Spring has sprung…

flowers, greenhouse, Grow Your Own, Plants, Propagation, Raised Beds, Secret Garden, Uncategorized

…and my blog is suffering!  But it’s a good sign – I’m blogging less because I’m spending more time in the garden.  I have to – there are seedlings to prick out, beds to mulch, weeds to weed and plants to pot up.  And it’s only going to get busier from here on in!

Real Life is also getting in the way of Creative Life, as it sometimes does.

The best way to bring you up to speed is perhaps to post a few photographs of some of the garden jobs I’ve been up to in the past month or so…

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I’ve bought and planted half a dozen Anemone blanda to perk up a bare patch of earth under the magnolia in the back garden

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I’ve got two plants for my tin-bath pond – a lovely double marsh marigold and a corkscrew rush

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The forced rhubarb is about ready to pick!

 

 

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I briefly considered starting a sycamore farm – these are all the seedlings germinating at the side of the greenhouse… and there are many, many, many more popping up around the raised beds, paths, plant pots, in between paving stones…

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I’ve started all my dahlias…and *may* have bought some more along the way… #dahliaaddict

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Most of my seedlings and young plants are progressing well – some of these I’ve already planted out, like the forget-me-nots, wallflowers and gypsophilia.

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Basically I am loving the fact that Spring has arrived, bulbs are blooming and the sun is occasionally shining – long may it continue!

It’s the age-old battle for a garden blogger – blog vs garden.

I suspect I will be posting monthly for the forseeable, however I do post much more frequently on Instagram and you can follow me there for some micro-blogging action at @mycorneroftheearth.

 

Sow many seeds…so many seedlings

flowers, fruit, Garden design, Grow Your Own, Plants, Secret Garden, Uncategorized, Vegetables

aquilegia seedling

I’ve been on a sowing frenzy.

Although I work part time and theoretically have two days each week to spend in the garden/greenhouse doing lots of lovely gardening…it never usually works out that way.  Family/work/home responsibilities often creep into this time and so I have to grab gardening opportunities with both hands and make the most of it.  This sometimes means that I will sow like mad or get planting even if conditions aren’t perfect or if it’s a bit early or late – because if I wait until just the right time, I may miss it.

Yesterday gave me just the right opportunity for a bit of seed-sowing: some spare time, a sunny day and the need to stay close to home to nurse a poorly hen (latest on her on my Instagram feed @mycorneroftheearth).  Also we’re into another month – February! – and this brings with it a whole new set of seed packets to crack open and sow to get things off to a nice and early start.  I realise this can be a risky move, as seedlings can end up leggy or be exposed to frosty weather if sown very early.  However, where we live (North-east Scotland) it can be fairly cold and even frosty right into April/May and summers are frustratingly short.  So this year I’ve decided to give many of my plants a good head start so that they can flower for as much as possible of that short window of time when summer properly begins and autumn hits us again.

So my greenhouse is already looking pretty busy…

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This panoramic shot makes it look like the bench is bending under the weight – but we’re not quite at that stage…yet!  We have: sweet peas, calendula, greater knapweed, leeks, wallflowers, more sweet peas, nasturtiums, various cuttings, astrantia (taking a while to germinate!) two varieties of cosmos and shasta daisies.

And outside I’m hardening off the seedlings which were sown in the autumn and have been overwintering in the greenhouse…

This selection includes aquilegia, gypsophila, some geum cuttings, plus hollyhocks and stipa tenuissima.  What you can’t see on the ground under the table and along the fence is all the extra teasels, lavender and various cuttings of shrubs and fruit trees which I grew last autumn too!

What am I going to do with all these plants?  Well, some of them will definitely be planted out in the front garden.  I’m deliberately sowing a lot of herbaceous perennials and hardy annuals according to my planting plans for the front.  However, I know I’ll end up with too many.  Some, I will probably gift to family and friends but if I really end up with a lot of extra plants, I’m seriously considering selling them – I’m just not quite sure how to do that yet.  More on that later, perhaps.

Bearing in mind all this new growing activity, I’m going to need more kit.  I will definitely need more pots.  Thankfully I spied a bargain recently which will help with hardening off all these new seedlings – my local B&Q was selling off hardwood cold frames marked down from £48 to £20, so I snapped up two!  My husband very kindly put them together for me yesterday.

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So that’s what’s going on in the Secret Garden at the moment.  Lots of sowing and growing already – and I haven’t even started on veg and/or cut flowers for the raised beds yet!  Spring isn’t quite here yet but I’m getting ready for her…

Too busy gardening to blog about gardening!

flowers, Garden Birds, Garden design, Other Gardens, Plants, Pots and containers

Which is a good thing, really!  But I have missed writing these updates and sharing the photos and plants which I’ve accumulated in the past couple of weeks.

The weather has, unbelievably, been marvellous – sunny and warm and perfect for getting into the garden and planting out all the seedlings and young plants which have, until now, been crowding the utility/greenhouse, plastic growhouse and my ‘hardening off table’ outside the kitchen door.  Over the past fortnight I’ve planted out marigolds (mostly in the veg garden), cosmos (corner patio), zinnia (in the raised bed with other cut flowers) and filled an enormous hanging basket with lobelia.

The garden’s also filling up with some new additions, thanks to a local church plant sale which was quickly followed by the school summer fair – I managed to pick up about maybe 20 different cuttings and small plants for less than a tenner!  Annoyingly I forgot to photograph them, so I can’t display this triumphant haul, and I have now planted most of them!

They included some crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ which is now in the front borders in between the rhodedendrons to provide some late summer colour.  I’m looking forward to seeing those spring up.  I also picked up some gorgeous little forget-me-nots, which I’ve put into the side patio bed (the plan for this has changed somewhat – but that’s for another post!).    There was a cutting of rosemary, two cornflower plants, some more lobelia and a mystery plant which I’ve put in a pot to see how it will turn out!

I’ve also picked up some new plants at Gardening Scotland – an event in Edinburgh which featured show gardens, plants, floral displays, food and lots and lots of gardening-related equipment for sale.  My mum and I had a great day wandering around and enjoying the sights and scents.  There was a wide variety of plants for sale, most by independent Scottish nurseries, and I found some beautiful, delicate alpines (I love them so much I will also do a separate post on these) and two hydrangea.  I just couldn’t resist the hydrangea, as I have a weakness for these anyway, but also because these were unusual varieties and beautifully coloured.  One is called ‘Popcorn Blue’, basically because it’s blue and looks like popcorn!

So, along with these new additions to the gardening, and thanks to the abundant sunshine, everything is filling out nicely and the garden’s beginning to look properly lush. The nearby trees have obviously filled out and we’re now surrounded by greenery.  I’m spotting young birds visiting frequently and if you pause to listen you can often hear the squeaks and cheeps of a little feathered family nearby.  The starlings are still doing daily raids too – I wonder if they’ll stick around when they’re grown, as we don’t usually get starlings in our garden.

The fruit and veg in the secret garden’s also looking brilliant, but I think this post is long enough and they deserve their own entry!  So, it’s time to get back outside.  I’ll leave you with a few photos of the various plants which are new or are showing off in the garden just now…

 

 

Catching up…

Chickens, Garden Birds, Garden design, Grow Your Own, Nature & Wildlife, Secret Garden, Vegetables

Well it seems it’s been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote a post.  Thankfully, part of the reason for that has been some lovely weather – when the sun’s shining I’m not inclined to stay in the house and stare at a computer screen, I want to get outside and garden!

Some updates on what’s happening out there:

Sad news first – the blackbird nest which was in the ivy on the back wall has failed.  I went out one morning about a week ago to discover it was on the ground.  I don’t know what happened, perhaps it simply collapsed, or perhaps a fox or bigger bird came along and attacked.  I investigated briefly using a stick (it was hard to reach!) and couldn’t see any eggs but it was surprisingly solid to try to turn over.  Here’s a photo of Mrs Blackbird which I took literally the day before the nest came down…

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I felt quite sad for the pair – they spent so long building the nest and she’d been sitting in it for a few days before it failed.  However, it seems that this is common with blackbirds as their nests are so open and therefore vulnerable to predators and the elements.  The good news is that I think they are now building another nest inside a large conifer nearby.  Will it be third time lucky?  We’ll have to wait and see.

I have been watering like mad over the past few days.  The sunny and warm weather means the veg beds have been looking parched and the seedlings (cosmos, marigolds and zinnia) which are now outside in the growhouse need a drink almost twice a day!  They’re getting quite large now and I’m hoping to start planting them out in the next few days.

The raised beds are looking good – every one now has a little row or sprig of green appearing, with the peas/carrots/lettuce bed looking the most healthy of all.  I have high hopes for the peas, especially after they did so poorly last year.  The potatoes are now all sprouting, after my worry that they were nowhere to be seen, and even the little leeks are popping up…

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…I noticed these yesterday morning and could have sworn they were about a centimetre bigger by the evening after a day of sunshine and a liberal hosing!

I’m also making a fairly sizeable change in the front garden; I’ve removed a large ceonothus and another unidentified shrub which have been taking over a large section close to the driveway.  I plan to extend the rose bed and perhaps also use the space for bedding and dahlias.  It was a bit of a gamble as they took up quite a lot of room, but the space looks nice and clear now and is another corner to play with, so I’m happy.  Sorry no before/after photos because I forgot to take them!

Lastly, a chicken update: we are now getting three eggs a day, as Iona has joined her two friends and begun laying – hurrah!  She’s also developing her comb and her voice and likes a good cluck when you go into the run or if she thinks something’s amiss.  Perhaps the quietest hen will turn out to be the noisiest?!

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New layer Iona gets extra cuddles from Biggest Daughter 

 

Sunshine and snow

flowers, Grow Your Own, Plants, Pots and containers, Raised Beds, Vegetables

It has been a week of VERY mixed weather, with the past couple of days seeing glorious sunshine…while little flakes of snow gently drift down from above.  Beautiful but c-c-c-cold.

So I’ve been wrapping up some of my tender plants or bringing in those in pots which I’ve been hardening off, like geraniums and fuschia.  The passiflora I planted up in a lovely blue pot just last week is currently ‘dressed’ in one of my husband’s old t-shirts pinned together with clothes pegs.  And my pea seedlings, which are showing signs of slight frost damage have most recently been protected by a free fleece cover which I got when I  recently bought a little growhouse.

I chose the wrong week to move my seedlings from the utility/greenhouse into their new growhouse (I got it partly for hardening them off and to make watering easier, and partly to get some space back in the utility room!) because I think they’ll be ok inside their little plastic cocoon but I’ve been worrying about them during the snowy days – maybe it’s just too cold for them to be outside??  I’d be frustrated to lose them after spending the last few weeks watching them grow.  But I suppose that’s the joy/despair of gardening! Fingers crossed they are protected enough and will survive this cold snap.

Checking the raised beds in the secret garden, I discovered signs of germination – hurrah!  The purple sprouting broccolli is emerging, along with a few pea shoots and some rocket and lettuce.  I am slightly worried about my potatoes – not a sign yet, although my dad, who planted his just the day before I did, has already got green tops showing.

Back in the main back garden, the blossom on the apple and plum trees is there, tightly wadded up, just waiting for the next warm and sunny day to burst out and really show off.  I love blossom.  One or two little flowers are already emerging – a hint of what’s to come…

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Too many seedlings?

flowers, Garden design, Plants

…or is there no such thing?!

I am busy trying to pot up some of the seedlings which are getting taller by the day, including about two dozen French Marigolds.

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Marigold seedlings – plus a small tomato plant dontated by a friend!

I don’t really know how many seeds you’re ‘supposed’ to sow but I seem to have a lot of marigolds here.  I don’t think they’ll go to waste – I have plenty bedding space for them, or could give a few to family and friends so I’m just growing them all on! I also have a few cosmos and zinnia which need pricked out into bigger pots, but there aren’t as many of these and I kept back some of the seeds so that I could also sow direct into the ground. There are half a dozen sweet pea seedlings too but I’m holding off on planting them out for another week or so when there’s less risk of frost.

In other news today I have managed to clear the side patio, which I’m preparing to transform into an area for pots.  I’ve lifted and potted the herbs which were worth keeping and chucked the ones which were past their best.  Now all I have to do is put down a weed-suppressing membrane, lay some decorative stones on top and begin a collection of pots for this area.  This should make the area fairly easy to maintain, and I’ll be able to chop and change pots depending on mood/season/availability of plants.  There’s also a recently planted rambling rose (New Dawn) close to the wall, which I hope will do what it’s supposed to and ramble all over the place, covering up some of the rather drab grey brickwork.

As well as this I’ve planted two new climbers – a honeysuckle for the corner patio and a passiflora which has gone into a large blue planter with some climbing support.  I love a climber and these two I picked up at Asda for just £2 each.

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Passiflora in its new home.  Please also note in the background the gorgeous red rhodedendron which is just emerging and is one of the stars of the back garden!

My husband made himself useful in the garden today, and helped me get rid of a large, unidentified, spiky shrub which I have proclaimed extinct.  He’s cleared it from the back border, along with an old azalea, opening up this area for some colour.  Having put in the Lidl primroses, I realised this corner has the potential to be much more interesting so I’d like to get a few perennials to brighten up the area and make it a bit more pleasing to look at, especially as it’s the main area of view from one of the kitchen windows.

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Primroses and a couple of heuchera providing a small burst of colour, but there’s potential for so much more!

So there we have it, today I spent a couple of hours here and there in the garden pottering on a handful of minor jobs but it was still very useful and enjoyable.  As I was re-potting herbs and clearing old plants I realised how even the preparation work in the garden can be satisfying – it’s like you’re moving around the pieces of the puzzle so that you can figure out the best fit and make the overall picture look really good!

My jigsaw might have to go on hold for the next few days though as the weather is due to take a turn for the worse.  I have set a reminder on my phone to remember to bring in the tender plants I’m hardening off (fuschias and geraniums) as the nights are due to be very cold.  Such is the way of Spring I suppose – a few bonnie days can quickly be followed by Winter’s last hurrah…

Wee pea shoots

flowers, Plants, Vegetables

Great excitement – the first shoots are emerging from my peas!

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I reckon it really doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or your hundredth time planting seeds and watching them grow – those first little nubs of green pushing their way through the soil always give you a little rush of excitement; a sense of satisfaction that you are officially Growing Something.  Nature and you are working together, you are a TEAM!

Nature and I are also working on some aubergines, peppers, sweet peas, lobelia – and as of today, some cosmos, zinnia and marigolds.

I may be running out of room in the greenhouse-utility room already…