Gardening First Anniversary

Timehop informed me yesterday morning that it was a year ago to the day that my gardening adventure properly started. We moved into our house and had our very own garden for the first time ever in September 2014 so you might think that the adventure started then, but it didn’t, not really. We dabbled a bit. We kept the lawn mowed, we kept on top of the weeding (after a fashion) and we did acquire a couple of new plants but the garden had been so neglected by the previous owners and their tenants that it had become very overgrown. I used to go out there with the intention of tackling it, but once I was out there it was incredibly daunting and I just didn’t know where to start so I’d come back in deflated and defeated. We used to joke that there could be an Aboriginal family living down the end of the garden and we’d be none the wiser!

That all changed after we decided to bite the bullet and pay someone to come and undertake a bit of deforestation. I don’t generally advocate the cutting down of trees, but in this case it was very necessary, and didn’t actually involve the cutting down of many trees, merely hard pruning since, as it turned out, the trees were overgrown from our neighbour’s garden.

We went from this ….

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… to this …

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… all in the space of a day! The transformation inspired me. All of a sudden I could see how amazing our outside space could be. I started frequenting garden centres. A lot! I paid for a loyalty discount card for Notcutts and probably made my money back within a week! I discovered plant sale tables and I learnt what is and isn’t saveable. I set series record for Gardeners’ World and Love your Garden. I started a gardening folder to keep my plant labels safe and to jot down design ideas or plant care tips. I set reminders in my phone such as ‘cut fuschia back’ and ‘deadhead the roses’. The garden became my happy place.

I was thinking about this on and off all day yesterday and I decided to mark the day by deciding on my ten favourite plants and then this time next year, when I’ve had another year of discovering new plants and seeing what appears in the garden that I’ve forgotten I’ve planted, I can compare and see if today’s top ten are still my top ten. I’m not going to attempt to put them in order because I think I’d drive myself mad pondering their relative virtues, so I’ll just do it alphabetically!

Blue Festuca – I love the feel of this grass. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s a very touchy feely plant. It’s also very resilient.

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Cordyline –  I have two, a pink one which I’ve planted close to the house and a green one which is in my birthday planter. Did you ever put a thick piece of grass between your fingers when you were a kid and blow on it to make music? The Cordyline, with its lovely broad fronds, reminds me of doing that.

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Daffodil – needs no explanation really! Beautiful in all its forms and makes me so happy when I see them starting to pop up because it means I’ve made it through another Winter!

Diascia Cherry Blossom – a little bit of Spring in the Summer and even through to the early Autumn. It waves its clusters of blossomy flowers at you for weeks before it settles in for the Winter.

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Erysimum – this was another of my sale table finds and it had the odd flower all through Winter as it sat in its pot waiting for me to find it a home. Now it’s planted out it’s bursting with the most cheerful of blooms.

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Eupatorium – I’ve harped on about my Eupatorium many a time. It does have white flowers in the late Summer and into Autumn, but it’s the leaves that really do it for me. The variety I have has the most gorgeous purple tinge which perfectly sets of the dark green majority. It actually made me gasp with joy when I saw it pushing its tiny shoots through ready for another growing season.

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Fuschia – I’m pretty sure this will still be on my list in a year’s time because I’ve always loved them. They remind me of my Grandad who always had them in his garden. I like all varieties, and I had a purple one last year called Delta Sarah (which was supposed to be hardy but hasn’t come back this year) but my favourite is the stereotypical bright pink Fuschia.

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Geum – again a sale table find. It had a couple of flowers left when I rescued it, but I wasn’t prepared for how happy it was going to look this year. It has bright orange flowers on long stems which rise above the cluster of leaves and wouldn’t fail to brighten anyone’s day.

Hebe – I have lots! I have to blinker myself in garden centres now to stop myself buying more! I have several varieties, but Purple Pixie was the first I got. It’s not flowering yet, but it’s over-wintered ok so I’m hopeful that it will. I have some with pink leaves as well that will hopefully provide some colour in the (bleak mid) Winter.

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Stipa – my first two Stipa were probably the best bargains I’ve found. They were fifty pence each from B&Q and I’ve no idea why because there was (and still isn’t) literally nothing wrong with them. If I could’ve carried them I’d have bought more! These are those original two either side of the pink Cordyline. I’ve acquired more since, but not for fifty pence!

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This is what the garden looks like currently, and the improvement is due, in no small part, to all the beauties above, alongside a fair bit of hard graft!

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There’s still a way to go until we reach my vision of what it will look like, but it’s practically unrecognisable today from just over a year ago and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far.

Right, I’m off to put a reminder in my phone to do this exercise again on this date next year to see if my top have changed.

Six on Saturday 18th May

Evening all.

I wasn’t sure if I’d get round to doing a Six on Saturday today, but I find myself sat on the sofa at a loose end having spent the afternoon in the garden, so here I am.

I’ve had a productive few hours outside planting out my plants grown from seed and also a fun time taking photos. I was hoping to be able to make one of my points on garden critters, but the bees are so busy that none of them stayed still long enough for me to snap them. I’ll save that idea up for a future six.

So, number one – my Sunflowers, Sweet Peas and Cosmos are finally planted out.

They all seem to have coped ok with being left outside while I was away with work. Some of the Sunflowers are possibly slightly droopy so I’ve staked those that needed it using random sticks that I found in the garden. I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability and reusing resources lately so I wanted to use what I had available to me.

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Here they are all in situ. The Sunflowers are in two (OCD inducingly wonky) lines behind my birthday planter with the hope being that they’ll get big enough to rise above the planter so we can see them from our back windows, the Sweet Peas are tied into the frame and seem reasonably happy (so far) and the Cosmos are dotted around in three clusters to the back left and right of the frame and the front right by my Eupatorium. It doesn’t matter if the Sunflowers obscure the view of the Sweet Peas because I’m intending to use them for steady supply of cut flowers for our house and work, if I get enough.

On to number two.

I’ve hardened off my Calendula as well, but I don’t think they’re quite ready to be planted out yet so I’ve repotted them individually as they were all bunched together in their former home. Hopefully they’ll all thrive and then I think I’ll put them in my wheelbarrow to replace the primroses which don’t seem to be doing too well.

Number three – Funky Veg and Chillis and Spice update.

If you read my last post, you’ll know I was on a work trip in Italy from Monday to Thursday. I watered my seedlings in the greenhouse before I went and thought they be ok while I was away so didn’t leave hubby instructions to check them. Rookie error – the UK had good weather while I was away (typical!) and when I checked on my return everything was looking very sorry for itself! Noooooooooo!!! I watered everything well and went to bed with crossed fingers.

When I checked in the morning most looked well improved, and the above photos are how they are now. The Coriander’s recovered completely and even has its first true leaves and most of the Jalapeños look to have survived but I think the Cumin’s had it!

It’s touch and go with the Funky Veg. I think the two Stripy Tomatoes, the Yellow Courgette and the Purple Carrots will make it, but the Red Brussel Sprouts and the Rainbow Swiss Chard may have deserted me.

I have several other Yellow Courgettes growing and they’ve all recovered bar one so I don’t think I’ll have any shortage of courgettes! They’ve grown their first true leaves as well. I’ll be able to give some away soon.

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Number four – out of the greenhouse to the raised beds.

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The top photo is of the Strawberries and Raspberries. But it’s a mixed bag here. The Strawberry plants are flowering so I’m confident that they’ll fruit but the Raspberry canes are a whole different story. There are two different varieties and the ones at the top of the photo are supposed to be later fruiting, but they’re the ones with leaves. The ones to the right haven’t done anything at all! I planted them as soon as I bought them home so I’m not sure what’s gone wrong. I’m not overly confident about the ones that do have leaves because all the canes in the garden centres have lots more leaves. Very disappointing. Maybe I should bite the bullet and go to buy some more.

The bottom photo shows more success, thankfully. To the left are a couple of rows of Peas, in front of my feet are Carrots and on the right there’s a row of Red Onions and a row of Leeks, there’s not so many of them so it’s hard to see them. Apart from the Peas, they all look like wispy bits of grass but I’m hoping they’ll come good. Certainly the Peas and Carrots are going to need thinning out. I could do the Peas now, but the Carrots are so bunched up that I need them to grow a bit so there’s enough to get hold of.

Number five – Lunaria (or Honesty). It feels like it hasn’t lasted long, but I just looked back to when I first told you it was flowering and it was 6th April so I guess it’s not that short-lived. It just seems it, I suppose, because we’ve had a holiday and I’ve had a work trip during its flowering time.

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It does have a few flowers left but, as you can see, it’s covered in seed pods now. I must investigate how to harvest the seeds so I can grow a few more. It still looks impressive without flowers because it’s so tall.

Finally, number six – a new plant has grown itself. It appears to be some form of Geranium judging by its leaves, but it’s not the same as the other Geraniums in the garden, they have single, plain brightish pink flowers, but this one has these …..

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It’s growing itself in a pot that was left in our garden when we moved in so it’s all entirely free! Good for my sustainability (and frugality, which isn’t generally my strong point!)

I have loads more to share in the garden so it was hard to narrow this down to six! I really wanted to show you all the colour that’s springing up so maybe I’ll do another post tomorrow because I don’t want to break the Propagator’s rules! Check out his page for more sixes.

Right now, I think I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and head over there myself. Happy Saturday all.

 

 

Six on Saturday 11th May

One of the positives that I was clinging on to to help stave off the Holiday Blues (capitalised because they’ve felt suitably significant this week) was our garden. Orlando is my happy place outside of this country, but our garden is my happy place here (which is quite lucky really given that it’s just outside the back door!)

Right, how do I narrow down all the progress into six points? Not sure, I’ll give it a go.

I’m going to start with Funky Veg and Chillis and Spice progress.

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Prior to our holiday, I had a couple of teeny tiny Red Brussel Sprouts and Rainbow Swiss Chard and the Yellow Courgette was showing signs of life, but now look. They’re all growing. I’ve got two Stripy Tomato plants growing, the Yellow Courgette is well on its way (and the other six that I sowed as back up have all germinated and are actually bigger than this one so will have to be gifted out because seven Courgette plants is really not necessary for a two person household) and the Purple Carrots, Red Brussel Sprouts and Rainbow Swiss Chard are going to need thinning out really soon because loads have germinated. Whoop!

The Chillis and Spices aren’t showing such dramatic progress. The Habanero and Cayenne aren’t doing anything but I’m not giving up hope yet because I think they’re slow growing. I have several Jalapeños though and a couple of tiny Cumin plants and the Coriander is doing really well and is now starting to grow Coriander shaped leaves.

Next up? Raised beds. Nothing at all was showing any sign of life in the veg raised bed before we went away, but now ….

…. baby Peas (lots of ‘em), tiny Carrots (orange not purple!) and, hard to see because I was too lazy to take the netting off, the start of itty bitty Red Onions. Again, I’m going to have to do some thinning out, but I’ll let them get a bit bigger first so I can really see what I’m doing. No Leeks yet, but I think that’s normal.

On to Eupatorium progress. Ah, my beloved Eupatorium, and oh boy Pluto, what progress!

This first pic was taken when I first noticed the tiny shoots poking through the soil back at the end of March when I’d been convinced it hadn’t survived the Winter.

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Now look at it. It’s in rude health and I’m so pleased about it.

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Dicentra Bleeding Heart is showing me how it got its name. It was from the sale table last year because it had already flowered, so this is the first time I’ve seen the flower on my own plant.

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It’s not as impressive as some examples I’ve seen popping up on Instagram recently, but it’s mine and I’m impressed!

My Sunflowers, Sweet Peas, Cosmos and Calendula are all doing well in the greenhouse and I’ve started hardening them off ready for planting out.

I have to go to Italy for work from Monday to Friday next week, but the weather forecast looks reasonably good at home, so I’m planning to leave them out on Monday morning in a sheltered place and keep my fingers crossed that they’ll be ok and then I’ll plant them out next weekend. I’ll leave instructions with hubby to put them away if the weather forecast changes.

I spent this afternoon preparing the ground where I’m planning to plant them, and building the wigwam supports for the Sweet Peas.

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Let’s hope we don’t have a hurricane now!

So, there we have it, my latest six. Things are progressing nicely. I need to do some garden planning I think to work out what my next big project will be. We still have oodles of overgrown space at the end of the garden which I need to do something with.

If you enjoyed my six, do pop over to the Propagator’s page to check out other people’s sixes.

Until next time ….