A sweet feast goes sour

The Sweet Peas have come under attack from a colony of aphids; the garden gets another roasting; and some houseplants find their way outside.

I came home this afternoon after a day away in Northamptonshire, to find the garden seriously roasted once again and in desperate need of a drink (the Parsley Japanese ‘Cryptotaenia Japonica’ seems to be the first to wilt but is soon upright again) but also to find that my Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ were absolutely covered in aphids.

Aphids swarming on Sweet Pea plants
The Aphids were having a great time on the Sweet Peas.

Every leaf, and in particular every bud, had a flock of marauding green bugs clinging to it.

So, out came the plant sprayer containing some tap water and a liberal helping of Fairy Liquid. This is an old trick, and one that i used a few weeks ago when aphids started appearing on the rose bush next to the Sweet Peas. The aphids soon vanished from the rose so fingers crossed that it will swiftly work here too.

It’s pretty simple to do: Just get one of those cheap water sprayers, fill it with cold tap water, add some washing-up liquid and spray this sticky oily mixture onto the aphids. Aphids breathe through their skin, but with a sticky oily coating all over them, it seals their skin up and they suffocate (nice).

One of the plants to suffer in the heat whilst I was out was the lovely blue Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’ – adored by bees. So I have decided to pot it up into a spare medium-sized container. Around the edge are some of the left-over but more upright of the Antirrhinum ‘Chuckles’ plants and inbetween those goes some Spider Plant ‘Chlorophytum Comosum’ plants – a native of South Africa but generally grown indoors in the UK as easy-to-keep houseplants. These won’t survive our winter, but they are so easy to grow and their foliage will be a great contrast to the blue Salvia (fingers crossed it recovers) and the mixture of the Antirrhinums.

The Rocket ‘Skyrocket’ salad leaves have had their day now. So I have pulled out the tired plants that have been desperate to flower, and will re-sow the pot. Last time it took them 3 days to germinate.

April Showers (June Edition)

Rain arrives! So, it’s off to the garden centre where I pick up some strawberries and yet more herbs.

At last – the rain arrives. And it does it properly. Everywhere has been completely soaked by almost a day’s worth of rain.

Admitting defeat, I ventured off to my usual gym session but got stuck in my car for 10 minutes whilst thunder, lightning, hail and torrential rain turned the carpark into a reservoir.

About 90 minutes later it had stopped and the sun was out, so I took the chance to go Homebase, and Garden and Leisure in nearby Huntingdon to see if i could find some nice plants and some pots.

Having found the pots i needed to do some overdue houseplant re-potting, I found myself looking round the garden plants and noticed that the bees were all over the bright blue flowers of the Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’, so in the basket it went.

Salvia
Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’.

Over at Garden and Leisure I remembered that I had a ‘get a Strawberry plant for free’ voucher, so decided to pick up two Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’ plants (very green and lush). Last year’s Strawberry ‘Judibell’ are all but dead – apart from a few runners where they shouldn’t be, and a couple of tiny signs of life. I picked up some more organic compost and then ended up with yet more herbs Parsley Japanese ‘Cryptotaenia japonica’ and Tarragon French ‘Artemisia dracunculus’ (the latter is good with chicken apparently).

Monty Don said a couple of weeks ago on BBC Gardeners’ World, that if you’ve had a Tarragon plant growing in your garden for more than a year, then it is undoubtedly the Russian Tarragon as it is hardier and is characterised by a bitter taste. However, whilst Russian Tarragon was in stock, the French Tarragon also says that it is frost hardy, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one does when I plant it out.