Tuesday, 28 August 2012

End of August

I know I missed last weeks instalment but I have been pretty busy with other stuff, but I'm back now.
So what's new in the garden - the dahlias have started to produce their first flowers and have a profusion of buds so I am expecting a good display this year, espacially from the plants we raised from cuttings as they are looking really healthy - they must love the old rose bed with all that FYM incorporated into the soil.

The Sweet Peas continue to flourish too - both on the border wigwams and an the cordon system - the last couple of weeks I have managed to fill a flower bucket for Sally for the house.
In the greenhouse, I have fiurther denuded the tomatoes of foliage as time is marching on and we have only one tomato trying it's very best to ripen, The onions are drying out nicely and should soon be ready to string up a la Onion Johnny. I finished pricking out the first tray of Canterbury Bells today whilst we had a short burst of rain - two trays to go and we already have 146 in modules - no excuses for empty gaps in the borders next year. The salad leaves continue to provide a plentiful supply as does the Perpetual Spinach.
Outside in the veg plot, I picked a 3litre pot of peas today - there is a huge crop of the ever dependable Hurst Greenshaft -an excellent garden pea, and I even picked 4 runner beans which had got the jump on the rest. Add in the carrots and ytatties and that was todays harvest.
Other than that I started to weed the top border  - managed 3/4 of it, will finish it next week then start on the other border. So what's new in the borders - other than the dahlias above. First off is Verbena Hastata "Blue Spires"

and then we have Echinacea purpurea...................

The Heleniums, which have been poor doers since being planted, have finally decided that they really should get a shift on (maybe they overheard me talking about them taking a trip to the compost heap)

And although looking pretty scruffy this year, the Achillea are flowering like good 'uns...

And one of my fave plants - the Eryngium or Sea Holly.....

The raspberries continue to crop well for their first year in the ground - as do the strawberries. However, I don't think we'll get tp eat many strawbs as the mice have found them first and have nibbled away any ripe or near ripe berries.
That's it for now - I am staging an exhibit of 12 Sweet Peas (Mixed Varieties) on behalf of Sally at Alnes Hortucultural Society's Autumn Show this Saturday, so watch this space to see how we get on - and pray that Friday is nice, warm, sunny and dead calm, so that we have plenty of nice clean stems to choose from.
And finally............. here is a pic of the border as of today



Saturday, 18 August 2012

Tain Horticultural Show 2012

Well done to Sally on her succesful defence of the her Sweet Pea title today. First in the class for 6 SweetPeas (single variety).......

and First in the class for 12 Sweet Peas (Mixed, minimum of three varieties).......

As you can see, it was the latter display of 12 blooms that led to the recapture of the Mounteagle Shield again this year. So the plan was to defend the title at Tain, and in addition we have a second and third at Dornoch Flower Show and we have Alness in a fortnight - so it ain't over yet. !
Oh yeah, and just like at Dornoch, a 2nd prize for a vase of perennials (and unlike me and the bucket at Dornoch, sally used a proper vase!)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Sunny Thunder

Well, the day started well enough with nice warm sunshine, but finished with a thunderstorm. In between times I managed to get quite a bit done.
Once again however, no pics as the camera was requred elsewhere (younger daughters first day at Primary School)
After tying in and sideshooting the cordon sweet peas, I removed any blooms that would be over by Friday (the day before the show) and any that had less than 4 blooms. I have to say that the plants have responded well to being layered and seem to be producing more flowers than before -but then again, maybe, just maybe, that's down to the week of sunshine we have just had. Whatever, things are looking on track for the show (and Sally's recently ordered Bikini Vases arrived today too so it's all systems go for Saturday).
I then watered and sideshooted (or should that be sideshot?) the tomatoes in the greenhouse and removed some more of the lower leaves to assist ripening and aid ventilation round the plants.
Next I lifted the remaining onions from the veg patch - there were a few that were rotted at the bottom of the bulb but the majority had good healthy roots and required a fork to lift them. After cutting off the roots and scraping off any soil, these were put on the greenhouse staging to dry out before I tie them a la Onion Johnny.
I also lifted two plants of Desiree potatoes and these were nice and clean and surprisingly large, along with a couple of handfuls of carrots.
Then it was out with the Glyphosate and on with the knapsack sprayer - 3 fills later and all the new growth that has appeared since strimming the middle section of the garden and the area designated for the veg patch has all been sprayed off. I also sprayed off all the pathways in the garden.
A lot of plants in the border are now between flushes - the Geraniums, lupins and oriental poppies in particular, and the borders look a bit empty -this isn't helped by the fact that the large campanulas against the wall are all but over, and most of the Peruvian lilies are over too. This is gonna make it harder to get a vase (or a bucket) of perennials to show on Saturday but we'll manage something I'm sure.
I finished the day off by pruning the new growth off the shrub roses so that we can see the hips properly when they ripen, dead-heading the Happy Birthday rose, and dead-heading some more lupins.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Garden Update

Sorry for missing a couple of entries but I've been pretty busy what with one thing and another, not least organising our local Horticultural Show - of which more later.
So what's been happening.
Well, the Kiftsgate rose has finally hit it's stride and is looking spectacular as usual.

It's just a shame that this floral mass is so short lived! But then again, when you see it in all it's glory , you can forgive it cause it does this year after year and it must take a fair bit of effort!
Elsewhere in the borders, the Hypericums are brightening up everything with their bright yellow flowers, the buddleias are stating to produce their frothy spikes and the good weather means that the bees and butterflies have returned in numbers.

In fact over the last two Tuesdays, the noise of bees has been quite extraordinary - this is due to the presence just outside the garden of some very old and very large lime trees which are in flower at the moment and the bees just love them - there is a constant background buzz all day.
On the veg front the tomatoes have had their growing tips pinched out to help the fruits grow and ripen, the cabbages have all been lifted as they were beginning to split, the sprouts are looking good and have been individually staked, the runner beans are beginning to flower, the peas plants are full of developing pods, the French Beans are a bit behind but will get there, the onions are ready for lifting, the carrots are being thinned but are producing some nice roots, the parsnips are looking healthy and the potatoes are giving a nce clean crop. The only downer really is that the mice / shrews / voles have found the beetroot and have chomped through the lot with the exception of one picking.I had this problem when I grew veg for a living but I grew thousands so the loss of a couple of hundred wasn't too much of an issue but when you only have fifty or so plants, it becomes a real pain. But we carry on..

 Still on the veg front, the area designated for the permanent veg  beds is in the process of being cleared....

And the slope below the long borders has been tidied up and both areas will be sprayed off next week (assuming the forecasters have it right and this good weather continues til then !)

On to the show, and the sweet peas are beginning to motor and have been dropped and moved over a couple of canes. I decided to do this last week although they could have gone another week before moving them, but I didn't want to move them so close to the date of the first show (this Saturday). So Sally and myself dropped them and moved them all over - what a time consuming job - and there are only 60 odd plants. Anyway, the plants are looking good and they are producing nice size blooms with very long and straight stems, so fingers crossed for some decent entries in the show. To this end, Sally hae ordered some bikini vases on the Interweb .Here is a bucket of blooms - from the cordon grown and from the wigwams in the borders

I also lifted some of the better onions, so that we vcan get a set of three onions grown from sets in the show too - I have these at home, having skinned them and they are nestling im a bed of sawdust in a seed tray. I'll be showing Sally how to tie the necks off with raffia next week.
So that's it up to date - normal service should be resumed and updates completed on svhedule from now on.!