A mini garden transformation

I’ve been meaning to crack on with this project for ages, but as usual I’ve procrastinated for weeks! To be fair, I’ve been doing other jobs, but today I decided to get on with it.

Off I trundled to Homebase to get supplies.

Power tools! I do like to play with power tools. I did actually give up on the saw in favour of my jigsaw too because I really can’t saw in a straight line, especially not with a dodgy, old and rusty saw! Turns out I’m not so great at jigsawing straight either (not helped by being precariously balanced over the kitchen sink because my jigsaw isn’t cordless so I couldn’t do it outside) so I got to use a third power tool, my sander!

I was ably supervised by my little furry Olive while I did a bit of drilling and a few screws and four brackets later my project was assembled.

So, what was I making?

Our patio area had a couple of slabs missing. I think it was probably done intentionally as a bit of a feature, but it just looked like it wasn’t finished.

See what I mean? I decided to do something about it.

Perfect fit! My carpentry skills might not be tip top, but I’m pretty pleased with it. I’d bought one big bag of compost, but it needed two, so I had to down tools and pop back to Homebase – good job it’s only a mile away.

I had several plants patiently waiting for their forever homes and I could finally oblige them.

Drumroll moment …..

Lovely symmetry! This is the bed from either end, but you can only tell by the different coloured Hebes in each corner. The pink ones are closest to the house so we can see some colour in the Winter (I didn’t just say the W word, fingers in ears, lalalalala).

In the middle is a Cordyline and either side of that are Stipas. These Stipas were 50p each in a sale at B&Q. There was nothing wrong with them when I bought them and they’ve been swaying happily in the wind in their pots ever since. I hope they continue to thrive in their new home.

I can’t decide whether it needs a few bedding plants down the sides or not. I think I’ll leave it for a while to see how I feel in a few days.

In other garden news, the seeds in the greenhouse are coming on in leaps and bounds. There’s daily progress at the moment, particularly with the Cosmos.

On the left was yesterday afternoon and on the right was today. They’re shooting up!

Yesterday there was no sign of any Sunflower seedlings, but today …

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I know it doesn’t look like much, but right there in the middle is the beginning of a Sunflower. I’ll try to follow this one through from its very beginning here to hopefully it growing up to a couple of metres tall.

I’ll leave you with a photo of our gorgeous Camellia. In a couple of weeks its flowers will all have dropped, so I’m making the most of it now.

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Have a great week!

Six on Saturday 23rd March

Wow, ok, so this seems to be becoming a regular thing – this is the third consecutive Saturday on which I’ve joined in with the Propagator’s Six on Saturday. As ever, if you’re a gardening enthusiast do head over to his page to check out his and others’ Sixes. It really is a lovely community and as a newbie gardener, I’ve picked up some great bits of advice and info.

I’ve been a busy bee today. The weather was good so I headed out to the garden quite early to have a potter around, and speaking of bees, I saw my first furry bumble bee of the year. I could hear the neighbours’ children in the garden bouncing on their trampoline sounding full of the joys of Spring, as well they should given that this is the first weekend of Spring. It was nice to hear them out there again after months of cold weather and being cooped up inside.

First things first – greenhouse progress. I admit I have popped up there on a couple of days before work to see if I could see any little green shoots peeking up. There were a couple earlier in the week but today when I went up, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few shoots starting to appear.

Quite a few of the Sweet Peas have germinated …

… and the Cosmos in the top four rows have appeared where there was absolute nothing on Thursday. Just one little Aquilegia has poked its head through in the bottom two rows …

… and a couple of teeny tiny Calendulas have appeared.

Nothing showing on my Sunflowers yet but I have a confession to make ….. curiosity got the better of me and I dug around a little bit in the soil to see if anything was happening …. and it is! Yay! I’ve covered them back over and I WILL leave them be until they decide to grow.

Next up I moved the Cowslip which was kindly identified for me after last week’s Six (see what I mean, very helpful people in the Six on Saturday community). It was growing up in our wasteland and I moved in down to my planter.

This is even better than the sale table, a completely free plant that just appeared, and doesn’t it have a lovely pretty flower? Very Spring-like. Let’s hope it doesn’t mind being moved now.

Third is another bit of rejigging. My Dad and C gave us a lovely round planter already planted a couple of years ago. It mainly contained annuals, apart from one Heuchera which has survived a couple of Winters unscathed and is still quite happy in there. Last year I replaced the faded annuals with a Gerbera and a Fern. The Gerbera has survived the Winter which I didn’t think it would, but was a little raggedy and the Fern had really got too big for the planter.

I moved it to somewhere that it can multiply to its heart’s content if it so desires! I planted my Callicarpa Bodinieri in the same area today as well. It’s the thing that just looks likes a load of twigs behind the red Coprosma (LOVE my Coprosma). It’s lost all its purple berries but hopefully will thrive in its forever home.

Back in the planter, I tidied up the Heuchera and the Gerbera and added an Erica Cindy that I found on a sale table last year. It looks a little sad and sparse at the moment but the Heuchera and the Gerbera both have new leaves already growing and there are even a couple of buds on the Gerbera so hopefully it’ll fill out nicely over the next few weeks.

Number four took me back up to the greenhouse. Last week I bought twenty tiny plug Begonias to put in my hanging basket. I had yellow ones in it last Summer and it looked so pretty. I do think the Begonia has an unusual but really beautiful flower.

These ones are mixed colours. Hopefully there’ll be some yellow in there. I’m going to leave it in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks just in case we get another frost because the plants are so tiny and they were kept inside the garden centre so are probably going to feel the cold! I’ve got a few left so I’ll have to find a home for them – maybe in my daffodil trough when the daffs have faded.

My penultimate point kept me up by the greenhouse. Now that I’ve started to do the slabbing and I know my raised beds are in the right place, I filled them with compost. Last week I bought six raspberry plants and ten strawberry plants so I planted them. I’m going to have to rig up some supports for the raspberries and make sure they’re netted so the birds can’t get the fruit when it comes. I bought hubby a bird table for his birthday so we have a plethora of birds, which is lovely, but I want them to stick to their menu, not mine!

The canes along the left are ‘Autumn Bliss’ and along the top are ‘Ample Glen’. I like the idea of ample raspberries so that sold me on those. Seems slightly odd that the Autumn fruiting ones have leaves already whereas the mid-Summer ones are bare, but we’ll see. Half of the strawberry plants are ‘Cambridge’ and the other half are random ones that looked healthiest. Hope they’re not too close to the raspberries. This is all a learning game for me.

Finally I’m after a bit of advice from some more experienced gardeners.

What are these two weeds?

The bottom one seems to be the weed of choice in our garden – super prolific. Monty Don did an article a while back that said you can guess what kind of soil you have from the weeds that grow, and he went on to explain which weeds prefer which type of soil, but as I don’t know what these are, it didn’t really help me! They’re not unattractive as weeds go.

I’ve never seen the one in the top picture before, but I noticed today there are lots of them sprouting up all over.

Anyone got any clue?

I also planted out a Hollyhock, an Ox-Eye Daisy, a Honeysuckle, a Solanum Glasnevin and sixty Summer bulbs today. Unfortunately I’ve already forgotten where the bulbs are so I’m going to have to be careful not to try and plant anything over them! Let’s hope they start to come through quickly!

What to do tomorrow now then? Oh I don’t know, lay some slabs, plant more plants, do some weeding, mow the lawn, tackle the front garden? Green Girl Gardener’s work is never done and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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.