26 October 2015

Dorset Garden Diary - Still Plenty To Do

Hi All,

Firstly, apologies for the late arrival of my blog. We went to Edinburgh for a few days last week (had a fantastic time), arrived back late Friday evening and then I had to work all weekend. Not even had chance to watch Friday's Gardeners' World yet. Definitely missed jobs for the weekend, it'll have to be jobs for the weekdays instead.

Amazingly, there is still a lot going on in the garden at the moment and so plenty to do. On Monday we both had a good day clearing and tidying up. Him indoors scooped all the fallen leaves from the pond (yes, more) and adjusted the pump output. He also topped up the water level as it has been steadily dropping during the recent dry spell. He then adjusted the back gate making it easier for me to open, took out three containers of composting material to the back bin and raked it through. He also raked through the small compost bin near the back shed. The compost in one side of the tumbler composter is now ready (really quick composting, does exactly what it says on the tin!). I was going to empty that out but when I read the instructions it said the composted material can be left in the chamber as it will help break down new material, so I just filled it up again.

We put grease bands around the trunks of the fruit trees to prevent insects crawling up and damaging the trees over the winter. I say we, I mean him indoors as it looked, and was, a bit of a messy job. It was my idea though and I did advise where on the trunk to put the bands! We then decided to give the pear tree a good prune as last year's new growth had gone a bit wild over the summer. It's looking trim and compact now. Him indoors then vacuumed up all the fallen leaves (with his leaf collecting contraption not our vacuum cleaner) and emptied them into the big composting bin. We then watered the front and back gardens and I also watered the greenhouse. The lemon and olive trees only get watered once a month now. Am thinking maybe I've moved the pots into the greenhouse too early as it's getting mild again but, it's done now. The weed killer has not affected the weeds yet, as you can see. I may have to pull them up after all.

I then started to run out of steam so my last job of the day was to sow the sweet peas I'd soaked overnight, three to a pot. I covered the pots with a plastic bag and put them on the kitchen windowsill. The packet says they will germinate between 7-21 days. This is five days later:

This week I'll have to re-pot them and they can overwinter in the greenhouse. I was going to tell you the name of them but I've torn it off the packet...oops! What is left advises that they have an intense fragrance and are a mixture of modern grandiflora varieties if that helps. I didn't get round to sowing the garlic, I'll hopefully do that this week. The amaryllis is also going from strength to strength (last year it grew to over 3 feet!):

Saturday - whilst I was away earning a crust, him indoors carried on with tidying the garden. We were only away four days and the pond surface was once again covered in leaves and so was the lawn. After clearing the pond and adjusting the pump again (I don't understand why the flow keeps changing. Fish...what are you up to?), he then cleared the leaves from the lawn, gave it a high cut, aerated and raked it. It may need doing again before winter if this mild weather keeps up.

The pineapple sage I moved into the conservatory last week is definitely happy in it's new position as flowers have started to appear already:

There are a few autumnal jobs that are on hold at the moment, one of them being the new dahlias. As I mentioned before, I am going to cut them back and leave in the ground covered in mulch this year. Last year I dug them up and they weren't successful this summer. Anyway, at the moment they are still in wonderful full flower, as are the echinacea, honeysuckle, begonias, geums and these hellebores, in full bloom for the second time this year.
The primulas are coming on nicely:

And newly flowering this week are this lovely fuchsia and what looks like a chrysanthemum:

Well, that's about it for this week. Him indoors did ask a couple of weeks ago what I was going to write about during the winter when there's not much going on in the garden. Has he learned nothing?? Us girls always have something to talk about!

The full moon this week is the last Super Moon of 2015, it looked amazing last night. Have a great week, mixture of sun and showers here in Dorset but looks like it's staying mild. Happy gardening.



18 October 2015

Dorset Garden Diary - Aren't Gardens Wonderful!

Hi from a chilly, windy and occasionally dull Sunday here in Dorset. It's been chilly all week but at least the sun was shining; unfortunately I haven't been able to take full advantage as work got in the way. I did manage a few hours on Tuesday and, as usual, the first thing I did was feed the fish. Whilst waiting for the fish to surface I wondered when it's best to stop feeding them for the winter, so I read the instructions on the tub and it said don't feed if temperature below 12c as their digestive system slows down. Hmmm...it definitely felt colder than that and when I checked it was 4c...ooops! Thankfully they survived to see another day and, in my defence, they were hungry.

I skimmed all the fallen leaves off the pond's surface (how do they get through the netting?), pulled up the rest of the gherkin plants outside and in the greenhouse as no more growing, cut back the runner bean plants but left the roots in (thank you Carol Klein) then had a mooch round the garden. The salvia hot lips cuttings I took a few weeks ago have taken and are flowering,
the sedums are in bloom

I found this little darling peeking out from behind the leaves

and...last year this hydrangea was light pink and white, something must have changed in the soil, perhaps.
Aren't gardens wonderful!
Managed to watch Gardener's World before the weekend started (for a change) so yesterday I dead-headed the cosmos and dahlias (as advised by Monty), the latter brightening up the cottage garden and still flowering well.
I propagated some begonia leaf cuttings, planted some apple seeds - unfortunately I have no idea what type they are but they were very tasty. Skimmed more leaves off the pond and...finally...cleared out the greenhouse for cleaning. I picked the last large cucumber and the few remaining red tomatoes, pulled the plants and moved the chilli and pepper pots outside. I then scrubbed the benches, bamboo cane frames and the glass and frame with a mild Jeyes fluid solution. Was debating whether to pull up the weeds growing through the gravel or put weed killer on them; in the end I decided on weed killer. So here it is, my temporarily empty greenhouse (apart from the weeds).
Last October when I checked on the previous year's stored amaryllis bulb I found it had rotted, so I bought another one which flowered profusely through the winter. When it had finished flowering I stored it in the pottering shed, still in it's pot and on it's side (as advised, but I'm having a senior moment and can't remember where I heard or read that's what you have to do, but it works).To be honest I'd forgotten all about it until I came across it last week and, to my delight, I noticed a little bit of green deep inside the dried brown folds so I potted it up, put it on the kitchen window sill - look at it now:
Going back to the lily (?) I mentioned last week, thought you might like to see how it's come on. Gorgeous isn't it?

Today got off to a slow start as, previously mentioned, the day was chilly and windy, but it did brighten up a little. I didn't get round to aerating the lawn and raking up the leaves because I don't want to step on his indoors' toes (that's my excuse) as the lawn is his territory! Oh, and by the way, there are no ill effects or bald patches from the little incident with the weed killer a few weeks ago! I put the pepper and chilli plants back in the greenhouse and the following to over-winter:- Japanese maple (for some reason it doesn't like the garden very much and keeps shedding leaves even when it's not windy but absolutely loves being in the greenhouse), the olive and lemon trees, the young ginger plant (it's taken a while to grow so I don't want to lose it), salvia hot lips and the lantana miss huff (a precaution) and the lemon verbena. And talking of the lemon verbena, I took some cuttings a few weeks ago as an experiment and it looks like one of them has taken (happy) so I planted a few leaf cuttings today to see if they will take. I have also moved the pineapple sage into the conservatory where, according to the label, it will flower all winter. I was going to sow the sweet peas but they need soaking in warm water overnight (how does the water stay warm?) so I'll do those tomorrow and the garlic, but that's for next week.
Well, I think that's about it for this week. Autumn's trying to take a hold but Summer still hanging in there. Hope you have a good gardening week, look's like it's not going to be as cold as previously forecast.

11 October 2015

Dorset Garden Diary - It's Been A Quiet Week Horticulturally Speaking

Hi everyone,

Hope you've all had a good week. A quiet one for me where the garden's concerned but busy in other areas of my life. Thankfully, there's fractionally less to do this time of year as I'm not planting any more bulbs and I have re-planted the perennials I wanted to move. So it's just tidying, cleaning, spiking the lawn, raking up the leaves and preparing to hunker down for the winter which I can do this coming week.

Monday - rain. Lots of rain. Play suspended. But it's good for the garden so I'll have to find something else to do today. I have plans for the front and back gardens so I could be getting on with that I suppose. I did notice over the weekend that the recent resurgence of summery weather has brought the honeysuckle back into flower.

The green manure is already coming through, that's quick (see pic below). Last week him indoors assembled the kinetic windmill that we bought a few weeks ago, one wheel turns one way and the other the opposite...being a country girl I have no idea how that happens but it does.

I belatedly watched Gardeners World and too late Carol advised to leave the roots of pea and runner bean plants in the ground as they feed the soil. Hmmm...wish I'd known that a couple of weeks ago. I'll do it with the last couple of runner bean plants though. Monty advised on some plants to extend the autumn flowering - giant hyssop and sedums - not sure I should be buying more plants at the moment! He also said wrap delicate pots in plastic for over-wintering but I will probably put them in the greenhouse when I've given it a good clean which will be when the cucumber, tomatoes and chillies have finished. Thankfully, it's warmed up a bit. Jobs for the weekend (missed it) were keepings cuttings well misted which I do anyway, raising pots off the ground so they don't get waterlogged, well they stand on gravel so...tick, and keep dried runner beans for next year...tick!

Tuesday - more rain although the day did start with some atmospheric low lying mist along the hedgerows in the fields. Unfortunately play suspended again.

Thursday - the skies are blue and the back garden is looking good:
In the front garden the snapdragons have come into flower and, very belatedly, one begonia has chosen to start flowering

Saturday - and at last, a chance to get out in the garden. I've been getting withdrawal symptoms! The fish appear to be getting used to the feeding times as they were on the surface waiting, both this morning and this afternoon, attacking the food as soon as it hit the surface, especially the voracious fishlings...maybe they're piranhas!. I pottered around, pruned the cucumber plant right back as it keeps flowering, taking energy away from the two remaining growing cucumbers. I picked a few more tomatoes, they will be finished soon but the chillies just keep coming...anyone got a book on 101 ways with chillies?? Definitely one of my success growings this year. I gave the garden a good watering as it hasn't rained since Tuesday and none forecast into early next week. It is due to get much colder though so I've shut the greenhouse door for the first time this autumn. The mystery plant has evolved over the week. I'm thinking it might be a type of lily?

I then picked fennel and leeks from the garden to go with some of the stored carrots, spuds and parsnips. I do like roasted vegetables, and pie, and yes, I know that was on the menu last weekend but I like it - and I do eat the salad harvest during the week...honest!
Well, that's me done for the week. Looking very gloomy outside today, and chilly. Have a good week, stay warm and catch up next week.

4 October 2015

Dorset Garden Diary - A Perfect Week for Gardening

Good evening fellow gardeners,

Well, it's been the perfect week for gardening here in Dorset - windy, but the sun still has some strength. One of the things I will remember about this September is the seemingly never-ending stunning sunrises and sunsets; just when you think one can't be beaten along comes another stunner - I was running out of superlatives towards the end of the month. I haven't managed to upload pics from camera yet but I do have a pic the morning after the super moon from my phone. It doesn't do the view justice unfortunately, but I'll explain...the front of the house faces east and the sunrise was well under way whilst out  the back in the west the moon was still bathing everything in silver.

Monday - I finally ordered the plants I've been dithering over for a couple of weeks - Lily of the Valley, Echinacea purpurea White Swan, a selection of ground cover perennials and Viburnum Kilimanjaro (Chelsea plant of the year 2015)...really excited about the latter. Hopefully, these should arrive towards the end of the month. Yesterday, I pulled up all the carrots, parsnips and beetroot, cut the tops off and stored them in hessian bags in the shed, I'm hoping they'll last for a while and not go off. I left the leeks and fennel in the ground as they are more difficult to store and it will give me somewhere to plant the carrots next year as they don't like too rich a soil (possible senior moment here, I may be repeating myself). I sowed the green manure which will over-winter and when dug in will put some oomph back into the soil for next year. I covered the veg beds with netting and then erected string and ribbons to keep the birds off the seeds and stop them getting caught in the netting. The last job of the day was to get the surplus-to-requirements daffodil and tulip bulbs bagged up ready for their new owners. 

Tuesday - out early to feed the fish on a very chilly morning, pleased to see the heron scarer is still in place. I waited for the fish to surface and this morning they took their time, they obviously don't like the cold weather.  I re-potted the perennials that I bought from Hampton Court Flower Show in July. They are in 'holding pots' until I can get them in the garden. The alpines will be planted out in the Spring as part of my next couple of projects (more on this at a later date).

Wednesday - came home from work and the garden was wallowing in late blooms. The cucumbers are visibly longer, over half the remaining tomatoes had ripened and the chillies are turning bright red

(check out the bad boys above, they'll keep you warm on a cold winter's day!). There were also a few runner beans to pick. The aster and pineapple mint I rescued a few weeks ago are both looking healthy and have been re-potted.

The rose is in flower again, the hot lips salvia is putting on a valiant show and the violas are looking colourful and posing for the camera...say cheese!

Thursday - a very busy day in the garden - still warm, sunny and windy. Him indoors and myself started the day sitting in the conservatory eating crumpets and honey for breakfast. There was quite a bit of bird activity in the garden, which reminded me we need to be thinking about cleaning out the bird boxes, when something caught my eye in the clematis above the blue tit box. 'Is that one of the blue tits?' I asked. Him indoors said that's what he thought, too. Something moved again and it was a blue tit. It then went inside the box for about a minute, came out and flew away. I wonder if it was looking to see if we'd cleaned it yet, or maybe checking for squatters! It appears the cleaning of the bird boxes is on hold for a while now. Him indoors adjusted the back gate so that I can release the bolts easier; I need to get out to the large compost bin as the bins in the garden are now full. He then smashed up some unwanted crockery that I can use as drainage in the bottom of the pots. We now have the sundial in the garden (bought a couple of weeks ago) and yes, we checked it's showing the right time! It's not in it's final resting place yet, that will be next year.
Unusual, isn't it!

Him indoors then went out the front and dug out another of the hydrangeas that we'd inherited. I know I've said this before but I really don't like them. It will be replaced with the Viburnum Kilimanjaro when it arrives...yesssss!!

I came across this, something else that's just appeared - any ideas? That's what I love about this garden, you never know what you're going to find.

I planted some Arctic Verbascum in the cottage garden, it's coming along nicely. I made a small herb pot with dwarf marjoram, menthe requiem, chives and thyme and also put another menthe requiem along with more thyme in the garden. These also are 'on hold' until next year (big plans!). I re-potted the salvia and rose into their new pots (looking good) and also the lemon verbena. I have taken cuttings of the verbena and the rose to see if they'll take. The salvia cuttings I propagated a few weeks ago are coming along nicely and...when I planted the azaleas early this year a small branch broke off so I potted it up to see what would happen and it's growing - although I have no idea which azalea it is yet (no surprise there then). Also, when I planted the dwarf buddleia a small twig broke off  (I'm not always this careless with plants, honest|!) so that was potted up and guess what? It's only gone and got a tiny flower on it!
Yes, I know it's small but there is definitely a small flower growing at the end of the stalk. And a walk up the top of the garden revealed flowers on the goji berry. It's all happening.

We were both out in the garden for over 6 hours - time certainly does fly when you're enjoying yourself!

Today - I just pottered about for a few hours tidying up, picking more ripe tomatoes and runner beans and re-potting the iris bulbs. I used some of the surplus tomatoes for soup and tonight's dinner of potatoes, carrots and parsnips roasted with rosemary was all from the garden...the chicken pie was not!

Not sure how much gardening will be done this week as rain coming in tonight, we'll see. Anyway, hope you all have a good week and catch up next Sunday.