Hawera update

Here is the hawera daffs update folks: when I last posted they were thinking of opening, with just one or two bells per stem starting to unfurl. Ten days later and they are all out in bloom, dance gracefully in the wind and are generally just the most cheerful, uplifting daff to have in the garden! I recommend planting them in pots next to your entrance or in windowsill tubs, so that you can fully appreciate their ‘pick me up’ charm.

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Tulips past and present

It is late November now and this week I have been out in the garden planting new tulip bulbs – I want to bolster the displays of some flower beds and just fancied a change of colour in others.

It is November and you are supposed to plant tulip bulbs out quite late in the year like this to prevent ‘tulip fire’ – a fungal disease that can spread in Autumn’s wet and warm soil.  Mind you, you are also supposed to lift all bulbs six weeks after they’ve flowered and then store them in dark dry place every summer before replanting in late Autumn… but my back doesn’t have the stamina for all that, so unless I needed to dig a bed or container over, then our garden bulbs have just stayed in the ground.

I do wonder if sometimes garden care instructions can be overly cautious. Especially with bulbs.  Last year for example, a leak in our shed roof caused my prize new Dutch bulbs, that were stored underneath the leak, to go quite mouldy.  Gardening books would of had you throw the bulbs away, but I stripped back the paper on the affected bulbs, peeled or cut out any really badly affected areas and then washed them in a shallow sink of water mixed with a capful of bleach.  Judge for yourself if the resulting display earlier this year was worth the effort!

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Catching up!

I know I’ve been lax updating the blog recently – in my defence, it turns out that actual gardening is more interesting than writing blog posts! Nevertheless, I do want to keep a record of the garden as it matures; already people find it hard to believe that the garden is only a year old! So, in no particular order, here are save of my favourite garden snaps of recent times.

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I keep the colour of the largest flower bed mainly to green and here you can see all the tall Miscanthus grass (that was cut to the ground in spring) adding lovely ‘flow’ above the dried alliums that I’ve kept in for interest. The Mr has been doing a fab job of looking after the lawn too as it is looking especially lush here.

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Zooming in on a couple of my fave garden ornaments bought from The Chelsea Flower show – I confess that I actually bought these to be gifts, but then couldn’t bear to give them away…

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I bought some extra hanging baskets earlier this year. The baskets themselves were a bargain at 99p each from the 99p shop in town. The brackets were mail order and worked out around £6 each I think – they’re nifty as they require no drilling, being designed to clasp onto cement fence posts. The coral colour petunia are gorgeous, I can’t wait for them to properly take over the space.

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Here’s a shot of the ‘etoile violet’ clematis doing its thing. Last year we only had a handful of flowers before an attack of dry mildew took over. Early preventative treatment with a fungicide and diligent pinching out this year has led to a much better, long lasting display.

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The top pic is a favourite corner of the garden with trailing hardy geranium rozanne pouring over the edge of the raised bed, along with an annual type of pink fluorescent geranium. The climbers (jasmin ‘fiona sunrise’ and clematis ‘Bill McKenzie’) are scrambling away and my lovely purple and pink hardy fuschia is thriving in the new bed too (it was previously in a ground-level bed but I moved it to prevent back stain from keeping it tidy!).

In lower pictures you can also see our violets and pansies trouping on, along with a lovely day lily, honeysuckle and red coloured goats-beard.

Happy gardening everyone!

Royal Horticultural Society workshop day @ RHS Garden Wisley

Without mentioning names,  *someone* did very well indeed with this year’s Christmas present: A workshop training day run by and taking place at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden in Wisley, Surrey (South UK). This place is beautiful and run by knowledgeable staff who are regularly brought in to provide expert advice in the UK’s gardening press and on TV.

The day was called ‘What now?’ and was designed to talk attendees through the different jobs to do in the garden during March/April in Spring.  We also got a bit of a tour of the Wisley’s Spring gardens too, which were gorgeous and clearly attended to meticulously.

Below I’ve pasted jpgs of my notes from the day (prepare to get slightly nerdy about Ph levels and fertiliser) – and then the blog post is back on even ground with lots of pretty pictures 🙂

Enjoy!

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February clematis pruning

Here are some quick before and after pics of the pruning I carried out in February 2015 of the Etoile Violet and Bill Mackenzie clematis plants in the garden. Bill was cut back to his main stems and looks much tidier. I left the puffs of seed heads on as their charm hasn’t worn off on me yet.  Etoile Violet has been cut down to new bud growth 30cm from the ground [planter] so that the plant channels its Spring energy into throwing up extra stems from the base. If you look closely, you can see that that is exactly what it has done within just 2-3 weeks here.

These pics show plants that have been in the ground for about 9 months, planted last June-ish from 9cm pot plants.

**If you are about to prune your clematis plants, be sure to look up what pruning ‘type’ or ‘group’ they belong to first, as different types need different pruning regimes in terms of timing in the year to cut and what,  if at all, to cut.**

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The season is turning

The season is definitely turning.  I know because today was the first day that our cat Molly hung out with me in the garden, quite content quietly pattering around me, finding various good vantage points to observe from. The key word in there for anyone that’s not met our cat, is ‘quietly’.  She’d let you know if she felt she should be getting more attention.

So I planted out some giant snowdrops,  bought ‘in the green’. Apparently these have more of a success rate than just planting bulbs – although my bulbs of the common smaller snowdrops came out just fine. And that was after I left them out unplanted for a fortnight longer than you’re supposed to and they got a little mouldy so I had to rinse them in a *very* diluted lot of bleach and water. Anyway, hopefully these will settle in well. I’ve planted them in clumps this time in the largest flowerbed by the cabin (though I kept 5 or 6 back for the windowsill box) – so they should have a little more impact than the scattered effect the single  drops have had, when even though I planted 100 they still appear quite sparse. Hopefully that’ll improve over the years as they multiply out.

What else? The first daffs in the garden have appeared in the window box. I planted some sporaxis bulbs in the raised bed (from the 99p shop!) to provide some height and colour before the crocosmia comes out in September.  Gave the lawn it’s first cut, edge and scarify (scraping with a fine rake), got loads of dry/dead grass out.  Hope that will help it to bounce back from the winter as it gets a bit of sun to the growing leaves,  now the thatch is gone. That might not be enough for the back bit,  which had suffered with some damp/water logging (possible drainage issues) and under the mulch which blew onto it. We have sporadically poked drainage holes in it through the winter… Guess we’ll see.  If it doesn’t recover then we can consider taking more drastic measures if need be next year.

Now, in another sign of the times, I’m sitting with my feet up in the cabin – where it is warm and sunny enough to have both sets of doors propped open for the first time this year.

Enjoy the pics.

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