24 March 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - A Pond full of Tiny Tadpoles and the Blue Tits are Nesting

Hi everyone,

An early blog this week as we have a full weekend coming up. It's been a busy week though:

Monday - and still the wind continues. I don't know what the fish were up to this morning but as I walked to the pond I could see lots of them near the surface then, as I got nearer, they all dived for cover as if they were guilty of doing something they shouldn't be lol! I put out the plants again to harden off, I think they might have had a rough time of it today in the wind. The radishes needed planting up

and I have put them in the greenhouse as it's going to be cold tonight.

Tuesday - cold and windy but sunny...a lovely day for gardening. I seem to have a plethora of pepper seedlings but not to worry. I've not had much luck with them so far - I can grow the plants but the peppers don't develop properly so now I've got lots to practice with. I made a start on the plants that arrived last week. With the order, I received eight free ornamental lily bulbs which I dotted around the garden then, when I was checking on something, I read that they should be planted on their sides so that they don't fill with water and rot. So I then had to try and remember where I'd planted them then re-plant them on their sides.  I found seven, so not bad. I also received twelve free trailing fuchsias some of which I've planted in pots. I planted the eucalyptus in a large pot for the patio to keep the mozzies away when we're sat out on a summer's evening with a glass of something, and also in pots a fireball lily, silverbush and the purple geranium because I'm not sure where it's going yet. I planted the anchusa azurea in the cottage garden (a gorgeous royal blue perennial), in the top bed the callicarpa profusion which has purple fruits in the winter that the birds love. I then gave the fruit bushes a high nitrogen feed. The peas and courgettes have started growing

but still not the cucumbers. I may have to buy more seeds.

Wednesday - raining but mild this morning then it turned into a glorious day, the temperature reached 68F 20C in the greenhouse this afternoon. I fed the fish first thing but they didn't appear. The surface of the water was rippling and when I peered in I saw thousands of tiny tadpoles. By lunchtime the fish still hadn't appeared so I got the small fishing net to scoop out the food and the net was full of tadpoles so I had to put it back in and scoop out the food a bit at a time. The pond is full of them. If the fish don't appear tomorrow then they are obviously on their sabbatical at the bottom of the pond and no doubt there will be lots of fishlings in the near future.

There were four birds in the garden that I can't identify. They were tiny and had splashes of yellow, black and brown and they flitted about the garden for a while. I haven't seen them before. It was difficult to see them properly as they were so fast but they were either great tits or goldfinches. One of the nesting blue tits appeared later in the morning with a beak full of nesting material. I spent most of the afternoon pottering. I decided I might as well plant out the perennials as they are quite robust so I planted the gentian, the viburnum kilimajaro, the calendulas and lupins I've grown from seed that have hardened off then I potted up the mimosa and orange bougainvillea into pots and put them in the greenhouse until the threat of frost has gone. After that I potted on the tomato plants into individual pots. The forsythia I planted in the autumn is in flower
and the fritilaria (snakes head) flowers are close to opening

Thursday - it rained all morning, cleared up in the afternoon then became very windy. Still no sign of the fish. After all the activity yesterday the pond is still today. The courgettes, peas and kale have shot up.

Friday - thankfully the wind has dropped. I potted on the courgettes and peas (they all have good strong roots on them)

and the kale and then planted out the first of the potatoes (Duke of York) in one of the veg beds rather than in the potato grow bags, as they will break down the clay.

Well that's it for this week. The weather's looking good for the next few days and hopefully into next week. Have a good weekend and catch up next week.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

19 March 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - A Visit to RHS Wisley and Rampant Radishes

Evening everyone,

The jobs are starting to build up now. I'm still hardening off the plants in the greenhouse but unfortunately, although it's been reasonably mild in the day there's been a couple of nights where it's been nearly down to freezing so I have to put them back each evening as I'm still awaiting a cold frame...him indoors take note.

Monday - we had a day off (yay!). We went to RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey and we couldn't have chosen a better day. It was sunny with a slight breeze so one minute it was too warm with a coat on then, when we walked in a different direction, we needed them on again. Here are some photos


Tuesday - colder and cloudier today. I noticed when I was feeding the fish that the water lily is sprouting leaves, which reminds me I want to buy a miniature one for the cauldron pond. I put out the greenhouse plants then cleaned and replenished the bird table. On an inspection of the garden I see that the cherry tree

 and the pear tree

 are coming into bud. I didn't really do much in the garden today apart from some tidying up.

Wednesday - what a dull and dreary day. I hardened off the plants and did some more tidying up. The tomatoes, peppers and chillies are doing well

and the radishes have started to break through

Thursday - it was misty for most of the day but milder. The calendula and sweet pea plants look ready to be planted out but I'm still reluctant yet as I don't want to lose them after all the TLC they've had

There were three blue tits fluttering around the nesting box today...interesting! And...arrgghhh...there was a magpie on the bird table. There were others on the lawn but this particular bird seemed to be the only one capable of getting on it, so my design sort of works. I planted out a blackcurrant sage that I've grown from a cutting and is now hardy. Then I made a start on the moving the mound of gravel that came from the base of the old greenhouse and was dumped on the potted herb garden (pots removed beforehand, of course). I'd removed about 18" or so (not good for my back, shoulders etc etc etc) when I came across this plant

It looks like wild basil. How on earth did it grow that far under the gravel???

Friday - gorgeous sunrise and morning then it clouded over and the wind got up. I was out all morning and by chance this afternoon I happened to look out the window so see someone standing on the front doorstep. I opened the front door and there was a delivery man with the plants I'd ordered. Apparently the doorbell isn't working...it's on him indoors' list! Lucky I looked out the window when I did. I unpacked everything

sorted them out and put them in the greenhouse until a) the weather warms up a bit and b) I have the time to plant them out. These include more ground cover, plants for the new borders by the greenhouse and shrubs for pots for the back of the greenhouse.

Saturday - the forecast for the weekend was showers but mild, maybe windy. I wasn't going to be around until tomorrow afternoon so after much umming and aaahing, I made the executive decision to put the greenhouse plants out this morning until tomorrow (some of the shrub cuttings that have taken have been left out all week). I hope I've done the right thing. There's some duckweed in the pond that I need to remove and also the aerating plants are starting to take over but I can't thin them out yet because of the tadpoles and (hopefully, soon) the new batch of fishlings.

Sunday - well...so much for a milder weekend. Milder as compared to where I'm wondering?? And windy! I nearly got blown over today. Anyway, back home and straight out into the garden to check on a) the fish - hungry, and b) the plants which, thankfully, survived their night of camping out. I've put them back in the greenhouse for tonight. And talking of the greenhouse, guess what my first job is tomorrow - re-planting the rampant radishes!

And finally, now and again a flower just stands out against everything else...this primrose is mine of the week

Well, it looks like I won't be planting out anything this week as the weather is predicted to drop below average and we could have frost and wintry showers...but I'm sure I can find something to do!



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

12 March 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - Toughening up the Seedlings, Pruning Shrubs and Taking Cuttings

Hi everyone,

Not the best start to the week due to the weather and my work commitments. But, it has gradually been getting warmer as the week's progressed which is just as well because the jobs were starting to pile up.

Monday - the frog/toad spawn has flattened out and was producing air bubbles. I was reading an article about frogs and toads and although, obviously, frog spawn develops into tadpoles I didn't  realise that if it's toad spawn they're called toadpoles. So, we'll have to wait and see what we've got. I don't think we'll have to wait long!

Tuesday - a busy bird day today. The blackbirds and robins were feeding off the bird table and the blue tits were in and out of their nesting box. It would be nice if another pair of blue tits took up residence in the other nesting box further up the garden. It's been up for two years and nothing. I decided it was time to start hardening off the greenhouse seedlings and cuttings

Once I'd put them outside I was unsure if it was the right thing to do as, although it was milder, the wind had picked up. I left them out all day but put them back in the greenhouse for the night.

Wednesday - the day started rainy and windy then in the afternoon the sun came out and it was very pleasant. I pruned the olive tree, the corneus back to it's base and planted it in the top bed and both the 'for your eyes only' roses...I have also planted cuttings of all three. I moved the bay tree from the top of the garden back to the gravel garden near the patio as it wasn't happy (the leaves are pale rather than dark). It's now in partial shade and I gave it a good prune, equivalent to a number three cut. Late in the afternoon two pigeons were sifting through the mound of gravel from the old greenhouse.

Thursday - a gorgeous day. Mild and dry with sunny spells - perfect day for gardening. I scattered my free poppy 'red pom pom' seeds in the cottage garden then I brought the plants out of the greenhouse again. In the afternoon the temperature reached 64F 18C. One of the gooseberry cuttings has taken and it's come into leaf

and one of the winter jasmine

This aeonium wasn't happy last year because I forgot to bring it in overwinter. This year it's been in the greenhouse and it's sprouting leaves up it's stem not just on the top. They started off lime green and now they're turning purple

The resident daffodils are looking good framing the cottage garden

 and I'm pleased with the newly planted double daffs - pretty

One of the jobs to do in March is top dress container-grown plants which means scraping out the top layers of the existing compost without damaging the roots and topping up with new. I top dressed the lemon tree, the blueberry (and gave it a prune), the olive and the lemon verbena (pruned and cuttings planted). I fed the fish and saw that there were some I haven't noticed before - a couple that are black and long and shaped like miniature catfish and what looks like a silver angel fish!

I pruned back the perennials in the front garden and added more gravel to the rockery. When I was putting the plants back in the greenhouse there were a few ants crawling on the shelving. Horror! I had a problem with them last year in the old greenhouse where they had nested in the gravel and soil base then took up residence in one of the grow bags. They've obviously 'come home'...or think they have!! I've put down plenty of ant powder.

Friday - foggy. I put the greenhouse plants outside again and made the decision to plant the meconopsis (blue poppy) in the cottage garden as it's growing fast and the weather appears to be mild for a few days. I also planted up the garlic that had started off in individual pots. The roots were entwined around the drainage polystyrene I'd put in the bottom. I didn't want to damage the roots so I've replanted them with the polystyrene attached. Some of the roots had actually grown through it.

As I was pottering, an enormous bumble bee buzzed around the garden, feeding from the hellebores. Which reminds me, the other day I was in the garage and there was a bee on the window, a honey bee think. I thought it was caught up in a cobweb (I'm not so good on the domestic goddess front where the garage is concerned). It moved but it appeared exhausted. I found a plastic container and tried to manoeuvre the bee into it but it started buzzing frantically. How do you tell a bee you're trying to help it! Anyway, after a few abortive attempts the bee crawled into the container and I managed to get it to the door and outside where it flew off. This afternoon I sorted out the seeds for sowing this month.

This morning there was a ring of bubbles around the spawn. I checked on the internet and it could either be too much aeration in the water or too much protein (not surprised with all the spawn and fish in there) but it had disappeared by lunchtime

Saturday - a stunning sunrise and a warm, spring day. I fed the fish then sowed cucumbers (the previous ones don't appear to be doing anything), peas (including sugar snap), lettuce, kale, yellow alyssum and I scattered a couple packets of hardy annual seeds that had come free with gardening mags. The miniature lupin is growing again
and I've grown these three from it's seeds
the quince tree has come to life
and I came across this little beauty that wasn't in flower yesterday

Sunday - what a difference a day makes. Today is foggy and raining and not quite as warm. There wasn't much I could do in the garden so we went to a garden centre and had a look round. I was very good, I only bought some high nitrogen food and liquid seaweed feed. We did see an outdoors combined clock and barometer that we liked though...maybe another time.

Well that's about it for this week. The weather looks like it's going to continue mild and mainly dry through until next weekend which will make the garden grow. I have already started my to-do list! Have a good gardening week and catch up next weekend.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

5 March 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - The New Greenhouse and Success with Cuttings

Hi everyone,

Most of the week has been either windy, cold or raining and, in some cases, all three. So its not been the best of gardening weather. I'm still amazed at how quickly flowers and shrubs come to life. One day there's nothing then the next morning there's a bud or a leaf...an exciting time of year.

Monday - I didn't venture out today apart from feeding the fish (there's more frog spawn in pond) as it was cold and windy with heavy showers.

Tuesday - sunny today but bitterly cold in the shade. I checked the plants in him indoors' workshop and gave them a water. The blue tits spent the early part of the morning in and out of their nesting box and a couple of blackbirds were splashing around in the bird bath. The hellebore is brightening up the garden

and an artistic shot of frog spawn in the late afternoon sun!

Wednesday - a dull day but at least it was calm. Then the rain came. I topped up the bird table, the blackbirds had moved all the seeds they don't eat to one side. I saw a pesky pigeon taking liberties with my slightly altered design and sitting on the bird table - I went out and it flew away. I've put it back to how it was. One thwarted pigeon.

Thursday - it was a wild night but thankfully there was no damage. The greenhouse erectors arrived just before 8am and finished early afternoon. I am sooo pleased with it

It's smaller than the previous one but there's still plenty of room for everything. Him indoors re-stained the wooden shelving unit for me. We then ummed and aaahed about putting the trellis back up along the side and the back to diffuse the sun but we couldn't agree on how to do it as I didn't want it attached to the greenhouse. A primrose has started to grow through an existing one and it looks like it's one plant with purple and yellow flowers

Friday - heavy rain this morning. The heron arrived whilst we were having breakfast and perched on the back fence
It was probably thinking 'there used to be a shed here!'...that was its favourite landing spot. The seagulls didn't like the heron being there and kept dive bombing it. Him indoors started to secure the side fence where the top shed was. We then had another discussion about putting up the trellis and decided not to. Not having it up is giving us a better view of the garden.

We'll just use the trellis temporarily for growing veg against the greenhouse in the summer. Him indoors says I always grow too much anyway, but I have to over-sow in case some of the seeds don't grow. Then, when most of them take, I have to grow them all! Now we aren't putting the trellis up I am having to rethink what to put in the flower beds bordering the greenhouse. Hmmm...I can feel some spending coming on!

Saturday - apart from a couple of short showers it's been a mostly sunny day and a bit warmer. I transferred the pots from the workshop into the greenhouse

I trimmed back the sweet peas and checked the cuttings I took late last year for signs of new growth and I'm pleased to say that more than three-quarters of them have taken. Doing especially well are
and  ivy

meconopsis (blue Himalayan poppy) has come into leaf
calendula and parsley grown from seed

Also, in the last couple of days more seedlings have appeared so I re-potted them - peppers, razzmatazz chillies, spinach, tomatoes, verbena bonariensis, nigella and mimulus. I also planted some of the onions that didn't grow much last year to see if they will this time. There was plenty of birdsong to keep me company and apart from the blackbirds and sparrows, the robin made an appearance and there was a woodpecker close by. Plus...the geese flew over on their way to the RSPB reserve. I dug out a climber (I think it is a clematis) from the bed at the back of the greenhouse and have replanted it near the back fence and in its place I planted the black flowered hellebore
re-potted the gardenia
and planted the viburnum bodnantense dawn inbetween the climbing roses in the back bed. I intended to plant out the viburnum Kilimanjaro but there are daffs in the way so it will have to wait. Last job of the day was to finish weeding the cottage garden...some of the plants have new growth on them. Actually, it was the penultimate job of the day. The last job was place a plants order!!
Sunday - another wild night and gales are forecast all day. It's so nice to look out on the garden and be able to see it all...looking forward to the summer.
Well, that's it for this week, prior commitments beckon. I think the weather for the week is staying warmer with sunshine and showers but of course, that will probably change. Have a good gardening week and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga