End of Month View – April 2011

Allium, Euphorbia and japanese anemone

Whow, the weather this April has been crazy.  It has been as warm as we would expect in the Summer and we have had no rain in West Sussex for weeks on end.   Both my water butts are empty, actually that is not quite true, we must have had a short shower last night, because the slim butt by my back door was about 2/3rds full this morning.  This was great, but not enough, we need a good few days of solid rain to replenish the water levels and refill our water butts.

Alan Titchmarsh says that he doesn’t water his established perennials, encouraging them to dig deep with their roots and uses a mulch to seal in the moisture.   I can understand that to a point, if you don’t give the soil a really good soaking, the roots will stay just below the surface where the soil is wet and this can lead to weak plants.   However, it is very disconcerting to see treasured plants wilting in the heat.  My water is metered and I am very conscious, when filling my watering can from the tap, that I am paying for every drop of water I am pouring on my plants.  Also plants do not like tap water, especially ours as it is so hard.   We must have some rain soon, the water reservoirs are too low for this time of the year and if this continues we will be heading towards a water shortage.

North facing flower bed April 2011
The North facing border is lush and filling out nicely

My Aquilegia are in bloom a little early,however, when I look back to last year, the photos I took were mid-May.  They have self-seeded all over the garden, but still have come out in different colours and its exciting to watch which ones will stay true from year to year.  I have given up naming them, they are all just Aquilegia to me.   The greenfly are having a field day though and I am having to spray them with soapy water, not that it is making much difference.

My raised bed is flourishing and I have already started cutting the baby spinach leaves for salads.  The first radishes are nearly ready to pull.

My potato bag has now had two layers of chitted Duke of Yorks and all I have to do is wait for them to flower and I should be rewarded with fresh potatoes from the garden.  Exciting because I have never grown my own potatoes before.

The pak choi is growing well.  This is another vegetable  I have never grown before.  I think I have not thinned them out enough, from my recollection of seeing pak choi in the shops it is quite bulky, probably to the thickness of  celery.   I read that they don’t like their roots disturbed but I had sown far too many seeds and it was difficult to thin them out in situ, so I pulled them all up and replanted the little plants.  I watched them with trepidation for a few days as they went very floppy and I thought I was going to have to go back to square one.  They have picked up  fortunately and are looking very healthy.  I still zip the cover to the raised bed closed every night, the temperature really drops and there is always the fear of a sudden grown frost, despite the hot days.

Everything shot up in the heat and the sun, but now, because of the lack of rain it is all slowing down a bit. I do hope we don’t have a really cold May which will set everything back.

The strawberry plant is beginning to flower and my beautiful pink tissue paper like poppy is just in bud.  Again it is early and I am having a little panic as I can only see one bud.  This poppy is now about 5 year old and generally throws up six to eight flowers.  I hope that it does the same again this year.

Finally, my Gerbera is appearing again this year.   Several years ago I went to the Hampton Court Show on the last Sunday.  It is always, in my opinion, the best day to go as all the plants are sold off at about 4:00pm and some great bargains are to be had.  I bought this Gerbera because it produces the brightest pink flower you can imagine and was a good sized large plant for only £5.   Looking at it, I think I need to re-pot it because it is growing in one corner only, so that is my next job.  My lovely white Agapanthus is in the background.

So there we are, my EMOV for April.   I am looking forward to EMOV May to show photos of plants in full flower.   Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener for starting off this meme.


What a wonderful Royal Wedding Day We Have Had

Well it’s all over and I am, like many others, suffering from the anti-climax.   I watched the Royal wedding with Daughter #2, who gets married in July, and my 92 year old Mum.

We hot-footed it from my house to her Nursing Home (just around the corner) between the Queen leaving Buckingham Palace, getting there just in time for her arrival at Westminster Abbey.  Mum’s Nursing Home, laid on a party and when we arrived, they were all in front of giant screens with their glittering Union Jack hats and glasses of wine.

For months the media have been getting hot under the collar about the guest list, who is invited and who is not.   There has been supposition about what the guests will wear and more important what the Bride will be wearing and who the designer will be.  What a well kept secret that has been.  The frenzy built to a crescendo over the last week, culminating into a wonderful Royal wedding.  No one does pomp and circumstance as well as us.

Although watched by millions, both outside and on television, together with a full congregation at Westminster Abbey, it still had that, comfortable, happy, family feel about it.

No doubt, you will read many many articles and blogs about the wedding.  This is my little addition, in which I would like to mention what stood out out to me:-

First, there was the wonderful sight of Westminster Abbey flanked with  field maples Acer campestre and  hornbeams Carpinus betulus   in giant pots.  These trees are native to the British Isles and set the theme of the wedding.  Her white bouquet was lily of the valley, hyacinth, sweet william and with a sprig of myrtle from Queen Victoria’s home at Osborne on the Isle of Wight.  The couple had said they wanted the day to epitomise the best of what was British.  They certainly achieved that.

The music, was rousing and by British composers.  Catherine Middleton walked down the aisle to I Was Glad by Parry.   the same music  used for The Queen’s coronation and her Golden Jubilee.  The whole of the Abbey sang Jerusalem with gusto – such a rousing patriotic song, written by William Blake.  Finally, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walked back down the aisle together, timed to perfection, to William Walton’s Crown Imperial.   The residents of Mum’s Home joined in most of the songs and some even stood up when the National Anthem was played, now you don’t get that happening anymore.

With our very own family wedding coming up, as Mother of Bride, I was eager to see what was fashionable, and what was not.  Also what the glamorous, fashionistas were wearing.   It was noticeable that the number of fascinators were at a minimum.  Large, and I mean LARGE, brimmed hats were abound.  I did laugh to watch the women greet each other with side to side air kisses and I could imagine them thinking “Mind my hat”.   Phew, I am glad that I changed my fascinator for a hat.  Heavily doctored, a one-off, and as good as any Philip Traecy hat, although I say it myself.

Now, the shoes… that was interesting and causing me a dilemma with my outfit.  What was obvious was that elegant footwear either matches the outfit, making for a complete colour block, or nude in colour, creating a long leg look.

Much to Daughter #2’s relief there was only one thing at the wedding today which is something they are having at their wedding, but I am not going to tell you here.  For that, my hat and my shoes you will have to wait until  July.