Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Long time, no post

Hello I’m back!  And what’s more, I’m going to write under my given name, Carole, from now on.
Over the past couple of years I’ve undertaken a complete redesign of my garden and I’ve reclaimed the area which was the hard standing for my car. My aim was to disguise a long, thin, garden and create more space for growing crops.
I have divided the garden into three distinct ‘rooms’. The first is an L-shaped patio area, covered by a veranda. It has a mini greenhouse, bistro table and two chairs, storage bench, potting table and about 30 container plants.
Stepping down from the veranda you enter the cottage garden packed with a variety of plants for year round interest. You can take either the sunny path or the shady path skirting a standard Cotoneaster, but both lead to an archway covered in climbers and flanked by a Silver Birch and Mountain Ash.
The archway leads to square courtyard with six raised beds, composting area, patio and small shed. This is where I will grow the majority of my edible plants. So far there is a bed for perennial herbs and one for soft fruit. The rest will alternate according to my growing plans for the year, for example one bed is planted up with onions, garlic and globe artichokes at the moment.
It has been so satisfying seeing my design take shape. When the work is finished, most of my plants will be in the ground which will mean less maintenance and more time to sit and stare (I hope)!  I will post before and after photos in future posts.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Wish I could do some gardening

For the first time this year, the weather has been clement for a few days on the trot and the garden is drying out a bit. Ideal gardening weather then, but sadly I haven't been able to get out there due to a virus which has made me incredibly tired. All I've done is keep the bird feeders topped up and made regular checks of the pond to see if there is any frogspawn: there isn't yet. I also took a few photos of spring flowers including this Primrose.
Apart from the Primrose, the other things out at the moment are Snowdrops, Pansies and Crocus with some of the early Narcissi buds beginning to show some colour. There are plenty of other signs that spring is just around the corner too with fat buds on many of the deciduous shrubs and new leaves on some of the perennials such as Aquilegia, Verbena, Fuchsias, Dicentra and Tradescantia to name just a few.
I haven't sown one seed yet! But now the days are getting longer and brighter I must get around to sowing Tomatoes, Chillies, Physallis and Sweet Peas as soon as I have the energy. Hopefully that won't be too long away.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Happy New Year

Like many other parts of the country (but unusually for London) we've had snow on the ground for over a week and only today is it beginning to disappear in the garden. So needless to say I've done nothing in the garden apart from top up the bird feeders and put out water for them. I haven't got any early bulbs out yet but hopefully it won't be long before the first Snowdrops and Narcissus come into flower.
I'm not sure if I've said before but I hope to plant a native tree as soon as the ground is workable. After a lot of thought I've decided on a Rowan (Mountain Ash) and I'm hoping to get one from my local nursery. I've never planted a tree before so I'll have to do some reading up before hand.
Another thing I was thinking of doing this year was putting in a slightly bigger, deeper pond. But thinking about it I'm convinced that I won't be able to dig a deep enough hole in the space available due to the many shrub roots. This is probably bad news for the frogs as I very much doubt the tadpoles will survive in the current pond if last year's experience is anything to go by. I suppose the alternative would be to install a raised pond, perhaps in a lined half barrel, with some sort of ladder for access? Looks like I'll have to do some research.
Finally I've joined the London Wildlife Trust and my membership pack arrived today. I haven't had a chance to read any of the literature yet but I'm hoping for lots of inspiration.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Season's Greetings

The snow is melting so I brought the tree in and decorated it today and here it is, nicknamed 'George' by my daughter! No idea why!
Wishing everyone who reads this a happy and healthy 2010.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Winter wonderland

This is how my garden looked first thing this morning. The plant in the foreground is my Christmas tree which is waiting to come into the house at the weekend. To be honest, nature has done a lovely job of decorating it and I'm tempted to leave it.
I haven't done any gardening for weeks and it doesn't look like I'll be doing any in the coming days either. Hopefully we'll get some drier weather over the festive season.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Nature knows best

This year I have been toying with removing the Buddleia from the sunny border. I bought the plant back in 2003 from J.Parker, who I have since learned is not one of the most reliable suppliers, particularly for shrubs. But way back then I was impressed by the photo of the plant which was grafted onto a three foot standard trunk and was billed as ideal for a patio. However, it didn't thrive in a container so I moved it into the border where it proceeded to rocket to ten feet or more in height (that's seven foot long branches on a three foot stem), no matter how often I pruned it in a season.
Anyway, I had been dithering so last night nature intervened. We'd had very gusty winds and heavy rain all day and when I went out in the garden today (bright sunshine and clear blue skies) the plant was at a 45 degree angle. That's it I thought, it has to go! First I cut off all the branches to a height of about 5 feet and filled three garden sacks. Then I broke/sawed off a few more of the thicker branches and then I started rocking the plant to expose the roots. The border is very closely planted and I didn't want to dislodge other plants so this was a tricky task and very hard work. As the roots broke through the soil I severed them and eventually got the thug out. And wow, what a difference it has made, the garden looks twice the size! But don't worry about the butterflies, I have another self-seeded Buddleia in large container next to the compost heap and shed. That one is not in the way so it can stay - for now.
The photo is of one of the blooms on the Pineapple Sage. It's so vivid and is a firm favourite of mine at this time of year. In fact I'm very fond of a number of plants in the Salvia family. It's a shame I don't have room to start a national collection but removing one Buddleia isn't going to crack it I'm afraid.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Still lots to do

I took advantage of the sunny, if cold, weather today and spent a good few hours working in the garden. But before I started I had a walk around, camera in hand, and took this photo of my Fatsia which is now in full flower. These blooms put me in mind of Myrtle (although they are not scented, unfortunately) and they provide much needed nectar for any insects that are still around. Indeed, just after I took the photo a bee came for a feast.
The most pressing task was to empty some of the summer containers to make room for planting more spring bulbs. So Tomatoes, Chillies, Tree Spinach and Basil made way for Narcissus Spring Dawn and Tete a Tete, all topped off with the Pansies I've grown from seed. I've still got some Tete a Tete left to plant as well as Tulips and Wallflowers but these will have to wait until more containers become available as the Heliotrope and Laurentia finally give up the ghost.
I thought I'd lost my Crocosmia 'George Davidson' as all the leaves went brown and it failed to flower this year. But as I tipped the gravel out of the container, I noticed lots of little green leaf tips coming out of the corms. So I potted it up into a new, slightly larger container, and hopefully it'll flower next year.
The Pansies I sowed in late September needed pricking out into individual pots so I selected a dozen of the largest seedlings and composted the rest. I'm hoping these will be the beautiful lavender blue I grew by chance earlier in the year. One of two had a spot of powdery mildew so I gave them all a good spray of bicarbonate of soda solution.
The Sweet Peas have finally finished flowering so I collected the remainder of the seed pods. I'll keep the seeds and sow them in spring rather than risk sowing them now and putting them in the greenhouse where they will be a tempting treat for slugs/snails or failing that get powdery mildew.
After this I was getting cold and tired so I called it a day. If it's nice tomorrow I'll be out there again as there is still plenty to do.