January 23

Six flowers on Saturday 23/05/21

I started to wonder if we had any flowers at all in the garden having seen all the wonderful ones shared by the Six on Saturdayers hosted by The Propagator It turns out we do but I have to get out in the garden to see them! So, here are my six flowering away despite the rain we have had this week.

First are the Winter Aconites before the birds get to them and peck the flowers off and strew them around the plant.

Hiding in the side bed is a Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’. It is a bit small and I don’t think it is really a fan of the dry soil but it soldiers on gamely.

All around the garden as a result of self-seeding is Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii. It is a strong, hard to miss plant particularly at this time of year. I love the zingy, yellowy-green flowers and the pop of the seed pods in the summer when the seeds are ready to go.

Tucked down by a low wall in the front garden is Geranium Rozanne looking a little the worse for the weather but gamely flowering.

Does it count to have something that is nearly there? These daffodils were in the garden when we moved here and they are almost ready to flower with a slight yellowy bloom on the buds.

And finally, not a flower but a borrowing from Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener who created a path through a bed. It was just what I needed for what we grandly call the Round Bed. It is too deep to weed from the front and I end up walking all over parts of it to get to everything so a path through it is just what it needed. I have used stones from around the garden that I dig up every time I try to plant something. All it needs now is a layer of shreddings on the path and more plants.  I cleared out those I didn’t like as I created the path so now I can buy some more!

 

 

January 9

Six on Saturday – Green shoots 09/01/21

I start to get twitchy fingers at this time of year and am desperate to sow seeds but apart from a few peas and beans it just isn’t worth it.  The seedlings get leggy and then cold, or the other way around, and do not produce great plants so I must wait until the middle of February. However, it doesn’t mean that things are not growing all around me.

And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.

Rumi, The Soul of Rumi: A Collection of Ecstatic Poems

This post is part of the wonderful Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator. Thank you all for the very warm welcome.

My first plant is the hellebore that my Mum collected seeds from in her local Sainsbury’s carpark. When we had to sell her house, I took a few of the plants from her garden and planted them in mine despite the fact that we had completely different soils. They took a little while to acclimatise but once they got going, they were off.  I doubt that they are a fancy variety but they are important to me and they are almost here.

Second are my cuttings from Buddleia colvilei. I bought a plant and put it somewhere where it is completely covered by another large shrub. By the time I realised, it was a bit too big to move so I took some cuttings in the hope that I could create more plants. 3 out of the 4 cuttings have taken and roots are now poking out of the bottom of the pot.  The leaves are felty and grey, like many plants that are relatively drought tolerant, although they lose some of their feltiness as they mature. The flowers are tubular bells, similar to those on a penstemon.

I have a large perennial Cottager’s Kale on the allotment that at this time of year gives many, many leaves. The plant is rather large and a bit of a slug magnet but invaluable. I took these cuttings in September and they are in a sheltered space in front of my greenhouse at home and look to be doing well. I am going to put  couple on the wildlife plot as I need to grow more food on it and then give the rest away to the allotmenteers.  They are a much sort after plant on our site.

I love the flowers on Miscanthus sinensis Morning Light. The plant is at the front, north facing, of the house in the only little bit of heavier soil that I have in the garden and it seems to do fine. The shape of the whole plant is great – like a fountain – and it is prolific enough to split every two years. This means that I have it all over the garden.

Some plants are really tough. Who would have thought that a lettuce would have survived being frozen every night for the last four nights and still look perky and pickable the next morning.  This lettuce is a self-seeded plant growing in the wood chip path of the vegetable beds at home.  It is Rouge Grenobloise but I also have a black-seeded Simpson lettuce in another path.

My Mahonia Charity is just coming into flower. It is full of them and the blackbirds seem to be having a great time picking the flowers off and throwing them around the plant. I sat and watched them this morning but I am not sure why they are doing it. Vandals! The label on the plant says that it is Charity but the flowers do not stick up in the air like the photos on google but droop down. It is one of the few shrubs that I still have that was in the garden before we moved in over 20 years ago. The shrub can be hacked right back and still it sprouts forth. (I’ve just noticed a bramble in the picture growing away quietly through the Mahonia!)

Do you have green shoots in your garden?

 

January 2

Six on Saturday – 02/01/21

This is my second Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator, the first one for 2021 and there are certainly things I will not miss  from last year. However, what this time has meant is that I have had much more time in the garden and on the allotments and this has been to their and our benefit. So, here are my six for this week all based on new year resolutions linked to the garden and allotments.

My first resolution is to be more organised. I realised the other day that my blog is littered with phrases such as I don’t know which variety they are, I didn’t label them or I have forgotten what they are.’  I have used Access and so now I can type in a  month and up will pop all the seeds I need to sow that month.  I have then created, on paper for the moment!, a bed plan that is month by month so that I don’t have any spare beds hanging around empty at any point during the year. Last year I thought I didn’t have enough space but with 2 plots and a large garden that is ridiculous. These two things need integrating but that was beyond me at the end of December.

In order to support resolution number 1, I have bought some very fancy labels – metal hooks which you stick in the ground and slate labels that you hang from them.  This was a present to myself and they will be used specifically for veg or flowers that I want to collect seed from.  Even if the writing wears off, I will at least know which plants to collect seed from. All I need now is a marker to write on the slate – note to self! The whole system could come crashing down for want of such marker.

I will make hot compost this year, before July.  At present I am not building the heap big enough and do not have enough greenery and manure in it.  This will be remedied in January’s pile. (You can see November and December’s attempts but they are not pretty!) I have agreed to create a pile each month to see what happens. I am learning a LOT. What I am finding is that it is far more work in comparison with the way I normally make compost. The videos I have watched about it all have volunteers on training and they build and turn the pile. We hold a sort of allotment school on the plots to help new members and I am one of the people that helps to run it so that has given me an idea 😉

We so rarely have heavy frosts on the south coast but have done so for the last 2 days with more to come. These are my new strawberries – Malwina – a late type, but they have an absolutely delicious taste. I bought my first lot a year ago because the catalogue said that the taste was exceptional but they were too dark red for supermarkets and had a white line just underneath the leaves which doesn’t turn red. Why wouldn’t you try them? Anyway they are so good I have ordered more along with some hanging baskets. I will pot them up into the baskets and then at the end of January/start of February hang them in the polytunnel to force them and try and get some a little earlier.

 

 

The Bergenia are flowering on the wildlife plot and look fantastic. I am not sure what variety they are (I didn’t plant these before you say anything!) but they are a welcome sight especially for the queen bumble bees which fly around when the sun is out.  I took over the wildlife plot in September 20 and decided to list everything that flowers, fruits and seeds on the plot each month and then aim to increase the numbers of each in the years thereafter as we have lots of beekeepers on site.  We have three things flowering this month, the Bergenia, Jasminum nudiflorum and a Viburnum. We can surely do more than that next year; I am thinking of Winter Honeysuckle, Christmas Box and pansies which can also be eaten in salads.

 

 

And finally, with no resolution attached to it is the orchid in my bathroom which has a very long stem of flowers this winter. I have learnt: feed it all spring and summer and it will flower all winter for you. Beautiful.

Happy New Year everyone and do you have any garden resolutions?

 

 

 

 

 

January 20

Gardening mistakes – and there have been many!

I particularly enjoyed the post over at The Anxious Gardener all about the mistakes made. I don’t think we could call ourselves gardeners if these sort of things didn’t happen to us.  In fact, I think we are one of the groups of people that like to learn by doing and that means mistakes!

I curse the day I planted Vinca Major in a difficult part of the garden. It didn’t stay there and now occupies a large part of the back border, including working its way up a 5ft bank and competing with nettles and brambles.

Or there is the year I used plastic string in the polytunnel to hold my tomatoes up. I had about 50 and the string gave way on all of them on the same day. It looked like a giant had stepped on them.

What about the time I stood on top of my compost heap, got my foot caught in a bramble and fell headfirst down to the bottom of the section that I had dug out.

How about the time I dug some weeds up from inside the fruit cage and speared a mouse on my fork.  I did scream a little bit! My allotment backs on to houses and so I have a lot of cats about and they seem to catch the mice and leave them lying around for me nowadays.

There was also the year I mulched the whole plot in fresh manure and everything was eaten by slugs that were hidden in and under the clumps of manure.

And finally, my most expensive error was to not go down and clear the snow off the top of my polytunnel. It buckled and caved in and I spent the next three years bent double inside it until I could afford a new one.

Have you ever made a mistake? Do tell!

January 14

It will only take half an hour! And a harvest

You know what it is like. You take your eye off a plant – a helianthemum – for 5 years (!) and it outgrows its allotted space. You have half an hour so you think you will just pop out and give it a quick trim. Ha!

The first thing you find is that the local cats have been using the top of your much loved Helianthemum as a toilet. It is after all quite cold at the moment and who would want to put their little botty near the cold floor when there is a nice, cushion-shaped plant near by.  So, you clear that up which is not easy and then continue.

You then decide to put the clippings into the dalek compost bin only to find that rats have taken up residence. It is cold after all.  So you tip it over, spread it out and make a lot of shrieking noises just to scare them off and put the clippings on the big, open compost bins. You do however, see some suspicious holes in the big bin.

You then have a good idea! You prune a holly bush and stick the twigs of holly in the helianthemum to keep the delicate little bottys off ! And it has only taken an hour.

One thing I am very pleased with though is my bowl of salad in an unheated greenhouse. I planted the pot up in early November. I don’t keep records (but I might make it my New Year’s Resolution to do just that) so I am not quite sure when, but we have had a picking each week from it throughout December and now into January. I just pick the outer leaves, leaving the growing inner leaves and they seem to have replenished a week later. I will definitely be growing more of these pots next year.  I found some old polystyrene boxes in a recent clear out of the garage and they would be fantastic being slightly insulated. In the pot there is Little Gem lettuce, Mustard – which seems to be taking over and needs more frequent picking – Catalogne lettuce (I think!), fennel and coriander.  There have been several mornings when I have looked at them and they have been very droopy. It is quite cold after all, but they have all recovered as the greenhouse has warmed up. So, salad with tea tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have you harvested recently?

 

January 2

New seeds for 2018

I have just finished listing all of the seeds I have for 2018 and am just wondering if I have too many. Of course I do but there is always something new that catches my eye.  Here are this year’s new seeds:

Chinese Cabbage Scarlette

I saw this on Our Happy Acres on the posts that list what they harvest every Monday. I have not grown Chinese Cabbage before but what really drew me was the colour! I got the seed from Simply Seeds and I understand that they are best grown in the autumn so something to sow in June.  The packets says that they are frost hardy, not that we get a lot of frosts down here on the south coast.

I am not entirely sure how you cook Chinese cabbage. Stir fry? However, good ol’ BBC food has a selection here to get me going.

Lettuce Pigale Pills

I think I might have a bit of a thing for red vegetables this year. This is a Little Gem type of lettuce that is said to be sweet-tasting and has good resistance to bolting, tipburn and mildew – all of which I need.  The interweb says that it can be sown from March to July so can be grown over a fairly long time span, the later ones probably better off outside rather than in the polytunnel. We eat a lot of salads in the summer – have you seen the list of lettuce I grow on the page at the side?  We eat tons – tons I tell you! This will add colour to the salad bowl.

 

Cabbage April

No this is not a red cabbage – ha! This is a cabbage for early spring to be sown in July or August. I can never grow enough of these so I am going to try this one outside and in the polytunnel to try and stagger the harvest. The thing that attracted me was the description that it grows well in well-drained soil and that is definitely what we have on our plots. Some might call it sand.  The 5cm of compost/manure I am adding to each bed every year as part of no-dig growing is starting to ameliorate this but I thought it was worth a try.

Tomatoes

I can not lie! I know what I like in tomatoes and it is Black Russian, also known as Noir Crimee, Costoluto, Sungold, Tigerella and St Pierre and I have grown these every year for the last 6 or 7 years. I do also like to throw in Green Zebra every now and then and will do so this year just to give a range of colours. This year I am trying out a couple of new varieties just to see how they taste and crop – taste being the most important thing. This year it is  Rosella and Zlatava. Why have I picked them?  That is a really good question. I have to admit that it was more stick a pin in the page than a careful, thoughtful choice but she who dares wins as they say. Kings describe Rosella as a deep-pink cherry tomato (nearly red!) with the taste of blackberries, raspberries and other summer fruits. I couldn’t resist but I am a little doubtful. I will of course update you. Zlatava is orange on the outside and guess what colour on the inside?  I thought they might be an interesting. Kings do say that they have an excellent flavour.  We shall see.

What are you growing that is new to you this year?