Thursday, 13 July 2017

Any excuse for lunch....

I had lunch yesterday at Summerseat Garden Centre .  On their website it says the garden centre began in 1984.  I am fairly certain I shopped there for many years prior to that when it was just a nursery.  As I am still going there forty years on it must be a testament to its worth.  Admittedly, being an old fogey, I sort of regret its success as it has now transformed into pretty much any other large garden centre.  Hey ho....

 I stopped to read the notice board on the way out, as I usually do, and saw these.....





Click on a photo if you need to enlarge it to read it better.

These are just the things that drew my interest. They do a lot more things, such as trips to garden shows, so seek out their site by clicking here Summerseat or pop in for a rummage or something to eat and read the board as you leave.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Summer routines

Just a quick note to share my regular summer schedule with you.  Summer goes from April through October!


  • Frequently keep on top of weeds and cutting lawns
  • Every week I scatter slug pellets (very thinly) to try to keep the snail and slug population down.  When you meet one huge one five feet up a wall you know you are not necessarily winning.  Most weeks I feed hanging baskets and pots.

  • Every two weeks, I treat my magnolias/camellias differently to the rest of the garden - three are in pots and one planted in the border.  They are watered with a sequestered iron feed.  I use Miracle-Grow but, again, any feed suitable for Camellias and azaleas will do.  The box says use from March to September but being this far North it is probably better to stop at the end of July (ish) as they can be too weak and sappy when they are fed  to stand any cold snaps which will turn up quicker up here. They need to toughen up a little. This is definitely needed if yours are looking in any way spindly or the leaves going a paler colour.  Two doses and my wan camellia is a third taller, full of leaves and they are dark green and glossy again.
  • Monthly - scatter a general purpose granular feed pretty much every where.  I use Growmore or Phostrogen - it doesn't matter what, just a handful of 7:7:7 strewn thinly will keep the garden fed. The numbers just mean it has equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphate, potassium so it is a general all-purpose fertiliser.  You can buy a specialised one for pretty much everything- like one for roses, or shrubs, or perennials, or clematis, etc etc etc but, unless you have loads of money and time it probably isn't worth it.  Ideally, of course, we should all be doing a Monty Don and smothering our borders with home made compost.
  • A couple of times in the season the lawn could do with a weed and feed treatment.  After the first one you will need to scarify the lawn to get out the (now) dead moss and last year's debris.  You might want to treat the lawn to another session some time later in the summer.  Again not too late so it can toughen up ready for the winter.
In hot weather:  I am currently frazzling in 28 degrees of heat so it is a good reminder that any pots or hanging baskets need daily (and sometimes more!) watering in very hot weather.  Any new planting, especially trees and shrubs, need frequent watering whether the weather is hot or not.  By the same token if your garden is reasonably well established don't worry about watering it - the lawn and garden will spring back quickly as soon as it rains even if it is looking a bit dry right now.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Flaming June

As I write this flaming June is living up to its name -  ten o'clock with bright sun, 25 degrees and rising!

I did my morning stroll round the garden with my tea to check what new 'faces' have appeared in the border - as I was armed with a camera I thought I'd share...

this is the centre of a clematis which drops its outer sepals after a while and leaves these lovely centres for ages - might be Viennetta 

blush noisette from Peter Beales years ago - it is lovely doesn't get too tall, covered in flowers all summer and smells glorious


lovely little white shrub - if anyone can identify it for me I would be very grateful

Fleabane (Eirgeron) - unassuming but one of my favourites

my three most used herbs just outside my door

Garden full of poppies right now this one is 'Mrs Perry'

love little geraniums this one is 'Elke' makes great ground cover

'James Galway', a David Austen rose

Poppy in among the roses, 'Prinzessin Victoria Louise'

another clematis, sorry not sure what it is

this is the double form of the one above - get both type of flowers on the same plant

Tea plate size flowers on this clematis, 'Warsaw Nike'




'Bowles Mauve', perennial wallflower - flowers all year


I won two of these in a competition four year ago - finally come into its own, 'Elfe'

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The absolute last sort out for 2016

We got a gap in the weather a week or so ago, so we were able to go out and get the last of the tidying up done.



This was smothered in two clematis and a yellow rose for the season but it wasn't too bad to clear away.  I cut through the stems about a foot up from the base of the clematis and then teased out the tangled mass from the trellis..... then trimmed back the rose.

the trellis in June

I have three little pergolas in the garden that have clematis growing through them so, again, they need a trim a few inches above ground and the rubbish pulling out.  I like these as they add a bit of structure and something to look at in the winter.



All I did in the front borders was cut back any overhanging vegetation so the pavement was tidy again and nothing was flopping on to the lawn.  The rest can take care of itself.


I have eight (four pairs) climbing roses on some trellises in the back garden.  They were very badly massacred to allow the new fence to be put up last Christmas and they did almost nothing this year - very spindly, unhealthy growth with a handful of flowers.  This is one of the pair of white roses on the side which wasn't replaced and they did reasonably OK and have cut back for the winter in the usual way.  That said they hadn't been disturbed and still weren't great (???)


This (below) is one of the New Dawn pair which looked just awful this year.  New Dawn is as tough as old boot so I am surprised.  I really don't know what to do for it.  I didn't have a single decent lateral to tie in and trim back to.  This felt like the best I could do.  I may leave it at this and see what happens next summer after a rest and good feed or, the other thinking is, I get really brave and cut every stem down to a foot above ground and see if we can start again.  I would welcome opinions if anyone has sorted out an old unproductive rose.



Our first snow came early this year - 18th November.  It was only a smattering and it got rained on but because the temperatures stayed low it lasted a couple of days in our neck of the woods.


At the same time as looking out at that a couple of my plants were still doing their thing beautifully inside the house.

This orchid has been flowering since August.  Its last bud has just opened and I have 32 wonderful flowers smiling away at me in the sitting room.  If there is a downside it is that it simply does not look real.  I assure you it is and I am very proud of it.  This came to me as a nice enough little orchid from Tesco which did its five or six flower thing quite quickly. I cut back the stem and parked it on a windowsill expecting the leaves to die.  It got a teeny bit of water now and then and that was it.  Gradually it grew to this.


This little goer is a common enough -a Christmas cactus which thinks Christmas comes about four times a year - it is off again.  You really need to get up close and personal and really look at how wonderful each flower is.


So that's a wrap for 2016.  Have a lovely Christmas however you celebrate it and I wish you a healthy and happy New Year.





Monday, 10 October 2016

Putting the garden to bed.

We've had some nice sunny days this week so I had no excuse but to get out in the garden and 'put it to bed'.

My other half removed the timers for the watering system and turned off the taps that feed the outside taps.  If you have any outside tap that doesn't fully drain (neither of mine do) they should really be wrapped in something like bubble wrap to keep the worst of the freeze out.  It can freeze further back than the tap if you have any water trapped in a pipe and that can expand and crack the pipe and next year you'll have a leak.  Often they are in the very worst of places and a fiddle to replace/repair.

Cut down dead and dying herbaceous plants.  That said, I leave ones that will look good in the frost and snow and those that may feed the birds or make a winter home for good bugs and critters.  Basically I hack down the ones that will fall over and become straggly messes.

I threw away my hanging basket and two chimney pot fillers that have done their thing and I will be off to somewhere like Park Farm to find their replacements for the winter.

Climbing roses can take a small hack back to stop them flailing around in any high winds.  I do the major trim in Spring.  As we are 'in the North' I don't want to risk too much die back from any frost if we get a bad winter.  To be truthful I never managed to get this job done in my time in the garden this time, but I will be doing it soon.

I shaped up a couple of olive trees that came out of their pots and went into the border this year.  They had put on a lot of growth and I want to keep them almost like topiary balls.  So, obeying the maxim 'cut for shape in the autumn and for growth in the Spring' I gave them a trim.

Most of all I was out there to plant a heap of bulbs.  B & Q have a pretty good deal on some nice quality bulbs right now so I picked some up on a paint buying trip.





If you do the maths you might figure out that three of each variety meant  planting 126 bulbs - doesn't sound much but it was enough for me.  I remembered the days I would go out with fair size sackfuls of daffodils to plant..... not any more.


These really are tulips from Amsterdam brought back from a friend's trip there.  They have gone in a pot rather than the ground as I don't do very well with tulips here - too wet for them really.

As for the planting - this blog is more about sharing what I've got away with for donkeys' years when gardening, rather than the perfect way to do things.

Ideally (most) bulbs like free draining soil, so you can add sharp sand or grit to the hole plus a little bone meal.  The hole should be twice the depth of the bulb.  In reality I make the deepest slit I can make with my trowel, wiggle it a bit, push the bulb in (right way up) pull the trowel out and close the slit - job done.  It works well enough for me.

So, I need to spend one more day out there, before winter sets in, to hack off some climbing rose stems, check the borders, sprinkle slug pellets absolutely everywhere.  I do mean everywhere - they love lurking in nooks and crannies especially over winter; they need to be lured out in hopes of killing a bunch of them.  Less to breed in the spring.  Reminder: only scatter the amount recommended; more is not better, it actually puts them off because the smell is too much for them.  This is a bait after all, so they hunt the bits of food (aka slug pellet) lying around and Goodnight Vienna.

At this time of year people with beautiful lawns aerate them and brush in sand and bone-meal to help the drainage and to strengthen root growth - do NOT feed at this time of year - you'll get soft sappy top growth and basically it will weaken the grass.  I skip a couple of these steps but I do scatter some bone meal over the lawn to boost the root growth.

On that cheerful note of snail death and crushed bones - bye for now - time to hunker down and dream of cocoa days ahead.



Saturday, 24 September 2016

Pruning box hedge

I have been growing a little box hedge across the front of my what was once patio since 2007!!  It was planted to hide the concrete slabs which edged the patio.


2007

This means the garden side of the hedge appears 'uneven as the garden drops two feet diagonally from the left to the right side.  I have always intended that the hedge would be about 18 inches high above the edge of the patio and on a level looking from that side.

Now we have the conservatory it certainly needs to be in line with the bricks on the conservatory wall when looking from either side.


2015

Box is notoriously slow growing and here we are nine years later (well eight actually as this is a photo from last year) and we still aren't quite there but, at last, we are pretty close.

Every year I have cut it to shape with some hand shears and every year have had a blister the size of saucer on my hand to prove it.

This year I succumbed to a great offer (Groupon? £16.99) and bought some small cordless shears.  I admit to being doubtful that either they would be strong enough or that they wouldn't chew up the box.  Wrong in both cases.  They were sharp and efficient and did the job in about a tenth of the time and sans blisters.





I got my other half to cut me three pieces of wood and screw them together to make me a cutting guide.  I just slide this 'bench' along as I cut.....


and used it as a guide, cutting from the other side of the hedge and keeping an eye on the top of the bench to make sure everything was cut to that height.

The traditional day for cutting box hedges is Derby Day - first week in June - but really you can do it more than once a year and pretty much as often as you like in the growing season.  Otherwise like almost all pruning/hedge cutting the general rule is cut for growth in spring (March/April)and cut for shape in late summer (August/September).

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Regular Jobs

I realised talking to someone who is tackling their first garden just how much stuff 'gardeners' think is 'obvious' when they've been doing it for years!  We had a conversation about how often to do this or that so I thought I'd list the basic stuff I do and how often I do it, in hopes of helping any Newbie.


Feeding summer flowering containers and hanging baskets:  Use half strength cheap tomato food - obviously you can use super-duper 'proper' plant food if you want to but the half strength tomato food seems to do the job.  Water it in once a week.  I try to do mine on a Sunday so I think of it as their Sunday dinner.

Slug pellets: Start killing on Valentine's day (14th February) - the St Valentine's Day Massacre!  Then I do it around the 14th of every month - that makes it easy to remember.  To be fair the frequency may well depend on your slug pellet population - some people do it as much as weekly.  The key to success in keeping the numbers down is start early in the year and go on through until October - you can take November through January off!  The other key to success is use the pellets very, very thinly - READ and FOLLOW the instructions - one pellet about every six inches.  No, you don't have to put them down one at a time but just be sure you are not over-using them - the smell from loads of them actually deters slugs from eating them.

Feed borders:  Give them a good feed in the Spring as soon as you see some decent growth on plants.  Choice of food is down to you.  I generally use any 7:7:7 mix that I can buy cheaply.  Those numbers will make sense to you when you read a box like Miracle Grow/Grow More/Phostrogen.  I have also lobbed chicken pellets at the garden when I've seen a good deal on those.  You could leave it at that but I like to give particular plants a boost during the summer to keep them at their best - things like roses and clematis benefit from a summer snack.

Weed and Feed lawns: Pretty much the same as feeding the borders the grass needs a feed around March/April and again in high Summer (July/August).  You may as well apply a weed and feed product rather than just a lawn food and get both jobs done together.  In the Spring I find I need to rake out the dead moss after a week or so.  In the later session I might do that again if its been a wet summer and might also lightly over-seed with a mixture of grass seed and soil if I am feeling really keen on my lawn.

Cut hedges: the general rule for pruning anything (and hedge cutting is pruning) is that you prune for shape in the autumn and for growth in the spring so choose which it is you want the plant to do.  Hedges like my little box hedge can be done just once a year if you aren't looking for a pristine look all year round.  The tradition for box is to cut it on Derby Day (first week in June) BUT I prefer to cut it once a year in August - this will do for most hedges.  If you want to go for the two cut approach then May and September is fine.