Sunday, 16 March 2014

Spring has sprung

What a very wet and mild winter. A few days of dry sunny weather and the clay soil here dries out very quickly.

I have been encouraged to take part in the villages Open Gardens event this year - having not done so last year as we were away. This year's organiser, and great friend, came and helped clear the debris that the chickens had kicked onto the paving/lawn over the last weeks and more. Looked so much better after only two hours!

Another day and a half of pruning and repairing storm damage, along with chickens now confined to their run, the garden is looking OK. Loads still to be done but at the least the chooks have kept the weeds to the minimum!

What with many major sports events on this weekend - so I'm told - gardening has only been accompanied by croaking of frogs, bird song ... and occasional interruptions from chickens trying to attract attention.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Long cold spring .... finally we're off

Snowdrops ignored the cold weather but everything else has been later in greening or flowering. This has led to some combinations that haven't happened before in my garden. An example is the bi-coloured muscari (grape hyacinth) against the variegated hosta with oak leaved fern unfurling in front and dicentra spectabilis 'alba' (white 'bleeding heart') and Solomon's seal just starting to flower behind.

Bi-colour muscari with variegated hosta
This grouping is to the left of the pond and, when the muscari and dicentra die back, is filled out later in the year with Penstemmon 'Garnet', the star flower (must find the latin name as I am not meaning Borage which I have just discovered is also known as star flower) and an alpine variegated alchemilla.

Another silver lining is that I finally started sowing seeds last weekend. This would normally be late - and each year I bemoan the fact that I am late getting round to sowing - but with the weather then it is perfect timing!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Open Gardens 2012

A week has passed since the garden was open as part of the villages Open Gardens event.  We were so lucky with the weather fine and dry all day and the sun shone for the actual open hours! Nearly half as many more visitors than last year and this was reflected in the amount that was raised across all 7 gardens.

The two most asked about plants in my garden were:
Hellebore sternii

Knautia macedonia
The Hellebore loves full sun - one of the few that do - flowers in the winter through to early spring after which I cut back the old stems so the colour of the new ones shine through.. In theory it is the Blackthorn Group but is larger than height listed on the RHS height.

The Knautia starts flowering in spring and keeps going until frosts.

Although many people looked at all the plants, everyone without fail spent a large amount of time looking at and asking about the four birds of prey daughter had brought along. She was talked out by the end of the day!

Now to get some energy to go pick currants.........

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Vegetables - what vegetables?

Down to three lettuces, from the 30+ I had planted out a few weeks ago in the main vegetable bed, due to slugs. I must have some very happy well fed slugs as the Runner beans have not recovered from their attack from them, although the dwarf french beans have faired slightly better. Courgette glut will not be a problem this year as have only one plant left and that one is needing some warm weather. The sorry tale continues across all vegetable plants,  flowering annuals elsewhere in the garden - also sulking due to lack of warmth - to wind and rain damage on established plants including the purple vine, and clematis growing through it, that were blown off the supporting wires (tied back up now but looking tatty) and one of my favourite planting groups which includes the Day Lily 'Golden Chimes' which has been flattened.

Day Lilly 'Golden Chimes' flattened across fern and Heuchera
If you are visiting my garden as part of the Open Gardens event in two weeks time don't expect a flourishing vegetable patch or 100% perfect looking plants elsewhere in the garden. Would still welcome you visiting of course!

The weather this week did give us a couple of decent spells of sunshine before reverting to wet stormy weather. Mr B made the most of this (they happened when I was working) and built a more sturdy rose 'arch' to support the Rambling Rector rose and putting in a new gate. A few dry hours yesterday and am waiting for the promised dry weather today so I can go out and get at least supports in place around plants that are close to flattened status.

On the positive side of being in the garden at the moment the scent of the honeysuckles are now adding to the scent of the roses.

I sowed more vegetable seeds in the greenhouse last weekend - all of which are happily germinating - in the hope that we'll have a late summer. I am very thankful for having a greenhouse.

There are other flowering plants that are also doing just fine. The Water Lily is one!

Water Lilly

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Pests and dealing with at least some of them

Vine weevils in two pots (did wonder why the ivy growing in the one at the front was looking unhappy - and in fact is now dead): the soil in these pots was welcomed by the hens with glee! Grubs quickly eaten and then dust baths!
Lily beetles covorting on the lilies (any other flower would have been a surprise!): caught and squished.
Slugs are loving this weather: beer traps full in just one night but many lettuces and bean leaves still devoured .... sigh. The downside of having a raised vegetable bed is that frogs and toads don't have easy access. I have also spotted that the netting I have over the purple sprouting (to protect from the large number of pigeons) is a barrier for the one toad that was in the bed getting to the other end to feast.
On the subject of the purple sprouting the Cabbage White butterfly has not been an issue even though it could, in calmer weather, get through the netting. Far to wet and windy for them to try and gain access.

Weather was better this week but ended with heavy rain and very stong winds. One of my courgette plants finally had enough of the wind, let alone the rain.

Mr B finished his work on removing the last of the concrete 'path' (a strip of concrete around the house when it was built) putting down the gravel and building two more wooden planters so I can make the most of the side wall of the house. What a star!
Will accept commissions for planters on his behalf!!
Wooden planters
Some sunshine in the garden from the low growing alpine St John's Wort at the base of one of the water butts.
Hypericum Olympicum (Alpine St John's Wort)
My main achievement this weekend was clearing out the creeping buttercups in and around the fruit cage and securing all the netting as the currants are beginning to ripen. Netting hooks made from some wire clothes hangers (have a friend who uses a dry cleaner that still uses wire hangers!).

Now to keep an eye out for those determined birds who will find a way in anyway but then not manage to get out again.

Home made hooks for netting etc

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Rabbit in headlights

One of the main things I have missed with the bad weather is the scent from the garden. Heavy rain and winds just wash/blow it away. After, yet another, week of rain and very strong winds the scent from the climbing rose 'Rambling Rector' today was just stunning.

Rose 'Rambling Rector'
To the title of this post: my guess is that this is what I look like when anyone asks me about how ready I am for the open gardens (now just 4 weeks away). Too much to do and too little time at this point.

Weeds are loving the weather, vegatables are being flattened, eaten by slugs or just sulking from the lack of heat/sunshine, and I haven't managed to get much time in the garden. Spent some of gardening time this weekend in the fruit cage picking gooseberries (sawfly have been one pest that has not liked the weather - hurrah!) with associated pruning.

Looking forward to the weather forecast for the week being correct - as in it will be warmer and drier. A half hour or so on the garden every day will get me there!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Water butts are full again

That's the only positive thing I can think of from a week of rain, rain, more rain and strong winds. Many tall plants are now at a 45 degree angle and clumps of other plants flattened by the amount of water that has fallen on them from above.French beans have been lopped by the wind and I am very surprised that I still have brassicas standing.

Sunshine yesterday and it was a joy to be working close to this Day Lily both from colour and scent point of view. I have a number of Day Lillies in the garden. The two early flowering ones (above and 'Golden Chimes') are scented. My later ones aren't.

The bed I was working on contains my rhubarb which has in previous years added to the structure within the bed with it's large leaves. This year, however, it's telling me it needs to be dug up and split (or possibly chucked sadly). Lots of food and no stems pulled will hopefully see it through to the Autumn.

Most of the Cosmos plants finally put in.

Inside: Stems of Solomon's Seal and Wigelia 'Bristol Ruby' (see last week) along with vases of other flowers/foliage mentioned in previous weeks.

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