hours between us and even through the creaky joints(mine) it felt good to be getting my mitts mucky again.

The raised beds are an advantage but you still have to work.

the raspberry box
I am just leaving the raspberry box to do its own thing.  They are happily putting out runners and starting to make new plants.  Eventually I hope to have a box full of raspberry bushes.  I absolutely know they should be in nice rows and tied up to good supports and cut down at different times of the year depending on whether they are summer or autumn fruiting so why just a box of 'wild' raspberries?

  • Constructing a strong post and wire support sounds like hard work and costs money.
  • As yet I have no idea whether these are summer or autumn fruiting raspberries - hope to find out this year.
  • I have a memory of a corner of my grandmother's garden which had been left to go wild and was packed with all kinds of soft fruits amongst which were huge and utterly gorgeous raspberries, so why not give neglect a chance.
  • I am lazy.

rhubarb and strawberries
I cleared out most of the debris round the strawberry plants but not a perfect job I confess.

The rhubarb had two huge flower buds on it which I removed.  I have never actually seen a rhubarb flower - must let one go the whole way one year.  Here's why you need to remove them.  This is a link to the very best information you could ever want about rhubarb.

full of potential!
Now this looks like an exciting photo - it actually is for the gardener as it is full of stuff.  From memory, which is poor these days, I have planted peas in a clump at the back so they can fall over the sides - no supports again.

One row is shared between radish and spring onion.  Then there is the usual salad leaves, land cress, spinach, beetroot.  I have pushed three courgette seeds in each corner and will reduce to one if they take.  A single plant produces more courgettes than we can use but they are fun/easy and we can share them with friends.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Looking after the gardener

I am not one for recommending 'beauty products' of any kind - each to their own - but this has to be shared.

The product I am commending to you, you probably can't get!  On the back left is a bottle with all the stuff at the top (I keep it upside down ready to use) and just says Gardeners by Upper Canada.  I assume it was a gift from family in Canada (?) and it is just fantastic.  I have used it for two summers and it is now running out.  It will clean the dirtiest of hands and nails in one go and leave them feeling and smelling  lovely.  At Christmas I spread the word I needed more but English friends couldn't find it over here.  Waiting in the wings I now have two products from Heathcote and Ivory - they are the orange barrier cream and small green hand scrub.  Then I also have a large green hand scrub (at the back).  This one is from Crabtree and Evelyn.  I have no idea if any of them work as well as the one I love but I thought I would share.

I do wear gloves for some jobs but still get dirty.  Mostly I like to work without - can't plant seeds and small plants in gloves, can't tie up things in gloves, etc etc etc so often come in with half the garden ground into skin and filling my nails.  I have always done the obvious thing - warm water in the basin and nail brush and soap and a good old scrub.  this leaves your hands like sandpaper and not always clean.  I assure you not so with my Canadian hand scrub - it is just great.  I use it too when I paint.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Greenhouse clear out

Finally got round to clearing out my greenhouse and getting started on seeds.

seeds planted
Green tray - sunflowers for some children to grow - maybe for the Burrs.  Black tray has three rows - one has tomatoes (Money Maker) another is green peppers (California wonder) and a row with cucumbers (Marketmore).  

I plant three seeds per segment and then remove two.  With luck that will leave me with five of each plant which is tons for us.  They all claim to grow outside so if I can't squeeze them in my little 6 x 4 some can go out.  That's the theory.  Leftover seeds go to a friend at the lotty.

This is a bit precious and is doing brilliantly so far.  My daughter has her first garden to go at this year and has started off some aubergines and given me one a few weeks ago at the first true leaf stage.  It lived in the kitchen and then in the conservatory and has now gone on to 'big school'.  This is a cherished veg!

all neat and tidy
We have water lines to the greenhouse too, so it means all my plants, garden, patio pots and greenhouse can always manage without me if they have to.  If you do this it is worth saying not to just hand it on to the mechanicals.  Stuff might get under or over-watered or some other problem occurring without your overseeing it now and then.  It does stop the old song of "We can't go away for four days in this heat - everything will die" - at least that doesn't happen.  Gardener happy, gardener's non-gardening other half happy.  Win, win.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Last year's herbs

Generally with herbs I like to start fresh each year but looking at these it seems a shame.  They must be in the right place and have come through the winter just fine.

We have plugged in our watering system so really they are leading the life of Riley - sunnyish spot and against a conservatory wall, well drained pots on gravel and soon to be fed.  What's not to like.

I have grown just about every herb under the sun for years.  Last year I decided it really wasn't worth growing things like two kinds of basil and thyme etc etc etc.  On the extremely rare occasion they are needed I don't mind buying them.  The three I do use a lot - mint, flat leaf parsley and chives I am happy to keep outside the back door so they are handy.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Ready to go

Last week I bought some plants to make up my hay basket under the front window but since then the weather has been too miserable to get out to do it so here they sit waiting.  I am sharing this for two reasons - the first is that I have a neighbour a couple of streets away who is being blasted by the occasional frost even now and yet these are happily awaiting their new home.  It is a reminder that whatever any know-it-all like me (and Monty Don)  tells you to do or not do it still may not be right for your little micro climate.  gardening is all about trial and error and lots and lots of patience finding what works for you.

The second reason is, that if like me you are a crinkly and like to get the Wednesday discount at B & Q,  you don't seem to get it on these.  They are all the four for £5 groups of plants .  My husband's theory is they are already discounted?????

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

In the garden now

Just sharing that lovely May feeling even if the weather is atrocious. 

tiny alpine clematis

accidental mix of tiny forget-me-not and corydalis

magnolia stellata still hanging in there

the white narcissus is poeticus and has wonderful smell

love self-seeders like this viola

every garden needs a cherry

Monday, 4 May 2015

Maybe found a gardener

With a bit of luck I may have found a gardener.  In the last four years I have tried two.  The first blithely dug up swathes of favourite plants thinking they were weeds so, that relationship didn't last long.  Truly, it was not my fault and I let him have three goes which pretty much decimated the borders.  I established that he could recognise grass, dandelion, creeping buttercup and chickweed and was instructed on all three occasions to only remove those.  They are my most pernicious weeds and I reckoned I could keep the rest down myself.  By the third time he had gone through the beds like a tornado I gave up on him.  Last year I had a lady who seemed to know her plants but she ended up cutting my tiny box hedge with huge electric cutters - so it was pretty chewed up, pruned my roses in August and heartbreakingly pruned a young tree into deformity; all unbidden by me as she was employed to do the weeding - but she "got bored with that".

I have jumped in again with another chap who, so far, shows huge promise and I commend him to you.  Clean and Green 

He is smart enough to say he doesn't know everything and will ask if he is not sure.  Reassuring.  He did a great job clearing out all four beds and the front garden on his own and in under a day.  First time I have seen soil (and the chance to plant something!!!) in four years.

He is now on a promise to come back every two weeks to maintain them.  Due tomorrow.