29 May 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - All of a Sudden It's Starting to Happen

Evening everyone,

I hope it's been a good week for you all. The garden appears to have gone into triffid mode - all of a sudden it's starting to happen which is very satisfying and exciting.

Monday - 52F 11C and sunny. Clouded over now and again during the day but pleasant to potter in. My first job was to feed the fish who were ready and waiting. The fishlings are noisy when they eat, a sort of sucking, clicking noise that can be heard across the garden. The seed feeder had fallen over so I fixed that and moved the two daffodil feeders deeper into the trees so the magpies and pigeons can't get to them. I modified the bird table yet again

so let's see if they can get on now. I had to re-pot the chop suey greens as I'd put them in a pot without any holes in the bottom (I should have checked before I put the gravel in the bottom!) and they were swimming in water after yesterday's rain. I potted up the tiny verbena bonariensis seedlings then cleared all the tall grass from around the cottage garden (for some reason it's growing everywhere this year) and tidied up the dying daffodil leaves.

The first flower has appeared on the courgettes (exciting)
In the cottage garden the white daisies are in full bloom
Delphinium black knight is in bud
in the front garden the irises are in flower
I have no idea what it is although I obviously planted it! Can't wait for it to flower
And the foxgloves (digitalis) under the arch have started to flower
Final job of the day was dig out the Spanish bluebells from around the rosemary bush. This took an age as the bulbs are over 8 inches deep. I still don't think I have them all so I'll have to move the rosemary and dig them all out properly.
Tuesday to Thursday we were away in Chantilly, France for a couple of days. We stayed in an amazing B&B which had a large lily pond,
it was a haven for frogs, not that we saw any but they were serenading each other all day and night!
Friday - a sunny start, 55F 13C. Rain was forecast which the garden needs but none appeared. Amazing what's been happening in the garden over a couple of days. The maris peer potatoes are flowering
the rescued azalea is looking amazing
and looks like we're going to have a bumper crop of pears and plums if I can keep the birds off

(they can have the cherries as they're sour). I thought the baby blue tits had fledged because I hadn't see the parents but they soon appeared, in and out every ten seconds or so. There are more flowers on the courgettes
and the delphinium black knight has come into flower.

Saturday - another 55F 13C start and a gorgeous day reaching 63F 17C, just the right temperature for gardening. It reached 80F 27C in the greenhouse mid afternoon. It was a long and busy day:- I secured the cucumbers and tomatoes with string to canes, the first flowers are appearing on the tomatoes
I then picked some radishes for my salad
I have an abundance of them at the moment - not doing so well with the spring onions though. I planted some tomato, cucumber and gherkin plants in the garden, this is to see how they grow in comparison to those in the greenhouse. I also planted out the squash, more runner beans and the next batch of peas; potted up the fennel and white daisy seedlings and sowed more beetroot amongst the tomato and gherkin plants. I pulled up more pak choi that has bolted. Gardeners' World mag arrived yesterday and it appears the reason they have bolted is I grew them too early so I'll try sowing more and see what happens. Planted ragged robin and antirrhinums in the cottage garden then spent over an hour weeding it. One of the grasses that I pruned in the spring hasn't grown...think I should have left it alone, I'll have to replace it. It's filling out nicely and starting to look good.

There was a surprising discovery whilst weeding - why do I have kale and carrots growing in there?

I went into the garage and there's been a spider's web on one of the windows for a few months that I've left, but now it's almost halfway across the window and window sill. I got a bamboo cane and removed the web whilst the occupant (first time I'd seen it and not small) dashed about in indignation. When I went back in later the occupant was on the window sill where the web had been. This time it didn't scuttle off, just sat there looking defiantly at me because I'd destroyed it's web. Not an hour later I had another wildlife encounter...I came indoors to get something and heard a thud in the conservatory. When I checked it out there was a robin banging into the glass doors trying to escape. Luckily it was in there and not elsewhere in the house, although I'm baffled as to how it flew in the open kitchen door and then turned left?? Anyway, I shut the kitchen door then went into the conservatory to open the double doors. The robin, now perched on one of the house plants, watched me as I unlocked the doors and pushed them open. It then looked at me as if to say thank you and flew off. So...one bad deed and one good deed...I think that evens out my karma.
Sunday - only 53F 11C this morning but sunny and soon warmed up to a lovely 68F 20C (reached 85F 29C in the greenhouse this afternoon). My first job today was a trip to the garden centre, I wanted to replace the ornamental grass I'd pruned and probably killed, get some more perennials and ground cover. I must admit I was quite restrained in my purchasing
In no particular order:- cosmos sonata pink, polemonium purple rain, artemisia Powys castle, phormium, mixed winter heathers, lobelia salmon and coreopsis early sunrise. I've put them into water for planting out tomorrow. I fed the fish a few times today, they're nowhere near as big as the ones we saw in Chantilly which had to be at least a foot long (no, I'm not exaggerating!)
I mowed the lawn (yes, I know it's him indoors' job but he's working), trimmed the edges then put the grass cuttings in the potato bags to cover the lower leaves and keep the soil moist. I then cleared out the bed under the plum tree, filled it with top soil and filled with plants, all looking much tidier.
I moved the courgette trough to get to the potato bags and noticed that, since yesterday courgettes have appeared
The digitalis and aquilegia under the arch are looking colourful
and there are buds on the arch clematis
Watched the weather this evening and it's a bit touch and go whether we have rain or not this week so it looks like I'll be spending my evenings watering the garden. I hope you have a good gardening week and catch up next Sunday.
P.S....the spider in the garage has been working overtime - a new web has already formed!
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22 May 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - At last a Squash and a Grateful Azalea

Evening everyone,

It's not been very warm for most of the week but it has felt humid at times. Rain was forecast during the week but failed to arrive until the weekend - I don't think the weather forecast applies to us here.

Monday - a chilly 48F 8C start but soon warmed up and in the afternoon the greenhouse reached 77F 25C. I dug out all the bluebell look-a-likes from under the fruit trees which took over two hours then scooped out all the stray roots. There wasn't much soil left so it was a trip to the garden centre to buy some top soil and more compost and...while we were there...bought a couple of shrubs, two ladybird poppies, phlox and ground cover plants for the cottage garden which can grow in between the taller perennials and hopefully keep the weeds at bay, and some mimmulus scarlet which were free.

We also stocked up on bird food and bought a couple of solar lights. It's impossible to just go and buy just what we need! When we got back home him indoors unloaded the car then moved the bee house on to the back fence and staked up the quince tree. I filled the tree beds with top soil then split the primulas and planted them together with thyme, saxifrage and aubretia. It looks a bit bare at the moment but they will soon grow and spread. I thought I caught a glimpse of a baby frog but wasn't sure, but we did have all three generations of fish feeding this afternoon.

Tuesday - slightly warmer at 50F 10C. I planted out some of the ground cover in the cottage garden and the ladybird poppies,

watered the veg in the greenhouse with feed then it was off to meet the family.

Wednesday - back home this evening thinking we wouldn't have to water the garden for a few days because it had been raining most of the way back but the ground here was dry. Him indoors has had the all clear on his foot which is great news but...the list will have to wait until he's caught up with other things, like work. Excuse me?? I checked the greenhouse and, at last, the squash has finally broken through, I'd given up on it to be honest. I'm only growing one because I'm not sure how much fruit it will yield and what I'm going to do with it.

The aquilegia and marigold seedlings are starting to appear as has another runner bean (just the one).

Thursday -50F 10C start and sunny but clouded over later in the day. It was quite warm out of the wind. I sowed more radish and spring onions in the garden. The carrots and parsnips are coming along very slowly as are the leeks. Some of the pak choi I planted in the garden has started to bolt yet others haven't - strange and annoying. I sowed more parsnips in a seed tray, planted up a couple of gherkins in the greenhouse to replace the ones I'd lost. The sweet peas are continuing to bloom despite the coolish weather:

Him indoors saw a magpie on the bird table aaarrgghhh!!! No sign of the fish today.

Friday - slightly warmer start, 51F 10C and humid. I was out all day so nothing done in the garden. Watched Gardeners' World in the evening, the only job for the weekend that applied to me was skimming weed off the pond and there isn't much. Monty explained that iris's have to be planted with the rhizome above the ground and facing the sun. This is so it picks up the heat during the summer  then produces masses of flowers the following year so I'll give that a try. The azalea I rescued from a garden centre a couple of years ago (it had been left in a corner to dehydrate and wilt) has come into flower and showing it's gratitude

Saturday - 51F 10C (consistent if nothing else) and rain. Yes, we actually have rain that was forecast! I have three tomato plants that will eventually be growing in the garden and not the greenhouse so I put them outside today to harden off and have a good soaking. Caught a huge snail chomping away on one of my gherkin plants...not for long! I planted up a runner bean plant that has hardened off. For some reason they are growing in dribs and drabs. I put the phlox in the cottage garden - candy stripe, McDaniel's cushion and emerald cushion blue. It's filling up now, just waiting for the plants to start flowering.

I planted up the second batch of chop suey greens and planted up the mimmulus:
Fed the birds and moved the feeders. There was no sign of the fish but I put some food in the pond and they soon appeared.

There is some nice unplanned, complementing colour in one part of the garden:

Sunday - and again 51F 10C (I did wonder if the thermometer was stuck) but it was showing 57F 14C, not very warm. Cloudy and humid for most of the day. I potted up fennel seedlings that were ready and sowed some more as they are taking an age to germinate. Also sowed next batches of radish and spring onion and parsnip, forgetting that I'd already done it so we could be having a parsnip explosion this year (last year it was beetroot!). As I was pottering I heard a noise like tyres on smooth tarmac. As it got louder I looked up and a huge flock of small birds whizzed by overhead. I fed the birds and I have another idea for the bird table which I'll try tomorrow. Around 5pm it came over a bit black and we had a hailstorm followed by torrential rain and thunder - that'll save me watering the garden for a few days.

Then as it was stopping the sun came out

Here's a little montage of progress:
The squash
Basil happy in the greenhouse
Tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies and peppers

And the apple seeds I sowed on the off chance
The apple tree in situ at the moment better buck it's ideas up and produce some fruit this year as there are, at the moment, six seedlings waiting on the sidelines!

As usual I watched Countryfile this evening for the weather which, apparently, is getting colder for a few days then warmer and rain. I have taken in the tender seedlings for tonight in case they are right but, as they aren't always, my Daisy Digga Dorset forecast is...pleasantly warm and dry all week! I hope the weather is kind to you where you are, happy gardening and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

15 May 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - That wasn't Forecast and the Next Generation

Evening everyone,

It's getting busy in the garden, better than a workout in the gym! It hasn't been as warm this week but still pleasant although did get humid at times.

Monday - the day started cloudy and drizzly (50F 10C) and only reached a maximum of 61F 16C. I tied strips of ribbon on the netting structure I erected yesterday (to keep the pigeons and magpies off my seedlings) so the smaller birds don't fly into it. I pruned the hazelnut tree and then dug up the wild garlic as once it takes a hold it is very difficult to control, pretty though it is. There has been some new growth in the garden, For Your Eyes Only is coming along nicely
The raspberry bush has settled in well
The second batch of peas have surfaced
the white azalea I rescued from a garden centre a couple of years ago is in bud
and we have some irises that are flowering for the first time.

Tuesday - 50F 10C again this morning and cloudy, became humid later in the day then cooled to 50F again in the evening. I fed the tomatoes, courgettes, gherkins, cucumbers and the olive tree (this has to be fed twice a year). I topped up the seed feeders and the pigeons are now trampling down another part of the garden unfortunately. The slugs are targeting the pak choi and swiss chard at the moment so I put down more pellets. Saw this bee walking across the veg patch:

Wednesday - 51F 10C this morning and misty:
It soon cleared but stayed humid again. The blue tits are now constantly in and out of their nesting box so I'm presuming the young have hatched and they're feeding them. I planted out more pak choi and celeriac seedlings and the first batch of runner beans, mulched them and put down slug pellets. Is this the Year of the Ant by any chance? There appears to be a lot of them in the garden, probably due to the warm winter we had. And guess what...a fish surfaced after what must be four weeks or so. Only the one though. I watered the garden as, according to the weather forecast, there was no rain coming our way over the next few days. When I'd done I checked the pond again to see if the fish was still visible but it wasn't. What was on the pond though was a bumble bee clinging to a lily pad. I went and got my newly bought children's fishing net and scooped it out. As soon as I put the net down it stretched it's legs (which actually are quite long) and then flew off. I went out this evening (yes, I do get out now and again), I was driving along the seafront and a sea mist was closing in, it was quite surreal rolling across the bay. Unfortunately I was unable to get a pic but it reminded me of the film The Fog, minus the demons.

Thursday - raining this morning, 51F 10C. Hmmm...weather forecast said no rain. On my to-do list today (by the way, him indoors should be fit for his to-do list next week...I've had to buy an A4 pad!!) was: thin the carrots, sow more fennel, radish and spring onions, weed top veg bed, weed top flower bed and put grass in compost bins. What I actually did was re-pot the watercress, lower the string on the bird table and add some ribbon, let's see if this works:

and put the grass cuttings in the compost bin. I was busy indoors in the afternoon, the humidity was rising and the temperature in the greenhouse at 5.30pm was 82F 27C. I had gone into the garden to pick some pak choi for my stir fry and was waylaid by the pond as I saw a big splash out the corner of my eye. I was staring into the water when I heard a noise, it sounded like the earth was splitting then I realised that a) it was thunder and b) what I thought was sea mist rolling in again, wasn't. It was storm clouds. Well, all I'll say is that I went back indoors a lot quicker than I strolled out! I checked the weather and computer said light rain

yeah, right! We had over an inch in two hours. I'd only tweeted on Tuesday that we really needed some rain here. Moral of this story - be careful what you wish for. At least I now know how to make it rain...water the garden.

Friday - a hazy, sunny start (55F 13C) and the promise of the hottest day so far, sunny spells in the morning with brighter sunshine in the afternoon. I had to go out this morning; at 10.30am the heavens opened, torrential rain and then more thunder and lightning...now this definitely wasn't forecast. It did clear up for the afternoon and at 5pm it was 75F 24C in the greenhouse. I potted up some of the second sowing runner beans and a couple of gherkins that had pushed through.

Saturday - started cold 41F 5C. I was at work so was hoping that there was no plant damage. When I came home early evening I checked the garden and all appears to be fine except there have been some nibblings at the pak choi leaves.

Sunday - and another cold start at 41F 5C but soon warmed up although windy. I finally did Thursday's to-do list (thin the carrots, sow more fennel, radish and spring onions, weed top veg bed - didn't manage top flower bed), planted more tomato plants in the greenhouse, re-potted the second sowing of gherkins (it may sound like I am growing a lot of gherkins but for some reason they tend to die on me). I planted out the peas (apparently you water them on planting then don't water again until the flowers appear - didn't know that), sowed another batch then potted on cornflowers, white daisy and red campion. There was a fish near the surface again late morning
by early afternoon it had been joined by the hyperactive one, it's skittish and darts around the pond at full pelt. I put a small handful of food in the pond but they weren't interested. But...the surface started to ripple and the next generation of fishlings were bobbing for the food, they're only about and inch and a half to two inches long. I'm so pleased. No sign of any tadpoles or baby frogs though, I'm wondering if the fish have eaten them.

The first sweet peas (mixed highly scented) flowered this morning

this gladioli, no idea what type, but stunning
and the dahlia dark leaf (Happy Single Party) has survived the winter under tree bark
yet the dahlias I overwintered in the greenhouse haven't appeared yet. The Chinese leaves are coming on - no idea how big they have to grow before I eat them

and the honeysuckle arch is filling out nicely
Oh...nearly forgot...the Maris Peer potatoes have grown a lot over the past week (carrots in the troughs)
and are coming into bud
All day the blackbirds have been singing, it's like they were holding their own version of the Eurovision Song Contest...I'm voting for the one in the lilac tree!

Watched Countryfile this evening, a special Spring edition, very interesting, cute animals. Anyway, the weather for the week ahead is sunny, occasional rain and windy. After last week I think I'll just take it a day at a time.

Have a good week and happy gardening,



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