My Garden This Weekend – 14th April 2013


This weekend has been a typical April one – quick short showers with intermittent sunshine.  It seems ages since we have had weather that is typical for the time of year.  The garden is really bursting with new shoots and with the rain this week everything is looking a lot fresher and greener.  I do believe that there is something in the light that comes with showery weather which is just right for showing off spring flowers.

I am showing hyacinths in the top photo since I have a particular fondness for them.  Every year I buy a pot or two from the local supermarket to have them flower indoors and then I plant them out in the garden.  I have noticed that the colonies in the garden are expanding so maybe I need to find another location for this year’s purchases.


I have been gardening like mad this last week as I am mildly panicking about how much I have to do and how much I want to do.  I have been squeezing in thirty minutes to an hour in the evenings after dinner and it has made a huge difference.  It is amazing what you can achieve in a small window of opportunity if you are focussed.  I have started to tidy the front garden, tackling the difficult corner.  I have done potting up, seed sowing and planting out.  Its been a bit of a push as I am always tired when I get home from work but I think it has had a beneficial impact on my mental welfare as well as slowly reducing the ‘to do list’.


Having spent the morning on Saturday looking at sheds/workshops with my son and making decision on what he will be getting, the afternoon’s gardening was rained off. I can’t complain as the garden really needs it.  I have noticed recently how everywhere looks so brown and grey.  The fields haven’t had that lovely spring freshness we are used to.

As you can see the cat is a keen gardener and has a penchant for grasses.  Unfortunately this means that instead of graceful grasses I have stumpy ones!


Sunday morning brought sunshine first thing so with rain forecast in the afternoon I decided to make an early start.  I am pleased to say that to date there has been no evidence of the badgers coming back into the garden.  The border above was very trashed by them but it seems to be recovering now although I think I lost a few daffodils in the process which is a pity.

I spent the morning sowing seeds – 29 packets in total.  The majority of seeds from the Alpine Garden Society or Hardy Plant Society and are therefore sown in small pots which is lucky as there really is no spare space in the greenhouse.  I have been assiduously logging all the seeds sown on an Access Database and so far I have kept up to date with recording information about germination etc.  My database tells me that I have sown 109 packets of seed so far this year.  Favourites are Aquilegias (4 different types), Delphiniums (4 different types), Primulas (8 varieties) and Geraniums (4 varieties).  I am thrilled that I have Meconopsis napaulensis germinating in the cold frame, the second batch, as well as Peonies, Trilliums and Lewisia.

I also planted out the Variegated Portugese Laurel in the front garden and dug up a vine from the back fence.  I plan to stain the fence,  weather permitting, in the evenings this coming week so I can plant out the pyracantha which I have bought to screen the fence.


Above is a shot of my wooden cold frame where my new alpine acquisitions live along with various ones grown from seed.  I love opening this cold frame in the morning and seeing what is flowering and what has germinated.

I am pleased to say that  I don’t feel as panicky as I did a week ago and I am telling myself that if things don’t get done they don’t get done – it is a hobby after all, not a job!!



33 Comments Add yours

  1. One very busy and productive weekend. Well done!

  2. Hi Helen, that is a lot of seeds! I’ve sowed some meconopsis too and keep on checking on them like a mother hen. I can’t quite believe that those tiny little plants are going to come to anything. Dave

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Dave
      Its not that many seeds as the packets are from seed distribution schemes so only a pinch in each packet. I am thrilled my meconopsis have germinated, I think it helps that the seed was fresh and this is probably why the bought seeds didnt germinate last time I tried. Hope they grow into stunning plants

  3. You have a lovely garden and yes, you did quite a lot… Keep it up!

  4. Janice says:

    Just came in the house after shovelling snow. We got 23cm overnight! It will be a while before any planting happens here. It is usually at the end of May, beginning of June. We are in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in zone 3. I love to follow your blog and see what is happening in gardens in other paerts of the world

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Janice
      I am sorry to hear about your snow, the little amount we had really got be down so I really feel for you. I bet you cant wait for the end of May – does your season finish early too

    2. Janice says:

      Our season is usually over by mid Sept. but sometimes we get an ‘Indian Summer’ and it can be nice into October. The nights are usually getting pretty cold by then though. Spend a lot of time covering things up, finally get tird of doing that and end up picking everything because nothing is going to ripen any further.

  5. What a hard working girl…makes me feel rather lazy although I’ve done quite a bit in the garden as well…look forward to your seedlings growing up 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Annette
      you are kind, I dont think I am hard working enough as there is lots more I wanted to achieve but other things got in the way – I shouldnt be so harsh on myself!

  6. I do like seeing pictures of a well used greenhouse, yours looks positively stuffed.!
    It’s interesting that you mention you have some Meconopsis napaulensis growing, I’ve got a few plants that I’ve raised from seed for the first time, I need to prepare an area in the garden for them soon, but I’ve read that when they have flowered then they die… have you read that..?

    Good news on the Badgers, hopefully you have altered there preferred route through your garden permanently.!

    Happy Gardening.!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi CG
      Some meconopsis are monocarpic, meaning they die after flowering but I dont know which ones. I have one that was just labelled Meconopsis no variety and it flowered last year and has reappeared this year.

  7. djdfr says:

    Your garden looks lovely. 109 packets of seed! Wow!
    I was out working this afternoon and I think it is that time when it all takes off. However, my tomato seedlings are stagnating, not enough warmth I think, even though they are in our bedroom.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi djd
      I think you are right about your tomato seedlings. I have found everything is very slow this year and I think it isnt just the heat its the light levels as well – there hasnt been enough sunshine

  8. Glad your badgers have not been rampaging lately. I sprayed rabbit repellent on my roses and woodland phlox today.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Jason
      I used garlic spray when I had an allotment to deter rabbits. You boil a whole bulb of garlic in water for about 30 minutes and then you use the flavoured water diluted to spray on plants.

  9. bridget says:

    I too love Hyacinths but find their scent too strong for indoors. It gives me a headache. I keep them on a table near the backdoor. I too plant them in tthe garden after flowering.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Bridget
      I agree the scent in doors of hyacinths can be a bit overpowering. Interestingly I have some whites indoors this year and I don’t think they are as strongly scented

  10. Janneke says:

    You are a real enthousiastic and keen gardener, love reading it, but 109 packets of seed……..did you sow the whole packets ? You will get many, many seedlings which have to be potted up. Your garden will be beautiful this summer.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Janneke
      Only a few were normal size packets of seeds – the others are from seed distribution scheme so only have a pinch of seeds in them so not lots and lots of plants

  11. Hannah says:

    It’s a good idea to put a bit of time aside, I think I’ll have try that this week. I’m getting a bit worried about the sheer volume of jobs still to do.

  12. Pauline says:

    You have been so busy, you make me feel very lazy! So glad your badger problem has gone away for now, hope he stays away for you, it must be so frustrating to have your plants dug up. I’ve been nurturing Meconopsis Lingholm, a perennial variety which seems to like my garden thank goodness, hope you succeed with yours.

  13. Sandra Jonas says:

    My goodness! 109 packets of seed!!? You are ambitious!

  14. Good grief Helen, that is a lot of seeds!! Your greenhouse and coldframe look wonderful, and your badger-ravaged border is looking far from ravaged, I am so glad they seem to be staying away, I can only imagine hoe dispiriting it has been, the trail of destruction. Sounds as if you are in a really good place, I’m glad the panic is receding and the joy returning. At some point I will have to get you to tell me how best to sow primulas, I’ve never had much success to date, but I love them and want lots in this garden, which means growing them from seed… I am always astounded at how much time I can “lose”in sowing and pricking out , but a lovely activity for a session post work, a complete change of pace, and so inherently positive.

  15. Plenty going on. All those seeds sow – wow! We certainly need a bit of rain and I agree that there is something about the rain with the sunshine that just makes everything look so much better!
    It’s nice when the gardens reach that ‘revived’ look isn’t it.
    Good luck with the rest of your jobs!

  16. Yvonne Ryan says:

    How may acres have you??? As a kid we had a lot of hyacythins that were given to us by a compettive gardener – I always love the scent wafting through the house (we had freezias in glasshouse for selling – oh that smell also) Pyrathancas are another weed here – t rampant! I was listening to a programme the other day on the radio about this guy tramping in Black Bear country in the US and they had to somehow put their fook way up a tree on a branch and he peed around his camp – something about ‘marking’ – perhaps you and the boys could start doing that last thing at night? Maybe the boys more effective as lmale!

  17. Helen your gardens are looking gorgeous as spring has sprung. I also adore hyacinths and they are just starting here I have a picture in my post for tomorrow that looks a lot like yours. I also decided that I need to work for a half hour to an hour after work to get caught up as there is so much to do and I have lost so much time with the weather.

  18. I also find that if I stop each evening after work and spend an hour in the garden that it really helps to melt away all the stress. Our gardening season has been pretty similar with rainy spells this spring. I am looking forward to a long sunny weekend to really get the gardening season going. Good luck on having some consistently good weather.

  19. hillwards says:

    You have really seized the new growing season with vigour! Our weather was a little wetter than yours I think this weekend, but it was indeed good for the garden to have some rain, and there was plenty to catch up with indoors for a day or two. Love your alpine collection, and the garden looks lovely emerging from its long sleep.
    I’m looking forward to catching up on outside tasks in the evenings now that they are brighter; it does make such a difference to the week.
    We have the same issue with stumpy grasses here! Both cats love nothing better than chomping on a fresh clump of shoots and giving them a square haircut, sigh.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Hillwards
      I am so into gardening at the moment, almost a woman obsessed. Just been painting fences and wondering why I have never done this before as it has already transformed the garden

  20. Cathy says:

    I too am amazed at the 109 packets of seeds – the fact that some of them only contained a pinch is neither here nor there really 😉 You have done so well to get into the routine of spending some time after work gardening as well at the weekends – so much easier when you are on a roll like that, and the satisfaction of a job well done will lift your spirits, as you have found. Well done!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      But many of the 109 packets are alpines and I have learnt that you dont rush to prick those out and can leave them for a couple of years which is good space wise. As for the evenings – this week’s challenge is staining the fences, just done my first hour but run out of stain. Reminds me of the Karate Kid if you know what I mean!!

  21. anastasiaabboud says:

    You’ve been really busy and you are quite an inspiration! I’ve been on the edge of panic mode for over a week and this past weekend didn’t help as we were not at home. Now, I will remember to remind myself as often as needed that “it’s a hobby, it’s a hobby.” Thank you for the reminder!

  22. threadspider says:

    That is a lovely greenhouse full of plants, Helen, and promises so much colour and choice form in the future.
    You do manage to pack a lot not your time- I struggle to do everything and don’t work!

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