Friday, 22 May 2015

Starting To Grow

I didn't grow any dahlias last year and missed their striking, showy blooms. I decided I'd rectify that this year and picked up a couple of tubers which have been started off in pots in the greenhouse.

No matter how central I place the tubers, there's always one which decides to grow right at the edge of the pot.

I've never grown Bishop Of Llandaff before but I love the bright vermillion-red flowers against the dark foliage so this was the first variety I decided on. The other is another bargain purchase from Wilko's for just £1. Procyon is a decorative variety with red/orange and yellow petals, it should add lots of colour to the garden.

Both of these dahlias are good for cut flowers but I don't think I could bear to remove the blooms from the plant, I do like to enjoy them where they've been planted.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Colour In May

Back in 2013, I followed Geoff Hamilton's advice and visited a garden centre or nursery each month of the year and bought a plant which was flowering so that I'd have something blooming in my garden every month of the year.

I chose aquilegia vulgaris Clementine Purple in May 2013 and it's blooming again at the moment.

It's a much smaller plant than the other aquilegias I grow in my garden and although it's put on some growth in the two years I've had it, it's still rather small. I wondered if this plant would self seed as prolifically as other aquilegias do, but I haven't had any seedlings from it as yet. It's quite a showy aquilegia having fluffy, double flowers.

Most of my other aquilegias are the run of the mill ones which have self seeded, their heads face downwards so it's nice to have one which looks up at me, something a little different.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Time To Plot

We finally found some time on Friday evening to spend at the allotment. Unfortunately, we've had little time for the plot this year and it needs a lot of work to get it licked back in to shape. The weeds are taking over and little of the ground is cultivated but when time is short owing to other commitments, the allotment seems to be one of the first things to suffer.

I finally got my carrots sown in the WoodBlocX raised bed. I'm growing Nantes, Tendersnax and Chantenay. As you can see, Mick's constructed a wooden frame covered with enviromesh to fit over more than half of the bed. I'm hoping that this will thwart the carrot root fly which can cause devestation to carrot crops. I sowed some beetroot in the part which is left uncovered.

The onions were planted out a couple of weeks ago. I'd started them off in modules so they'd already sprouted. These are Sturon.

We also got the brassicas which we bought from Harlow Carr planted out. There's six Brussels sprouts plants - Evesham Special and six Asparagus kale plants. Mick's fitting collars around the plants to prevent the cabbage root fly laying their eggs at the base of the plants.

Here they are all tucked up underneath the netted cage which should, hopefully, prevent the pigeons from stripping the leaves. It seems there's a pest out there just waiting to feast on whatever crop we're growing. The netting is held down with tent pegs and then bricks put around the bottom for extra strength.

There's also mangetout growing which were planted out a couple of weeks ago, but the plants don't look in the best of shape, I think they've taken a battering from the high winds we've had recently.

I'm hoping that now we've made a start, we can catch up with the jobs which should have been done much earlier in the year.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Salad Days

Salad leaves and lettuces are something which I haven't grown much of in the past. As a family, we don't eat many salads yet last year, I found myself eating many more than I ever have done before so I intend to increase production this year.

Back in March I combined the seeds from half empty packs of seeds, or seeds which had gone way beyond their use by dates. There were various lettuce and leaves as well as chives. I sowed them very thickly in to a seed tray and I'm now able to cut these as baby leaves for salads.

I've also been growing some leaves for Sammy, Eleanor's rabbit. I bought a pack of living rabbit food seeds last year and they were such a hit that I'm growing them again this year.

Sammy can't seem to get enough of them, I'm not sure what the mix of seed is but there's definitely clover in there.

Incidentally, I wouldn't give a rabbit the mixed leaves I've grown for myself as there are some types of lettuce which can be harmful to bunnies. Also, some varieties are so high in water that they're of no nutritional value, so are not recommended.

You can see how much he enjoys this living rabbit food. This is what's left after a ten minute munch. Don't worry, he hasn't nibbled the plastic seed tray, it was already like that.

Since these photos were taken, his hutch and run have been moved back on to the grass for the summer months. He still gets let out to have a good run around, but it means he has access to grass to munch on whenever he wants.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Filling The Gaps

On a visit to a local-ish garden centre, I picked up a few perennials. I thought they'd be ideal to fill some gaps I've got in my borders. They were selling these plants for just £1.50 each which I thought was really good value.

There were lots of different perennials for sale but the ones I chose are as follows:-

Geum - Mrs Bradshaw
Helenium - Autumnale
Rudbeckia Fulgida - Sullivantii Goldsturm

It wasn't long before we were back at the garden centre and on that visit I couldn't resist buying another three plants:-

Euphorbia - Ascot Rainbow
Gaillardia Aristata - Arizona Red Shades
Papaver Orientale - Brilliant

They were small but healthy looking plants when I bought them so instead of planting them straight out, I decided that I'd grow them on a little. I repotted them in to larger pots and they've really grown away making substantial plants to go in the ground.

Two have now been planted in the small border in the back garden, two have gone in to the border in the front garden and I have two waiting to be planted in to containers. I do like to have some plants in pots so that I can move them around where a splash of colour is needed.

Thank you for all your good wishes for my dad. I'm pleased to be able to say that it wasn't as serious as we'd at first feared. It turned out that he'd got appendicitis. He underwent an emergency appendectomy at midnight on Sunday and was allowed home last night.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Planting For Christmas

Christmas may seem a way off yet but when you're wanting to grow part of your Christmas dinner, it has to be thought about well in advance. I've decided that this year I'd like to grow Brussels sprouts. It's not a vegetable I usually grow, in fact, it isn't a vegetable I buy all that often as the rest of my family won't eat them. I do insist that we always have them with Christmas dinner though, it wouldn't be Christmas without them.

I sowed some seed of a variety called Evesham Special at the end of March but I'm never particularly successful when it comes to sowing brassicas so when we visited Harlow Carr in April and saw some seedlings of the very same variety for sale on one of the plant stands at the Spring Gardening and Wildlife Weekend I decided to buy some. I also purchased some kale seedlings. This is asparagus kale, something I've never tried before. Aparently, the new shoots of this kale taste of asparagus so I'm looking forward to trying it.

Instead of planting them straight out, I potted on the seedlings in to larger pots and they've now put on a lot of growth. They're ready for planting out but their bed is only half dug so they'll have to wait a little longer. Kale on the left, Brussels sprouts on the right.

The allotment has taken a bit of a back seat so far this year as we've had other things on and my dad has very recently been rushed in to hospital so nearly everything is on hold at the moment. We're not sure how long he's going to be in for but I shall be trying to keep up with my blog as well as reading posts on the other blogs which I follow. I may not have time to comment as often as I usually do though so I hope you understand.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Tulips From Amsterdam.....

.....via Wilko's.

After all the beautiful tulips I saw at Harlow Carr recently, which you can see in my last post, I thought I'd show you the tulips I grew in a container this year.

This was the first bud I noticed back in the middle of April. I get so excited at this point thinking of what's to come.

It was soon after that I noticed a yellow bud which reminded me that I'd planted tulips in a variety of colours this time. I usually stick to just one or two colours in a container.

The variety I'd gone for was Triumph and the packet included a mix of colours from the very darkest purple through reds, yellows and pinks to the purest white. When I remembered this I looked forward to seeing the combination of colours all blooming together.

I was a little let down once they bloomed. They were beautiful blooms but I ended up with reds, yellows and something in between, there wasn't a single dark one or white one amongst them. No pinks either.

Not a bad display for a pound though.

Some were a mix of red and yellow.

I can never resist taking close ups of the inside of tulips, they remind me of a kaleidoscope.

They've been planted in the front garden now where I hope they'll flower again next year. I think if I want a mixture in future, I should buy the single colours and mix them myself.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Harlow Carr in May

At long last we've visited Harlow Carr without risking hypothermia. We'd planned to go on Sunday as there was a Spring Plant Fair being held but the weather was terrible, it was pouring down with rain, much like today, so we went yesterday instead. Knowing what it's been like on previous visits, I wore my coat but I soon stripped off to a t shirt, it was so warm. We definitely chose the right day to go.

The first thing that hit me as we walked through the door was the tulip border. In March it was nothing but bare soil, by April a few yellow tulips were flowering but just two weeks later and the rest of the tulips had followed suit creating this stunning display.

As the weather was being kind on this visit, we decided to head in to the woodland.

Many of the rhododendrons are now flowering, though some are still in bud.

There's a good collection of different plants which you'll see from my next photos. I don't think they need any explanation.

This bee was covered in pollen.

We trip trapped over the small bridge even though a troll was on guard.

Work at Harlow Carr doesn't stop for a bank holiday, here some forestry work was being undertaken.

It's evident that lots more of this type of work has been carried out. Log piles line the paths in some areas.

Is it just me who can see a dinosaur in this tree? My knowledge of trees is sadly lacking, I'd love to know what this tree is if anyone knows.

We came upon the bird hide so we decided to see who was about. There wasn't any unusual birds on the feeders but we often see red kites soaring overhead whilst we're at Harlow Carr.

Daffodils are still flowering but they're really past their best now.

I'm not usually one for fancy daffodils but I though this frilly variety was lovely.

I like this narcissus Sir Winston Churchill, a multi headed variety.

The kitchen garden was looking very neat and tidy. I asked one of the girls working there what happens to the produce they grow and was told that they don't grow sufficient quantities to sell so the gardeners get to take it home.

Crops are starting to appear in the raised beds now. Here we have radish, spinach and peas.

Apple mint being grown in a sunken container. I know myself how invasive it is, my first allotment plot was covered in the stuff and we never managed to get rid of it. I'd never plant mint in open ground without some form of barrier.

The rhubarb bed has now been cleared of the forcing pots and the plants are being allowed to grow uncovered. There were bare patches of earth here and there when we last visited but the plants have put on a lot of growth since then. There's odd tulips flowering amongst the rhubarb.

There's been a lot more growth in the bed I'm following. I'm looking forward to seeing what emerges over the next couple of months here.

The tulips are really doing their thing now, so many different varieties. I'd like to leave you with some photos of the displays and varieties being grown at Harlow Carr.

This has been my favourite month to visit Harlow Carr so far but I'm looking forward to seeing which plants will be the stars of the show on my next visit.