Tuesday, 30 August 2011

August 2011 - end of month

At the beginning of the month I asked for more rain please – now I have to put in a request for a little less please, upside, the grass is looking very lush and green instead of a parched wasteland, downside, slugs and snails are out and playing in the puddles – there really is no pleasing us gardeners is there!
Following the completion of the patio, work has briefly moved to the front garden where we have a rather useless little strip of ground running alongside the front of the house, which is 2ft deep x 24ft wide and is east facing so gets all
Sunflower - full of promise of sunny days to come
the morning sun.  I have laid weed suppressant membrane down and covered that with a rather lovely plum coloured slate, I plan to place stainless coloured (possibly) pots on this and go formal with the planting – I think, I may change my mind!  The joys of gardening, it is ever-changing.  Ideas on formal planting in post really would be appreciated.
I brought a lovely chunk of Phyllostachys nigra with me to this garden, sadly it has died – but this was, I am ashamed to say, down to my neglect because I had moved it to a safe place to keep it out of the sun and totally forgot about it.  I doubt I shall replace it here as the garden is very windy and it would be constantly fighting against the elements.
A new, very tall, obelisk has been erected in the garden for a climbing rose – but I fear I may need permission from Air Traffic Control for this!  The rose I have planted to scramble up it is called Highfield Harcomp which is a beautiful pale yellow rose with a delicious perfume; I have ‘high’ (sorry!) hopes for this one.
Ornamental Millet 'Purple Baron' and ladybird
Other planting that has taken place is Ornamental Millet ‘Purple Baron’ which is sitting next to Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and with Crocosmia ‘Jenny’ making for a lovely planting scheme – the ladybird is a daily lunch visitor on the ‘Purple Baron’, whilst the bees are happy munching on a beautiful bright sunflower.
Nicotiana Sylvestris has started to show its face, this is planted just underneath our sitting room window, so fingers crossed for some hot summer nights so we can enjoy the heady aroma.
A geranium in one of the hanging baskets has come out in two delightful shades of perfect pinkness, underneath which is a pink Dahlia Shadowplay that is surrounded by Gaura Lilipop Pink.

My next project is to use all the turf sods, from the patio excavation, in a raised-bed corner area that I will front with railway sleepers – and then to get my greenhouse re-erected before we get hit by frosts – eek frosts, surely not yet!!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

August 2011

Rain – we really need rain please!  It has been very hot and dry here for a few weeks now.
I am, sadly, losing my battle to keep some of the plants alive that I brought with me in pots – the conditions here are so very different to what they were in Benson, which is just 50 miles west of Henlow.  What a weather-diverse country we live in!
The area that will become my patio
My main project this last two weeks has been to get a patio laid, which will then allow the borders to evolve and flow better once the hard-landscaping has been carried out.  My under-gardener had to go away for twelve days, so it was down to me to dig up all the turf, which I had to do using a hand-held turf edger tool as a machine would not get through our very small quarter which has no back entrance to the garden – all gardening goodies have to come through the kitchen.
I planned to set to and do a couple of rows each day, having had my pals calculate the time-scale for me, gardening I know about, maths I don’t!  So, last Saturday saw me don my iPod and set to – by Sunday I had finished, I felt so proud of myself.
On under-gardener’s return we had the slabs delivered, which due to the location of our married quarter from the road meant that we had to carry slabs and sand approx 90meters, which we achieved in just over one hour.  Then I was able to leave the under-gardener, who had just been promoted to Chief of Landscaping, to slab-laying, whilst I set to with plant attention.
Having laid the (almost) last slab, we decided we wanted to extend it slightly, so there is a little more work to be done next weekend – but it was finished, on Sunday, sufficiently to allow us to crack a glass of bubbly – perfect end to a hard day.
I’m a bit short of nice flowering plants just at the moment which I can now start to rectify, thankfully.  The Lotus is looking really bright in one of my hanging Lotusbaskets, as is the tomatoes ‘Tumbling Tom’ which I planted up in a wall-hanging ‘hay style’ trough.  I set three plants into this trough, but on reflection two would have been better, I have to water them twice-daily and keep trimming the leaves to ensure good air-flow, although I’m quite confident the crop is going to be well worth it.
My neighbour has the most amazing Hollyhock, it is such a dark purple that you Aleca rosea Nigra - stunningwould believe it to be black – it appears to have been self-sown, from a passing bird maybe, as it wasn’t planted by the neighbour – who has kindly said I can take it.  I have my bucket and spade ready for collection!

The poppy seed head is always a thing of beauty, making these flowers excellent value for money.
Cleo and Verbena bonariensis - both beautiful
Cleo decided she looked really pretty against the Verbena bonariensis and Cass decided my pot of Stipa arundinacea looked much better against a black back-drop.
Cass in the grass

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

July 2011

Having lived with our current garden for eight weeks now, I have decided there is nothing I don’t like about it – apart from the bindweed and even that is a pretty ‘weed’ when in (if allowed to) flower.
The pretty orange rose that you have seen before
This is the first military garden that I have had, in 16 years, that has been worked by a previous owner, albeit a couple of owners ago I would guess.  Whilst I have been left with a couple of stunning roses (names unknown) I have had to get rid of the lilies, which were just coming into flower, as I have two beautiful cats that follow me around the garden and I don’t want the vet bill that would follow them munching on the lilies.

Measuring has taken place ready to lay a patio, this is going to be hard work as the ‘lawn’ is uneven and very hard, a turf cutter is needed but sadly we do not have access to the back garden other than through the kitchen – so it will be elbow grease, sweat and sore hands for us.  We have been questioned by our neighbour as to why on earth we would want to go to such extremes as putting in a patio when we know we will be posted out at some point.  I haven’t shown them the plan for paths, arches and a pond yet for fear they will think me very odd indeed!
Veg sowing was underway at a very fast rate over the last couple of weekends to try to ensure some crops are available this year, I am trying out the square-foot method in large raised tubs.  Currently showing up are dwarf French beans, salad leaves of all types, salad onions, Kohl Rabi, Raab, beetroots and lots of Pak Choi – I hope this last one won’t bolt as it really doesn’t like it too hot.
Hanging basket Toms
I have opted for plant-bought Tumbling Tom tomatoes and strawberries in wall-fixed hay baskets, the baskets have been placed on a very sunny wall so fingers crossed for some delicious red fruits.
The blueberry bushes are showing promise with masses of fruits having set, this despite being bunged into a removal truck and left in the dark over night, then trundled up country, dumped in the back garden and pretty much left to it whilst I unpacked the house.  It is showing some signs of sulking with a few leaves browning early, I’m wondering if this is because it didn’t get as much water as it would have liked.
We have been experiencing temperatures of 32 for the last couple of days, which has made me re-evaluate some of the plants that I brought with me from our last garden, some are really struggling here due to the very sunny aspect – I shall have to be more selective, to quote Roy Lancaster ‘Right plant, right place’.
The orange rose, left by a previous occupier, is stunning – in the morning it looks as though someone has put a 40 watt bulb inside each bloom, it is almost too bright to capture on camera, I don’t know the name of it so if anyone recognises it please let me know.  I am going to try and take cuttings of this one as it is so beautiful; I would like it running through the garden a bit more.
Centura Black Knight and pink Candytuft
Also looking lovely is the dark purple of the Centura Black Knight and pink Candytuft and the Sisyrinchium straitum ‘Aunt May’ which has now been renamed to Phaiophelps nigricans.
Sisyrinchium straitum ‘Aunt May’
New planting that has gone in is a combination of Miscanthus sinensis Flamingo with Verbena bonariensis to give us a slight screening of a corner and Nicotiana sylvestris with Potentilla Fireball, which should, hopefully, give a nice white/orange corner.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

June 2011

With all boxes now unpacked and items within found a home, I can put the move from Benson to Henlow behind me now and set to in the garden with a clean conscience and renewed passion.
The weather has been so warm that I have high hopes of the BBQ summer, from last year, turning up this year – so I set to cleaning all patio furniture and placing it in several locations in the new garden to see where to actually build the patio.
One I inherited - Aquilegia
Apparently there was a very large conifer in my garden before my move in, all I found was a huge stump – it would appear the grounds-men decided that I wouldn’t want it and removed it!  I am now left with a large area of ‘dead’ ground having, as yet, no idea what to do with it.  AS I have put a shed in front of it, it will most likely be turned into a ‘working area’, which means a place to hide my pots and compost, I shall then hide this with a trellis and some planting, of which I have yet to decide on.  Exciting times!
I have put some raised beds into an existing border which runs directly from the back door, having filled these with a mix of multi-purpose compost, top soil and some of the garden soil, I am currently planting them up with salad leaves, radish, spring onions and a variety of herbs – being just outside the back door makes for excellent access should it turn out to be a wet summer.  Surely not!
Azalea I bought this to remind me of my beautiful cat Charlie
Some plants that have come through the move looking good are a beautiful orange Azelea and my Flag Iris – whilst some of the inherited plants are looking
Flag Iris
lovely too, a couple of Aquilegia – one a lovely bright yellow and the other pink and yellow – thank you previous owners!  Also from the inherited plants is a brilliant rose which is a deep orange in bud opening to a lovely yellow – the scent is heavenly. I wonder how the previous owners knew my colours of choice are yellow, orange and pinks and purples!
No perfume - but what a stunner this is
At the front of the house is a huge Euonymus fortunei, another bright yellow offering!  I’m undecided as to what to do with it as yet – whether to trim it into a tidy shape or to move it to the back garden, as currently the back consists of the 60’s style lawn and thin border all around the edge.
The current plan, on the table, for the new garden is to cut an island area coming out of the border, thereby softening the view and building in some interest that you have to walk around, sink a pond (hubby isn’t aware of this yet!), add my metal arches to get height into the middle of the garden, add trellis all around the 4foot fence for climbers.  Oh and then there is my allotment to set to work on.  Happy days

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

May 2011

It was with heavy heart that we moved out of Benson last week, whilst it was a wind-tunnel and brought the usual clay soil issues to be dealt with, it is always very hard to undo the garden that you have made in such a short space of time.  I have left much more than I normally would in a military garden, sadly some plants just look like they wanted to stay – I really hope the next occupants are gardeners otherwise I may get a hefty bill in the post!

The removal men took one look at all the plants that I had potted up from my Benson garden and asked for a cup of tea, some biscuits and a sit down!

Cardoon lording it over the low planting
My (left behind) Cardoon, planted through a mass of lavender, was full of promise of bright colours to attract pollinating insects, together with the lilac that is about to break open and add to the honey bar for the bees, one of which was seen happily munching on the comfrey flowers whilst waiting for the explosion of nectar. I shall have to use my imagination as to how this will all look.

Whilst I was moving sheds, tools, compost and other essential equipment to my new allotment I managed to secure a heavy dose of sun-stroke, in spite of wearing a hat and using sun cream!

The weather was really hot, rather too hot for a three-hour stint of moving heavy garden items 200 yards from truck to allotment, however in amongst off-loading I managed to get two raised beds filled with my home-made compost and then covered them with weed suppressant material to ensure the moisture stays in the lovely compost until I can get back to them. I have courgettes, peas and beans all at early growth stages to get into these beds hopefully next week.

Kerris double

There is some wonderful colour in the garden/pots just now - Kerria, both single and double, blend beautifully with the Heuchera and Alchemilla mollis, the pot of tulips, pansies and wallflowers, that were planted up last autumn, have given me instant colour outside my new front door.

Heuchera and Alchemilla mollis
My aim now is to get a design together for my new garden, this time it will be given over mainly to flowers as I have an allotment for main veg and fruit growing, I will, however, use wall troughs at home to grow salad leaves, radish and some herbs – whilst the garden may be small there are walls to be put to good growing use, no space will be wasted.

How beautiful is this Tulip!
I have been approached by an RAF Officer, based at our new camp, to assist with the development of a potential allotment site on camp, whilst it is early days in the project; I am so excited by the thought of what could unfold, ideas for the development are coming thick and fast from my forum pals – what stars they are.

Pilks basking in the sun

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Following in Dad's footsteps

I'm told my garden training started at age 18 months (approx) where I would be found waddling amongst the rows of peas whilst Dad  set to with the digging - I developed a love of eating veg at a very early age, that's not to say I didn't like chocolate as well, but sadly Dad wasn't able to grow that!

The gardening passion left me whilst I was growing through my teenage years, there seemed to be other interests that needed my attention - such as clothes, music and boys.  Once safely into adulthood my passion returned - thankfully.

Due to lack of garden space, most of my early gardening was to grow flowers, herbs and veg in pots, this is an excellent way of gaining confidence and knowledge - it appears to be more controllable and less daunting then a large patch that may need a major over-haul.

My first major challenge came in the form of an acre of land attached to my cottage in Stenalees, St. Austell, Cornwall - this was more an acre of bracken and boy was it scary!  We managed to get half of it cultivated before life's circumstances meant that we had to move away from there.  I would love to go back and ask if I could have a look around!

In 1993 I married the present Mr. W who was (still is at time of writing) serving with the Royal Air Force - this meant from here on in my gardening was going to be transient.  Oh and how!