Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hare today, gone soon (I Hope)

Well, the ongoing hare problem continues - so far the score is hare - lots, plants - nil. Not content with chowing down on the phlox, sea holly and heliopsis last week, this week he has nipped the tops off most of the onion sets, the chives, a lot of the cosmos, a couple of young hemerocallis - he has even had a nibble at rhe gladioli leaves.

Double spring trap is mow in position, baited with runner beans and lettuce - kindly donated by Sally, and if we succeed in catching the little beggar, he can be released in the forest I also work in, with the permission of Lesley. Just gotta catch him first !
So anyway, on with what was accomplished today.
I began by giving everything in the greenhouse a good soak, and side-shooting and tying in the tomato plants. Then it was onto the cordon sweet peas, weeding as I went along the rows placing rings on those plants that needed them. Some of the original exhibition varities have put up side shoots so all may not be lost but they will be considerably later in producing blooms so we might have to rethink entering at least the Sutherland Show. This was the first show the garden ever entered sweet peas in last year and we got a second place, so it would have ben nice to go and try and get a red card but it's not looking too promising as the show is in 4 weeks time.
After this I weeded the strawberry patch and placed some straw round the plants to keep the berries clean and act as a barrier against annual weeds.

Then it was back to weeding - weeded the rosebed (Dahlias, Gladioli and Canterbury Bells) then moved onto the small slope above the steps down to the greenhouse.
Finished the day by hoeing off the path from the top of the garden to the greenhouse and barrowing in scalpings to tidy it up and stop it becoming a mudslide after it rains.

The garden has this week also seen two local garden clubs have evening visits - Edderton Garden Club came to see the garden on Monday Evening, and this evening I showed Alness Horticultural Society around. There is on more group to visit, and next Thursday afternoon will see East Sutherland Gardening Club come to pay us a visit. The borders are looking good, with the irises, hemerocallis and paeonies joining the lupins ,assorted geraniums and  poppies, and the red hot pokers are about to burst onto the scene too, so here are a few pics to finish with

Thursday, 13 June 2013

B*****d Hare is back !!

Well it would appear that the young hare has found it's way back into the garden - this time it has left the cordon sweet peas alone and concentrated on the two herbaceous borders - it has eaten all the sweet peas at the base of both wigwams, all the newly planted heliopsis, one group of three newly planted sea hollies and has nipped the tops off all the phlox planted last week - am picking up a trap on Monday and I swear if I see it in the garden at any time, I will smack it over the head with a spade!
Cute and fluffy no more !
The border looked really good in the sun today - the oriental poppies, which are not my favourite border perennial,  do look great in the sun, and there are a  smattering of lupin spikes open, the geum has started flowering as has the hemerocallis and the iris and kniphofia will join the party next week.  The roses against the SF wall are starting to bloom and have lots of buds forming so they should put up a good display this year. Here are a couple of pics of the borders taken this morning............

The lupin "wall" is beginning to put on a bit of a show too............

Hare or not, plants have to go out and today I planted over 100 Cosmos "Purity", and about 60 Alyssum "Carpet of Snow", I also planted out three gooseberry bushes and 7 blackcurrant bushes.
In the greenhouse, I flooded both beds, then planted out some lettuce and spring onions in front of the tomatoes , which are just beginning to show their first flowers.
We now have three long hoses running from the greenhouse so I also managed to water the rosebed where the dahlias are doing well, the gladioli are just sticking their heads out the ground and the Canterbury Bells looked like they needed a good drink!
I cleaned a couple of areas in the west facing border to take the limited amount of veg we have this year and also prepped an area for Sally to plant out the 50 or so Statice plants for her mum's flower arranging,
I also did some weeding and tidying up as we have our first of three Garden Club visits on Monday evening when Edderton Gardening Club are coming to have a look at what we have done and see what we are planning to do.
Back next week....................

Friday, 7 June 2013

We're getting there, slowly, but we're getting there.

After last weeks devastation caused by the baby b*****d hare, I finished erecting a net round the cordon sweet peas and set about replacing all those that were beyond new growth - and there were a lot of them. The most annoying thing was that the hare seemed to take a particular liking to a variety called Gwendoline which was by far and away our best performing sweet pea last year. Anyway, all the canes now have a sweet pea planted at the base, all had a good watering, and the bed was weded as I went so it looks pretty good, though it has to be said that the replacement sweet peas (bought in garden centre) are nowhere near as strong as those we grew from seed.

I also planted out 17 x assorted Phlox, 5 x Heliopsis, 6 x Sea Hollies and 4 x Echinops - so any spaces left on the borders will be filled with the white Cosmos "Purity" ( there are about 140 of these) and  the remaining 36 Canterbury Bells, and possibly some white Alyssum "Carpet of Snow, (94 of these) though these are mostly for the side of the rosebed walls and the walls of the beds either side of the summerhouse.
The border is beginning to fill up nicely with only a few plants (most notably the Scabious and the Phlox), not performing as well as expected. 
The oriental poppies are opening and there are quite literally hundreds of flower buds on them this year, so if the weather stays good, it should be a fantastic display - if it rains, they'll fall to bits and look like sh** ! The lupins should start to put on a proper show over the nect couple of weeks, the white geranium alomg the top border hedge is flowering it's socks off, and so much more to come. The Peony Sara Bernhardt is still in flower though the "garden originals" are still just in bud.
The lupin wall below the top borders is just beginning to show a flush of colour so should also look good in a couple of weeks time.
Add to that loads of blossom on the apple trees, campanulas already surpassing the height they reached last year, cherries forming on the two trees against the wall (and no sign of blackfly as yet)
and thigs are definitely moving - and about time too - it is June after all.
So here are a couple of pics to finish, firstly the Lupin Wall and then this weeks shot of the borders,

Back next week  -will be planting out veg and fruit plants from the greenhouse.

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Two weeks ago, Sally and I came across a leveret (a baby hare) in the top herbaceous border. I like hares - both on and off the dinner plate so no further action was taken against this young 'un. Well, on Friday did I live to regret not giving it a knock on the head. On my arrival in the garden, after a week of brilliant sunshine I was expecting to see a big jump in growth in the garden, In the two herbaceous borders this was obvious, but I couldn't see much down at the cordon sweet peas and I soon discovered why - every single plant bar two or three was eaten to the ground. Now my first thought was wood pigeons, then mice / voles but having made a mad rush into Tain and buying all the sweet pea plants left in the town, I returned to the garden and what did I see upon opening the gate - the b*****d leveret sitting finishing off the plants that he / she / it hadn't got round too at it's last sitting. Rex was dutifully called upon and after some initial confusion, he got onto the hare and it fled the garden, hopefully with enough of a scare to not want to return. Anyway, another trip home produced a long, long. long length of green windbreak netting and a barrier fence is now being erected round the sweet pea bed and the replacements will be planted out next week - by then I should be able to spot any of the originals that may recover.
So there we go, the sweet pea saga - watch this space!
In between the above events, I did some sorting out in the greenhouse, and Sally and I have now placed all the phlox, sea hollies and Heliopsis in their final planting places ready for next week.
The borders are beginning to fill out now and we have the first real splashes of colour appearing in the shape of oriental poppies, geraniums, knapweed and the peony "Sara Bernhardt". Peonies do seem to like this garden, and in fact we found another one hidden in the wilderness that is the botton third of the garden, which will be dug up and transplanted to the borders next week. I know that conventional wisdom says that peonies will throw a strop when dug up and transplanted and will not flower for up to a couple of years, but all the ones transplanted from the bottom of the garden so far have positively thrived and flowered straight away. They do not get any special treatment - dug up the I spend uip to 10 minutes sitting extracting couch grass and ground elder root systems from their root balls, placed in their planting hole, firmed in and watered and that is it - no feed, no compost, just an option to live or to die.
I also planted the larger greenhouse border with six tomato plants - a mix of Shirley, Gardeners Delight and Sweet Millions - this leaves room for a cucumber plant, a couple of chillies and some salad crops too.
After this I planted out the remaining three dahlia plants in the rosebed and then filled the centre of this bed with quite a few of the Canterbury Bells that were sown last year. So that is the rosebed planted up for the year, Gladioli to the left, Bells in the centre and Dahlias down the right,
As I mentioned earlier the borders are beginning to bulk up and we have the odd splash of colour as you can see.......
However, I w3as comparing it to last year's photo (see below) for same time and given that the plants are a year older and therefore larger, we are still well behind where we were last year.

So anyway, that's where we are just now. I also weeded the strawberries which have their first flowers, the tatties are through and look healthy, I have also tidied up the edge of the lupin wall after the digger had done it's work, and pricked out 108 Alyssum "Carpet of Snow". Onwards and Upwards!!