Six on Saturday – 16th March

My second Six on Saturday post in as many weeks – can’t you just tell it’s coming into gardening season for fair weather gardeners such as myself?!

I didn’t think I’d be able to get out in the garden today because the forecast was for rain all day, so when I woke up quite early I lay there wondering what to do with myself because hubby’s at work this weekend, and then I thought, hang on, the cars going past don’t sound like they’re spraying water everywhere, and would you know it, bone dry! Whoop!

1. First job was to forge on with the job that Dad and I started last week laying the slabs around my raised beds and greenhouse. A career in bricklaying is certainly not for me! Not that I can’t do it (although I am a beginner) but more that it’s back breaking, especially on your own. I forget how much stronger men are than me generally, including those that by virtue of being your parent, are a generation older than you. A bag of wet sand, I can tell you, is flipping heavy and I’m by no means a weakling. Thank goodness for my birthday wheelbarrow which came into its own trundling the cement and sand up the garden. Thanks again, Dad, for your help because you must’ve done the majority of the heavy lifting last week. Even mixing up the sand and cement is jolly tough work and I’ll ache tomorrow (and fully intend to complain about it to hubby even though I know full well if he helps me with the rest he’ll be absolutely fine – humpff!)

Anyway, I managed to lay another five and a bit slabs before my muscles started complaining a bit too much, and I put the rest out to see how they’re going to fit around the greenhouse.

The ones around the two raised beds are properly laid and last weekend’s have set in pretty well. The one with the little Sempervivum pot on and then along and around the rest of the greenhouse are just placed down (eight of them) and, they fit pretty well. There’s a couple of inches gap either side which I’ll just fill with gravel. I saw a gorgeous little table on an email from Notcutts yesterday that would look perfect with that Sempervivum pot on in that spot, but I’m concerned about stability – it’s pretty open at the top of our garden so if there’s a storm it can get quite blustery up there.

2. Last Sunday when the weather wasn’t behaving quite as well as it has so far today, I took refuge in my greenhouse and planted up some seeds. This, I think, is the first time I’ve attempted to grow anything from seed apart from growing cress (unsuccessfully) on wet kitchen towel at junior school. Being in there when it’s blowing a gale outside reminded me of the calmness of being underwater (snorkelling, not drowning!) Very relaxing.

So here’s what I’ve sown.

In the green bamboo pots and the grey container next to it are Sunflowers. Next to that are Calendulas. On the bottom shelf in the propagator are Cosmos and Aquilegia. I’ve never heard of Aquilegia before, but they looked pretty on the packet so I sowed them. The final tray is full of Sweetpeas.

Have I told you how impatient I am? This is testing me to the limit. I’ve been out twice this week to see if anything was happening yet. Nope! Come on! I want to see little seedlings (which I know is entirely unreasonable in a week!) I hope it’s not too cold for them. According to my posh and functional thermometer it was 11.8° in there and according to my pretty but not so functional thermometer it was somewhere between 10 and 15°. Hmmm … what it lacks in accuracy it makes up for in aesthetics! I shall cross my (green?) fingers for another week and hopefully I’ll see some progress.

3. After I finished slabbing, I decided to inspect the rest of the garden. I happened upon this rather pretty little specimen nestling amongst the nettles and weedy miscellany in our wasteland.

I’m sure it’s a weed but I’m quite taken with it. Monty Don says a weed is anything that is in a place that you wouldn’t want it. Well I’m quite happy with this little Miss where she is, so maybe by default that makes her not a weed. I say ‘her’ because her colour makes me think of Little Buttercup from HMS Pinafore who was definitely a ‘her’. Sweet little Buttercup I.

4. I have a couple of different varieties of daffodils in bloom now in front of my planter apart from the early yellow ones. I’ve no idea what any of them are because I just walked round the bulb section with my fill-a-bag-for-a-fiver (or however much it was) paper bag picking random bulbs at will. I don’t always like to be super planned.

Don’t they look happily Spring-like? They’ve been somewhat wind and rain battered for the past week or so and some of them have flopped! The crocuses in front are, sadly, coming to the end of their life already. They can console themselves with the fact that they were delightful for the last few weeks.

5. I did some pruning. Some of it quite extreme. First my Clematis Montana which always has loads of leaves but has never once flowered.

I was lamenting this fact only a couple of days before the return of Gardeners’ World last week and Monty must’ve been with me in spirit because he did a section on pruning and specifically mentioned Montana and said that it will only flower on new growth, so I’ve chopped it right back and now I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

My Hydrangea has new growth so I decided it was ok to deadhead last Summer’s massive yield of two flowers and hope we get more this year. This is the first year it’s been free to grow as it pleases because I planted it out from its pot that it had lived in for three years after the best/worst (depending on your temperament) of the scorchio Summer had ended last year.

Finally, and I’m really hoping I’ve done the right thing here, I pruned my Eupatorium right back. It grew like crazy after I bought it last year and had the most beautiful leaves through Summer followed by clusters of tiny white flowers in the Autumn, but then looked deceased all winter. I’m pretty sure there’s life in it yet so I’m keeping my fingers, toes, legs and anything else crossable, crossed that it revives.

6. Just before the rain came, I decided to do a little bit of much needed house (garden?) keeping. Our neighbour on one side has several huge conifers, and I mean huge. They’re as tall as the house. It’s safe to say that he doesn’t love his garden as much as we love ours so I think we’re stuck with the jungle next door. It means that the whole of that side of the garden gets covered with bits of conifer of various sizes and I have to try and rake it out without damaging any plants underneath.

This is the pile I was left with. It’s going to have to stay there in the middle of the lawn for a while because our green wheelie bin has been full for weeks awaiting the start of the collections. I unearthed (or unconiferred) quite a few poor plants that were suffocating underneath the foliage. It’s all looking a lot tidier now, although this is just the beginning – we have a LOT of weeds that need sorting out! I’ve learnt not to stress too much about it, it took a long period of neglect for our garden to end up in the state it was in when we moved in, so it’s going to take a long time to get it looking ship shape. We’ve made massive inroads already, but there’s no rush. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Do pop over to the Propagator’s blog to check out other Six on Saturday posts – I’m sure there’ll be lots of Spring joy over there.

Six on Saturday 9th March

I popped out in the garden one night this week to inspect Spring progress and said to myself, yup, definitely got to do a Six on Saturday this week. I was away last weekend so it was a couple of weeks since I’d properly seen the garden in daylight and so much had changed.

So, here we go with numero uno – Spring bulbs. Here’s my barrel planter two weeks ago.

Reasonably well defined – Heather in the middle surrounded by Cyclamen with the Giant Alliums coming though at the back, Tulips (I think) on the left and an at-that-point unidentified smaller bulb nearer the middle.

Here’s two week’s progress for you.

I think I made a school boy error with the Giant Alliums! They’re taking over the world! It’s like Little Shop of Horrors! I’ll see how they fare this year, and then I may have to relocate them to somewhere with more space for next year. I didn’t appreciate quite how giant Giant Alliums would be! The size of the bulb should’ve been my first clue really – mahoosive! I now know that the previously unidentified leaves are a Snowdrop, but I’m sure I planted more than one bulb. Maybe they were either dug up by squirrels or have no room to bloom due to the giantness behind! I think the suspected Tulips are struggling for space too! Oh well, you live and learn.

Sticking to the theme of bulbs for number two, the Bluebells are continuing to pop up all over the garden. I’m sure there are significantly more than there were last year.

You can see them pushing through all around the edge of the bistro, and even through the weed control fabric around my Festuca pot and in the middle of the gravelled area. We have them in pretty much every bed, and I noticed today that there are hundreds of them in what I lovingly refer to as ‘the wasteland’ at the top of the garden. That’ll be really pretty when they flower.

Number three is my Bergenia, or Elephant’s ears.

This was given to me by the cleaner at work from her garden. It was just in a plastic bag with no soil, and I planted it a couple of days afterwards, not really expecting much, but it’s thrived and has lovely pink flowers waving at me. Spot the Bluebells vying for its spot!

On to number four.

Beautiful pink Camellia in the front garden. We inherited the Camellia when we moved in and I don’t do anything with it, it just keeps going and stuns us with its gorgeousness every Spring. Doesn’t it look luscious with the raindrops nestling in its petals?

Number five is something special, not that bulbs, Bergenia and Camellias aren’t, but this is a project that’s been a long time in the imagination. Regular readers will know about my raised beds that I built last summer and my greenhouse that I got for Christmas. Here’s how they’ve looked since the new year.

On Wednesday we took delivery of thirty slabs, three bags of sharp sand and one bag of cement.

Very conveniently (for me) I was in Frankfurt on business when they arrived so hubby humped them all the way down the garden to the greenhouse. Must remember to be away whenever heavy goods are being delivered!

Today my Dad came over to help me lay the slabs. We were a bit will we won’t we to start off with because he lives fifty miles away and we couldn’t decide whether the weather was going to play ball and cause him a wasted trip (other than seeing yours truly obvious!) Eventually the blue skies won through and we were able to lay half the slabs and I’m so pleased with how they’ve turned out so far – much better than the picture in my head.

We ran out of sand and cement at this point, hence we stopped. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to finish it off because the forecast is for wet weather for the foreseeable future. Soon there will be strawberries, raspberries, carrots, potatoes, leeks and courgettes growing in those beds. How exciting!

I foresee more slab laying in my future because we have a LOT of space and don’t they look good? People are always trying to get rid of slabs on freecycle too so it can be a cheap, rewarding and fruitful project.

I also now have this hanging around the garden so I’ll be off to peruse Pinterest later to see what I can make with it.

I will finish and leave you with something for number six that made me very VERY happy this week when I spotted it. Sometime back towards the end of summer I wrote about my beautiful Berberis that lost all its leaves as soon as I planted it out. It really was beautiful when I bought it from Hop Pocket out near Worcester.

See its beautiful leaves that look like they’ve been gilded with gold? It is deciduous, so it may have been just coincidence that I happened to plant it out when it was time to lose its leaves, but they went so quickly that it just didn’t seem right, so I dug it up and put it back in its pot and whispered sweet nothings to it whenever I popped out over the Winter and look what’s happened.

It’s alive, it’s alive! I have some garden centre vouchers so I’m going to treat it to a nice pot and nurture it and love it on its own just in case it doesn’t like our soil.

So there’s my six for this week. Do pop over to the Propagator’s blog to check out his and others’ sixes.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Six on Saturday

Ooh, two blog posts in as many days!

I’m in the hairdressers again, and, unlike last time I was here, the sun is streaming in through the windows, I came out without a coat and there’s a definite Spring spring in my step! I love this time of year. Everything’s full of hope and the happy prospect of the summer, and all that that brings is stretching ahead with the end too far away to even contemplate.

I woke up this morning to daylight, and had a slight panic that I’d slept through my hair appointment, but no, it really was full daylight at twenty past seven! Whoop!

I did some faffing around (it is me, after all!) and then decided to take myself off to the garden to have a look. It seems to be changing quite rapidly at the moment – I’m getting a new daffodil flower approximately every other day, so that’s the first of my six – Spring bulbs.

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I know it’s not difficult to grow bulbs, I really had nothing to do with it other than planting them and chasing off the occasional foraging squirrel, but I feel really accomplished having some successful Spring bulbs and they make me happy whenever I look at them. I’m ninety five percent sure that I planted some tulips somewhere, so I’m expecting those to appear somewhere soon.

Number two I think will be my giant alliums. Strictly these are also Spring bulbs, but I’m giving them their own point because I feel their size demands it (although, as we all know, size is not everything, it’s what you do ….. no, let’s not go there!)

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The giant allium bulbs were huge! If all goes according to plan (which is looking positive) they’ll be almost as tall as me and by early to mid Summer, they’ll have huge purple globes made up of individual umbels (according to the genius that is Wikipedia, umbels are masses of tiny flowers which cluster together to form one giant mass of beautifulness (my word, not Wikipedia’s)). Thinking about it, the shoots in front of the giant alliums might be the tulips. We’ll see.

Number three. Bluebells!

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More bulbs, but this time it’s their sheer quantity which I feel justifies their own post. They’re everywhere! In pretty much every flower bed! The ones above are pushing up around the edges of the bistro, and they’ve even wiggled their way through the weed control fabric in the middle of the bistro. I’ll forgive them though – they’re not weeds, therefore it doesn’t apply to them!

Number four kind of leads on from the bulb talk because they look like bulb growth.

 

This is the flexi tub that had my courgette plant in last year, and I’ve just left it to one side while I decide what to do with it. Obviously there are some weeds growing in there, but there are also a couple of leafy growths that look suspiciously like something which would grow from a bulb, but I’ve definitely not planted any bulbs in there (unless I did it in my sleep!) I have no idea how bulbs propagate. Can it happen by wind borne means? I’m guessing that the bluebells weren’t purposely planted, at least not all of them, so they must multiply somehow. Maybe these will be bluebells. I’m going to leave them and find out.

Numero cinq involved covert operations in the front garden because I was still wearing my pyjamas and dressing gown! I crept out really quickly hoping upon hope that our neighbours wouldn’t choose that precise time to inspect their own front garden! Luckily they didn’t.

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Our Camelia is absolutely full of buds. It’s so beautiful when all those bright pink blooms emerge, but unfortunately it’s also relatively short lived and we end up with a blanket of pink on the ground which quickly turns brown. I’ll be sure to show you a picture when it’s at the height of its glory.

I don’t normally much bother with the front garden beyond trying to keep it just the right side of a shambles. Our ultimate plan is to turn the whole front garden into a bigger drive when funds allow because the back garden is quite enough, if not too much, to cope with in the limited time we have to garden. We do have some lovely plants/shrubs out the front though. I could try to transfer them I guess but it’d be a job to dig the Camelia up and I’ve read that Peonies don’t like to be moved. We’ll see – can’t hurt to try but I don’t see funds being available for the foreseeable future anyway.

Finally, I have a plethora of plants and seeds waiting to be planted or sown.

 

Top right was a sale table find from B&M Bargains, but I don’t know what it is. My Mum thinks it may be a Cotoneaster. I left it to see if it gave anything away, but so far it hasn’t. I don’t know where to plant it because I’ve no idea what conditions it likes or how big it will get!

Top left is my temporary resting place for rescued plants until I decide where they should go. There are several Hebes and several grasses. I do have a plan for some of them that I’ll be working on now it’s warming up a bit outside.

Top middle and bottom left are my most recent purchases that need to find homes. The Callicarpa Bodinieri will get BIG so I need to think carefully about that one. I did have a plan for the other four when I bought them, but I can’t remember what it was! It’ll come to me when I reread the labels.

The last three are seeds which it’s almost time to sow. Now these I do have a plan for. The Sweet Peas and the Sunflowers are going to fill up the space behind my planter while my other shrubs are still small and growing into the space and the chillis and veg are going in my new greenhouse and eventually the new raised beds.

So there’s my Six on Saturday, and now I’ve got to dash because I’m off to Edinburgh tomorrow and, och aye, I need to pack. Do check out the Propagator’s blog for more Six on Saturday fun.