Planning the 2018 garden

I’m planning my 2018 garden. Always have a plan!

This April, it will be 1 year since I bought and moved in to this house.

During that time, I have broken a garden laid entirely to a tired lawn, moved fences, planted a hedge, and enjoyed a lot of homegrown vegetables and flowers.

Now that I’ve begun to understand my garden a bit, I’m creating my plan for 2018, based on what I’ve observed so far.

Above is my 2018 Google planner for the seeds that I want to sow this year – helping me to keep on track.

 

1. There’s a shady bit

Close to the fence, patio and house, there’s a shaded area which is also pretty heavy clay. The water sits here sometimes for a while, trying to escape the patio. My potted Ferns like this area, and I successfully transferred a few self-sown Foxgloves that had tried to make home in my garden pots that I moved with me from my previous house.

This part of the garden will be getting some Aquilegia ‘McKana Giants’ in 2018, which apparently enjoy more shaded moist conditions.

2. There’s an old shed

The old decrepit shed needs to be demolished, as it’s empty, somehow has stood the countless gales we’ve had with little more than an occasional door swing, and it’s taking up precious growing space. What it is doing though, is helping to provide some privacy between the bottom of my garden and the houses who back up to my fence. I’m thinking about having a new fence installed, but first I just need to take it down. I hope it’s not concrete under that!

3. More raised beds

Having demolished the old shed, then I’ll have space and a pile of wood from which I aim to make some more raised beds. This part of the garden fared really well for my French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ and my ‘sow-by-2012’ salad crops. It also gave me the occasional courgette, although these were the only ones grown in the ground (rather than a raised bed) so they were a bit slower. The new raised beds will fit in the old shed space.

4. Blackcurrants

I’ve bought a couple of Blackcurrant ‘Ribes Nigrum’ bushes. They’re just budding at the moment, but I hope to eventually get a crop from them in the next couple of years. I think these are also going near the shed footprint.

5. Birds

This morning, I participated in The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch with my independent adjudicator, RubyCat. The garden is busy this weekend – now that the snow, wind, and rain, gave everyone a few hours break. I noticed that there’s a reasonable range of bird life coming in, and so I hope that my B&Q birdbox (which incidentally split) will get its first use, and I hope the birds are enjoying the 4 bird feeders and the sunflower heads I left on. I’ll be growing more sunflowers for them and the bees.

6. Up

Last year I learned that Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ loves to crawl, climb, grab, grasp, and strangle. That was my first ever year of growing squashes, and they gave me plenty out of just one plant. This year, I need to make that plant go upwards, instead of letting is maraud its way over, through and around a 20ft radius of garden. I shall be looking for either a trellis, or an arch that will suit my needs.

Elsewhere in the garden, I also want to solve the issue I had last year with the reluctant Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ and Sweet Pea ‘Royal Mix’. They were happy to flower and grow where i’d planted them, but they refused to climb. I put it down to the climbing ‘frame’ being made of string rather than wire, and so I will swap my intricate string grid with wire, and see if I can finally persuade them and my new Honeysuckle ‘Lonicera’ to reach upwards and give me scent and blooms this summer.

Flower and vegetable seed packets
My seed packets are raring to be opened!

Right! My seed packets are all alphabetically filed in a new storage box, and ready to go… c’mon budge over Winter, let’s have some Spring!

What are you planning for your garden this year? Are you trying anything ‘new’ in 2018? Let me know in the comments below.

As ever, thanks for reading, and happy gardening,

Andrew

 

The Chysanthemums and Sweet Peas brighten the garden

Further flowers are beginning to open in the garden – this time in the shade, as well on one of the reluctant climbers.

The Chrysanthemum and the Sweet Peas have now joined in the colourful fanfare, adding crimson, purple and white to the palette. 

White Chrysanthemum flower
The mystery Chrysanthemum is happily flowering in the shade.

With this continuing heat and sunshine here in Cambridgeshire, England, the garden is seeing more and more flowers opening. Over the last few days I have watched the Chrysanthemum with its dark glossy leaves, send up its straight stems that have now burst into its annual show of white daisy-like flowers. This plant was another one that was already in the garden – it’s variety remains a mystery for now (any ideas – leave a comment below!). It seems to thrive in the shady part of the garden (it’s just a few feet away from the Fern). It’s white flowers, which seem to attract hoverflies, delivers a welcome contrast to the greenery that dominates the corner.

Elsewhere in the garden, the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ flowers have begun to open with their pungent crimson and purple flowers.

Sweet Pea 'Cupani'
The Sweet Peas are blooming, they just forgot to climb.

Fortunately the Sweet Peas have eluded the aphids this year (which were probably blown and washed away a couple of weeks ago), leaving them with strong stems and early flowers. However, they haven’t exactly utilised the wigwams yet, despite some gentle woollen encouragement.

They have been joined by the French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ which similarly have started flowering and again haven’t climbed very high.

A Foxglove Fanfare

The Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’ or Foxglove as it’s better known, has now begun flowering… and Andrew wonders what to do with four Aubergine plants.

It’s been raining heavily but on and off for about 4 days now. In this time, the garden has been getting a really good soaking. The plants that I put out at the weekend are perhaps now beginning to get used to their new homes.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’, better known as the Foxglove, as it has been steadily reaching upwards with it’s lush green spire, covered in cream/white buds. In those 4 days, I reckon that it has grown at least a foot (3ocm).

Today the first of the flowers opened – bringing a blast of colour to an otherwise shady part of the garden.

foxglove-fanfare-of-flowers
The first Foxglove flowers in the garden.

 

I bought the plant on impulse one day for £3 from Tesco in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire. I hadn’t gone there for plant shopping, but knowing how much bees seem to like Foxgloves, and how they grow well in shady spots, I thought it would be a good gamble. I wish i’d actually bought a few.

This time next year I should have loads, having sown some Thompson & Morgan Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids’ (Mixed) seeds. Hopefully I can nurture them to grow like this one has.

Jobs to do…

  1. I need to decide where my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants are going to be planted. I’ve been casually looking at those vegetable bag/wicker boxes. Any one have any experience of using these? Do they retain moisture? Do they rot/fall to bits in one season?