Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Making A Start

I keep reading about people getting on with tidying up their allotment or sowing seeds and it would seem that most people have done something towards the new gardening season. I've tried to hold off sowing seeds and it's still too cold for me to do much on the plot, but it's really difficult when all you want to do is get your fingers in the compost, so on Sunday, I made a start.

First of all, I popped my three dozen onion sets in to modules to give them a start. I'm growing Sturon, a popular variety which seems to do well.


I was going to leave it at that but I couldn't resist opening a packet of seeds and starting something off, so I decided on leeks. There's nothing much to see here yet but I'm hoping that by sowing early, it will encourage me to get them planted out this year instead of leaving them to languish in the plant pot like they did last year. Consequently, I haven't had any leeks to harvest and they're a wonderful vegetable in the winter months.


My potatoes had already been set out to chit. I pop them in seed trays and they sit in the conservatory, which isn't heated but is frost free, until it's time for them to be planted. These are the tubers I picked up from a garden centre on my way to Harlow Carr a couple of weeks ago, three each of Sherine, Vales Emerald and Bonnie.


These are just some of the Arran Pilot tubers which I bought from the allotment shop. I bought half a stone, so a little over 3kg, for £2.25, a very good price.


I thought that by making a start, it would quell my urge to really get going on the sowing front but I'm not sure it has, perhaps the seed packets will be out again very soon.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Colour In February

Back in 2013 I treated myself to a new plant each month. I followed one of Geoff Hamilton's tips, buying a plant in flower each month of the year so that I'd have something blooming in the garden the whole year round.

In February 2013, the plant I chose was a native primrose. I already had other primroses in the garden but they're such a beautiful plant, one of my favourites at this time of year, that I decided to add to what I'd already got.


Although it was in flower when I bought it in February 2013, it hasn't yet flowered this year and has just about missed February completely. It could also do with a bit of a tidy up, some of its leaves are looking very unattractive.

It has increased in size though, and as you can see, it's just starting to bud up. It should have a mass of flowers given time.


Perhaps primroses are better suited to being a flower for March, and with this in mind, I treated myself to a new plant for February, Erica x darleyensis Jack H. Brummage.


The information states that it's a compact plant with bright yellow foliage in summer turning to deeper gold in winter. It's suitable for most soil types and thrives in full sun or partial shade, so it should do well in my garden.

Its flowers are produced in late winter and early spring, so it sounds as though this is ideal as my February bloomer.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Photo Medley - February

Here's the latest batch of photos which haven't made it on to the blog before now for one reason or another. Actually, they're ones which have been left over from previous blog posts as I haven't really been out with my camera this month, it's been far too cold.

More photos from our trip to RSPB Fairburn Ings. Goldfinches and sparrows having a good feed.



A robin waiting for titbits.


One of the pheasants doing a good job of keeping the ground free of seeds.


This bird is on the gate post at the entrance to the walled garden at Thornes Park. Is it a heron?


Outside the walled garden are these beautiful dogwoods, they're at their best at this time of year.


A teasel and dogwood display at Harlow Carr.


A stream in the gardens.


My camera really hasn't been worked much again this month but I'm sure I'll have more photos to share in my photo medleys as the weather warms up and I'm out and about more.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Recent Purchases

We don't use many onions so I've decided to cut down on what I grow this year. I've always found red onions tricky to grow so I'm going to give them a miss, and we always end up with far more shallots than we actually use so I shall give them a miss too. I've decided to grow just three dozen Sturon onions. I picked up the sets from a local garden centre where they sell them loose, I like to buy them this way so that I can pick the number I want as there's always too many in the pre packed nets, however, they cost me £1.72 which I think is quite expensive considering I could have bought a net containing more onions cheaper. I shall remember in future.


We stopped to have a look in a garden centre we were passing on the way to Harlow Carr at the weekend. I'm glad we did as they were selling lots of different potatoes by the tuber. I know they sell them this way at potato days but I've never come across them being sold like this in a garden centre before. I've got my Arran Pilots on order and I'd like to get some Anya too, they didn't have any for sale in this particular garden centre, but I thought, seeing as they were selling them loose like this, I'd pick up a few extra tubers to try. I went for Sherine and Vales Emerald, both first earlies, and Bonnie, a second early. I bought three tubers of each so nine in total and they cost £1.32 which I think is very reasonable considering that some garden centres sell packs of five for £1.50.


I didn't grow any dahlias last year but I've fancied growing Bishop Of Llandaff for quite some time now so I treated myself to a tuber. I shall grow this in a container on the patio.


I need to get the onion sets in to modules so that they can get an early start before being planted out on the plot, and the potatoes will be set out to chit, but I'm still holding off sowing any seeds yet. My fingers are itching to get in the compost though.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Harlow Carr In February

The weather for our visit to Harlow Carr this month was different to the weather we encountered at Harlow Carr In January. Last month, there was snow on the ground but the sun put in an appearance. We visited again on Saturday and though it was warmer this time, it was a very dull day. We were lucky really as it had been raining on the way there but had stopped by the time we arrived.


I'd noticed the dogwoods on our last visit but didn't take any photos of them. I put that right this time. It's a stunning display and really catches your eye as soon as you enter the garden.




I associate the bright reds and yellows with dogwoods but they come in this stunning dark colour too.


Hellebores were flowering last month but they're probably at their best at the moment.


Lots of borders are bare right now but there's signs of life as everything is just starting to wake up.


Gunnera is planted at the side of the stream. Have you seen the film Gremlins where the new batch are cocoons waiting to hatch out? That's what the Gunnera plants remind me of in the state they're in now. They die back in winter but can grow to great heights in summer, I shall keep my eye on these plants over the coming months.


The rockery is nice and tidy, not much to see now but I bet it will be stunning in summer.


Irises are springing up all over the gardens, I think this one is Pauline.


Silver Birches are beautiful in winter when you get to see the full beauty of the bark.


I took this photo of an empty bed so that I could watch its transformation over the course of the year. Nothing at all to see at the moment but I'm sure it'll be a different story soon.


The Kitchen Garden looks very different to how it looked last month. Gone is the covering of snow, the raised beds and paths have been spruced up and are all ready to be planted up. A gardener was spreading a mulch on them while we were there.



Some of the beds are still in use and contain winter crops.



The rhubarb, just like my own on my allotment, has started to grow.


The rhubarb bed looked so pretty as growing amongst the plants and forcers are snowdrops and irises.


There's a good selection of snowdrops dotted around the gardens at Harlow Carr.



I should thank Mick for getting down on his knees to take these next photos for me. He very rarely has a camera in his hand but I think he managed some good shots.



There's a big difference in the garden between January and February. Everything was just starting to wake up last month whereas there's more colour this month as well as preparations being in full swing for the year ahead. I wonder what next month will bring.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Shed Decor

When I swapped allotment sites at the back end of 2013, I was given a choice of plots. One of the things which attracted me to the one I took was the fact that it had a shed on it. There wasn't one on the last plot I had and I knew how handy it would be to have one. I was right, it's been used plenty to shelter from rain and it's good to be able to leave things at the site rather than bringing everything home with me after each visit.

I was recently asked if I'd like to review a new book which is due to be released on the 19th of February and published by Jacqui Small, Shed Decor by Sally Coulthard. It comes with the subtitle How To Decorate & Furnish Your Favourite Garden Room. Whilst my shed on the plot is purely functional, I've enjoyed dreaming about having somewhere in the garden to spend time and relax whilst reading through this beautiful book.


Outdoor rooms have become very popular in recent years, somewhere to use as a studio, a craft room, an office or just to relax in. Shed Decor gives some great ideas on how your shed or outdoor room can be decorated.

The first part of the book is split in to Shed Decor Styles:- The Rustic Shed, The Vintage Shed, The Plain & Simple Shed, The Recycled Shed, The Retro Shed and The Country Shed.

The crochet granny stripe blanket attracts me to this vintage style.


There's a case study on each style which demonstrates how to get the look you're after.


I love the bold colour used for the Retro Shed.


Each decor style comes with a list of essentials, the little extras which will fit in with your chosen theme.


Gardener's Delight. This is the one which will fit right in on the allotment site.


The second part of the book covers Shed Decor Basics:- Approaches to Shed Space, Walls, Flooring, Heat & Power, Fabric, Furniture and Storage.

There's lots of practical advice here, what will work and what won't. Again, full of ideas.


As you can see, the book is beautifully illustrated too.


This book has certainly given me food for thought. We don't have a garage so the shed we have in our garden is used for storage but an outdoor room would be wonderful.

If you like the look of this book and would like a copy yourself, the publishers have the following offer:-

To order Shed Decor at the discounted price of £20 including p&p* (RRP: £25), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG285. 

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

Monday, 9 February 2015

Monty

I've mentioned our rabbits many times on this blog but I did an actual post all about them just over a year ago, Rabbit Ramblings. It tells of how these beautiful boys came to live with us. Sammy is Eleanor's rabbit and Monty, Daniel's.

We've all been very upset this weekend as Monty sadly died on Saturday. Even Archie has been very subdued, I think he's picked up on our sadness.


He was the most nosey, mischievous bunny and he will be greatly missed.


RIP beautiful boy.