Monthly Archives: March 2016

End of month view – March 2016

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In the Bronze Bed the Hamamelis ‘Aphodite’ is poking up through a froth of Narcissus ‘Cragford’ which have now completely taken over. According to my records I only bought 30 ‘Cragford’ bulbs, but there look to be far more than that.  Perhaps that’s the joy of multi-headed blooms!

In the Oak Bed, nearer the road, the Hellebores and Narcissus ‘Jenny’ are still floweringIMG_0123

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and the long table is continuing to host a large number of succulents protected by the glass canopy.IMG_0125

Looking east, the Swing Beds are beginning to fill outIMG_0102

and there are even a couple of Tulip ‘Pink Impression’ returning from last year.

In these photos you can see I’ve pruned back the roses, but haven’t yet tackled the Phlomis Italica which is rather overwhelming both beds.

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In the right hand bed, there is still one very shaggy rose to tame.

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In the metal troughs I was delighted to see signs of Narcissus ‘Minnow’ returning.  Looking a couple of weeks ago there seemed to be nothing but leaves, but now there are multiple flower buds to admire.  Phew!IMG_0104

Similarly, in the new MCB, there are also plenty of bulbs ready to flower, but not there yet. Looking back at my list I see the first to flower is only ‘due’ in early April, so I suppose that’s fair enough!

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In the pots by the door I’ve gone for scarlet Tulip ‘Matrix’.  Quite a colour deviation for me!

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The greenhouse pots are a rather more subtle combination, repeating last year’s Narcissus ‘Bellsong’ and Tulip ‘Angelique’.

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And in the greenhouse itself the seeds are taking over

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and hopefully I’ll soon have an early sweet pea flower to admire.

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With thanks as ever to Helen at the Patient Gardener who hosts everyone’s End of Month Views.

Wind!

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Oh what a night! as the song goes.

Having a bedroom with south facing windows often makes for a rattly night, but last night was something else.  Being located at the far eastern end of the island means we’re normally spared the serious south westerlies that often batter the Needles at the other end, however, last night, when the wind was due south and we certainly felt it.

Thankfully we woke to no serious damage, the wierdest thing was that the barrow, despite being weighed down by three large terracotta pots, had blown over.  What’s strange is that the barrow fell over forwards, towards the south.  All I can assume is that the pots somehow shifted and then it over balanced.  Thankfully none was broken.

Similarly, two of the small terracotta pots on the kitchen windowsill which featured in a previous Wordless Wednesday, had also blown off, but amazingly neither of these broke either.IMG_0281

Elsewhere on the dog walk we saw a few branches down, but again nothing serious.

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Sadly, the biggest upset was the cancellation of the lunch for ten we were hosting, as none of the OH’s family could make it across the Solent to join us as all ferries were temporarily suspended.  And of course the complete irony was that by lunchtime the wind had dropped, the sun was out and it was sufficiently mild to eat lunch outside!

Time to build that bridge…

My name’s Jenny and I’m a seedaholic

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I’ve always loved growing plants from seed and last year, following an email from Chiltern Seeds announcing that they were offering a 20% discount for November’s Black Friday, I went a little mad on the ordering.

I’ve already sown the majority of the hardy annuals, and they’re starting to appear.  So exciting!IMG_0090

The good news is that the number of different seeds is under 100, but the bad news is it’s definitely well over 60, so I’ve set up a spreasheet to try to keep track of things.IMG_0088

Following another seed sowing session today, I’ve filled in all the sowing dates of everything, and am almost feeling on top of things.

The only thing to worry about now is where on earth they’re all going to go…

Meanwhile here is the latest progress of the ‘Winter Sunshine’ sweet peas  from Owl’s Acre.  They’re supposed to flower in March under glass.  I’m not holding my breath.

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What are you growing from seed this year?  And who’s your favourite supplier?

Happy sowing!

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – March 2016

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I’m starting with this lovely group of Fritellaria meleagris which I have to confess I bought in a pot from Waitrose.  The ones I’d planted in the shady lawn a couple of year ago seem to have dwindled to nothing, and I was feeling their loss.  I can’t quite decide whether I’ll plant these out after flowering or if it’s all rather a lost cause.  I do so love them.

Elsewhere other bulbs are coming up well.  The number of Narcissi has increased since last month – as well as N. ‘Tete a tete’ there are a couple of inherited onesIMG_0076

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more of the new Narcissus ‘Cragford’, which have been blooming well for a month,

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and, oh look, my first N. Jenny!IMG_0054

I went a bit mad with the Crocus ‘Cream Beauty’ this year after they were all eaten last year, and I’ve now got plenty in various pots, having kept them safe in the greenhouse during their infancy.

One advantage of a failing memory is that I can’t remember which Narcissus I planted to follow on –  I could look it up, but think I’ll just wait and see!IMG_0277

My two Hamamelis, ‘Aphrodite’ andIMG_0059

‘Arnold’s Promise’ are still blooming with their beautiful orange and lemon zesty flowers.IMG_0058

The Hellebores have gone from strength to strength with all the clumps significantly bigger than a year ago.IMG_0057

There are a few blooms flowering out of season – this Grevillea, which I’ve recently uncovered under a huge Fuchsia I just pruned,IMG_0075

an Argyranthemum,IMG_0074

this little DianthusIMG_0065

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and a couple of Pelargoniums which somehow never got brought in over the winter.  Luckily I seem to have got away with it!

This is a plant I don’t think I’ve ever featured as I havent known it’s name.  For the majority of the time it looks like a low growing conifer, but at this time of year it’s smothered in these tiny white/pink flowers and is absolutely stunning.  I finally discovered its identity at the recent RHS show, it’s a Coleonema, I think Coleonema ‘Sunset Gold,’ and it’s an absolute belter.IMG_0078

Another favourite, the Leptospermum (or tea tree plant) still covered in blooms.IMG_0050

And to finish, something I really wish wasn’t here – one of a number of clumps of wild garlic, or ransoms, Allium ursinum.  I’d better get weeding.IMG_0073

With thanks as ever to Carol at May Dreams Gardens who hosts the GBBD.

To bee or not to bee?

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Some of you may have read an article by Val Bourne in the Saturday Telegraph in February regarding red mason bees (Osmia bicornis).

The article explained that red mason bees are an endangered native, thought to be between 120 and 200 times more efficient than honey bees at pollination.  Chris Whittles from Mason Bees UK, who supplies the bees to commercial growers to help increase yields, is now making the bees available to domestic growers too.

I have always been interested in bees but didn’t feel I had the time or expertise to take on a honey bee hive, but, welcoming some mason bees into my garden all seems to make a lot of sense.  They don’t sting (good) and don’t produce honey (not really bothered) but do stay close to the nest and thus will hopefully concentrate on pollinating my plants rather than my neighbours’!

I signed up for my nest and it was delivered a couple of weeks ago.  Having finished brandishing his chain saw on some rather undeserving bay and box  plants, he swapped chainsaw for drill and kindly erected the nest, as required, in a sunny spot 1.5m from the ground.

I recognise it’s not the most elegant structure in the garden, but who am I to criticise a bee’s home?

I’m now awaiting delivery of the bee filled cocoons which get placed into the breeding tubes (which look rather like cut lengths of bamboo) and are in turn placed within the plastic tube.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Just pleachy #3

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Only very long standing readers will have seen this picture of the hornbeams we planted in a neighbour’s garden in February 2014 (posts here and here).  Unfortunately, in the intervening two years they have had no further attention.

This morning, with the sun shining and the realisation that they were definitely overdue a visit, they looked like this.  Not only seriously shaggy, but also, in many cases, no longer attached to their frames.IMG_0278

I set to with my secateurs at the left hand end, cutting back to the eight horizontal branches coming from each trunk.  And at the same time, the OH started at the right hand end, attempting to fix the frames in situ.  Not an easy task.

After an hour and a half (and a sleet storm) I could no longer feel my fingers and  I’d snipped as much as I could.   I had also run out of the brilliant rubber covered metal ties I was using, as well as any more frames robust enough to attach my newly streamlined branches to, so I left the OH fiddling with wire and bamboo and went in for lunch.

I’m slightly concerned that the ‘after’ photo below is looking rather a lot like the before one at the the top, but as the OH commented, ‘we’re talking a ten year project.’

I’ll keep you posted.IMG_0279