25 March 2018

Dorset Garden Diary - British Summer Time Begins

Evening everyone,

Well the clocks went forward this morning, darker in the mornings and lighter in the evenings and, as I'm writing this, the sun is streaming into the conservatory. I can smell summer.

Once again I've not been out in the garden much over the past couple of weeks as it's either been too wet or more snow and ice, but this week it started to get milder. Not mild as in warm but milder than below freezing. And today is a no coat day!

This morning I spent quite a while in the conservatory watching the blue tits in and out of their box with nesting materials. I have put out small strips of wool, moss and cotton wool but they are managing to find enough natural material. The sparrows have spent most of the day jostling for position on the feeders with the magpies looking on disgruntled.

The frog spawn (yes, it's definitely frog and not toad) is thriving and the surface of the pond is rippling with the miniature tadpoles wriggling in their jelly cells and there are air bubbles on the surface.

Most of the seedlings I've sown over the past couple of weeks have put on a spurt. I've re-potted them and put them in the greenhouse as it's not warm enough to plant them out.

These are the three sunflowers
This is the kale, spinach beet, mixed leaves and rocket before re-planting
Now they are in holding pots until the weather warms and I can plant them out
I also re-potted the dill, razzmatazz chillies, padron (hot) peppers, aquilegia red hobbit and aquilegia giant, sowed more mustard and cress and planted out the purple poppies in the garden. The sweet peas are raring to go but it's still not warm enough yet

I started to clear the area by the side of the pottering shed. Most of the containers have either soil from growing the potatoes last year or home produced compost in them. I top fed a few of the flower beds from the containers

but there's still a lot more to clear and most of the remaining compost will need sieving.

Some of the fish put in an appearance this afternoon and ate the food I put in...rather that than the tadpoles!

And at last the garden is getting some colour - white hellebore
forsythia starting to flower

The daffodils and hyacinths are putting on a good display together with the aubretia

This has started to flower in the cottage garden but can't remember what it is - pretty though

 And the quince tree is budding, hopefully we will get some fruit on it this year

That's it for this week. It finally feels like it's all starting to take off again. I watched Countryfile this evening and I'm glad I managed to get out in the garden today because the forecast is wet and cold leading up to Easter. Catch up soon.



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12 March 2018

Dorset Garden Diary - A Quiet Week and a Visit From the Heron

Evening everyone,

There's not much been happening in the garden this week. It's turned milder (relative to the big freeze last week) but still chilly in the wind and rain but I still didn't get the chance to get out there until the weekend as it's been too wet.

The pond was still partly frozen last Monday despite the rain and warmer temperature
But by Tuesday it looked back to normal although not so sure about the spawn
And this was taken at the weekend and it all looks fine - amazingly

The pipe connecting the greenhouse to the water butt was hanging off yesterday morning. All I can think of is the squirrel used it as a springboard onto the fence and pulled it out of its connection - it's all fixed now.

Yesterday the daffodils skirting the cottage garden started coming into bloom
 as did the aubretia

And the rosemary, lavender and curry plant haven't suffered at all in the big freeze

In the greenhouse the sweet peas sown last October are raring to go, I've already pruned them back twice

And indoors the coriander and parsley are coming along nicely

Not so successful have been the chilli and pepper seeds sown in the propagator a few weeks ago so I think I'll have to cut my losses with them. I prepared a container of seed compost and vermiculite

and sowed in pots this time more peppers 'King of the North' sweet and Razzamatazz chillies. I also sowed mixed lettuce leaves, rocket, beetroot 'Boltardy' - these can go straight into the ground but I've not prepared it yet, spinach 'perpetual', Kale 'nero do Toscana', cress and dill. I also sowed sunflowers 'velvet queen' which, if they take, will look amazing.

The birds have been feeding frantically all week and I've kept the bird table and seed feeders topped up. And this afternoon (which was unusual as we normally get a visit in the mornings) the heron landed on the back fence to survey next door's pond. Apologies, not a good pic.

I turned my back for five minutes and it had changed it's mind and was surveying ours!
As I keep saying, it's a magnificent bird and I feel privileged to have it in the garden...but...so glad we have netting over the pond.

Well that's it for this week. We're in for a sunshine and showers week with the temperature staying mild but there is a threat of colder weather coming in for the weekend. Have a good week and stay warm.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

5 March 2018

Dorset Garden Diary - The Big Freeze

Hi everyone,

Well I couldn't let this week pass without a mention. The freeze started on Monday with segments of the pond frozen over so I gently poured boiling water on to clear it. I hadn't realised it was that cold as there was no frost like there normally is...this was ice. I also moved the bee house to a sheltered spot. Tomato seedlings in the propagator had surfaced so I potted them on (cherry and gardener's delight) and also sweet peas but left them in the conservatory as it's too cold for the greenhouse.

-3C 26F overnight and Tuesday morning the ice was thicker and it took a whole kettle of boiling water just to make a small hole in the ice on the pond and two kettles to melt the ice in the birdbath. I topped up the bird feeders but, because it was so windy I couldn't put seeds etc on the bird table because they would have blown away so I cut off a large chunk of bread and spread it with lard and also cut a chunk of lard and covered it in seeds and put those on the bird table. Bitterly cold. We had a few snow flurries today and then this evening, just as I was getting ready to go out, a blizzard that blanketed everything in minutes.

Wednesday - the ice on the pond had to be at least an inch thick and there was no way hot water was going to penetrate that. I hope the spawn can survive this.

It was a nice sunny day apart from it not getting above -2C 28F all day and a wind chill factor of -6C 21F. It was lovely in the greenhouse though - 13C 62F. Bad weather forecast for tomorrow and Friday so I topped up the bird seed again.

Thursday- well we waited in expectation of Storm Emma and she duly arrived mid afternoon. It wasn't as heavy as we were expecting but it snowed steadily for four hours or so and it was bitterly, bitterly cold in the gale force winds.

Friday - overnight the snow turned to rain which turned to freezing rain. It froze to our windows,
the car resembled a block of ice and the front driveway, pavements and road were like a skating rink.

This is the patio in the back garden, as you can see the snow has a film of ice over it. There was even sheet ice covering the lawn. I wanted to get outside to top up the feeders but it was impossible until late afternoon when the temperature lifted slightly. I made it to the pond but I couldn't get to the bird feeders.
You can see the ice cracking underfoot and it was devilishly slippery.
And this is the pond... 
On Saturday the temperature rose to 4C 39F and although the last of the snow and ice hung about for a bit it's all gone now. The weekend was still cold but it's getting milder this week. Well, comparatively milder, it's still cold outside and now we have rain on and off all week.
I hope you managed to keep warm and safe. It was pretty at the time but glad it's back to normal as I need to start sowing seeds.
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