Thursday, 31 May 2012

Full of Promise

Well, things are really starting to  get a shift on after the nice hot spell, especially in the long borders - and not before time.
To start the day I weeded the cordon sweet peas and started to put the support rings on them to encourgae straight upward growth, removing any tendrils and side shoots that were already formed.

There was space above and below these  sweet peas to plant out the rest of the veg, so on the top side of the sweet peas went the Black Tuscan Kale and the Perpetual Spinach (Leaf Beet) and below them went the Cauliflowers and the Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Still in the planting mood, I planted out 5 x Cobra Climbing Beans in this years veg patch along with the rest of the cell started beetroot

and the remaining 5 Cobra were planted in a hastily constructed area (3 plants) and a large pot (2 plants) either side of the potting shed arch - these will be trained round the arch as they grow and should hang straight down clear of the foliage and therefore be easier to harvest.

All the veg, as well the sweet peas and the hollyhocks were given a sprinkle of slug pellets as these do seem to be particularly tasty to the little critters. I know that there are those who advocate other methods but I don't have the time to mess about, so it's sprinkle and forget for me every time.

The first strawberry plants arrived this week - 12 Elsanta, all the way from Guernsey and I have to say they have excellent root systems on them. There are another two varieties on order which should arrive this week I hope. I have asked Sally to but some ground cover fabric and will plant the strawberries through this. This will help keep the weeds down and the fruit clean, though I shall be taking as many runners as possible this year to build up a stock.. To this end I have asked Sally to save any small yoghurt type pots as when I remove the runners I place them in a pot of water for a week or two as I find this helps the plants grow a better root system and aslo allows me to discard any unfit for stock without having to remove them from compost etc. Anyway, the Elsanta are now snuggled up in a Flower Bucket full of water until next week.

In the long borders, things have moved on quite quickly as I inferred at the start of this weeks post.
The overall view from the potting shed now looks a bit brighter.....

As you can see there are a lot more poppies out and the white geraniums that I split, split and split again are beginning to flower along the inside of the Box hedge. There are a number of other flowers blooming, not all of which are obvious from the potting shed so we now have the following in flower

Star of Bethlehem

Welsh Poppy (Meconopsis cambrica)

Garden Original Pink Rose

Lupins (many different colours)


Garden Original Hemerocallis

Richard's Geranium

Dwarf Lilac


Over at the fruit bed, the currants (both red and black) look like they will have a decent crop

And in the greenhouse, the tomatoes are beginning to grow away as are the mixed salad leaves. The Dahlia tubers have yielded a fair number of cuttings between them and will be planted out in the next week or  fortnight.
I finished the day by weeding the lower long border - bloody annual weeds have a growth rate that would be the envy of almost every plant in the universe (with the possible exception of Russian Vine !)
So that's me for another week, Sorry it's a couple of days later than usual but the computer has been otherwise occupied recently.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Scotsburn Horse Trials 2012

Today was the day of 2012's Scotsburn One Day Horse Trials and we were blessed with an absolutely glorious day - possibly too hot for some of the horses and there will be more than a few "lobsters" tossing and turning in their beds this evening. Although on Traffic duty for a large part of the day, I did manage to escape for a while in the early afternoon and take some pictures of various horses over various jumps on the cross country course - so here they are !

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Ask and you shall receive !

A couple of weeks ago I titled my blog entry "We Need Sun" - well the Big Man up the stairs must have been listening cause this week has been very hot and very sunny - and it's set to continue for a while yet.
I started by checking on the progress of various young perennials in the borders - all seem to be fine with the definite exception of the Echinops, with only one out of the five planted hanging on in there grimly - but I have grave doubts about it's survival - I think I'll dig up a few plants from a large clump in one of my other gardens and transplant these more mature specimens where the dead youngsters were supposed to grow. All the other youngsters look healthy enough though so no worries there.
After checking on the greenhoue and giving everything a good soaking, I filled the bottomless Morrisons flower buckets with growing medium taken from grow-bags, and planted the tomatoes up. We have Gardeners Delight, Tigerella, Golden Sunrise and Black Cherry, though the latter did not perform well last year and this yearsfresh seed showed a poor germination rate and the plants are not as strong as those of the other varieties. I have a few spare plants in case things go awry again.

Also in the greenhouse, the dahlia tuners are only now beginning to produce shoots so I have bben taking cuttings each week for the last three weeks but there quite a few to take this week - again, all down to a bit of heat and some bright sunshine. These are being placed into pots filled with a mix of MP Compost and Perlite and seem to be doing well touch wood......

Back outside in the garden, I got the Mantis out and after raking away a load of debris and dead vegetation from below the hedge that defines the path below the lower of the two herbaceous long borders, I rotavated a strip the length  of the border and planted out the "Lupin Wall"

Not the clearest of photos, but there are 42 lupin plants all grown from self saved seed. These have been grown on in 3" pots and the roots were showing through the bottom, so out they went at 18" spacings. They were given a good watering in so hopefully they'll like their new home and produce a lovely wall of colour later this year.
After this, and given the good forecast for the coming week, I decided to plant out the Runner Beans. They are a variety called Achievement and they too were given a good soaking in after planting.

With all the rain we have had recently followed by these exteremely hot dry days, there is a definite crust on the soil and as a result, weeding the veg bed is not so easy as large slabs lift up at once, potentially damaging young seedlings,so I decided against weeding the veg and started again on weeding the herbaceaous borders.
There are several slashes of colour in the border now, which is just as well as most of the tulips are now going over.
We have a number of Oriental Poppies in bloom, the first peonies.....

the first lupin is now in colour.............

and the first of the Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) is showing itself................

Anyway, here is this weeks piccie from the Potting Shed..............

and to finish, here is a photo of an unwelcome guest in the potting shed - suffice to say that it ain't there any more..............

That's it for this week - but there will be another blog entryr before next weeks gardening entry, as Saturday sees the 2012 Scotsburn British Eventing One Day Horse Trials and with the good weather forecast and the fact that the previously poor weather has cancelled or cut short many of the events due to take place prior to this one, we have a full entry list so it promises to be a good day - even it means only a couple of hours kip after I get in from the Club on Friday night / Saturday morning.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

No Change !

No photos this week - I forgot to take a freshly charged battery with me, not that there was much change from last week - the weather has been too cold and wet and the garden has remained pretty static. The Echinops that were planted out have taken a real battering and are not looking very likely contenders for "survivor of the year" awards.
After watering the greenhouse, I spent the rest of the day at the fruit bed, weeding on an industrial scale - removing huge swathes of nettles, creeping buttercup, couch grass and willowherb as well as old blackcurrant stumps and roots. I dig these out with a combination of garden fork, mattock, and a set of heavy duty loppers. The trick is to remove the sycamore and currant roots without upsetting those of the apple and pear trees and though there are bound to be a couple of wrong decisions, I think I did pretty well. I then rotovate the ground with the Mantis (which I cannot praise highly enough - for a small machine, it does pack a punch) then give it a rake over to level it - one more full day should see the fruit bed finished and then I can move on to the next area, which will be down by the greenhouse steps and around the holly tree beside them.
Looking back at the blog for last year, we had lupins, the white geraniums, oriental poppies and astrantia
and geums all flowering just now - this year we have 1 half open lupin and a couple of poppies. The Asrantia is nowhere close but the Geum are looking about ready to flower, as are the Geraniums.
That's it for this week - next week I will have some more piccies and hopefully some more colour in the border to write about.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

We Need Some Sun

Now two weeks into May and it was -2 in the greenhouse overnight !! Although the plants are growing , and are healthy, they are way behind where they should be for this time of year. I wanna see some sunshine, and I wanna see it soon. !!
Anyway, here is this weeks pic of the borders from the potting shed

Other than the tulips we have a couple of Oriental Poppies opened, with lots more to come, the Knapweed (Centaurea) is in flower...... of "Richard's " geraniums is starting to flower.....

....and we have peonies still threatening.......

......and one lupin beginning to show some colour (no photo).

In the greenhouse, both the runner beans and french beans are all poking their heads above the compost, but the sunflowers have yet to show.
I erected the bamboo frames and wigwams for the beans in the veg patch and also put up a row of "pea sticks" using the top 3ft of some of the natural bamboo canes we got last year, as these have a lot of twiggy stalks still attached. I then planted out the Hispi cabbage and Nelson sprouts and covered them with netting to keep the pigeons (aka flying rats) off them and finally planted out the International Kidnet and Desiree potatoes.

This in effect has filled the pre-cultivated area of this years temp veg patch and I still have to find space for the PSB, cauliflowers and kale, as well as the leeks. Methinks the veg bed will be extended soon !!
After this I returned to the fruit bed and starting at the end closest to the summerhouse, began weeding - removing dockens, creeping butterdup, willowherb and dandelions by hand, then rotavating the area with the Mantis. - all I need to do is make sure I stay on top of it now.

The redcurrants look as if they will produce an excellent crop if we can keep the birdies at bay, and the blackcurrants are the same. The summer raspberries are beginning to produce new shoots from their base which bodes well for next year and the late fruiting row is looking nice and healthy too.
Finally I checked over the cherry trees for blackfly and found two small infestations, which were promptly given a dose of Provado, so hopefully, that's all we'll see - much improved on previous years when wqe've seen more of less the whole tree smothered in the nasty little critters.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

May Day

The first of May, and the weather was absolutely fantastic - clear blue skies, nice and warm - the sort of day that makes it a pleasure to be working outside - another 6 months like today and I could cope with another wet and dreary winter.
Given that it was nice and dry and warm, it was out with the Glyphosate and on with the knapsack sprayer. After spraying off the small "horse prep area" at the back of the stables for Jen, I started in the garden, spraying off the paths and under the hedges, round the greenhouse area, the veg bed and just kept on going ! It is after all, a very large area and most is yet to be taken under cultivation.
After this, I dug over and raked level another section of the veg bed and sowed 5 rows of carrots "Early Nantes 5".
I then moved on to sowing some Sunflower laetifolious - this is a perennial sunflower which has a rhizomatous root system so it will not be used as a "dot" plant but will be a permanent addition to the borders.

Then I potted on the cauliflower and perpetual spinach seedlings from their cells into 3" pots. I also removed the remaining chard plants from the greenhouse beds, and gave the soil in both beds a heavy soaking to bring them back to life. In the tomato bed, I plan on growing the tomatoes through bottomless containers. I'm using Morrisons flower buckets with the bottoms cut out. The idea is to plant the tomatoes in a prepared growing medium in these buckets and eventually the roots will reach the actual soil bed  and get a further boost. I also sowed the smaller bed with a CCA salad mix.

The next job was to plant out some more of the perennials and sweet peas that have been grown on in the greenhouse. So the last three Rudbeckia, three Echinacea purpurea, five Echinops all went into the borders, along with nine Echinaces "White Swan". The sweet peas were of two assorted packs - those from Unwins Arrangers Blend were planted in the same border as the cordon sweet peas but against the wall where they will be allowed to scramble up through the varios roses and Chaenomeles, and the Thompson & Morgan Fragrantissima Mix are against the wall in the long border - again these will be allowed to scramble up through the roses and will also be trained up the cherry trees until they get going themselves. I also checked the cherry trees again for Blackfly - not a sign of it. Hopefully we'll avoid it this year.

We have some more tulips out - and I think that maybe there has been a bit of guerilla gardening going on as I don't remember planting any of the tulips that are coming up in the lower of the two long borders, and Sally can't remember buying or bein given the bulbs, but they're there and that's where they'll stay.

Other tulips that I did plant are now flowering in the top border......

And those planted in the bed by the summerhouse are starting to put on a show

Not to be outdone, the apple blossom is just starting to open - this is on a very large tree against the wall at the bottom of the fruit bed that was quite severely attacked with the chainsaw last year as it was way way too large and was badly cankered - it has made a remarkable recovery and is in the rudest of health

There was a lot of bird activity in the garden this week and I spotted this in one of the recesses in the archway of the potting shed. I think it might be a wren, but a female chaffinch seemed to forever waiting about for me to stop wandering in and out all day. There is nothing in it and I can anly hope that my comings and goings don't put the birdie off using this .....

And finally here is this weeks pic of the borders from the potting shed - hard to tell but it won't be too long before we have some proper colour to beak up the green,