General Round Up

Every day I’m in the garden now, pottering around finding jobs, fixing things, planting, moving plants etc. For this reason I thought I’d post a general ramble about the things I’ve been up to.

This weekend was particularly windy, with mostly sunny spells and today late in the afternoon, rain. The temperature has dropped a few degrees and seems set to continue in this vein for this week ahead. Regardless of this, many of the plants in the garden are coming on apace, putting on growing that is almost visible! I looked at my comfrey last week and it was the size of a football, but today it’s doubled in size and has flowers coming fast.

At last my Catalpa tree has small leaves unfurling, this has been long awaited! I don’t have any photos of it in leaf as I bought it in autumn when they had already dropped. My Sorbus Hupenhensis Pink Pagoda, or mountain ash, has also just come into leaf.

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The pear blossom has once again been fantastic this year, although I fear how many have actually set, since all the past week has been windy, so unfortunately we have seen most of it blown across the lawn.

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My apple tree, an Egremont Russet is also looking a lot healthier this year and has put on good blossom. I have high hope for a few apples this year, last year we had nothing at all!

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The same for the pear, we only spotted two pears on the whole tree, which is pretty big and established. The previous year when we viewed the house with the estate agent, the tree was dripping with pears, and I got very excited at the prospect of owning it. Now for any of you out there who know a thing or two about fruit trees, should I remove any set apples on my apple tree?

In the vegetable garden, progress has been slow, but seedlings are about to emerge. My carrots and parsnips germinated quickly, in fact this is the quickest I have ever know parsnips seeds to come up, perhaps they know they are late for the party!

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Parsnip gladiator, Giant red carrot and marigold

The broad beans (White Windsor) have really established and are shooting up with flower buds, along with some Reine de Glace lettuce.

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In the onion bed, the sets have gone in , and my home grown red shallots were planted last week too, they are tiny, but last year I planted my own grown onions a bit too late and they never got going before the rain set in.

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I’ve sown many other things too such as beetroot, spinach, radish, rocket, chard and planted out my summer calabrese and winter kale. So not doing too bad all in all.

There are many other jobs to do, today I have been moving some fruit bushes to make a designated children’s play area. The fruit bushes really aren’t going to like this at all, but to be honest where they are now, they are being constantly trampled by the kids and the lawnmower so there is nothing to lose! I have made a designated fruit bed instead of another raised vegetable bed. I will have to slightly reduced the number of fruit bushes I have for a short while until I can clear the side beds of dumped turf, to free up space.

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The new fruit area will extend from here up to the apple tree by the shed, I will mulch and possibly cover with black plastic to suppress weeds. Next year I plan to build a netted cage around to protect them from birds.

022A new home for the climbing hydrangea and rose

So for now that’s where I’m up to. My next hard job is to move more turf and level an area for the new garden studio. I have already moved my rambling rose and climbing hydrangea to the opposite fence to allow for the new building too. Not long now, only 3 weeks!

Rent a Cherry Tree

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For five years now we have been making an annual pilgrimage to Northiam on the Kent/East Sussex border to visit our rented cherry tree. If you are not familiar with this scheme you can find out more on the farm’s website. Basically you pay a sum each year to hire a tree, and then you can harvest as many cherries from that tree each year. In addition to this they hold a lovely blossom picnic event each spring so you can enjoy a cherry orchard in full bloom, and a hog roast with local apple juices and cider. There is a lot more on offer now, such as a small farmer’s market and a small quiz to keep the children entertained. It really is a superb day out, just to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

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A Little Chaos

I’m reading a lovely book at the moment called ‘A Gentle Plea for Chaos’ (reflections from an English garden) by Mirabel Osler. It’s one of those books you’d have in the bathroom for occasional perusal if you know what I mean. Mirabel tranformed her own garden with the help of  her husband under the guiding principle that neatness is the enemy of creativity.

‘A mania for neatness, a lust for conformity – and away go atmosphere and sensuality’. The book is an appeal for a return to a little ‘amiable disorder’, to the sense of enchantment and  vitality that comes with a more random and intuitive approach to gardening, to an awareness of the dynamics of a garden where plants are allowed to scatter as they please’

I have to say I have been guilty in the past for over zealous weeding, allowing bare patches of earth which look pretty ugly to be honest. As a response to this, this year I have sprinkled various annual seeds around the bare patches, and I’m standing back to let the lot grow, weeds and all. Of course if I see docks or dandelions that’s a different matter!! I’ve also let the edges of the lawn grow long to allow for bulbs to take there time to flower and die down. This add to  that lovely fuzzy May effect, where the hard edges of stems and branches are softened by fresh green leaves.

This week the garden has truly filled out and put on almost visible growth, every day is a feast for the eyes. I think May must be my favourite month.

What to report?

Suddenly everything is bursting forth! The garden is looking glorious and I can’t keep up!

Every day I go into the garden, I am in rapture, and panic as at this time it’s so hard to know what to do next, everything needs doing now… I’m frantically potting up, watering new seedlings, planting out, planning the vegetable plot and so on.

So far I’m really pleased with the gravel garden, no grass is growing through and many of the new plants are putting on growth, and my replanting in the borders has so far worked well in colour and form

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The Ballerina tulips contrast splendidly against the euphorbia, forget me nots and wallflowers.

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Euphorbia polychroma, coming into it’s own

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The blood red leaves of the acer contrast nicely against the forget me not’s vivid blue.

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One of Sarah Raven’s tulips from the Venetian Collection
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I have finally replanted my strawberries from the flood blighted border to a raised bed at the back of the garden.

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The veggie patch at last is catching up with spring, with broad beans, peas, carrots, beetroot, parsnips and marigolds all in and ready to  grow.

So if I’m quiet on here, you know I’m quietly panicking in the garden instead!