July Going Over

So it’s the last day of July, I feel I need to bookmark the month which was summer for us, before we roll into August. The garden has filled out, billowed out, pushed out it’s boundaries and now it feels like it’s slowly sighing as it’s peak has passed.

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Creating the coastal garden has given the garden as a whole an established feel, it’s structure has worked really well next to my new studio, breaking up the space. The palette has worked really well, being mostly cool with mauves, blues, and rust tinged foliage with the odd accent colour, hot orange, yellow, purple and a hint of white here and there from Queen Anne’s Lace. The faded Euphorbias have acted like a point of continuity, as their colours mellow, they contain all the tints from other parts of the borders.

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The spines/buds of the Crocosmia Lucifer work well against the steely blue foliage of Rosa Glauca

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A welcome visitor, this beautiful poppy ‘popped up’ in my asparagus patch

 

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The verbena acts as a screen at the end of the coastal garden as is great at attracting butterflies and bees

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Lillies brought from my mums garden, with some antirrhinum  grown from seed I collected last autumn. They grew so well I had all around the front of my borders!

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The sea holly was a little disappointing in size and height (not sure how big it is supposed to grow, but mine is only about a foot high) but nevertheless is full of flowers.

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The children got their own play area, with playhouse, sand pit and raised bed to grow just what they like.

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Right next to the strawberry patch too, which was largely enjoyed by the slugs.

There is so much to talk about, it’s hard to pack it all in, watch our for the veg patch installment…

 

 

 

 

Veggie patch in June

To be honest the veg patch has been pretty neglected from about the middle of May this year, just because I’ve been so busy. Fortunately I had got most of what I needed to plant in the ground by that point, but I have fallen behind with successional planting of all the essentials like lettuce, beetroot, peas etc. So no doubt I’ll have a glut of most things then a drought! I don’t mind as I’ve had so much else going on in the garden this year, having any veg at all is a bonus.

I’m probably doing myself down a little here, as looking at my photos, the beds are full with plants, and I’ve already eaten my first broad beans, carrots, lettuce and radishes.

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You can only really see the potatoes here (Saxon earlies) and broad beans (white windsor). Also in this bed are french beans (donated by mum as mine were eaten by slugs), beetroot choggia, latvian soup pea and dwarf berlotti beans.

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This was supposed to be my roots bed, but it’s been hijacked by all sorts of things, like sweetcorn, courgette, sweet peas, french beans …you get the idea. Also under the cloche are my quinoa plants, a complete experiment which will be interesting to see how they progress and whether at some point I’ll be munching on a home grown quinoa salad.

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Gladiator parsnips looking healthy

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Garlic harvested today (because some were going a bit mouldy, so had to lift it) They were planted last September, I have to say I’m a bit disappointed at their growth, but it’s probably down to the cold weather.

When I had a moment I will download the photos from my phone to update further.

 

 

 

 

A perfect June?

Once again as I walked around the garden tonight in cold blustery winds and drizzle whipping against my face, I wondered whether we will ever get a ‘normal’ summer again. The problem being nobody knows what to expect anymore, so for the seasoned gardener, this throws up all sorts of quandries. What should we plant to cope with such conditions? Despite this gloomy outlook, I’m impressed at the inbuilt resilience of most plants, determined to fulfill their destiny, their life cycle, despite inclement weather. Strawberries are still ripening, tomatoes flowering and the vegetables are looking particularly lush.

This is still my favourite time of year, summed up perfectly by the words of Gertrude Jekyll:

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.

Around the garden plants are filling out nicely. I’m really pleased at the way the coastal gravel garden has matured so quickly. My only minor quibble being that I have overdone the blue a bit and could do with some balance from some yellows/oranges. Yet there aren’t many yellow flowers available in the garden centre at this time of year, the only plants I could find were poppies and marigolds.
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My mystery weeds turned out to be capanulas, which was a pretty good result as I had nurtured these plants through the winter not knowing what they were!

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Aqualegias and rosa glauca

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The ox-eyed daisies I grew from seed the year before last are huge!

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Ayrshire Splendens, a new climbing rose I bought earlier in the year, has beautiful crimson tinged buds that open to a pale pink, gradually fading to white. I can’t wait for it to get climbing up the plum tree. A few more highlights…

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One of my grasses flowering vigorously

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My primula bulleyana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Studio, it’s up!

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A couple of weeks ago, the team from The Timber Workshop Company arrived to erect my long awaited studio. I missed the large part of it’s build, but I managed to catch a couple of photos of work-in-progress

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The underfloor, deck and below the roof going on.

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The finished article (a bit wonky!) Then the following weekend, my mum and I painted the exterior and window frames to give it some protection. I was deliberating for a while over the colour, but in the end opted for a dark slate grey because I thought it would be a good contrast against the gravel garden and offset the bright colours of flowers in the foreground.

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I was initially concerned at how much of the lawn it has taken up, but now I don’t think that way at all. I love the way it breaks up the garden and lead the eye around the corner. It also offers us some privacy behind the studio to play with the children. The deck at the front is a nice place to sit in the late evening sun, I can imagine having a break for inspiration out there in the future.

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Catalpa leaves against the woodwork

Now all is to be done is to finish the interior, then I can finally get to work on all the projects I’ve had on hold for many years.

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Wonderful things have happened in my absence

I’ve become painfully aware of my growing silence! Since Chelsea I’ve been meaning to update many times but so much has been happening I’ve fallen behind. The Chelsea post will come, but that’s a whole subject in itself, but to be honest we didn’t have a good time as we picked the only day it poured with rain and the temperature fell to about 10C, so to say the least it wasn’t a great day out. Shame, but not the end of the world.

So what’s been going on? well, back at the end of May we updated our garden furniture, which made a significant difference to our deck area. We gave the deck a good clean up and with the new arrivals the beach garden really took on a new feel. You may remember at the end of May I wrote a piece about my gardening inspiration, well I’m thrilled to say this post won me a fab Fire Pit, courtesy of Green Lane Allotments and Select Furniture. This will set the new furniture off wonderfully, I can’t wait to fire it up on a warm evening (hoping!) or really I should say a cold one, so we can warm up!

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Now we can really enjoy being in the garden instead of precariously perching on a rather uncomfortable set of metal chairs, which have served us well for at least 6 years.

We can also now all eat in the garden, so far we’ve enjoyed the first BBQ and breakfast out here.

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Shortly after the beginning of June, we received news our garden studio was ready to be installed. I shall write about this in my next post, but to say the least it was VERY exciting! To add to the frenzy we ordered the children a raised play house, like this one…

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This will go up right at the end of the garden, behind the veg patch, we’ll landscape a small area, so the children can have their own sand pit and raised bed, to dig to their hearts content…

So there is a lot happening right now, that’s not even to mention the two kittens that have just joined our lives!

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.

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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!

 

 

 

A burgeoning rose walk

Behind my new hedge there is a small corridor on the right that will lead to my new garden studio. I thought it would be lovely to have some of my favourite plants here, like roses and peonies, scented clematis. Once the studio is in place I’m thinking of planting annuals around the porch, cosmos, bronze fennel, cornflower, all very blousey and romantic. I also have night scented stock and evening primrose which are both plants I love but haven’t grown for a long time.

I started a bed today as I had some spare plants from reorganising the space which became the gravel garden. As you can see this is a particularly clayey part of the garden (that’s a technical term). I had to incorporate lots of compost, grit and manure to break it up and improve drainage.

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I had picked up a rose ‘cardinal de richelieu’ in a plant sale for a great price, and a pink rose, which name I have forgotten (!) My peony Sarah Bernhardt has gone in here, with some mixed alliums (very late I know, but I thought I would throw them in anyway) and some alchemilla mollis I had to rehouse, which I though would look good around the base of the roses. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this looks in a couple of months.

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