I’ve Gone a Little Daft about Dahlias

Is it my imagination or have dahlias come to the fore this year?  They seem to have a lot of  publicity appearing on garden programs and magazine articles, as well as people with lots of  ‘dahlia talk’ on social media.  I have always admired the dahlias in the cutting garden at West Dean Gardens, Nr Chichester  but only had one small yellow unnamed dahlia in the garden.   I certainly have been swept along on the dahlia train this year and spent the enormous figure of £9 on tubers from Wilko – a great provider of bargain garden ‘stuff’.   At £1 each I felt I could just about afford to take a loss and would be happy with even half of them grew.

img_1757
I am delighted, and proud that all nine tubers have thrown out shoots!   After avidly reading everything I could find about growing dahlias, I found Sarah Raven’s website and video provided all I needed to know as a complete amateur.  The biggest hurdle was (and still is!) protecting the shoots from slugs and snails.  Even with copper tape, a penny barrier, an idea from David Domoney, as well as my daughter suggesting supergluing pennies around the rim, plus a few strategically placed organic slug pellets, the pesky molluscs must have abseiled down to have a quick nibble.   Some dahlias, as you can see, have grown faster than others, albeit put in pots at the same time.

I am an impulse buyer and rarely, if ever, go with a plan when it comes to buying plants.  Rightly or wrongly, the dahlias I bought were chosen by name, and recommendation, such as Arabian Night, which is mentioned a lot.   To my surprise, rather than having a riot of unorganised colour, all my dahlias are the same colour range of white through to purple, apart from the pretty golden ‘Sunshine’ which I may grow in a pot.

For my future information and out of interest, I list below the dahlias I have along with photos of what they will look like.  Note the voice of positivity.   I must stress at this point I have NEVER grown dahlias before so fingers crossed they will all be successful and don’t succumb to slug and snail fodder.

Single Flower Variety

img_4937
Dahlia ‘Sunshine’

 

Decorative Variety

img_4938
Dahlia ‘Avignon’
img_4943
Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’
img_4945
Dahlia ‘Crazy Love’
img_4942
Dahlia “Le Baron”

Pom Pom Variety

img_4940
Dahlia ‘Franz Kafka’

Collerette Variety

img_4941
Dahlia ‘Teesbrook Audrey’

Cactus Variety

img_4939
Dahlia ‘Purple Gem’

Shaggy Cactus Variety

img_4947
Dahlia ‘Tsuki-yori-no-Shisha’

This last dahlia is my favourite, not only because of the name, I think it is going to be magnificent.  It is already the largest of all the new plants.  I have pinched out the tops of the bigger plants and will regularly be referring to the National Dahlia Society and National Dahlia Collection websites as well as Sarah Raven and the gardening folk on Twitter and Instagram for help and advice.

I have some weeks to go before planting out, so will take time plan the layout of the dahlias sensibly.   I am forward to have an impressive bed of dahlias to cut and have in the house and give to friends.   Watch this space!  Meanwhile, please leave advice and tips in the comment section as all help will be gratefully received – thank you.

Gardening Teaches Patience

I am feeling a bit embarrassed about the state of my garden at the moment.  In my defence it has been either too wet or/and I have been too tired to get out there and do some badly needed house  garden work.   The back garden has no sun during the winter months and with the amount of rain we have had, for what feels like months on end, it is not getting the chance to dry out.  Also despite adding plenty of ‘goodness’ over the years I have worked on it, the heavy clay soil makes draining an almost impossible job.   I squelched out there this afternoon after my hospital treatment because it was sunny and I thought I should make an inspection – probably not a good idea, but it’s given me something to blog about. 

 
I have posted a similar photo of the north facing border recently, and apologise for doing it again.  The rain has flattened the soil and where it has flooded, due to the water not draining, the lawn edging has broken down.  I have spiked the soil with a fork on several occasions to no avail.

  
The above photo shows more clearly what the flowerbed has turned into, the fresh greenery at the base of the wall is crocosmia (montbretia) which continues to spread and grow despite where it is planted!  You can just see the achemilla mollis coming through again. 

It is not just this bed that has had its boundary between soil and lawn flattened, the bed at the bottom of the garden has the same problem and it’s becoming difficult to see where the border ends and the lawn begins.

  
 

  
You can see that I have tried to dig over some of the panned soil and edge the lawn.  The trouble with this is there are a lot of spring bulbs and the last thing I want to do is damage them.   It’s all a bit of a mess as I said earlier, the grass is growing but it’s far too wet to mow and clumps of grass are beginning to spread into the flowerbed, so there is a lot of work to do.   

The sticks are my effort to prevent the local cats from pooing and digging up the bulbs,  it works to a point, they now poo on the lawn instead!  It’s good to see the agapanthus growing along with the aqualigia, all signs of Spring not being too far away.  What worries me most is that we haven’t yet had a really hard frost or a very cold winter spell.   The damp and lack of frost is aiding and abetting slug and snail eggs hidden beneath the soil, so I could be suffering a bumper crop of these beasties with their voracious appetites.   We need a really good frost so I can turn over the soil and kill off as many eggs as possible.

   
 My spring bulb pots are on the side south facing patio, strategically placed so I can see them from the kitchen window.  The tulips are beginning to poke their way through.  I have spoken to them and tried to explain it is still a little too early but they are taking no notice of me!  The narcissi are looking as though they will be flowering in the next week or two. 

There is so much to do and I really should be thinking about pulling up dead stems etc, I usually leave them as protection for new growth.  However, it just looks untidy now and it’s frustrating me.  I am hoping that we have a good weekend soon and I can get out there and make a difference.   At the moment with going to and fro the hospital every day I don’t have time in the morning and am tired when I get home.   

It all comes good in the end though, as experience has taught me, so patience is the essence here, which is what gardening is all about. 

A Soggy Garden with Confused Plants 

Spurred on with a new lease of life I had an idea that I would post a comparison of what was/is in the garden over the years I have written my blog.   To my surprise I have only a couple of posts from this week in the past and none of them are to do with the garden, so that idea was knocked on the head.   What I did notice was the second/third week in January, since the blog began in 2011, invariably had snow or was very icy, so maybe we will have a cold winter in 2016 before spring arrives. 

An icy  blast is certainly going to shock all the plants that have been fooled by the unseasonably warm weather.  In the front garden the snowdrops are out and the forget me nots have reseeded themselves everywhere! 

  
The tulips and daffodils (tete a tete) are coming through and the day lilies are producing lots of new leaves. 

  
 In order to protect the bulb shoots from the window cleaners, who have no regard to anything in flowerbeds, I have placed some flower supports.  I hope it works, in previous years they have just trampled over everything! 

  
We have had so much rain the back lawn squelches under foot, and the grass continues to grow with little chance of getting the mower out.  The north facing border always ends up with standing water and there is a bare patch of lawn which I have tried, without success, to reseed on a number of occasions.  I have decided not to bother anymore and will turn it part of the flowerbed.   After I took the photo below I spiked the bed with a fork with the hope that it will drain. 

  
The summer jasmine, which sadly didn’t flower last year, is covered in buds (far too early) and I hope that it doesn’t succumb to any impending frosts. It won’t be warm enough however to make the most of the wonderful perfume is exudes on a balmy June evening.  I’ll have to bring some sprigs indoors to enjoy it. 
  Finally, all my spring pots were planted up before Christmas and I moved them so they can be seen from the kitchen window.   There are some very tiny shoots in some of them and one pot is very advanced.  It is the only pot that is not labelled up, (it would be!), but I think they are early narcissi.  Sometimes it’s quite exciting guessing what is growing.

  
We all know that in the winter cold wet days are usually mild, with sunny days bringing cold weather.   We need a bit more sun now with freezing temperatures to kill off the bugs, slugs and snails in the garden and there are very many people in the UK praying that we have no more rain for quite  while.   Maybe my next post will have snowy and ice photos! 

End of Month View : October 2015

I tend to lose interest in the garden at this time of year and I am ready to start to pull things up and have a general tidy session.

Also I have not had a lot of time to venture out into the garden to do the necessary jobs.   My mum, who is 96, had another chest infection in September and went downhill very fast, not eating or drinking.  We were told by the doctor not to expect her to live through this one.   I sat with her most days and spooned water into her mouth as she didn’t have the strength to sip through a straw.   We even arranged for a priest to give her Last Rites, for the second time this year.

On top of that I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.   Actually it is not as bad as it sounds.  They found a tiny little tumour on a mammogram, it had not even formed into a lump.  After a biopsy I was told it was grade one, and I had a lumpectomy and a lymph node removed from my armpit last week.   Mum has not quite bounced back, but is still very much with us and I am recovering well from my operation, with radiotherapy due after Christmas.  We are a family of tough women!!

Back to the garden; so you can see why it has taken backstage recently.

The leaves are falling fast from the trees and the lawn is becoming covered in leaves from the Sambucus.  When the muscles under my arm feel a little stronger, and the stitches have dissolved,  I will be out there with my rake.

image

The trouble with starting to clear away the detritus is due to the mild weather there are plants in the garden still flowering, such Cerinthe:

imageGaura

image

Hot Lips Salvia, Penstemon Garnet and even the roses are still in bloom.

image image

image

image

However, the majority of the garden really is now on its last legs and in the next week or so the majority will be slowly confined to the compost heap.  Leaving, of course, some plants for winter architecture, including the Sedum.

image

image

Before last week I made a start clearing the side patio and now the Japanese Anemones are over, I can cut them down, turn over the soil and plant daffodil bulbs.

image

I noticed the Pieris ‘Forest Flame’, which was looking a little worse for wear a few months ago, is producing lots of new shoots at the base.  It’s heartening when you think you may have lost a favourite plant  to see it rejuvenated.

image

I am not too sure if the old wives tale of lots of holly berries is an indication of a harsh winter.  My holly tree has more berries on it this year than I remember from last years, so we shall see.

image

There will not be so much to show when it comes to the November EOMV but I will take great pleasure in reading other contributors blogs from around the world who will be just starting their spring.   Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener https://patientgardener.wordpress.com for hosting this exceptionally useful monthly meme.