Monday 29 April 2013

My Little Pond

The Marsh Marigold - Caltha Palustris is flowering it's socks off at the moment. It's such a bright, cheerful plant, and so easy to grow. I've had it in the pond for four years now and it's really grown. My Wildlife Pond post is one of the first posts I did on the blog back in April 2009, and it shows how tiny the plant was when I bought it. It also shows how tiny my pond is, 84cm X 64cm. Two of the plants I originally planted are still living, the Marsh Marigold and the Mini Bulrush - Typha Minima. This produced seed heads for the first time last year, but they were worth waiting for. You can see them on my On A Positive Note post. I've also got an Iris in the pond, but that's never flowered yet, though I still live in hope. It's amazing how a small amount of water can bring wildlife in to the garden. I get frogs, though no frogspawn yet I'm sad to say, and all manner of insects. I also keep bits of log around the pond for the beetles and other creepy crawlies to enjoy. As you can see, the pond needs a bit of a tidy up really, but that's Hubby's job.

The potatoes which I planted up in to containers really early have, at last, poked their noses above the soil. They were planted during the really cold spell and kept swathed in fleece in the greenhouse. I'd hoped that getting them in early would give me an early harvest, but as they didn't seem to want to grow, I thought they'd rotted. They obviously just wanted to stay in the warmth, and who can blame them? I was a little premature in getting them in some soil.

The grass has had it's first mow of the year, and is already growing at a rate of knots again. I have to call it grass, not lawn. It's a bit of a state really as part of it is shaded by the trampoline, and this bit is covered in dandelions, which is ok really as it's something to feed the rabbits. Other parts are full of other weeds, and the whole thing holds water really badly so it turns in to a mud bath in winter. We move the rabbit hutches down on to the patio in winter so we can avoid treading on the grass too much, though the hutches have been moved back on to the grass now, a sure sign that the weather is improving.

Friday 26 April 2013

Blog Of The Month - April

As my regular readers already know, this year, I've decided to dedicate one post each month to a Blog Of The Month post where I feature a blog I'm enjoying reading. Some blogs will be new to me, others may be blogs I've been reading for a while. I hope that by doing this, I can introduce some of my readers to other, interesting blogs, though I know that some of you will already read the blogs I feature.

I've chosen A Rich Tapestry as the blog of the month for April. Linda and her husband live in Yorkshire, the county they moved to when they retired, where they have a garden and an allotment. Linda's husband is the veggie grower whereas Linda chooses and looks after the flowering plants. As well as their English garden, they also have a garden in Italy, as part of their time is spent there.

Linda has a keen interest in photography and enjoys taking photos of the many places she visits. Just recently, she went back to her home county of Berkshire and introduced us to Caversham Court, a public garden on the north bank of the River Thames. As well as trips to gardens, Linda enjoys spending time walking in the countryside where she always finds lots of interesting things to show us.

Since retiring, Linda has been working on her family tree, and has a line going back to the 1600's. She has some wonderful treasures which have been passed down through the family to her.

So you see, this blog really does have something for everyone. I intend to read through from the very beginning when I find a bit more time. Do pop over and visit Linda for yourself, I'm sure you'll enjoy the posts, and don't forget to tell her that I sent you.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Rhubarb Rhubarb

At the back end of last year, I bought a rhubarb crown - Stockbridge Arrow. Our local nursery was closing down so I got it for half price. I decided that I'd keep it in it's pot and overwinter it in the greenhouse before planting it out at the allotment. I don't have any rhubarb at the allotment, but I'd had a crown in a container which did nothing at all last year so I thought it was dead. During one of my garden clean ups in autumn, I tipped it out of it's container in to an old compost bag which had been filled with spent compost ready to take to the compost bin at the allotment. It was put out of sight in the garden and forgotten about. When tidying the garden last week, I noticed some leaves popping out of the top of the compost bag and on investigating, I discovered that the rhubarb was trying to grow. I'm all for giving second chances, so the crown has been potted up until I can get it in to the ground. You can see how spindly it is compared to the crown I bought last autumn, but it might get stronger with a mulch of organic matter and a bit of tlc, time will tell. I'm hoping to get both crowns, along with my gooseberry bush and blackcurrant bush put in to the prepared bed at the allotment some time this week.

I'm hoping to get some new strawberry plants in the next week or two as many of my existing plants didn't make it through winter. Actually, they were quite weak specimens when I planted them out and never really got established. Strawberries are one of my favourite things to grow at the allotment, so I don't want to be without. I shall get a couple of varieties which ripen at different times to extend the cropping season.

Most of the seeds I sowed have germinated now, I really need to get some more things on the go. I love this time of year when everything's so busy and the garden is springing back to life. The daffodils are all blooming now, they're putting on quite a show, and some of the tulips are waiting to open. Perennials can be seen pushing their way through the soil in the border, in fact, some are quite a mass of foliage. Buds are appearing on the trees, though the lilac is late this year, it's usually covered in flowers at this time of year. I'm hoping that I have a good cherry harvest this year, though there's no blossom on the tree yet. I think everything is a few weeks behind at the moment, but hopefully, they'll all catch up.

Friday 19 April 2013

Arabis For April

This year, I'm taking the late Geoff Hamilton's advice and visiting a nursery each month with a view to buying a plant which is in flower for my garden. Doing this should ensure that I have something blooming in my garden every month of the year.

I visited a garden centre last Saturday and was impressed by all the Arabis which was blooming. This is a plant I've never grown before, and I'm wondering now why I've previously overlooked it. There was a lovely white variety, but the one a chose won because of it's name, Spring Charm. I just love it, because it is charming. It's scented too, another thing in it's favour.

This is one for the front of the border where it will, hopefully, trail over the edge of the wall. There's lots of buds on the plant, so plenty of flowers yet to come, it should go on blooming for a while yet.

Monday 15 April 2013

A Desirable Residence

I love to provide lots of habitats for wildlife in my garden, so I couldn't resist this Insect House which I saw in Morrisons. It was only £3, much cheaper than something similar would be in a garden centre. I'd seen a blog post about this very thing a little while ago, but I can't remember now which blog it was on. Morrisons is great for picking up bargains for the garden, I also came home with some pansies which I'll plant up in my hanging baskets. They were £2 for a pack of six quite large, healthy plants, but they were on a buy one get one free offer, so I ended up with twelve plants for £2. They sell a good range of plants and even have very reasonable fruit bushes too. It was a weekend of bargains as I also bought some Puschkinia Libanotica which were reduced by 75% from the garden centre, and also some bright red Geranium plug plants which were half price. I shall grow these on and they'll look lovely in my tall blue pots at each side of the door.

It's been a mainly dry weekend, so we've managed to get more digging done at the allotment, and also some seed sowing done at home. I forgot to mention that the broad beans were planted out a couple of weeks ago. I'd kept them in pots much longer than I would have liked due to the prolonged cold spell, and they were really beginning to suffer. I don't know if they'll give a worthwhile harvest now but I'm not losing anything by trying. They've rallied round a bit since being planted out, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The tomatoes were potted on yesterday, I chose the best of the seedlings and I've ended up with thirteen plants. Now that a little bit of warmer weather has arrived, I thought it was time to get some more seeds going. I sowed three varieties of cucumber, Fanfare, Mini Munch and Crystal Lemon, and a whole host of brassicas, kale - Dwarf Green Curled, cabbage - Advantage, broccoli - Autumn Spear, broccoli (purple sprouting) - Claret, Swiss chard - Bright Lights, kale - Cavolo de Nero and kohl rabi - Purple Delicacy. I even managed to get some flowers sown, they're usually put to the back of the pile in favour of edibles, but not this year. I sowed heliotrope - Dwarf Marine, dahlia - Mignon Mixed, cosmos - Purity, stock - Ten Week Mixed and the pot marigold seeds kindly sent to me by Flighty from Flighty's Plot - Flighty's Favourites. The potatoes I planted in containers a few weeks ago aren't showing any signs of growth and I'm wondering if they've rotted away in the cold, even though they were swathed in fleece. I only planted a couple of tubers so I won't have lost much if that's what's happened but I planted up some more containers yesterday which should get going soon now that the weather's warmed up a little. It's great to finally get going with everything at last.

Friday 12 April 2013

Lemony May Chang

It was Tanya's second blogoversary over at her Lovely Greens blog, and as a thank you to her readers, she had a giveaway along with allowing her top four visitors to choose either a jar of lip balm or a bar of soap from her Lovely Greens shop.

Tanya makes and sells bath and beauty products with natural wholesome ingredients which are grown and sourced locally where possible. I was lucky enough to try one of the lip balms last year, and I have to say that it's really lovely, non greasy and soothing. I'm still using it, so it lasts ages too. I was lucky enough to be one of the four top visitors again this year, and this time I thought I would try one of the soaps which Tanya sells, I was spoilt for choice as there's so many lovely fragrances. I decided to go with the Lemony May Chang soap as I love all things lemony and can't get enough of the scent. I wasn't disappointed, it smells delicious.

I haven't tried the soap yet, I can't bring myself to slip the band off and actually use it, I'm enjoying just seeing it in the bathroom and taking in it's scent, it looks so luxurious, but I shall treat myself at the weekend when I have a relaxing bubble bath.

Tanya avoids ingredients which are known to be tested on animals and all her products are vegetarian or vegan.

Why not pop over to the Lovely Greens shop and have a look at the lovely products for sale. There's also bath melts and fizzies and lots of lovely gift sets which anyone would be thrilled to receive. If you find something which takes your fancy, and I'm sure you will, you can get 10% off the value of your order by quoting the voucher code BLOGOVERSARY. The code is valid until the end of April 2013.

Thank you, Tanya, I'm already loving the soap without even using it, so I can't wait to give it a try.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Giveaway Winner

Many thanks to everyone who left their congratulations on my Four Year Anniversary post, and also to everyone who entered my giveaway for the set of Val Bourne's Ten Minute Gardener's Growing Diaries. I picked a name out at random and the winner of the giveaway is Flowerlady. Congratulations. Would you please email me your address and I'll get the prize in the post as soon as possible.

Thank you to everyone who took part, and thanks, once again, for continuing to read my blog, for all the comments you leave and for your continued support, it's all very much appreciated.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Following On

Following on from the crocus, which are still blooming beautifully, are these Iris Reticulata. I'm not sure of the variety, but I think it's Gordon. These are supposed to be an early flowering bulb, so it shows just how far behind we are as they've only just started flowering now. These are another pretty flower, one which I haven't grown before, though I do love Irises so I'm sure they'll be another regular now.

The tomato seeds which I sowed last Monday have already started to germinate, they're so much quicker when they're put in a heated propagator. The only variety I'm waiting on are Tangella, but there's plenty of time yet. At the beginning of March, I sowed some peas - Early Onward, leek - Autumn Giant 2 Argenta and sweet pea - New Horizons Mix. They were left in the cold greenhouse and I didn't hold out much hope for them with the cold temperatures we experienced throughout March, but they've all started to germinate. It just shows what happens when we're blessed with a little warmer weather.

Hubby spent an hour at the allotment yesterday doing a bit of digging, and he's hoping to get down there again later on today. It's made such a change this weekend having a bit of sunshine, let's hope that the weather is on the turn now and we're in for some warmer temperatures.

Don't forget that today is the last day to enter my Four Year Anniversary Giveaway if you haven't already done so. You've got until midnight to leave a comment on the appropriate post, and I shall be picking a winner at random during the coming week.

Wednesday 3 April 2013


I planted my spring bulbs in containers back on the 10th of November. They were a little late going in, so I was starting to worry that they weren't going to flower, especially when I saw lots of pictures on other people's blogs of their wonderful displays weeks ago. These are crocus - Cream Beauty, and what beauties they are. Such a wonderful buttery yellow colour. I first saw pictures of this variety on some blogs last year and fell in love with them, they're not the bright, in your face, yellow of many crocus varieties, they're much more subdued and I love them. They came in to flower on Easter Sunday, what a fabulous Easter gift.

I didn't get much gardening done over the Easter weekend as we were busy most of the time doing other things. Hubby managed to get down to the allotment and do a bit of digging, so another bed is now ready to plant up. The only thing I managed to do was to sow my tomato seeds. The varieties I've gone for this year are Ferline, Totem, Tangella, Gardener's Delight, Costoluto Fiorentino and San Marzano. I may start another couple of varieties too, as I'd like to have more bush type tomatoes this year which I can grow on the patio. Totem is dwarf bush type, so will be ideal to grow this way, but I'd like another variety or two. The seeds were sown in my heated propagator so shouldn't take too long to germinate, and by the time they're pricked out and have been growing for a little while on a sunny windowsill, I'm hoping that the weather will have warmed up. I also sowed a pot of spring onions - White Lisbon, and they're residing in the greenhouse.

We've had some sunny spells over the last few days, but it's still very cold. There's now news reports that we could have a heatwave in May, well, not before time is what I say.

Don't forget to enter my Four Year Anniversary Giveaway if you haven't already done so. You've got until Sunday to leave a comment on the appropriate post.

Monday 1 April 2013

Four Year Anniversary Giveaway

It's four years today since I wrote my first post on this blog, so it's a little over four years since I took on my allotment. I'm using a four year crop rotation system on the plot, so this will be the last year of that rotation and I'll be right back to the start again next year.

It's become a custom for me to host a giveaway on my blog anniversaries, and this time I'm offering a set of Val Bourne's Ten Minute Gardener's Growing Diaries. There's three different guides, vegetables, fruit and flowers. I have these books myself and I find them very useful. They're great for dipping in and out of, and they provide lots of helpful hints and tips.It's especially helpful that they're split in to months, so you know what you should be doing when.

If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning the set of three books, just leave a comment on this post by midnight on Sunday the 7th of April, and I shall pick a winner at random next week.

Unfortunately, there's only one prize, but I'd like to thank each and every one of my readers and followers for visiting my blog and leaving comments, I'm still always thrilled when a comment is left for me to read. I hope you enjoy what you read here and that you'll continue to visit my blog in the future.

It's been a much nicer Easter, weather wise, than I was expecting, though no gardening has been done yet. I've been a little busy with other things over the last few days, but I'm hoping to get some seeds sown later on today.
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