EOMV, Garden blogging

End of Month View: June 2013

I start my June End of Month view with a sad tale.

About 10 years ago I was given a Hibiscus shrub as a leaving present, which has grown happily at the bottom of my garden until this year. I noticed a while ago that only half of the shrub, now a small tree, had leaf buds. The other half of the tree looked very dead, although there was still green on the bark when I scratched it. I posted a photo on Twitter for some advice but despite the myriad of gardeners, no one came up with an answer. I’m not sure if I then took the correct action, but I pruned the bare branches. To my dismay I saw this morning that the leaves on what I thought was the healthy part have withered and died. I will leave it well alone now and it may recover next year but if anyone has an idea as to what happened please let me know.

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Other parts of the garden are doing well, although there is still a lot of greenery and not many flowers. It is a little disappointing because I see blogs of other gardens with an abundance of flowers. Even the alliums are now green.

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The Gazinias are just about to flower which will bring some bright colour, and the Antirrhinums should join them shortly. I am delighted to announce that at long last I have ONE peony!!!

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The cosmos are white, which is not going to add to a kaleidoscope of colour, but the Agapanthus (blue) is in bud and together with the Vibernum Bodnantense will create height and add shades of blue.

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At the rear of this flower bed is a very pretty Ballerina Rose.

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In a desperate attempt to bring a sense of brightness into the garden I had a little on-line shopping trip at the Crocus website. I purchased :

Penstemon ‘Pensham Laura’ (beard tongue)

Monarda ‘Squaw’ (bergamot)

Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii (Black-eyed Susan)

Echinacea ‘Summer Cocktail’ (PBR) (coneflower)

Hemerocallis ‘Pink Damask’ (daylily)

I did have one more plant failure this month, but I hope it has been rescued. The Geum Bell Bank collapsed – that is the only way to describe it, so I cut it back hard and covered it with a cloche to protect it from the local cats that seem to like to maraud in the borders. When I looked this morning there are lots of new shoots so all may be well.

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At the end of last year by boss gave me a box of dahlia tubers. I read that straw around the base helps mulch them, but I am not sure how aesthetic it looks but if it helps its worth a try. I have a feeling that the straw can also deter snails, which are the bane of my life. Those eagle-eyed of you will notice the hardy geranmium at the front that I have chopped back to the ground. It was getting very straggly and this will bulk it up and it will have a second flush of flowers in a month or two.

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I fear I may be a little negative about the flower borders, because the roses are marvellous this year as you will have seen from my earlier post Roses, Roses, Roses. The new border I made last year with Penstemons and Salvia Hot Lips is a profusion of colour, especially now the lavender is out.

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The Compasion Rose is splendid, and the perfume never ceases to delight. It is really a climber, I prune it right down every spring, but it still grows to quite a height. Fortunately the stems are really strong so it doesn’t require any support.

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I had decided not to grow any vegetables in the raised bed this year, so instead mixed together half used packets of seeds left over from 2012 and scattered them over the bed to make a cutting garden. I don’t remember a cornflower mix but there are an awful lot of cornflowers which are going to be pink. On close inspection there are some poppies and marigolds.

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I do have some fruit and vegetables. The Raspberries (at the back of the photo) are looking promising and the runner bean and tomato plant Totem have perked up so hopefully they will bear results. I already have some tomatoes on the Tumbling Toms in the hanging basket.

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When I wrote my post about my patio just 10 days ago, it was looking full of promise and on the brink of bursting into floral magnificence. Well we are getting there and the Philedelphus together with my other Compassion Rose and the Jasmine all add to a wonderful floral fragrence, especially on a warm day.

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Imagine my delight to see that the large white flowered agapanthus in a pot has three buds. It is a glorious plant and did nothing last year. Also, the gerbera has flowered again for the 5th year in a row, albeit only one flower at the moment so fingers crossed there will be some more.

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I will end this End of Month View for June with another question. A friend bought me a Silver Jubilee rose last year which according to the label is a fragrant lovely pink colour shaded with apricot, peach and cream. What has bloomed is an equally lovely rose, but with a very delicate fragrance and I would describe it as yellow with pinky/apricot edging. Does anyone recognise it as being something other than Silver Jubiliee? I suspect it had the wrong label. I love the shading and am more than happy with it, but puzzled all the same.

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Thank you Helen at Patient Gardener who hosts this meme. She is away at the moment at a Garden Bloggers get together in San Fransisco, but very cleverly wrote her post and scheduled it to be published today in her absence. Hop over to her blog and take a look at the links to other End of Month Views left in her comments box.

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited

Bowel cancer, Cottage Garden

Eric Has Been Removed and I Am Back in My Garden

Hello there, I am back and Eric has been evicted!!   This post is in two parts, the first a health update and then a garden update.  You are free to skim the first part and go to the garden, which  is probably of more interest.

Eric’s eviction 

As I woke from the anaesthetic I remember patting myself down and saying “Keyhole and no stoma” to the response “Yes, keyhole and no stoma”.  What a relief that was, although if it had been worse I would have just had to deal with it.

Anaesthetics, painkillers and my system do not mix well.   It took me a long time to come round, and although my 4 hour operation started at 8:45 a.m. I was not down in a ward until about 5:30 p.m. and in a comatosed state for the rest of the day on a drip and oxygen.  This meant that the first of the Enhanced Recovery Program (ERP) steps, to get out of bed and move into a chair the same day of the operation, went by the board.   Wednesday was not much better, following a visit from the Pain Team, I was dosed with Ketamine (yes the stuff they give to horses!) and slow release morphine.  By the afternoon I was so spaced out, I couldn’t even form a sentence, was violent sick (not good following abdominal surgery) and every time I closed my eyes I felt black and white patterned walls closing in on me.   It was all very scary, I thought I was having a stroke, and think the doctors had the same worry.   I was taken off all painkillers except good old paracetomol and by Thursday was back in the land of the living – it was certainly an experience I don’t want to repeat.  I was then two days behind the ERP but caught up quickly and was discharged on Sunday into the capable care of my youngest daughter and her husband.

The Surgical Registrar told me they had taken out just over a foot of my colon, and happily announced that they had “removed all the cancer” – making it sound as though I had only had a tooth pulled.   I have an appointment with the Consultant on Thursday 23 May to find out what the staging is and what chemotherapy treatment may lay ahead of me.    In the meantime, I now have to build up my strength and get my appetite back.  I have lost a lot of weight and have cheekbones I haven’t seen for years!

The Garden

I came home yesterday, Saturday, and it was a joy to wander around the garden.  The Forget-me-nots, bluebells and Lilac look wonderful, especially with the alliums just about to come out.  Stupidly, I had left my DSLR camera on and the battery was flat, so the photos below were taken using my little Fuji FinePix and sadly they are not quite as sharp as I would have liked them to be.

The garden over the wall has a magnificent Ceoanthus in full blue bloom, mine is still in tight bud, but then it is probably not getting as much sunshine.

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The Lilac needs pruning hard after it has flowered to encourage more flowers next year, it seems a little top heavy at the moment.

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Imagine this is smellie vision, the perfume at the end of the afternoon today, with the sun shining on the lilac was breathtaking.

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As I said earlier the alliums are just about to flower, which will add to the blue/purple hues in the garden.  Not to mention give me the opportunity to take lots of photos of them from all angles.

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Nestled between a prolifically growing hardy geranium (cranesbill) and the Aquilegia I found the Geum Bell Bank flowering away to its hearts content.  It is such a pretty plant and I am pleased it has decided to return again this year, so many plants in my garden give up the ghost after the first year.  Knautia macedonica is a prime example it clearly doesn’t like my garden.

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Finally, another allium, a giant one this time, which is going to look really colourful against the Eurphorbia when it is out in full.

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© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Garden blogging

So Many Vegetable Seeds and Only a Small Space

Roughly every 6 weeks we get a visit at work from The Book People. I love books, especially if they are bargains, which these books always are, and I invariably end up buying one, if not two books. Just before Christmas I was tempted (and bought) The Readers Digest Food from Your Garden and Allotment. A £19.99 book for £4.99, well you can’t ignore that can you?

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It is full of comprehensive information from growing to cooking, with some wonderful illustrations. Starting with a basic guide to the kitchen garden and a chapter on re-planning your garden, it includes a growing calendar, growing and cooking and home preserving. The fruit and vegetables it covers a range from the unusual such as Salsify to the common potato and it is full of inspiration.

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The replanning your garden section is one that I am going to read in-depth and make notes on. 2013 is going to the year that I take a good look at the shape and design of the garden, so watch this space. I need to take a look to find a way of incorporating more space to grow vegetables.

Imagine my delight with one of the most exciting Christmas presents I received. My eldest daughter gave me an annual subscription to Allotinabox. This consisted of two seasonal Grow Your Own boxes and with another two to follow as the year progresses.

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Each box consists of five packets of seeds, labels, twine, and a useful growing wheel. So I now have a number of herb seeds, aubergine, spring onions, carrots and leeks. My only concern was that there is nothing on the packets to say what variety they are. However, the Allotinabox website is comprehensive and it gives the variety on their seed help page. I now know that the carrots are Early Nantes and the leeks are Musselburgh. It would have been useful if this information was written on the packets, especially if you didn’t have access to a computer.

I am now in the position with a lot of seeds and a small space to grow them. All the more reason now to find extra space in the garden to grow my Allotinabox seeds. For the newbie vegetable gardener, the Allotinabox website has a number of well informed sheets to print out, including one called Pot Help. Starting off in pots is a great idea; a few years ago I started my vegetable growing in pots until I put in a raised bed. An allotment might be the best idea but I don’t have the time and my own garden would probably suffer, so I may well combine pots and perhaps one more raised bed this year.

My job this afternoon is to get outside and start to give the larger of the terracotta pots a good clean, so that I can start off the herbs when the time is right. I will also be looking at how to incorporate a second raised bed, or if that is practical.

So armed with my lovely book and my seed packets, with a bit of luck I will be eating more home-grown vegetables this year, and giving them away. That is, of course, if I can find space to grow everything, maybe I’ll develop an old-fashioned Elizabethan country garden and grow vegetables in amongst the flowers. It’ll certainly give me plenty to write about, and photograph.

Garden blogging

I Am Quite Taken with Erysimums (Wallflowers)

ErysimumLast Summer, I bought two Erysimum (Wallflower) plants in litre pots from the local garden centre.  They were sale plants and looking rather ragged but took to their new  home and have become healthy specimens.

One is called “Sunburst” and has a pale green and cream variegated leaf with yellow flowers :

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and the other is called “Winter Sorbet”; it has dark green leaves and a beautiful flower that varies from deep purple through to orange.  Both are perennials. Winter Sorbet has flowered most of the year and is covered in blooms ready for Spring.  The Sunburst is slighly slower and just producing buds now.

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There are other ways of buying wallflowers, and I expect a lot of us over the years have bought them from our local farm shop or the little hardware store down the road. They were always bare-rooted, 10 in a bunch tied with an elastic band. I bought several bundles a few months ago and have planted them in drifts around the garden. You can raise wallflowers by seed, sowing inside in early June, then pot them on into deep one-litre pots to store outside until the end of August when some earlier annuals have finished and there is space for them.

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Usually grown as an annual or biennial they like full sun or light shade and should be planted in a well drained soil. Wallflowers do not perform well in higher temperatures much preferring cool, moist climates but once established in the garden, they are very durable and can withstand a certain amount of drought.  In cold climates, be sure to mulch well in the winter.  They even seem to survive the frost too.  In mid-April pick or dead-head the plants regularly as your plants will quickly run to seed without a regular haircut.

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The Wallflowers I bought from the hardware store have taken well and bushing out, so I am hoping they will produce some beautiful colours that I can photograph and post on the blog in a few months time.

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography ; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

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