June view 2009

June view 2009
View of rose and herb garden, June 2009

Small Garden Story

Over some 15 + years, I have been photographing the evolution of my small (85 x 15 foot) garden and it seems a waste not to put these records into some sort of context. Beginning here in April 2010 this Blog is intended to both act as a diary and to share past and present successes (and some failures), pleasures and disappointments with fellow garden-lovers. In due course, I intend to fill in some of the background and early days but that will have to wait until the winter months!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Late frosts and rain at last

The old saying "Ne'er cast a clout 'till May be out" came to mind last week when we had a frost which actually caught some of my courgette plants. The origin and meaning are doubtful - particularly whether May refers to the month or may blossom (hawthorn) which is out now! See more at:http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/till-may-is-out.html Happily they have survived but are struggling by comparison with those in the greenhouse which are flourishing. The broad beans are much hardier - after all they germinated in freezing weather!
All of the dahlias I bought from Sarah Raven have started growing. Secret snail-visits have resulted in the paper labels being consumed (they must like the glue!) so I have found a good use for wooden coffee-stirrers. They make great labels!
It's been so dry I haven't had to cut the grass in over two weeks but, of course, the bank holiday has brought much-needed rain. Although everything has been flourishing in the sunshine the lack of rain was beginning to tell and I had started to water a few things. The up side of this is that everything has been very well-behaved and stayed quite neat and tidy with comparatively few slugs and snails. Now I am expecting a great rush of growth with associated propping and tying up - and judicious placing of slug pellets.
The cold weather seems to be keeping some of the bugs at bay too - famous last words! No lily beetles YET - so many buds this year look promising.
The tulips turned out fabulous again - in spite of the "Brown sugar" error. Interestingly, parrot tulips Princes Irene not in pots did not grow as tall as most of the other varieties but are still gorgeous. In another life I could spend a whole week just photographing them.
In terms of growing things from seed, the broad beans, courgettes and french beans are doing well and I am experimenting with mixed salad leaves and herbs in a wooden box which I can move about (currently in the greenhouse). My sweet pea seedlings have come up a bit spindly and I should have thought to plant Cobea scandens sooner as apparently they take about a month to germinate, although one seems to be struggling through after only two weeks. Apparently they are perennial in some climates - how good that would be....
Last but not least, I sometimes despair over the rampant growth of my one comfrey plant, but who can deny the beauty and elegance of its unfurling flowers.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Tulips up-date

Here is another view with the tulips a little more mature showing those mentioned in my last post - notice the size of "Brown Sugar"! - along with old favourites "Ronaldo" and "Ballerina" and "Blue Heron" which is pretty but rather delicate plus a few strays from last year.

Tulips in 2017

My trusted Sony camera has gone wrong! So I am limited for images of my tulips just now. But suffice it to say that this year I have learned to look at the height descriptions of tulips. "Brown sugar" is a lovely and long-lasting flower but it is massive in comparison with the rest of my collection, rather dwarfing them.
Successes have included "Black Hero" which I have been meaning to try for years and it is really living up to expectation; not so dark that it looses it's colour but a wonderful contrasting note, "Slawa" with a really rich contrast of deep purpley-plum and orange edging and "Shirley's Dream" which really does open pale cream with a hint of pink edging and then mature to a delicious soft mid-pink - great with "Black Hero".
The small red and white "Pinocchio" is also a real treasure which I've tried out in a new spot nearer the house.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Spring energy

Over the past couple of weeks, with the milder weather and sun, everything has begun bursting into life. The grass is responding to moss kill, weed and feed, the roses and clematis are sprouting and suddenly the tulips are coming out. The first one opened on Wednesday. Here it is.

In my newly instated vegetable patch the broad beans are coming along with varying degrees of success. Three look to be forming flowers already but two or three look very sad. I suspect the birds have been pecking at them and am intending to protect them with some plastic bottle surrounds. The greenhouse is tidier although with still much work to be done but I am excited that my first home-grown courgette seedlings have emerged and the climbing french beans are also well on their way. Planted another potful yesterday in addition to 13 dahlia tubers, all from Sarah Raven this year. Some looked a bit puny but we will see. (The ones I dug up and tried to overwinter in the shed were a soggy mess again, fit only for the bin.)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Greenhouse home to wood mice

The greenhouse has long been overdue a massive clear-out and renovation (the former being easier than the latter due to lack of enthusiasm by various tradespeople to do greenhouse repairs - offers welcome!) so I began a couple of weekends ago. How does one accumulate so many old flowerpots and chairs? I appear to have seven garden chairs, yet seldom use more than one!
I am thinking to get some proper staging installed after years of making do with old planks etc.. In removing some of these to clean I noticed a pile of rubbish which, in my clean-up mode, I failed to question. Why would there be a pile of rubbish UNDER a plank of wood. A little prodding later I realised it must be a wood mouse nest. There have been plenty around and I soon identified runs tunneled through the soft earth. Perhaps this also explains some of the bits of concrete which seem to have come away from the footings. I am still happy to welcome the little fellows though. I don't think they alone will demolish a greenhouse.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Seed-planting time

The other day I was reminded how remiss I've been about keeping up this Blog so here's to a better year this year! First of all, these are the seeds I'm about to plant.... Climbing bean Cosse Violette, salad mix Oriental Nice N Spicy and Courgette Black Beauty Dark Fog. After the success of the climbing beans last year I thought I'd have another go, from scratch. My courgette consumption has gone up considerably since the purchase of the wonderful Kiwi brand papaya grater (much better than any spiralising gadget!). I am excited about the progress of broad beans Aquadulce Claudia planted in the autumn, which germinated in the worst cold frosty weather. Some are doing better than others so I may plant a few more seeds just in case. Now must do some gardening!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Suddenly summer and thoughts on ants

Having spent much of my free time picking a bumper crop of fruit this year (as evidenced on my Instagram page - sueatkinsonphoto) has left me little time to post! The hot dry spell has also meant enough watering - especially the French beans in the greenhouse. It seems 6 plants in a gro-bag are a bit too many and those in pots are doing better. But then I was expecting them to be a dwarf variety which didn't need staking and hence wouldn't be so overcrowded. The climbing variety are doing better - lovely purple beans. Neither have done well in the garden - I'm blaming slugs and snails.
The garden has flourished this year and without too much attention. There have been plenty of birds - particularly great tits, blue tits, dunnocks, robins, blackbirds and I'm delighted by the number of sparrows. The swifts are still here in good numbers, I have managed to count about 14 at once but it's quite a challenge as they move so fast. There are also rooks, rather more red kites than I would really like to see and I spotted a flock of starlings along the street the other day but I've not seen them in the garden.
My Sarah Raven Lilium regale were spectacular but are now over as are the bulk of roses, geraniums and clematis although my very late spring cutting back of one of them was definitely a good move as it is still flowering, much later than usual. Two well-established phlox are doing really well. I am now eagerly awaiting the dahlias starting to bloom although they seem to be very slow so far....
On the radio they have talking about ants, claiming they do no damage. Hm. I'm not so sure. They have definitely been responsible for killing off several things here by excavating around plant roots. A splendid self-set white lychnis (left of top picture) upped and died suddenly last week and when I removed it there was virtually no root. Maybe or maybe not ants.... They are certainly farming black fly on the dahlias and that is not welcome.
One surprise observation I must note. The white perennial sweet pea (below) has been turning increasingly pink over the years and I assumed it was reverting. This year it is perfectly white again. Delight!