Nasturtium-o-rama

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August can be a quiet month in the garden (I don’t mean like literally quiet because I have two young children and a puppy). So many flowers have finished and you’ll probably be busy with your veg.

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But my garden has suddenly burst into life. Why? Because I panicked in May and sowed a million nasturtium seeds. I had lots of gaps and no time to mollycoddle seedlings in a tray. So I just bunged an entire packet of nasturtium seeds straight into the ground, not remembering that I’d have plenty anyway that had seeded from the year before. I’m pretty sure the variety is Whirlybird Mixed.

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So I’ve got quite a lot, but I like them. The cabbage white butterflies are happily fluttering around looking for a nasturtium leaf to lay their eggs on. Normally they go for brassicas but nasturtiums will do, so they’re a great sacrificial crop to keep your broccoli in one piece.

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And they are also edible! You can eat the flowers and leaves in salad, and the seed pods can be pickled and used like capers if you like that sort of thing.

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Just make sure you sow enough so that you can eat some and enjoy the rest!

 

I aten’t dead

Yes, I went quiet for a LONG time. Mr The Digger has been working very hard which has meant that I’ve been doing a lot of parenting (and still a lot of gardening). So not much time for computering.

Because he’s been away a lot, I’ve been trying to keep busy. I’ve been to see my ma a couple of times. The last time I went to visit, it was a beautiful sunny day and I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. She said it was OK to do a blog post about it, providing I don’t tell you where she lives because you might go round and nick her Gertrude Jekylls.

So this is her garden. She started with a pretty much blank canvas 6 years ago. When she moved in there were no beds or borders. There was a lawn, a couple of shrubs, and an 8ft thick leylandii hedge. The hedge is gone, some of the shrubs have been resurrected and my mum has been hard at work. Quite a few of the plants are the same as in my garden. Where do you think I get all my plants from? But I do give some back as well, don’t worry. You may see other similarities because my mum has been the main influence on my gardening style. I’m forever asking her what she thinks of my plans. Wouldn’t you? She totally knows what she’s doing, just look.

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The yellow border.

 

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I can’t remember what this rose is called and I keep forgetting to ask my mum. *EDIT* My mum says it’s a David Austin called Lady of Shallot and she also says thanks to everyone for the kind comments about her garden.

 

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Pink and blue bed with those gorgeous Gertrude Jekyll roses.

 

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The garden backs on to a field and there’s a hedgerow with plenty of native plants. Yay foxgloves!

 

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Love love love this foxglove. White with just a touch of pink.

 

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Willow arbor with seating. Not that my mum does a lot of sitting; she’s too busy gardening.

 

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OMG BLUE GERANIUM.

 

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Bees love my mum’s garden too. She gardens organic and puts plenty in to attract wildlife.

 

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I love it when you get random pink nigella.

 

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My mum’s garden is BIG, which means she can grow whoppers like this Onopordum acanthium.

 

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And this beautiful Phlomis, which proved a bit too large for my titchy garden.

 

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My mum can grow lupins. I am well jel.

Anyway, I have been doing some actual gardening and I’ve even taken photos so I will get cracking with some garden and allotment updates.

 

What does your front garden say about you? Mine says ‘where the hell have you been?!’

According to an RHS survey, a quarter of front gardens are now paved over due to a combination of too many people/cars/houses crammed into a tiny space and people having to work so damn hard that they don’t have time to garden. Green driveways are the answer. Problem solved, kind of.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all been eagerly awaiting my next update and wondering where I am, right? RIGHT? I’ve been in Canada visiting my in-laws, which means that I got to relive early Spring all over again (they are 6 hours behind on time and 3 months behind on weather).

I was very nervous about the trip, partly due to my brain (travel+constant socialising=OMFG,NO) and partly because I was going to be away for almost 3 weeks in May; that’s a lot of gardening to miss out on. Luckily, my lovely mum agreed to babysit all my seedlings and they’ve come back in great shape- cheers, Ma! Some things I managed to get in before I left and things were looking pretty shipshape, if a little overgrown, on my return. Except for the sunflowers, the fucking slugs ate all 12 of those.

So here’s an update on my front garden, which was just starting to look very nice when I had to leave. The colours are meant to be white, orange/yellow, and purple/blue. So anything pink or red is rogue. Except the red hot poker. I dunno what to do about that one.

I came home to this:

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Right hand border.

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Left hand border.

I was very pleased not to have missed my humungous bearded irises flowering. These are the ones that I divided last year and they just love my front garden. They don’t last very long and they’re not looking too pleased about the recent heavy rain, but here is one:

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Gorgeous, innit?

My calendula-zillas are lovely but might need a bit of a tidy up:

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Yeah, that’s a lot of calendulas.

Red hot poker!

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This is my children’s favourite. ALL THE COLOURS!

Garlic chives:

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The best kind of flowers- pretty AND edible.

Creeping thyme/viola/nigella/yellow clover combo (three of these plants are not meant to be here):

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I’m not sure if it’s going to be possible to weed this bit. Tweezers and a magnifying glass maybe? I dunno.

Unintentional flower meadow:

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This is not the man-lawn that Mr The Digger envisaged.

Ceanothus flowering, woohoo!

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Bee party over here.

Still recovering from jet lag. Haven’t caught up with Chelsea yet. But hi! Glad to be back.

 

 

Sow what

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It’s that time of year when I start PANICKING because there is so much to do, so many things to grow, and a limited amount of windowsill space (no greenhouse) to put everything on.

So today I went through my seeds and tried very hard to scale down the amount of things I’m going to grow (yeah, right) and sort them into the order they need sowing. I have to be organised or I just end up drinking and crying.

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Digger Jr labelling up the seed packet bundles.

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Digger Jr Jr making a list of what’s in the propagator.

Anyway, my children are old enough to help this year, which is good because they chose a couple of packets of seeds each last time we were at the garden centre- bribery is essential when shopping with children.

Digger Jr went for delphiniums (Pacific Giant mixed) and sweet peas (Promise and Heritage mixed). I’ve never grown delphiniums from seed but the instructions were the type that make you read it several times and then just go ‘fuck it’ and chuck some in a seed tray to see what happens. So that’s what we did. The sweet peas have gone in the propagator for now but will need moving somewhere cooler once they’ve started sprouting. I’ve grown them from seed before so I know what to do; replace them with plug plants later on in the season. Nah, just kidding. I just need to put a bit more effort into them this year.

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‘Can I grow these, mummy?’ I dunno, maybe? Let’s see what happens.

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This is what they are meant to look like. Last year they looked a lot more crap.

Digger Jr Jr went for sunflowers, which are well easy to grow but irresistible to slugs so make sure you surround them with eggshells and coffee grounds and land mines. You can sow them direct but I prefer to let them get a bit bigger before I leave them to the mercies of the slimy monsters, so they’ve gone in pots and will go outside when they’re a few inches tall.

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The seeds are good for the birds. Screw you, birds, I’m having them on my salad.

And I got cracking with my tomatoes. This year I’ve gone for San Marzano and Sweet Millions. I’m hoping the San Marzanos will make me enough sauce to last until the end of the year and the Sweet Millions will go in salads and with summery pasta. Yum.

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Mouth. Watering. Already.

 

My morning glories look ace today

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That’s it, I just wanted to show off about them. The white ones are a variety called Milky Way. Morning glory (various Ipomoea sp.) is from the convolvulus family, but it won’t take over like the dreaded bindwind. Did you know they were also related to sweet potatoes? Don’t eat them though, they’re toxic.

Image searches for morning glory should be conducted with care. My husband cannot even say the name of the plant without sniggering, the big manchild.

Morning glory is an annual and it’s dead easy to grow from seed (so my mum tells me).  I’ll definitely be growing it again next year. The hardest part is choosing which varieties to grow. Cheers for the spare plants, ma!