Thursday, 27 March 2014

Spot the Difference

When my eldest son was small I had a wonderful childminder.  She was a woman of impulse. She didn't stop to think: when she had an idea, she followed it through.  It came as no surprise when I called to collect my child one day to find Dawn in the middle of the living room with a huge hammer in her hand as she had decided to make an arch into her dining room! She had never heard of supporting walls!  Plans; advice, expertise .... who needs them??

All the best garden design books (and my loving husband!) say you should plan your design on paper before you begin to dig up the lawn.  Did I do that? Well, I sort of did because I wandered round and pictured what I wanted in my head ... I just didn't do the measuring and drawing thing!  Anyway, when I changed the back of the garden two years ago I was very happy with it. 



 Living with it for 24 months though has highlighted the short-comings so changes had to be made.

I have been busy over the last couple of weeks ... can you spot the differences?


 1.  I have removed the middle trellis.  It looked lovely with sweetpeas growing all over it last summer but it was annoying having to walk all the way round to get into the back of it.  Extending the path through the trellis makes life easier.

2.  I have widened the borders and edged them with curved stones so there's more planting space.  I have put roses in there and in the square border front right in the photo.  This border is covered in Forget-me-nots and orange poppies: should look good in a couple of weeks. 

3.  The path to the right of the trellis has gone.  We never used it.  If I had used paper to design it I would have taken note of where we actually walk when we cross the garden and realised the path didn't belong where I put it! Anyway, it has gone so I have yet more border to fill!  Good job I got that greenhouse!

4.  The old bricks at the back gate were replaced some time ago by the fossil slab.



I must say it looked very neat and tidy two years ago but it has more of a lived in feel to it now ... and the paths make more sense!

 I now have ideas for the front garden ..... where did I put that drawing pad?

Friday, 21 March 2014

A Memorable Evening

Matthew Biggs, of Gardeners' Question Time fame, came to a speak at our Garden Club last night.  He was brilliant: funny, entertaining and informative all at once.  His topic was 'Back Gardens of Britain' but he was really talking about the totally eccentric gardeners he has met while working on TV programmes.  Wonderful people. People with gardens full of their love and character. 

He began with Will Giles who has created The Exotic Garden in Norfolk.

Giles grows all kinds of exotic plants in an ordinary UK plot and has created a tropical paradise.  Apparently his long term partner got so fed up of the attention and time lavished on the plants she gave him the ultimatum "them or me!"  He now lives alone.

We were all admiring the slides when Matthew suddenly exclaimed "Oh dear, is there a doctor in the house?" and we realised an elderly gentleman had collapsed near the front.  Luckily there was a doctor on hand; the ambulance was called for and the talk was put on hold.  This gave me the chance to talk to the woman sitting next to me.  I knew her by sight from our Garden Club meetings but this was a chance to introduce ourselves - a lovely new acquaintance was made before the poor man was driven away (he is fully recovered today).

Matthew continued to enchant us with his slides of beautiful/unusual back gardens and encouraged us (quite rightly) to support small nurseries wherever possible; to be adventurous and not to be ashamed of our weeds.

I'd had a good evening by the end - topped off by winning the first prize in the draw - a £100 gift box from a local garden centre full of those nice things you pick up and look at but put back when you look at the price!  Hand sown egg cosies in the shape of bunnies; beautiful little notebooks; lavender eau de toilette, scented candles, hand creams and a bag ... AND a £10 voucher for the Sarah Raven catalogue!  Well worth the two pounds I spent on the tickets.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

All go!

There's LOADS to do in the new greenhouse.  Friends and magazines are throwing free seeds at me: together with the seeds I collected last year I can't keep up.  I imagined this year I was going to be well organised but it's obviously not in my nature!  I have plenty of excuses though .... my mum celebrated her 92nd birthday so we have been partying; my sister and my youngest son both moved house within a few weeks of each other so I have been lugging furniture about and my eldest son gets married in 31 days time (eek!) so I had to go clothes shopping!

I did manage to get the peas and beans started for the allotment and the sweetpeas for the trellis but I've only just sown the flower seeds for the summer garden.  I scattered a few poppy and cornflower seeds but I watched the birds eat most of them and the pheasants have trampled the emerging aquilegia ... still its their garden too I suppose. 

Andy has been planting a rose bed at the allotment.  I decided to clear a patch of mossy grass lawn and follow his example here. I chose Hybrid Teas for that patch but got carried away and had to find room for a couple of floribundas and numerous climbers to cover the fence.  My living room is going to smell gorgeous this summer.

I love this sight .... peony roses emerging from the soil.  Disappointingly, of the fifteen I planted at the allotment only six are showing signs of life at the moment ... fingers crossed though.  

These cyclamen have been far more successful.  Flowering for months and just beginning to produce seeds.  If you watched Gardeners' World this week you will know that cyclamens wrap the seed pods in long spring like tendrils until they are ripe.  Once the pods burst the seeds are covered in a sugar coat that attracts ants to carry them off away from the parent plant so the cyclamen colony spreads.  Brilliant!  I want the seeds though so I have to beat the ants to them. 

I acquired a copy of Carol Kein's Grow Your Own Garden in a charity shop last week .... £1.99! It is packed with everything you need to know about propagating plants.  Seeds; stem and root cutting; leaves; layering; division; offsets; bulbs, tubers and rhizomes and a final section on ferns.  Well illustrated and easy to read so I already knew about the cyclamen ants!