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”!!! ūü§£ūü§£ūü§£

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.

Garden blogging

When Winter Meets Spring!

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I have been writing my blog since January 2011, it provides me with seven years to look back on and compare seasons, year on year.  This year, 2018, in West Sussex we had a visiting of snow a few weeks ago, a little more yesterday and when I woke this morning there was more snow, but unlike other parts of the country, fortunately it was not a heavy covering.

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Everything in the garden is way behind, when I look back over the years, it was full of daffodils and narcissi by the middle of March. The above photo was taken on 13 March 2017, there isn’t anything to match that this year. I know all too well that nature catches up eventually, but today was a picture of when Winter meets Spring. ¬†I quite like that thought and it gave me the idea to capture and post some photos to depict this clash of seasons.

My last photo is of the first early tulips this year.  They are  a variety called Kaufmanniana, although nowhere near advanced as last year as you can see from last year’s blog post A Tulip Surprise at least they are making an appearance which means that Spring is just around the corner.

Let us hope that this is the last of the snow, although I do have memories of snow at Easter in past years. It is so sad as it damages blossom on the trees and beautiful flowers like camellias.

Garden blogging

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.

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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

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Dahlia ‘Sunshine’

 

Decorative Variety

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Dahlia ‘Avignon’
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Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’
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Dahlia ‘Crazy Love’
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Dahlia “Le Baron”

Pom Pom Variety

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Dahlia ‘Franz Kafka’

Collerette Variety

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Dahlia ‘Teesbrook Audrey’

Cactus Variety

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Dahlia ‘Purple Gem’

Shaggy Cactus Variety

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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 Рthank you.