Six on Saturday 9th May

Well, I’ve had a lovely day! Probably the best lockdown day so far. We had a day in the garden yesterday clearing away loads of weeds, and it inspired me, so this morning I decided to take the plunge and go to stand in the queue at Homebase. Actually I stood in two! I queued for about half an hour to get in, and I have to say, the queue was very well managed and I was never within six feet of anyone else. Then I had to wait to be let back outside to the garden section! Again, very well managed. Well done Homebase. I decided to make the wait worth it, and I spent rather a lot of money, but, let’s face it, I’m not spending on anything else other than food so I think the bank manager will forgive me. I spent the rest of the day alternating between planting my new stuff, sitting in the sun and playing swingball.

Number One – Garden Hardware

I got the two terracotta pots from Homebase today. I decided a while ago that I’d like lots more pots around the garden. I know they take more work in terms of watering and maintenance, but I love the look of lots of pots. The plastic beige and grey pots I found in Poundland a couple of weeks ago (where social distancing is not adhered to effectively because of the limited width of the aisles, so I won’t be going back there for some time!) I think I’ll plant the pots with pansies and petunias that I bought today. I’ve put them in the greenhouse for now because, after the glorious weather today, apparently it’s going to be 10° tomorrow! The trellises and sunflower stakes came in a delivery today from Blooming Direct. I’ve put the stakes in place ready for the Sunflowers in the greenhouse once they get big enough to plant out.

I have twenty seven Sunflowers seedlings so I’m not sure where they’re all going to go! I guess they won’t all make it, but even so, I think I should’ve ordered more than five stakes!

Number Two – Sale Table Finds (oh sale table how I’ve missed thee!)

On my way back from Homebase I called into Halls, our local garden centre, because, although they’re only operating on a click and collect or delivery basis, I did notice that they had a half price table set up outside. I picked up a couple of great plants.

A white Camellia which I’ve planted in our bistro …

… and this beautiful Rhododendron.

Gorgeous! I couldn’t resist.

Number Three – Lupin

This was the only blue/purple Lupin amongst a field of pink, so I snapped it up. Such a striking plant. I had a Lupin before from a sale table, but it didn’t make it so I hope this one is more successful.

Number Four – Chrysanthemums

I bought these today as well, and I’ve put them in the pot that the Lupin came out of and another that I found in the dim dark recesses of the garage! Wonderful splashes of colour.

Number Five – Dicentra Bleeding Heart

Finally! It’s flowered!

I’m hoping it has a growth spurt this Summer because it’s still quite small. This was from a sale table, so I guess it didn’t have the best start in life but it seems to be reasonably happy now. I’ve seen some fabulous Dicentras on Instagram that dwarf my little plant, but I love it and its little rows of hearts just the same.

Number Six – Self Seeded Oxalis, or is it?

I thought this was Oxalis that had self seeded from a plant I bought from Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens a couple of years ago, but now I’m not so sure!

Whatever it is, I’m very happy that it decided to grow in our garden because it’s very pretty indeed. Surely a weed is only a weed if you don’t want it? I’ve learnt to be a lot less precious about weeding in our garden. It’s somewhat rustic in nature which means it’s never going to be perfectly manicured so I’m embracing the imperfection and I’ve left seedlings that in previous years I’ve whipped out before they’ve had chance to develop and it’s resulting in some delightful flowers, and it means less weeding for me – win/win!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little insight into our little garden haven. I can’t tell you how much we’ve appreciated our outdoor space over the past weeks. If you’d like to have a sneak peak into other bloggers’ gardens, nip on over to the Propagator’s page.

End of week two of lockdown ….

…. and I think I have lost the plot! Yesterday I went out in the back garden and combed the grass!

Ok it’s not quite as loony tunes as it sounds! I didn’t comb the lawn (although it probably is currently long enough to style a Mohican!) No, I combed my grasses, which isn’t quite as odd, I think!

I have quite a penchant for grasses, in fact, I’ve just ordered three Imperata Red Baron (Blood Grass) from Blooming Direct when I went on there looking for Begonias (I did order the Begonias too) and after the dormant Winter, they just need a bit of a comb through to get the dead fronds out ready for them to regenerate and get beautifully willowy through the Summer. The green grasses above are my 50p Stipas and the pink one in the middle is a Cordyline.

The weather was so lovely yesterday, hence the social distancing breach in many parts of the country. I don’t understand why people don’t see that the more they flout the rules, the tougher and more restrictive the rules will get and the longer this awful period will go on! I drove hubby to and from work (he’s a key worker) and we were quite shocked by the number of people out and about on our local high street. In relatively close proximity, there’s a Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local and Nisa, a greengrocer, butcher and hardware store, two newsagents and a cafe that’s still doing takeaway so people were out shopping. Stay in people!

Anyway, I came straight home after dropping hubby and took advantage of the weather in a safe way and busied myself in the garden for the first time this year. I tidied up the greenhouse which, joy of joys, was over 23°, and I sowed my first seeds of 2020.

I sowed two different kinds of Sunflower, Teddy Bear which, as the name suggests has a round, fluffy flower, and Autumn Beauty which is tall with flowers in orangy Autumnal shades. These were a Christmas present.

I also sowed some Dutch Sweetpeas. These were a present given to my Dad at the Christening of my second cousin (or first cousin once removed or however it works! My cousin’s daughter). He doesn’t have a garden so gave them to me to grow on. Luckily the instructions were in English as well as Dutch!

The Sweetpeas are in the propagator, the Teddy Bears are in the green bamboo pots and the Autumn Beauty are in the black pots. I don’t have any labels so I’ve made a note on my phone.

After this I cleared a patch behind the greenhouse which gets a good amount of sunshine, and I exploded a seedbom which was also a Christmas present.

Fingers crossed we get some pretty bee-friendly blooms later in the year.

Next up, I prepared my raised bed and sowed my first veg seeds of the year. Lovely Petit Pois! I did two rows last year and got a decent crop, but this year I’ve sowed four rows so I’m hoping for double the harvest because I really do love Petit Pois. Through the Winter, whilst there’s been nothing growing in the bed, the local cats have been making use of it, so in an attempt to save my newly sowed seeds, I’ve improvised a cover.

I’ll have to sort out something more permanent sharpish to get in place when the seeds start to sprout. I’ll give it some thought because I don’t want a repeat of last year when a poor hedgehog got caught up in some stray netting (hedgehog was fine).

I came across a bag of Gladiolus bulbs in the greenhouse that I’d forgotten I was given free at Gardeners’ World Live last year. The bulbs didn’t look too healthy.

I planted them anyway – you never know. If they survive the squirrels we might get some Gladioli.

Back to Begonia! I went to empty last year’s Begonias from my hanging basket into the compost bin, but when I cleared the debris from the top, I discovered new growth on every single Begonia in there!

I’ve excitedly hung it back up and am now keeping everything crossed for another beautiful display in the Summer. If not, I have twenty four jumbo plug plants on the way in beautiful yellows and peaches. I’m planning to put some of these in my wheelbarrow planter and I also plan to add lots more pots to our garden (when I can get out to buy some!) so any surplus can decorate these.

After a bit of weeding and general tidying, I decided to call it a day and come in. We couldn’t have our usual Saturday night Chinese takeaway because they’re shut, so we had a yummy pizza and garlic bread from the freezer for tea and a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc may have been consumed (for relaxation purposes, you understand), and I decorated our living room window.

Some of you may have seen the article in the press about putting teddy bears in your window to help cheer passing children, and I’m sure everyone (in the UK at least) will know of the growing movement to display a rainbow in your window in solidarity with NHS workers and other key workers who are working hard to keep us all going. I have the odd teddy bear living around and about our house, so I’ve relocated a couple to our living room window and I crocheted a rainbow to hang above them.

It’s hard to get a decent photo from outside because of the reflection so I’ve added a view from inside too. If it cheers one child, or child at heart, then it will be a job well done.

Back to work tomorrow (in the back bedroom), but only for four days this week. Let’s hope the weather’s kind for the four day weekend so I get some more work done in the garden.

Six on Saturday 4th January 2020

Happy New Year folks! I hope everyone enjoyed the festivities. I certainly had a lovely, long and relaxing break. Two whole weeks off work and, given an upcoming change in circumstances, I could almost completely switch off because my challenges are now someone else’s and my new challenges haven’t commenced yet. More on that another time I’m sure.

So, here we are on the first Saturday of January and it’s time for the first Six of 2020. I have to admit I did precisely zero gardening over the break – I am absolutely a fair weather gardener. I hate the cold, and while I feel awful wishing for hot weather given the devastation it’s causing over in Australia (is Trump still denying climate change? Numpty!) I can’t help but dream of lazy, hazy, sunny days in the garden. Still, we’re now well past the shortest day so things are on the up!

Anyway, I forced myself out in the garden this morning to check the garden and find some Six inspiration and, now my hands have warmed up again, I can show you what I chose to talk about today.

1. Compost Bin

I discovered, thanks to a new colleague, late last year that certain county councils work with http://www.getcomposting.com to provide better value compost bins and luckily Birmingham City Council is one of those councils so I ordered one pronto, along with a kitchen caddy to save me trekking out there (in the cold – brrrrrrr …..) every time I peel a spud or crack an egg. I’m excited to get going, although I’m well aware, as with so many aspects of gardening, that I need to exercise what little patience I have, given that there’s not so much as a tea leaf in the bin yet, and the worms haven’t set up camp. As I’m typing this my mind is whirring and wondering if I’ve placed it in the optimal place. I’m not sure the sun spends much time here due to next door’s forest. I’ll ponder that point later.

2. Hellebores

I have a few, all from the sale table in Notcutts. If I see one on offer I tend to grab it knowing that it’ll have lovely leaves in the Summer and will then cheer my chilly heart with flowers in Winter.

This one is in my birthday planter and I’m pretty sure I shared a picture of it in flower around this time last year. It only had one flower then and it appears to only have one this year too, but I’m still grateful to it for showing up.

I have two others, these two photos are just one of them but the other looks exactly the same so I’m wondering if I snaffled them both from the sale table at the same time or if they’ll produce different blooms when these buds open. Time will tell. Looks like I’m going to get quite a few flowers from these two anyway. Whoop! I’ll keep an eye on them and make sure to snap the evidence. I’m excited to see what colour/s they are.

3. Christmas colour

Apart from the Hellebores there are still some plants fighting to bring joyous colour to the garden.

The Cyclamen is obviously no surprise but it’s such a lovely colour that I wanted to share.

More unexpected are these two ….

One of the Calendula that I grew from seed last year. They got really lanky but this one in particular, which is in a pot outside my She-shed, has bloomed almost continuously since mid Summer. I was really happy to see its cheery orange bloom waving at me as I made my way up the garden path.

This is the St. John’s Wort which we inherited with the garden. It’s beautiful in the Summer full of big, bright-yellow petals but I’m sure it doesn’t normally hang on to any flowers after Christmas.

For my final three points I’m going to share some of the garden related Christmas presents that I got.

4. Christmas plants

I bought these myself from hubby. I think he likes it when I buy my own presents! Means he can reimburse me for a gift that I definitely love without him having to battle the Christmas shopping crowds, and, in this case, I’ve had a nice time browsing a garden centre! Score on all counts!

Another beautiful Coprosma and a really big Cyclamen.

I just love Coprosma leaves. They seem to have so many colours in them and they change throughout the year. The one I had already seems quite slow growing, but they both should get to about fifty centimetres eventually. I’ll have to find a good spot to put this one. They seem to cope ok with shade, of which I have plenty, so I should find somewhere it’s happy.

I have several Cyclamen now, but none as big as this one. I have a place in mind for this one alongside our fence where I can see it from the kitchen when it’s flowering in the Winter.

5. Christmas seeds

I’m set for this year’s homegrown veg! Last year I tried petit pois, carrots, leeks and red onions. The red onions did nothing, the leeks eventually produced spring onion sized leeks, but the carrots and petit pois were really successful and they’re probably my favourite veg to eat too so I chose to go for those again, but different varieties this year. I thought I’d try runner beans too. I would never think to buy runner beans, but whenever I’ve had someone else’s homegrown ones I’ve enjoyed them. The packet says ‘vigorous’ but I figure it’s easy to prepare runner beans and freeze them for later in the year if I get a bumper crop.

I have six varieties of Sunflower too. I’ll have to decide whether to try a couple of each or whether to save some for next year. I need to think how much space I have that’s suitable to plant them out.

The final seeds are a pollinator beebom. I love this idea. When I can bear to take my hands outside again I’m going to prepare an area that I can explode this bomb in. I know just the place.

6. Froggy bird feeder

This is the kind of thing I love in the garden. Cute little characters to add interest. Of course, we’ll probably end up feeding more squirrels than birds but hey, they need to eat too! I’d rather they eat seed that we put out for ‘animals’ than my bulbs! I don’t know if this will be the final resting place for this feeder or if I can find somewhere else but for now this is where it is.

I won’t be around with another Six until February because I’m away from home for the next three weekends, but in the meantime why not check out the Propagator’s blog for other Sixes.