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.

mumyellowborder

The yellow border.

 

mumrose

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.

 

mumpinkborder

Pink and blue bed with those gorgeous Gertrude Jekyll roses.

 

mumfoxglove

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

 

mumfoxglove2

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

 

mumwillow

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

 

mumgeranium

OMG BLUE GERANIUM.

 

mumbee

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

 

mumnigella

I love it when you get random pink nigella.

 

mumtriffid

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

 

mumphlomis

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

 

mumlupin

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.

 

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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:

border1:1

Right hand border.

border2:1

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:

iris

Gorgeous, innit?

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

calendulazilla

Yeah, that’s a lot of calendulas.

Red hot poker!

rhp

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

Garlic chives:

garlicchives

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):

thyme1:1

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:

flowermeadow

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

Ceanothus flowering, woohoo!

ceanothus

Bee party over here.

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

 

 

Rocky-style montage

I have been super-busy in the last couple of weeks in the garden and at the allotment. Sadly I don’t have time right now to do a proper update, but I will do some more in a couple of weeks. For now, I have a lot of photos so you can enjoy this montage and imagine me hard at work (cue Eye of the Tiger).

Back garden

newborder1

My courgettes used to be here.

newborder2

Now it has roses and aquilegias. More photos and a full plant list when it’s flowering!

wildlife2

A log pile is great for attracting wildlife like slugs and rats.

froggy2

Peekaboo!

hazel

My hazel coming into leaf.

 

Front garden

frontborder1

I re-did all the front borders last year and I’m pretty pleased with this side.

frontborder2

This side is going to have some pretty spectacular irises in the next week or so, but it needs more orange and yellow.

calendula

You need sunglasses to look at these in real life. Don’t they look ace with the Centaurea?

centaurea

Me loooooves the Centaurea.

iris

So. Close.

lonicera

Tiny little Lonicera nitida flowers, absolutely covered in bees.

phacelia

Phacelia is also loved by bees.

 

Allotment

maincrop

Hello! I’m putting my maincrop potatoes here.

mowallotment

One Mr The Digger went to mow.

onions

My onions are doing OK.

raspberries

More fruit in my fruit cage! Autumn fruiting raspberries have gone in.

That’s all, folks. More updates coming in a couple of weeks when I’ve stopped being BUSY BUSY BUSY.

 

Sow what

sowwhat7

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.

sowwhat4

Digger Jr labelling up the seed packet bundles.

sowwhat5

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.

sowwhat2

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

sowwhat6

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.

sowwhat1

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.

sowwhat3

Mouth. Watering. Already.

 

Retail therapy part 2

retail2roses

A box of roses for Christmas.

Part one saw me impulse buy (under the evil influence of my mother and some large ‘SALE’ signs) some plants that I hadn’t really planned on getting. Shopping trip number two was more planned; I wanted some roses. I came into a little bit of inheritance after my beloved Grannie died in the Spring. She was a keen gardener and I thought what better way to remember her than to have a bit of a splurge. I had been looking online for  roses so I went to the Wyevale (are they taking over the world?) near my mum’s house that stocks Harkness roses. And they had a sale so I got some other stuff too. And my daughters wanted to choose a rose each. So the trolley was filled pretty fast and my money was well spent.

I’ve decided to redesign one of my borders that was full of veg this summer and is now empty. I’m going for a pale pink, dark purple, and lime green colour palette with roses as the headliner. So I chose these pale pink roses with a strong perfume, and the rest of the border will be stuff like Salvia, Aquilegias and Alchemilla mollis so quite cottagey and very pretty (I hope!).

The girls are being given their own little patch of garden next year and I have very bravely told them they can choose whatever they like. So they’ve started by choosing a rose each and I have to say, they have quite good taste. Digger Jr chose a lovely gold/apricot rose and Digger Jr Jr opted for this peach/apricot blend rose. I await the choosing of stripy petunias to complement their roses in the spring. I want to encourage a love of gardening, not just because I want them to stop moaning when I make them go to nurseries, but also because I think it’s a useful skill to have. But I do worry what exactly a 4 and 6 year old will choose to grow. More is more when you’re that age.

retail2others

The Ligularia doesn’t look like much at the moment, I guess that’s why it was only £2. It isn’t dead, honest.

Anyway, I also got the Echinops bannaticus Blue Globe to go in my blue/orange/yellow borders in the front garden, and the Ligularia will go in my new bog garden. So there is room for everything, especially now that I have the lottie and won’t have to cram my back garden full of veg.

Retail therapy part 1

retail1sale

Self control? What’s that?

I’ve been getting better and better the last couple of weeks, so I decided it was time for a trip out to indulge in the time-honoured tradition of Buying Stuff I Don’t Need.

My local garden centre has recently changed hands and is now a Wyevale. Good garden centres can be hard to find- there are many near me that seem to sell nothing but plastic meerkats and pots (and what am I meant to put in them, hmmm?), but this garden centre has always had a good balance between plastic meerkats and plants that I actually want to buy.

Since all the Christmas stuff has been on display since the last day of the summer holidays (I shit you not), there has been a sale on ever since. Only now it’s bigger. But I wasn’t going to buy anything, oh no. I was going to plan and make a list and ERMAHGERD SALE.

I have legitimate reasons for each and every plant, I swear.

retail1trolley

Shortly after this I mowed down a little old lady because I couldn’t see where I was going.

The Ceonothus and Delosperma are going in my front garden. There’s a tricky area around a drain cover that I’ve been trying to figure out for a while. The drain cover sticks up so the soil is shallow because of concrete underneath, and it’s a south facing slope. It gets absolutely baked in the summer so I need something pretty tough there. I didn’t want one of those drain covering planters because to me they just scream ‘THERE’S A DRAIN UNDER HERE, LOOK!’, so I hope I can cover it with plants.

The Buddleia is to replace the white one in the back garden that is currently too big for the space its in. I’ve tried keeping it in check but it’s got so big now that it’s starting to become a funny shape. The Buddleia I’ve bought is a patio variety called Buzz, which is so dinky that you can even grow it in a pot if you want. I love having Buddleia in the garden but the space is small, so this one is perfect.

And I got this Persicaria for my new bog garden, that is currently my brussels sprout patch (are you keeping up?). I wasn’t going to get anything for the bog garden until I’d actually dug it, but this was on sale and my mum said (and I quote) ‘this would be really good for your bog garden’. So I would like the world to know that my mother is a BAD INFLUENCE.

More shopping in part two.

August gap

Augustcrap1

Nothing to see here

I’ve shared a few of my gardening triumphs and now I’d like to share one of my gardening cock-ups. If you’ve never heard of the August gap, it’s that period towards the end of summer and the beginning of autumn where nothing happens. And my front borders are really suffering from it (more like August crap actually).

I re-did the two biggest borders earlier on in the spring; I had plenty of perennials but they all needed dividing and the whole thing needed replanning. So out everything came, and nearly everything went back in in smaller clumps and in different places. I removed a lavender that had got too large and woody, and the goldenrod because it was too big and unruly for the space. Then I chucked a load of nigella and calendula seeds in to plug the gaps until the perennials bulked up a bit, but it’s still somewhat a work in progress (isn’t it always?!).

So, last month I was very pleased with the profusion of nigella with the bright orange calendula peeking through. My day lilies were going, the red hot poker was going, even some of the Sisyrinchium was still going. And then NOTHING HAPPENED. Just LOOK.

Augustcrap2

Nope, nothing here either

 

There’s only this:

augustrose

This is happier than it’s ever been and it’s made me fall in love with roses

So I’m going to start trawling the garden centres in a few weeks when they start selling everything off really cheap and see what I can find. My front garden is a bit of a problem area, being a south-facing slope with very rubbish clay soil. I’ve been improving it with chicken poo but it gets baked in the summer so I really need some drought tolerant plants.

I love a bargain so I’ll grab whatever I can, but these are my ideal choices:

Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’ I haven’t got space for Six Hills Giant, but this one is half the size. My cat has never shown any interest in cat mint before so hopefully he won’t flatten it.

Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ A ‘small’ variety, apparently, although as you can see on the RHS diagram, it is still half the height of an old man in a hat.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ We passed a garden today with masses of Rudbeckia in full flower and my eldest proclaimed ‘Mummy, that’s my favourite.’ ‘Mine too,’ agreed the littlest one. I CAN’T SAY NO.

Also I’d like to add some more roses since the one rose I have is the only thing that doesn’t look a bit rubbish. I’ve seen some really amazing bright orange ones so I think one of those (a bit like the one I dug up 3 years ago and gave to my mum. Bugger.) and maybe another yellow one would be good. Is it me though, or is ‘rose’ like a completely different language? I don’t understand half the things in the descriptions. I might need to find a rose geek.