June view 2009

June view 2009
View of rose and herb garden, June 2009

Small Garden Story

Over some 15 + years, I have been photographing the evolution of my small (85 x 15 foot) garden and it seems a waste not to put these records into some sort of context. Beginning here in April 2010 this Blog is intended to both act as a diary and to share past and present successes (and some failures), pleasures and disappointments with fellow garden-lovers. In due course, I intend to fill in some of the background and early days but that will have to wait until the winter months!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Alliums

The biggest, boldest and last of my alliums to flower - A. Christophii also happily self-seeds in my garden. Here a little group are partly supported by the flourishing stems of herbaceous clematis Wyevale which is trying to take over a whole area of the "herb garden" and seems to have choked my little rosa Warm Welcome to death! The flower pot is a an earwig trap left over from last year. I must refill it with straw soon before they start appearing in numbers. I've already seen off a few!

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Legumes and soft fruit

Having replaced most of the wooden fence and a "patch up" job on the shed, for the first time I am quite proud of the fruit and veg patch behind the greenhouse. At the moment it seems the only area that is vaguely under control. I cut some of the raspberries right back last year but they seem to be doing just as well as the ones I only hard pruned - an interesting experiment. The redcurrant bush is weighed down with fruit again this year and the red gooseberry seems happy although I can no longer think of it as a standard in shape! The three new blackcurrant bushes look healthy enough but are not going to bear fruit this year. The new blackberry is taking its' time to get going though, having put on hardly any growth. In the veg line I planted shop-bought seedlings of broad beans, Tom Thumb peas, a purple-podded pea variety and some dwarf yellow french beans. The 4 courgettes seeds and 12 purple climbing french beans I planted ALL came up. I learned about courgette plants last year so have already given 2 away! The first little pea pods are already well-formed on Tom Thumb so hopefully everything won't all come at once. In the greenhouse are 4 tomatoes (Sarah Raven mix - one failed so they refunded me £ 1.64p!!!) and a couple of chili peppers. Thinking about planting a cucumber of two since my trip to Cyprus where it appeared at virtually every meal - and why not!

May exhuberance

While I was away walking in Cyprus in 30+ degrees of heat, the south of England was also having glorious weather. I could hardly believe how green it all looked from the window of the plane and the beautiful patches of white daisies growing on the verges right near Heathrow airport! My garden is also flourishing and for once last weekend's Bank Holiday weather permitted wall to wall gardening which I needed in order to catch up. I can't really single out anything that's of particular merit this year other than the roses which seem to be flourishing everywhere. I have never had so many buds on any of mine although I have sadly lost the little bright orange "Warm Welcome" which was sickly last year and just totally died this spring. Maybe it has been suffocated by the herbaceous clematis "Wyevale" which is a bit of a thug and needs serious thinning out. Not sure whether I should try another rose in the same place but it's hard to find anything which does quite the same job! One mark of the prolonged cold spring is how late the dahlias have been to get started - even in the greenhouse. I planted the tubers from Sarah Raven almost as soon as they arrived but a couple only began showing shoots last week. Ironically, in spite of some extremely cold snaps, I DID manage to overwinter some tubers from last year, packed in foam chips in a large cardboard box in the greenhouse. I have been brutal with digging up and chucking out the tulip bulbs now they are over and for once am left with a few patches of bare earth as the dahlias grow on sufficiently to be planted out. Not sure where I will find space for them all now!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Plants in black and white!

We have had a pretty foul winter which is part of my excuse for neglecting my blog. Apologies! Happy to say I have not neglected the garden. Just now I'm delighted with a smart new fence, a nice soft dark brown, quite unlike the rather raw-looking orangey hue they used to be when new. Getting rid of two vastly over-grown ivies which were helping tear it to pieces has given me a lot more room too. I am busy researching climbers and looking back to see what has succeeded in previous years. Today though I just wanted to share this close-up from my exhibition "Garden Enigmas" of 2005 which has just been nominated in this year's Black and White Spider Awards. Personally I think the poppy seed head was much more powerful but then I'm not judging!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Digging and planting

The delivery of a large package containing 3 blackcurrant bushes and a blackberry cane persuaded me it was worth the effort of wrapping up well and ignoring the gloomy weather today.
The small border at the very end of the garden, backing on to my neighbours' tall fence, has long been a bit of a disaster zone so earlier in the year I decided to cut back and kill the root of the rampant jasmine which was taking over and turn it over to soft fruit. I knew the earth was full of stones but didn't anticipate just how many bucket-fulls I would have to remove: it took the best part of three hours. There was also a surprise in store. At one end of the border about a foot deep I hit something hard but not totally solid which turned out to be the bottom of a large up-turned bucket evidently buried deliberately. As my imagination went into overdrive I decided to leave it where it is! Maybe in many years to come someone else can discover what is hidden underneath it. I found only a few worms so evidently the soil wasn't very healthy so I've dug in some manure and compost and popped my 3 "Wellington" Blackcurrants in a small row. It is a sunny spot so fingers crossed they will thrive so I can make blackcurrant jam next year!
The "Merton" thornless blackberry has gone in next to the loganberries which seem to thrive so hopefully the location will suit that too.
Having left my daahlia tubers to dry in the green house they looked so healthy I decided to attempt another means of over-wintering them by packing them in a box filled with polystyrene "Wotsits" that arrived as packing-material for some pots of growing narcissi. Again, we shall see what happens!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Looking back and planting tulips

The past summer has been one of the best growing seasons since I began my garden with a great balance of sun and rain. Since I did a massive cut-back of climbers, most particularly my Kiftsgate rose (which had become very badly mildewed with attendant black spot) the grass has even grown quite well.
I grew my first ever courgettes with comparative success, a massive crop of climbing French beans var.Cosse Violette planted both in and outside the greenhouse and a very passable crop of cherry tomatoes from just 2 plants in a growbag, also in the greenhouse - all of which ripened. I had forgotten how much better they taste than the shop-bought ones!
The dahlias also performed well providing flowers for the house beyond the end of October. I picked this bunch on October 21st! Those I had left in the ground did nearly as well as the greenhouse-raised plants although some were slower to get going. I was pleased with my colour selection this year but my attention to plant-positioning left room for improvement. I need labels with pictures!
I totally missed any gardening last sunny weekend but did manage a very soggy, muddy day's cutting back and tidying during the week, lifting most of the dahlias and replacing them with tulips from Parker's as per pictures attached. In a rush to beat the weather and catch the light they went in rather randomly so the results should be interesting again!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Late frosts and rain at last

The old saying "Ne'er cast a clout 'till May be out" came to mind last week when we had a frost which actually caught some of my courgette plants. The origin and meaning are doubtful - particularly whether May refers to the month or may blossom (hawthorn) which is out now! See more at:http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/till-may-is-out.html Happily they have survived but are struggling by comparison with those in the greenhouse which are flourishing. The broad beans are much hardier - after all they germinated in freezing weather!
All of the dahlias I bought from Sarah Raven have started growing. Secret snail-visits have resulted in the paper labels being consumed (they must like the glue!) so I have found a good use for wooden coffee-stirrers. They make great labels!
It's been so dry I haven't had to cut the grass in over two weeks but, of course, the bank holiday has brought much-needed rain. Although everything has been flourishing in the sunshine the lack of rain was beginning to tell and I had started to water a few things. The up side of this is that everything has been very well-behaved and stayed quite neat and tidy with comparatively few slugs and snails. Now I am expecting a great rush of growth with associated propping and tying up - and judicious placing of slug pellets.
The cold weather seems to be keeping some of the bugs at bay too - famous last words! No lily beetles YET - so many buds this year look promising.
The tulips turned out fabulous again - in spite of the "Brown sugar" error. Interestingly, parrot tulips Princes Irene not in pots did not grow as tall as most of the other varieties but are still gorgeous. In another life I could spend a whole week just photographing them.
In terms of growing things from seed, the broad beans, courgettes and french beans are doing well and I am experimenting with mixed salad leaves and herbs in a wooden box which I can move about (currently in the greenhouse). My sweet pea seedlings have come up a bit spindly and I should have thought to plant Cobea scandens sooner as apparently they take about a month to germinate, although one seems to be struggling through after only two weeks. Apparently they are perennial in some climates - how good that would be....
Last but not least, I sometimes despair over the rampant growth of my one comfrey plant, but who can deny the beauty and elegance of its unfurling flowers.