Finally – a decent mass of alliums. Only taken me 6 years of planting more and more of the damn things every autumn. And still I’d like more! I suspect the christophii will open while we’re away, just to spite me.
Frenzied activity in the garden all weekend, with three long days of hard graft put in by all three of us (well, the Under-Gardener perhaps not so much). We had scorching hot weather followed by a warm wet day and I am so grateful for a good downpour that I didn’t mind working in it. To be honest, as long as it’s warm, I never mind gardening in the rain.
I have removed all of the forget-me-nots and made a good start on planting out the annual seedlings I had raised to plug the gaps. For the first time ever I was pleased to be taking out the FMNs, noticing how the air and light was let into the borders by me doing so, and starting to see how to create drifts and blocks of colour for impact. I finally feel like I’m really gaining skills in translating how I want things to look in my head into reality in the beds. Not that I don’t still make plenty of mistakes, though… I found several perennials getting swamped by other things, and had to move a few things around. There is still a stubborn patch in the long border where it’s difficult to get things to grow, I’m fairly sure there’s an old tree root there. Still, I am happier with the garden than I have ever been, and I am revelling in a sense of competence.
The Under-Gardener is a sworn enemy of the wheelbarrow and thus must monitor it closely for the slightest hint of insurrection. He will follow it up and down the path, eyeing it with suspicion.
I’m going to get really boring about these alliums. Sorry. And that washing line ruins the view. It used to be possible to reel it in, but I discovered today that Chief Engineer has now lashed the end to the post in a complicated knot (probably to stop me from leaving it down at inopportune moments).
Saturday’s bright sun popped the first bud on the oriental poppy. We have a deeper red one that I much prefer, but that hasn’t opened yet. This one I grew from seed 7 years ago, however, so I do feel rather connected to it. I love the strange blue-black pollen – the bees seem to roll around and get drunk in it.
These roses on the top arch seem to me to be a brighter yellow than ever before, but I am probably mis-remembering. In any event, they lit up the grey day on Sunday.
This tickled me. That giant teasel has big pools of water trapped in the nodes at each set of leaves (here you see a cerinthe petal floating in the pool). I suppose this must be its way of ensuring a supply of water to get it through dry weather or something. Nature’s ingenuity is so pleasing.
A slug’s determination and appetite, however, are not. I planted out some dahliae in the gaps created by the FMN removal. I appear to have opened an all you can eat buffet for molluscs. I should have put a slug pub next to it. The Bishop of Llandaff has been denuded. Balls. Luckily I held one back as insurance.
Wheelbarrows simply cannot be trusted.
Peas, on the other hand, should be given a chance (sorry).
I’m having a very leguminous year this year, I seem to have ordered, sown and raised all sorts of weird and wonderful peas and beans, having been disappointed not to have grown more last year. The middle block of peas here are already forming pods… which makes me think I might get something in the space immediately after they’ve finished, and make this bed do double-service this year… a late row of brassicas, perhaps?
Chief Engineer has worked like ten men this weekend. He laid more pebble path along the far side of the central veg bed and also built the rather smashing wooden trough you see to the right in this shot. it is exactly the right size to hold four of those polystyrene boxes you see nestled in it. These come from the grocer, who gets wholesale broccoli in them, and I’ve found they are perfect for a whole host of jobs in the garden. They are currently housing dahliae which have overwintered in them and are now waiting to be planted out in pots or the borders, and once the dahliae move on, they will probably either house beans or courgettes, or possibly a bit of both. The wooden trough means I don’t have to see the white poly boxes from the house. I’m also sneaking a narrow row of beans in next to the brassica cage on the right, so that the cage is obscured from the house. I think this is probably going to backfire on me spectacularly – either the slugs will take the lot, or I’ll have proved to have jammed too much into too little space and it’ll all fail. We’ll see. Time enough to sow more as back-up, I think…
Here’s that smart new path. And a nearly full veg bed. And – oh look! More beans and peas! These are an old Spanish variety for drying. They were delicious in soups and stews last year and I wished I’d grown more. Rapidly running out of room now, though…
Chief Engineer also found time to earth up the potatoes with garden compost, having turned the heaps first. You can just see the potato beds with the fresh compost on them beyond the fence. That fruit cage has a right lean on it, doesn’t it? The fence and gate, meanwhile, lean in the opposite direction. This is entirely in-keeping with the whole house, which is very old and doesn’t have a straight wall in it anywhere.
A representative sample of the potting on I did today in the greenhouse, when it got too wet even for me outside. I reckon I potted up about 25 tomatoes, 11 padron peppers (nobody needs so many of either); 5 courgettes (the slugs will eat these, unlike every other gardener in history, I have yet to have a glut of courgettes); 2 chilli peppers; 4 aubergines; 11 assorted squash (see courgettes: slug banquet) and various flowering plants, both annual and perennial. One area I have yet to improve in is appreciating timing – had I thought more about when we were going away, I could have timed my seed sowing better, so that potting on of plants that had put on a growth spurt didn’t need to be done in a hurry today (and I might not have been left with the worry of whether they’ll expire from drought while we’re gone, either). There is always room for improvement.
This year I am determined to do better with my chrysanthemums. I’m trying them in the greenhouse border and to do so I am having to fight my belief that precious greenhouse space should be preserved for edibles only. Because I am a pathological over-planter, however, I have tucked in some aubergines and a chilli pepper, as well as sticking in several African marigolds which I use as slug sacrifices (and any marigolds that – against all odds – survive the marauding molluscs can serve as deterrent for other pests, though how effective that is I am never really sure). I am religiously pinching out and disbudding my chrysanthemums. If I don’t get at least one decent bunch for the house in autumn then the whole lot is going on the compost heap as a bad job, and I shall be in high dudgeon.
I’m going to get really boring about my lupins too. I can only apologise.