February Round-up


It’s been a fairly wet, warm and windy February – we had a short cold snap but it didn’t really stick here in Scotland.  The bulbs I planted have all started to come up – even the tulips, which I thought I wouldn’t see for another month or so.

As per my own sowing calendar, found here, I’ve already started getting my seeds in for a large number of plants.  Balancing window space at this time of year can be a problem so I wanted to get things moving along – even if it does mean some young plants are a little spindlier than I’d like.


As well as the burgeoning pile of seeds, I also have my potatoes in the window to chit.  This year I’m growing Arran Victory and Epicure again, and trying Kestrel.  Much as I loved my Salad Blue potatoes I think Andy was a little weirded out by blue mash and gnocchi I made with them so I went for more traditionally coloured ones this year.  The Arran Victory potatoes have a lovely red skin, but they have a ‘normal’ creamy interior.  They also make amazing mash and roast potatoes!  Epicure performed well for me last year and is a great tasting first early.  I was born in Ayrshire and I grew up eating them as they are the seed used for ‘Ayrshire new potatoes’ –  so I may be a little biased ;)


This little sliver of ground between the path and wall has always looked slightly drab at this time of year.  The foxgloves have gone a ways to helping brighten it up in summer but at the moment, as you can see, they’re just fresh little rosettes.  The crocuses peeping up between them couldn’t have worked better – they contrast well with the bright, young foxgloves in a delicate way.


Some other splashes or colour are just starting to show now, too – the ‘Victorian Lace’ primrose is one I’m particularly happy to see.  I got it last year, rescued from a reduced price shelf,  just before I went into hospital.  Andy did a sterling job of watering all my plants whilst I was in for the unexpectedly long stay but this little primrose happened to have been left in the hallway for later planting – behind a door and not easily visible… and so it was forgotten.  When I got home it was a sad, wilted thing but I knew primroses were made of sterner stuff so I popped it in the ground and watered it well – it thrived, putting on a lot of leaf, and is now rewarding our neglect with it’s funky, distinctive little flowers.



 The not-quite-so-colourful last picture is also something I’m quite chuffed with – it’s open pollinated viola seed from the garden.  I’ve never grown my own from seed but decided this year that I had to give it a go – I realised I should be able to grow my own bedding a lot more cheaply (and with more variety) than if I bought it.  Even if it doesn’t work out superbly, it’s more experience with growing a wider range of plants!  I’m trying out viola, as mentioned, lobelia (both cascading and mounding types), french marigolds, coleus and aquilegia and, possibly, some poached-egg plant if I can find the space.

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February’s Heating Up…

I really wasn’t expecting to see these cheery little flowers yet – I don’t think my dwarf irises showed themselves until late April or May last year because of the horrible spring we had.  This year, however, the weather’s been suspiciously mild. I say suspiciously as I can only believe that the Scottish weather is being nice so that when the almost-inevitable blizzard hits us it’ll feel so much worse!

I took advantage of that good weather, fleeting though it may turn out to be, to do something I’d had in mind for a while.  I knew, when I bought my little plastic greenhouse, that it likely only had a 1-2 year life in it – or at least the cover did and I had begun to wonder what I could do with the frame pieces.  It’s been spending more times on its side than I’d like, lately, so I decided to go ahead and use one of the ideas that had come to mind – to turn it into a flat coldframe.

I took the top curved section off to give me a square frame, removed the shelves and internal middle struts put the cover back on, lined the base with some bubble wrap and thick plastic, with a paving slab to secure everything.  I used cable ties to secure the ends of the cover to the bottom of the frame (leaving the ‘flap’ loose where the zip is) and filled it with some sweet peas covered in fleece.  I’m going to use the top piece, covered in netting or fleece, as a brassica cage, as well as using the shelves for either the same purpose or as a ‘tomato cage’ for my ‘litchi tomatoes’ (a spiny, hardier member of the tomato family which I’m told produces small, tart-sweet fruit).

Hopefully it won’t fly-away from this position!

Other than the iris, there’s not yet much colour in the garden – though there are a tonne of buds:

I was worried that my clematis wouldn’t make it, as I’ve never grown them before, but it seems to have a lot of big, fat buds so I’m looking forward to a show in late spring (I think that’s when this variety flowers!).

Talking of buds:

It’s time for potato chitting!  I felt sorry for the postman when he brought these to the door – he mentioned he was glad to get the box out of his bag.  I don’t know if he’d have been amused if I told him he’d been hauling potatoes around, hehe.  This year’s varieties are ‘Arran Victory’, ‘Kestrel’ and ‘Epicure’ – Kestrel being the only one of the three that I’ve not tried before.  I ordered them from alanromans.com – having seen the man himself give an energetic presentation at the Dundee Food and Flower show (also, JBA, another great seed potato vendor and the one I have usually bought my stock from, didn’t happen to have ‘Arran Victory’ and I had my heart set on them!).

Alongside these potatoes in the postman’s bag was 100 2 & 1/2″ pots.  I’m planning ahead for the seedling glut – something I’ll go into in my next post.

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January Jobs

Post storm, at the beginning of January, my garden looked like this – the greenhouse had been tumbled over to the other side of the garden (amazed that it didn’t end up next door, to be honest), there were still a lot of random veg and ornamentals still growing and bits of debris all over.

I decided it was time to get my garden ready for the year ahead.  I seem to be starting a little earlier each year, though this year I could say that I never stopped – I have mibuna, mustard greens, straggly pak choi and a few larger brassicas of unknown type still scattered around the garden.  There’s also some spring onions, thyme and a few ornamentals which survived what has, so far, been a mild winter.  Unfortunately the mildness of the weather has also meant that weeds are popping their heads up rather early so I’ve been taking advantage any sunny days to get out my hoe.

I’ve also been grabbing the spade (as I have, sadly, no shovel) – making a start on my efforts to double the width of my main veg bed.  I’ve been using a narrow strip since I first cultivated that part of the garden and I want to move to a much wider bed – making use of the part of the garden which, on first look, seemed too shady for much but I have since realised that it would be a great spot for some of the more heat sensitive plants during summer.   It’d also allow me to have a lot more veg in, and given my burgeoning seed collection this is probably a good thing!

 

As you can see, I’ve added a path behind the graveled area – so I can actually get into the veg from the other side – though I also plan to leave small paths horizontally  to allow for easier access to each section.  I could only get about 3/4 of the gravel up as I only had enough old compost bags to put the overflow in.  Once those have been taken for recycling, I’ll make a start on the rest and hopefully get some chicken manure down to help the soil.  If it’s anything like the rest of the soil was when first dug up it should be pretty nice.

As well as the overwintered greens, I also had some other winter-sown seeds / bulbs in.

The garlic has gotten off to a slow start, though I’m glad it came up at all as I had invested my whole (small) garlic crop last year in replanting.  The broad beans are only barely making it through – they were badly attacked by slugs when they first came up as it was such a warm, damp winter they didn’t give up until well into November!  I’m going to replant more, for a later crop, but I am hoping a few pull through for some earlier plants.

I’ve also sown the first of this year’s seed:

Three types of sweetpeas.  Unfortunately this lot actually ended up on the floor in another high-wind accident with the greenhouse, but I potted up some more afterwards of the same type ;)  I also have some aubergines and hollyhocks indoors… which germinated in two days!  I had expected them to take a good while longer.

The first of many autumn planted bulbs are beginning to show now, too.  The tulips, daffies and crocus are only leafy bundles, as yet, but this wee snowdrop was raring to go!  Hopefully it’ll be joined by others in the coming weeks.

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November Chills

Or… lack thereof, really. I don’t really have a very good memory so I was curious as to whether my subjective “last year was way colder at this time of year, the garden felt more ‘over’ for the year ” was true and went in search of photos.  Turns out I had actually underestimated quite how cold it was last November and how bare the garden was by comparison!

Snow!  That second picture was taken on the 27th of November last year – almost a week short of a year ago.  Even the first picture shows the heavy frosts we were already getting.  So far I’ve not noticed frost on the ground during the day and even at night we’re rarely dropping to zero degrees.  Things are still green and growing – though I have a lot more junk lying around for ‘future plans’ ;)

I also have a lot more food plants which are actually growing – winter radish, kale, mustard greens; and a few flowers, carnation and cosmos, which are still going for broke – though the cosmos will likely fall over as soon as we get a good hard frost.  I’m holding off on cutting it back until then as its tall stems and feathery foliage still give a nice structure to the garden – acting as a ‘fence’ between the front and back portions.

 

 

 

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Acidity

Since the beginning of September, I’ve been attending one of the RBGE’s short courses – specifically ‘An Introduction to Horticulture’.  It’s been a really enjoyable course –  especially the last lesson, which was centred on soil properties and composition.  We were asked to bring in small soil samples from our gardens to do a pH test on so I brought three samples – one from the ‘oldest’ bed, one from this years newly cultivated bed and one from the newly dug back bed.  To say the results were surprising would be a gross understatement.  I’d suspected the soil at the back wasn’t great quality, and knew it would need a decent injection of organic material to get it off to a good start but I did not suspect quite how bad it was.

The tutor borrowed one of my samples to show us how to use the chemicals and it was whilst I was working on adding the bits and pieces to my second test tube that I heard an amused “what in the world do you grow in this soil?” .  I looked to the front of the classroom to see a red container.  Not just a wee bit red but BRIGHT RED.  The colour wasn’t even on the chart which the tutor passed around – she estimated the pH of my soil to be around 4.5!    pH 5 is considered ‘very acid soil’ and for those who’ve not done chemistry for a while, pH runs on a scale of 0-14 with 0 being the most acid and 14 most alkali (though it can go outwith those values, but for simplicity’s sake…).  It’s a logarithmic scale, meaning that a soil with a pH of four is ten times as acid as one at five – so it’s not even just a ‘wee bit more acid’.

What this means in real terms is that there are very few nutrients available to the plant – many of the nutrients plants use react with other things at lower or higher acidities – which most being available for the use of plants around the neutral range.  It completely explains why my hydrangea was having trouble, even as a plant which can usually handle both fairly acidic or alkaline soils.  I’m not sure, to be honest, how the daffodils planted there have managed to cope, but I can perhaps understand why they didn’t always flower – they probably just couldn’t get the required mineral nutrients for that kind of growth.

Action, then, was needed.  There are several ways to deal with acidic soil – as our tutor went over in class.  The first, and most basic, was to put in acid-loving plants – but this is rather limiting and with my soil even acid loving plants might have issues.  The second is to add organic material – preferably not too much leaf mould as that is fairly acidic, too.  This is slow-acting and I had already begun to do this as it’s my preferred method overall for improving my soil.  The third is to add lime – which will help increase the pH more quickly but need to be reapplied to keep the pH up.  I’ve also decided to go down this route – even if just to ‘sweeten’ the soil a little more, so that it’s not deadly-death to most plants.  I’m hoping that liming it now will help with the spring bulbs and give me a decent soil to plant into come early summer, and, thenceforth, I can plant a wider range of plants and continue to improve the soil to allow it to be a better growing environment.

The other big surprise, for me, was that my ‘good’ veg bed showed as fairly acidic too.  Not nearly on the scale of the back bed, but definitely acid rather than neutral.  This surprises me as I’ve grown a fair bit of veg in there – including some good sized brassicas which I’ve read prefer alkaline soil.  The last ‘surprise’ was at least a good one – the side bed, which I dug at the beginning of this year, has fairly neutral soil which bodes well for next year!  I may try adding a little extra lime to whichever area I decide to grow my brassicas in (which I’ll need to decide soon, to give it enough time to break down) to see if that gives them a boost of some sort.

In other news, this year is mild – I still have sunflowers (above) blooming in November!  My poor broad beans have come up and are growing away like monsters – unless we have a super-mild winter they’re doomed so I’ve planted some more, hoping that this lot will only just peek their heads above ground before harsher weather comes along.

 

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October Cleanup

Usually, in the winter, the patio is desolate – stripped of all of the bags of potatoes, gladioli and other sun-loving plants which I grow there.   I have wanted to reclaim some of the land under the patio since we moved on, but was held back by the fact that the patio is actually useful, and a nice place to have a barbecue, however, I decide there was a way to kill two birds with one stone – get more planting space and liven up the patio during the winter – removing some of the slabs around the edge.  This preserves the width of the patio but allows me to plant some shrubs!  If you can’t quite see them, the shrubs in question are buddleja!

I’m a big fan of these hardy bushes which are vigorous, attract insects and have a nice, fairly open, silhouette when not in flower.  These particular ones, too, were grown from seed – I have no idea what colour they are but of the three which I managed to grow to this stage they all have very different leaf colours and shapes and differing bark colours.  They are davidii, but beyond that?  Could be white, magenta or lilac!  I’m also hoping that by planting them in the ground now they’ll make it through the winter better than in pots.  They had already filled their pots with roots so they really should have been repotted sooner, but I’d been slacking a little on getting these new ‘beds’ done.

Behind the half-barrel is another mini-bed – not sure what will go there, yet! In the half-barrel itself is an Acer, which went straight from summer-colour to winter leaflessness.  I’ve heard that it’s common for Acers to drop their leaves all at once but I think this might have been a stress reaction due to being in a too-sunny spot during the summer and also being transplanted a little late.  The branches all have little buds, though, so I’ll look forward to it doing well next year in a shadier spot.  During winter it’s staying where it is, though, as our light levels drop so much that even the sunniest spot in the garden hardly gets much light all day.  The joys of living in the north, eh?

The rest of the garden is also still a little messy – I need to figure out what to do with the pile of decorative slabs!  The sunflowers are still doing pretty well and I’m even managing to grow some ‘small’ green stuff again.  The slugs must be starting to hibernate! Mwuhaha.

‘Dragon’s Tongue’ in the foreground, mibuna way at the back and I have no idea what’s in the middle as I seem to have lost the label – probably ‘Green Wave’ mustard greens.  Next to them is the late daikon I put in – it seems to be doing well and despite being grown outside of the cloche the slugs don’t seem to have looked at it much – guess they don’t like the taste!

This little geranium is still trying hard, despite the cool nights –

Oddly, it’s blooming pink – it was blooming deep red a month or two back!  Maybe the cold, whilst not killing it off, is affecting the colours of the flowers?  Or maybe the nutrients in the soil are less available in the cooler weather.

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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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Flowers & Seeds

Now that we’re past the half-way line of summer it’s time to get ready to start the wind-down.  Even though some plants have just gone in, a lot of others are now beginning to wrap up their yearly efforts and set seed.  Particularly of note are those plants which are normally biennials but which, if you make inroads now, could be flowering next year.  In my garden that means foxgloves – which I’m collecting the second the little conical seed pods start shading to brown.

I’ve marked all of my foxgloves and lupins, this year as to what colour the parent plant was.  They’re open pollinated, but given the information here and here I think I can safely say that my white with purple spots foxglove plants will majoritarily produce white seedlings due to being white-dominant (i.e. they have a gene which means that magenta colouration is ‘overwritten’) but the white with green spots could be much more variable as they are a recessive white form, shown when there is no information for magenta to start with.  I may be mixing that up, so any input would be more than welcome.  Next year I’ll likely attempt hand pollination as I’d like to increase my odds of getting more white foxgloves – especially those with green throat spots!  Some of these are earmarked for auntie Beth but if there’s anyone keen on having some, let me know as I suspect within the next month or so I’ll have rather a lot of seed.

Also likely to produce a lot of seed are my lupins – mixed dwarf and tall varieties varying from white to purple and various shades of pink  as well as bi-colours thereof which I’d be happy to share with anyone who wants – they’re a really good plant for bullying out other weeds if you’ve not got a lot of time to spend on weeding or if you have a rough patch of ground.  The big downside to lupins is that they’re herbaceous perennials so have nothing to show for themselves during winter!

Some other plants which tend to produce large amounts of seeds are also coming into flower at the moment:

The sunflower is a new type for me this year (‘Velvet Queen’) and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to harvest true to type seeds from it as my other sunflowers – a tall plain yellow variety – won’t bloom for a while yet.  The dill is from seed I saved myself last year and will hopefully give me more this year.  I really need to use more dill – it’s ended up as more of a decorative plant as I’m not used to using it in the kitchen.  Anyone got some good (non-pickle) recipes?

Another edible flower growing rather well at the moment is the purple sprouting broccoli.  I took the large main bud off of it a few days ago and the side shoots have exploded with growth – they seem to be one of the few plants doing really well in the new veg bed – along with the cabbaged and cauliflowers.  I suspect it may be that they enjoy the heavy soil a lot more than the other plants.  Either way, given I’d thought I wouldn’t have any sprouting broccoli this year, I’m rather looking forward to putting these on my plate!

Other flowers just coming into bloom are this lovely white dianthus – likely edible but I’d feel bad tearing apart that beautiful blossom head and a flower with an ‘edible name’ or sippable, anyway – Gladioli ‘Espresso’.  I’m really looking forward to those unfurling as their colour is already spectacular when the light catches the buds.

 Last but not least, this week I bagged a squash.  This poor thing had been in a pot for ages – the usual conundrum of having sown too many expecting more fatalities, thus ending up with spare plants.  When I removed a potato, though, I realised I could reuse the bag for my squash!  A quick clean and re-fill later and I now have a patio squash.  Hopefully it’ll take to its new home – at the very least it’s better than a tiny wee pot!

 

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Updates & Insects

 Alpine strawberries really go the distance compared to normal ones – my ‘Cambridge Favourite’ plants only have a few late fruit clinging to them but my little alpines (‘Mignonette’) are still bursting with tiny, sweet, aromatic fruit.  Not on that, but they’re also still flowering! I was getting handfuls of these little things into September last year and I’m hoping for the same again.  Another great thing about these tiny, tasty plants is that they don’t produce runners – so unlike my other strawberries I’m not having to check every week for sneaky attempts to invade the rest of the veg patch.

The container garden is maturing a little – there are now fewer potatoes (3 bags have been harvested) and the older nasturtiums are starting to look a little ragged as they go into seed production mode.  Since I want seeds as both food and for next year’s ‘crop’ I’m happy to let them go.  The gladioli are throwing up flower spikes, though none have opened yet, the buddleja are starting to grow again after a midsummer break, and there have been a few additions – some little Dahlias and a spectacular, if still small, Acer.

There are a few species of plants I’ve wanted for a while and this is one of them – and about the only tree which is likely to fit in such a little garden ;)  Andy picked the type – ‘Butterfly’, which is a lovely green, yellow and red-edged variety.  I think it’s a rather beautiful little thing and it’ll stand out nicely versus our red fence where a red one would just fade into the background.  I aim to plant it in the half-barrel where the larger gladioli are currently residing, but until then it’s hiding in a terracotta cachepot.

The tomatoes are going strong – I’ve thinned out a few branches to allow for better airflow and to stop a few of them resting against the condensation-damp sides.  The nasturtiums are enjoying being planted alongside them, it seems, and with being planted so much later than the others, will hopefully give a little bit of colour in a few weeks.

Finally, the ‘miscellaneous brassicas’ rescued when my greenhouse fell over are showing their ‘true colours’.  I have one purple sprouting broccoli (hooray!), one cauliflower and two cabbages all growing happily side-by-side.

One thing I’ve really noticed a lot this year is the increased traffic of wildlife in the garden – mainly insects of course.  Above are a hoverfly, spider and tiny bee taking advantage of the flowers and shade given by my garden plants – all of which are all sitting on what was bare patio or slate-stone when we moved in.  I don’t know if I’ve noticed more bees this year or less, but I’ve certainly seen more varieties of bees.  I can’t be sure if it’s just that I’m recognising more of them, now, or if there is actually a wider range, but it’s really nice to see so many little critters buzzing around hard at work.  Unfortunately there are also a tonne of earwigs, woodlice, ants and scale insects alongside slugs and snails – I can only hope that the nesting birds and ladybugs make inroads on those as my poor turnips are starting to look a bit ragged =(  Oddly, all of my aphid problems are indoor!

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Late Beginners

My first and only raspberry and the first of my little tomatoes.  Fingers crossed that it’ll be the first of many!

Legousia Pentagonia flower – I thought I’d lost these pretty little ground-cover plants when I’d accidentally left them in the shed.  I noticed them suddenly yesterday when I went out to check on things after a weekend away from the garden.  Next to it, is a teeny tiny physalis pod!  I wasn’t entirely sure that they’d survive outside but I had just run out of room indoors and gave it a shot.  They’ve certainly done better than the tomatillos I tried to grow.

This holly bush has caused me some consternation since we  moved in.  It’s very vigorous – the picture on the left was the first time I pruned it when we first moved in and, as you can see, the height them was reduced to the edge of the fence but it’s now grown several feet past it again.  I tried at the time to just keep it from making its way over the fence but this time I decided to give it a prune to make it more of a tree instead of a bush.  I wanted to be able to get in underneath it, and maybe plant a climber up it (which I now have, a lovely white alpina type, spring flowering clematis).

The bed in which the holly bush sits is ‘next years project’ ;)

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