Tulips in the wind, with a Broom, some seeds, and those marauding snails

I’ve been delayed this year as I’ve been busy doing a ton of other things instead, but I’ve set some seeds and they now start their merry crusade.

I’ve just set the seeds for a few of the plants I want to grow this year. There’s no ‘new faces’ this time.

Before I go into detail, I’ve had a quick look around my garden to see what’s going on this week. The Tulip ‘Negrita’ bulbs are all flowering, and the Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ and Forsythia are all teetering on the edge of opening their yellow flowers.  This is a welcome blast of colour in the garden, where the only other colours are green, silver (the latter from the Cineraria that’s still going strong from 2 years ago!).

Tulip 'Negrita'

Tulip ‘Negrita’


Broom 'Cytisus Scoparius' is on the verge of blooming.

Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ is on the verge of blooming.


I’ve sown some more French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ as they have never failed to provide me with a nice regular crop of green beans.

Joining them are Sweet Pea ‘Floral Tribute Mixed’. Sweet Peas have been struggling in my garden – partly at the wrath of slugs, snails, and aphids, but mainly at the wrath of wind and sun – those that survive being nibbled through, go on to be blown to bits or fried before they get very far up the canes to flower.

Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mix’ return – the hover fly’s (and sadly caterpillar’s) favourite. I lure the hoverflies in because they eat a vast amount of aphids that attack the roses and the sweet peas.

The final sowing today has been more of the wonderful flat-leaf Parsley ‘Laura’ – which aside from being very good for you, is also wonderful with scrambled egg (and i eat a lot of eggs).

Parsley 'Laura' - just 20 days old.

Parsley ‘Laura’ – it will be ready in about 20 days.

It took me just a few minutes to sow these into pots, plop them into the propagator on my spare room windowsill, and give them that all important first watering in.

The next bit, is up to fate.

Last year’s Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ are ready to be planted out, having survived wind, constant rain, and a marauding wheelie bin.

I’ve decided that the slug and snail ‘meet and greet’ sessions need to begin now, as the Hollyhock ‘Single Mixed’ that I bought the other week, has already sustained heavy damage, and I haven’t planted it out yet. I thought it’s hairy stems might exclude it from the slug and snails’ menu… but it seems they found a way to get to the leaves by scaling nearby pots. I’ve moved it away from them, as I don’t think they’d jump or parachute in.

Hollyhock Single Mixed - snail battered

Hollyhock ‘Single Mixed’ – snail attacked

In other news, my neighbour has cut back a big piece of a large tree in her garden, and this has really let a lot of light in. I wonder how this will affect the garden? More light, yes, but more wind too?

Spring 2014 has sprung

It’s that time again – where I need to pick the plants for 2014.

Daffodils in Cambridge

Daffodils in Cambridge

I’m perhaps a little behind, in comparison to previous years, but with what has been quite a catastrophic (weather wise) start to the year, what with all the rain and flooding here in England, it’s encouraging to start seeing some bright sunshine.

The Crocuses came and went with little display. The Tulip ‘Negrita’ are now reaching up and I look forward to see their crimson blooms emerge. The Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ are also making progress.

Despite the sunshine, it’s still cold. Last night it reached low enough to give me a chilly start at -2C and a frozen windscreen.

Still, the rest of the day did bring sunshine, and whilst in Cambridge I managed to take the snap above of some Daffodils.

Spring is here. Now, where did I put those seeds….

The Minibels ring in their first crop of Tomatoes

I’ve just picked the first three tomatoes from the Tomato ‘Minibel’ plants that i sowed back in April.

Three Tomato Minibel fruits.

The first three Tomato ‘Minibel’ fruits.

These six plants have essentially been roasted and flattened repeatedly by both sunshine and wind over the last 4+ months, and are now pretty much horizontal, but despite this there are many green tomatoes awaiting the remnants of sunshine.

The Tomatoes were potted on in May, and again in June into their final pots.

Two Tomato 'Minibel' seedlings

Two of the Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings

I just managed to pick three (there’s a fourth almost ready) specimens off of one of the plants, whilst moving them into a sunnier part of the garden. Hopefully the wind will stay away for a few more weeks.

Tomato 'Minibel' and Courgette 'Black Beauty'

The Tomato ‘Minibel’ and Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ seeds were sown back in April.

The Gladiolus blooms

Standing in the middle of a border, which is lacking colour, as a year of heavy rain, wind, and roasting temperatures, has put paid to most plants aside – including the Sweet Peas, a lone Gladiolus (apparently Gladioli is plural) stands tall – a bright beacon of colour.

I’ve had to stake it up, as no sooner had it reached up and bloomed, then the winds returned and flattened it.

Gladioli flower

The sole Gladioli flower

I planted about six Gladioli bulbs in 2011, and this is the first time a flower has risen. The rest have previously produced leaves, but not even a sign of anything more.


Three Peacocks arrive in the garden

I was just leaving my house to do my weekly shop – it was about 6:45pm, and not even sunshining – and I spotted three beautiful Peacock Butterflies Inachis io’ on my White Buddleja.

Had to take photos whilst they all sat their gently fanning their wings.

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Strawberries and Wimbledon – everyone’s a winner

Coinciding with a little-known tennis competition win, comes the equally as exciting news that my first strawberry from my garden has arrived.

A Strawberry

The first Strawberry of 2013.

Plump and smelling of that wonderful strawberry aroma, Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ has provided its first fruit and it is now sitting in my fridge.

I’ve been buying strawberries lately, but this is the first this year, from plants that managed to survive a winter (they haven’t tended to in the past, despite the severity of the winter we had this time).

There’s plenty of strawberries coming, including ones from my recently purchased Strawberry ‘Judibell’ plant, I’ve just got to remember to keep watering them so that they have enough to produce more of these red fruits.

Plants vs Snails – the endless war

This week has been hot and sunny. This weekend is going to have to be one of planting out and potting up.

I came home the other day to discover that the plants on one of my windowsills had all wilted, but they’ve all seemingly recovered again after a quick soak. Phew! These plants are going to have to be planted out, or they’ll become too lanky or stressed to do anything.

In my last post I noted that I’d planted out my new Lupin ‘The Governor’ plant. Prior to this, there were no snails to be seen. However, knowing what they’ve been like previously, I decided to circle the new lush green plant with some special ‘fizzy sweets’. It worked a treat. The next morning I checked the plant and it was relatively unscathed, but surrounded with abandoned shells.

That evening, I checked again, to find 15 snails within 1 foot of the plant. I swiftly aided them on their way, but it begs me to ask where the hell do all these snails come from?

Despite this, and through the desperation they’ve show to escape my windowsill, I have planted out some of the Sweet Pea ‘Candy Cane’, and the French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ plants. This fills one of the cane structures nicely, and again i have circled each plant with those special treats for the snails. I’m hoping that the plants will soon become established, forcing the snails to leave them alone in favour of more tender juicy plants (ie weeds, or something in my neighbour’s garden).

Foxglove 'Excelsior Hybrids Mixed'

One of the Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ plants.

I came home a littler earlier today, to find that some of my Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ plants that I had sowed back in June 2011, and had flowered in 2012, are flowering again. These are welcome in my garden. Not just because of their flower-coated spires that reach upwards, but because they are quite happy in the shade – something my garden gets a lot of.

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'

Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ – its stems reach up, with flowery bits every so often

Not far from the foxgloves, is my Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ plant with its soft blue flowers. I’ve checked back to see when the Foxgloves and Nepeta flowered last year – given that we’ve had some pretty rough weather in the first 4 months of the year, and it seems that they’re only about 10 days behind 2012.

This weekend should see the planting out of the rest of the Sweet Peas, the potting up of the Courgettes and Tomatoes, and perhaps the planting out of the Nasturtiums too. Fingers crossed for sunshine, please!