Several on Sunday

I ran out of time yesterday to write a Six on Saturday post. Don’t ask me how – time is something I have in abundance at the moment due to furlough and most leisure activities being outlawed. I say most things, because slowly some normality is returning, and hubby and I did manage a trip to the zoo last week which I now realise I didn’t write about. Here’s a couple of my favourite pictures from a lovely sunny day out.

As I write, the heavens have just opened, so I’m glad I went for a potter in the garden this morning! I have quite a lot of pictures to share with you, so actually it’s worked out quite well that I didn’t get round to my Six yesterday because I’d have struggled to narrow it down to six.

I’m going to start off on an edible theme. I’ve been trying really hard to clamber back on the Slimming World wagon this week, so I’m very happy that all my edibles in the garden are free on Slimming World.

This is my main fruit and veg growing area. You can just about see the greenhouse photobombing on the left.

I’ll start in the greenhouse and what’s left in there now.

I started my tomato plants off in toilet rolls this year basically because that’s all I had spare to grow in and garden centres weren’t open when I sowed my seeds, so today when I planted my plants in their final growing places I used leftover Gousto boxes that we’ve been storing in our garage whilst we’ve not been able to get to the tip to recycle them during lockdown. There are three different varieties of tomato here, but I’ve managed to completely forget which is which so it’ll be a surprise when they start to fruit. Assuming they do, of course! They’ve been very slow to grow so I’m a bit concerned that it’s too late.

Peppers! This is perhaps not a great photo but there are two peppers on there already and lots more flowers further up that will hopefully also produce fruit. I prefer orange peppers but I read today that leaving peppers to ripen on the plant can reduce your crop by up to twenty five percent, so I guess I have a decision to make.

Back outside the greenhouse and my raised beds are well underway.

The first bed is dedicated to strawberries. Last year all my strawberries got eaten so this year I put the black mats that you can see above underneath them. Fingers crossed we’ll get some strawberries before something else eats them this year.

These are the first strawberries this year – the bigger one at the front was the only one ripe enough to pick yet from the raised bed. The other three are from a pot next to our back door which I planted before I had any raised beds. It only has two strawberry plants in it so I normally get very few strawberries, but they’re earlier than the ones in the raised bed. I’ve planned tomorrow’s breakfast around these four strawberries!

In the second raised bed are my carrots and petit pois.

Despite the netting around the bed, something (I suspect a squirrel, but maybe a pussy cat) got in and dug up some of the carrot seeds so I have carrots growing intermittently along the lines that I sowed. Still, if they all produce a decent carrot, then I’ll get a good crop.

I sowed more petit pois this year because they’re my favourite vegetable and they can always be frozen. I’m really pleased they’re starting to grow already. I made a really nice pea soup with last year’s crop so I’ll have to try and find the recipe again.

In pots next to the raised beds are my courgette …

and runner bean plants.

I got the courgette plant from Ebay whilst the garden centres were still self isolating from us gardeners. It was a bit slow to get going, but in the last week or so it’s started growing exponentially. This is the first time I’ve tried to grow green courgettes – the last two years I’ve grown yellow courgettes with very little success, so I’m hoping green will come good.

I think I planted about eleven runner bean plants (grown from seed) and six or seven of them are still doing ok, but the remaining ones have randomly died!

A couple of them are showing signs of flowers so fingers crossed we’ll get some runner beans. This is my first time growing runner beans and I had no idea they had red flowers!

My final edible is in a pot by the back door (next to the original strawberries). It’s my blueberry bush.

There are quite a few blueberries happily ripening away. Yum, I LOVE blueberries. I think it will need repotting ready for next year so I’ll have to do some research to find out when’s best to do it. I know blueberry bushes like a particular kind of soil (can’t remember which so I’ll include that in my research).

These are my Nigella plants. I grew these from seed in the pot they were to call home for the Summer, in the greenhouse, but they’ve been outside for a few weeks now and they’ve adapted well. I’m using this as a somewhat tenuous link between the edible and non-edible sections of this post because it’s kind of both. It will (hopefully) have beautiful blue flowers in the Summer, but I’m also hoping to harvest the seeds to use in cooking. They’re really nice in rice or on naan bread.

So, on to my non-edibles. I’m going to start with this beautiful Begonia.

I ordered an apricot mix of Begonias in the height of lockdown and, although I planted them immediately when they arrived, not all the plants survived the postage system. However, even if this is the only flower I get, it’ll be totally worth it. Isn’t it stunning?

Another mail order plant is this Verbena.

This was from a lucky dip box, and again two of the plants didn’t survive being posted, but this one’s thrived and now is covered in beautiful shocking pink flowers.

This Pelargonium was in the same lucky dip box and is also looking beautiful. Look at those little twirly, twiddly bits (technical term!) And there’s a bonus fly.

First Buddleia flower. Bring on the butterflies! This is one of my proudest successes. It was a teeny tiny plant from the sale table and now it’s really big and has loads of flowers about to bloom.

Another sale table success is my Hydrangea Limelight. It was half dead when I rescued it and is now so much bigger and, I noticed today, gearing up for loads of flowers. I planted it hoping it would fill a lot of space, and I think it’s going to do me proud.

I’ve discovered a way of adding more than These are in our front border (of the back garden). On the left is probably one of our last Geum blooms for this year, in the middle is my gorgeous Osteospurmum and on the right is a fiery Gerbera. I think tomorrow I should dodge the showers and do some deadheading to try to prolong the gorgeous colour in our garden.

Going full circle now back to the greenhouse, or rather, to what I took out of it today – Sweetpeas.

I’m not holding out much hope for these, but I thought I’d at least give them a chance to grow. There are two different types here. The first ones are Dutch. The seeds were given to my Dad as a christening present when his Great Niece was christened. I grew them in the greenhouse, but they seem quite weedy (for want of a better phrase) and certainly don’t look like the ones I grew last year. You never know though. The other ones were from the Poundshop and also look nothing like last year’s. They do look a bit more robust though. Fingers crossed for both.

I’m off to participate in my last online quiz now. I feel quite sad about this – I’ve enjoyed FaceTiming my friend every Sunday to do the quiz from their local pub, but the pub’s reopening next week so no more online testing of the little grey cells. Keep your fingers crossed for an easy music round!!

Six on Saturday 20th June

I’ve been having a technical issue with my blog – I ran out of space and couldn’t upload any photos. WordPress suggested I resize my photos (don’t have the technical know-how to do that) or (unsurprisingly) pay to upgrade my platform to get more space! Anyhow, I considered calling it a day, but I’ve decided instead, to delete a load of photos which unfortunately means that they’ll delete from the posts that they were in, but at least it means I can continue to write. I don’t have a massive following, but this forum allows me to keep in touch with some family members and friends in a more ‘longhand’ way than is afforded by texts/whatsapp and, in a non big-headed way, I know that a few select people do get pleasure out of seeing what I have to say. I’ve also learnt lots of useful information from fellow bloggers who’ve helped me out with various gardening conundrums, so I’m staying put!

Anyway, on to my Six. I popped out into the garden in my dressing gown this morning to take some pics, so these are bang up to date!

Number one is from my front border and is my new Erysimum.

I bought this from Homebase when it first reopened because my original Erysimum is one of my favourites so I thought I’d add to my collection. As you can see, it’s doing well and quite a few flowers have sprung up. They’re all one colour, unlike the other one which has a couple of colours per stalk.

Moving on to the side border for numbers two, three and four. This border is my most tricky area because it’s completely in the shade due to next door’s trees, and also very very dry due to those trees.

This Asiatic Lily doesn’t seem to mind the conditions, although this flower that’s emerged seems to be the only one I’m going to get, whereas last year I had three. I love the colour, and luckily the Lily beetles seem to leave this one alone. Maybe they don’t like shade?

Number three is my Hebe Purple Pixie. It was my first sale table purchase and it also seems not to mind the adverse conditions. You can see the first sign of its purple flower is just starting to emerge.

Number four is a new addition to the side border having previously been further down the garden. It was becoming overshadowed by the St John’s Wort next to it – you can see it’s sent up new shoots at the front but hasn’t really grown at the back where it had no space – so I moved it. Probably not the right time of year to move it, but needs must. Hopefully it’ll cope ok. Despite being in the driest part of the garden, it’s certainly been well watered in over these past few days with all the rain we’ve had!

My final two points are from the greenhouse. First up is my Bell Pepper plant. I bought this as a young plant following my disastrous attempts at growing Chilli plants from seed last year. It’s now at least five times the size it was when I bought it, and is covered in flowers. This morning I noticed it has the beginnings of what look suspiciously like Bell Peppers! How very exciting!

Finally, my tomato plants. I didn’t sow these until halfway through April because I wasn’t planning to grow tomatoes this year (I’m not really keen on them) but then I ate some in a Gousto recipe and actually enjoyed them, so I changed my mind, and my ex-boss kindly sent me some seeds.

They took ages to germinate – at least two weeks, if not three. I repotted them last week (previously they were growing mostly in loo rolls!) because they weren’t growing very quickly and I thought maybe they didn’t have enough room, but with the exception of the one in the pot at the back and the one back right of the tray, they’re still not growing very well. Maybe I left it too late to sow them. Monty Don has tomatoes on his plants already, whereas I barely have leaves! I’ll persevere – you never know!

So there’s my Six for this week. Don’t forget to check the Propagator for more Sixes. Meanwhile, I’m off to prepare for visitors! In the garden, you understand, in a socially distanced manner. First time hubby will have seen his folks and brother since before lockdown.

Top Ten Favourite Plants

A notification popped up on my phone earlier this week reminding me that I was intending to write a post about my ten favourite plants. I did this a year ago and decided to repeat the post a year later to see if my favourites had changed. I can’t remember which plants made it to the top ten last year and I’m not going to look until after I’ve selected my current faves!

Number one, I’m pretty sure will have made it on to last year’s shortlist – my Eupatorium.

This dies completely down in the Winter and this is the regrowth so far this Spring. It’s starting to get its trademark purple and dark green leaves. It makes me really happy when this reappears each year.

It should be up at these lofty heights in no time.

Next up, I’m going for Stipa.

This is one of my 50p bargains from a couple of years ago. They seem to be able to cope with anything the elements throw at them. All I do is comb them through every now and then to remove the dead fronds.

Third is Cordyline. I wonder if this made my original list? I’ve added a few more to the garden now. Well, I say added to the garden, two of them are still sitting in their pots waiting for inspiration to hit me on where to plant them.

This one’s in my birthday planter and it’s thriving.

Let’s add some flair for four!

You can’t beat a Dahlia for flair! This one is new in the garden this year.

Continuing with a splash of colour – Gerbera.

This one is new to our garden this year. I couldn’t resist the beautiful bright orange.

This one is now in its third Summer. I didn’t expect it to survive the Winter, but it’s made it through two of them now.

Number six has got to be the loyal Hebe. I’ve got quite a few Hebes dotted around the garden.

This is the first one I ever bought. It’s Hebe Purple Pixie and it was from a sale table. It lives in the shadiest part of our garden and, while I guess it may have got bigger in a sunnier area, it seems quite happy in complete shade. It’s not flowering yet but it will later in the year.

I’m pretty sure number seven will have featured in last year’s pick. It’s the Fuchsia. These were my Grandad’s favourite and I’ve got three (so far!) They’re all starting to flower again, but they haven’t really got going yet.

This one is Fuchsia Delta Sarah. It’s the second one I’ve tried to grow. The first one was fine during the Summer, but didn’t make it through the Winter, despite assurances of hardiness. This second one was from Gardeners’ World Live last year, and I went for the biggest one I could afford to give it the best chance of survival. And survive it has!

This one could maybe do with repotting in a bigger pot. This is its third or maybe even fourth year and I think it would benefit from a tad more room.

Definitely a new favourite this year is Aquilegia. I know for definite that this won’t have been included last year because I only discovered it this year when it grew uninvited, but far from unwelcome, around the garden.

I did try to grow it from seed last year but completely failed. I don’t know if I then left the seeds somewhere where they could float off in the wind to germinate where they now are, or it if they’re a happy coincidence sent to us by the birds.

Number nine is my unidentified love. It may be a Cotoneaster, but it has never had any berries, so I’m not sure.

It was £1.50 from B&M about four years ago and it was in a completely unmarked pot. I left it in its pot for quite a while hoping that something would happen to help me identify it, but it didn’t, so eventually I planted it behind my raised strawberry bed, and it’s doing really really well. It’s certainly grown considerably and it has lovely dainty leaves. I go and see it most times that I’m in the garden, just to check it’s ok. I kind of wish I’d put it somewhere a bit more prominent now, but a it seems happy where it is, I’m going to leave it rather than risk moving it. Hopefully it’ll continue to thrive.

I’m going to finish with a classic. The Rose.

This one is my first ever Rose. My Mum bought it for us when we moved into our house, and it’s Rose Hot Chocolate. It didn’t flower much for the first few years, maybe one or two flowers per year, but last year it flowered repeatedly all Summer, and it looks like it’ll follow suit this year.

These two are my sale table patio Roses which are doing really well. I should’ve pruned them back into their cocktail glass shape, but by the time I thought about it they’d already got buds and I couldn’t bring myself to cut the buds off. I’ll do it when they’re done flowering.

Right! I’m going to compare to last year now!

Interesting! I have five matches – Fuchsia, Hebe, Cordyline, Eupatorium and Stipa. My other five last year were Daffodil, Diascia Cherry Blossom, Erysimum, Blue Festuca and Geum. I did consider all of those to include this year too because I do love them still.

Here they all are!

I’m off to do some crochet now as the garden is off limits today as it’s finally enjoying some rainfall.