Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Flaming June ?

Flaming June -more like a damp squid - the weather has been really below par  - far too wet, windy and although warm, most days have been dull and overcast, and the nights have actually been pretty chilly - let's hope things start to pick up next month. This morning started well - even had my shades on as I drove over to the garden, but within an hour it was raining and continued to do so on and off til early afternoon. But there's no point in complaining cos I don't think the Big Man up the stairs listens to me!
So, as usual, here is todays piccie of the borders from the potting shed.

To begin with today, I dead-headed the roses and the lupins, hanging three spikes of each of the pink and the purple lupins in the potting shed to dry to collect the seeds. It may seem a strange thing to do given how readily the lupins seem to self seed in the borders, but the more the merrier, and there is a lot of space to fill in the rest of the garden!
Then it was down to the greenhouse to escape a real downpour where I weeded the beds and pinched out and tied in the tomato plants and tied in the cucumber. Everything seems to be growing well in the greenhouse and even the three aubergines are flourishing despite being in poor nick when I brought them over and they now have their first flower buds showing.
As the rain eased off a bit, it was time to tackle another section of the fruit bed ground clearance. Several barrowloads and numerous trugsfull ( is there such a word?) of weeds , roots and diseased gooseberry bushes later, I had sufficient ground cleared and dug over to plant out the leeks and PSB. Holes were dibbed to a depth of 6" and a leek plant placed in each hole which was then filled with water - this allows a bit of soil to be washed over the root sytem and help bed the roots in - the holes are not filled - the leeks shoud grow into them, and of course if July is as wet as June, the rain will probably backfill the holes with soil anyway. There are a couple of leeks left as spares as replacements for any that decide to turn up their boots. In total there were 96 leeks - two varieties - one grown from seed and one bought as young plants.
 Next door to the leeks there now reside 29 psb plants planted at about 15" spacings all round. Photo's of the fruit bed will follow - but like most plants after transplanting, things were a bit droopy and not looking their best.
I also finished planting the Alchemilla mollis down the side of the greenhouse steps, planting up another 9 clumps of young plants.
Everything is looking good in the temporary veg border and the two small beds - all we need is some sun for the runner beans!

The lettuces are ready for cropping, the onions are all looking healthy, the Petit Posy look like a really attractive kale plant and Sally ha started to crop the Brokali Chinese Brocolli . The carrots are starting to put on some good leaf growth, the potatoes are all healthy and clean, the brassicas are likewise so it's really only the courgettes and runner beans that deperately need some sun.As for what's new in flower this week, the Achillea "Summer Pastels" has started to flower - this is a plant that is obviosly very happy in the borders as both clumps have really put on a huge amount of growth this year.

The Ceanothus var. Skylark is flowering it little heads off and is obviously preferring it's more erect stance - hopefully by this time next year it will be firmly attached to the wall.

And finally here's a piccie of Astrantia "Rubra" - this has been in flower for a couple of weeks now but for whatever reason, I never got a piccie of it, and someone on a forum of which I am a participant was asking about red Astrantia so I said I would post a piccie today for her, so Abby, this is for you.

I know it doesn't look that dark in the photo, but it is , especially before it actually opens.
I saw our resident woodpecker several times today - as I came into the garden this morning he was perched atop one of the sweet pea wigwams but of course, as soon as the camera appeared he was off.. There are a lot of birds in the garden just now - old and young alike -but the stars today were the woodpecker and a tree creeper.
Anyhoos, that's it for another week. Hope you're enjoying following the garden's progress as much as I am enjoying working there.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Drizzle, then rain, then drizzle then rain, etc

Today was not the most pleasant for working in - very warm but with an almost constant drizzle interspersed with heavyish showers - just perfect for the infamous midge to come out and forage on my exposed parts!
To start, here is this weeks piccie of the border from the potting shed, taken first thing this morning.

So what was on today?
First off I planted some young Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle) along the upper side of the greenhouse steps, though I need about another half dozen plants to complete the run. These will be mixed in with some Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh Poppy) to give the area above the steps a lime green / yellow theme. The plan is that the Lady's Mantle will eventually froth over the the steps and soften the edges.
I then planted out 24 Alcea (Hollyhock) that I have been growing on in the greenhouse. These were grown from seed saved by a member of Tain & District Gardening Club and the only description I have is "Dark Red", so I'm not sure if they are first year flowering though I think it is more likely that they will flower next year. Anyway, these were planted in groups of threes or fives in areas of the herbaceous borders that needed some interest. I also planted out the four survivors from a old packet of Sunflower " Pastiche" to help brighten up a bare spot in the top border.
I think I have mentioned before that there were quite a few shrub roses that were being given a last chance this season - and that most have responded and are flowering - two that hadn't taken my advice now have a new home - the compost bin! I cut back all the long leggy fresh growth on the remaining shrub roses to tidy them up, and dead-headed the white geranium clumps in the top border too, as well as the various groups of lupins. A victim of the harsh winter, I finally got round to removing the mallow this afternoon.
I also tied up the sweet peas again as the weather seems to have taken it's toll on those planted out in the border, though those in pots by tye potting shed are looking considerably more healthy.
On the veg front, the Brokali has started to produce small central heads, the onions are looking good, with lots of healthy green leaves, so they should start to bulb up now, into some quite decent onions, the lettuce are coming at it, the tatties are all looking healthy, the carrots are starting to show signs of decent leaf growth, the runner beans in the extra beds are pale but climbing their canes (just need the sun, as do we all), the brassicas are all looking good and the Crimson Flowered Broad Beans have got...............crimson flowers !!

On the greenhouse front, I pinched out the side shoots on the tomatoes and started to tie them to their canes. Started to feed the toms, cucumber and aubergines with Tomorite, so Sally has been instructed in the correct dosage and how often to apply in my absence. The Capsicums are starting to grow away slowly and the chard "Bright Lights is ready for picking. After taking away the hollyocks and sunflowers, the greenhouse staging now only holds young PSB plants, baby leeks which should go out next week and some recently germinated lettuce seedlings.To finish the day off, I ventured off to the fruit bed and did some more weeding, removed another shrub rose that shouldn't have been there and got munched alive by those little midges again.
Only one other photo this week - this is a bloom on tyhe peony "Sarah Bernhard" that was planted as a plug last year - if it looks dirty that's because it was lying on the ground - this was taken after it was re-staked.
That's it for another week folks, thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Working on my tan again!

When I arrived at the garden this morning, the rain was falling and the outlook wasn't that brilliant but within an hour we had blue skies and the fleece came off and the Jungle Formula went on - have you ever seen what that stuff does to plastic? No wonder it keeps the midges at bay, I just don't want to think what it might do to my skin!
To begin with, here is this weeks shot of the border from the potting shed

First off I potted up three spare aubergines that I had at home into five litre pots and puit them down in the greenhouse, then it was back to the weeding - I weeded both beds either side of the summerhouse and then re-weeded the rose bed. I know I weeded it last week but that was with the hoe (or to be more exact with the soil miller), but given the wet weather that arrived later, the darn things had started to grow again before the roots had a chance to dry up and shrivel! Anyway I redid it and here is how it looks now. Before you all wonder why it's called the rosebed when there aren't too many roses in it, it was historically the rosebed and it will be again - slowly slowly catchy monkey etc etc.
After finishing these three smaller beds, I decided to take the bull by the horns and start on the fruit bed - and here is a picture of it before I started

I shall update this pic when I have dug over a bit more of it, but as you can see, it may take a while. The plan now is to remove the box hedging which is more or less dead anyway for large stretches of this border, and replace it with a wire fence using the old metal posts that have been gathered from all over the garden, along which we will grow cordon gooseberries. In the meantime, this border will be home to the leeks and PSB that will need planting out soon.
On the veg front, the veg in the west facing border have all enjoyed the warm wet weather we have been having and are still growing away strongly.

I have sussed why the drill of Belle De Fontenay doesn't seem to have as many plants as the Charlotte and Rooster drills - there weren't as many seed tubers in the net!! And there was me last week imagining that all sorts of wierd and wonderful things were going on underground, when the real explanation was that I was suffering a memory lapse (it's my age you know!!) As for what's new - some of the dahlias tubers that I mentioned planting previously have put up shoots, and as for the rest, here is a photgraphic round up - some of these may have featured previously, so forgive me for any repeats
These pokers featured last week but they are now showing both their colours so I thought it was worthy of another pic

Peony Sarah Bernhardt about to open

The white Campanula that was planted a few weeks back

Geranium Splish Splash


On the rose front, some of the shrub roses in the borders are flowering this year whereas they did nothing last year so were given a hard prune and told that if they didn't flower this year they were for the chop - this threat seems to worked a treat with some of them

Also on the rose front, the white climber that was mildewed last week has improved and is now in full flower mode

And the yellow rose by the potting shed is now out too

What else is happening? There are fruits on the plum tree ( this didn't produce any blossom or fruit last year so it may actually be a greengage - we shall wait and see), the sweet peas are beginning to make their climb upwards and onwards, the runner beans that are to grow over the potting shed arch are doing likewise, the tomatoes have the first signs of their first flowers, there are currants on some of the redcurrant and blackcurrant bushes, the Achillea is on the point of flowering and I sowed some more lettuce (Red Iceberg)
That's about it for this week  - see you next week................

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Day of Two Halves

After last night's torrential downpour, this morning started off nice and warm and the sun shone - T shirt weather, so it was off with the jacket and on with the Jungle Formula.
I couldn't post any photos last week as the 'puter and camera had had a falling out but they seem to have kissed and made up now, so expect a couple or three this week. To start, here is this weeks view of the border from the potting shed.
So, today started with me digging another veg bed , this time to accomodate some Hispi Cabbage, Samantha Cabbage (a Savoy) and some Cheesy Cauliflower (cheesy being the variety name and not a description of the plants!)
The wheelbarrow behind today's bed is full of the roots removed from that one small patch!
The rest of the veg in the west facing border is looking good, with minimal slug damage and no sign of any other beasties as yet but there is still plenty of time yet, so to try and minimise hiding places and other attractions for the pests, I weeded the veg patch. There is one area where I am slightly at a loss - I planted three rows of tatties at the bottom of the veg bed, two are fine but the centre drill which contains Belle De Fontenay is only showing shaws at the top end of the drill - might have a root around next week to investigate.
I also weeded the rosebed as the annual willowherb were getting quite numerous.
As it was still nice and warm and the green stuff was dry, I took the opporchancity to don the knapsack sprayer and spray off the middle section of the garden (the area that the digger cleared ) to try and minimise the weed comeback as much as possible.
The young pear tree by the garden gate has been attacked by Pear Midge and has lost a lot of fruitlets to this pest but there are still a few healthy looking babies on it, so I must remember to spray against these little buggers next year - having checked the older pear trees at the far end of the garden, another two seem to be afflicted with this problem too, though the remainder of the pear trees seem to be free of damage.
The rain didn't stay away all day and the afternoon was hit by some really heavy showers, but hey ho, on with the work - I cut down most of the oriental poppies in the herbaceous border as they were going over and looking really scrappy - the foliage was lying down and was in a few cases beginning to smother some of the newer plants, so away they went - I have to confess this gave me quite a bit of pleasure as I have these in my garden at home and am not a fan - although I will admit that they provide an early burst of colour, to me they are thuggish and get scruffy looking too quickly. I also staked up a few more perennials that had taken a bit of a kicking from the previous night's downpour, and tied up the sweet peas to their bamboo supports to encourage them on thier skyward journey. Finally I watered the toms , peppers etc in the greenhouse
So what is new in the borders - including a couple from last week, and in no particular order we have...

Some Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) appearing behind some of the lupins.

A coule of self seeded (or via the gut of a passing bird) Verbascums 
A lovely looking Iris that is a "Garden Original" 

Some Red Centranthus

The Scabious are starting to make an appearance now

More "Garden Original" Iris

And yet more "Garden Original" Iris

And on the Rose front we have the following....................

And finally, here is the blue tit that is busy feeding it's youngsters, just about to enter the crack in the wall that serves as home

See you all next week. Take care y'all, y'hear!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bit of a mixed bag this week

Today the weather forecast was not too good but apart from a strong breeze this afternoon it was actually quite pleasant. Got lots of little jobs done. But to start with, an apology for the lack of piccies this week - I did take a few but the computer and the camera are having a bit of an argument and the computer is refusing to let the camera download so sorry, sorry, sorry!
Sally brought down some Dahlia tubers she had ordered from T&M. These were from their Sky High range so were planted at the far end of the lower herbaceous border at the prescribed depth and distance. There are six varieties but nothing to say what colours each are, so we'll just have to wait and see - each is clearly labelled so we'll know what to expect when we start propogating from them next year.
Then I potted on the Hollyhocks from their cell pack into 3" pots - 27 from a 54 cell pack. This might not seem very positive (to save you the trouble it's exactly 50%) but the seed was self saved ( though not by me)and should probably have been sown a bit earlier but 27 free plants are not to be sniffed at!
The remaining sweet peas were planted into large pots and placed alongside the Runner Beans that are in pots up by the potting shed - both beans and peas will be trained over the arch of the potting shed entrance.
I then planted out two Hebes at the far end of the rosebed, and pinched out the growing tips on the two Hebes that have been grown from cuttings to encourgae them to bush up a bit more.
Having looked at the veg plants still in the greenhouse, it was decided that they shoud be planted in the new veg area, so I dug over a small bed (approx 8' x 4') - this gave me a taste of what is to come - a barrow and a half of roots from that small area ! Anyway, I got it dug over, and it is now home to the Crimson flowered Broad Beans, the last three Runner Bean Achievement and some Beetroot Chioggia. I managed to find room for the last six Brokali plants in the temporary veg bed so that only leaves the cauliflower, cabbage, calabrese, PSB and more chard to find a home for - will need to dig another bed next week methinks!
I sank pots beside the toms and the cucumber in the greenhouse today to make watering them both easier and more effective - I don't know why I didn't do it at the time as this how I always grow my own toms and cukes, but anyway, no harm done and it's another job out the way.
In the herbaceous borders,I dead headed the Oriental Poppies - I know that they are big and bright when in full bloom and that they flower for what seems like forever, but when they start to go over, they are one of the scruffiest plants I know. I also staked the peonies and a couple of the taller perennials that are yet to flower and finally I moved one of the Ceanothus, variety Blue Mound, as it was getting lost in mid border, so it has a new home at the front of the border where it's more prostrate form can be both seen and appreciated.
Oh yeah, and just because it needs to be done all the time, I did some more weeding !!!
That's it for this week - if the computer and camera start talking to each other again, I'll post the piccies as and when - if not you'll just have to wait til next week!