Garden, Photography

End of Month View – February 2011

I have always told myself that I should have a Gardener’s Diary.   I could make copious notes of  plantings, mistakes and successes.  I could fill it with reminders of plants to be moved, and various jottings of ideas and plans.  I never did get around to keeping  a diary, but now I have my Blog, so I have no excuse plus the added bonus of photographs – hey, how organised is that?   Thank you to Helen Patient Gardener  who introduced me to the End of Month View … EMOV.  A great way of reflection, seeing my way forward and a reminding myself of what I have achieved in the past month.

I love these little snowdrops. You don't have to look far to find an abundance of photos in February of carpets of snowdrops. These are my little snowdrops and there are more this year than 2010 so they are spreading and I will have my own carpet before long.

EMOV is going to be invaluable.    The February weather in Sussex, as well as the rest of the country, has been less than great.  We have had some lovely sunny days, usually during the working week when I have been stuck in an office.  Why does it do that?  It always seems to rain at the weekend!   A month of wet weekends has meant that I have not managed to do as much as I would have liked.   However,  Spring is certainly beginning to break through, the daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses are in bloom and the buds are beginning to burst through on the shrubs and trees.

These little daffodils were the first ones to appear in my garden mid-February. If I remember correctly they are called Tete-a-tete and they do look as though, when their little heads bob in the wind, they are having a little chat with each other.

I started my new veg plot at the beginning of February and it is still a mud patch.  Because of the quality of the soil and it’s solid about a foot deep, I should be double digging, but its clay and when wet is practically unworkable.  My raspberries are still in their temporary home and the garden looks a mess.  I have decided to go for the raised bed solution.  I know it will need more watering, but my vegetables have been in pots in past years and I am used to regular watering.

A reminder of what I have not finished this month, roll on the raised beds!

So, what have I done in February?   My sweetpeas are growing…

… and my potatoes are chitting nicely. 

March will be busy.    Meanwhile pay a visit to all the other garden blogs and see how they are coming along.

Garden, Photography

A Sunday Seven: signs of Spring

I love this Spiraea. It’s like a back to front shrub throwing out a lovely burnished autumnal coloured flower in the Spring, turning green in the Summer

 It is the last Sunday of February and, well, its raining again!   I shouldn’t complain though, I had a lovely morning outside, when it was dry, and the sun was shining.  It’s incredible how energy is boundless when working outside in the sun.  I pruned the roses, trimmed the Spireas and lopped  feet off my Elder Sambucus Nigra  which, incidentally, I bought about 5 years ago in a small pot for £6.50 from B&Q.  It has grown into a tree about 8 ft high, (well, it was until this morning) and it drips with elderberries in the Summer.  I just love the purple almost black leaves, especially against the pink flower heads.  

I also gave my Hibiscus a haircut.  Most of us have a reminder in the garden that has a story.    Nine years ago, as a leaving present, I was bought a hardy Hibiscus plant for the garden (not the tropical large dark green variety).  Why a Hibiscus? Sometimes, we went with Barristers to visit women in Holloway Prison, who had been arrested  on entry to the UK.  It is a tenuous link, but, Hibiscus is the voluntary organisation, based in Holloway HMP,  working with foreign women.  It was a memento of my time working at that office.  My Hibiscus  has grown and flowers beautifully every year and I think about those days often.   I don’t know what variety it is, there was no name on the label but it has a lovely pale pink flower. It is now about 5ft high with a spread of roughly 3ft to 4ft, so a good sized shrub.

My first sighting of a ladybird this year

I achieved 101 gardening jobs, trimming, nipping, tidying, loosening soil around plants, weeding,  hoeing and whilst packing up in the rain, I stood and viewed my work  with a sense of satisfaction.  

So, to bring February to an end, I thought rather than write any more I would show you some photos I took this morning, because they speak louder than words when it comes to prove that Spring really is just about here.

Agapanthus peeping through


Bergamot making its way through to the daylight - I love this herb, it smells so wonderful and makes a great tea infusion


Sedum appearing again


Ribes - flowering currant. Not sure if I like its 'perfume' though, smells a bit like cat to me!


Fennel on its way - it smells so strong even when its new. It all adds to the aroma of my garden - every plant has its own perfume.

Finally a photo to remind me of my next job.  My fight against the ivy is ongoing.  I gave up trying to eradicate it completely.  It does make a good backdrop and the birds love the berries, but it is unruly and it needs to be brought into line and reminded whose boss.  I only have to leave it a few months for it to run rampant, setting out across the flower beds as well as over the walls.

My 10 year war with the ivy. Even the compost bin is being held hostage. Let battle begin!

It’s the little things in life!

I am the first to say that a lot of gardening is trial and error, I am sure no-one will disagree with this.  Even the most experienced gardener will suffer failure.  For some inexplicable reason,  seeds just don’t germinated regardless of the fact that they are ones you have used before and grown in a tried and tested manner.  Plants decide not to flower, when they have flowered prolifically in earlier years and vegetables turn tail and disappear completely.

Last year I grew leeks, from seed.  I was so pleased with myself, I had never grown leeks before.  Pride comes before a fall.  They were very slow to germinate, in fact very slow to do anything actually.  The one thing they did achieve was to survive the winter.  “One” thing is very relevant really because only ONE leek grew.  I pulled it up this morning.

My one leek

Everyone want a laugh at my expense?  Alternatively you could feel a little sadness at my inability to grow a decent sized leek!  This is the true size of my leek.

My mini-leek and a biro!

Not to be deterred, I will try again this year.  I intend to grow  a number of good sized healthy looking leeks – just watch me.  In the meantime, any ideas of where I went wrong and some growing tips please?


My dream of The Garden House

How many of us, know of a house that we would like to live in, if only?  Up to a year ago, I regularly passed one particular house, whilst walking to work.   I coveted it, during my 20 minute walk I dreamed of how I could afford to buy it, and planned what I would do with the garden.  It may be because it was called “The Garden House” that caught my imagination.  It could be that it had a front garden larger than my own back garden and the dream included an enormous back garden, together the added  bonus of being south-facing.  Although I never did know what was at the back. It’s great to dream and plan though, isn’t it?

A view of the Colorado Rockies from your very own balcony

My Aunt, who lives outside Denver, Colorado, fell in love with a house.  Many years ago she put a note through their door, asking that if they ever sold would they gave her first refusal – not that she would refuse.  In fact, I think over what was probably 20 years, she posted several notes through their letter box, just to remind them she was still around and interested.  Finally, she got to live in her dream home.  With the glorious view of the Colorado Rockies in the distance, wouldn’t you pursue the dream?

I fell in love with my home at the first viewing, so much so that I completed the sale  on my house, before I had even exchanged contracts on my new home.  I stored my belongings and lived with a friend until I moved in February 2001.  I shudder now at my bravery.  There are not many large Victorian conversions in which the ground floor flat has the whole back garden, and a good sized one at that. This treasure came complete with Victorian stone walls on all three sides (a haven for snails though).

My south-facing patio in the Summer


 I am also lucky that I have a  south-facing side patio.  According to Wikipedia, a patio is an outdoor space generally used for dining or recreation that adjoins a residence and is typically paved – this is exactly what it is.  I eat breakfast out there in the summer, and many a balmy evening I have  entertained with al fresco dinners.  With a micro-climate my Olive tree thrives along with my Oleander.  I have a white border against the wall, with Japanese Anemones, and white Agapanthus. The opposite side is riot of colour with Montbretia, Fuchsias, and Clematis.  There is honeysuckle and a climbling rose tumbling across the wall.


My patio on a wet February day

 This is what my patio looks like at the moment, but I know it won’t be long before I will be having croissants and coffee for breakfast outside at the weekend.   My Olive and Oleander will flower, the colourful border will be loud and blousey and the perfume of the surrounding flowers will be heady in the warm evenings. 

To those of you who follow my posts, can you spot Gary?

What happened to The Garden House?  I have been on secondment for a year and walked passed it for the first time today.  It isn’t there anymore.  It has been demolished, and replaced with workmen and bulldozers.  Sad, because it could have been my dream house.  However, I am very happy with my home and I love my garden, what more could a girl want!


My first daffodil Spring 2011

My first daffodil of Spring 2011 © VJ Tyler 2011
The more I get to grips with blogging and visit other blogs the more I realise what wonderful photographs are posted. 
The clarity never ceases to amaze me, and I can only assume that there are a lot of  people out there with super-duper cameras complete with long lenses and all sorts of  bells and whistles.  My camera is a little Fuji digital.  The macro is not that marvellous, but I am beginning to learn how to focus properly – good photography is a complicated skill.
I can’t afford to get my garden gate fixed, let alone buy a fancy new camera, so I took a look at photo packages for my pc.  Some are almost as expensive as a new camera.  I eventually bought  a cheap and cheerful package calling itself ‘the complete digital photo studio’.   My word… I am usually quite quick picking up how to do things but this should have a “Dummies Guide” to go with it. 
 I will learn the art of photo fixing and whilst not expecting to completely master  the skill of good photography, my intention is to,  eventually,  publish some cracking photos.  Meanwhile this little daffodil in the rain is my first attempt and I am really quite proud of it.
When you have read this, if you have any tips please do leave a comment as any advice will be warmly received.