About my garden

Monday, 22 May 2017

Irises in a vase on Monday.

I spent the weekend moving plants around - pricking out, potting on, hardening off and planting out. I had lots of plans for vases but only one has made it into the house so far. Yellow roses, pink rosa rugosa and other lovely things. Maybe I'll get round to that tomorrow. 

Grasses are in vogue just now but these in the vase are 'weeds'. If I had more time I'd get out my book and identify them but for now they are a foil for these inherited irises. The irises are growing in the pond in a huge clump which I'd meant to divide in the winter! I might cut a few more flowers as they open. 

The tall vase is out of the way on a windowsill so no chance of it being knocked over. Yes, I am that clumsy. I've recently destroyed a laptop with a cup of tea. Keep your tea away from your laptop!

For interesting and creative vases from around the world visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts - In a vase on Monday. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Adventures in a poly tunnel - May 2017

The dry month of April has given way to a showery May which is much more normal. Today we are getting the April showers. 
The water butts are full and I don't need to worry about watering things planted outside for a while, at least. Everything has burst into life and I need to spend more time wandering round looking at it all. Instead I'm head down weeding, planting and inspecting for pests. 
I've hardened off many things which involves moving them all out in the morning and then back in at night. It doesn't really take long but it's not worth losing the carefully grown plants if you don't harden off properly. Last year beans and courgettes suffered with wind damage so I am keeping them inside for a few more weeks. 
Although we've had some very warm days it has still been down to 2०C at night this week. 

It's been a wonderful month in the tunnel. The warm days have meant things growing fast and I've kept on top of the watering. 
We've got enough kale to give away and our iron levels should be very good. Rocket has gone to seed in the background and beans are on the hanging shelf. 

 I hope I've reached and passed Peak Seedling but I still have plenty and have just been pricking out some more. This is my overflowing bench and this is only half of it. I'm aiming to get things outside as soon as they are big enough. At this time of year I can never believe that the tiny flower seedlings will grow fast enough to produce flowers but they really take off in May and June. 

Strawberries have taken over a corner. The fruits are forming so I try and water well. I hope we get to eat them. I have more outside but they are a stage behind. 

A marigold which overwintered. Tiny french marigolds are popping up everywhere. I grew them as pest control last year. Spinach, lettuce and rocket behind. Broad beans at the back. Still standing but I think they need some more tying in now. Tiny beans are forming. 

Overwintered spinach going to seed but still plenty for us to eat and the hens are getting their greens too. 

Here are some of the tomato plants. These look very green and healthy and are the second sowing. Some courgettes or squashes are in front. They have been in the tunnel for a week and I cover with fleece at night. 

The first sowings of tomatoes are looking slightly yellow but are flowering. My plan to treat them mean is working. Last year I had lush plants with few flowers so this year I'm growing them harder. I'm planting them out today into large pots with the bottoms cut out so they get a good start but the roots can go out into the compost below. I'm planting into grow bag compost and I know they will green up quickly. Behind is a fleece windbreak as the wind is sometimes vicious through here. 

The dahlias have been hardening off but I'm reluctant to plant them out too early. I think I'll wait another week. My plant is to tuck the pots in right by the tunnel wall but outside so they get some protection. The bed for them is, at least, ready 

Harvesting in May:
Cavolo Nero
Red Russian kale
Chinese chives
Purple sprouting broccoli - outside
Spring onion
The odd radish

Monday, 15 May 2017

Frothy spring Lilac in a vase on Monday.

I'm so happy to be able to have vases bursting with flowers again. I know I'm so lucky to have flowers all over the house at very little expense. (If you don't count the blood, sweat and tears and woman hours involved in the production and I don't, it's a complete joy). 
I've made an exuberant arrangement to showcase this white lilac. I decided to only choose silver, green and white and I love how it turned out. 

In the vase:
Elaeagnus x ebbingei (I think?) foliage - the new growth is a lovely silver colour
Viburnum opulus
White lilac
Cow parsley 

I'd already picked some Phacelia yesterday. It's just coming into flower where it has seeded from last year. It's such a mad flower, the way it unfurls and has the soft sticky out bits which I'm sure have a botanical name. I used it in another vase:

In this vase:
Cerinthe major purpurescens
Phacelia tanacetifolia
Inherited rose. This is not the kind of rose I would choose if I were to buy one but it starts flowering first, finishes last and smells just as a rose should. It's a pretty two tone colour. I can't ask any more of a plant and it's right outside my bedroom window. It's a bungalow, by the way, in case you wonder why I keep planting there. 

Oh, and both vases smell wonderful. 

I had to take pictures inside as it has been raining! There is a joyous sound of rain dripping into water butts. We had a real good amount of rain overnight and then more showers today (Sunday). The plants are soaking it up and rejoicing. 
Now we move from water watch to slug patrol. They are already in evidence and rubbing their slimy hands with glee. 

For inventive and inspiring vases visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who encourages us to put something In a Vase on Monday. Thanks Cathy, for inspiring us. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Last chance Bluebells in a vase on Monday

A quick vase and a quick post. 

I've had a busy but good week. Still no rain so lots of watering to be done. I did a plant sale at the weekend so managed to offload plenty of things for other people to look after. It is still a marathon task here though with many things at the tiny seedling stage. The ground is now solid so planting is getting harder and it's imperative to remember what has been planted out and re-visit. I'm not expecting sympathy from those in dry climates who have it much worse, just surprise, this is England, after all!

I have one clump of these Spanish bluebells. The rest in the garden are all English, as are the ones in the wood up the lane from here. 
I've been thinking about digging up the bulbs so they don't cross with the English ones. Today it was off with their heads so I could enjoy them in a vase. I possibly should have seared the stems first but if they droop I'll do it then. They have a slightly odd smell so I hope it doesn't become unpleasant. 

I think I'll dig them up. What would you do?

For interesting and creative vases from around the world, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden - In a vase on Monday. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

In a vase - In the pink with the blues

We seem to have arrived at the end of April and what a month. 
April is known for being unpredictable here but I think we've beaten all records. I can't remember when it last rained. Certainly no April showers. The ground is dry and watering has become the priority when I should be focusing on sowing, planting and potting on. Established plants are fine but the newly planted and pots and trays need constant vigilance. 
Added to that we've had high temperatures, early in the month we were out in shirt sleeves and needing sun protection. Temperatures fell again and we had frosts, then on Tuesday night a fall of sleet/snow which settled and froze overnight. That added to the drought has resulted in a few things looking worse for wear though, mostly, I think they'll recover.
The plants are confused and so is the gardener. 
In spite of all this the garden is blooming. I picked this branch of Clematis montana and brought it in hoping it would open more quickly. I've been looking at the fat buds outside for 2 or 3 weeks. They are just starting to open now but this came out in a couple of days. 

We had one of these in our previous life. It grew up the front of  our house and was threatening to go under the roof tiles. 
Mr C pruned it one day to within an inch of it's life. It was never the same again and he has not been allowed to do pruning since, except under close supervision. I sometimes wonder if that was the intent?

I salvaged some of last weeks vase. Mr C remarked on the height of the nameless plant, which had continued to grow all week, and said he liked it. This was unusual as he rarely notices flowers at all. 
I salvaged that and the aquilegias and created this blue and pink concoction. 
I love these colours and I'm so glad I took a photo so I can remember to use them again. The pink tips on the aquilegia picks up the pink bells beautifully.
I used:
Flat leaf parsley which is a brilliant bright green filler. 
Pink bells which have followed on from the white and blue. 
Centaurea montana
Ajuga reptans
The nameless plant. 
For inventive and creative vases from around the world visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden - In a Vase on Monday. 

We've been building a chicken fortress for about 3 months now. It has taken longer and been more complicated than we imagined, nothing new there then. Mr C may not be a gardener but he is brilliant at construction and he's done a wonderful job.
Finally our new hens arrived a week ago. Meet the girls:
We got them through BHWT who re-home hens from commercial farms. Once we persuaded them outside they haven't looked back and are now enjoying retirement in their new home, scratching, pecking and laying. Some have more feathers than others but I think they already look more fluffy than they did last week. 
It was worth the days spent out in bitter winds trying to get the stakes in the ground and wrestling with a roll of 6' wire fence!

Monday, 24 April 2017

In a vase with bonus Foliage day!

It's so good to wander round with some secateurs and choose what to put in a vase. Such a change from a month ago when there was so little choice. 

I started with these purple leaves. I don't know what this plant is. It's a spreader by shallow roots and has white flowers somewhat like a cow parsley. You will probably see it again next week as it will be in flower. 

Other things in this vase:
Whitebells again. I'm not exaggerating when I say they are coming up everywhere. 
Peachy wallflowers
A viburnum I found flowering in one of our hedges. 
The first aquilegia to flower. The colour is just right with the purple leaves. I like all these tones together. 

Here is a twig of crab apple (NoID) with the tree flowering in the background. I love a vase stuffed full but having just one thing enables you to appreciate the detail. This is for my kitchen windowsill. 

For plenty more colourful and creative vases visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden - In a vase on Monday.

Now imagine this is a new post and that I posted it a few days ago on the 22nd. Christina from My Hesperides Garden hosts Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day for a focus on foliage for a change. 
My week has been rather hectic but here are a few fabulous foliage highlights from my garden in April.

 Carpinus betula. A tree in a pot. When we agree on where it should go it will get a new home but meanwhile is putting on soft new leaves.

Santolina. So soft and fragrant. 

Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus'. One of my favourite shrubs. I had this in my previous life and it was huge and wonderful every spring. I dug up a suckering shoot and brought it with me and am so pleased that it survived. It hardly flowered but that really didn't matter. This photo really doesn't do it justice. 

Heuchera 'Midnight Bayou'. This has been in full leaf all winter. Most of my others look a bit of a mess. I think I mention this one at least once a month. 

A very tidy mound of lemon balm before it get unruly later in the year. 

Tiny Viburnum opulus leaves. I love tiny new leaves!

Just a few highlights from an April Garden bursting with life. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Adventures in a poly tunnel - April 2017

I've had my poly tunnel now for a year and a half. For two winters I have been able to harvest from it and it has been wonderful for bringing on seedlings and starting off plants. Last summer it was full of tomatoes and cucumbers. I grew mini peppers, which I've never managed to do before and my son grew some melons. We were staggered that they actually produced edible fruit. 
Pests have been fewer and plants have grown larger. It is a joy to go in every day. It smells wonderful (unless the farmers have been spraying the fields).
Here is my favourite picture taken in January. Look at the mists hanging in the field beyond...
The tunnel is not normally photogenic. That seems like a long time ago. We had very few frosts this winter but of course we may still get some. Now in April I'm just clearing out the winter crops which have gone to seed. I've had Cavolo Nero which has been in all winter. The plants went to seed a few weeks ago and I cropped the flower stems like purple sprouting broccoli and they were delicious! They've gone too far now and had to come out. 

Here are the new plants which have been grown this year. They will stay until the tomatoes go in. There is rocket, also going to seed but it keeps producing little leaves and sweet smelling flowers, and lots and lots of kale.  Most of us are happy to eat it often. Also some dahlias shooting in pots and some spring onions.  

  I also grew some purple sprouting broccoli in the tunnel. The plants got enormous and fell over. The cropped only a week or two before the plants outside, were more spindly and for the space they took up, were probably not worth it. I might try one or two next year. It was an experiment. 
Here is the bed where the broccoli was now cleared and ready for rocket and who knows what else. I must just clean the wall I couldn't reach it sooner. It's green. 
 I've been tying up the broad beans. The plants look very good and healthy so far. Last year I had enormous plants and a huge crop. I still have some beans in the freezer. Such a treat for a quick lunch - beans on toast! (Cooked with garlic and butter).
I've promised myself I will stake properly so this is the start of it. We'll see how that goes. 

I started this post a couple of weeks ago and they have moved on apace:

I've got more seedlings than any sensible person should try and look after and I'm still sowing more. I've got them in 5 different places so have to remember to visit them all daily. 

I start some things off in the house then bring them out here. I can lose a whole tray of seedlings if they dry out. It can get very hot in here, even in April. My tendency is to over water so I'm trying not to do that either.

I'm trying an experiment with tomatoes. Last year I had luscious, green healthy plants which took a long time to  flower. Then they got blight so it was a short season for them.
I think I'd coddled them too much. This year I'm growing them hard!
The key is to have slightly stressed plants, not too much but enough so they want to flower and set seed. 
I started a few plants off in February. They are now looking good and healthy, they've been growing on a windowsill. I've just potted them on and was thinking about moving them out here but then the nights go much colder so changed my mind and they are in our east facing conservatory. That is not to say we have a north, south and west facing one too just that it gets plenty of sun but is not too hot.The second sowing are nearly ready to be potted on. 

I must remember not to include mess in the backs of photos.
Harvesting in April - 
Cavolo nero
Theyers/Red Russian kale which seem to be the same.
Spring onions
Garlic chives
Purple sprouting broccoli