Garden blogging

Six on Saturday – 24/11/2018

I’ve had a busy week tidying up my patio pots, throwing out the summer plants and potting up the Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ and Achillea ‘Terracotta’ from the large containers into smaller pots to overwinter. I’ve put a variety of spring bulbs – tulips, daffodils, Muscari and crocus into the empty pots. A bit like seeing a blank piece of paper that needs to be filled in I have an aversion to pots with nothing but a gravel topping.

I took a visit to our local garden centre and had a spend up! We have an issue with squirrels here, hence one of the pots with pea and bean netting on it. I ran out of plants hence it just being gravel (for the time being). The Christmas shop was so full of goodies, I couldn’t resist buying a few little robins! They might not deter the magpies and pigeons, but they are fun. Above are just a few of my winter pots, there are another six on the other side, but they are still full of flowering geraniums so not ready for winter just yet.

My Six on Saturday are the components of three of the pots, which are now also draped in lights, in case you wonder what the green wiring is, making them look very pretty in the evenings – in my humble opinion anyway.

Pot one

1. Variegated Osmanthus

2. Hellebore Nigra

When hunting for hellebores I found it frustrating that the larger garden centres such as Wyevale and Hilliers sell them in large pots between £11-£13. All I wanted was a couple of small ones, and was delighted to find them in Keydell nurseries, in Hordean at £3 a pot. There I also found osmanthus at £2.80 and a couple of ivies for under £2; that is the difference between a local independent nursery and chains.

Pot Two

3. Winter cherry – Solanum pseudocapsicum

4. Gaultheria

5. Mini Cyclamen

The Winter Cherries look like mini tomatoes but give height and brightness to the display with contrast to the dark red cyclamen and gaultheria berries. None of the plants will fill out as much as summer bedding but I am hoping they will grow a little bigger.

Pot Three

6. Skimmia Japonica ‘Rubella’ and more cyclamen

There is always a plethora of red, white and pink cyclamens in garden centres but I fell in love with the unusual very dark red variety and they particularly go well with the Skimmia.

Please pay a visit to The Propagator’s Blog who not only hosts the weekly Six on Saturday, has lots of other really interesting and informative blog posts.

UPDATE … winter pots all lit up

Garden blogging, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 08/09/2018

Hello people, I’m back again!

Life took a bit of a dip recently after the death of my Dad and I lost interest in everything including blogging! I haven’t stepped foot on my allotment for 2 weeks and not sure what I’m going to find this afternoon when I make a much needed visit. However, yesterday I spent time in my daughter’s garden doing a spot of tidying up, they have missed their gardener (me!) so there is a lot to do.

1. Begonias

Whilst not to everyone’s taste this begonia trough is a riot of colour and you can’t help but think wow! Personally I was not a lover of begonias, the name always springs to mind visions of little pink flowers with burgundy leaves used in park gardens. These were small bedding plants given to my son in law by his father and I planted them in a trough on the patio, certainly not expecting the kaleidoscope outcome. They have survived the hot dry weather, being ignored, and have changed my view on begonias.

2. Morning Glory and an unknown clematis

Much to my daughter and SiL’s dismay, after pulling up the bindweed growing rapidly up the trellis on the garage wall, I planted Morning Glory. I think they were a little more than a bit dubious when I explained the difference and that ‘Grandpa Otts’ was a great colourful climber. Although we thought we had cleared the bed in the spring, I found a tiny clematis shoot, so without saying anything I left it to weave it’s way up the trellis. By some miracle it is the same colour as the Morning Glory, but I have no idea what it is called – anyone recognise it?

3. Dahlia ‘Preference’

A good friend wanted to buy me a ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlia last year but as they were out of stock she ordered tubers to be delivered in the spring. The nursery sent two tubers of ‘Preference’ with a note to say Cafe au Lait was still not available so we’re sending the tubers closest in colour – which was not the case. It is aptly named as I do prefer this one, the blooms are smaller than ‘Cafe au Lait’ and it gives more colour. You can see from the above photo, it has been left to tumble through the flowerbed – this happens when the gardener doesn’t visit regularly and stake the plants 😄. I think they look lovely like this and might just let them do this next year rather than have them regimentally tied up.

4. Salvia ‘Love and Kisses’

I have introduced a number of salvias of different types into their garden. We have all fallen in love with ‘Love and Kisses’. I was a little concerned that it wasn’t going to get enough sun, this border is in shade in the morning and late afternoon, but clearly it was a good spot and it is thriving. Getting it through the winter is the next step – advice on this please?

5. Euphorbia ‘Summer Icicle’

How many packets of seeds free with gardening magazines do you actually use? I had a weird collection in the spring and amongst them was a packet of Euphorbia seeds. I was unaware you could not only grow Euphorbia from seeds, but that some of them were annuals. As an experiment I sowed them in little pots and was not very successful with only two coming to fruition. They are in the ‘Hot Bed’ and are so pretty. I do know they are full of sap which can be an irritant so will be careful. ‘Summer Icicle’ is on my seeds to grow list for 2019.

6. Hot Bed

It is difficult looking after someone else’s garden when they have different ideas and these obviously must be respected. Even more so when it is family. I like the cram-it-all-in style of gardening, giving the higgledy piggledy look, as you can see in the number 3 Dahlia photo. My daughter and SiL prefer to go for the clear cut, room around each plant, look. It is a large garden with lots of space for different flowerbeds so a variety of looks are easily incorporated. Armed with a list of suggested plants from me, they bought and planted a hot bed, including grasses. monarda, agapanthus, salvias and knipofia. It really is quite impressive and they have done an excellent job. Above is the bed from both ends.

Please call in on The Propagator’s Blog and see his Six on Saturday and peep over the garden fence of the many other contributors.

Garden blogging, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 21 July 2018

My first Six on Saturday is Roselily ‘corolla’ which after a very long wait just looking at buds, eventually flowered in a spectacular fashion this week!

As promised here are the photos – aren’t they beautiful!

They are so different to other lilies, for a start they are pollen free so won’t stain anything that touches them. Also they have a very delicate light fragrance, which will please those who love lilies but dislike their heady perfume.

My second is pumpkins!

At first I though someone or something had thrown an apple into my pumpkin patch until I looked closer and found baby pumpkins. I’ve never grown them before and it’s only a little thing but I felt really quite excited.

Third are my Sunflowers.

I have always had this idea allotments should have sunflowers and am surprised there are very few to be seen on our allotment site. I raised a number of plants from seed, some are in my daughter’s garden and I planted the rest on my plot. Much to my annoyance, and ignorance I suppose, they were cut off at the pass by snails, leaving me only 2 to rescue. They are now enormous, standing proud for everyone to see, so it’s sunflowers 1: snails 0. Today, this little bee was feeding away, totally oblivious of me taking photos of him.

Fourth is Scarecrow and sweetcorn.

Along with sunflowers, I have this idealistic view that scarecrows are part and parcel of allotment life – again they are far a few to be seen. I know they don’t scare anything but they are a bit of fun. I made mine out of a pillow, and when I asked my granddaughter to name her she said “GRANNIE”!!! 🤣🤣🤣

What started as eight tiny sweetcorn plants are starting to reach for the sky, nowhere near as tall as some on other plots but they will get there. They appear to be the one vegetable thriving in this unusually hot, dry, summer.

My fifth Six on Saturday is Poppy (Pom Pom Shaggy somniferum)

This is one of only three wonderful shaggy poppy flowers that were successful and have more than made up for only being three. I sowed a whole packet of seeds direct into the raised bed I dedicated to flowers hoping for a big display. However I will collect the seeds with better luck next year.

Last but not least is blackberries.

At the back of the plot is a resplendent thornless blackberry growing along a very rickety fence. I have read that even the best flavoured thornless blackberries don’t quite have that aromatic sweetness associated with the true wild blackberry, but I bet they still taste good. There are so many of them I will be making lots of jam very soon.

So that’s my Six on Saturday. Please pay a visit to The Propagator Blog and take a look at the many contributions to this weekly weekly meme.

Garden blogging

Restoring a Hampshire Garden – Chapter 3

I’ve just realised it’s been 5 weeks since I last wrote an update on my daughter and Son in Law’s Hampshire Garden. The last blog post, Chapter Two, was all about sorting out the heavy duty, overgrown trellis along the side of the garage. It is now festooned with lights and hanging pots, much nicer than overgrown ivy and unkempt honeysuckle.

The Heuchera really picked up after freeing it from the stranglehold of weeds and is looking rather splendid. The spikey plant is a donated impressive lime green Heuchera but had been left in a pot and dried out in the recent hot weather. To revive it I gave it a drastic haircut and it is slowly throwing out new shoots – phew!

The roses have responded well to their untangling and pruning last month. There are a few plants on the shopping list for the trellis to provide an evening floral fragrance, such as Jasmine Officinale.

The ivy covered hedge that divided the garden across the middle has been removed, opening up the garden considerably. Behind the hedge was a very neglected and overgrown area that had a few raised beds and once clearly was a productive fruit and vegetable part of the garden. This has now been cleared and will be laid to lawn with a variety of borders adding shape and interest to the garden, including a hot border with grasses, Rudbekia and Echinacea in the sunniest border.

I have been given the border on the left hand side of the garden as my own, which is really exciting. It is 10 metres long and full of roots from ivy and other shrubs that have been removed. The ivy is still a battle but having a 17 year fight in my Worthing garden I am used to dealing with it!

It is a challenge finding suitable plants for a North-West facing border, with a North facing corner and a large apple tree. Ferns and Hostas will be the order of the day for this far corner under the tree. It is a dry shade, and some careful planting is required – according to the RHS website Pieris Japonica, Skimmia, Viburnum and Sambucus Nigra are ideal shrubs.

The soil is fabulous loam which is not surprising since it was used for growing vegetables and fruit. It was an absolute treat to work after years of heavy clay. Some, and perhaps most, gardeners would dig over the whole border before planting anything but I am digging over one section at a time and getting some plants established as I go.

Today I dug in a couple of large bags of compost to enrich the soil which was dry and then I selected a few plants from the garden centre which all say will tolerate light shade but worryingly according to the RHS website most need full sun. The border does get full sun from mid afternoon so fingers crossed they will be ok:-

CaryopterisHeavenlyBlue‘; Veronica ‘Atomic Red’; Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’; Lobelia ‘Queen Victoria’; Salvia ‘Blue Mandalay’ x2; Geum ‘Sunrise’ x2; plus Dianthus x6, Achemilla Mollis and Campanula to fill in the gaps.

I am not an expert, only an amateur gardener but many years of having my own garden and experienced mistakes with just as many successes, I know that plants are adaptable and provide many surprises. I think I will repeat this planting along the border incorporating shade loving plants as I approach the fern/hosta corner.

Finally, have fallen in love with the very old cedar wood shed. There was electricity in there at one time and the roof is corrugated iron, but it is going to be very useful for pottering in and storing stuff.

Garden blogging

I Have an Allotment!

When faced with an overgrown allotment and not know what to do first, as the song goes: “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”

I finally moved to Emsworth at the end of the day on Friday 20th April after my Buyer’s solicitors took things right up to the wire on completion day.

I met the lady I am caretaking the allotment for on Sunday and started work in earnest on Tuesday. The plot is the one in the left hand corner of the photo with the apple blossom tree. You can see how overgrown it is. It certainly stands out from the others – but not for long.

I know she said her previous helper hadn’t worked on it for while but I wasn’t expecting it to be so overgrown! However, we all know how quickly weeds and grass take hold so it may not have been left that long.

There are five raised beds, and the rest of it is broken up with chipped bark paths, so I decided to break up the work and deal with one segment at a time. My first day was dedicated to clearing one bed, with excellent soil, so that I can start to plant a few veggies. I was very firm with myself and set two hours and tried very hard not to get side tracked doing other things on the plot. It’s amazing what catches your eye when doing one job and before you know it you’ve wandered off to another part to start clearing that patch. You have then done a little bit of this and a little bit of that, walking away at the end of the day looking back and seeing nothing tangible.

There are a lot of hidden gems, with strawberries running everywhere, an apple tree, which I am told has cooking apples, and lots of lovely currant bushes of various types. I will have to start jam making!

What made me chuckle was the ‘shed’. Another allotment holder told me that they all clubbed together with bits and pieces to make this shed, which now sadly has almost collapsed. I did chuckle at the blue ‘Fire door keep shut’ sign.

Now I’m retired, I need some structure in my life so a couple of hours a day will give me something to focus on. Also whilst the plot needs to be returned into working order that may well be enough hard work for the time being. I am on the waiting list for a permanent plot of my own so must be sure not to put in so much effort only to find in a year or two the owner decides to relinquish the plot all together. I suppose that is the risk of caretaking. Meanwhile it is exciting to have an allotment to work on and I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. I have decided to keep one half of the allotment tidy and concentrate on the other half growing vegetables and flowers in the raised beds.

Today (Day 2) I went back, after the torrential rain this morning, with a strimmer and cleared the front of the plot. Someone said to me to follow the National Trust idea of always making sure the first 18″ of a border tidy and weed free as that is what most people will see initially. Good thinking. There appears to be a trough around the plot giving it a sunken effect, and unfortunately it also acts like a moat, so this afternoon it was rather wet around the edges.

My job tomorrow (Thursday) is to tidy up this blackcurrant which has grown wild. Friday I will be back in my daughter’s garden to move some rose bushes to make a new border.

Who needs to pay for exercise classes with an allotment and a garden to work in!!

Garden, Garden blogging, Restoring a garden

Restoring a Hampshire Garden – Chapter 1

‘The Beginning’

I mentioned in a recent post that my youngest daughter and her husband have recently moved and inherited once loved garden now sadly neglected and over run with brambles and ivy. They have been very kind to allow me to help them restore the garden and let me take photos and blog about our progress. This is the first chapter.

This photo is taken from the end of quite a substantial sized patio area. Don’t be fooled into thinking, this is not a large garden. Behind the trellis running across the middle of the garden, which is thick with ivy and brambles…

…is this!

Happy days!

Absolutely fabulous! It is going to take a lot of clearing and full of weeds, which will take a great deal of time and hard work, like the rest of the garden this part has clearly left to do it’s own thing for several years. The plan is to clear most of it, take down the hedge which cuts the garden in two and make the actual garden area larger. The wonderful old wooden greenhouse is cedar, and the big bonus is it has electricity. Once fully repaired, with a new roof, it is going to make a splendid blot hole at the end of the garden, complete with a kettle and perhaps (note this daughter and SiL) a small fridge for the occasional G&T at the end of the day. In front of the shed there are several concrete bunkers that have been used for compost.

To the left of the garden as you look from the patio is a garage set back from the house down a narrow drive along the side of the house. We are not sure why it was built so far down, but understand the previous owners stored a boat here.

Have you seen the dog kennel?

Amongst the house documents my daughter and SiL came across is an A3 landscape garden design dated 2002. We can see where some of the design was implemented, although by no means all of it. The plan has, however, given us an idea of the planting scheme and it will be interesting as summer approaches what plants are growing.

The trellis along the garage wall was covered with rampant honeysuckle, and roses. The garden design shows ‘Albertine’ rambling roses. The honeysuckle is growing into the roof of the garage, I managed to cut back quite a lot, but you can see from the photo there is more to do. The keen eyed of you will see the stump of what was a Wisteria so that needs to come out. We are trying not to remove the trellis as it is secured firmly, and probably built in situ. However, with so much growing behind it this may be a job that has to be done. The coloured hanging pots are from my garden.

This side of the garden needs a lot of work, and you can see the wood edging has broken. As the beds are higher than the lawn they will need replacing. The previous owners loved their raised beds! Again the beds are full of brambles, nettles and wretched ivy, so there is a lot of clearance work to be done. There is a very high laurel hedge behind which runs the length of the garden, and they are getting ‘a man’ in to bring the height down, all the leaves are badly nibbled too so it needs some tlc.

It took many walks with the wheelbarrow and garden sacks to the skip at the front of the house. Once I get going I could go on for hours clearing etc., it becomes a mission. Everywhere I looked I saw something else to do. A cup of tea and a sit down called late afternoon and then it began to rain, so we had to give up for the day. I will be back and am really looking forward to sharing the transformation with you.

My move update:

I’ve still not moved, we had a fall at the last hurdle when last Friday 4pm, on the expected day of exchange, the other side’s solicitors emailed with a spanner in the works, which could delay things by another 3 weeks. I am speechless and don’t want to say anything further at the moment.