More rain but a new project is in the planning

A new border was created in the garden last November.  What was really not more than some space under a hedge was widened to allow for some roses to be planted.  Three Darcy Bussell and one Jaqueline du Pre.  It’s going to be a very cultured bordered.  A mixed planting of tulips was also added and these have just flowered.

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The tulips are Angelique, China Town – with the white edged leaves and Spring Green.  You  may also have spotted a couple of rogues!  If Queen of Night could ever be called a rogue.  I’ll have to try to lift those two very carefully and relocate them.

After the border was extended two new paths were laid this year and I can now walk down the garden and round to the compost heap in relative safety.

The edges have been filled with soil and weeding, in between the regular bouts of rain, is an ongoing task.  But as parts of the garden begin to take shape others are calling out for some attention.

The walk round to the compost heap leads to the back of the garden which is given over to an assortment of gyo spaces.  There are some very productive soft fruit bushes: gooseberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and loganberries, and other beds that have been allocated to allotment staples such as potatoes, onions, parsnips and carrots.  There is also this.


Anyone familiar with The Rivendell Garden blog might understand why I have come to think of this as my very own edifice.  It bears no comparison to John K’s beautiful structure and nor will it be home to such an impressive collection of plants.  But there are plans to beautify it.

It is in two sections separated by a gap which was, on arrival, half full of garden rubble.  A year or so later and I have nearly filled it with all the various bits and pieces that I have come across as I dig, dig, and dig in my futile attempts to rid the garden of weeds.


The bag of sand to the right comes in handy for preventing miniature rock falls.

I have decided the time has come to take the situation in hand.  The cardboard that had been used to suppress the weeds has been removed.  I’ve dug it over, making good friends with Tony Toad in doing so. Now one half is covered with a good length of black weed suppressing membrane and the other is providing home to some perennials due to be moved out to the main garden, when it stops raining.  A recent trip to a nearby fencing supplier provided me with the inspiration.  I decided I could face the whole thing in timber slats and finish off the top edges with more wood to give me a solid top to work from.  No more wobbling on the frost shattered brick edges. Yippee!  I have got as far as receiving a quote for the work – for it is beyond my meagre skills – and all is looking good.  But guess what? My chosen supplier is behind with his work, due of course, to the rain! I’m in the queue, patiently waiting my turn, and trying to keep on top of those weeds which are, like the toads, loving this weather.


Six on Saturday: The race is on

Aah, what a gentle occupation gardening is.  Full of quiet moments pottering among the flowers, pulling carrots, picking strawberries.  Or are you, like me, engaged in the mad dash to get it all done before June!


The cold and the rain delayed much of my gardening efforts but this week I finally finished cutting back the hydrangeas.  In my defence there are seven of them and only three have been waiting patiently.  Here you can see that the first flowers are forming.


Seed sowing for vegetables is happening almost daily.  Leeks, carrots, red cabbage, spring onions, climbing french beans are all in the greenhouse. Some carrots have been direct sown along with parsnips, radishes and lettuce.  The rocket sown in February is now out in the ground. And the last of the potatoes – Sarpo Mira and Belle de Fontenay have finally been planted.  Phew!


The onions and shallots planted out in November are enjoying some warmth.  I have been very interested to see that many people plant their onions in modules and don’t move them outside until later.  I am going to try this next year.  I did protect these against the birds but that was all removed this week.


Seed sowing for flowers is ongoing.  The teeny tiny seeds of antirrhinum White Giant have produced teeny tiny leaves.  Tithonia and nasturtium look a little stronger, but does that mean finding time for potting on?  Zinnias and calendulars have pushed through.  But I have yet to sow any cosmos! How is this possible I ask myself?  I’m not panicking.  Last year I direct sowed some in early May and planted some in modules as late as the end of April . . . Ok,  brief panic!


It has felt a little frantic but it is important that we take ‘time to stand and stare’ and I have really enjoyed the tulip display, the result of a mass November planting.  These are Queen of Night, Shirley, Barcelona and Violet Beauty.  I love them!


And these are Angelique – a pink double, Spring Green – a viridiflora and China Town – a shorter viridiflora with white edged leaves, beautiful.  These were quite tightly planted in two groups in a new border to leave space for some bare root roses that were arriving later.  There is definitely room to spread them out a little, which is the plan, unless of course, I am tempted by some lovely perennials that I know will be featuring in a couple of local plant sales in May.  Have space, will fill it!

And whilst standing and staring I noticed the irises and alliums are just about to open, and the first strawberry flowers are showing.  Oh yes, we will soon be pottering!

If you’d like to stare at a few more Six On Saturday posts stroll over to The Propagator’s  blog for all the links.  Sit back and enjoy the display.





Six on Saturday: Counting the cost

I’ve waited hopefully, cut back hard, watered optimistically but the time has come to admit defeat.  Well almost – I will be making one or two last ditch attempts to prevent the inevitable flatline.  Okay, let’s reveal the damage caused by my neglect, lack of experience or possibly the oh so harsh winter.



Fred, Fred, I think the lemon tree is dead!  The move to this new garden was all the more exciting because there was a greenhouse.  Oh what exotics I would be able to grow.  Fred will remember the melons that succumbed to red spider mite.  And now the lemon tree, after one summer of delivering beautifully scented flowers, looks very sickly.  It was stowed in the greenhouse for winter,  fleeced when the temperatures fell and an extra layer added when -7 degrees was imminent.  It was watered and fed but as the temperatures rose and the fleece was removed the outcome did not look good.  I am, on Fred’s advice, going to cut back all the brown leaved stems and I’ll wait a while to see if any new growth emerges.  But I have a feeling another lemon tree will be bought and perhaps a greenhouse heater!



Fred may have some advice for me here as well.  The French Lavender received as a housewarming gift also looks dead.  I am going to cut this back to the base of all the stems and do some more of that optimistic watering and waiting.  If not, another Lavender will be bought!  Or maybe this is this space for a small daphne?



For this one I am going for the very cold wet winter as cause of death.  But I suppose it also comes under the heading of right plant, wrong place.  These straggly stems are the last remains of Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’.  I don’t think they are going to  make it at all.  Perhaps this is the place for some hellebores.



A few more greenhouse deaths: a pelagonium cutting – underwatered, and a salvia cutting – I think, but of course I didn’t label it.  This was doing fine until I went away for a few days and the greenhouse temperatures hit 40 degrees.  At least I know the automatic vents work.



Yes there’s more.  This rose came with the garden.  I released it from bindweed, pruned it, fed it and enjoyed a profusion of pinky apricot flowers.  It really performed and then it died. I think I didn’t water it enough.  It takes a while to work out the intensity of the sun in a new garden.  I cut it back as ruthlessly as I could bear and waited but there is not a sign of new growth and it has to go.  This is quite an interesting opportunity as I plan to extend the other end of this border which will make R.Natasha Richardson the centre point.  Time to work out what will go either side, something that likes it hot and dry I think.


I am being philosophical.  It’s all part of getting to know a new garden and understanding the physics of greenhouses!  I couldn’t bring myself to provide a completely dead six and of course the tulips are coming out. So here’s what is zinging in the garden (for now): Unknown tulip and Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.  Perfect when accompanied by sunshine and blue skies!


I am sure there will be some more cheerful sixes in this week’s #SixOnSaturday collections.  All the links will be at The Propagator’s blog.  Take a look and be inspired, as I know I will be, to enjoy your garden this weekend.

Six On Saturday: Exciting times

Cold, wet and gloomy is the summary for this week but undeterred nature pushes on.  On a particular dull morning my eyes fell up on a treat.  A small twinkle at the end of the garden:


The first blossom has appeared on one of the plum trees. It caught my eye and also that of a passing ant!


The magnolia tree also sprang into life this week.  It’s full of beautiful blossom and I love it but I think it needs to have someone who knows what they are doing come and prune it.  It is full of water shoots growing away from previous pruning cuts.  Something for me to research.


The last time I had someone who knows prune a tree we talked about moving an apple tree that had been planted hard up against a fence in a dark corner of the garden.  The wet spring delayed the job but finally a moment was grabbed and the tree was moved to its new spot.  It’s in amongst the redcurrants which might be moved next year.  And for a bonus item, the patch behind is where the potatoes finally got planted.  First earlies Ratte and Arran Pilot went in this week.


The first of the tulips came into flower this week.  Yippee! It’s Tulipa ‘Nicholas Heyek’, a
triumph tulip.  It’s not one of the many that were planted last November – I’m still waiting on those.  These were planted out in the first year in the new garden and left in the ground over the summer.  This is their second year of flowering.


Not so exciting is the damage that comes with all the exciting new growth.  The slugs and snails are active and the Thalia that looked so lovely a week ago have been shredded.


I too was stirred into life and began sowing some seeds.  This tube contained 30 seeds of Antirrhinum White Giant.  They were tiny.  Here’s hoping they love the warmth that’s heading our way next week.  I also sowed Calendula ‘Indian Prince’, Zinnia pale mix, Nasturtium Alaska, and Tithonia Torch.  Still more sowing to be done.  Yes, exciting times.

There will plenty more gardening life on show at The Propagator who hosts the internationally famed #SixOnSaturday meme.  Enjoy your garden.


Six On Saturday: Stepping up a gear

Suddenly I have that feeling that I won’t get it all done in time.  But roses have been fed.  Seeds have finally been sown: Tithonia and nasturtium, carrots and leeks this week.  More annuals will be sown next week and those potatoes will be planted.  Here’s what’s in my garden today.



A border was extended in November and I dug up a batch of bulbs to make way for the roses that will be the star attraction.  Impatiently I threw all in the bulbs in a corner of the border and forgot about them.  Of course with no care to the planting they have emerged as a perfect clump of colour.



Continuing the yellow theme, the cowslips planted in a damp corner last year  have spread themselves out and look very settled.



More spring colour on a subtler note comes from these Thalia narcissi.  I love the multi-stem format.  I’m mentally planning for next year and more of these are on the list.  I also want to plant some Paperwhite and White Lady narcissi together with a couple of clumps of Leucojum – now that I’ve perfected the planting in clumps technique.



I thought that I had lost these fritillaries when all the work on the path was done.  But the new path is slightly narrower and these were just outside the trample zone. The slightly wider border is going to allow me to plant more of these too.



The garden is full of birds and bird song at the moment.  I was planning to cut back the Verbena bonariensis but a charm of goldfinches were breakfasting on the seed heads this morning so I have been persuaded to leave that for another time.  Sadly  the free version of wordpress doesn’t allow video content so I can’t share the bird song, including the resident woodpecker, with you.  I’ll see if I can post to twitter (lol).



Back down to earth: the inside of my shed!  The blackcurrants and gooseberries are all in leaf and I need to start thinking about how I protect them from those wonderful birds.  My favourite netting is the twisted coil of soft net but my local nursery has stopped stocking this one.  Last year I bought lengths of semi rigid plastic net which was easy to cut and fix to bamboo canes to make something resembling a fruit cage.  What do you use?  Do you have a favourite?

It is so amazing that so many are sharing their garden news under the Six on Saturday meme.  Go along to The Propagator and feast your eyes.  And keep gardening!