Saturday, 10 August 2019

April Showers

Normally as we approach Easter we expect the usual mix of sunshine and showers and often the majority of the latter. Such a surprise then that we had an unexpected mini heatwave.

The spring flowers were putting on a wonderful show and I thought it was time to get my camera out again and see if I could capture their natural unspoiled beauty. These were the reliable and delicate Thalia daffodils in the white garden. A very welcome sight after the disappointing show by the crocus and the no show of the tulips.

Through the basket defence system the fritillaria were thriving and looked even more stunning in the bright sunshine.

A rather poor photo of the ferns unfurling, a true sign of the woods coming back to life after a long dormant winter. A slightly better photo of another Fern coming to life.

This was one of the new daffodils we planted last year in daffodil walk . It had the most amazing flowerhead, not just the bright colour but the multi petaled flower. Unfortunately the flower was really heavy and the stem rather weak so we could only appreciate it when we lifted it up. Quite a beauty.

Our fledgling orchard was yet to produce any substantial harvest but it was pleasing to see the blossom being to open and hopefully our local bees would help us out with some pollination.

While M was inside working hard on the bathroom project I was enjoying the sunshine and started by getting the potatoes planted in the 'coffins'. I had a few left over so put some in the veg bed, a few plastic pots, one bath in the yard and the rest in 3 canvas pots.

Sowing seeds reached a climax in April as the greenhouse started to fill up. With the risk of frosts still around the pots of dahlias were still taking up space but would be moved outside when the weather permitted.

Much as I loved working outside, the temperature in the greenhouse was hitting 40⁰, a little bit too hot for me.

One of the most frustrating areas was Daffodil Walk where the grass was growing but we couldn't cut it and tidy it until the daffodils were over. Still we were able to enjoy the blooms poking through the lengthening grass and weeds.

Last year we bought a mixture of bulbs for the new flowerbed M created in the garden. This Fritillaria was absolutely gorgeous, I took this photo of it before I realised that the flower stem had broken and the bloom was actually hanging upside down

M took advantage of some good weather and managed a first cut if the grass in daffodil walk. He avoided the foliage of the bulbs and we were thankful it looked so much better.

The wonderful warm days throughout April helped the potatoes get a good start for the season. We overwintered some onions and planted them out a few weeks ago and to extend our harvest we also purchased some onion sets for spring planting. The second batch were started off in the greenhouse before being planted out. There was an obvious difference between the two plantings.

Our newest Crab Apple tree in the garden did not disappoint and was festooned with blossom although it is not clear in this photo.

By the end of the month the other Crab Apple in the orchard had some beautiful deep red blossom although the tree was much smaller than the garden variety, it will be a few years until it is the same size.

I have yet to harvest any of our wild garlic but I was thrilled to see it return this year and flower abundantly. There were a few new plants too which indicated that it had started to spread a little. The bees and butterflies couldn't get enough of the nectar.

I thought I'd finish up with a lovely photo of an Erythronium Pagoda, one of the few which survived the marauding deer and rabbits. So much to look forward to for the spring and summer ahead.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Long Gone March

I can't believe it has been so long since I last had time to sit down and write a post. Looking back I see I now have lots to catch up on and now I need to go all the way back to March. Despite the ongoing bathroom renovations we had plenty happening in the woods and the greenhouse. While M was busy indoors I was doing my best to keep things ticking over outside.

At the beginning of March we had a Storm Gareth to contend with and fortunately we only had one upturned tree.

The best thing was the fact that it just missed one of our little rhododendrons. No harm done, the tree had a few branches removed and it was possible to lift it back up again.

A visit to our local garden centre resulted in a random purchase of a Himalayan Lily bulb. Apparently they can grow to about 6ft tall although that looked unlikely given the small green shoot appearing.

In the midst of the wood shavings and plaster dust the potatoes were set out to chit. M has always wanted to grow King Edwards so we bought them along with Cara which has previously been a great success. We also thought we'd try some Blue Danube potatoes as a new variety for us. I was hoping they would go well with the purple carrots we had sown.

After all our efforts of planting in the autumn we found that the deer and rabbits were trying their best to destroy as many of the tiny new plants as possible. Sadly the Erythronium were the first to be devastated, munched down to the ground.

Next the newly planted bluebells had the rabbit chop treatment. We were hoping some would survive enough to produce some flowers but only time would tell.

As the days started to warm up so the grass began to grow and we knew it wouldn't be long until the endless days of mowing would upon us. At least M was able to concentrate on the bathroom refurbishment until then.

The 'White Garden' was not looking particularly white but there were dots of white Thalia daffodils rising above the grass. The beautiful tulips from last year did not reappear but we had high hopes for the large Joan of Arc Crocus. However, the poor crocus were obviously very much enjoyed by the wildlife so were not quite the amazing display we had planned.

Daffodil walk was beginning to live up to it's name with an increased number of blooms and quite a variety of colours. We don't plan on planting any more daffodils here but hope that with all the bulbs already planted the display should improve year in year.

At the end of March I eventually managed to complete the annual greenhouse clean. I'm not sure why it took so long this year, last year I cleaned it all in one day but this year it took me nearly 3 days. As always I was so glad when this was all done and dusted.

After all the devastation left behind by the rabbits and deer I had a bright idea whereby I could use some old hanging baskets to protect the small emerging plants. I also had some left over thin wire which I wound around them to increase the defence.

Although I knew that the baskets wouldn't protect the flowers I hoped that the main part of the plants would survive any attacks. I was thrilled when my little plan worked and we had some lovely Anemones and Fritillaria.

One of my favourite flowers at this time of year has always been the little wood anemone. We planted some a couple of years ago and although we haven't yet had a wonderful display they are increasing in number each year. They too seem to be a favourite of our local rabbits but sometimes we get to enjoy their simple pure beauty before they disappear.

I love the early days of spring when the buds appear and the trees begin to come alive after a long winter.

Although this is a pretty rubbish photo I was amazed at the abundance of flowers on the Larch this year. We put this down to having quite a mild month.

The Larch wasn't the only tree enjoying the warmer days. This pear tree (a cheapy supermarket variety) was full of blossom and looked beautiful in an otherwise sparse orchard.

I thought I'd finish off the month with some bright colour. Last year we bought a couple of large plastic barrels as the old wooden one had rotted and collapsed. We planted a variety of bulbs which would provide colour from February through to June and each barrel had a central perennial for continued interest. The inject of flowers in the garden always gives me the impetus to sow seeds and plan further for the summer and so there's the plan for April.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

An Early Taste of Spring

We have had the most wonderful end to the winter with a little sampler of what's to come in the spring months ahead. This February had the highest temperatures in many years and we loved it.

Taking advantage of the earlier sunrises we were able to enjoy plenty of beautiful walks by the sea and at times we were the only people there.

During last autumn I sowed some Red Campion seeds in a little seed tray. By January they were just big enough to prick out and pot up into tiny little cells, this was an extremely arduous task but resulted in about 150 little plants. This month I finally potted them up into my smallest pots so give them a chance to grow on. Surprisingly they thrived and if the good weather continues it won't be long before they go outside.

The warm days and increased daylight tricked the bulbs into some early growth and the appearance of emerging Erythronium Pagodas soon developed into a mass of leaves.

I was thrilled to see the return of our wild garlic. It didn't do brilliantly last year as some got munched and the rest were battered by the weather which left just one with flowers. The mild month has produced strong growth with some flower buds already visible.

Last year was the first season for the numerous wood anemones we planted and although we had some leaves appear we had very few flowers. I was overjoyed to see many more plants poking through in the planted areas where they hadn't previously been obvious. I was even more excited to see lots of tiny little white flowers. If this progress is anything to go by then they should improve year on year.

After the success of the Joan of Arc Crocus last year we planted even more in the autumn to improve the display. With the early mild weather they were beginning to emerge and there were even a few blooms opening in the sunshine.

They are the most gorgeous large, pure white flower which tend to last longer than the little wispy flowers we had in the garden.

Another success story was the return of some winter aconites. We had a few plants last year but only a couple of flowers so I was delighted to see these cheery little plants trying hard to beat the weeds.

The white Camellia appeared to have survived the winter will only a couple of discoloured leaves. It was planted last year just before the dry summer so didn't have the best start in life but perhaps we'll see some growth this year.

Last year we planted lots of anemone which we bought at the end of season sale. It was wonderful to see some tiny little flowers appear in the sunshine. it was also a reminder of where we had planted them as the grass had grown and covered everything over.

We had a major daffodil planting session in the autumn to increase the daffodil population in daffodil walk. It was a thrill to see that the early touch of spring had brought them to life and we could see the leaves and flower buds emerging through the grass. What a lovely start to spring we have had.