Garden blogging, Personal blogging

Spring in the Garden and a Move on the Horizon

At last after far too many soggy days we have sunshine! This time of the year often means clear skies equal frosty nights but hey, it’s infinitely better than constant rain. I even have some daffodils appearing, which I always find exciting.

I’m going through cupboards and drawers discarding 17 years of clutter. For some extraordinary reason, whilst I was whipped into a throwing away frenzy, I binned all the carefully saved bulb packets. I think it was because I had assured myself all bulbs had been labelled whilst planting last year. WRONG! The above pretty crocus is sans label, I have had to Google until I came across a name I recognised. I believe it to be ‘Snow Bunting’, that seems to ring a bell anyway.

The garden is still mine until I hand over the door keys on the last day – whenever that is going to be! It will be a sad day but until then I can’t turn my back on a much loved garden and think after Easter you won’t be mine anymore. Above is the wettest, boggiest part of the garden, however the ferns love it and the foxglove I moved during the summer looks very happy. That is annoying really as I have never had much success with foxgloves, it would decide now to behave.

Whilst lots of people love foxes, the local urban foxes are the bane of my life and love trashing my garden and digging holes. There are lots of daffodils and tulips bulbs in this bed and in order to make life a little challenging for Freda Fox and her growing family, I placed lots of little sticks as a deterrent. It doesn’t look too attractive but appears to have done the trick, albeit there are still a few places they have made holes – you can’t win all the battles when it comes to gardening.

There is one solitary brave flower on the forsythia, it is a large shrub and the flower looks as though it has been stuck on for fun. I didn’t notice it when taking the photo but the spirea is also in bud, this shrub has wonderful golden autumnal shades in the Spring, turning a boring green in the summer.

I never tire of the little red lipstick shapes of the appearing peony. In all the years I have had it, the wretched plant only ever has one flower and I have never managed to find out what I am doing wrong.

Back to the patio, the hyacinths are pushing through the soil, which looks like a boiling porridge pot and is spilling over the sides as the plant makes its way to the daylight. I must remember not to use so much soil next time.

With little sunshine on the patio at the moment, the crocuses are not opening up in the way they should, so ‘Firefly’ is not showing to its best, still pretty though.

New update: My Move

Kirstie and Phil of Location Location Location TV fame would be proud of me – compromise being the order of the day. When looking for somewhere to move to, I had a choice of a small property and tiny garden on the Isle of Wight with all the travel issues that brings, or a ground floor apartment in Hampshire with French doors facing south on to a large patio. Fingers crossed all goes to plan and I have gone for the second option in Emsworth, a pretty harbour village near Chichester. My daughter and her husband are moving there next week and with a large garden that needs a lot of work I’m gently feeding the idea that they need help PLUS the icing on the cake is I have already found someone with a plot to share on an allotment just down the road. I am really excited about the prospect and can concentrate on patio/container planting and managing a small allotment – lots to blog about. I will be so disappointed if it collapses, but I am going to be positive. Keep your fingers crossed for me please people!

Garden blogging

Eruptions in the Garden

A little late in comparison to recent years, the garden is at last erupting with spring delights.

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Watching the soil in the pots  by the kitchen door, as the shoots push themselves through, it struck me it is like watching a cake rise.

Although I’ve tried to be careful and label all my pots, over time some labels have disappeared and it’s a lottery as to whether I am going to see tulips, daffodils or iris.

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These pretty multicoloured tulip leaves are ‘Tulip Botanical Mixed’ and their colour is unknown.  I bought a pack of 25 bulbs from my local garden centre, and label just says ‘mixed colours’ so I am in for a pleasant surprise. I didn’t plant all 25 in the pot, most are in the flower beds.

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The above pot has a vivid yellow  tulip called ‘Tulip Candela’, a large creamy  ‘Tulip Purissima’ and ‘Orange Breeze‘  which as it says on the label is orange.  Fingers crossed this will be as fabulous a display as envisaged when I planted them.

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A few months ago I came across a large bag of mixed daffodil bulbs, which I didn’t remember buying.  At the time the ground was so hard I couldn’t plant them in the flower beds so searched out a number of odd containers languishing by the shed.  This particular trough was a draw to an animal, or two, having great fun digging up the bulbs as fast as I kept putting them back, hence the sticks which acted as a good deterrent. It’s heartwarming to see so many shoots – this is going to look good!

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Away from the pots, everything is also coming to life in the flower beds.  Hoe in hand, I stood looking at the garden this morning in the welcomed warm sunshine and didn’t know where to start.  It is all too easy to go at the soil in a gung-hoe fashion with a hoe (excuse the pun) and slice off the tops of emerging shoots.  I decided, as we have been promised some good weather over the next few days, I will work on my knees, with a hand trowel, and tidy one section at a time.

Above, is the Agapanthus – it is a deciduous variety with a very pretty blue delicate flower.

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The Peony is well behind this year.  On checking previous blog posts for mid-February,  there are photos of the red shoots being at least 8 inches tall.  I wonder if this year I will have more flowers, it’s been a disappointing provider of blooms despite being at least 6 years old.   Taking another look of the photo as I type this post, I suspect there is too much soil over the root ball, I seem to recall it needs to bake in the sun, a bit like iris.  Time will tell.

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All the daffodils are coming through in the bottom flowerbed, despite being nibbled.  Last year something ate all the flowers which really did spoil the display.

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Wandering around to the front garden, the ‘tete-a-tete Narcissus are developing into a wonderful, welcoming display.  This is just one clump of three underneath my lounge window.

Finally, the snowdrops around the lilac in the front are now in their prime. The grass is courtesy of the bird seed from the feeders hanging in the tree, an issue I’ve not had trouble with before.  I have no idea of the variety, and assume they are just the common-or-garden type.  Nevertheless they are a wonderful bringer of spring delights.

Garden, Garden blogging

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. 

Garden

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! 

Garden, Garden blogging

A Beautiful Day in January

I love working part time, it means I get Monday and Friday off, so I can catch up with friends, projects and, of course, the garden.

This morning I woke to a very heavy frost outside, it looked like a thin layer of snow. As is the way of frosty starts it turned out to be a simply beautiful morning, bright blue sky and a sharp but refreshing chill. With no wind, it is an ideal day for pottering in the garden. The garden, however, is completely waterlogged and not at all conducive or indeed sensible to be doing a lot of walking around. I did a little hoeing to turn the soil and subsequent, with a little bit of hope, it might expose all those nasty slug and snail eggs to the next round of frost and kill them off.

As I wandered around the garden, despite the rain and frost, the strangest things are happening. I found a Japanese Anemone in flower.

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In the summer, I grew Stock from seed, but disappointingly they failed to flower, until now.  Not what you would expect to see.  I’m glad I was being tardy and didn’t cut down the stems.

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The Bay Tree is looking healthier than it has done for a while.

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Whilst the Skimmia and Pieris are more than just shrubs covered in leaves and looking very pretty.

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A few months ago I planted up a number of pots layered with bulbs and was a little concerned as they seemed to be shooting up rapidly. They have, fortunately, slowed down a bit, and today I found one Dwarf Reticulata Iris in bloom.  You can see the something is nibbling at the pansy leaves I’m hoping they will flower soon.

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I can see most of my spring bulb pots from my kitchen window, and am looking forward to pots of wonderful spring colour whilst doing the washing up.

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It’s always good to have something to look forward to.