Now /That/ is Green!

I really like green flowers – not sure why, to be honest, perhaps it’s just the novelty.  I was a little disappointed with my ‘Laguna’ gladioli last year (and this) in that they were really more of a pale yellow once open and had a lot of pink to them, too.  This variety, though, ‘Green Star’ is absolutely and positively green.  Four of this year’s gladis have come up so far – ‘Green Star’, ‘Espresso’, ‘White Prosperity’ and ‘Laguna’.  Of them, I admit both Green star and White Prosperity are favourites – though the ‘Laguna’ are rather sweet simply by contrast as they’re a small variety planted amongst giants.  I’d never grown large or even standard sized gladioli before – always little butterfly or nanus varieties – so I wasn’t entirely prepared for the spectacular spikes on some of these plants.

‘White Prosperity’ in particular has given me some spectacularly tall spikes – around 7 and 1/2 feet tall!  Both it and ‘Green Star’ have also given well spaced flowers and, unlike ‘Espresso’ (which didn’t turn out nearly as dark as the packaging suggested) the blooms last a while so that the spike isn’t completely bare and ugly at the bottom by the time the top flowers are emerging.  ‘Espresso’ flowers died very quickly, were too closely spaces on the spike.  So far, I’ve somehow managed to be quite lucky and haven’t seen signs of any thrips damage.  I have, however, spied quite a few pollen beetles.  They seem to be really common this year, though I suspect I’m simply seeing more because I have more flowers growing.

 Also looking very green at the moment are the couple of cabbages which were members of the ‘misc brassica’ section until recently.  They’re hearting up, but also attracting a lot of attention from small, white, fluttering menaces and their spawn… Next year I really, really need to get some netting for my brassicas.

One the ‘other large flowers’ side, we have these ‘Velvet Queen’ sunflowers.  I wasn’t expecting these to be a tall type – I had assumed, since I knew they were multi-headed, that they’d be smaller bush types but apparently not!  Serves me right for not reading the pack more carefully.  Still, I think they’re amazing – they range from deep red to a burnt copper-bronze, each plant has produced a pile of flower heads and they stand 5-6 feet in height – not the tallest, but a fairly good backdrop height.

They also look fabulous in the rain:

A quick update on the ‘Way Back There’ garden – I’ve done some temporary and some ‘semi-permanent’ planting.  The buddleja, hydrangea, dahlias and carex are there to stay (hopefully) and the rest are former denizens of the patio and one of the greenhouses.  The dahlias will, of course, need to be lifted – the ground here is way too cold and wet in winter to leave them in the ground and the rest of the temporary planting are all annuals which won’t survive the winter.  Since a lot of the planting I’m planning on won’t go in until next year anyway it seemed like a good idea to plant these excess, temporary plants.  First off, it’ll let me see quickly if there are nutrient deficiencies that I’ll need to address before next years’ annuals go in, secondly it’ll allow for, hopefully, better growth for the ones which are to make it their permanent home – especially the buddleja and hydrangea.  It will also, hopefully, make it look a little less bare and give a splash of colour into the autumn months.

The tiles have turned out to be really valuable for moving about in the bed – reducing the amount of soil compacted by heavy trudging.  I’m excited to see what colour the buddleja is – it’s a bit of a lottery given I sowed mixed seed.  Given that it has red stems I’m guessing it might be one of the more pink-red stemmed varieties as these are the only ones I can find pictures of which have reddish stems – the rest having silvery or silvery-brown stems.  I’d love a white buddleja but I’m guessing the likelihood of that is slim in a random mixed-seed batch.

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Next Project & Autumn / Winter Sowings

Didn’t get my Tuesday post in this week due to being busy in the garden – not a bad excuse at all, to my mind ;)  I’ve been working on my next ‘project’ for the garden – converting the back piece of ground into a plantable flower bed – it’ll be where I get to plant some non-edibles.  It was a reasonably pretty part of the garden in spring, with daffodils showing up brightly against the grey slate stones, but for most of the year it was a little dull, with only the holly tree and tall stump for interest.  It seemed like a waste of space to leave it all covered in stones like that when I’m desperate for any growing space so it was time to get the space out!

The first picture was from early in this year when I was digging over the new side bed – it shows the back section and how barren it is with no plants.  The second picture was where I’d got to in one go – clearing as much stone as I could and double digging the centre section, adding bags of manure to it as I went.  The third picture shows what I got done on Tuesday – the corner section has been dug, the fruit canes (which were doing terribly in that spot) have been lifted, separated and moved and I’ve added a few stones so I don’t have to step all over the freshly turned over, loose soil.  It’s a bit lumpy, but it started to rain so I had to run inside and took the photo from the window.

It’s a very well drained spot, gets good light in spring and autumn and part shade over half of it in summer (due to a tree in next door’s garden).  It is a big area compared to my other beds and will allow me to plant some of the bigger shrubs I want to grow such as this little beauty:

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bombshell’ – I really like hydrangeas, who cares if they’re ‘fashionable’ or not!  This modern variety is a fairly compact one and, as it’s a paniculata, is one of the hardiest types – able to survive down to -20C.  That should be useful, given our recent bad winters.  Once I see what colour their flowers are some of the buddleja may go in here and I’m hoping to get a nice strongly scented, white rose – preferably a shrub or climbing type – suggestions welcome.  I’ve already got a small pile of seeds for both annuals and perennials ready for next year, too – as well as some dahlias and fritillary bulbs.

This year’s project is coming along ‘ok’.  The brassicas seem to love the soil in the ‘Sunnyside’ garden, as I’ve dubbed it, but a few other things are suffering either as a result of poor growing conditions, bad weather or my major nemesis this year: slugs!  The soil I bought which was supposedly meant for raised gardens or starting new beds isn’t all that great – it’s fairly strawy, dries out fast and generally was not as good quality as I’d have liked.  Because of this I’ve decided that once all of the plants are done in this bed for the year I’m going to heavily compost it and possibly re-dig it.  I’m not fond of the idea of re-digging it as it’d mean messing up any nice soil ecology which has managed to establish itself this year but I’m not sure if leaving all of the poorly composted material on top is a great idea either.  I may only loosely dig it over and hope that, with the added properly composted material, the winter frosts will take care of breaking it down to something a little finer.  Any thoughts on this would be appreciated!

My gladioli this year are… monstrous!  I’m used to growing butterfly types – you can see one of them at the very front, the yellow and pink.  The red flowers are large hybrid types (‘Espresso’) and are about the size of my hand!  They seem to die a lot quicker than the butterfly types, though.  If you look right in the middle of the picture you can see a very, very tall flower spike.  I have no idea which variety it is, yet, but that spike is about as tall as me!

Pinks seem to be dominating the garden in August – from the delicate shades of the little gladis, to the bright pink and white fuschias and more delicate tones on the begonia and bean flowers.

Apparently my gladis weren’t the only ones growing overly tall – I had to pick my potato up as it fell over with the weight of water on it from the frequent showers we’ve been having.  It seems to be ok, just rather tall and spindly for a potato, hence the accident.  It’s ‘Yetholm Gypsy’, my main crop, and I’ve yet to try any of them.

Another little oddity was this tri-branched cyme stalk on my vine tomatoes:

All of my other tomatoes have just single cyme per stalk, but this plant likes producing them in threes, as though it’s a bush type – unsurprising maybe, given it’s a bush-vine hybrid but it’s growing otherwise entirely like a vine (it was the tallest and fastest growing before I stopped it).  My tomatoes all seem to be doing fairly well, so far (fingers crossed) and I’m hoping that I get to taste at least one before we head off on holidays.  If not, I expect to come back to a fair crop!

Lastly, I’ve started some autumn and winter crop seeds.  I had planted all of these directly a few weeks ago but with only a couple of exceptions the slugs seem to have murderised the lot.  This set, therefore, are being coddled in the greenhouse until they’re big enough to handle a few chomps without keeling over.

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