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?

The tulips begin to bloom and the propagator is full of new life

Last year’s Tulip bulbs are now coming into flower, and the seedlings are thriving in the propagator.

I came home in the sunshine earlier this week to a crimson welcome, and the green shoots of new life in the propagator.

The Tulip ‘Negrita’ bulbs that I planted last year have overwintered and spent the last few weeks throwing lush, waxy-looking, green leaves and stems skywards. Now I have been rewarded with their beautiful blooms.

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tulip ‘Negrita’ on flower.

There were about 10 bulbs and they seem to all be present and happy..

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tip-toe through the tulips (nepeta and a nettle) with me.

However, I also stumbled across a terrible thing, and it comes as somewhat of an absent-mindedness confession, of which I’m not really happy with myself about – it looks like i might have forgotten to plant ANY of the beautiful cream and green lacy Tulip ‘Madonna’ bulbs. I found bag of them on my bench. There was a bit of a hole in the bag – so i *might* have planted a few, but there’s no sign of them yet.

As for the bulbs in the bag – they looked quite dried up, but i’ve planted them out anyway and now they have two chances. They’ll be massively behind for this year though – which makes me annoyed with myself.

Ending on a happier note…

The seeds that I sowed at the beginning of the month are doing pretty well. Both Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ seeds are now sturdy seedlings, there are 5 Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings, and 1.1 of the Sweet Pea ‘Candy Cane’ seeds have germinated.

IMAG1142
The Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings are doing well in the propagator.

Add to this, the Parsley ‘Laura’ (a delicious flat-leaf variety that’s great with mushrooms,  scrambled egg, or as a salad leaf) is thriving.

With the sunshine out, it finally feels like summer is lurking just off the horizon somewhere.

Sowing – Tomato, Courgette and Sweet Peas

The propagator has been filled with freshly sown seeds – ready to bring the garden to life in 2013.

Tonight I’ve continued the sowing of seeds for this year’s garden. Fuelled by another sunny drive home from work, I’m pretty satisfied that Spring has finally arrived.

Seeds in compost sitting inside a propagator
Tomato, Sweet Pea, Parsley and Courgette are ready to spring into life.

First up is something that I’ve not grown from seed before… a tomato. I’ve never been a massive fan of tomatoes but I was given some seed last year for Tomato ‘Minibel’ which grows happily in pots and produces cherry tomatoes. This ideal as I have little space to put them, and a few small fresh tomatoes will work well in the myriad of salads that my life consumes. Tomatoes are hungry things – so I’ll need to make sure that I use my fertiliser on them regularly in order to get the best out of them.

Tomatoes that never were
Spot the spider! 2010’s tomatoes looked good, but the wind soon flattened their hopes of producing any more than this.

My mother gave me some tomato plants back in 2010, and they did reasonably well, so this year I’ll put them in the same spot (gets the afternoon sunshine) and see what happens. Hopefully, like 2010, the wind won’t suddenly arrive and decimate them again.

Tomato 'Minibel' and Courgette 'Black Beauty'
Tomato ‘Minibel’ and Courgette ‘Black Beauty’

Speaking of which, I’ve also sown some more Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ seeds – just two – in a vain attempt to actually have courgettes as good as I had them back in 2010 when I was getting a bit of a backlog. For the last two years they have been disastrous – with mildew killing them off in 2011 after only about 2 fruits, and last year’s two dying – one from mildew again, and the other from a nice big healthy plant being chomped through the main stem by slugs and snails.

Hopefully these two harsh winters will have slowed the snails and slugs down even further, but I’ll have to keep an eye on them.

Compared to last year, it seems that I’m behind schedule. But with such cold weather, and now what seems to be full Spring ahead, I’m hoping that things will catch up. Besides, some of my plants (in hindsight) had gotten a bit ‘leggy’ because they’d been waiting too long indoors for the all-clear to go outside.

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.

Poppies and Sweet Peppers flourish in the garden

Heavy rain and sunshine has led to the garden responding with poppies, Sweet Peppers begin to grow fruits, and a fresh batch of Parsley begins to germinate.

Heavy rain and sunshine has given the garden yet another boost – bringing a splash of colour and lush green leaves.

The self-sown Common Garden Poppy ‘Papaver somniferum’ plants have come into bloom – their grey-green rubbery foliage standing in contrast against the soft green leaves of the nearby Foxgloves.

Common Garden Poppy
One of the self-sown Common Garden Poppy plants.

Meanwhile, both of the Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants that I sowed months ago, and have carefully nurtured on windowsills, are now beginning to show signs of producing fruit after I had planted them out initially in the wicker basket, but then moved them to their own pots after they showed signs of not liking the position.

Pepper (Sweet) 'Friggitello'
Both plants are showing signs of producing fruits.

About 4 days ago, I also sowed some Parsley ‘Laura’ seeds, which like the Pepper (Sweet) ‘Frigitello’ I was given by CBM. This variety is a flat-leaved type which I would use in salads. I already have some curled parsley.

So far, one of the seeds have germinated, although I am hopeful that more will soon follow.

Parsley 'Laura'

Elsewhere in the garden, white Campanula (persicifolia, i think!) have emerged – taking a minority amongst the many blue ones which were also earlier to flower, and the snails seem to have finally gotten the message after my regular early evening ‘meet and greet’ sessions.

Campanula 'Persicifolia' in blue and white
The self-sown Campanula ‘Persicifolia’ in blue and white

A ‘Goodbye’ gift that grows

I’ve received a great ‘goodbye’ gardening gift from the team at CBM, the overseas disability charity.

I’ve received a wonderful ‘goodbye’ gift recently from the team at CBM, the overseas disability charity, with whom i’d worked with for some time.

They clubbed together to get me a tubtrug packed with things for my garden – gardening gloves, a string container (with string!), some terracotta plant markers for Chives and Parsley, and a load of National Garden Centre Vouchers (they’ll come in very handy!). There’s also a little statue of a frog beside a stone with the words ‘Welcome to my garden’ engraved on it – made me chuckle – so that will be going into the garden once it begins to wake up.

Gardening Kit
The tubtrug with some of the gifts from CBM. Sadly by this time, the shortbread had been lost in action.

There’s also some Johnsons seeds to keep me busy in the next few months (I better sow them as I know they’re reading this now!)

  • Aubergine ‘Early Long Purple 2’
  • Parsley ‘Laura’
  • Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’
  • Chives
  • Tomato ‘Minibel’

As one of the team pointed out, I’m not allowed to visit them unless I’m carrying a box of fresh vegetables. No pressure there then!

Check out CBM’s work – they do some amazing work in some of the poorest countries of the world.