Monday, 24 May 2010

A Shiny New Greenhouse

The greenhouse is now complete! Andy is making some staging to run along the back of the greenhouse and then we are good to go.
I bought some handy plastic trays for the grow bags to sit in and some bottomless pots, so I can plant the tomatoes into those, onto the top of the grow bags, so the roots have a deeper longer run, resulting in healthier, stronger plants and of course I had to buy a book to advise me of the ins and outs of having a greenhouse. I turned to a series of books which used to be my bibles when first learning about gardening over 20 years ago. I call them the doctor books because they were written by Dr D G Hessayon. All the expert books follow the same layout and they are brilliant no nonsense books.

Shiny new greenhouse

I think in hindsight I have too many purple sprouting broccoli plants. We harvested a bundle, blanched and popped them in the freezer but no sooner as my back is turned, it's sprouting again. It's now flowering away looking so pretty but I need to get out there and cut some more for the freezer.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli In Bloom

I think I will have to dig up the plants before they have expired, which is a shame but I really don't have any room to spare.

My three sisters method is starting to take shape although not without hitches. Firstly the sweetcorn has been a disaster with only 3 seeds sprouting, so I had to buy some little plants from the garden centre. The garden centres are now selling plenty of vegetable seedlings, so if you don't have the room to sow or you are too late to start them from seed, the garden centre can come to the rescue. My second hitch, which was really a mistake on my part, is that instead of planting the climbing bean seed next to the sweetcorn, I started them in modules and they are now about 5 inches high and ready to start climbing and the sweetcorn is only tiny but on the bright side, my little squashes are looking lovely; every cloud.............

In the flower garden, I have spotted a dahlia poking through and my Allium Purple Sensation is looking, well sensational!

Allium Purple Sensation

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is on this week and I will be glued to my television watching and taking notes. (My favourite so far is Roger Platts M & G Garden) I haven't been for many years and although I love going to Chelsea where you can appreciate the scent of the flowers which you can't through the television set, you definitely see more on the box, unless of course your name is Alan Titchmarsh!

Monday, 17 May 2010

A Garden Fit To Burst

We had anticipated that the greenhouse would be up by Sunday evening. The chaps who delivered it, assured us that it would only take a day to put up but things always take longer than you think and it didn't help that the instructions were just a collection of diagrams with numbers for the pieces. I was never any good at jigsaws, not that I did a lot, as I was busy planting out my peas and sweetpeas.
In my vegetable bed, I have allocated a slice to growing flowers. I have two small wigwams of sweetpeas, plus seedlings which have self seeded from last year. The purpose of growing the flowers amongst the veg are two fold. They will bring in beneficial insects plus they look pretty. I suppose if you were relying on your vegetables for sustenance, then growing flowers may seem a bit frivolous and maybe as I get more experienced at growing vegetables, then this practise may become a thing of the past but for now I just about have the space to indulge my passion for cut flowers.
My seedlings are doing well. My squashes and climbing beans are looking good but the sweetcorn, which has an important role to play in my three sisters planting scheme, aren't showing themselves yet. I have taken action today and popped them into my heated propagator, to chivvy them along a bit.

Much of the garden is ready to burst. I enjoy the anticipation, almost as much as the flowers themselves. My Allium Purple Sensation purchased on my visit to Sarah Ravens Perch Hill are ready to burst.

Allium Purple Sensation

And I have two enormous Angelica's with bulbous buds ready to explode.


Once the greenhouse is finished, which really is only a matter of putting in a couple more pieces of glass, I can move my seedlings into their new home, and then I can tidy up the summer house and put up the bunting I bought to make it look pretty instead of practical.
So much to look forward to, it's not only the plants which are ready to burst!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

NGS White Barn

This week I paid a visit to a wonderful garden near Ringwood in Hampshire called White Barn. It's owned by a lovely couple Marilyn and Barrie Knight. They extend a welcome to their visitors every Wednesday from 19 May to 28 July. Last year they had over 2000 visitors, raising an enormous sum of £3500 for the NGS and this year should be no different, with 6 coaches booked to visit already!
This 3/4 of an acre garden is definitely one for the plant lover. They have over 250 clematis with all the cottage favourites, in abundance. Although still quite early in the season (plus it's unseasonably cold) the garden was filled with wonderful spring flowers, tulips, rhododendrons, azaleas,  magnolias and fabulous tulips and a sweet scent filled the air as I walked around.

Many visitors to the garden come back for a second visit to catch different plants in flower. Every week there is something new in bloom, something us gardeners are always striving for. There are lots of paths to explore, with lovely vistas and sitting places and they haven't forgotten to include vegetables as well!

If you come to the South on holiday this summer, White Barn should be on your list of gardens to visit. I for one will be visiting it again, when the roses are in bloom and I can't wait.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A Staycation In The Garden

A well needed break from work this week, has enabled me to spend lots of time outside in the garden. It's not been as sunny as of late and the temperature has dropped but that hasn't mattered a jot to me. The feeling of fresh air on my face, the sound of birdsong in my ears and the smell of  lilac, wafting over the garden fence from next door, has certainly raised my spirits.

This week we have been preparing the space for the greenhouse. Well I say we but really it has been Andy doing all the hard graft, although I have helped move some slabs and plopped some cement down, sometimes more of a hindrance than a help really.
The slabs are down and tomorrow we had planned to assemble the greenhouse but a game of crazy golf at the weekend has changed things around. We need a retaining wall to go behind the greenhouse and as we couldn't decide what materials to use, we were going to build that after the greenhouse had gone up but whilst playing crazy golf with our besties, we admired on the 15th hole, a fabulous retaining wall made out of railway sleepers. After searching the Internet we found a local supplier of railway sleepers and after a swift phone call, money changed hands and the railway sleepers were delivered today.

                                                                     Andy doing his Tommy Walsh impersonation

So tomorrow Andy, with my interference, will be building the retaining wall and the greenhouse will just have to wait a little longer but it will definitely be worth the wait!

Everyday I visit my newly painted summer house, to check on the brown soil in pots and give them a water but today I was very pleasantly surprised to see little seedlings. The squash are finally making an appearance.

                                                                                            Squash Seedling

The chilies are doing well

Tomatoes aren't doing too badly either
But my most successful vegetable to date definitely has to be my purple sprouting broccoli. It's now growing in abundance and tastes absolutely lovely. Today I blanched some and popped it in the freezer and we added some to our stir fry - yum! My best friend Linda bought me a book by the RHS called Allotment Handbook and in there it states that the broccoli needs to be in the ground 42 weeks, also if you sow it in succession, you can be harvesting broccoli for 10 months of the year, although I think I might get a bit bored  of it, if I ate it for that long. 

This week I visited my first NGS garden to photograph. The garden was a little slice of heaven. Photographs in my next post. Last day of my stay cation tomorrow -  lots to pack in, so fingers crossed for dry weather or it's cagoules at the ready.                                                                  


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