Six on Saturday 2nd May

Whoop! It’s May. Officially the start of Summer as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been furloughed so I’ve got a fair bit of gardening done over the past week or so, but not as much as I’d like because the weather hasn’t always been kind. I did get out there today though, and got a bit done.

1. I ordered twenty four Begonia plug plants at the very beginning of lockdown, and just as Homebase and B&Q have reopened meaning I could have gone and bought some in person, they arrived! Never mind, I stayed safe, and it was exciting receiving plants in the post for the first time.

I know I should probably harden them off, but after looking at the weather forecast I decided it would be safe to go for it and plant them out. I did this last year with teeny tiny Begonia plug plants, and not only did they survive not being hardened off, the ones in one of my hanging baskets have survived the Winter and are growing back for a second Summer! As you can see, I’ve put some in a different hanging basket, and I’ve filled my wheelbarrow with them. These are apricot colours which I’m really looking forward to.

2. I’m moving on to my favourite kind of plants now – free ones!

These started pushing up round the edges of the weed control fabric on our bistro last year and I thought the leaves looked quite pretty, and possibly not weed-like, so I decided not to be over zealous with my weeding and this year they’ve rewarded me with beautiful flowers. I didn’t know you could get Poppies any other colour than red, but I’m reliably informed that that is indeed, what they are. Beautiful! I will definitely be harvesting the seeds to scatter elsewhere.

3. Another freebie, but unidentified this time. I discovered it in the undergrowth at the very uncultivated top of our garden! Obviously it’s some kind of grass, and I’m pretty sure it’s not grass as in lawn, but I’ve no idea what it is. There are lots of grasses in our garden that it could’ve come from, and obviously it might not even be from our garden. I’ve potted it up for now and I’ll see how it develops.

4. Another grass that’s self seeded. I think it’s either Carex Milk Chocolate or offspring of a grass which was gifted to us from my Dad and C’s garden whose name I don’t know. It was growing in a really random place so I dug it up before it got trampled on. I decided to make use of half of our chimenea which got broken in a storm over the Winter. I sunk it slightly into the soil to keep it together and filled it with compost. If the grass thrives, I imagine it’ll outgrow the chimenea, but for now I think it looks great, and I’ve saved putting more rubbish into landfill. I need to find something else for the other half of the broken chimenea.

5. Moving on, but keeping a somewhat tenuous link with free plants due to the number of runners that have grown new plants to strawberries.

There were all sorts of weeds sprouting up in the strawberry bed, so I weeded it thoroughly but I left a lot of the leaves that have made their way in there in the hopes that slugs and snails might not like sliming over them to get to my precious strawberries! I also made use of these strawberry mulch mats that were a Christmas present. We only got one strawberry last year and I’d really like a decent harvest this year.

We’ve got our first flowers appearing so it’s so far so good! I’ll keep everything crossed.

6. This has made me happy! My Clematis Montana always gets masses of leaves, but has never flowered before.

I was planning to relocate this Clematis so it got more sunshine, but I’m guessing now might not be the best time. It’s got hardly any leaves so far this year, and just these two flowers, but I’ll take that – I actually know what it’s flowers look like now.

I really struggled to narrow my points down to six this week which is good because it means the garden is waking up! If you’d like to check out other people’s Sixes, have a look at the Propagator’s blog for lots of garden happiness.

Six on Saturday 18th April

The weather’s been pretty good all week when I’ve been holed up in my home office in the back bedroom, spending my time staring out of the window longingly at the garden whilst on conference calls, and finally it’s Saturday so I can get out there …… but it’s raining!

Sigh! I did pop out to see if there was anything of interest to share today and I got drizzled on and came back in with frizzy hair (not that it matters – can’t go anywhere for anybody to see anyway!) I did snap a few damp pictures though.

The first thing to take my fancy was this Rhododendron which I (surprise surprise) liberated from a sale table last year. It’s got bluebells growing through it at the moment. No idea how I managed to plant it without disturbing the bulbs!

I had no idea what colour it would be or how well it would grow, but it’s done me proud.

Speaking of bluebells, I’ll include them as my second point.

They seem to be out earlier than usual. Or maybe not earlier, but the time between the leaves emerging and the flowers appearing seems shorter. I remember in previous years getting really impatient for them to bloom but this year all of a sudden they’re there! If anything, you’d think it would’ve felt longer this year since I’ve pretty much been sat at home, chin resting on heel of palm, waiting for something (anything) to happen!

I’m not sure if this is a new thing, or if I’ve forgotten that we’ve had them in previous years, but some of my ‘blue’ bells are pink and white!

I’ve seen other people posting pictures of Dicentra Bleeding Heart in full flower and I admit to a bit of envious disappointment that mine was just a mass of leaves, but, progress is being made!

Hopefully I’ll be able post it in it’s full glory soon.

My Erysimum is looking beautiful. Another sale table find that has come up trumps. It has at least one flower for most of the year, but this time of year and through the Summer is when it’s at its best.

Spot the Grape Hyacincth photobombing the Erysimum!

My penultimate point is one of my two Geums. This was from, yep, you guessed it, the sale table. I bought it in Summer 2018 and it wasn’t spectacular that year, but Summer 2019 really saw it impress. I’m hoping that this year will bring more of the same.

The first bud has already opened, and there are plenty more where that came from! I acquired a second Geum last year (no need to tell you where from) and I’m hoping it’ll follow suit and come into its own this Summer. It’s a beautiful bright yellow so the two complement each other well.

I’m going to finish with a pile of what can only be termed cr*p!

I’m putting this here in the hopes that it’ll give me motivation to get rid of it so I can post a cleared space later in the year. It grew and grew last year! There’s leaves, branches, weeds aplenty, slabs, pots and goodness knows what else under here and I need to get rid!

If anyone would like to take part, or read other Sixes this week, check out the Propagator’s blog. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the weekend. The weather’s looking more promising tomorrow.

Easter Progress

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you’re all managing to make the most of the long weekend, despite the challenging circumstances. I’ve spent quite a significant amount of time in the garden over the past few days, including eating lunch our there for the first (and second, and third, and fourth) time this year …

… and it really has made me appreciate being able to open the back door to step into the great outdoors. We lived in a pretty small flat with no garden before we moved to our house and the thought of going through this social distancing without some outside space to escape to is pretty grim! I really feel for people living in less fortunate circumstances.

Last time I wrote, I reported that I’d sown my first seeds of the year and I’m pleased to report good progress going on there just over a week later.

New shoots seems very appropriate for Easter Sunday. In the green bamboo pots I have a few Sunflower ‘Teddy Bear’ seedlings and in the black pots some Sunflower ‘Autumn Beauty’. It always amazes me that you can look at your pots one day and there’s nothing, and the very next day there’s teeny tiny leaves pushing through. Nothing’s happening with the Dutch Sweetpeas or the Petit Pois yet.

Having spent quite a few hours in the garden, I’ve come to realise how many animals we’re sharing our outside space with, most desirable, others less so!

We spotted the first non desirable one through our kitchen window, but we did also see him saunter across the patio brazen as anything when we were having lunch on our bistro!

Rat! On the bird table! We’ve had to decommission the bird table for the time being! I actually don’t mind rats, in fact, if we didn’t have the cats I’d have a couple of fancy rats, but I also don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage them in the garden.

We have an abundance of squirrels who also like to steal the bird food from, well, anywhere that we put it! It is seemingly impossible to squirrel proof any kind of food!

Here’s one plotting his manoeuvre on to the bird table (pre rat-retirement!) I really like the squirrels, and I’m much less concerned about them pinching bird food than rats (probably because they’re so darn cute!) I’d rather they pinch bird food than my bulbs! Hubby gets cross with them though (mostly, I think, because they outsmart all his squirrel proofing attempts!)

Moving on to insects.

This striking Stink Beetle was living in the greenhouse. Apparently he’s not a huge threat to my veg or plants so I left him.

This is quite possibly the prettiest beetle I’ve ever seen. It is, according to Google, a Rosemary Beetle. I thought it was a ladybird until I got a bit closer, it was exactly the size and shape of the lovely ladybug. We don’t have any Rosemary in the garden, but we do have Lavender which they are apparently also partial to taking a munch on.

Sticking with the insect theme, but this time a highly desirable one, is the bee.

I nearly trod on this little lady as she was resting on the floor. I gave her some sugar water which she went straight to. After a while she started crawling around and scrambled up on my leg.

I sat there with her for a while before letting her crawl on to a leaf and I left her in my birthday planter.

I went back out to check on her after ten minutes or so and she was gone so I’m hoping I’d given her enough energy to fly off and continue her bee business.

Let’s flit off (see what I did there?) to some birds now.

Since the lockdown, the traffic has been much reduced on our road, and the air traffic above has practically zeroed! I feel somewhat guilty admitting this, given my love of flying and holidays, but I’m not missing the planes! Sitting in our garden sounds like sitting in an aviary.

We’ve seen quite a few different kinds of birds over the last few days, not all of which I’ve managed to photograph. We have Jays, Blackbirds, Magpies, Wrens, Robins, Sparrows, Thrushes, Finches, Pigeons and Blue Tits.

Here are the pictures I have managed to snap.

Finally, the piece de resistance …..

I did, for a second or two, think that a Pterodactyl had landed on our ridge tiles (I’ve been stuck at home for millions of years, my brain’s turning to mush!) but soon realised that it was a Heron. You can just about see his fancy hair do in the first pic. He stayed up there surveying the gardens for about half an hour.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at our lovely wildlife. I feel so grateful to have our garden, it really is my little sanctuary.

Enjoy the rest of Easter, and if anyone has any mini eggs, please eat some for me. I don’t have any and I’m pretty sure they don’t count as an essential item so I can’t go and get any!