Thursday, 16 April 2015

Freebies

At the back end of last year we visited Wyevale Garden Centre. We were just leaving when by the door I noticed some trays of plants with a sign at the side saying Free, Help Yourself. I didn't need to be told twice so I helped myself to three.

I didn't do anything with them when I got home other than pop them in the greenhouse and hope that they'd come through winter ok.

Fast forward to the end of last month and I thought I'd better do something with them. They'd survived winter but were looking rather straggly and past their best.


I took them out of the pots they were in, knocked a little of the compost away and repotted them in new pots with some fresh compost before giving them a good haircut.


I popped them back in the greenhouse and they look to be doing well, budding up and filling out. It's less than three weeks ago since I tidied them up but they've come on leaps and bounds since then. I took them out this morning to take this photo, just in the nick of time as I found a snail making its way up one of the pots.


Two of them are geranium - Black Velvet Scarlet and one is geranium - Black Velvet Salmon. Can you believe that they're priced at £4.99 each. I do love a bargain.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Yorkshire Lavender In April

We had a trip to Scarborough on Friday so on the way we decided that we'd call in at Yorkshire Lavender. We visited way back in 2010 and then again last year, you can read about that visit in my Garden Visiting In August post. For me, Yorkshire Lavender is a place I enjoyed visiting once but you don't really need to visit again, there isn't that much to see. However, as we'd visited previously when the lavender was in bloom, I thought we'd pop in to see what it was like at the very start of the season.

Yorkshire Lavender is set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside and there's usually some beautiful views but there was a haze hanging about on Friday so we didn't get the full effect.


I have to say that the gardens at this time of year are rather bland, bed upon bed of lavender plants which aren't in flower, but the gardeners were working very hard to get everything ready for the season.


I think the sensory garden could be made more of, plants which flower at different times of the year could be used to give year round interest, whereas the bed hasn't got going at all yet. Can you see the music above the bed?


I did a bit of sight reading and figured out that the music written here is Lavender's Blue Dilly Dilly. I never noticed that before. Very apt.


The maze is looking rather sad at the moment, it needs a bit of height which the lavender flowers give. You can see it in all it's glory in my previous post about Yorkshire Lavender.


Most of the beds are covered with ground cover membrane to keep the weeds down, the lavender is planted through this. I expect this will cut down the work required to keep the beds looking good.


I like all the little tips which are dotted about the garden.


I think the nursery has improved since we were last here.


I was disappointed with the price of the plants last time but there's definitely some more reasonable purchases available now with a good range of herbs amonst other things.


I found the lavender plants to be rather expensive though, especially as cuttings are so easy to take if you've already got lavender and you just want to increase your stock. A tiny little plant which looked like a cutting was about £2 and plants just a little larger started around £4.


Dogs aren't allowed in the gardens so Archie had to wait in the car park. He was pleased that I didn't take too long looking round.


I'm sure that this will be my last visit to Yorkshire Lavender, I think I've seen all I want to see now. If you fancy going yourself, I'd recommend waiting until the lavender is in flower as there really isn't all that much to see at this time of year.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Six Year Anniversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my recent giveaway. There were lots of names in the hat and the lucky one to be drawn out was Su from Living On The Edge. Can you please let me have your address details so I can get your package in the post.


I hope you enjoy using the paper potter, it would be great if you could let us know how you get on with it as quite a few of my readers seemed curious by it and expressed an interest.

I thought I might get some jobs done on the allotment this weekend but the good weather we had last week has finally broken and we're back to rain and high winds. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Easter Weekend

I thought Easter was going to be a washout weather wise this year, how wrong I was. We've had two glorious days, Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, and the warmth and sunshine looks set to last for the rest of this week.

We spent the majority of the weekend decorating our bedroom, that's the royal we. I usually leave all the decorating tasks to Mick, though Eleanor's a competent painter so she helps. I did manage to get some more seeds sown though.

I decided that now we're in to April, it isn't too soon to get my cucurbits underway so I got out my new seed tin which Eleanor bought me for Mother's Day this year.


It isn't big enough to hold all my seed stash but it's just the right size for the seeds I'll be sowing this year. It came with monthly dividers so the packets have been sorted according to when the seed will be sown.


I sowed courgette - Dundoo and Tricolour, cucumber - Mini Munch and Crystal Lemon, squash - Winter Golden Hubbard, Waltham and Custard White and I also sowed some spring onions - White Lisbon and calabrese - Autumn Spear.


Seeds were also sown last weekend, brussels sprout - Evesham Special, another couple of pots of leeks - Musselburgh, a few more tomato - Maskotka as I had poor germination with the first lot of these, sweet william - Pinocchio, stock - Dwarf Ten Week Mixed, sunflowers - Big Smile and Pastiche and some living rabbit food. Most of these seeds have already germinated now and I've had better success with the Maskotka seed than I did the first time round.


We also got a few other jobs done in the garden in between the decorating. My two apple trees which I've been growing in pots have been planted in the ground, here is the Golden Delicious, it's only a small tree growing on dwarf rootstock, the Gloster which is slightly bigger has been planted next to it. I'm hoping that they do better now that their roots aren't confined.


My first lot of potatoes have gone in to buckets. I'm growing two varieties, Arran Pilot and Anya, as well as three tubers each of Sherine, Vales Emerald and Bonnie. I started off the three extra varieties as well as two containers each of Arran Pilot and Anya. I kept a note of when I'd planted my potatoes last year and the ones planted in March didn't do very well at all. The ones planted at the beginning of April did the best of all, even better than those planted towards the end of April when the weather had warmed up.


We also got round to sorting out all my container grown plants, potting on those that needed it and replenishing the compost in those that didn't. My three blueberry plants got topped up with ericaceous compost and I gave them a bit of a trim, pruning out all the dead wood. Their buds are just starting to break now. This is my oldest plant which I bought eight years ago, I've got another two, one bought seven years ago and the third one must be about five, though I can't actually remember when I bought it.


Mick's gone back to work today for a rest, it's been a busy weekend for him, but we managed to get lots of things done.

Don't forget, if you haven't already entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Friday the 10th of April 2015 to do so. Just leave a comment on my It's Giveaway Time post.

Friday, 3 April 2015

The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener

I was really excited when I was asked to review The One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan. Before I had my allotment, I used to grow all my veggies in containers, so to review a book on this theme really appealed to me. The book is published by Frances Lincoln (www.franceslincoln.com , @Frances_Lincoln).


The book contains 25 carefully devised recipes which are grouped into soups and salads, main courses, picnics, quick suppers and drinks & puddings but the idea of the book is that the ingredients for each recipe can be grown all together in just one container.

Before getting in to the actual growing and cooking, there is an introduction and information on getting started. Advice is given on suitable varieties of vegetables to grow, choosing a pot, useful tools & equipment, compost, seeds & sowing, even pests & diseases amongst other things, so even a beginner will be able to use this book.


Each recipe is split up in to Grow Me and Eat Me. Grow Me, as you'd expect, concentrates on the growing aspect of the dish, whereas Eat Me is the actual cooking of it.



I have to admit that I was a little sceptical before I'd looked at the book, could you really grow all the ingredients for a dish such as ratatouille in one container, but the beautiful photos throughout the book show a variety of vegetable plants growing happily together.


I like how a variety of containers are used, what will work for one set of vegetables wouldn't necessarily work for another, and some of them look very attractive filled with their resident plants.


There's some mouth watering recipes. Some of my favourites are the simple ratatouille, chilli jam, courgette & fennel tart and honey &thyme blackberries with thyme shortbreads amongst others.


I'm tempted to give one of these container recipes a try this year, but which one, there's so many which take my fancy.

To order One-Pot Gourmet Gardener at the discounted price of £12.99 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG311. 

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

It's Giveaway Time

It's the 1st of April today which means that I've now been blogging for six years. I started this blog shortly after I took on my first allotment plot to follow the progress I made. Since then, I've moved to a new allotment site, taking on a new plot. That was about eighteen months ago now. I'm still enjoying both my gardening exploits and writing this blog as much as I did when I first started.


It's become a bit of a tradition on my blog anniversaries that I host a giveaway and this sixth anniversary is no exception. First up is this paper potter. It's the time of year when lots of seeds are being sown and it's so easy to run out of pots. This paper potter ensures you'll never run out of pots for your seeds again, strips of newspaper can be turned in to biodegradable pots in seconds. It also ensures that there's no root disturbance when planting out your seedlings as you can plant them as they are straight in to the soil. The reason the price is still on the box is not because I want you to know how much it was, it's because I started taking the label off but it's making a mark so I've left it where it is.


We're always looking for gardening bits and bobs at this time of year, and running out of them if you're anything like me, so I've included a few gardening essentials in the giveaway, peat pots, plant labels and jute twine.


If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning the above items, just leave a comment on this post before noon on Friday the 10th of April 2015. A winner will be drawn at random.

I'd like to thank everyone who visits my blog, many of you have become friends over the six years I've been blogging and it's been a pleasure to get to know you all a little better through the world of blogging.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Photo Medley - March

It's time for a round up of the photos I've taken this month which haven't yet made it on to the blog.

Another photo of the crocuses I've grown this year, Miss Vain. I can't get enough of their gorgeous white blooms with yellow throats. Their blooms have faded now so I've planted them out in the ground and hopefully, they'll come back again next year. I shall look forward to it.


More photos from our trip to Oakwell Hall earlier in the month.

Snowdrops in the borders. It was lovely to see so many of these pretty flowers in the garden.


A daffodil in bud. I'm sure this will be blooming by now.


I love the evergreen plants and the structure of the garden. It makes for an interesting visit even in the depths of winter.


A stump left from where a tree has been cut down. A bit of a feature set against the stone wall.


A touch of colour from the climbing plant. I'm not sure what it is.


Moss on a tree stump. I find close ups fascinating, it's like a whole other world.


Blossom waiting to open up on my little peach tree. This photo was taken half way through the month.


Anemone Harmony Pearl. I've never grown these plants before but they're so pretty, I'm a convert.


More photos taken when we visited Harlow Carr.

I think Rudolph must have been left behind by Santa.


Daffodils putting on a show in one of the borders. I don't think anything lets us know that spring has arrived better than daffodils do.


The gardens are filled with irises at the moment. I love the intense blue of this variety.


My Tete a Tetes are flowering but I'm still waiting for my Thalia to follow suit.


My peach tree has now burst in to bloom. I keep this little tree in my greenhouse so I'm trying hand pollination to ensure I get some fruit.


The onions which I've started off in modules have started to shoot, they'll soon be ready to plant out.


A cowslip by my little pond. I love these spring flowers.


I hope you've enjoyed this hotchpotch of photos.

Things have started to get busy in the garden and on the allotment now. Seeds are being sown in earnest and the seed trays are jostling for room on the windowsills. We're approaching one of the busiest times of the gardening year.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Harlow Carr In March

We visited Harlow Carr on Saturday and though the weather was fine, it was bitterly cold.


The heather at the entrance to the garden is still putting on a fabulous show. This is a plant which earns its keep in the winter garden working hard when many other plants are taking a rest.


There's now evidence of life in the empty borders with tulips and perennials making their way through the earth. It won't be long until they're putting on a stunning show.


Daffodils are just beginning to put on their show, some are already in flower.


The Tete A Tetes are blooming away.


Some daffodils are still in bud, these must be a later variety.


The hellebores are still blooming away too.



This is Daphne bholua Jacqueline Postill, or Nepalese Paper Plant. A good candidate if you're wanting winter scent in the garden as its flowers are highly fragrant.



These pretty Chionodoxa luciliae were flowering along a low bank. I like it when flowers are raised above ground level, you get to see them up close and appreciate their finer details.


Nearby were these peculiar looking plants. I knew exactly where I'd seen them before, on Anna's Green Tapestry blog. Anna posted a photo of similar looking plants last year in A Wednesday Worisit post and there were many suggestions as to what they could be. I think they're probably Petasites japonicus. I shall look forward to watching how they develop on my future trips to Harlow Carr.


Last month, I posted a photo of the side of the stream where the gunnera lies in wait ready to regrow. This month, there's some new growth, but not from the gunnera, these pale green, almost yellow, shoots belong to Lysichiton americanum, a herbaceous perennial with unpleasantly scented, bright yellow arum like flowers.


There's lots of signs of spring in the garden now and amongst them, one of my favourite spring flowers, the primrose.


I think there'll be some wonderful pots and containers to see on my next visit, many have been planted up with tulips and I'm excited to see the colour combinations which have been used as I've taken lots of inspiration from Harlow Carr's previous tulip displays. They seem to have a wonderful knack of combining the right varieties and colours.



I'm looking forward to seeing this pot which has been planted with crocus, narcissus and tulips. None have yet flowered but it should hold blooms for some time as a combination of bulbs have been used to extend the flowering period.


The bed I'm watching over the course of the year doesn't look any different to how it looked last month. There's no new growth as yet so I'm wondering what's planted there.


On to the kitchen garden and the beds are looking even more bare than they did last month.


Most of the winter crops have now been cleared, but there's still purple sprouting broccoli to harvest.


One of the gardeners was hard at work getting the raised beds prepared for spring sowing.


Some new raised beds have been installed since my last visit. They're interesting shapes, I wonder what they're going to plant in them.


The snowdrops which are planted in the rhubarb bed are now going over and are past their best but the rhubarb is coming along well.


This is labelled as Stockbridge, I presume it's Stockbridge Arrow, a variety which is known as one of the best modern varieties.


I think rhubarb crumble will be on the menu soon.

There's a big difference in the beds and borders from what we saw last month, plants are pushing their way through the soil and where there was bare earth last month, there's now new growth. I'm hoping that the weather will have warmed up by the time we visit again, we didn't stay long on this visit as it was so cold. It would be nice to enjoy a leisurely stroll around the gardens without my hands freezing off.