Monday, 4 June 2012

Room to Move

Just about a month ago I wrote about my mobile garden of pots.  Following a fair bit of rainy weather and a few days of sun this part of our garden has truly blossomed.

early May
I don't know why but it comes as a surprise to me every year that I have to drag the pots further apart as the season progresses and the plants overfill their alloted space.
early June
in the background is a lovely hosta whose name escapes me and guacamole in the foreground

francee in the background and aureomarginata in the foreground
There's a lesson here for me in the 'planted' parts of the garden: give plants room to grow and spread.  However it's a difficult lesson to learn as I'm always tempted to cover up bare soil with leaf and flower.  Perhaps this is one reason I tend towards herbacious perennials as these can be easily removed or lifted and spilt when they outgrow the space available.

Anyway, in the pot garden no such issues as the pots simply move out and the 'border' at the back of the house covers more of the gravel path and becomes ever more lush.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Complementary Views

Complementary meaning 'completing a set/making up a whole' really expresses the way the Handyman and I use and work in the garden.

We are very occasionally seen working together, sometimes seen working side by side and most often found to be working on different projects in different spaces around our plot.  This works well for us and we come together for conversation, advice, comment, tea, coffee, sandwiches.

All of this was pulled into focus for me last weekend when we had some gloriously sunny and very warm weather, in the high 20s.  The Handyman spent most of his time out in the open cutting the grass on the grand lawn, netting the fruit cage (another post on this later) and generally topping up his vitamin D levels.  When time came for a little respite he could be found here...

steamer chair in full sun
with views of the sunny borders...

the grand lawn

sunny borders
I, on the other hand, spent most of my hours weeding in the woodland borders, creating hanging baskets in the shade and watering and feeding the mobile garden at the back of the house.  When my coffee time arrived I spent it here...

comfy rocker in the shade
and my views looked like this...

woodland border

mobile garden
These thoughts make me realise that a garden is many things to many people and where time and space permit it's good to be able to accommodate as many of these different aspects as possible.  For shade lovers like me there are hostas, ferns, bluebells, aquilegia, acers...the list goes on.  And for sunworshippers, like the Handyman: poppies, roses, peonies, pelargoniums etc, etc.

So, complemetary views indeed!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

My Mobile Garden

At the back of our house is a wide gravel path that stands bare and uninspiring through the late autumn and winter.  However at this time of year I begin to bring our mobile garden of pots away from the relative warmth of the house walls and cold greenhouse and build a border of plants along the path.

For the most part these pots contain a passion of mine for hostas.  They suit being grown in pots here as our garden has very little shade and the soil is sandy and free draining.  Being in a pot they can benefit from the east facing aspect at the back of the house and I can ensure that they are adequately watered; there is also the advantage that when they die down in the winter I can move the pots out of sight.

So last weekend I began to construct the arrangement of potted plants.  The hostas are off and running into growth; as the season progresses they will provide lovely lush and spreading foliage, which means that the pots will move further apart and eventually, by June, run the whole width of the house.  There are also a few pots of lilies to add scent and height to the display.

The combination of the hosta foliage, the little bubbling water feature, japanese acers and the bush fuchsias (added to provide some floral value) give me a delightful view from the kitchen sink!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Burgeoning and Blossoming

This is my favourite time of year!  Though I think I say that almost every week of the gardening year as different plants make their appearance known in the garden.  This week my inspiration has been the blossom on the fruit and ornamental trees.

cherry blossom

crab apple blossom
The weather in this part of the UK has been very, very wet and blustery, not the ideal conditions for blossom!  So between downpours I thought I'd better try and capture the beauty of these fleeting blooms.

ornamental cherry - double
morello cherry
We have more blossoming trees at Holly Grove than I realised.  We inherited a few as poor little specimens growing in what was the rough grass of the paddock.  We moved these 5 years ago and have provided them with a bit more care and been rewarded with cherry blossom (and a few cherries) and from the old apple trees beautiful flowers in May and delicious apples in September and October.

burgeoning blossom on an ancient apple tree

fantastic display on the little pear tree
Other trees we have added including the morello cherry and pear.  The little pear tree is first into flower every year and this year it is a joy to behold.

apple Sunset
Then there are the apple trees that we planted about 4 years ago.  The only one of these currently blooming is Sunset, though the others, a Cox's Orange Pippin and and another whose name escapes me at the moment, are showing signs of buds.  Our plum and greengage haven't bloomed yet, so more blossom days to come in the not too distant future!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Greenhouse Year - April 2012

I've been inspired to make a contribution to a meme on the Patient Gardener's blog monitoring monthly progress in the greenhouse.  I'm a bit late with my submission as it's usually completed on 20th of the month, but here goes...

Due to the time of year and the rainy weather I've been spending a lot of time under glass (or in my case polycarbonate) over the past few weeks. 

Following a good day or two of tidying up the remnants of last year's tomato, chilli and cucumber plants I put together a potting bench that I actually purchased in 2010.  It's taken me all this time to assemble the bench due to the time taken to put togther the greenhouse...the saga starts here.

Anyway, after the great cleanup I set about planting seeds with gusto and now have a number of small plants growing on in the greenhouse including: cauliflower, All the Year Round; runner bean, Butler; kohl rabi; artichoke, Green Globe; tomatoes, Moneymaker, Yellow Stuffer, Principe Borghese; lettuce, Little Gem; aubergine...the list goes on.

baby peas

and broad beans
A few weeks ago I planted pea and broad bean seeds in modules and after a few days hardening off planted these little plantlets in the kitchen garden beds last Sunday.  They have so far had to weather sunshine, light and heavy rain showers and halestorms!  However they seem to be standing up well and I had to get them out of the greenhouse as I was running out of room.

Talking about lack of space, yesterday I transplanted forty-five leek seedings from small modules to root trainers.  These take up much more room than the modules so where to put them?  I don't have a coldframe yet (it's on the Handyman's construction list) but there was a bit of room under a tent cloche where I've been nurturing early carrots in one of the raised beds.  So the containers of leeks in root trainers are nestling between the rows of baby carrots until the weather gets a bit more predictable, then I'll lift them out and stand them between the back of the greenhouse and the oil tank until the time comes to plant them in one of the raised beds.

So not content with all the seedling filling the greenhouse and the plethora of seeds yet to be planted; borlotto beans, winter squash, more runner beans; I purchased eight sweetcorn plants from the local plant nursery yesterday.  They need to stay in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks before planting out in May unless...if space really is a problem I can plant them out covered with bottle cloches for a little protection.  I'm going to interplant the sweetcorn with the Little Gem lettuces - an experiment for me.

Every year at this time I think I should take a couple of weeks holiday from work as there is so much to do and enjoy doing, but then I'm not sure two weeks would be enough!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

April Showers

Typical Bank Holiday weather in the UK; I woke up this morning to a garden sparkling with raindrops, then it clouded over and along came another series of showers.  Now the sun is shining and the temperature rising slightly, so I took my camera and had a wander...

home grown drumstick primula
The two woodland borders are at their best at this time of year with primula, grape hyacinth, aubretia, narcissi and pasque flowers all putting on a show.  These borders can be seen from the kitchen and utility room windows and really cheer me up in the morning as I fill the kettle for my morning tea.
aubretia and grape hyacinth under the old apple tree

blues and yellows
Most of the spring planting is focused on these borders but I am beginning to branch out with spring flowering plants and bulbs.  There are some lovely new tulips in the party patio border, a soft lemon and sprinkled with water droplets sparkling like diamonds...

Then there is the camellia nestling in between my potting shed and the Handyman's workshop.  We brought this plant with us in a pot from our previous home.  We planted it in one of the large lawn borders initially but it was too exposed there and we moved it in the autumn of 2010 to this more sheltered site.  It didn't flower at all last year, probably sulking from the move, but this year it has lots of lovely pink flowers, it really brightens up this sheltered corner.

I planted five pasque flower plants a couple of years ago and last year collected the seed heads and planted them in pots, stood them behind the greenhouse and promptly forgot all about them until the beginning of March.  And there to my delight were a number of small plants ready for popping into the borders.  I love the nodding heads of these flowers and the softness of the foliage.  The purple flowers are followed by airy seed heads which are equally attractive.  I've got a red variety that I'm going to take the seeds from this year and see what transpires by next spring.
purple pasque flowers from seed
Finally, for this post, I love driving down the lane towards Holly Grove at any time of the year but right now whilst the daffodils and the damson blossom are out this makes such a pretty picture and always causes me to smile.
at the entrance to Holly Grove
So there we are, some sunshine on a cloudy for the other Bank Holiday ritual...the ironing!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bounding into Spring

Have you begun to notice the first signs of Springtime arriving?  We have at Holly Grove. 

Daffodils, blossom, burgeoning buds and even a some early tulips are appearing at Holly Grove. And the Handyman spent yesterday planting out one thousand (yes that's right, I did say 1,000) snowdrops in the green to add to next year's display.

I so love this time of year as we emerge from the dark days of Winter into the changing days of Spring.  Weatherwise Spring has been an unpredictable season in the UK over the past few years, from midsummer temperatures to snow in April and May. 

So although March has been mild, and even warm on occasional days, I'll have to keep my urge to plant seeds in the kitchen garden under control and content myself with Spring weeding and sowing under glass in the greenhouse.  Still plenty to be going on with...oh, and there are one hundred winter aconites (again bought in the green) to be planted somewhere in the woodland, fun, fun!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

First Blossom of Spring

pretty, pretty
Over the past few days I've been watching the emergence of the first spring blossom in our garden.  There's a small ornamental cherry (we think it's Prunus Kanzan) that we inherited sitting in the circles garden and every year it provides us with the first sign of spring; the soft pink flowers create a joyful haze and a hope of the end of winter - hurrah!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Ladybird, Ladybird

I've spent a lot of time in the garden over the past few days making the most of the mild weather and the last few days of recreation before I start my new job next week.  The thing that has most struck me is the huge number of ladybirds around the place. 

A real pleasure to see so many, they should help keep down the greenfly population, though I'm wondering what has caused such a population surge?

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Perseverance Pays Off

Way back in May 2010 I began the construction of my new greenhouse.  The saga ran on through June and July of that year with little progress, amd then the winds came in autumn of 2010 and spring of 2011 and took out some of the panes of polycarbonate.  So, severely disheartened the shell of the greenhouse was all that remained standing through the rest of last year. last!
However during the fine weather last weekend the Handyman had another attempt at fitting those 'b*!!?# polycarbonate panels' and despite, or perhaps because of, his frustration he managed to complete the installation of a number of panels.

Spurred on by this I decided to have another attempt and, surprise, surprise, I managed to finish the job!  So now I have a completed greenhouse after almost 21 months of frustration and disappointment - hurrah!

first seed trays planted up
Assuming that the structure stands up to our windy conditions I can now look forward to making good use of it and started today by sowing some seedtrays of sweetpeas.  It's good to have somewhere to retreat to if the weather becomes inclement and somewhere for the tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers to spend the summer months. 

tea and biscuits anyone?
Just need to dig out the camp chair and I'll have somewhere to sit with my cup of tea and biscuits.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Return of the Fair Weather Gardener

Spring must be on its way as I have ventured out into the garden for a few hours over the past couple of days; granted this foray was prompted by Thursday's unseasonal temperature of 17C and the appearance of that big yellow ball in the sky!

pale lemon primula
As usual when I make this first attempt of the year at gardening I have conflicting emotions; firstly, what a lot needs to be done and secondly, what joy to be out in the fresh air.  The first can have the effect of making me turn around and head back indoors, defeated by the task, but it's the second that keeps me out there, that and the promise of the difference a few hours gardening can make both to the garden and to my state of mind.

dolly mixtures

So this Spring I resolve to focus on what I have achieved after each gardening session rather than what is yet to be done, as there will always be something!

Yesterday I managed to weed and cut back two of the perennial borders and one raised bed in the kitchen garden.  In the process I made room for some lovely, bright primula; I love the dolly mixture colours of these little plants.  Being down amongst the borders I was able to appreciate up close the spring bulbs that have already made an appearance; miniature iris, snowdrops and the occasional narcissus.

miniature iris
This morning I've fortified myself by a glimpse back at photos from previous Springs and Summers to remind me of the end game: a productive and pretty plot in which to sit and enjoy all my labours.

crocus almost in bloom
So what are you waiting for Susan?  Get out there and continue to make a difference!