End of Month View April 2017: the last few days as a building site

I’ve been away in Amsterdam for a week, and my phone suddenly died: these two things have made it difficult for me to do any gardening or blogging, respectively. But during my holiday I did take some photos of the Keukenhof tulip fields, which I’ll share in another post.

Now that I’m back, what does the garden look like? Well, for the next few days only, still something of a building site:

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But there’s plenty going on, even since last month.

Back garden landscaping and furniture

That previous photo was taken from one of my new sitting places, up near the compost bin. Here was my situation today, with someone to keep me company:

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Elsewhere, the longer trench is still yet to collapse:

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And the shorter trench is now entirely squared off to to the right width and (spirit) level:

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One final bit of landscaping in the back garden: to make space for the cement van to come up the driveway, I’ve had to move the log store and water butt from the driveway. Gwenfar kindly gave me a second water butt, so I was able to keep most of the water:

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And the log store will do just fine in a separate, spread-out location:

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Also kindly, a neighbour has lent me their chainsaw. So when I move the log store back, I’ll be able to saw it up and stack it much more neatly.

Back garden edibles

Edible gardening is still a bit tricky: I’d have hoped to have beds in place by now to put things like the “Super Aguadulce” broad beans, into as they’re romping away but starting to suffer from lack of roots and sustenance:

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The salvia, rosemary and Lavendula angustifolia “Hidcote” above are also putting on new growth (ignore last season’s dead “Hidcote” in the pot at the bottom right. That’s had its final warning now!)

The overwintered Latvian peas are starting to give more and more flowers:

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Again, though, if they’d been in beds, they’d probably have been more manageable: it’s tough to even get any pea pods off them at the moment.

The “White Lisbon” spring onions are almost all up, and the “Italian Giant” parsley seedlings have had good germination (which surprised me) although the next round of broad beans have barely germinated:

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To the bottom right are the mixed cosmos. They’re past the seed-leaf stage nowq, although I had one die off very early on, and another three die while we were away in Amsterdam, despite considerable watering before we left.

The “Solent Wight” garlics are bulking up, at the very rear of the garden, although the phacelia and sunflowers in front of them have yet to appear:

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In the growhouse, the seedlings are happy:

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I haven’t had amazing germination of lettuce (started off indoors)—Tantan (left) better than Buttercrunch—but now they’re up they’re putting on true leaves.

Back garden ornamentals

Star of the show remains the Acer palmatum var dissectum at the rear of the garden:

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Now the apple tree is gone, it seems to really appreciate the exposure, light and comparative warmth there.

The Daphniphyllum himalaense is once again putting on its neon-green new growth:

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It really needs repotting, not least because that pot keeps blowing over. I think it’s root-bound, but doesn’t mind it too much.

The primula are handing over to the pelargoniums and pulmonaria:

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Unlike the new delphinium and eryngium I bought, the pulmonaria seem fine. The former two are sadly almost dead, as you can see top right!

The assortment of hardies are very happy:

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(Left to right: Stipa tenuissima, Geranium (!!!), Anemone hupehensis “Hadspen Abundance”, Tiarella “Sugar and Spice”, mint, chocolate mint, and Impatiens omeiana “Pink Nerves” out from the growhouse for a spree; it’ll return at night, to avoid it getting eaten.)

Geum “Prinses Juliana” is a lovely almost blood-orange orange:

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Making up for the premature death of the Lamprocapnos (eaten at the base, I think.)

The Crocosmia that were hidden by both privet and apple tree are bouncing back, as are some kind of seedlings (a maple or similar?)

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And the buddleia and myosotis still bring some cheer to a corner of the mudpit:

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Finally, the Welsh rose’s favourite flower, photographed along with the Welsh rose’s favourite cat:

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Lavendula stoechas “Fathead”, and Felis catus “Fathead”!

Driveway

As mentioned above, the log store is gone. Before (from November):

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After (now):

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Pleasingly (well, Indie seemed interested) the Meconopsis cambrica has come back:

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I do absolutely nothing with this plant, and it just self-seeds all along the north-facing wall of the house, and is a joy:

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Its flowers even close in the cold or at night, which is adorable.

Front garden

So far, the area I dug over round the front, and planted with phacelia, sunflower and other bee-friendly plants, is doing very little indeed:

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The spring bulbs might have mostly flopped:

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But white bluebells have taken their place:

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I believe (from the scattered blue forms) that these are the Spanish sort. I can’t say I have the visceral reaction against them that others have!

Finally, two reliable perennials, the Centaurea montana and Choisya ternata (mumble Tropical mumble?) have started to take off:

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The smell from the choisya is lovely, close up: of course, the previous owners have planted it somewhere that you can’t really get close to, where the wind blows the scent away.

But we can change this! And we are doing. Once the walls are in place, there’ll be no stopping me.

(Thanks to Helen Johnstone for hosting the EOMV meme!)

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Phacelia: you’re breaking my soil

Our front garden is pretty poor: the chumps planted both a creeping ivy and a prostrate heather; presumably in a spirit of low maintenance; both, of course, try to take over the entire space, bullying the white and blue bluebells, and looking menacingly at the choisya. Also, prostrate, creeping plants are practically invisible from the house, which is what led me to planter up some spring bulbs out there, with a bit of height that I could see from the window.

However, as we’re waiting on a May 2nd deadline for our trench footings in the back, there’s nothing doing out that way. So today instead I dug over our pseudo-gravel garden at the front; tore back the ivy and heather:

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And planted up the dug-in stones:

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I call it a pseudo-gravel garden, because the layer of gravel is too thin to be a proper one. But hopefully this will have improved the drainage at least, and its slightly southerly west-west-sou’west aspect should make it exposed and, in summer, warm.

The soil is pretty poor, so I’m hedging my bets and planting alternating rows of:

  1. A free packet of Bee Friendly Seeds that someone gave me some time ago.
  2. Some Phacelia tanacetifolia from Higgledy Garden that ditto.

The former will hopefully thrive in the rows, and be discernible from any weed seeds I’ve dug up; the latter will hopefully improve the soil, being a recommended green manure. And besides, my Phac-tan seeds were a gift, so if they do grow, then I can re-save the seeds, and improve the viability of what I think are often quite expensive plants.

I also dotted the area with a dozen Sunflower “Pastiche” seeds, which as with everything else can just fight it out. We’ll see!

The few remaining sunflower and Phac-tan seeds were sown up at the hottest corner of the back garden:

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Other than the garlic, there’s not much happening back here—but also not much disturbance planned—so we’ll see what happens. Anything will be a bonus!

End of Month View March 2017: a deconstructed garden

A lot of my End of Month Views in the past have lamented the lack of progress in our landscaping, so perhaps I should think of a more positive spin for this one. It’s true that, in overview, our garden does look like a mudpit:

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But those trenches are now complete; the concrete for the footings is booked in for the beginning of May: we have reached, in both literal and metaphorical senses, the lowest point of this enterprise. Indeed, it feels like we have all the separate pieces for a great garden, lying around the place: it just needs putting together.

Ornamentals

For starters, the inherited Acer, which I cherish, has suddenly broken bud, with slightly flaccid leaves accompanying tiny red flowers:

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The hardy perennials in the ornamental border have been augmented with Pulsatilla vulgaris “Alba”, Eryngium varifolium and some Delphinium “Excalibur”:

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The Cirsium rivulare “Atropurpureum” is thriving this year, protected by both pellets and a full saucer of water:

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The pellets are ferrous phosphate (largely non-toxic) so we’ve been using them liberally around the garden. Before you judge, any long-term reader of this blog will know exactly what kind of a war is waged here, with everything from Iris to squash being frequently ruined; see below for more!

The Lavender “Fathead” has survived among the crocuses and is starting to put on new growth:

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Unlike the “Hidcote”, and the salvias from last year’s cuttings workshop, all of which died off indoors over winter! I have a suspicion I’ve also thrown my Salvia “Ember’s Wish” away, somewhere along the line….

A couple of cheap-and-cheerful primroses are keeping the stalwart Pelargoniums company, alongside a new Ipheion uniflorum “RHS Wisley”:

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When I repotted that container, it was clear that it stays very wet at the bottom, despite the drainage holes; in the long term I need to think about what I will pot in it.

Lamprocapnos spectabilis “Alba” is going off like a rocket:

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Our spring containers are also shifting from Iris “Blue Note” and Crocus “Spring Beauty” to a mixture of tulip and Narcissus:

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The hellebores and cyclamen alongside the patio doors remain a joy, and the blossom on the cherry sapling outside the front of our house likewise.

Finally, by the back door are two night-scented phlox (Zaluzianskya ovata):

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Looking rather dull in that photo; but replanted immediately and already starting to fill out a bit.

Vegetables

Indoors, our lettuces “Buttercrunch” and “Tantan” have just started to sprout:

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In passing, I note that our Cosmos seedlings are doing well:

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Alongside a surprisingly good crop of parsley, which I was always told was tough to germinate and I should wait six weeks:

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This only took a couple of weeks!

Outdoors, the broad beans “Super Aguadulce” are already growing rather tall:

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Harking back to the Cirsium, there’s probably too many pellets around those Echinacea purpurea “Double Decker”, but it’s worth noting that one of them was reduced to a stump in a week! I’ve used the pellets more sparingly elsewhere, but by that point in the day I was rushing to get pellets down and photos taken.

Our five pots of garlic “Solent Wight” are sending up leaves, up by the back fence:

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Kale “Blue Scotch Curled” is just peeping through, although the new pea “Latvian” are still dormant (one of them was revealed to be shooting when I watered it, however:

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In the background, the Impatiens omeiana “Pink Nerves” is just starting off again (its first shoot of this year having wilted slightly in a too-hot growhouse) while the snowdrops are left in the green to go over.

Finally, the three peas “Latvian” that I overwintered are starting to flower! Amazing:

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I’m not convinced I’ll get much yield from them, but it’s nice for a legume to be flowering so early.

And the unexpected

The jasmine and buddleia that we can’t seem to kill are both shooting:

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Elsewhere, the removal of the privet has revealed a number of plants that were hitherto struggling underneath it; what looks like a Myosotis is going wild alongside stray spring bulbs:

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And who knows what this is a shoot of?

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Exciting, isn’t it?

(Thanks to Helen Johnstone for hosting the EOMV meme!)