About my garden

Sunday 31 December 2017

Adventures in a Poly Tunnel - December 2017

The end of the year and the time when we gardeners look forward to starting again. Soon we'll be able to start sowing seeds in the UK. I think I usually start a few broad beans in January but, of course, it's best to wait for most things. Sowing too early rarely does any good. 
I am just soaking some peas to plant for pea shoots. Apparently you can do that in the depths of winter.
Looking back at the year, I think I've made the most of it. There are always improvements but (hopefully) I'll learn from my mistakes.

Not much growing is happening in December. We've had some very cold weather so the plants are just existing until it warms up. I do minimal watering but there are still some things to harvest. Most things are not very picturesque just now and much tidying is needed. 
 Lettuce - I just pick a few leaves as I need them. 

 Perpetual spinach.

 Winter sunshine sweet peas. I should plant these in the border. I'll look for a spare space but most of the ground is still full. I'm hoping to get some early flowers by growing them inside. 

 Tangle of chillis waiting to be cut. I've just pulled up the plant. 

 I finally dug up all the dahlia tubers. They are drying here then I will tuck them into the soil under my bench. Each one has two labels so hopefully I will still know what they are in March. 

 Tidying up the Cavolo Nero is a job for a winter day. 

 A tiny Romanesco cauliflower. So far only big enough for a Nouveau cuisine recipe but stunningly beautiful.

Harvesting inside and out:
Cavolo nero
Red Russian kale
Spring onioins
Garlic chives

Nighttime low - -4 ∘C 
Daytime high - 29 ∘C Doors at one end may have been closed but it does get very toasty on a sunny day.

Monday 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas In a Vase on Monday

Flowering on Christmas Day in spite of heavy frosts and a little bit of snow a few weeks ago.  Plants are amazing and that is why we love them.

All of these were growing outside apart from this little collection:

My final treasure - the first Hellebore:

Take heart - spring is just around the corner.
Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for sharing, visiting and commenting throughout the year and thanks, as always, to Cathy for hosting - In a vase on Monday

Monday 18 December 2017

Seasonal colours In a vase on Monday

When it's bleak outside it means even more to bring greenery in to cheer the house. People have been doing that for centuries at this time of year and it's a wonderful tradition to follow. 
This is still the only Christmassy thing I have around but there is plenty of time and I do realise it's only tentatively Christmas looking. 
We have recently decorated our sitting room and someone removed my mantelpiece when I was outside for half an hour. We had discussed changing it but I didn't expect it to just disappear! The room does look better without it but I don't know where to put my Christmas Ivy and I often have a vase up there. The room still looks rather bare as we haven't accumulated much clutter yet (it's only a matter of time) so this vase is some welcome colour and exuberance. 

I wasn't very sure about it when I put it together but it looks fabulous from my usual seat which is a different viewing angle. I struggled to get a picture in the bad light. I should have taken it outside this morning. 

I've used Laurel. We have quite a few of these plants and my son has campaigned for their removal. I'm not a fan but they do provide much needed shelter and, of course, they are evergreen. 
Bay - sprigs with buds
Rose hips - so lovely to have the colour.
Chrysanthemum - I think these are Anastasia Green. These are growing under cover. 

For plenty of vibrant vases visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for In a vase on Monday and join in the fun with whatever you can find to enhance your home. 

Monday 11 December 2017

Chilli weather In a Vase on Monday

It's not Chilli weather at all it's chilly weather. 
I'd planned to go round on Sunday afternoon and collect up all the little flowers for a mini arrangement but we were blessed with sleety snow for the whole day. The last few days have been changeable and challenging. Very cold frosty weather, then heavy rain and high winds then snow. The snow didn't settle well here due to all the heavy rain but other places have had plenty. I can't complain - I have a warm house and power and the roads were no frozen here this morning.
It turned out not to be much of a day for wandering around outside so I collected these on one of my trips out to make sure the poor hens weren't freezing. Some days their water has frozen so I go out regularly to make sure they are OK. (They were, they had the sense to go inside).

My fall back was going to be these these chillis which I cut from plants in the poly tunnel just this week. I popped them into this bowl for now. 
In the vase:
Salvia - I've temporarily lost the name but it's bright pink. It turned out there were hardly any flowers left so I added 
Mahonia flowers - very sweetly scented.
Sweet pea fronds - no, I don't know why they are still alive.
Also a few 'Violette de Loire' Salvia heads which had no petals once I got them inside. 

This looks just right on my windowsill. 
See what other people have found to put in a vase at Rambling in the Garden hosted by Cathy. 

Monday 4 December 2017

Adventures in a Poly Tunnel - November 2017

Late again, time flies but this time of year is worse than ever and I've been decorating as well just to make myself really busy.
Things still look very green in the tunnel and there are things to eat as well. Maintenance has slowed down considerably. Watering is down to about once a week unless we have a particularly sunny spell. I'm more prone to over watering so I am trying to be more careful. 

 You can see how green it still is down the rhs. Tagetes, rocket, kale, Mignonette and Romanesco and Chrysanths in the corner. No photo here but you can see them in my IAVOM posts.

I dug out my compost heap but I wanted to save some of the compost so here it is. I wasn't ready for spreading it in some areas, I need to week and tidy first but now I have a small supply here. I know it won't go far.

These are Romanesco Cauliflowers. They look fantastic and we have had one small flower which I forgot to photograph but it did taste good and I hope to get some more. I've probably planted them to close together and I should  thin them out. 

 Central bed. The tomatoes came out this month. I collected any left to ripen indoors and ate some today. After as slow start they have been a huge success and No Blight right up to the end! So I was happy to spread out the soil from the pots on this bed. Seedlings will be going in here:

Spinach and beetroot:
I don't think they will produce any beetroot but we do eat the leaves in salad. 

I still have lettuce to cut but he chillis and peppers have suffered from the frost. 

 Finally an unexpected success story and a lesson to be learned. 
I've never managed to grow a decent carrot. I sowed some seeds in a very large pot this summer and most of them failed to germinate. However a few did and I gave them the odd watering. While tidying up one day I decided to pull them up and there were six respectable carrots. I was amazed. Shown here with an egg I had to hand, to give an idea of scale. Amazing!
They were, as you see, purple skinned but orange inside and tasted very carrotty. 
The lesson learnt is that thinning is very important. There were only 6 growing in a 50-60cm pot. Maybe not a good use of space if you grew all your carrots that way. 

Harvesting inside and out:
6 Carrots
The last couple of courgettes in early Nov. 
The end of the tomatoes

More Chrysanthemums In a Vase on Monday

As usual I'm joining in with In a Vase on Monday hosted by Cathy from Rambling in the Garden. It is getting more challenging but thanks to my Chrysanthemums I have lots to show. 
Anyone who is tired of me and my Chrysanthemums should look away now. If you did though, you'd miss this:

Chrysanthemum 'Porto Purple'
These are not the same as last week, these are darker  and less frilly. 

I cut a few stems of Cotoneaster to go with them but they don't show much here and I think are going to drop their leaves very quickly. 
Here is a posy I took to my mother in law, I thought I'd share the joy as I have lots of flowers even in December. 

Chrysanthemum 'Sheer Purple' and 'Shamrock Green' with nameless container plant. 
They immediately went into an elegant, square, cream coloured vase with a slight mother-of-pearl colouring to it. (Envious? Me?) They looked lovely on the hearth, even if I do say so myself. I've got some in a vase and the red and green are great together and these green ones will open up more. 
Porto is growing in my poly tunnel having been moved inside about 6 weeks ago. Shamrock is also inside but the purple one is growing outside with 'Saratov Lilac', from last week, and seem perfectly happy. I think I will move them in soon. 
I decided to see if I could find out how much I'd paid for them. After a bit of research I found I'd paid £17 for 10 rooted cuttings. (Sarah Raven - Abundant and Sea Urchin collections). I've currently got three vases of them at home and have given one away this week. There are more I could pick outside and,of course, with careful overwintering, I should be able to keep the plants and/or take cuttings for next year. 
I'm happy with that extravagance!

Monday 27 November 2017

Surprise In a Vase on Monday.

This was going to be my vase this week. 
This is pineapple sage which grows just outside my back door. The flowers really are this stinging red/pink colour and I've been eyeing them up for a vase. Of course, I've left it a bit late and they would have been better a couple of weeks ago! 

Photographed on a frosty morning.
It's not really hardy but I've decided to leave it in and take cuttings. This plant is now 3 years old and is quite large so difficult to dig up and move. I've kept it in every winter but this year it will have to take it's chance. Cuttings root very easily just in water. 

I was just coming in when I saw these flowering away unseen:

 I know it's hard to believe I didn't know they were flowering. My two Chrysanthemum plants turned out to be three. The buds look the same and one plant is growing into another. 
This is 'Saratov Lilac' and it's an absolute stunner. Worth the wait and the wondering if it was going to flower. The petals are quilled. 

Even the backs of the flowers are lovely. 

I bought all these Chrysanthemums as rooted cuttings from Sarah Raven. I've grown them badly, they are probably too close together and not staked well but are producing the most wonderful blooms. 
I'm carrying the vase around with me so I can appreciate them wherever I am. 

Finally a bit of autumn colour:
Cotoneaster glowing in the winter sunshine. 

For plenty of fun and fabulous vases visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden - In a vase on Monday. 

Monday 20 November 2017

Hotchpotch In a Vase on Monday

What a day of chasing my tail. I think I've managed to do all I had to do but then had to drive home in the dark and wet. 

When I took this photo of my vase the light was very bad and it's blurred but I can't do any better now. I'll try tomorrow.

Sometimes things just don't go to plan. 

After a few light frost this month we had one which was more severe and that has finished off the Dahlias and reduced the Nasturtiums to a soggy mess. We knew it was coming and I've been lucky that I've been able to cut dahlias right to mid November. There were very few and the larger types just became a wet mess of petals. 
Surprisingly I did find 2 or 3 flowers even after the frost and they are in my vase.

I've used:
Dahlia - a couple of Karma Naomi, one Classic Rosamund and a couple of Labyrinth buds. They won't open and don't like the rain. 
a few cosmos - very small and the last of these too.
Mahonia leaves
Weigela leaves
Dill flowers - I have no idea why this is flowering
Chrysanthemum - Sheer purple
Persicaria - red dragon 

I'm very happy still to have so much colour but the garden really doesn't look like this.

The end of the dahlias. I'm going to dig most of them up but I will try leaving a few of the larger tubers in the ground. 

The crazy Chrysanthemums. There is one plant going off the left here and one to the right. As I said before, I have no idea why they are so tall but I do know I didn't give them proper support. 
This one has plenty of buds which are now breaking.

Thanks for visiting and do go over to Rambling in the Garden where Cathy encourages us to find what we can to put In a Vase on Monday. There are plenty if ideas to inspire you. 

Monday 13 November 2017

NOT In a Vase on Monday

Cathy, from Rambling in the Garden, is celebrating 4 years of hosting In a Vase on Monday.  For this week only she has challenged us to find something and arrange it using anything other than a vase. 
I've chosen to have a triple  anniversary. It's one year since I found her blog and started joining in and also 6 months since we got our hens and, hopefully, it has been the happiest 6 months of their lives.
 Apart from, perhaps, the day I left the forgot to open the coop door again after I'd cleaned the house out. When I went to shut them in that night, I found them all perched on the ramp and the outside ledge of the house looking settled but disgruntled. One was so settled on the ledge that I had to lift her in. 
It was high summer so not cold and I did apologise. (Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this).
Apart from loud farm machinery in the next door field they have a quiet, happy time scratching and pecking  and look so fluffy and feathery they could hold their heads up any
poultry fashion parade. 

That was April 
and this is now: 
                                                                                                                                      They won't turn round to face the camera but even their rear ends (excuse me) are fluffy.                
It does make me sad to see how scrawny they looked and I will be rescuing some more as soon as I can. A little plug for the British Hens Welfare Trust who do brilliant work in campaigning, educating and re-homing the hard working girls. 

In case you think I've lost the plot here are is my arrangement:

This is one of Jenny Hen's eggshells, she is the hen facing the wrong way in the picture and top right in the before shot. She lays a large brown egg almost every day. I'd thought of adding a nest but an egg box was the obvious choice for holding it.
I do love tiny arrangements and we are getting short of large showy flowers now it's almost mid November. 

In my egg:
Geranium 'Dusky Crug' flowers and lovely dark foliage
Thyme 'Silver Posie'
Salvia x jamensis 'Violette the Loire' 
Fuchsia ?
Silver foliage plant which I bought in spring for a container but can't remember what it is. 
Virginan Stock flowers

And even though I tried to make it an all rounder, it still looks better from one side. 

Thank you to Cathy for inspiring us and encouraging us to share. She is always inventive and has something usual to share. It has been such a fun year and I must say I've added considerably to the list of plants 'I might like to have one day'! It's also good to know I'm not alone in this crazy and all consuming passion. 

Monday 6 November 2017

November blooms In a Vase on Monday

I think I mentioned that I have some Chrysanthemum plants. They should be blooming and filling vases for this late end of the year but in fact they have grown very tall (about 5ft) and have been contentedly sitting there in tight bud for weeks.
This vase was to celebrate the two which have tried to open. I cut them and walked around to see what would compliment them and found plenty of things still flowering at this late stage. 
We have had a few light frosts but not enough so far to destroy anything. The dahlias and nasturtiums are still going but probably not for long. It actually stopped raining for five minutes and the week has been beautifully sunny which does lift the spirit. 

In the vase:
Chrysanthemum Shamrock Green
Chrysanthemum Sheer Purple ( I think, though it's not purple)
Passalong Persicaria which is establishing very well and making it's first appearance here in a vase. Red Dragon from Cathy via Noelle. I thought it and the green Chrysanthemum would sing together.  

Penstemon 'Sour Grapes'
Nameless pink rose
Feverfew flowers

Pittosporum foliage
Artemisia 'Powis castle'
Astrantia ?
Potentilla nepalensis 'Miss Wilmott' - an absolute star! This has been flowering pretty much for the two years since I bought it and, to cap it all, is now surrounded by dozens of seedlings.

What a happy vase for November.
The vase is plain grey and egg shaped. Old and cheap but a good shape and colour. 

Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting and inspiring - In a Vase on Monday. 

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Adventures in a Poly Tunnel - October 2017

There is still plenty going on in the tunnel even at the end of October. The weather has been mostly mild with a few dips in temperature but no frost yet, as I write this. 
Things look much the same as they did last month and I still don't have room to move. 

This is the view from the front door. Lots of Tagetes still flowering. I'm about to bring in the second bench which will go next to the first one on the left. This is for seedlings and small pots. 
This is what I have so far including: Larkspur, delphinium, sweet william, beetroot, Spinach to name but a few. I need to do some more pricking out of Ammi, Orlaya and a few other things. 

In spite of me not having pruned the plants properly for weeks, we are getting bucketfuls of tomatoes. I have made vats of soup for the freezer and we are eating tomato salads and sandwiches often. 
I am thrilled to report that there is NO BLIGHT. My regime has been to:
1 Plant in bottomless pots (or bags when I ran out) filled with grow bag compost
2 Not to grow potatoes
3 Spray with aspirin solution several times during the year as advocated by James Wong. This apparently turns on the natural defences. 
4 Feed with molasses. 

I did a reasonable job of keeping them in check early in the year but have lost the plot recently. I am also watering much less now. 
All is not completely rosy as the plants are covered in Whitefly. In an effort not to Instagram my life and pretend that all is fantastic here are the fruits when they are picked:

This is just the sooty residue from the whitefly. It cleans off easily and the fruits are fine.
When they are washed:

Tomato Brandywine and Sweet Dumpling squash measuring up to an old pound coin. My husband produced this coin and said his brother had just given it to him. I say he should give it back and demand a new one. 

Mini peppers. 

Magic beans. These are fully grown beans from Runner beans and Czechoslovakian beans. They can be dried but I mostly cook and freeze them so they can be quickly added to soups and dishes. Sadly they turn a dirty grey colour when cooked. 

 Spinach and kale growing well. 

Chillies still growing with lettuce and mustard leaves. 

Harvesting inside and out:
Mini peppers
Salad leaves
Borlotti type beans
One Squash 

Temperatures in October
Nighttime low     0 ∘C
Daytime high     35∘C

I'm sad for anyone who doesn't have a poly tunnel to play in. x