Eggsellent Easter

See what I did there? Ok, I know it’s far from original, appearing in any number of publications every Easter since forever, but I couldn’t resist! It’s also inaccurate as far as I’m concerned because I haven’t had an egg, chocolate or otherwise. I did pop to M&S today though because I had a craving for a hot cross bun. As well as the regular bun, I ventured into the exotic and got chocolate and salted caramel too. Until today I’ve eschewed these peculiar versions as some kind of Easterish crackpottery, but Oh. My. Goodness it was good!

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I think I’m a little bit giddy from how good this weekend has been. How different it would’ve been had the weather not bucked the normal bank holiday trend. It still would’ve been good, but in an inside kind of a way.

Today in my greenhouse, with the window open, it’s a balmy 27.9°.

Look at that max number though! That was yesterday when, for reasons relating to alcohol, I didn’t make it out into the garden until mid afternoon. Even my poor Sunflower seedlings were wilting in the tropics! I opened the window, left the door open and watered everything and everything seems none the worst for their blast into desert life. In fact, the Red Brussel Sprouts are most definitely sprouting. There’s also signs of life in the Yellow Courgette and Rainbow Swiss Chard pots.

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A couple of the Sunflowers are probably big enough to plant out, but I’m going to wait until we’re back from our holiday so I can keep an eye on them every day. I think by then the Sweet Peas and Cosmos will be ready to go out too, and there should be no danger of frost.

I’ve had a pretty productive weekend in the garden, but I have also made sure I’ve spent some time sitting on the bistro relaxing and appreciating the progress made.

Today I was intending to not do much outside, but I couldn’t resist! I swept up all the fallen leaves and next door’s conifer droppings from the patio areas and around the raised beds, and it looked so much tidier for a couple of hours until it got breezy and I found myself in a blossom storm. It’s next door’s tree and we seem to get the bulk of the fallen blossom, but, unlike the conifers, I don’t mind that because it does look pretty both on the tree and on the ground, and because it’s so delicate it disappears quickly once it’s fallen so requires little tidying.

There’s even blossom in the potato bags which I topped up with compostthis morning because they were all sprouting.

I found new homes for a couple of sale table plants. I picked up a Buddleja in Wyevale. We want to attract as much wildlife as we can so I’m hoping the butterflies will like the Buddleja. I found the perfect spot for it where it will get plenty of sun, at least for some of the day, but is against a fence so should be adequately sheltered.

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I got this Pippa’s Purple Hellebore from Notcutts back at the beginning of March and it’s been growing really well in its pot. I wanted to find a spot where we can see it from the house because it will provide some much yearned for colour in the Winter and early Spring. It even has pretty leaves.

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Something that won’t have pretty leaves for much longer if I’m not careful is one of my Lilies. It has Lily Beetles!

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They’re very pretty, but they’re eating my Lily! I’ve been picking them off whenever I walk past, but they come back. I don’t want to kill them and I don’t really want to use insecticide. Dilemma! So far they haven’t found the other Lily.

Everything’s growing so well, it’s just a joy to be outside at the moment. We have plenty of colour pops around. From where I’m sat now on the bistro, I can see pink Anemones, orange Geum, purple Grape Hyancinths, red Erysimum, white and purple Lunaria, blue Pratia and the flaming leaves of the Pieris. If I turn my head I can see the last of the Daffodils, the Bluebells just starting to flower around the edge of the bistro and, of course, the blossom.

There’s even a white Bluebell. Not sure if it is a Bluebell because the clue’s kind of in the name, but it certainly looks like one.

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The Strawberry plants are starting to get flowers as well.

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There’s enough sun on the solar power sensor to set the water feature going. It’s so nice sitting here in quiet companionship with the backdrop of birdsong and the trickle of the water. However, I can also smell someone’s barbecue and it’s making me hungry so I may have to go in and have the other half of the chocolate and salted caramel hot cross bun.

I hope everyone’s Easter has been just as eggsellent as mine and long may the good weather last.

 

 

Six on Saturday 20th April

I won’t be able to do a Six on Saturday definitely for the next two Saturdays so I thought I’d better knuckle down and do one today. Next Saturday we’ll be on a plane on our way to Orlando (whoop) and the Saturday after we’ll be on a plane back (not so whoop!)

There’s so much going on in the garden at the moment that it’s hard to narrow it down to just six things but I’ll do my best to stick to the rules (see the Propagator’s page for these).

I’ll start at the beginning – sowing! I’ve done quite a bit, there’s a real ‘Good Life’ feel going on. Some of you may remember that I was given a Funky Veg kit and a Chilli and Spice kit for Christmas. I decided the time was right to sow these seeds.

The Funky Veg came with little compost discs that I had to put in water to expand.

There was peat in the compost discs which I would normally avoid for environmental reasons. I ummed and ahed about it, but then figured it would be more of a crime to waste it now it’s been harvested than to use it. The Chilli and Spice kit came with a little bag of compost so I sent a happy hour or so in my greenhouse potting everything up.

Hopefully soon I’ll have little seedlings of Purple Carrots, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Stripy Tomatoes, Yellow Courgettes, Red Brussel Sprouts, Cumin and Coriander and I suspect somewhat later the Chillis – Habanero, Jalapeño and Cayenne. The Chillis and Spices are currently inside next to the radiator (in a propagator so feline teeth can’t get to them!) although I may move them to the greenhouse over this weekend because it was 29.9° in there yesterday according to the thermometer, which it certainly isn’t inside.

I also sowed my veg seeds directly into my new raised bed.

I made a plea on Facebook a while ago for people’s used lolly sticks so I don’t have to buy plastic labels and here they are put to good use. I’ve sowed Carrot Nantes 5, Onion Red Baron, Leek Musselburgh and Pea (Petit Pois) Calibra.

We have a lot of wildlife in our garden, which I love, but when the bed was empty either next door’s cats or the local foxes had used it as a giant litter tray, so I’ve netted it  to allow the seeds to (hopefully, fingers crossed) germinate undisturbed.

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You can see a slight glimpse of the potato bags on the end there too. All three are now sprouting and I need to go and put more compost on the top.

Next up are the seeds that I showed a few weeks ago in the greenhouse. With the exception of the Aquilegia which have done nothing (yet?) they’re all doing well.

Starting top left and working clockwise we have Sweet Peas, Sunflowers, Calendula and Cosmos. I’ve already pinched the middles out of the Sweet Peas to encourage them to grow side shoots for more flowers.

I’m not actually a hundred percent sure where I’m going to plant everything! I have over forty of both Sweet Peas and Cosmos and ten Sunflowers! I have plenty of space, but a lot of it isn’t ready yet! I’ll have to get planning, and quickly because I think they’re not far off ready to start hardening off to go out.

I guess next in the cycle are new shoots, so number four is my Giant Allium.

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I took this photo yesterday (Friday) and you can see the shoot on the left. I swear there wasn’t even a hint of growth on Thursday. I’ve been looking a lot wondering if I made a mistake putting Tulips, Snowdrops and Giant Alliums all in one container (with Cyclamen and Heather on top) because I only got one Snowdrop flower, the Tulips are being really slow and haven’t opened yet and, at previous time of looking, the Giant Alliums had thrown up A LOT of big leaves with no sign of a flower. I haven’t been out yet today, but when I do I’ll see if the other one’s grown a shoot overnight!

More new shoots, and very happy ones, on my Eupatorium. I reported a few weeks ago that the first shoots had just emerged which made me really happy because I was so worried that it hadn’t made it through the Winter, and it’s going from strength to strength.

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Look at that! Discernible leaves! And with their trade mark hint of purple. Nature’s fab!

On to my wheelbarrow. I’ve planted it up again, this year I’ve gone for Ranunculus and Primroses. The Primroses were seventy five percent off, just because one plant in each trio was past its best. I’ve tidied each one up and they look lovely now. Such a splash of colour.

I got my new leaf blower out too and did my Ghostbusters thing and cleared the bistro of leaves. Then I went round and pulled up the few weeds that had forced their way through the weed control. It’s all looking pretty good now and ready to enjoy the Summer.

Let’s talk Wild Flower for my final point. This has now been identified for me by Tony Tomeo as Lunaria, also known as Honesty. Given that it started last Summer as a couple of unidentified leaves, it’s done amazingly well.

As you can see on the right, I’ve iMeasured it and it’s just over a metre tall at its tallest part! Wow!

So, there you go. Six for today. I’m really excited about our holiday (I’m almost down to counting down in hours rather than weeks or days!) and I have a feeling the holiday blues on our return will be eased by the changes in the garden. I should be able to plant out my Sweet Peas and Cosmos, hopefully all my veg will be showing signs of life, the Eupatorium should be well on its way to lofty gloriousness and, if yesterday’s progress is anything to go by, the Giant Alliums should be approaching total world domination, you may even be able to see them from space!

 

 

 

 

J

A great Good Friday

I’m completely confused about what day it is! It feels so much like a Saturday because I haven’t been at work. We even just had a Chinese takeaway for our dinner! I have to remind myself for the next half an hour that it’s actually Friday because Gardeners’ World is on, and it’s back to hourly episodes tonight.

I’ve had a very productive, and enjoyable day, helped muchly by the beautiful weather. I was vaguely aware of the world at six thirty this morning when hubby got up to go to work, but the next thing I knew it was ten to nine. Lovely lie in – just what the doctor ordered!

I decided to take myself into Town (for non-Brummies, that’s Birmingham City Centre – we only ever call it Town round here). The reason for my venture into the heart of the city was that the world’s biggest Primark opened there last week, and I was curious to see what all the fuss is about.

I decided to get the train in to save having to remortgage to pay for parking. There are lots of memories for me on our train line. Mum and I used to use the same line to get to school (she taught at the same school that I attended) and I can remember sitting next to her and chattering away about nothing or reading our books in comfortable silence. I can remember her putting lipstick on me when I’d got sore lips from the walk to the station in the wind in winter because she’d run out of chapstick. I can remember her trying to hold in a giggle when one of the school girls opposite us looked up coldsore in the dictionary (because she had one) but got it slightly wrong and read out ‘a mix of cabbage, carrot and onion in a mayonnaise sauce’.

New Street Station has been completely revamped since I was a child and the main concourse bears absolutely no resemblance to its former self, so much so that I have no idea where I am when I’m there in relation to where I used to be (if you see what I mean!) The platforms haven’t changed much though and they still make me think of train journeys that I took regularly as a child. New Street to Shrub Hill where my Dad would meet me for a weekend or a Christmas in Worcester. New Street to Euston for the first leg of a trip to Reigate to stay with my Granny and Grandad. When I was really little I used to have an imaginary dog in the luggage compartment! It was an Andrex puppy and it was on every London bound train that I got on. I used to play with it during the journey until I got too old, but even then I still used to say hi to it as we boarded the train!

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This is the outside of Primark. It really is huge. It used to be an entire shopping centre! I pinched this picture from t’internet, I didn’t take one today, but if I had it would’ve looked somewhat more busy! It was crazy!

I took a deep breath and dived in! I decided to start at the top and work my way down. It wasn’t quite as busy on the top floor. Here I found the Harry Potter section!

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It wasn’t a massive section, but there was a lot in there, from clothes to toys to stationery. They’ve managed to capture some of that Harry Potter magic in the decor.

There’s a massive focus on Disney throughout the store. There’s even a Disney cafe. I was intending to look at the menu to see if the food’s Disney themed, but there was a massive queue even way before lunchtime.

I couldn’t resist some Disney purchases.

We’re going to Orlando in a week and a day’s time so I got some new PJs to take along with some trainer socks for the gym and a new phone case for my work phone.

As well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse they also had Dumbo, Donald and Daisy Duck, Jungle Book and Lilo and Stitch. There was a distinct lack of any Hundred Acre Wood goodies though. Most disappointing!

There was an area called the ‘Primarket’ which I’ve never seen in Primark before. It had lots of stationery, headphones, phone cases and other techie things. I had fun looking at everything here. Most people are after cheap clothing so there was a bit of breathing space here.

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This is what I decided to put in my basket. Not the iPad, the arm that it’s attached to. You can’t see it very well, but it clips on to a table or chair and holds your tablet up for you. A couple of weeks ago when hubby was away for the night, I decided to take my crocheting to bed and watch an episode of the Crown, and I had great trouble balancing my iPad on the bed. If I’d have had this, no problemo!

I was also on the lookout for some cheap clothes and I managed to get four spaghetti strap tops for our holiday for four quid each!

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Primark, or Primarni if you will, clothes aren’t the best quality (at £4 that’s not surprising) but for holidays when you’re likely to get suntan lotion all over them, they’re great! I just hope I’m not funding some child labour sweatshop in the Philippines though! I can’t find any evidence of this, but they’re hardly likely to admit it now, are they?

I headed home to get out in the garden in the afternoon to make the most of the gorgeous weather.

I decided I’d better tackle the front garden. Those of you who follow me on Instagram (greengirlgardener) May have seen my post saying that I’m in love with my garden with a pic of our back garden. The same can’t be said about our front garden. Our plan, when funds allow, is to turn the front garden into a drive, so I begrudge time out there when I could be in the back. It may seem almost sacreligious to some of you to block pave a garden, but we have so much to do out the back that we just don’t have the time to do justice to both.

Anyway, it was in quite a state, embarrassingly so! It’s still not perfect now, I need to get the hedge cutter out and we need to replace a fence, but it looks a lot tidier.

Here’s some before and afters.

I was less stringent with my weeding than I have been in previous years. I left most of these hanging around.

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I feel that Dandelion flowers must really feel that their leaves are holding them back. The leaves are quite ugly but the flowers, whilst not being on a par with a Rose or an Anemone, are reasonably pleasing to the eye. Anyway, I’ve left them for the bees. According to Facebook (therefore it must be true) Dandelions are bees first source of pollen.

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I’ve also left several of these Geranium type plants. I say Geranium type plants because I’ve never left them long enough to grow before, but the leaves look Geraniumish to me. We’ll see what happens in a few weeks. I thought, if they are Geraniums, or some other non-weed, they’ll hopefully provide some ground cover which will make weeding less necessary.

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There’s another of the Geranium type plants amongst some of the Peonies. These have sprung up this week. They are really really beautiful when they flower. If we can ever afford to turn the garden into a bigger drive, I’ll attempt to move them to the back. I’ve read that they don’t like to be moved, but I’ll give it a go.

Three days off still ahead – what a blissful thought! Hope you all have a great Easter break.