Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New year, new garden!

How on earth did this year roll by so quickly? I'm sure many of you will be seeing 2014 in with your friends and family or even just sitting quietly by the TV until 12:01am and then slipping quietly off to bed. Well, I'll probably be in bed well before midnight - we've never been ones to celebrate the dawn of another year and tomorrow will just be another day to us.

I've never really been one to look back over the blogging year either. I don't know why really but I just rarely read old posts, however 2013 has been a strange gardening year for me which saw my inital excitement at the prospect of a new garden followed very closely by a reality check as it got too much, followed then by back problems and a mental fight to keep the gardening spirit alive so I've found myself reliving those moments.

2013 started with that fabulous holiday to Jamaica - it certainly doesn't feel like almost a year ago since we went and the photos still evoke the smell of the flowers.

MrTG and I also decided to renovate the entire garden after I asked him if he felt my garden was boring. Much hard worked ensued - tears & tantrums when pergola building - but the finished effect left me feeling rather pleased. Least that's one half done anyway!

That's what I started with.
By the middle of summer the borders were blooming!

New raised veg beds were put in at the polytunnel area

Then promptly flooded out

I had minimal success with fruit and veg growing which left me disheartened and that on top of not being able to cope with a growing jungle left me considering giving up totally at the end of the year.

Bad Tomato crops, although we got a handful of decent edible ones

A handful of massive cabbages

But a bounty of Sweetcorn made up for losses elsewhere

The cut flowers made the entire season for me though and I shall definitely be putting more energy into that in 2014

The garden is now in hibernation but despite my moaning throughout the year I am so looking forward to the start of a new fresh gardening year. 2013 has taught me that I grow the wrong vegetables and too much of them, I also need to accept that the garden is never going to look as perfect as those we see in magazines and that's ok. I've also learned that there's a whole blogging community out there who are happy to share experiences and expertise and listen to a moan while offering just the right amount of understanding needed to let me know that I'm not alone.


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Rats, rats, rats!

So that's Christmas over with for another year, I hope Santa was kind to you all and that you had a fabulous day doing whatever makes Christmas special for you.
We had family and friends here and I enjoyed having a house full but I did feel for those people in England that were flooded out over the Christmas holidays. What an awful thing to have happen at any time of the year but I imagine it ruined the festive period for many many families.

I've mentioned before that my daughter works in a certain DIY store and that she manages to save me plants from the skip before they're taken away and disposed of and on Christmas Eve she bought me back quite a little hoard. Some were missing pots so I had to take them straight to the polytunnel and get them potted up but most of them included a tag and I was particularly pleased to see that one of them was a 'Brazillian Jasmine'. I had seen this in the store a few months ago but wasn't sure it would survive here even under cover so I decided not to risk it, now I can find out and it hasn't cost me anything.
The stash included the jasmine, several different hardy Fuchsia, Cordylines, Ferns, Hydrangeas (including my favourite 'Zorro', Kaffir lily,  several Heucheras (none of which I already had) and something without a label that has a Citronella smell to it.

Needless to say I'm really happy with the stash.
I also received some Philadelphus in the post just before Christmas. I got them from one of the gardening mag offers and I was pleasantly surprised by the size of them. They were well packaged and much bigger than I thought they would be, the 3 cost me just the p&p cost - just over £5.
The variety is Philadelphus 'Virginalis'

I didn't know that this plant was also known as 'False Jasmine' or 'Whistle bush' due to the ease of making whistles from the pulp!
This particular variety is double flowered so I'm hoping for some strong scent as the single flowered ones I currently have only smell when you get right up there and stick your nose in.

Words and herbs blog
I'm not sure if I mentioned that I had rats appear in my greenhouse. I thought I'd managed to deter them by blocking up their holes and keeping the bird seed that they had been feeding on in a plastic bucket. Seems I haven't achieved that aim!
This is new dirt that's been tunneled out and underneath those boards is absolutely full of loose dirt! I did notice the split in the tub on the left though and I'm guessing that's what is still drawing them in so I've taken care of it. Funny thing is, if they dig just a few feet west of this point they'll come up right inside the Buzzards aviary and then they'll be toast.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

I'm kinda missing the summer routine of gardening - the very same routine that drives me mad all summer long! I look round the garden most days and find it quite sad that it's looking so dull and lifeless, I really haven't done a very good job of including winter interest in the garden, something I will have to rectify next year.
I have pots and pots of Alliums in the PT already starting to come through, the idea is to grow them in pots this year and plant them out in the spring. I was going to plant the bulbs a couple of months ago but there was still so much growth in the garden that I just couldn't picture where the best places were going to be for them - so spring it is!
I've been getting quite creative with the Willow making wreaths. This was my first attempt at making willow wreaths and once I had the form correct and sort of round I added some fabric flowers in White and Red that are so easy to make.

I also made this wood trough from some of the wood from the pallets I took apart, filled it with candles and then wedged in some branches from whatever Fir trees I could find on the land. I added some battery lights and voila!

As a point of interest I also made that fire surround from scrap wood too.

I must say that while Christmas is a lovely family time I'm bored now! I love working with wood and I'm looking forward to getting my new workshop built but I miss the gardening. I have so many plans for the second half of the garden renovation that I'm really eager to get going and I cannot say how much I am looking forward to next year and starting afresh with the veggies and seeing what plants have survived the winter.
Until then I will just have to make do with the fantastic sun rises that winter provides us with - mind you the sun is currently rising at the ridiculously late time of 9:15am here at the moment- a very sharp contrast from the summer when it doesn't get dark here until midnight and then light again by 3am.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like xmas - except for the summer flowers still blooming!

Is christmas really just around the corner! It seems like only a few weeks ago when I was blogging on here of all the garden landscaping we were doing, where on earth did the months go!
Well along with Christmas comes the excitement of planning for next year, got to be the best part of winter right? My planning hasn't really taken shape just yet because I've been busy building things now that the garden doesn't need daily pandering. I was going to head out and cut back all that dead or dying foliage but in the end I decided that the foliage would act as insulation during the winter and left it all intact. OK I admit, the task seemed tedious so I convinced myself it would be better to leave the foliage as is!
I did have to rescue an Aucuba though, one that was bought for me on mothers day and had seemed to be doing so well all year, then the other day I noticed it looked blown over by the winds so went out to reset it. Once I touched it though it felt really loose so I decided to dig it up and check out what was happening, I haven't ruled out damage by windrock completely but I'm more convinced that something has been nibbling at it because half of the stem and root system was completely missing from one side. I've repotted it now and hope that it will survive but I have serious doubts it will.
What gnaws on the stem and roots of Aucuba?

Roots to one side totally disappeared.
Is the damage too great.

I was totally amazed to find so many plants still in flower here, especially when we had that recent drop in temperatures and the snow.
This Kaffir Lily amazed me all Autumn because I thought it was way too tender to survive here but look at it still producing flowers with buds still aplenty.

And this Clematis - Mrs N Thompson - is also flowering and showing plenty more buds.

I made my very first willow wreath yesterday. Granted it's not perfect but once I had finished it off with red fabric flowers, white fabric flowers and some greenery and ribbon it looked pretty ..well.....pretty. I must get a photo of the finished item but this is the bare wreath, it was a bit fiddly to start with but once I got the hang of it it was quick to do.

One of the good things about a bit of spare time is having the opportunity to clean and oil garden tools. I love this job because I get a real sense of achievement when I've sharpened blunt blades and oiled the wooden handles and steel, plus I love the smell of Linseed oil too.

Dirty blunt tools quickly become sharp tools of the trade