I have really enjoyed reading so many beautiful posts on tulips – particularly as my own display this year hasn’t been brilliant. I planted 100 in the front garden and very few have actually flowered – totally my own fault as they were planted in February. The tulips in the photograph are the free Darwin Hybrids that I (again very last minute) shoved into a few pots. They have been sensational – strong statement colours that lasted for about two weeks. These shall now be planted deeply into the side border – hopefully to return for many years to come!
The remaining flower photographs are all from the pond garden. The Primula denticulata have been amazing planted en mass with some orange tulips and daffodils. The daffodils have carried through the brilliant yellow of the marsh marigolds. Floating over the bed are the stunning pink flowers of the ornamental cherry. I know that purple, orange, yellow and pink should perhaps not work… but it has been amazing! As the primula flowers fade I have 80 P. vialii ready to fill the gap.
In the potager I have planted out the sweet peas, peas, mangetout, radish, beetroot, sugar snaps, greens and some edible flowers. The greenhouse is full to bursting with seedlings. I’m starting to plan the removal of turf in the bee garden / orchard and the expansion of the back garden border. Plus there’s all the weeding, additional planting and moving – so much to do, so little time!
I love Spring. The flowers, the bird call, the vibrant lime green leaves that are just starting to show. The pond is coming alive and oh so suddenly there is a garden again!
Most of my seed sowing has happened over the last few weeks. Except for the tomatoes (which I’m really questioning this year – the time -v- output – can I justify it?), everything else has had the first crop sown. Lovely to see the greenhouse full of seed trays and new shoots. A little frightening as well given the snow we had up here last night and during the day. Last year I started everything off too late and felt the consequences during my summer harvest – hopefully I haven’t jumped too soon this year! Impossible weather.
The rhubarb has been as wonderful as ever, although it has already started to flower. Does this mean it needs to be split? Stewed with ginger and orange juice – superb! I still have kale, purple sprouting broccoli and leeks coming from last year – have well and truly filled the hungry gap for 2017.
The front spring border has been beautiful – the weeks I spent clearing rhododendron, rotivating, weeding and planting bulbs was certainly worthwhile. Now it needs to be refined. I’ve had lots of fritillary spring up – however, I understand why they are naturalised rather than planted into the border – the flowers are beautiful but they look a little lost without some grass. My strength is certainly not grasses – but I expect there is something that I could plant both to support them and to show off the blooms to their full potential – perhaps that’s a job for tomorrow’s snowy day.
Having turned my back on the garden for the past month, it’s lovely to connect again and to feel the love for my little space. The garden is full of birds, the bulbs are on the move and, surprisingly, I’m still enjoying quite a few vegetables from the plot. Three varieties of kale – used as a key ingredient in a warming winter soup!
Downing tools has given me the chance to sew a special birthday quilt for a surf-loving brother. It has also given me time to reflect on the year that has been, and of course, to consider what I’d like to achieve for the year ahead. Opening for the NGS last year was physically really tiring – so I’m very happy this year to garden for myself – to make improvements and finish a few projects, but most of all to enjoy the garden, to sit and read, to pick more flowers and take more photographs.
There are some aspects that I don’t think worked for me last year. The cutting garden has gone, primarily because it was at its peak in July / August when I head away for the summer – all that work and no-one to harvest and enjoy it seemed a bit sad. Edible flowers will remain, and I will certainly do the sweet peas and cornflowers – but I’ll go back to picking (sparingly) from the borders!
My other real ‘failure’ was my Sissinghurst-esque tie down of the roses. I believe the mistake I made was pulling them too strongly – so many of the branches that were tied didn’t flower at all, and some died. Big error. I will attempt it again, but will be kinder on the poor rose! I loved a post by The Dahlia Papers on Sissinghurst – and can picture the rose lace adorning my stone walls… I have a trip planned to Sissinghurst in June so can check if mine looks like theirs… I can but try.
As the weather starts to cool down I am thoroughly enjoying some late season colour in the garden. I love all shades of pink and, perhaps unsurprisingly, that’s what I have! Dahlias, roses, astilbe, persicaria, sedum…. there is a little orange and yellow out there, but pink is queen.
There’s not, however, the range of blooms or berries that I hope for in my late summer garden. I’ve had the same thoughts for the last couple of years – the problem is that I’ve run out of energy by now and while I wish for it to look slightly different, it’s always gone onto the ‘must get round to that that’ list. And that list is already quite long. I guess every gardener’s must do list is quite long…..
So while the ‘back garden colour’ project is shelved for a few more weeks, the front garden has started to take shape. Two weeks of hand-weeding has seen the 100m² space almost cleared. I’ve stacked the bags of spring bulbs where I can see them which is a great motivator as I’ve felt extremely guilty if I even think of not getting them planted in time. Must not make any more bulb purchases next year while on holidays!
Happily the productive garden is amazing. Beetroot, raspberries, beans, cucumbers, courgettes, herbs, garlic, spring onions, rhubarb, blackberries. And I could go on – yes, there’s not masses of anything (there is no bottling or freezing happening so far) but there is plenty for us for every day – now and in the months to come. A good result I feel for this cold, cold part of the world!
It has taken me a good number of days to settle back to life in Buxton. After the glorious clear skies of Cornwall, the low-hanging fog that lingers over the Pennines makes the whole place seem a little cold and uninspiring. I needed some sunny skies to get outside and rekindle my love for my garden!
While I have faltered, the garden has flourished.
There are plenty of flowers to ponder and to pick. The sweetpeas and cornflowers have had a fabulous year – though both are now nearing ‘the end’. I’ll pick a couple more bouquets and both will sadly be done. The dahlias have been fed well and continue to send up buds, here’s hoping they flourish for a couple more months until the first frosts (please). Best of all, my hollyhocks have flowered. I’m a huge fan of deep red / black flowers – and they have not disappointed.
Wonderfully, there is produce left for me. I have a few standouts – yellow beetroot are superb – sweeter than the red and much more productive. Roasted with some fresh thyme they are sensational. Runner beans are a gift that keep on giving. The pink fir apple potatoes have also done really well, despite some slug damage due to their time in the ground (totally my fault for leaving them for so long…). Still, there are plenty of edible potatoes, simply steamed with butter and mint. Yum.
We have had some unusual wildlife visitors. The six Great Wood Wasps (Urocerus gigas) heard buzzing in the lounge one evening as we watched Bake Off were interesting! While it looks terrifying and similar to a giant hornet, it is thankfully quite harmless.
Best of all the little girl had a fantastic first day at secondary school. So much greatness. I am happy.
I was fortunate during my holiday to enjoy a glorious walk from St Ives to Zennor – 7 or so miles along the South West coastal path. The walk was a little tougher than I expected – my mistake was not packing morning tea for a little stop on the way (scones and a flask of coffee would have been lovely). At times the path was perilously close to the cliff edge but this afforded amazing views down the cliffs and to the ocean.
The path meandered through a number of stunning heather fields perched above the sea. The sheer brilliance of these fields on a sunny day is tough to replicate in print. Most important, the pink fields are imprinted on my memory. I expected the fields to be buzzing with bees and butterflies, but sadly there were very few – I know bees don’t like windy conditions so perhaps there aren’t many hives positioned this close to the coast?
As my holiday wound to a close I was really ready for my return to both home and garden. Having fully recharged my batteries I am itching to get my hands onto flowers, vegetables, herbs and perhaps some fruit. I have really missed being around to enjoy the peak of the summer harvest. I’ve had a lovely friend picking sweet peas – 180 stems at last count (am very impressed with her level of record-keeping) – but the rest is ‘waiting’ for me – cucumbers, courgettes, kale, potatoes, beans, garlic, shallots, peas, chillis, tomatoes….. This is my hope. How much has survived is the question….
Our first year of participation in the NGS is over. Pour me a glass of wine! We welcomed 254 guests. We served 21 cakes and many, many cups of tea. We raised £986. Not bad for our first year given the dreadful weather on our last open event.
Would I do it all again? Yes, now that much of the structural work has been completed. Perhaps not every year – if we open every 2nd year then I get a chance to visit some lovely gardens myself in the June/July period. I had a lot of people saying they would like to come back in a couple of years to see our progress (orchard, walled garden, spring border…). Perhaps some rejuvenation time over the summer will help me to make up my mind!
While the torrential rain of the last couple of weeks flattened a few plants in the border, this week of summer sunshine has progressed other plants beautifully. The water lilies are stunning. Alba – seen above – planted just this year has two flowers and many, many buds. The most beautiful waterlily – white with a very subtle touch of pink on the outer petals as it opens. Stunning.
Also in the pond we have seen the annual emergence of the Emperor Dragonfly. I was able to capture the adult breaking through the larval skin where it then ‘hangs’ to allow the legs to harden. Despite some high winds it was very safely secured. The emerged dragonfly then clings to the vegetation for approximately 24 hours, allowing its wings to dry. Watching the full emergence took about 3 hours – my little one and I sat in the sun as it unfolded in front of us – incredible.
In the potager the flowers are finally here. The cow parsley has been beautiful in bouquets. The cornflowers are still going strong. And the dahlias have started to arrive. Early I believe. I have also had a good crop of Autumn-fruiting raspberries? Why so early when everything else is so late? Now, with fairly mixed feelings, I leave the garden for 4 weeks to head for the beach, ready to enjoy some R&R but also sad that I don’t see my flowers every day.