Tulips in the wind

The Tulips are in bloom, the seeds are sown, and the snails are marauding.

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?

Tune In, Pot Up, Plant Out

Music, sunshine, and a bank holiday weekend. This can mean only one thing – gardening time!

The sun has been shining today – somewhat unusual for a British Bank Holiday weekend – but I made the most of it by doing a few jobs I’d put off due to the recent rain storms, hailstorms, and cold weather.

Armed with iTunes Remote, garden wifi, and a strategically placed speaker, I set to work in the sunshine by pulling out some irritating Cleavers ‘Galium Aparine’ (or ‘Goosegrass’ as it’s also commonly known). Having had some warm weather, then rains, it had grown strong and woven its way through many of the plants. I have to wear gloves to remove this plant as I seem to have become allergic to it in the last few years. It’s an ever-lasting war with Goosegrass, but for now, I am winning.

There’s geese on the pond near my house – wonder if they actually like goosegrass?

Strawberry 'Elsanta'
Strawberry ‘Elsanta’

The Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ plants are doing well. They are a mixture of survivors from last year, new plants from runners from last year, and an extra plant that I bought last weekend. I have potted these on, so hopefully their flowers will soon turn into the delicious red fruits that I enjoyed last year, and have been plucking from my fridge more recently.

I also planted out the Lupin ‘The Governor’ plant that I bought recently from Twentypence Garden Centre. My mother’s garden has many Lupins, so hopefully this will self-seed like the Foxgloves and Antirrhinums have done.

Hopefully, the snails will leave it alone long enough to allow it to take hold of its new-found freedom.

Lupin 'The Governor'
Lupin ‘The Governor’ will have blue and white flowers

The Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ that I sowed last spring, and planted out, over-wintered perfectly, and are now strong plants, breaking up the lush green of the garden with their snowy white foliage.

Cineraria 'Martima Siverdust'
Cineraria ‘Martima Siverdust’

It won’t be many more days until many of the plants are planted out into the garden. The beans, nasturtiums, courgettes, and tomatoes are all impatient on my windowsill, whilst the Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ for next year’s garden, are beginning to germinate.

The next few days are crucial for the success of the garden. A herd of snails, or strong winds could wreck many of the tender plants. Fingers crossed that the single figure centigrade nights soon end.

Happy Gardening!
Andrew

Tubers, Sowing, and Potting On

There might be lots of new lush green growth outside, but there’s still plenty of seeds and plants to sow and pot on indoors.

Whilst the sun has finally found its shine, the wind has found its gust, the garden has been growing green and lush, but there’s plenty more seeds to sow.

The annual winds are currently flattening the garden (bye bye Tulip ‘Negrita’ flowers!). Fortunately some rain has been falling too – mostly at night (thankfully), which is much needed by these tender  new plants as they reach skywards.

TUBERS

I’ve planted the three Begonia ‘Prima Donna Pink’ tubers that I bought a few days ago. These aren’t like bulbs – you don’t bury them and cover them over – as they’ll simply rot. Instead you kind of push them into the surface, so that they sit flush with the soil. This gives their buds maximum light, and overall a lower chance of rotting.

A Begonia 'Prima Donna Pink' tuber
A Begonia ‘Prima Donna Pink’ tuber

sowing

But I’ve realised that I’m a bit behind in sowing some seeds, so I’ve just had a big catch-up session with pots and a bag of multipurpose compost.

I’ve just sown:

  • French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ – this is at least the 3rd year i’ve planted these.
  • Sweet Pea ‘Floral Tribute Mixed’ – my first year with this variety.
  • Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ – these won’t be ready for flowering until 2014.
  • Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mix’ – my cheerful hoverfly magnet, and sadly the preferred snack of every Cabbage White caterpillar in the county.
Caterpillar strike
Last year’s cheery Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mix’ were completely stripped within about 36 hours.

Potting On…

I’ve also potted up some of the Tomato ‘Minibel’ plants, as they’re now getting big enough to handle. I love the smell that they give off when you’re handling the leaves.

Two Tomato 'Minibel' seedlings
Two Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings

These might get potted on again, into their final pots – or they might end up in a grow bag (or the wicker basket) – i’m not sure yet.

Welcoming Spring with new plants and a splash of colour

Now that we have proof that Spring is actually coming, I’ve been tidying up the garden, planning ahead, and uncovering the colourful bulbs.

Finally the sunshine has come and it now begins to feel like Spring has arrived. It’s time to get the garden moving again.

On Saturday I sat having breakfast with the windows open, enjoying the sunshine and non-arctic fresh air, and I could hear the Sparrows chattering on the roof, and some Doves cooing somewhere off in the distance.

Inspired by this sudden heatwave, like probably thousands of others, I ventured off to the garden centre to look for something new for the garden.

Rosemary Upright
My new upright Rosemary plant. I often use Rosemary in cooking.

I found a new upright Rosemary plant to replace the one that was killed during the Winter before last (feels good to say that – adds a sense of distance!).

I also decided to go and look for some new flower seeds – something cheerful, but also something that can handle the partial shade of one end of my garden.

The Light in the shade

I’ve chosen some Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ – a perennial that spreads and comes out in a range of colours. These aren’t likely to flower this year  – these will come into their own in 2014, but need to be sown now.

Next up was three Begonia ‘Prima Donna Pink’ bulbs which apparently have ‘strong stems for pots or gardens’. These will flower in a bright frilly pink in about July time, reaching a high of 10 inches. The bulbs look near lifeless, but i’ll get them started in pots and hopefully they’ll soon spring to life and be ready for planting out in a pot in the garden – to brighten that partially shaded spot.

I also got outside and tidied up a few stray branches and seed heads and stumbled across a blue Hyacinth in flower. It’s come up right next to the Buddleja – too close really.

Hyacinth
The welcome blue of the Hyacinth, but it’ll have to be moved a bit for next year.

And finally, the Crocus ‘Giant Ruby’ and some Narcissi have recovered from the snow, and are looking bright and cheery. So far, i’ve spotted one bumblebee!

Crocus 'Giant Ruby' meets some Narcissi
Looking much happier without the snow.