Thursday 28 April 2011

Bogs and my nemesis

Last week I had a very lovely group of friends over to help with the garden. Everyone if offering to help which is great although I do feel a bit guilty getting people to do some hard labour.
Observing the scene....such hard work watching others work
I have gone back to work for a rest as the bank holiday was a hard core gardening weekend, although perhaps it was just using up the excitement and energy around the Royal Wedding?
I began by fighting my nemesis...something which had defeated me since day one and been cruelly mocking me ever since.... the hole with corrugated iron and a steel bar. This was the first ever hole I dug on the land, and one where as I pulled out brick after brick I realised that I had bought a very expensive bramble patch. After a few hours I hit a large piece of corrugated iron with a big wire pole sticking out and gave up as there was no way I could dig that out. It has sat there ever since, collecting rubbish and becoming overgrown with hops, but on Friday I approached it and won. It did give a mean fight....the corrugated iron came up, but the wire was hooked over a plastic drainpipe which Steven followed...all 6ft of it, where it was wrapped under a 5ft concrete post which was then hooked over another iron bar....arg! we were strong...we were victorious!

Laurence in the Laurence Richard memorial bog....2 days to dig a hole, half a day to fill it in again

So on Saturday when people came we had a new hole which we then kept digging to become a bog garden....I thought it wouldn’t take that long, but we dug it all day, and then rushed to fill it with thunder overhead. Helen got excited by the pond again which is now sparkling (apart from when that duck comes back to visit). Sue was on re-potting and pricking out duty which was done with pananche and expertise. So all is now fabulous, and after another day on Sunday I feel I have broken the back of was especially exciting to plant lots of stuff on Sunday and be surrounded by empty pots...I may have been a little premature but I have planted out some Ricinus, Cerinthe (which look odd and I am trying) and some salvias....Dahlias are next as they are growing like the clappers.
Wig wham bam, going to make you my man (well no as you are a lady and i have a man already): Helen and Lucy get creative putting up wig wams..
Sue planting out Asters and Nigella on the cutting flowers part of the productive area
It is very exciting to now have a bog’s about 3x2m and about a spades end is higher, and drier than the other. I love water gardens, and would probably have a huge space if I could. So far in the space I have Petasities, Astibollies, Thalia, a water canna, Angelica Gigas and Damera peltata .
So lots still to do, and great to have another Bank holiday, but this weekend I will be fishing out my grandmas old Empire day flag and enjoying the wedding!

Pretty things....Iris confusa flowering

Allium and forget me nots... at the moment the main garden is a sea of blue. I love forget me nots as they seed everywhere and fill a big gap as Im waiting for the exotics to emerge
My very full greenhouse! its got to the point of putting things on the floor...Dahlias have grown about a foot in a week!

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Action (past and on Saturday)

Look at me posting twice in a week! I wanted to as Hannah has just posted up some pictures from the last garden action day I had a few weeks ago. We are due another one on Saturday with a reduced crew which is great as there is still lots of digging to do, and I have just ordered a liner to create my first bog garden. Im also getting a little excited to start planing things out including some bananas and dahlias as Im hedging my bets that the weather is not going to suddenly turn snowy. Fingers crossed!

Also a big hello to blotanical people....this is a site where you can find lots and lots of other gardening blogs which i look forward to spending lots of time on

Hannah planting borad bean seeds: when I told her Mum that she had been helping there was general surprise and a comment of 'Really?! I dont think they have much luck as she has the touch of death' however they are all up and growing well! We will keep up the illusion of the death though to avoid too much home gardening

Nina grappling with a giant hop root....evil things, very like a triffid or war of the worlds fungus thing


Tea and cake: the powerhouse of any gardening day

Monday 18 April 2011

Orchids and Coco yams

Isn’t all this sunshine nice, although the ground is becoming very dry the plants are loving the heat. You can tell it is almost Easter, but as I was walking around the garden all these things which it thought were dead were popping up....and I didn’t need to eat a hot cross bun or anything! Outdoor dahlias are a coming, as are a ginger and even the unprotected Musa Sikkimensis. Even my pineapple sage is re-growing so in a moment of summer love I have moved my protected bananas outdoors and am bracing to start planting at the weekend.
Im very proud of my Pleione, as its like a proper orchid! I thought I had killed it but it popped up again last week

I still have a million seeds to grow on, but am denting the number of plants in pots. I thought I had been good as I haven’t bought anything for ages but in a moment of weakness I had to buy a few more Eddoes and Coco yams, go on, be a devil I thought to myself as I saw them unexpectedly in Tesco and piled them into the basket, have a few more.. It’s amusing how Tesco sells Eddoes now, I’m hoping they are fresher than the dried up ones I bought a month or so ago, the Coco Yams are certainly red and raring to go.

lots of plants in the nursery, they look better when I remember to water them

We were very fortunate to have Beena and Stu stay at the weekend which was great as Beena came fully excited about gardening complete with bright pink gloves. ...gosh that lady gets excited about worms! So I now have some super sifted seed beds and beetroots that were sown with a lot of love.
Stu is a proper man who has piles of wood in sheds and everything, so I got him to do a design challenges. Ages ago I rescued an Islamic style table which was being chucked out on the street. It has a great shape which I thought could easily be turned in to a spirit house, so I set Stu free with a few Balinese and Thai books for inspiration. An hour or so later an old fence panel was recycled into the frame for a new roof, admittedly before the size was reduced it could have doubled as a car porch, but the eventual size was great. So all it needs is thatch....picture to follow.
We also checked out Kate, the belle of Camberwell’s garden. After banning her mother from her Friday night party she was allowed to come down on Saturday to clear the garden and it was very tiring sitting inside watching her reduce a fig tree from giant to well pruned bonsai which I’m sure will grow to be the centrepiece of a new flagship Mediterranean garden.  For an overgrown garden it actually was very on trend and I could tick the things off from a Sambucus Nigra to purple cotinus and Fig.
So back up the hill on the new land it’s all getting there, we were even talking about getting rid of the rubble pile which grows ever larger...I reckon we must have about 200 bags there so far, perhaps enough to turn into a grotto? A bank holiday project perhaps...
Sarracenia flava flowering, possibly the wierdest flower around
The powerhouse of the operation, seeds all poking through, you can sense my panic of where am I going to put them when they are bigger!

Monday 11 April 2011

The Gay Jacuzzi

Excuse my sensationalist headlines; when sitting on the bus earlier I was feeling a bit tabloid. We have once again been visited by ducks...we just woke up one morning and there they were having a jolly old time swimming around, looking like the owned the place

The pond is actually a subconscious Jacuzzi. When I finished digging it I stood back and realised what I had done, as it is circular with a deep bit in the middle....bit too deep for a pond, but perfect for a human, all I needed is a few jet sprays. Anyway, ducks...
So far the same things is happening this year as did last, first arrived a breeding pair, then they were joined by an additional mallard (wink wink), then there was another mallard, then there were just 5 mallards splashing about and having a whale (or a duck?) of a time. Clearly they were all gay and it was a Jacuzzi.
Today I am tired, and have just had another bath as I’m still aching from yesterday. After the escape to Grimsby last weekend to have a break from gardening, I ended up taking Thursday off, to do gardening, as there is so much to do. It feels like I have done loads but nothing. I’ve done some big things like planting about 7 shrubs, and have broken the back of my seeds as have planted about 20 pots of gourds and planted up a big pile of seed packets that I have had cluttering my seed box for years. I finally just thought get rid as what are you keeping them for, and have planted them all in about 9 rows in my veg plot, so I will see what will come up from Texas Blue bonnets to Thai basil and Clary.
It is now proper summer in the garden as I have cut down the last of the winter debris and Steven has been busy power hosing the terrace where we were very shocked to find a frog hiding under a chair. Odd as I have never seen an adult frog in the garden so have no idea how it got there.  Things are growing like crazy, today I noticed gingers poking through, I even have a banana in leaf (Musa basjoo), and my Musa Sikkimensis that I just kept wrapped in the sideway are all fine and beginning to grow.
All this exercise is proving very beneficial, and as I was seeing Kylie at the 02 on Saturday I was thinking how in just a few months I will be almost identical to all the buffed toned lust inducing dancers that she doesn’t half ache though!

The tricks of photography make this look better than it is.
You can see the veg plot bit, first bit of Rocket is ready to eat

The untouched corner... large logs and piles of evil roots to burn. Im thinking of just keeping the nettles as David Attenborough says we need to look after butterflies.....and they can sting the feral children who live close by 

Monday 4 April 2011

Role play

I don’t know if it is me or the high power disco music that Steven is playing, but I’m beginning to feel a little nervous.

This weekend we were good and went to visit the in-laws in Grimsby, but coming home I have found both a garden where everything seems to have grown, and waiting by our front door a carrier bag with all the NGS paraphernalia that we will need for the big day. Steven and I can now do NGS role play as we have tickets, posters, stickers and health and safety posters.

Going north I was a little surprised how every Cordyline I saw was very badly damaged/dead including really old big and branched ones. We also went to a nursery called the Palm Farm where I have got some goodies over the years, and was sad to see that they were closing, seemingly rather knocked by the last couple of tough winters where they lost a lot.
Needless to say I’ve also just added another car load of plants to the pile which need to be planted including a rather winter battered Phormium rescued from the in-laws which I’m hoping to bring back from the dead. I also managed to buy some Bean trees which I hope to treat like my Paulownias and stool to get some huge leaves.
Last week I also went to the RHS great plant sale in the Westminster Halls. This was great as I had missed the last one, and was looking forward to it, but more and more work kept piling up and my half day turned into a leaving work at 3 day. Being in a bit of a stress I then got on the wrong bus and had to power walk across Victoria before arriving at the show in a busy busy manic mode and ended up walking round in about 5 mins before getting into the rhythm of the show (this is mainly the pace of older ladies whom were dosing off on the ‘picnic chairs’ upstairs)
It was an interesting show with a huge amount of things for judging including rows and rows of wilting daffodils. I was however particularly taken by the tiny species ones, some Asarums and odd irises. I bought a few ferns but had a good old chat with the air plant lady about the hardiness of certain plants, and she ended up trying to flog me loads and I will give a few a try. I’m never good with air plants as they always dry out, I’ve also been very put off by the fashion of badly gluing them to porcelain kittens and bigs of twig.
So I now have a huge pile of things to plant, have almost run out of space in the greenhouse, have lots of seeds that still need planting, and still need to dig out beds for them to go into! This is beginning to get a bit stressful. So far timings have worked really well for the new territories as I have been able to potter for months, but now the crunch points in the growing season are becoming more and more apparent.
Fortunately gold star to Dad whom has been digging away all weekend and cleared a good amount of new space. I have also rediscovered my annual leave form and I have loads to take so I will be diarising a few dates and roll on Royal wedding weekend!