Ugh – Holiday Blues!

Holidays, best thing in the world, right? Holiday blues, not so great! I’m doing my very best not to mope around with my lower lip on the floor, but I admit I have already looked up prices for a return trip and investigated timeshares in Orlando whilst wearing my Minnie Mouse ears (which will forever be known as my extra ears because Crush the turtle in Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot called them so). However, I have also learnt not to make holiday blues fuelled decisions so I’m trying my hardest to focus on the positive.

First positive aspect of being home? Well it’s two actually.

We really missed these two little furry things, and from the reaction we’ve had from them, I think the feeling was mutual! They haven’t left our sides since we got home.

Secondly, it was great to see the changes in the garden. Luckily (for the garden, not for people who weren’t on holiday) the weather at home wasn’t great while we were away so the greenhouse didn’t get hot enough to fatally dry out my seedlings and the rest of the garden got a bit of rain to keep it going.

When we pulled up on the drive we practically had to fight our way through the front garden because the grass has grown so long. That’s not so much of a positive, but it illustrates the difference a week makes! We have one more day off work so hubby’s planning to get the mower out tomorrow (hopefully it’ll make it through the meadow!)

The first thing I did after fussing our little furry girls was head out the back to check everything was ok.

This is the progress in the greenhouse.

Top left are my Sunflowers and Calendula and next to that are my Sweet Peas and Cosmos. They’re all getting quite big so I’ve started to harden them off ready to be planted out.

Bottom left are my Chillis and Spices. Woohoo – progress! The Habaneros and Cayenne Peppers aren’t showing any signs of life yet, but the Jalapeños, Cumin and Coriander have all germinated.

Bottom right is my Funky Veg. There were signs of life in the red Brussel Sprouts and the Rainbow Swiss Chard before we went away but now the purple Carrots, yellow Courgette and stripy Tomatoes have sprung up too.

I really need to think about where I’m going to plant all these now they’ve germinated. I don’t think I was confident enough that they’d actually grow to plan further ahead than sowing them!

Outside the greenhouse there’s now life in the raised beds.

On the left are my peas and on the right, carrots. No sign of the red onions or leeks yet, but I’m happy that it looks like we’re going to get peas and carrots. We ate in Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Orlando. It’s a Forrest Gump themed restaurant, and for those not familiar with the film, Forrest says of his best friend, ‘me and Jenny went together like peas and carrots’ so it seems appropriate that these have chosen to germinate while we were away.

083ACDFC-611F-4897-80BF-D017EF5993BC.jpeg

Next to the peas and carrots, the potato bags have grown hair!

5F344D9D-ADAA-41C0-B1DF-EB1693860E88

In the rest of the garden colour has appeared all over the place.

Top left is my Dicentra Bleeding Heart. This was from the sale table last year and was past flowering, so this is the first time I’ve seen its beautiful bloom. Next to that is a shrub that we inherited with the house. I don’t know what it is, but is has lovely yellow flowers which the bees seem keen on. On the end is one of many buds on one of my many roses. This is on one of my standard roses, but most of my other roses are in bud too.

On the bottom row are my orange Geum and my beautiful Erysimum. Both of these were from the sale table last year too. The Erysimum kept a couple of flowers all through Winter but now it’s exploded with flowers. They’re such a lovely bright pink.

Hopefully I’ll be over the jet lag enough tomorrow to get out there and do some maintenance. There’s a fair bit of deadheading and general tidying that needs doing. It feels quite overwhelming at the moment, but I know that’s the holiday blues and tiredness bringing out the pessimist in me.

Other positives about being home? I got to catch up on Gardeners’ World from the last two Fridays, although I did take my fix with me.

20A3AC15-FAFA-4E9C-87D2-EE859F9339D5

I don’t have to put suntan lotion on every day because, well, it’s flipping freezing here! For anyone that’s interested, Boots Soltan Once doesn’t work as well as P20. With P20 I can put it on once before I go in the sun and, even if I’m in and out of water, I still don’t burn. I thought I’d give Soltan Once a go because it’s a lot cheaper, but it turns out that in this case you do get what you pay for. I didn’t burn horrendously, but I did have pink shoulders. It’ll be good enough to use here in the garden though if we get some warmer days, as long as I’m not out there all day.

My hair is back to its normal volume. I saw this meme on Facebook and had to post it because it describes exactly what happens when I go somewhere with high humidity.

75DEA951-2C71-430C-81C9-D823AA663FB5

More positives. Of course, I get to see my family and friends, that’s a given. I can drink water from the tap (which I’m sure would be fine in Orlando, but apparently it tastes bad so I prefer not to).

Last, but most certainly not least, I can start researching, planning and dreaming about our next holiday (after the next two that are already booked, of course!) In the meantime, I’ll avoid thinking about the negatives until they become normal again, and I’ll content myself with living vicariously through my photos.

 

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!

70FF43C8-5988-4A5C-9153-2F012148BBC4

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.

B516B674-9072-43B6-AF59-F620121D41F5

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.

C70C32BF-35ED-4F47-B0F8-C75EC484B76B

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.

716264F3-06DB-4FB1-ACCF-D8F12A6A2E99

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

6A8D5E9E-6F3C-4B08-A929-8D58A06CE2E9

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.

2CF880BF-7A7C-4F0B-B8D5-8B6544ED2DF5

The Strawberry plants are starting to get flowers as well.

477B8439-529A-49C0-B385-F9B43FDA33E5

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.

8BAF586A-2CBB-4FF4-9BF1-A02EA0BF6DDC

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.

D018A3CF-7494-46BF-BDEB-1EE37F7DAA91.jpeg

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.

4FB035CB-4D23-4472-9178-3918DE456EB2

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