Garden blogging, Garden Meme

Six on Saturday – 7th April 2018

I really should think carefully and plan when I’m going to blog to make sure that when I publish a post it doesn’t coincide with specific meme’s, such as ‘Six on Saturday’ hosted by The Propagator Blog. That is just what I have done – two posts in one day!

Nature has taken a bit of a battering this winter and is slow off the blocks. Not only is my heavy clay soil laying in water slow to drain, the snails are out in force and eating almost every young shoot in sight. There is life in the garden, apart from slimy critters and these are my Six on Saturday.

1. Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ Planted last year as a very small plant, it has spread into a considerable sized clump and is going to look very pretty. Excellent ground cover!

2. Ribes – variety unknown I cut back what had become a large shrub dramatically last year to the point I thought I wasn’t going to see any flowers this year, but although it’s looking somewhat thin, there are some very pretty flowers – phew! I’m sure it is a darker pink than years before so maybe it has done the plant some good.

3. Peony I am so in love with the peony as it throws out spring shoots, almost to the point I prefer the dark burgundy to the actual flowers. Despite its age, about 7/8 years old, it only ever has a couple of blooms and for the rest of the year is always a disappointment.

4. Sambucus Nigra(Elderflower) Like the peony shoots, the elderflower at this time of the year fascinates me. From the gnarled old bare winter branches appear very dark maroon tiny leaves that in no time become long ranging branches. A magnificent tree to have in a garden.

5. Primroses I spied these right at the back of one of my borders, hidden in amongst the wood pile and ivy where they are at their happiest. So very pretty and along with daffodils and tulips are an iconic spring flower.

6. Chinodoxia (Glory of the Snow) Not sure why they have this name, mine are only just flowering and kept their heads well down during the snow. They are another delicate, delightful, spring flower. I’ve seen spectacular carpets of them at West Dean Gardens but mine are in containers nestled amongst the tulips and late narcissus all of which are about to flower and may well be ready for next week’s Six on Saturday.

Please take a look at the other contributions on The Propagator Blog it’s a great time of the year and a good yardstick as to how nature is behaving in other people’s gardens.

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!

EOMV, Garden blogging

End of Month View – March 2017

Gosh it’s been warm here on the south coast for the last week and really brought everything on.   I checked back a couple of years and my End of Month View March 2015 blog post shows the garden is more advanced this year. 


Compared to most gardens, my garden would be described as ‘tiny’.  I have more by accident than design managed to move away from a square garden that can be seen in total from just one view.   It means that wherever you stand you get a different view, which gives the impression of a larger garden when photographs are taken.  


I removed the raised bed a few months ago and enlarged the bed to sweep around the left side of the garden.  The new bed is full of spring bulbs with the intention to turn it into a cutting garden during summers months.  I try to garden on a budget and can regularly be seen in Wilko browsing the garden section.   Their bulbs might be cheap and often disappointing but I bought 8 dahlia tubers at a £1 each and so far 6 of them have sprouted.   I did buy a packet of 2 Echinacia ‘white swan’ and sadly there was only one very limp plant in the dry dust they pack them in and I’m not sure if anything will come of it, however at £2 I can afford some no shows.

I have a plastic greenhouse, which really is nothing more than a cold frame, but it is full at the moment with sweet peas,  Cosmos, rudbeckia and sweet william.  I ordered cleome, aster, calendula and scabiosa seeds from the lovely Benjamin (and Flash of course!) at Higgledy Garden and when I can move some things out of the greenhouse, I will sow ready for a summer showing.   I ran out of copper tape and read that copper coins work just as well, it will be interesting to see if they work, and certainly will be one way to empty the coppers jug.  By the way, the slug pellets you can see on the bottom shelf are organic and only used as a last resort. 


The north side of the garden has a bed which in the winter is boggy, and in the summer under the shadow of the stone wall gets very little sunshine, so I have to be careful what I grow here.   The pink Astilbe loves it as you can see, along with Alchemilla Mollis.  Recently I put a lot of Levington Organic Manure on this bed to improve and feed it, however, it has been an attraction to the local cats, who have managed to knock off a lot of the Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’ tips and in order to protect the rest of it I have placed a bit of plastic, but I don’t think the Euphorbia going to be as good this year. 

A few months ago I bought a small Tree Peony and after deliberation and advice from gardening followers on Instagram and Twitter as to whether to plant it in a container or in a flower bed, decided on the latter and it seems to have settled into its new home. 

There is a very small corner at the end of the garden which I have left alone – I call it my ‘wild section’, the primroses love it.  A job to go on the ‘to-do-list’ is to clear the ever invasive ivy before it gets a real foothold.  

It is quite exciting to see the number of buds on the peony this year, the first time since I planted it many years ago.  Previous years it’s only produced one or two flowers. 

A couple of years ago I planted a Clematis ‘Josephine’  to wrap its self around the Sambus Nigra (Elder).  I love this because the flowers are a good combination of colour with the new shoots of the Elder.

In 2015 I over pruned the Montana ‘Elizabeth’ and it hardly flowered in 2016 so I left it alone last year and look at it now! In a week or two it will be a picture of pink, fragrant flowers.

The photos above are a part of the garden I often ignore and don’t write about because it is not interesting and tends to be a dump area.  This year it is going to receive most of my attention.   The bed by the house wall, has had ever spreading raspberry bushes.  At the end of autumn 2016, I cut the raspberries right down to the ground and planted lots of spring bulbs which has given it lovely colour.  There is a small gravel patio in front of the shed, and a rather too large patio set donated to me by my youngest daughter.  There is a small path leading around from the side of the house across the front of the gravel area.  At the moment it is full of containers because it is the sunniest part of the garden.   My first job to improve this part of the garden is to dispose of the patio set, opening up the area which feels cluttered.  


The Day Lillies and Agapanthus are going to look really good this year and are filling up the left hand sunny corner.    The garden is still full of bits of chicken wire to protect young plants from animals who have complete disregard for the hard working gardener.   


My final photo is of the lime green Euphorbia adding contrast to the yellow tulips and Alliums which, although you can’t see, has some flower shoots. 

Thank you Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting this invaluable monthly meme.  Please pay her blog a visit and take a look at her lovely interesting garden as well as those of other contributors. 

Cottage Garden, Garden blogging, Garden Visits

A Sunny Sunday Afternoon at Monk’s House, Rodmell East Sussex

You know those days when you start out to do one thing and end up doing something completely different? Today was one of those days. We drove to Stanmer Park near Brighton, but the world and his wife were there, the restaurant was fully booked and there were no tables available in the bar area. We could have sat outside but the staff looked few and far between and we quickly came to the conclusion there would be a very long wait for food so we decided to move on. As we were not far off the A27 and near Lewes we headed in that direction. After a good pub lunch in Kingston, near Lewes, I remembered we were on the road to the National Trust property Monk’s House in Rodmell.
   
I had been there about 3 years ago but my friend had not so it seemed like a good place to visit on a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon.  

When the rent on Leonard and Viginia Woolf’s Sussex weekend bolt hole came to an end, Leonard found and fell in love with a 17th century cottage in nearby Rodmell.  He bought Monk’s House in 1919 at auction for £700 and it had no running water or electricity.  The water came 5 years later followed by electricity 5 years after that.   It was originally 3 workers cottages which over the years had been knocked into one.    Monk’s House was close to Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Virginia’s sister the artist Vanessa Bell.   They were part of The Bloomsbury Group – who were an influential group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists, which included John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey.  They would come down from London for weekends and summer holidays and lived a somewhat salacious lifestyle. 

  
 

  

Leonard Woolf, a novelist, started out very much an amateur gardener at Monk’s House, but was so absorbed with gardening, he became quite an expert and even grafted his own fruit trees.  Apparently Virginia had to book time to get him away from the garden so they could go for  walks together.

 The view of the South Downs just beyond the orchard is breathtaking.   The tranquility is almost tangible, the birds were singing their hearts out and we found we were talking in whispers.   It struck me as an ideal place for a retreat, and there were several benches to sit and contemplate.  I can see how Virginia found the inspiration and peace to write.  

 Standing near the house, you look out on a part of the garden filled with spring flowers.  Some of the tulips were nearly over but there were many more waiting to burst into colour.  Beyond this part of the garden is the orchard filled with fritillary and bluebells, with the 17th century church in the background.   

The garden at Monk’s House is open daily from 12.30 to 17.30 and Rodmell, East Sussx is between Lewes and Newhaven.  You could make a day of it and visit Charleston which is nearby.  
 

  

These photographs are a great reminder of a warm, peaceful, Sunday afternoon, surrounded by colourful tulips, birdsong and a sense of history.  

Cottage Garden, Garden

What a Difference a Mowed Lawn Makes

At last its been dry long enough for the lawn to dry out and for the first time since the beginning of the winter months, I dug the mower out of the shed and mowed the lawn!   I never seem to learn not to walk on the wet lawn in the winter and yet again I have a number of  bald patches.   Some of the patches I have dug over and enlarged the flower bed – you can never have too many beds can you!  A spot of lawn seed purchasing is on the list.

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Today I felt really inspired.   It is amazing the difference cutting the grass can make, all of a sudden the garden started to look tidy and ready for spring.

ribes

The Ribes Sanguineum (Flowering Currant) is starting to have those pretty dark pink flowers, and soon it will be a wonderful pink display of drooping clusters.

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I found a few Forsythia flowers coming out with lots of buds, so that is going to look splendid in a few weeks.  Underneath some of the shrubs at the  bottom of the garden there are a few primrose plants, and these have managed avoid being nibbled at the moment.  Something likes to eat them but I have never found out what.   This clump of daffodils have remained uneaten also.  I think I read somewhere there is a little bug that likes to eat them but I can’t remember what I should do about it.

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One of my favourite shrubs in the spring is Spiria Japonica ‘Goldflame’.  Whilst, in my opinion, it is nothing to write home about in the summer, it deserves a mention at this time of the year.  The leaves emerge into a bronze-red in the spring, almost the reverse of other plants that turn that colour in the autumn.

elder

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Last year I left the Elder Sambucus Nigra and it grew to a great height and cast a lot of shade over the garden, when sun was badly needed.  Therefore this year I thought I would be tough and cut it down by half its height.   I am doing it slowly, and at the moment it is still looking slightly odd.   There were a few branches that were overhanging next door, on which they hung some of those peanut plastic bags, and the birds were not interested as they have been untouched for months.   So, with great difficulty I managed to lean over the wall, cut the branches and successfully hauled the branches back on to my side of the wall to dispose of.   This old tree is not going to be killed off easily, although that is certainly not my intention, it is full of little knobbly purple sprouts as you can see.   I know it won’t produce any flowers or berries this year, as they appear on growth from the previous year, but at least I will have a little more sun.

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The pots on the side patio are coming into their own now, and the tete-a-tete daffodils that I feared were looking rather stunted are now a decent size.  I am looking forward to a splendid display of tulips.

jasmine

Finally, the Jasmine Jasminum Officinale, which has flowered throughout the winter is amazing and smells glorious.   It usually flowers in June and July giving out a heady perfume in the evenings, so I am expecting it to continue to flower throughout the summer.   This was a tiny house plant and about 10 years ago I planted it out into a sheltered corner of the house.   The year before last it was getting really out of hand and I cut it right down the ground thinking I had killed – clearly not!!

 

 

 

EOMV, Flowers, Flowers in the Garden, Photography

End of Month View – March 2015

It is getting a little warmer now and everything in the garden is full of the joy of spring.   We have been unlucky this last week with some very strong winds and I, for one, suffered the loss of seedlings when my plastic greenhouse blew over.  Fortunately it is still early enough to get going again.  I shoved my sweet pea seeds, which were sprouting, back into their pots hoping that they will recover. 

Today, a few days after the end of March, it is mild and wet but during a lull in the drizzle I managed a couple of hours in the garden.  The soil is burgeoning with weeds and ideal to work at the moment so I spent most of the time hoeing and adding organic compost.   

  The Forsythia and Ribes are contributing to wonderful spring colour in the garden.  The lawn desperately needs some work this year.  I have put feed and weed on it and now there are large black patches where the moss was.  Also there are bald patches caused by me walking on the lawn when it was very wet and frosty. 

   

I love the Spirea at this time of the year because the leaves are beautiful shades of rosy pink and russet.

 

The south facing border is a spring delight with daffodils, forget-me-nots, and peony shoots. 

 

 As I walked around I could see the euphorbia, which I thought had died, has recovered for another year. 

 

 On the opposite flower bed the tiny shoots of the euphorbia ‘Fireglow’  are making an appearance.  It seems to have spread so I am expecting a good show this year.

  A few years ago I planted a clematis ‘Josephine’ at the base of the Elder and it is full of buds so the contrast of the pink flowers and the purple leaves on the Elder should look good within a month or two. 

  In my last post I said I was delighted that the Clematis Montana ‘Elizabeth’ had survived it’s severe hacking.  This year I think the shed is going to be covered in pretty fragrant flowers. 

   

 

The lasagna pots on the side patio are blooming well with an assortment of daffs and the tulips are slowly coming up also. 

   

  

 Although the Peiris is looking a little thin, it is flowing well so can’t be too unhappy. 

  Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener for hosting this great meme, which serves as an extremely useful record of how the gardening is fairing over the years. 

Next month, when the EOMV for April is put together, there will be lots more of exciting new growth to show you.