Monday, 24 September 2012

Was it all worth it? Panic Planting and the Gardening Year

The title of this post covers two points 1) The panic planting earlier in the month 2) The gardening year as a whole.

1) Planting the garden in September

We did do a lot of work to get the garden presentable for our guests last weekend, and we were supremely lucky that the weather on the Saturday was glorious, because the Friday and Sunday were not so!

I was terribly busy cooking and trying to be a gracious host, whilst my dad spent the day driving me bonkers and picking holes in everything. The guests all kept loitering in the kitchen while we were trying to organise the seating arrangements, juggle plates and carve joints of meat, so it was great to be able to throw open the French doors and thrust our guests out into the garden, knowing it looked the best it could.

No one really commented on the pretty bits of the garden, except MrPB's Summer House and the guinea pigs (which were much admired), the spoil heap and weeds covered by tarpaulin (which were not admired!), and the dirty great Leylandii...which were the subject of hot debate including lots of suggestions on which bits need sawing off.

I'm not disappointed that discussion revolved around the work-in-progress bits rather than the finished bits. People tend to be drawn to things that don't look quite right or out of place, whilst simply accepting those things that feel complete or harmonious. Maybe the 'incomplete' somehow 'jars' the mind and eye, and they need to understand what and why. (Oooh! nice unintentional rhyme!!)

2) The gardening year

 As a whole it's been a tricky one for me. I have sown no seeds, grown no produce, bar three tomatoes. I haven't visited the allotment, and have left the garden very much to its own devices. My heart has not been in it this year. The very wet Spring was followed by a wet, then bakingly hot Summer, in the middle of which I was quite quite poorly. Before I knew it, August was here and I had done nothing.

I only took part in the first Gardener's Society show of the year, and the results were a clear demonstration that all was not well.

My attention has definitely been focussed very heavily on my jewellery making, and commissions for the gift shop that stocks my pieces, and almost every evening has seen me working in my craftroom till late at night...it's not really any wonder that I was so unwell in July :-/

I have managed to shed some responsibilities during the course of the year, and my hope is that things will be different next year, and I will feel inspired by the possibilities of my little alloment and garden...they're not much, but they're mine xx

Monday, 10 September 2012

Garden Party and Panic Planting

We're having a family get together at the new house next Saturday, and I've been thinking about how things will look to our guests, most of whom have not seen the house in real life before.

I know the front garden doesn't look great, as it's really more of a Spring/Early Summer garden (before the trees have 'leafed-up'), but I thought the back would do me more credit...

Then I looked again, with fresh eyes...Oh dear!

So many garden jobs to do!


We still have half the garden as it was when the builders left, ie rubble and weeds. The fence needs replacing and there is still a pile of used Grow Bags waiting to be emptied into the raised beds. My answer to the weeds and rubble, was to pull a big tarp over the lot of it, the tarp is green, so hopefully it will camoflage the mess (cough cough).

I  knew the pretty side of the garden would cheer me up...oh...'x' has finished flowering and needs cutting back...so does 'y'...and 'z'...the slugs have massacred 'a'...and it looks like 'b' never grew at all. This is not good. The saddest loss is the big tree fern we bought last summer to replace the previous one that died. We've come to the conclusion that it must be something to do with the huge canopy of leylandii that overhang from our neighbours. The rain cannot penetrate it, and it sheds dead needles continuously to form a crispy, copper-coloured blanket over everything. The soil beneath, is just dust.

Urgent remedial action was required, so I went bonkers at the local DIY centre, and bought 2 trolley loads of flowering perrenials that should continue well into Autumn, things like Phlox and Pinks, and I also bought lots of Heuchera 'Palace Purple', which are such good doers, two Clematis to twine through the ivy on the fence, and a Fatsia Japonica to replace the tree fern. We've had one before, and know that it is pretty tough, so hopefully, once it gets it's roots down, it will be okay.

I had to do a surprising amount of clearing to make space for my new treasures, including uprooting and potting-up four or five nice Strawberry runners. The three clumps of Viola 'Rebecca' have had a bit of a haircut, and a slight repositioning. A lovely Heuchera, given to us by my God-Sister last May, had put on enough growth to be split into three decent plants. I love free plants!

The clump of Dahlia 'Dandy' which I grew from seed  a few years ago was looking really sad. I think again it is probably to do with the Leylandii. I decided that I would give the clump a haircut, and then changed my mind and dug it up, with the intention of throwing it away and starting again. However, the clump of tubers was enormous, and beautifully fat and healthy, so I instantly changed my plan, chopped off the top growth and split the clump into three. Hopefully this will reinvigorate the plants, and I'll get better flowers next year...fingers crossed.

After two evenings, working like a Navvie until it was too dark to see, the garden looks much more 'flowery'. The beds have been beefed up with the spent growbags and some manure, and if I keep diligently dead-heading, and watering, all should be well.

The front garden hasn't escaped this drastic action though - ooooh no! The block paved drive had begun to look like a hayfield, and we could literally have run the lawn mower over it. We decided that as this was the first impression our guests would have of the house, we needed to weed. So armed with a knife each and a bucket, we spent the best part of 3 days cutting out the weeds from between the cracks - whose idea was it to use 'rustic' paviours :-/

The effort was well worth it though, as it does look super. We also bought some low willow effect hurdles along the front of the short bed at the end of the drive, in front of the hedge. This means that we've been able to increase the soil level without it washing onto the drive in the first rain, and to put in some more new plants, including: 2 hebes, 3 Cottage Pinks, a dwarf Pink Echinacea and 2 Euonymous. That sounds like a lot of plants, but it looked a bit bare when I laid everything out in position, so I added 2 Heuchera 'Chocolate Ruffles' (split from a plant in another bed, and some 2 year old Hellebore seedlings.

I'm really pleased with what we've achieved, though we were dog-tired by Sunday evening ...now there is just the house itself to worry about!! :D .

Monday, 2 July 2012

Another Gardening Confession time - It's So Embarassing ...

What have I achieved in the garden?

Here we are, 2nd July,
And I cannot tell you a lie
I haven't sown any seeds at all
Have I hit the gardening 'wall'?

Okay, enough of the dreadful poetry, but it's true, it's 2 months since my last post, and I don't feel much further on than I was then.

But I suppose I have done some things... the weather has been absolutely dreadful, which hasn't helped matters, but I know my heart hasn't been in it so far this year :-(

So what have I done?


My kind neighbour gave me a stack of seedlings, flowers and vegetables, and I've planted most of these out in the garden (please don't mention the lottie :o! ). So I have now got some sweet peas and french beans flowering.

A little bonus I discovered yesterday, is that an unpicked Achocha fruit, from last years plants, has seeded itself into the raised bed, so I've got at least three plants appeared, and they look nice and healthy.

Flowers

The summer bulbs I planted in the 'woodland' garden are starting to pop up and look super, especially the lillies and anemonies. It would be lovely if I had some looking good for the Summer Show.

MiL is moving house this week (sad, but very sensible), and I managed to dig up a couple of particularly pretty Aqueligia from her old garden. It's kind of nice, because now there will always be a little bit of 'Longfield' (my OH's childhood home) here in our garden.

I managed to plant up the hanging basket and window baskets at the front of the house, and they are filling out really well.

I took some cuttings from a nice Dianthus at our old house, and they have taken root and put on new growth, so I've popped them in the garden here at the new house.

I've clipped the hedges back a bit, but the rain has really encouraged them to bounce back, so I have to keep revisiting it.

The delphiniums have flowered quite well (not as well as someone I know), but they do suffer from being under the neighbours monsterous leylandii trees.

I have Hollyhocks about to start flowering - the first ones I've ever managed, so I'm really excited to see them do their thing.

Summer Fruit

I've got lots of summer raspberries forming, which is really exciting, as my little wood mouse has eaten every single strawberry, just before it's been ripe enough to pick - little monkey! So, today I've bought some plastic bell cloches online, and hopefully they will protect the last fruits for me to enjoy.

So...actually, that's quite a lot ... I don't feel so bad now :-)

I'll add some piccies soon.


Monday, 30 April 2012

Gardening confession time

I started the year with such good gardening intentions.

I took my seed collection out of the cupboard two months ago and reorganised it. I took out all the March seeds, and put them in a big pile on the kitchen table, so I was ready to go. They stayed there for a week or so, 'til I got fed up looking at them. They got put in a big plastic bag ...and shoved back in the cupboard.

Since then, I have been heavily involved in my crafting (www.hollysfriends.co.uk), working on commissions and orders, which must take priority. The weather has ranged from snow, hail, rain, wind and sun - often in the same half hour, so going outside has been less than appealing.

We've also rescued a third Guinea Pig, now called
Pudding, who is so absorbing, she may actually have caused a wrinkle in the space-time continuum, so much so, that I am devastated to find it is the last day of April already and I haven't sewn a single seed.

There is nothing I can do to change this state of affairs however, it just means I've got an horrendous amount of catching up to do. Wish me luck, I shall need it :-)