Gardening Talk

At It Again …

I have a problem … I admit it …

A Wiltshire Garden

Today, seeing as how I had yet another day off work (the nerve!), the hubbie and I decided to take a trip to the nearby town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. Its exactly as chocolate-box and middle-England as you’re imagining.

This cobbled lane with its old weaver's cottages is a medieval relic that abuts the old 'Chipping' or market place. This cobbled lane with its old weaver’s cottages is a medieval relic that abuts the old ‘Chipping’ or market place.

Cotswold stone, olde-worlde shoppes (even if every other two are antique/’design’ shops and every other three are tea shops of some description), awful parking options – that kind of thing. But we lunched and drank (mojito at lunchtime – don’t mind if I do!) – and then made out way home.

Tetbury

The point? That on the way home we did our weekly grocery shopping (very exciting – stay with me) and then popped in to a garden centre to buy some compost (one of horse manure, one of multi-purpose peat-free). And…

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Blogging 201: Day Eight – Social Schedule

I have to say, after yesterday, I ummed and ahhed about even writing up today’s assignment:

Create a 30-day plan for how you’ll grow your presence (and your blog) on the social network you selected yesterday. If applicable, create a profile on the network just for your blog.

The main reason for this is that my main blog (i.e. this one that hopefully somebody other than me is reading) publishes to various different platforms and I’ve never expressly considered the need for a distinct ‘brand’ presence for this blog on them. Which may beg the question of why sign up for a ‘course’ on branding, traffic and growth – but we’ll ignore that for the time being!!

However, I recently decided to split the gardening aspect of this blog out into another one – and so created A Wiltshire Garden. As its so new, I thought I’d hit it up with a specific Facebook Page and connect the two. Very early days yet, but I’d appreciate any visits and Likes on both! No pressure …!

As for a 30 day plan on how I’ll grow the presence of AWG on Facebook … I think it’ll mainly be through sharing other Facebook posts of a similar theme, joining some Groups and cross-posting. I’d be happy if the Facebook page got 25 Likes in 3o days, but we’ll see! Is that a plan? More like a vague idea than a plan, but there we are!

My Garden Shame

We’ve all got them.

Areas of the garden that are unsightly, where we keep the wheelbarrow or that spare roll of chicken wire or the compost bins (not that there’s anything wrong with compost bins), or perhaps that area that we just can’t get quite right or that we always mean to get on top of but somehow it keeps eluding us …

I have one of those areas. I briefly mentioned it last September at the end of a post, but the spectre hasn’t risen since. However, it stays with me. No matter how much work I put into other areas, this one particular spot is like a speck of gravel in my shoe. Although I doubt it’ll ever become a pearl.

You see, the last third of my garden is generally left to fend for itself. There’s an apple tree. There’s a buddleia. There used to be a vigorous passionflower until my asshat neighbour dug it up (admittedly, I don’t know who dug it up, but I know). There’s a whole lot of nettles. There is also the back of the shed.

The front of the shed provides perhaps half of a fence line that crosses the garden. The other half is a gate-and-fence. This side of the gate is garden proper. The other side is the wilderness. But behind the shed lies my shame.

Like all good shames, its baggage that is predominantly caused by other people yet I’m the one left with it. You see, the area behind the shed became something of a dumping ground. When we first saw the house, I thought it was simply a bit of a compost heap – mostly grass clippings. However, last year proved me wrong.

Old plant pots.

Polystyrene sheets.

Foil.

Flattened cardboard boxes.

Bits of old toy.

Old Sellotape (presumably remaining from the old boxes).

And assorted other non-biodegradable paraphernalia.

I’ve had a few plans for the area, but nothing really seems right. Last summer when I dug up the masses of daylilies I put them behind there. The sweet rocket that I removed from the main border due to caterpillar infestation was replanted there (and doing rather well this year). In the autumn a few cuttings of catmint and lady’s mantle were put there in the hope of forming a carpet that would deny cats a pooping opportunity (like you would not believe).

However, this year I’ve mostly ignored it. With fairly predictable results.

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But an hour or so of weeding – did I mention the goosegrass? – and the addition of the last few evening primrose plants seems to have halted the hordes for a short time …

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In case you’re wondering, what looks like a twig stuck in the ground on the left there is a black walnut (Juglans nigra) that did nothing last year and may well not do anything this year either (luckily I have a ready supply of saplings that makes replacement fairly simple if its necessary!).

I think that I’ll end up getting a few packets of mixed wildflower seed to throw down in a weed-suppressing effort – as long as they’re varieties that will freely self-seed. Maybe I’ll get a few seedboms

Wildflower Selection 4 Pack by Kabloom

Wildflower Selection 4 Pack by Kabloom

So that’s all almost all the things that my mum sent me planted. Just the winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) to go in somewhere, and the peppermint-scented geranium cuttings to go into a bigger pot!

Gardening Times

Whilst the spell of good weather continues, I thought I should take advantage of it, leave the laptop alone, and get outside for some gardening time. Seeing as though I had plants that needed sorting out, this was a marvellous idea. The sun was shining, nobody else was out and about (the joy of being unemployed – weekday gardening is relatively quiet) and I got to just … be.

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Garden Gifts

Its Spring, therefore the Great Garden Gift swap is under way with my mother. And when I say “gift swap” I mean her sending me plants. Technically this is the second consignment received as the first was made up entirely of bunches of snowdrops. There were other things than plants in this delivery, and some are mentioned at the alterna-blog here, but also included a dozen fresh hen eggs, which is all to the good.

This crop is a bit of a mixed bag, plant-wise.

First up is a load of small evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) plants. As these tend to self-seed and spread like billy-o, I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to put them as yet. Despite the rather lacklustre and limp appearence below, they are fine!

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Then there are three peppermint-scented geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) cuttings in a pot. I shall be potting these on into a much larger pot that I’ll put by the front door in order to smell the rather strongly scented leaves when we brush past.

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Lastly, there’s the … others.

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Back left, winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragantissima). Front left, unnamed hardy geranium. Front, er, middle, ‘double snowdrop’ (presumably Galanthu nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’). Back right, starflower (Ipheion uniflorum) and ‘mini daffs’ (Narcissus sp.). These dwarf daffodils are pretty special because they are from the same set of bulbs that my great-grandmother had in her garden (I don’t know how long individual daffodil bulbs last), which brings my ‘heirloom’ plant count up to … two.

I’m still waiting for the tulips and ‘Mayleen’ to burst their buds, and the hyacinths are dying off rapidly now. I know its all a great cycle, and the end of one flowering period ushers in another, but its always a bit sad when things start to go over! But everything is (touch wood) looking rather healthy at the moment! There are one or two areas that will need some attention this year, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t go crazy with buying plants (mainly because I can’t afford it …) after last year’s extravaganza.

Which is where the free plant gifts come in so very handy!!

The Things You Miss

Its funny, the things you miss.

I have a walk around the garden, checking on progress and whatnot, almost every day (assuming that its not honking it down with rain). I did so yesterday.

Then, this morning, after I was hanging out the washing , I noticed something yellow out of the corner of my eye. Upon closer inspection I realised – with a slight shock – that they were on my (what I thought) flowering currant – Ribes sanguineum. It didn’t flower last year as it was a fairly small plant that my mother gave me, but it grew like the clappers and put on lots of leaf (actually, I forgot how small it was and how much it did actually grow!).

So when I saw these on it, I was a little mystified.

Until I realised it was obviously a Buffalo currant (or golden currant) – Ribes aureum. But what staggers me is not my mis-identification but that I hadn’t noticed any flowerbuds coming. Its like they spontaneously arrived overnight!

Then when I was looking at something else I noticed that there’s a clematis about to flower. I’m pretty sure its Clematis macropetala ’Bluebird’, but yet again these can’t have just appeared overnight. How could I have missed them??

Lastly in this catalogue of errors, I noticed that finally one group of my tulips have buds in. These are a mixture of White Dream and Queen of Night, and get much more sun than my other tulips (Alibi).

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Finally for today, some good news on the Jerusalem sage front! I first mentioned the cutting way back in one of my first gardening posts here, and how I hoped it would survive the winter. About a week or so I mentioned to my mum that I was somewhat concerned as it was looking decidedly … peaky. Luckily, she allayed my fears by saying that at this time of year its quite normal for last year’s growth to look somewhat sad, but that the new leaves would no doubt be healthy. And they do appear to be!

Phlomis fruticosa

Phlomis fruticosa

Geraniums, Torture & Mystery Flower (Now Solved)

I was tortured yesterday.

After doing our normal weekly grocery shop, I decided that I needed a small bag of multi-purpose compost, and as we were so close that we’d go to Whitehall Garden Centre, near Lacock. (Yes, that Lacock.) Firstly, going to any garden centre on a Sunday is bad news. Secondly, going to a garden centre on a warm and sunny Sunday is bad news squared. To make it the holy triumvirate of bad news (bad news cubed, as it were) my husband reminded me that due to monetary constraints there was a moratorium on plant purchases for the time being.

Cue the anxiety-induced heavy-breathing. Bad enough to have to wade through throngs of oafs (much like Granny Weatherwax, I have specially pointed elbows for just such an activity), but to not have any unexpected gains at the end?! The horror …

Consequently, and perhaps with a certain narrative inevitability, not only were there pots of multiple snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)* but also a whole host of dark-leaved geraniums. It was at this point that I gave up on window-shopping, got my compost and left.

(*Described by one early 20th century poet and gardener as “a sinister little flower, in the mournful colour of decay”.)

Last year I purchased a wonderful dark-leaved, blue-flowered geranium known as ‘Midnight Reiter’. Oddly, I seem to not have taken any pictures of it other than in its original pot before I planted it. Anyway, I rather liked it and was slightly perturbed to see that last year it died back to nothing in the winter. Not a mound, leaf or stem to be seen. Consequently, seeing the selection at the garden centre gave me an option to replace it if necessary, only to be crushed by the trade embargo. In a fortuitous turn of events, I noticed what I hope is the plant happily shooting.

Next, in my occasional photo series entitled “Is that even a thing?”, some photos of plants that have just started shooting, or barely even budded, including the Jasminum officinale ‘Fiona Sunrise’, the Astilbe ‘Venus’ (which I thought had actually died) and the Fuschia riccartonii.

I also have a mystery flower growing somewhere I don’t remember planting anything of the sort. Its not an iris, and its not an anemone or chionodoxa. Answers on the back of a blank postcard or stuck-down envelope please …

Mystery solved. I’m an idiot. Totally Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Glory of the Snow’.

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What A Difference Some Sun Makes …

… especially in the life of a hyacinth.

Its been … well, I won’t get all red-top and say its been unseasonably or freakishly warm here over the past week or so, but it has been very pleasant and I think everyone has been grateful that the worst of winter seems to be over and the endless rain has, uh, ended.

At least for the time being.

In particular, the hyacinths in my borders are liking the sunshine and warmth, as these two photos taken 3 days apart show:

 

List of Garden Plants

So I’ve finally done it.

For no reason other than my own …er … enjoyment, here it is:

List of all the plants in my garden

I also wanted to include a list of all the ‘weeds’ that grow in the garden, including the lawn. Whilst I do remove certain ‘weeds’ from the centre of my beds and borders, there are areas where I let them happily do their things – mostly for the wildlife reasons. Also, I don’t buy into ‘lawn culture’ – partly because we’re on heavy clay so waterlogging in the lawn is a major issue, and scarifying the crap out of it to remove the moss is only going to give me bare patches, not perfect greenery. Plus, who enjoys monoculture? Not me. And certainly not the countless insects that love the extra flowers.

So, yes. The list is about … 95% complete as at this moment. There are some plants where I know nothing more than the genus, and some where I know the species but not the specific cultivar name.

My thanks to my mum, the internet (or at least Google and Wikipedia), and The Royal Horticultural Society Gardeners’ Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers (the ultra-modern 1989 edition…)

Lamium purpureum, Red deadnettle

Lamium purpureum, Red deadnettle

A Minor Milestone & Garden Catch-up

First slug damage of 2014! Whooo! Luckily they ignored the tender shoots of the lupin, delphinium and anemones, and instead concentrated the attack on one of the hyacinth flower spires.

Pre-slug

Pre-slug

The weather people seem to be predicting nice-ness (i.e. not rain) for the next 10 days or so (although if you believe a certain newspaper media outlet then we’ll reach the baking heights of 18C at some point over the weekend) so I suppose it’ll be time to crack open the slug pellets and dust the garden with them. Between those and the ground pepper I put down to stop the cats, my dirt is going to look amazing …

But I am pleased that my Clematis ‘Mayleen’ (yes, I have confirmed with my mother that this was the one I bought) has plentiful flowerbuds on it.

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In other garden news … I received a care package from my mum (courtesy of my dad who is back in the UK for a fleeting visit) which included a clump of snowdrops ‘in the green’ that I have to plant for next year’s flowering. The bulbs are all doing well, although some of the ones I planted may be slightly too shaded as they don’t seem to be coming along too well (either that or I’m just bloody impatient), and the younger of the geums has several flowers on it again (the older one hasn’t yet – and is looking a bit wind-burnt). There are also some lovely little red flowers (?) on the willow catkins.

I’m also thinking about putting together a list of all the plants in my garden – including all the ‘weeds’ and plants in the lawn.

In non-garden news I submitted my first assignment in my first module of my first undergraduate degree. Which took me a while to get in to, but two 500 word essays isn’t all that hard. Even my final module assessment is only based off a 2000 word essay – so not something to get overly worried about quite yet. Undoubtedly my 3rd year French will be something quite different …