My garden this weekend – 22/12/13

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As a child I had a proclivity for making mud pies and generally messing around in the garden –  as a small child I even came in with a slug in my mouth!!  This proclivity has stayed with me through my life, the mud pies not the slug eating, and I am never happier than when I am wielding a fork and turning the soil or up to the elbows in compost sowing seeds and potting up. This weekend I have had the luxury of indulging all aspects of my enthusiasm.

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I have sown the first batch of seeds for the coming year.  These are seeds are from the Alpine Garden Society seed distribution scheme, which I helped with on Thursday.  I was pleased to get the majority of my first choices although because I compiled my order in a hurry I seem to have requested seed for three different varieties of peony.  I sowed the peony seeds and other seeds, such as Ranunculus and Anemone, that need a cold special to help with their germination and have left them on the patio table ready for the cold spell that is forecast.

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Today I really indulged my mudlark tendencies and started to dig up the plants that I have decided to remove from the bog garden that was.  I have said before that the bog garden (above), formerly the pond, just doesn’t retain enough moisture to be a successful bog garden so it is being redesigned to make a woodland border and to give my two camellias a new home.  We have also decided to use some of this area, which is next to the workshop, to create a small seating area. While I was digging around working out what was going where I found an area of old pond liner under the wood chip path which probably explains why it is so sodden and slippery.  After much hefting of gravel and stones and mud that had accumulated on top of the liner I managed to pull it out and re-level the area.  Hopefully it will dry out now, although it still doesn’t explain why the bog garden is so unbog-like!

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I have also planted three new roses which arrived this week from Peter Beales.  Two of these, Anna Pavord and Ophelia, were planted in the Rose/Cottage Garden Border along the top of the wall.  The third, Eden Rose, has been planted under the obelisk which was relocated to the Big Border back in April.  I am hopefully for many beautiful roses in early summer.

The weather has been cold and windy so the gardening efforts have been short and sharp and I have had to dodge the rain on a number of occasions by ducking into the greenhouse and checking up on my over winter succulents such as the Aloe aristata ‘Cathedral Peak’ above and peering at the Cyclamen persicum which I grew from seed probably 4 years ago to see if they will finally flower this year.  I have been feeding them diligently and I do believe I can detect a few flower buds forming which is rather exciting. I have also moved a pot of Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ into the greenhouse to bring them into flower early.

I’m not sure how much I will be able to do in the garden before the end of the year as the forecast indicates more rain and lowering temperatures but at this time of the year, for me, every opportunity to spend time outside playing in the garden is a bonus.

My Garden This Weekend – 14th April 2013

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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.

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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’.

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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!

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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.

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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!!

 

My Garden This Weekend – 10th March 2013

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Any one would think we are heading towards Winter with the amount of time its possible to garden decreasing and decreasing rather than heading towards Spring.  Having been excited by a couple of warm days and thoughts of starting to harden off the perennial seedlings which were overwintering in the cold frame we are now back to bitterly cold and any hope of gardening dismissed.  The daffodils though are continuing regardless and have  started to flower which is a welcome sight.

I did spend a couple of hours in the greenhouse on Saturday re-jigging plants and moving things around so I can start seed sowing.  The cyclamen have been squirreled away under the staging and the pelargoniums have been brought up to the top of the staging so they get better light.  They have been watered and tidied up and next weekend I will give them a good feed to really start them off.

In my tidying up I discovered signs of a peony starting the germinate.  The label tells me that I sowed the seeds nearly a year  ago.  I know that peonies take a while to germinate and I read somewhere that they put their roots down well before showing any sign above ground so I tucked the pot away over winter and ignored it.  I don’t know which peony it is as it was in a packet of mixed peony seeds from either the RHS or the Hardy Plant Society seed distribution schemes.  The trillium seeds I  thought had germinated the other week are now looking to be very much like the real thing and I think, or I hope, that what has appeared in the meconopsis poppy seed tray are indeed meconopsis poppies and not some random weed seed that has blown in.

Having had a rejig and moved some plants into the garage until temperatures rise I found I did indeed have room to start seed sowing.  So for those of you interested in such things this is what I sowed this week:

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’
Cosmos ‘Purity’
Didiscus ‘Blue Lace’
Digitalis trojana
Gentiana sino-ornata
Geranium yeoi
Geranium yoshinoi
Linaria ‘Canon West’
Nemesia Masquerade
Nomocharis aperta
Primula x chunglenta
Saxifraga grisebachii (Macedonia)

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I also pricked out the Ricinus seedlings.  These germinated within days when I sowed them in a propagator back in January but I hadn’t got as far as pricking them out and consequently lost 3 of the 6 – a lesson to learn.  But the biggest lesson I learnt was not taking into account the size of the seed when choosing a pot to sow them in.  Next time I will sow them in individual pots as I would beans or peas.  Finally  before I completely lost feeling in my fingers I potted up some Francoa which I grew from seed last year and which will be a good size to plant out in a month or so.

Sunday proved to be even colder and my fingers were frozen within 10 minutes when I went out to take some photographs so I retreated indoors so dream and wish for sunshine and warmer days.

 

Greenhouse Year – May 2012

I have lost track of the date and I wonder only thinking this morning, whilst weeding at the allotment, that it must be nearly time to do the monthly greenhouse post.  I pondered on the date and realised that today is the 20th and therefore the date for monthly post.  So here we are.

Lots of small seedlings still mainly due to the cold temperatures and lack of sunshine to bring them on.  I have only this weekend started hardening off the courgettes and tender annuals whereas last year I think they were already out and growing on.  This weekend hasn’t been that much better although the temperatures are creeping up so I have spent quite a few hours pricking out and potting up.  Both the cold frames are full and the patio is beginning to get crowded.

It isn’t all seedlings in the greenhouse though.  One of the  scented leaved pelargoniums is smothered in flowers and it really packs a punch when you open the greenhouse door.  I also have three small passion-flower and they all have big fat flower buds which are on the point of opening.  These flowers are also heavily scented so I think it could get quite heady over the coming weeks.  But what I am most excited about is that there are definitely flower buds coming on my Watsonia, I grew them from seed about 3 years ago so having them flower will be a real achievement.

The biggest problem in the greenhouse at the moment is the number of slugs and spiders.  Last year we had a resident frog who obviously kept the spiders and slugs in check but he moved out when I cleaned out the greenhouse.  This is probably a good thing for the frog as I now have a cat who loves hunting and who would no doubt torment the frog but it’s not a good thing for my pest control.  I have to clear out the staging on one side to make room for the tomato plants so I will have to give the whole greenhouse another clean then.

I have today sown the last of my perennial seeds but I now need to start sowing the biennials – it never seems to end especially as I want to have lots of wallflowers, sweet-william, sweet rocket and honesty next year for the garden and for the allotment.

I finally have some dahlias coming up and some gladioli.  Last year all my dahlias, which weren’t cheap failed so this year I bought some very cheap ones from Wilkinsons as well as growing some from seed.  To date progress both from the bought tuber and the seeds is definitely better than last year, although to be fair that isn’t that difficult.

That’s my greenhouse in May.  I will do another post on the 20th June.  If you have a greenhouse and would like to join in with this monthly meme you are very welcome – just post a link to your post in the comments box.

A refuge in a storm?

 

Well to be honest in a storm I wouldn’t be in the greenhouse but you get my meaning.  At this time of year when it is either raining or so cold that your fingers get frozen after about an hour in the garden, even with gloves, the greenhouse provides me with my much needed green therapy.

This weekend was the first time in about three weeks that I have had the chance to garden.  So having spent Saturday tidying the garden – I won’t bore you with pictures as it’s just earth and bare shrubs really – I spent an hour or so on Sunday in the greenhouse having a good  tidy up.  I hadn’t intended to tidy up the greenhouse but as it was full to the gunnels and I couldn’t physically get in there was no alternative!

So I cut back the dead foliage on the bigger tender plants in large pots which had been hesitantly shoved in the greenhouse when the weather suddenly turned at the start of December.  I have managed to get them all hidden away under the staging along with the Dahlia tubers which I had to move in to the greenhouse when I discovered they were being eaten by mice in the garage!

I then worked my way through the tender plants that spend half the year in the greenhouse.  Removing any dead leaves and giving a little water where needed.  All the Echiverias and Aeoniums are looking great which is good and probably a result of the electric heater which has been humming away for days.  It’s on a thermostat which I have set to keep the greenhouse frost-free but with the prolonged cold weather it seemed to be permanently on which will not be good for my electricity bill!!

On the other side of the greenhouse I have staging with gravel beds in.  I was given this last year for Christmas and I think the gravel beds are a real boon.  If you  keep  the gravel moist then it adds to the humidity levels and provides moisture which encourages the plants to put  roots down.  I have noticed that seedlings and plants seem much happier in this environment.  So much so that I had to pot up a number of plants whose roots had well and truly strayed into the gravel, sort of the opposite of being pot bound!  I have potted up some Watsonia seedlings which I grew from seed in 2010 and they have already made plants around a foot tall and a Callistemon seedling again sown in 2010 which is around a foot tall.

I was also ruthless and threw a number of plants that had seen better days including a couple of very tired orchids that I had neglected and forgotten.  The tidying and throwing has released one of the gravel beds ready for me to start sowing seeds soon.  I have a heat pad which fits into this bed and as soon as I have a reasonable number of seeds ready for sowing I will install it as last year it definitely speeded up germination – it’s also fab for getting cuttings to take.  However, everything is on hold at the moment as I am waiting for my new whizzy three tier cold frame to arrive, part of my Christmas present to myself this year, which will mean that I can move some of the less tender plants out  to make space for my veg seeds and some flower seeds. Then it is all systems GO!