Monthly Archives: March 2017

joy in small things…

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realise they were the big things.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Every few days, over the last month, I have walked to the end of the orchard, to look for a sign of this…

Fritillaria meleagris, the snakeshead fritillary. We planted a swath of these bulbs last year. I’m so pleased to see them emerge.

a rather blustery day…

We’ve had rain and wind, but by 4 o’clock the sun came out and it is LOVELY.   I took a moment to nip upstairs to take a photo of the ornamental garden….

here before, (spring 2015)

and in progress, (the lovely OH is mapping out secondary paths at the moment).

As it was too wet to continue with planting the box hedging, I retreated into the polytunnel for seed sowing.

It has to be said that sowing into modules of sterile compost is far more controlled than sowing direct into our home made compost enriched beds….

The latter will require a lot of precise hand weeding. Our compost heaps do not get hot enough to kill weed seed, so going forward I will module sow and then transplant into the bed.  Hopefully hoeing a number of times before planting up will save a lot of hand weeding.

I succession sowed the peas.  The Douce Provence are ready to go out.  The next tranche is ‘Kelvedon Wonder’…

I planted up some hanging baskets with cascading blackberries,

and started to colour tag the daffodils in anticipation of transplanting…

which is just as well, as other, unknown, cultivars are starting to flower!

More wool needed.





hedge rows…

It’s last chance saloon for planting bare root hedging this year and we’re putting in this hedge by the skin of our teeth as the hornbeam is breaking into leaf.   Our county council has an excellent scheme, which runs every year, where one can apply for trees and hedging, (they also provide the canes and guards). We’ve had hundreds of whips from them over the last 5 years which makes up the majority of the shelter belt planting.

However this hornbeam, (Carpinus betulus), will in time form a hedge surrounding the ornamental garden.  The lovely OH cleared a 18″ strip, dug a trench, filled the base with gravel to aid drainage, then backfilled with a mix of the soil and some of our homemade compost.  A lot of work!

Also the lovely OH, being of a practical mind, (unlike his wife, who waves her hands in the general direction…), has created some very handy tools, aka spacing tool No. 1 ….and No. 2.  Spacing on the hornbeam was 3 per metre.

Once planted, I gave the plants a good soak and we finished off with canes, guards and weed supression membrane which we will top with chipped bark.

I forgot to sprinkle on a bit of blood, fish and bone; I’ll do that in the next few days. Come late spring I will nip out the growing tips of the leader and side shoots to encourage bushy growth.  Hopefully in 4 years we will have a lovely dense hornbeam hedge!

Next up, planting the box hedging, with the aid of spacing tool No. 3, (5 per metre).

Instagram is awash with pictures of cherry blossom at the moment.  No sign yet where we are  – but the goat willow is looking lovely.






hashtag apricot blossom…

I’m trying to get to grips with apps.  I’d like to be able to take a photo and post to Instagram.  I love the spontaneity of that. I sometimes type in a hashtag to see the reams of photos on a subject – like apricot blossom.  I feel a connection with all those snappers in all those far flung places.

I haven’t figured out how to post to instagram without a fancy phone but here is my hashtag apricot blossom; peach blossom and almond blossom…

I better get out the little paint brush and do some cross pollinating.

Gardeners World is back on the beeb; what a lovely interview with Beth Chatto, (#heroine).

in time of daffodils…

March is the month for daffodils.

The species daffodils we planted last year are starting to pop up in the orchard; we planted them singly but I expect them to bulk up year on year.  At the top end of the orchard we have a mix of Narcissus pseudonarcissus lobularis and N. pseudonarcissus obvallaris.  A little further away we have planted a drift of N. ‘Actaea’ which will flower later in the year.

I prefer the look of bi coloured Lenten daffodil to the brighter all yellow Tenby, so this year I will order more of the former to plant again this autumn.

We rescued some ‘February Gold’ and ‘Jet Fire’, (not yet in bloom), from my brother when he reorganised some of his borders; they are planted in the vegetable patch at the moment.  I’ll tie a piece of different coloured thread around each variety as once the flower goes over it is impossible to tell them apart and I want to move the ‘February Gold’ into the orchard.

I’m trying to achieve drifts of early, mid and late daffodils so I shall scatter these early flowering ‘February Gold’ amongst the lobularis in place of the Tenby as it has a similar look to the latter.

In the old orchard I have another early flowering yellow daffodil, smaller than ‘February Gold’, I’m wondering if this is ‘Tete a Tete’, I must try to identify it.  Again I think that I shall move this to the new orchard.

I have a small pot of ‘Rapture’, a cyclamineus daffodil. This cultivar has a rather elegant swept back perianth.  As I don’t have many bulbs of this one I’ll plant it out in the old orchard and let them bulk up.

Last, but not least, of our early flowering daffodils is another, as yet unidentified, daffodil.  This is too tall and too showy to be added to the orchard planting so I will leave the display where it is, except for the ones I pick of course!

I must scour my bulb catalogues for some more mid and late flowering daffodils to extend the season in the orchard; I’m very tempted by the gorgeous pre 1930s cultivars held by in the National Collection by Croft 16.

It’s never too early to start the autumn bulb list!




the seedling shuffle…

tomato-compressedToday, I pricked out and potted on the tomato seedlings into 9cm pots.  I should do this sooner after germination but somehow I never quite manage it.  This does mean that some of the seedlings, particularly the cordon type, are a bit leggy.  However, I always sink my tomato seedlings in the pot as far as I can, up to the first pair of leaves. This stablises the plant and more roots develop along the covered up stem.   It’s too cold out of the heated propagator for the seedlings to stay in the piggery, so the potted on plants are back in the utility room under the grow lamp.

This year I have kept the old stalwarts: Gardeners Delight; Sungold and Principe Borghese.   My ‘Marmande’ tomato seed didn’t germinate.  I suspect the seed was too old. I should learn from this and throw away out of date packets but somehow I can never quite bring myself to do it.  Yes, I am a seed hoarder.  However, I have a alternative beefsteak style tomato to try, an Italian heirloom variety named ‘Cuore di Bue’, ox heart.

Also new for this year, I’m trying out a ‘stuffing tomato’, aptly named ‘Yellow Stuffer’.  According to the description this tomato is shaped like a bell pepper, and like a  bell pepper, is hollow  – so it should be perfect for stuffing! Finally I’m trying out some alternatives to ‘Sungold’; ‘Golden Cherry’ and ‘Golden Crown’ and last, but hopefully not least, a yellow, mid size, tomato called ‘Golden Sunrise’.

I don’t succession sow for the tomatoes so that’s it for 2017!

Watching this week on iPlayer: The Secrets of Your Food.








module moments….

I always thought it was better to sow root vegetables direct rather than into modules to avoid root disturbance.  Which is why, until now, I’ve always sown beetroot and radish in situ.   However as I’m a bit pushed on space in the polytunnel, but want to get ahead, I’ve decided to try sowing in modules and then transplanting out, quite young, in about 2-3 weeks time. This way I’m hoping to minimise the root disturbance.  I’ll also direct sow at the tail end of March, weather dependent.  My go to guru, Charles Dowding has a video on module sowing here, (it’s excellent).

dsc_0329All the propagators have been moved to the piggery – the light is better there and I’ve started potting on the chillies and tomatoes – so far so good!


dsc_0328We have the odd day of sun, enough to encourage bud break…first up, the almond, peach and apricot…

dsc_0336Speaking of breaks, the lovely OH and I managed to catch the orchid festival at Kew.  Fun though the festival was, far more impressive are the collections and the glasshouses….

dsc_0119dsc_0054dsc_0166dsc_0146dsc_0327dsc_0198…simply the best!

Watching this week, (on iPlayer): Around the World in 80 Gardens