Wednesday, 27 May 2015

'Oh, I do like that' - being inspired.

These were the words of friends as they browsed through a number of garden books, looking at various pictures, generating points of interest and ideas for their garden. We had met for lunch, which had been in planning for a long time, to discuss what they might do with their outdoor space. On asking the question, what do you want from your garden, within 60 seconds they had a pool of ideas to work from - space for entertaining, children's play area, small veg patch area, and a quiet morning area. 


And, what was even better, was as we fleshed out the ideas, the space and locations of the various  areas complemented each other. From my point of view, I had to do very little, apart from enjoy the food and add in some of my thoughts. We'll come back to a finer layout in due course, for now, I've asked if they can do a bit of dreaming over the next month or so, develop a collage or picture board of photos or pics they find inspiring (in this day and age we talk of a Pinterest board!). It's always an exciting thing to do.

What did strike me most though, was the immediate focus on one style - the 'I like that' comment. It wasn't the contents of the picture, more the enthusiasm for it. 

Now I am an enthusiastic gardener, most of the time. However, there are times when I become frustrated by having too much space. Yes, you heard me, having moved from postage size garden to almost an acre, there is too much space for what time will allow. 
I did realised this towards the end of last year, and since then I've been far more focused in keeping the smaller back garden the way I want it and having my Fuchsia, Hemerocallis and pot plant collections. The wider side garden, or field, and front part have mostly just had the grass cut and additional maintenance around the beds that are there. 

It's working out well.

However, what has been missing for me, is that particular point of enthusiasm on what I like. 

What do I like? 

Well, on a recent break away to a friends cottage, I was surrounded and reminded of my being inspired by the cottage garden effect. Although it didn't quite knock me off my feet, it wasn't far off it either. On seeing a number of different cottage gardens, and related vegetable garden plots, the fire has once more been stoked.

One note before I finish, there are many gardens open at this time of year to the public, I would strongly encourage you to go and visit, and maybe get some inspiration for your garden.

Happy gardening 


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Don't you just hate when that happens ... slug attack

So, this year has been a bit of a non-starter where seed sowing is concerned, and it's not for the want of trying. 

Let me explain.

As early as mid-February I had seed sown in my indoor propagator. These went by the way-side after they germinated and the seed tray was accidentally pulled off its table. These were rescued as best as I could, some additional ones sown, and guess what, they ended up on the floor again. 

Well, not to be defeated that easily, I sowed some more in mid-April, and these have germinated and grown well. I've been particularly happy with my orange flowered Cosmos 'Phoenix', which were a slightly more expensive seed, but well worth it judging by pictures I've seen. 

So these seed, among other plants in the garden, have been regularly inspected at night by torchlight, I've used a beer trap or two and the occasional sprinkle of slug pellets. 


Won't be long before they're ready to plant into containers.

Hmmmm ... famous last words. The past two nights I've been busy and haven't been on 'slug watch', and guess what, they've scaled past my defences and had a good chomp on the Cosmos.

Needless to say, I was very disappointed.  I went out again this evening, torch in hand and caught one big dark coloured fellow red handed. He was dispatched to a distant hedgerow quicker that he could say 'Phoenix', and hopefully good riddance to him. As for the munched plants, we'll see do they have the energy (and I have the patience) for something to come of them, time will tell.

I did console myself with a trip to the garden centre to buy a couple of trays of bedding for my up coming container planting event. 

By the way, the plant at the top of the post is a self seeded Aquilegia that's in flower today in the garden. It's beautiful, isn't it, and a reminder to me, that sometimes we should trust nature to provide the colour for us.

Happy gardening.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Taming the front border

2014 colour
As you know from recent posts, I've been busy spending time on the back garden, concentrating on getting that area in order. I've taken a deliberate decision to put my resources into this area as I found by mid-summer last year i was stretch between all the different area of the garden, which left things not looking quite as good in any of the areas, and a certain frustration from me on my own expectations on the standard of the garden. So, this year, while the back garden looks well, the rest of the areas are needing some attention. To this end, a few days ago, I spent half a day on the front flower border, which has been (and looks like it !) neglected since an autumn clean up. This border is for summer flowering effect, and has looked very well since it was created 3-4 years ago. While it remains a flower border, I am gradually introducing shrubs, which will provide some colour and structure, with less of the maintenance required.  

The first steps in the taming this wild looking affair, was to get out the secateurs and get cracking on the white Anemone that still has last years flower stalks. Next, and the more obvious work required, was to tend to the myriad of native plants that colonised the bed. Particularly troublesome is the scutch grass, which has run among some of the perennials. 

All hands (or teeth) helping to weed
Of course we have plenty of dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, which has an honoury place as a valuable food plant in our garden, providing plenty of leaves to feed our tortoises. However, as I was in cleaning and tidying mode, I pulled up a lot of the these, knowing they will re-sprout from where the root snapped, providing another crop of fresh foliage for us to enjoy. 

After a couple of hours grafting I have to say, the bed really took shape and you could see vestiges of the bed returning it to its former glory.

Even with all the weeding done, there is plenty more to do. The back of the bed wasn't as thorough weeded as the front, so I'll have to make time for this again over coming weeks. Spreading some spent compost from some containers, gave a nice finishing effect. Now, there are a number if gaps in the bed. luckily, I have a number of plants, including lupins and delphiniums, in containers, that are ready to parachute in. These were plants I lifted last autumn from the bed and popped into containers to overwinter away from slugs and snails. I do have other plants such as Hemerocallis and of course my Dahlia's are growing nicely too, which I might, or might not include at a later date. 

In the meantime, I certainly hope your getting opportunities to get your hands into the soil and enjoy.

Happy gardening.