Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Dreich Day

Today was pretty dreich and the ground wasn't really fit to do much with so I held off from starting on the fruit bed. So, as I had to leave at lunchtime to take over duties looking after my 3 year old daughter who isn't at all well, it seemed to make more sense to do some of the smaller jobs that needed to be done.
Dragged all the old fencewire and netting from the bottom of the garden up to the top to await the trailer to cart it all away.
Dug out and exposed the old greenhouse foundations that were running across the middle of the new greenhouse floor space so that they can be smashed out next week (note to self - remember sledgehammer!) and finished weeding the far end of the lower herbaceous border.
Watered the seed trays and pots that required it in the potting shed. As yet, only the Winter Density lettuce, sown on March 16th,  has germinated, so turned the pot to straighten the seedlings as they were leaning towards the light.
The daffodils in the herbaceous borders are beginning to flower in numbers now and everything seems to be recovered from the sorry state that this winter's weather left it in - pretty much everything in the borders is greening up and budding, so hopefully we won't get any more really hard frosts.
That's it til next week folks.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Face Down, Ass Up,That's the way we like to ..........

Spent quite a lot of time on my hands and knees today weeding the herbaceous borders (again) - I suppose if you think about the old gardeners saying "One Years Weeds is Seven Years Seeds, then I'm looking at 7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7 (you do the maths !) years worth of weed seeds but of course, they are not viable for that long, though I recall being informed somewhere in my dim and distant past that Docken seeds can remain viable for up to 80 years. There is still quite a bit of ground elder in the borders but they are now mostly small pieces and hopefully I will be able to eradicate this and the couch grass this season.
Anyway, the first of the daffodils have opened and the photo below shows the variety that is on the line of the path between the bottom and middle sections of the path. This is obviously quite an old variety and I shall attempt to get it identified before too long as it would be nice to know just how old it is and possibly how long it has been in the garden.

Whilst we have a bit of colour on show, here are a couple more pics from today showing what is brightening the borders up at the moment
Pulmonaria adding a splash of early colour

Garrya Elliptica - I love these trees

Hellebores looking really good IMO

Anyway, after I get the herbaceous borders completely finished, the next big area to be tackled is the "Fruit Border", seen below as it looked today.

Now, some of this has already been weeded once but the far end is a mess of brambles, nettles, thistles, couch grass, willow herb and ground elder, with weeding not being helped by the root systems of not only the pear trees growing against the wall but also the various sycamores that were growing alongside the path, the stump of one of these can be seen just behind the strainer post in the foreground.
Got some more seeds sown today - Sweet Peas, varieties Horizon Mixed and Showbench 8 Mix

And two new veggies - Brussels Sprouts "Petit Posy" which is a cross between Sprouts and Kale and which grows like a sprout but doesn't produce the tight buttons of a conventional sprout but what liiks like very small frilled cabbages.

and some Stem Brocolli

And finally, the greenhouse was brought down to the garden today, in 7 boxes, ready for assembly at a time as yet to be decided but the sooner the better. The greenhouse is 16'9" long by 8'6" wide with staging down one length, 5 automatic roof vents and two slatted louvres.
That's it for this week, Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Sorry no piccies this week

My camera has taken a hissy fit and is not playing ball at the moment but normal service will be resumed next week.
Anyway, after an absence of 3 weeks I had 3 pupils from the local secondary school working with me for about 2 1/2 hours this morning as part of the RSD (Rural Skills Development) Programme. I do feel slightly sorry for the kids that I have over the winter period as they obviously are not allowed to use chainsaws etc so get lumbered with clearing away all the scrub that I have cut down and such like. I do try and show or at least explain something new to them each time, even if it means doing a particular task a bit earlier than I would normally consider doing it. So these three boys appear and as I had just removed the black plastic sheeting I had laid down the west facing wall border, I figured I would dig it over with the assistance of one of the boys and the other two could barrow loads of manure in for the border. Of course, when you ask for a volunteer, it's two steps backwards all round - only this time the volunteer got the good job and the other two got, quite literally, the sh*t end of the stick. And it's a fair trek from the manure heap to the garden gate!

So we got the border dug over, the manure spread (except for the area earmarked for carrots, parsnips and other root veg), and I'll dig it all over once more before planting the veg in this border.

After the boys left, my impatience overcame me and I sowed some Rainbow Chard, Lettuce "Winter Density" and some leeks - these are now nestling in the potting shed covered over with glass.

I then took a look at the fruit bed area and the blackcurrant bushes which were seriously out of sorts last year and as a resuly were all given a really hard pruning, are all looking good and are all nice open goblet shaped bushes, so now that the wood is in it's second season we should be expecting a crop of blackcurrants from them this year. The gooseberries are growing away well too but I'm not too sure what they'll crop like
I then weeded one of the small beds by the side of the summerhouse that is planted with lots and lots of mixed bulbs, some of which are beginning to show - good job too as the snowdrops are beginning to droop and fade.
In spite of the recent second (or is it third or fourth ?) cold snap, the perennials and roses etc are all beginning to show signs of growth and I would hope that the daffodils will start to open within the next week or certainly fortnight if the weather turns bad again.

And to finish I staked and tied in a Ceanothus, var "Skylark" and trained it skywards as it had developed a tendency to assume a ground hugging attitude, which is not what is required when it is planted against the wall in the sunniest part of the garden. Anyway, it is now pointing skywards and will hopefully put on sufficient new growth this season to allow it to be traied against the wires on the wall itself.
So all in all, a productive day, which if you had seen the snow lying in the garden at 8.30 this morning, you would have thought nigh on impossible, but it turned into an absolutely glorious spring day -just to remind me why I do what I do ;)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The way things were......

And, I hope, will be again. As promised here are some photos taken when the garden was in it's heyday. They are mainly of the herbaceous borders but should give you a flavour of what the garden was like back then.

Valdo, Ukranian ex POW, who tended the garden after WWII.
Clematis Montana on wall beside potting shed

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What happened to Spring??

Winter has returned, at least for a short while, with snow today and more to fall tomorrow.

View from potting Shed, 9am

Same view , 10am

However, not all was lost as I managed to give the climbing and rambling roses against the walls their final prune and tidy up as well as the pillar rose in the bottom herbaceous bed. Then it was down to the bottom of the garden where the soon to arrive greenhouse is going to be situated. Matthew has done a brilliant job in laying the founds, which also entailed digging out a large tree stump (Thank you Matthew).

 Foundations for greenhouse

After not inconsiderable effort and several nasty snow showers, I managed to remove the tree roots, nettles and ground elder. Once the ground dries out a bit, I'll dig it over again and remove what has been missed. The plan is for the staging to go on the south facing length of the greenhouse with a bed underneath, a central pathway then a raised bed on the other side, which will be filled with topsoil taken from molehills.

After initial root removal and weeding.

Richard and Sally, whose garden this is, have very kindly given me some photographs of the garden taken a not inconsiderable time ago and I shall scan these into the computer over the next week or so, and then post them on here to give you an idea of what the herbaceous borders were like and hopefully will be again in the not too distant future.