Monday, 28 May 2012

Garden Log - Flowering Update

Clearly I'm getting far too excited by odd things flowering here and there, but it's my first year of it, so I think it's excusable. Especially after the long grey winter of empty garden, followed by a month long freezing downpour when nothing grew. With this in mind, I think I'm going to start limiting these "Garden Log" posts to monthlies or bi-weeklies, unless something particularly exciting happens.

The first fully open Anemone

Some sort of pelargonium?

Different Climates - A Visit to Gloucestershire

I've just got back from visiting my parents who are living in Gloucestershire. It's quite incredible how much further things are along there considering it's only 250 miles south. Both plants and animals are weeks ahead and it's striking how green it is. My parents live on a canal boat and the village where they're moored is quite small and very quiet. It's lovely at the boat - you can't hear any cars or anything. Very peaceful. It's the first time I've visited that part of the country and I'm very taken with it. A truly beautiful area.

Here are some pictures I took while we were there.

A mandarin duck and ducklings

Forgetmenots (I think) growing wild

Some beautiful irises and aquilegia in this garden. I'm quite jealous!

A classic English countryside view - a field of buttercups

Friday, 25 May 2012

Stewart Park, Middlesbrough

Stewart Park is one my regular lunchtime haunts. It has been looking a bit sorry for itself until recently when the council have been doing a refurbishment. Lots of newly laid paths and some refreshed lakes have gone in , and recently the new planting has started. It's going look very nice once things are established, provided the local intelligencia manage not to destroy it...

This rose garden with box hedging is going to be gorgeous once things get going:

There was a newly planted bed of perennials as well which was lovely with aliums and ferns, but one one of the afore mentioned intelligencia was sitting behind it drinking cans of Skol while I was photographing...

This is one of the more established sections, which I think is lovely with tulips and the rhododendron blooming together

There's also a very nice, newly planted shaded bed with hellebores and euphoribias, amongst other things. I'm looking forward to seeing it all next year and will update as things establish themselves.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Not at Chelsea

Shocking announcement for a horticultural blog - I'm not at Chelsea. It looks lovely, and I wouldn't mind going, but right now I'm not there. Rebel that I am. I have to make do with trying to enjoy it via iPlayer, despite Titchmarsh. Congratulations to the gold medalists. I was particularly taken with Cleve West's garden which very much deserved to win Best in Show, and I also liked the gardens by Joe Swift, Ishihara Kazuyuki, Thomas Hoblyn, Peter Dowle, Jihae Hwang and Tracy Foster.

This evening I've potted out the last of my pepper plants. Hopefully I'll be able to get them and my tomatoes outside soon. The Delphiniums and Aquilegias are looking lovely with this bout of gorgeous weather, and the Hostas are starting to emerge along with the seedlings of the "bee and butterfly mix" I scattered in the shade border. So too are the weeds. Did a mass weeding over the weekend and it needs doing again already. How dare it.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The current state of play

Things have moved on a bit since the pictures shown in the previous post. Here's how things stand at the moment. From here I'll be able to document how things develop.

The front:

The bushes and hedging have been dramatically hacked back and the lawn is much healthier. There have been some pants in the main bed in front of the window for a few months which are starting to look nice and grown in, and I've started getting some pots along the front wall of the house.


Some of the planting that has gone on in the last few months - Some Brunnera "Jack Frost" in front of the Rose (I have no idea what type yet), and behind it you can just see the canes supporting some Delphiniums that I've put in. Theses aren't much to look at yet, and I forgot to take a picture anyway...

A closer view of my Tulips looking very sorry for themselves after the weather lashing they've suffered over the last few weeks.

The back garden is also looking much better:

The main bed has been totally dug out and some plants are starting to appear. There's some Heathers that I rescued from the reduced shelf at B&Q, and some of the Bluebells that have popped up all over the garden. This bed has also sprouted several Aquilegias and a Lupin, which were pleasant surprises.

One of the Aquilegias

Further up I've planted Digitalis (Foxgloves) and a couple more Aquilegias, some Saxifrages, and there are also some Hostas in there which are yet to appear.

This is the veg bed, or at least it's supposed to be, however it's spent a large amount of the last few weeks under water. The bit that's closest to the camera was one of my definite learning curve jobs. In my enthusiasm to get stuff planted I failed to dig it over thoroughly enough, didn't add any of the compost or sharp sand that it clearly needs, and have thrown in some inappropriate veg for good measure. I've since learned that asparagus is not likely to grown under water. Fancy that! There is some beetroot in there that is coming up as seedlings, and some purple sprouting brocalli, some sprouts and some maincrop potatoes. We'll see what comes of it, but it may end up chalked up to experience. The top end of this bed was dug over properly with the appropriate additions, and is currently home to three courgette plants that were grown from seed in the cold frame and then planted out. So far, rather more successful.

This is the patio bed which is playing host to Honeysuckle, some summer bulbs, Sweet Peas, Snapdragons (Antirrhinum), and a well hacked Hydranger bush. My mini pond was inherited from my Mums garden and has Yellow Flag Irises and water-snails.

This trellis arch should hopefully soon be covered in the afore mentioned Sweet Peas, Honeysuckle, and some Jasmine that's growing from one of the pots. You can also see my mini herb garden - Sage, Thyme and Rosemary - in another pot.

So that's the state of things at present. I'm quite happy with the way it's improved and developed, and just need to keep reminding myself to be patient. I also need to stop watching instant makeover gardening programs.

Now, if only we could have some sun things might start growing!

The obligatory "before shot"

Our garden was a mess when we moved in to this house. No other way of putting it. Totally neglected shrubs grown way beyond their allotted places, beds overgrown to the pointing of me having to dig what was effectively a layer of turf off the top of them, and trees that hadn't had any maintenance done in years.

Working from this is both good and bad. Good in that I have a more or less blank canvas to play with, bad in that there's nothing there which can seem a little bleak at times, and isn't helping my impatience whilst waiting for things to become established.

Here are the before photos.

The front garden:

Not strictly before shots as I'd hacked things back a bit and put a few bedding plants in, but it's the closest I've got.

The back garden was much the same, but the soil is much worse. Heavy clay with very poor drainage.

This one is the side bed after I'd started digging it out, and a large dip in the lawn was filled in and reseeded.

So, plenty to do, lots of space to fill. Loving it.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Making it up as I go along

Yet another gardening blog. Indeed.

I'd decided that I should start keeping a record of my horticultural successes and failures, and notes of things 'to do next time'. As a fan of the great sport of filling the Internet up with meaningless drivel, I thought I'd do it in blog form. I've done blogs before on techie stuff, but working in that field full time and, frankly, becoming increasingly fed up and disillusioned with it, I can't seem to summon the enthusiasm to keep that going. Maybe I'll go back to it at some point, maybe not. We shall see. I'm very easily distracted...

I'm a new gardener. Despite my mother and two of my grandparents being very keen gardeners, I've not had a great deal of interest in it for some time. I was interested when I was younger, and in my mid to late teens I was involved in a nature conservation group. It's one of those things that I thoroughly enjoyed, but somehow allowed to fade away, without even realising. With moving to the first house we've had with a garden, and the birth of our first child somewhat changing my leisure time priorities, I'm starting to rediscover the enjoyment I got from being outside and working with my hands. Maybe the above-mentioned love-loss with computers has also played a part (he says whilst sitting typing away). I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm picking it up as I go, and very much enjoying the process.

So, this will be diary, log of garden progress, notebook, and photo feed. Someone might even read it!