Monday 27 April 2015

Photo Medley - April

Here's this month's batch of photos which haven't yet been seen on the blog. A real hotchpotch of things this month.

This is the rhubarb which I'd just planted at my old allotment plot when I found out I'd been given an allotment on a different site. I dug it up again and put it in a container until I could find a space for it on my new plot and it's still here in the container. I must get round to planting it out.

All my container grown fruit has been repotted in fresh compost this year. This photo of my smallest blueberry bush was taken in the first week of April, it's almost in flower now.

A few more photos from Yorkshire Lavender which we visited earlier in the month.

The marsh marigold is blooming away in my little pond, it's really happy there and takes over every year, I have to keep cutting it back.

I'm growing daffodil - Thalia this year. I'd seen them on various blogs and loved the look of them but I was really disappointed when they bloomed, they were a washed out lemon colour and I didn't like them at all. I'm pleased to say that they've improved with age and though they're now going over, they've been beautiful.

The potatoes I've planted in containers are starting to grow. Once they get going there's no stopping them.

In my Colour In January post, only one of my cyclamens were blooming. The other one has now come in to flower, albeit late. This is a pink variety.

I moved my Dicentra spectabilis last year and I'm pleased to see that it's survived the change of home. This photo was taken about ten days ago, it's grown loads since then. I'll always know this plant as Dicentra spectabilis even though it's had a name change to Lamprocapnos spectabilis, perhaps we should just stick to it's common name of Bleeding Heart.

You can see here just how the marsh marigold takes over my little pond at this time of year. I've got irises on the left hand side, they flowered for the first time last year so I'm hoping for a repeat performance this year.

The cherry tree is flowering away, I wonder if there'll be any fruit this year. I think any kind of blossom looks fabulous against a blue sky.

I'll finish with another photo of the daffodil - Thalia, she turned out to be a beauty.

I hope you enjoy these rather random posts I'm putting together at the end of each month.

Friday 24 April 2015

Colour In April

In 2013, I followed one of the late Geoff Hamilton's tips and visited a nursery or garden centre each month. As he advised, I purchased a plant in flower to ensure I had something blooming in the garden every month of the year.

The plant I chose in April 2013 was arabis Spring Charm. Unfortunately, like the pulmonaria I bought the month before, it's now nowhere to be seen. It's supposed to be easy to care for but it can't have liked my garden.

Although I don't like losing plants, it's given me an opportunity to make a new purchase. When I was looking round the plant shop at Harlow Carr, I couldn't help but be drawn to the mossy sagifrage Peter Pan so I popped it in my basket for added colour in April.

It forms a low cushion of bright green leaves and bears rose pink flowers in spring. It's good as a ground cover and has the added benefit of being perfect for pollinators, carrying the RHS bee symbol on the label. If you're not familiar with the RHS Perfect For Pollinators initiative, do take a look at the link.

I'm very pleased with this purchase, it's brightening up my border already.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Harlow Carr In April

I thought it would be a little warmer for our visit to Harlow Carr come April, but it was mighty cold on Sunday. I was in two minds as to whether I'd need my coat but I'm glad I took it, I'd have contracted hypothermia without it. I've come to the conclusion that the winds carry a severe chill factor in this area. There's a big difference in the gardens this month though, the trees are starting to green up and there's plenty of colour about.

It's lovely to see lots of blossom on the trees, a wonderful sight.

One of my favourite flowers at this time of year is the snake's head fritillary or Fritillaria meleagris. As well as plants in some of the borders at Harlow Carr, there's whole swathes of them growing amongst the grass, it makes a fabulous display.

There's also crown fritillaries or Fritillaria imperialis in the borders at the moment, I particularly like the yellow variety.

I was surprised to see the rhododendrons flowering so early. This is Rhododendron praevernum which I think may flower a little earlier than some of the other varieties, such beautiful flowers, almost translucent.

The skunk cabbage, or Lysichiton americanum, which I showed in my post last month has grown. It gets its name from the unpleasant odour it emits which attracts pollinators which are attracted to rotten meat, I'm sure this tells you how bad it smells, though I have to say that I didn't notice any scent. I think it's worse if the plant gets injured.

The rockeries are looking wonderful at the moment, lots of spring colour. I do like the little alpines which are planted here.

The daffodils are still flowering their socks off. I was particularly taken with narcissus Actaea.

I do like the stong colours of this one though, I didn't find out its name.

The marsh marigold at the side of the stream is flowering away. My own little pond is a mass of yellow flowers at the moment too.

On to the Kitchen Garden and things are coming to life here.

There's evidence that lots of direct sowing has been done and some seeds have even germinated. These are radish Zlata, a yellow variety with a white interior.

There's still some of last years crops left, the purple sprouting broccoli is still going strong. This variety is Mendocino.

Harlow Carr have a lot of raised beds are their disposal but I'm always pleased to see that space is used wisely. As well as growing carrots in the beds, seeds have also been sown in containers stood at the side of the beds.

Look at this for a space saving idea, I think it looks quite cute too. I should think that most people have somewhere they could put a little strawberry sack.

This information board shows Harlow Carr's crop rotation plans. It's important not to grow the same crop in a bed year after year because it encourages the build up of pests and disease. The easiest way to avoid this is to rotate where each crop is grown. I use a four year rotation plan on my allotment.

The rhubarb bed has certainly filled up since my last visit, it looks as though there's some stems just about ready to pull.

The forcers cover some of the rhubarb plants. Growing the plants in the dark encourages the tender young stems to grow upwards seeking out light. The stems are ready for picking earlier than those which haven't been forced. Some of the stems have grown so long that they've pushed the tops of the forcers right off the pots.

Yorkshire's Rhubarb Crumble and Custard Garden which won a Silver Medal and the People's Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010 is on display at Harlow Carr. It's a take on the classic dish of rhubarb crumble and custard inspired by Yorkshire's Rhubarb Triangle, a nine square mile triangle where rhubarb is grown. The handcrafted chair resembles a spoon.

I noticed a new installation at the side of the kitchen garden, this chicken coop. There weren't any residents but I'm sure it's only a matter of time, I'll keep you posted.

The bed I'm following has put on a lot of growth this month. The startings of many herbaceous perennials are now showing so I'm sure there'll be a big difference in the bed each month from now on.

There was an event on when we visted on Sunday, the Spring Gardening and Wildlife Weekend. There were butterfly walks, outdoor cooking demonstrations and a beekeepers display among other things, and though we missed the birds of prey flying show, we did get to see the birds. This is Olly, a three year old  European Eagle Owl.

This American Kestrel was tiny, about half the size of a European Kestrel.

One of the things I love about Harlow Carr at this time of year is the tulip displays. Though still a little early, some were already blooming but it looked like most are yet to come. This bed will be stunning once all the tulips are flowering.

I like how some displays are done on a big scale, these pots are huge.

Some lovely combinations.

This is the pot I showed in last month's post. The crocus are finished and the daffodils are now flowering with tulips just starting to come through.

Just beautiful.



As you can see, things are really coming on in the gardens now, there's a huge difference between March and April and I expect to see another big difference when we return in May. I keep saying it but let's hope we have some warmer weather for our visit next time.

Thursday 16 April 2015


At the back end of last year we visited Wyevale Garden Centre. We were just leaving when by the door I noticed some trays of plants with a sign at the side saying Free, Help Yourself. I didn't need to be told twice so I helped myself to three.

I didn't do anything with them when I got home other than pop them in the greenhouse and hope that they'd come through winter ok.

Fast forward to the end of last month and I thought I'd better do something with them. They'd survived winter but were looking rather straggly and past their best.

I took them out of the pots they were in, knocked a little of the compost away and repotted them in new pots with some fresh compost before giving them a good haircut.

I popped them back in the greenhouse and they look to be doing well, budding up and filling out. It's less than three weeks ago since I tidied them up but they've come on leaps and bounds since then. I took them out this morning to take this photo, just in the nick of time as I found a snail making its way up one of the pots.

Two of them are geranium - Black Velvet Scarlet and one is geranium - Black Velvet Salmon. Can you believe that they're priced at £4.99 each. I do love a bargain.
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