Six on Saturday: The race is on

Aah, what a gentle occupation gardening is.  Full of quiet moments pottering among the flowers, pulling carrots, picking strawberries.  Or are you, like me, engaged in the mad dash to get it all done before June!

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The cold and the rain delayed much of my gardening efforts but this week I finally finished cutting back the hydrangeas.  In my defence there are seven of them and only three have been waiting patiently.  Here you can see that the first flowers are forming.

Two

Seed sowing for vegetables is happening almost daily.  Leeks, carrots, red cabbage, spring onions, climbing french beans are all in the greenhouse. Some carrots have been direct sown along with parsnips, radishes and lettuce.  The rocket sown in February is now out in the ground. And the last of the potatoes – Sarpo Mira and Belle de Fontenay have finally been planted.  Phew!

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The onions and shallots planted out in November are enjoying some warmth.  I have been very interested to see that many people plant their onions in modules and don’t move them outside until later.  I am going to try this next year.  I did protect these against the birds but that was all removed this week.

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Seed sowing for flowers is ongoing.  The teeny tiny seeds of antirrhinum White Giant have produced teeny tiny leaves.  Tithonia and nasturtium look a little stronger, but does that mean finding time for potting on?  Zinnias and calendulars have pushed through.  But I have yet to sow any cosmos! How is this possible I ask myself?  I’m not panicking.  Last year I direct sowed some in early May and planted some in modules as late as the end of April . . . Ok,  brief panic!

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It has felt a little frantic but it is important that we take ‘time to stand and stare’ and I have really enjoyed the tulip display, the result of a mass November planting.  These are Queen of Night, Shirley, Barcelona and Violet Beauty.  I love them!

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And these are Angelique – a pink double, Spring Green – a viridiflora and China Town – a shorter viridiflora with white edged leaves, beautiful.  These were quite tightly planted in two groups in a new border to leave space for some bare root roses that were arriving later.  There is definitely room to spread them out a little, which is the plan, unless of course, I am tempted by some lovely perennials that I know will be featuring in a couple of local plant sales in May.  Have space, will fill it!

And whilst standing and staring I noticed the irises and alliums are just about to open, and the first strawberry flowers are showing.  Oh yes, we will soon be pottering!

If you’d like to stare at a few more Six On Saturday posts stroll over to The Propagator’s  blog for all the links.  Sit back and enjoy the display.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

Whilst our esteemed leader is scratching his itch and beginning to sow a few seeds I am still at the pottering stage.  The cold of January does not often entice me out into the garden but there are one or two things to be done.  Here I should state clearly the level of my gardening skills: pottering amateur. So what I do in my garden is not a recommendation or a ‘how to’ guide.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

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I have been buying a few seeds.  These are my Sweet Pea choices.  Last year was the first summer in a new garden.  It was a garden that needed clearing of weeds and then planting up.  I put in some roses and some 9cm pots of a few perennials and some plants brought from the old garden but I needed to fill in the spaces.  So I grew annuals.  My wigwam of Midnight Blue sweet peas were a great success and I’m growing those again.  I’ll also grow a mix of Gwendoline, Anniversary and Black Night for a second wigwam.  I’ll start them off in root trainers in February.  I also have a pot of  autumn sown sweet peas in the greenhouse which are doing well and need to be potted on soonish.  Eventually these will be planted out amongst some climbing beans on the veg patch.

Two

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Of course buying a few seeds is nigh on impossible. Another success from last year was Calendula Indian Prince and I will sow these again but I also discovered, late in the season, the wonderful Tithonia.  I saw a great cloud of tall orange flowers at a garden I visited and was smitten.  I am trying out Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.  The seed packet says height 1.2-2.5m and a flowering period of 3 months.  If I am successful it will be a bargain splash of colour.

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Zinnias were my other success of last year.  I planted zinnia Lilac Rose and after nurturing them through the early days of slug attacks they put on a dazzlingly long lived display.  This packet of seeds is a mix of Benary’s Giant Lime, Benary’s Giant White and Benary’s Oklahoma Ivory.   Sorry, I can’t tell you who Benary is.  I will need to find the right spot for them as the flower height is 90-100cms, taller than last year’s zinnias which I used for edging. I’ll be finding a space for Lilac Rose as well.

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Featured in an earlier six was the wildlife attack on my old sink filled with succulents.  I wasn’t sure that I really like them so the fox or squirrel did me a favour.  This year I am going to fill that sink with a cascade of nasturtiums.  I hope they will enjoy the gritty mix of compost that remained after all that furious digging.

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I have also bought my seed potatoes.  May the chitting commence.  I put out a potato poll on twitter and had a lovely number of great suggestions.  I was influenced by the thumbs up for Sarpo Mira as the floury main crop choice and by the loyal support for Arran Pilot, a waxy first early.  The other two choices were Ratte, a waxy second early and Belle de Fontenay, a waxy maincrop which caught my eye at the nursery.

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And just when you were thinking I hadn’t been out in the garden at all this week I bring you a clematis.  And here I stress: pottering amateur.  I had a lovely viticella which grew up into a lilac tree in the previous garden and I barely pruned it all, just pulled out the dead bits every now and then.  In this garden there is a clematis growing up a fence panel on either side an arch.  The top of the arch is dominated by a passiflora so I need the clematis to clothe the side panels.  I noticed that the clematis was already putting on new growth so I took the plunge and cut it back.  I hope the current drop in temperatures and the bitingly cold winds don’t freeze the new growth to death.

That’s the round up of my gardening week.  Take a look at what other sixers have been doing in their gardens at The Propagator where you can also read about that itch

 

Six on Saturday

Some things on  the gardener’s to do list are there for several weeks.  My list has a few that have been hanging around for months.  I am pleased and relieved to present the first of my Six on Saturday for this week.  I have finally bought and planted out some onions.

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Far from thoughtfully researching the most interesting, disease resistant and high yield bulbs I could find I simply bought what was in the nursery – radar, electric and jermor for the shallots.  The wire mesh and freezer basket are in place to keep the birds off until the onions are fully rooted.  I will leave these on for some months as I have learnt the lesson of taking them off too early.

Two

Still on the to do list is cleaning the inside of the greenhouse.  I promise you the outside did look wonderful about a month ago.  The ghostly apparition seen here is the lemon tree.  Having bought myself a  min max thermometer – another one crossed off – I could not avoid seeing the inside temperature fall to zero.  So I wrapped the lemon tree in 17gsm fleece.  The  top section has two layers of fleece and I have my fingers crossed.  Underneath the fleece I have decorated the tree with sachets of Amblyseius californicus mite.  These are a preventative control against spider mite.  And washing down the inside will also go some way towards eradicating those pests.

Three 

The leaves of Pulmonaria officinalis are looking fine at the moment.  This was a plant share and I am promised that the slugs avoid this one.  It has really bulked up from the tiny divisions planted earlier in the year.  You can also just spot a bit of new mulch.  Mulching is not complete yet but a start has been made.

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There is often a surprise to be found when looking for the six and this week it was finding a new flower on the hydrangea.  What a contrast the white makes with the pink of the autumn colouring

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Boxes of tulips arrived a while ago and planting up the borders has begun.  These Violet Beauty are joining Queen of Night, Barcelona and Shirley to form a line either side a path that runs through the border.  This border was first planted from about this time last year and it’s on the to do list to write up the story of its development.  I will. I will.

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There is one last shout of colour in the garden.  The container pelargoniums are stubbornly hanging on.  Cold weather is forecast for this weekend so its seems right to give them their five minutes of fame now.

Looking forward to seeing what’s going on in your garden.  Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession