GW Cosmos trial

Amazingly I have received not one but two free packets of Cosmos seeds to trial from GW.  This is the first time in 3 years that I have actually secured some seeds so persistance works. 

I love Cosmos.  I know some people think they are a menace and I understand that they can self seed but they are so reliable.  I think they add a certain elegance to the garden which is subtly counterbalanced by their garish colours.

I am trying to decide how analytical I should be in establishing my results.  Should I sowed both packets at the same time – well one after the other.  Do I need to record the exact no of seedlings or just a feel for the number. 

Well its all irrelevant at the moment, as I have run out of room for any more seed trays in the greenhouse.  Once I have moved another batch of seedlings out to the coldframe then sowing can resume – hopefully next weekend

birds dismantling wildlife pond

Its all very well having a wildlife pond but when the birds start dimantling it you wonder why you bothered! When I build the pond about 3 years ago I covered the liner edge with turf as per Alan Titchmarsh’s instructions in How to be a Gardener.  This hasnt worked as the grass grew into the pond and I have had a constant battle with it pulling out clumps.  I cant get the mower to it either.  Last year the Magpies decided that the edge of the pond which was quite muddy was an excellent source of mud of their nests.  I ended up with bare patches with the liner showing through.  This spring the Blackbirds have joined in!!  Whilst I am happy to be assisting the birds with their nest building I am struggling to come up with alternatives for edging the pond.     On a plus side though, I noticed two clumps of frogspawn this morning.  Hopefully this year they will do better – last year they got hit by a late cold snap and were killed.

Have given up on trying to garden today due to the strong winds and rain.  Spent an hour in the greenhouse picking our some Heucheras.  The seedlings are so tiny they make you go cross eyed.  Sowed some more flower seeds from the CGS and also some Tomato Red Cherry (free this week with AGM).  Not much has germinated yet – although this blog is entitled the Patient Gardener it is not my normal state of mind more something I aspire to!!

Favourite plant at the moment is a gorgeous Camillia – I have no idea what variety.  I rescued it from a nursery that was closing down a few year ago and it is really looking good now.

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Welcome return of Gardeners World

Well tonight saw the return of Gardeners World, although sadly it wont be on next week.  I thought that a programme almost exclusively devoted to fruit growing would be boring as I dont have room for fruit trees, but I found it very interesting.  Particularly the stories about the communities that have their own orchards – how idyllic!!!

The new format seemed interesting, particularly Carol Klein doing propogating from her own garden.  I love trying to propogate plants and am a real novice so shall watch this with interest.  I do wonder however if with Joe Swift doing his allotment and Monty’s well known love of growing vegies that the programme wont be too vegie orientated.  I suppose the producers are following the growing trend and many new gardeners are those that have taken on allotments and want to grow their own.  Time will tell. I thought the inclusive of the Head Gardener (and her dog) was good and hope it continues.

I will be sending off for two packets of the trial seeds although I doubt I will get any if previous experience is anything to go by.  Anyway, I grow Cosmos every year and have some seeds from last year’s crop but it would be nice to try the white ones with pink edges.  Will have to wait and see if a packet turns up in the post.

Autumn experiment

Last autumn I read somewhere that you could sow hardy annuals in pots and then in the spring plant them out so you were ahead of the game.  I had some free packets of seeds so I thought I would give it a go.  I sowed Californian Poppies, Nigella, Poached Egg Plant and Cornflowers.  They germinated and grew quite quickly in the greenhouse so at the end of last autumn I transferred them to the cold frame to over winter.

Today I got around to cleaning out the contents of the cold frame – I need to make some room.  Sadly none of the Californian Poppies had survived – they were attacked by powdery mildew during the winter.  I managed to rescue some cornflowers back in January from the same fate.  However the Poached Egg Plants and Nigella have done well – particularly the Nigella which are looking very healthy (see photo). 

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Once the ground warms up I will plant these out.  I dont know if I will bother again next autumn as I lost so many to powdery mildew.  I think my cold frame is too small and the water collects on the corrugated plastic roof and then drips on the plants causing the mildew.  However, it has been an intersting experiment.

A sunny weekend at last!

At last a sunny weekend and I have managed to actually get out into the garden. I can tell I havent done any serious gardening for a while as my back was really aching.  Started tidying the borders, doing abit of weeding and pruning back things like Penstamons and Verbenas.  Its wonderful to see plants beginning to emerge from the dank dark soil.  The Polminariums that I thought I had lost have started to reappear and the Lobelia Cardinalis that I left in the ground are also reappearing.  I dont know if they would have done so well if we had had a really good winter – though I suppose we could still have a cold snap yet.  Whilst I hate the cold and particularly snow I was hoping that we would have a really cold winter this year to kill of all the bugs and slugs etc. 

Sowed some more seeds – Impatiens, Begonia, Dahlia and Gazania as well as a few Broad Beans which I will try growing in pots on the patio.

Its not only the perennials that are reappearing but all the decidious shrubs are beginning to burst back into life.  The new leaves which are furling on the Prunus incisa are a lovely bright green.

Heucheras at last!

 At last the Heurchera seeds that I sowed in the greenhouse on the 5th January have started to germinate.  I would include a photo but they are so small you wouldnt be able to see them! 

Spring is trying to arrive – I have daffodils and primulas flowering in the garden although some of the daffs are only just appearing above ground.

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I sorted through my seeds and scared myself with how many I have to sow in February and March so started to take a gamble and start sowing this weekend.  Started the ball rolling with some Pak Choi.  I have never tried growing these before but I love eating them and they are very expensive so I thought I would have a go.  I also sowed some Pelagonium seeds – there were only 8 seeds in the packet so I hedged my bets and only sowed 4.  They need a high temperature to germinate and this doesnt suit everything else in the greenhouse at the mo, so I am experimenting with putting the pot in the iaring cupboard! 

As the weather is so grim this weekend I have retreated indoors to make Marmalade.  My local box scheme, Flights Organics, have sourced some Seville Oranges so I am having a go.  I love marmalade and I estimate that each jar will have cost me 50p plus time but this is a huge saving on what you pay in the shops so fingers crossed it sets.

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CGS Seeds arrive

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Excitement today as my selection of seeds from the Cottage Garden Society (CGS)arrived.  In early December you get a listing of around 2000 seeds that have been donated by members and you can purchase 15 packets for £4.  There are no descriptions or photos so I end up spending hours trying to find what things are, trawling through books, seed catalogues and on the web.  Then you send your order off – however, if like me you forget and end up sending it off close to the deadline you end up with some of your first choices, some of your second and some completely strange things.  The seeds arrive in little packets with only the identifying number on, so you then have to spend time looking up the numbers to find out what you’ve got.  The anticipation is great.  This year I have all sorts from Bidens to Canna and something called Paraserianthes which I cant find anywhere.

Now I will have to think about sowing them and waiting to see what comes up and what doesnt.