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!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Ladybird interest

Not much happening in the garden this past week.   Things are very gradually shutting down in readiness for the inevitable cold - although a small number of French beans are still growing in the green house and my first ever pak choi are coming on nicely.  

But I did find a 10 spot lady bird and it reminded me of a fascinating programme about them I heard on BBC Radio 4 - The Living World, November 20th.   It explained why we so often find them apparently hibernating in upstairs rooms!   I am a great fan of The Living World even though I often manage to go back to sleep trying to listen to the Sunday morning edition.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Bulb planting and treasure hunting

Fucshia Dollar Princess (?) through the kitchen window
As if Dan's "hour of power" at Oakley Court first thing on a Saturday morning wasn't energetic enough yesterday I decided that a serious day's gardening was due and set out on a clearing and bulb-planting exercise until it got too dark.

I always enjoy sweeping up leaves and cutting back perennials (although I am leaving most of the latter for a while as a lot of things are still growing) and there are real treasures to be found amongst the dried leaves and seed heads.   Yesterday I found a tiny poppy seed-head skeleton and a beautiful perennial sweet pea which had also rotten back to its delicate framework.   Holly skeletons are also prized finds and they all have great photographic potential even thought they do rather clutter up the kitchen.

I planted the tulips really densely this year and tried to remember to put the shorter, earlier-flowering ones to the front.   I still finished up with a bag of 25 Princess Irene which I will have to plant in pots and didn't quite get round to finishing my planting at the front.   The soil was moist but not too heavy and easily mixed with a good few handfuls of bonemeal.

Mum told me that squirrels have been digging up the bulbs she has planted which set me thinking, so I firmed down the soil well and strewed holly and a thick layer of fallen leaves over the areas I planted.   I'm sure it won't make any difference to squirrels but it may deter cats!

I have decided to leave the dahlias in non-tulip areas in the ground to over-winter as an experiment.   I am still drying and cleaning the ones I lifted which should be ready to put into store next week.   Some of the tubers are huge so I really hope I am successful this year.   Maybe I could divide some of them to give away or do some swapping...?

There is little left in flower now; evergreen honeysuckle, the odd rose and a few early flowers of winter jasmine but the hardy fucshia opposite my kitchen window (Dollar Princess - I think...) is still giving me a great show.   They go in and out of fashion but I still really like them in moderation.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Mean, thrifty or green?

Golden wisteria and a carpet of hazel leaves but the dahlias are still green and budding...
Every so often I become aware of having inherited a little of my Yorkshire Dad's "waste not want not" philosophy.  I don't think it's meanness, I just hate waste and equally hate being exploited.   This tends to come to the fore in gardening activities, plant labelling being a prime example and as at the weekend I finally decided I would have to start lifting the dahlias - green and thriving as they were - to make space for tulips I realised that one of the things that was making me procrastinate was the labelling issue.   Last year I spent ages making labels for my dahlias from old wooden lolly sticks.   What a waste of time - they all faded!   But this year I was really chuffed to find that the labels I had made with indelible marker pen written on to strips of cut up plastic milk bottles were mostly still legible next to the plants when I dug them up.   So I have wrapped each tightly around the remaining stub of stem with a bit of garden wire or string re-cycled from the plant supports.   Great if they don't fade over winter; will have to remember to check them.
Digging up the tubers was satisfying work - enjoyed equally by a hungry robin!   It also threw up another dilemma - what to do with them over winter.  The last 2 years have been fairly disastrous as I failed to protect the tubers from 1. extreme cold and 2. mildew.   So I began lifting them and putting them to dry on a rack in the greenhouse still pondering the best method.   Happily, a lovely guy I was shooting with on Sunday, who runs his own landscape gardening business near Portsmouth, had a bright suggestion - a garage - the ideal compromise.

Next weekend I will have to finish the job and get down to some serious decision-making with my tulip combinations.   It can't possibly be as warm and sunny....

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Tulip planting time

I read in The Garden that November is the right time to plant tulip bulbs.   Having just taken delivery of a batch of over 200 from Parkers (www.jparkers.co.uk) I think it's time someone told the weather to give us a good hard frost so I can lift my dahlias - which are still growing in the space I need for my tulips!   I suppose I could cut them down and plant very carefully around them but somehow I don't feel confident about leaving the dahlia tubers in the ground as I suspect we may be in for another hard winter....   There probably wouldn't be room anyway!

I've gone for powerful contrasting colours again.   Oranges are Ballerina, Jimmy, Apricot Beauty and the gorgeous, smaller-growing Princess Irene which is flame orange with purple hints.   Purples are Ronaldo, Burgundy, Purple Dream, and Purple Prince.   As I couldn't resist them I also ordered some Marilyn - white with deep pink stripes which were such characters last year and seemed to last for weeks and weeks.   Lulu has also given me some Dolls Minuet - deep pink with a fine green stripe - which, unusually, have a fine scent so I shall plant them in a pot near the house with the correct mix of John Innes No.2 and grit - and see how that works out.

Am being seduced by the prospect of winter-flowering clematis (another article in this month's The Garden) and thinking about getting a Cl. napaulensis which is such a winter treat that its. leaves die back in the summer.  Sounds like I might be able to fit that in!

Sarah Raven is offering some luscious dahlia collections (at a price!) in my favourite colours - the pinks purples and reds with some good oranges thrown in for contrast.   I love her sense of colour.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Another star plant - Coronilla valentina citrina

I popped in to my Mum's at the weekend and saw a coronilla valentina citrina I had brought back for her from a photography shoot - for a "green" car braking system !! - had burst into flower.   I am generally very unenthusiastic about yellow flowers but this is such a delicate pale lemon yellow and such a remarkably fragile-looking plant to flower at this time of year - and most of the winter if it behaves like last year - that if I had the space I would get one myself!   It even smells divine.

Oh for some more space....

Wootten's have these on special offer at the mo. along with some gorgeous irises I also don't have space for.   Boo hoo!!  

See  www.woottensplants.co.uk