Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Some colour for a change

I usually write mostly about vegetables, many of which are not particularly colourful (Yes, I know there are some exceptions!), but today I want to show off some flowers.

This is Tulip "Ronaldo", one of the three types in that "Perfect for Pots" collection from Sarah Raven.

As it has matured the colour has become darker. It is now a really deep shade of purple.

I was determined to get a photo of the inside of this flower, even though the breeze made it difficult. I used a tripod for the camera, and held the stem of the Tulip with one hand while I clicked the shutter with the other!

Did you spot the aphid?

This is Geum "Mrs Bradshaw":

I had never had a Geum before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Its stems have grown really tall, and it looks as if each one is going to have several blooms on it.

In its shady corner, the Wild Garlic is flowering now. Such delicate flowers, considering how powerful is the taste of the leaves!

This is an Aquilegia, grown from seeds given to me by blogging friend David Ford.

This Aquilegia is a particularly nice one, not only because of the fabulous colour, but also because the flowers point upwards rather than the usual downwards, so you can see them much better.

This is Libertia. Not so many flowers this year, for some reason, but individually nice nonetheless.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Growth time!

I think May counts as Late Spring, and Late Spring is when perennial plants put on lots of new growth. In this post I want to show you how this is happening in my garden.

This is the first thing I want to show off - Rhubarb. Last Autumn I moved my Rhubarb crowns into a big tub, which I filled with lots of rich composted stable manure. The plants have loved this, and have responded by putting up some enormous leaves:

I'm almost regretting my decision to refrain from picking any Rhubarb this year (letting the plants settle-in and regain their strength). They just keep putting up new leaves:

The Dogwoods which I pruned so severely a few weeks ago are responding well too - lots of fresh young shoots on all the plants, such as this Cornus Alba "Aureum".

And on this  Cornus Sericea "Cardinal"

Last year my Clematis produced a grand total of three flowers. I didn't prune it, and this year it has done much better. I know that you need to treat the various types of Clematis differently, but I don't know what type this one is (it was an un-named "freebie" from a magazine). Presumably it is one that doesn't like pruning!

My Blueberry bushes got a hard pruning last year, having become very straggly. They too are now putting on lots of new growth - which is of course what you expect when you prune hard. I don't think I will get much fruit this year, and the beneficial effects will only be felt next year. However, there will definitely be some berries:

My little patch of ferns is looking good too. I have five plants now. Every Autumn I cut off all the dead fronds, and every Spring a new lot grows back.

This one has made a circular "crown of fronds":

Look at the difference in this Purple Sage plant. This is it on March 7th (after severe pruning, you'll notice)

And this is the same plant on 20th May:

A big difference, I think you'll agree!  With June beginning next week, I'm hopeful that we will soon see the advent of some proper "Summer" weather, and then the plants should really take off.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Harvest Monday - 25 May 2015

This week's harvest has again been mostly Asparagus and Radishes. Well, what did you expect??

Saxa (L) and Sparkler (R)
(L to R) Saxa, Flamboyant, Sparkler

We liked the Saxa radishes - they were very similar to Cherry Belle (our favourite) - but the pink and white Sparkler ones were a bit tough and not so tasty. The long ones are "Flamboyant 5", a French Breakfast-type variety whose seeds I bought (unsurprisingly) in France. Last year they didn't do so well, but this time seeds from the same packet have performed very much better - presumably just because of weather / soil conditions. I certainly didn't deliberately treat them any differently.

What can I say about the Asparagus? As nice as ever, but still not enough of it!

The batch of Asparagus pictured here was griddled, as part of a fantastic meal that Jane conjured-up, following a recipe in Sabrina Ghayour's book "Persiana". If you are Foodie and you haven't got this book, you are seriously missing a trick! [You can read about the meal Jane made HERE.]

There was a small salad crop this week too - some leaves from the "Cutting Salad" patch - mostly Cress, Mizuna, Mustard and Pak Choi.

These spare lettuce seedlings were surplus to requirements so they were also put into the salad. Every little counts, you know!

Here's where they ended up:

I'm linking-up with Harvest Monday over on Daphne's Dandelions, please stop by and see what other people have harvested this week.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Cotinus comes back

Last year my Cotinus tree ("Royal Purple") appeared to have died - or nearly so. Opinions about the cause varied from simple lack of water to the deadly Verticillium Wilt, and I don't know who was right. All I can say is that my tree is definitely not dead. The parts that were most badly desiccated have yet to show any new growth, but elsewhere the tree is putting out lots of new shoots. I am using this as an excuse to post some photos!

As the sap rises, these little shoots are appearing further and further up the main trunk. Let's hope they go all the way!

At present, the tree is "a game in two halves", as they say. One side is full of new leaf, the other is progressing more slowly.

This is what healthy young Cotinus leaves look like. Seeing this, I think you will understand why I was so keen that this tree should survive.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Photo update

Right now the garden is progressing rapidly, and I have taken lots of photos, so I thought it would be a good idea to publish some of them, providing effectively an update of progress...

The Broad Beans are looking fine. Lots of flowers, which are just beginning to fade, so hopefully there will be lots of lovely pods to follow.

The Broad Bean bed

The Broad Beans have masses of flowers on them!

The bees have been enjoying those flowers

I have planted out two cucumber plants in a big container, protected by a big cloche.

"Mini Munch" is so far a lot stronger than "Diva", but it's early days still.

Some French Beans have joined the Runners in my new raised bed. These ones are "Kew Blue". I have protected them with some pieces of stiff wire, to try to deter the Blackbirds from digging them up.

The Blackbirds seem to have a particular fondness for the corners of the beds. They dig out the compost in their efforts to find edible bugs.

It won't be long before we are eating Lettuce!

Next to the Lettuce is my patch of Cutting Salad, comprising mainly Pak Choi, Mizuna, Rocket and Cress.

The Radishes have been OK, though maybe so far not as good as last year, which was an exceptionally good year for them.

Perhaps they have put a bit too much energy into their leaves? The large amount of home-made compost I dug into that bed a few months back may possibly have provided too much nitrogen (which promotes leaf-formation).

This is the bed containing brassicas and Parsley. I had been going to remove the Parsley prior to planting the brassicas, but I'm glad I didn't. It is currently very luxuriant and producing masses of leaves.

This is a closer view of some of the brassicas. The bigger ones are Brussels Sprouts and the smaller ones are "De Ciccio" broccoli.

You will notice that almost everything in my vegetable garden is netted. Without nets the crops would suffer a lot, possibly to the extent of being non-viable. I'm talking about damage from root flies, butterflies, birds, foxes, cats - the lot!

This is my Woodblocx raised bed, with two rows of Parsnips at the left, 6 Kohlrabi and 4 Celeriac at the left, and space in the middle destined to host some Leeks. One of the rows of Parsnips looks a bit sparsely-populated, but in between the visible plants are more little seedlings coming on, from a second sowing. By a happy accident therefore I should get Parsnips to eat over a longer period of time.

These are my containers of Strawberries. Not yet netted, but they soon will be!

I'll never get a big crop from that small number of plants, but there are few things nicer than home-grown Strawberries eaten straight off the plant, so even a few will be very welcome.

Next year's PSB plants are already on the go. Still very small of course, but going according to plan.

So, you can see that it I have been busy in the garden. That's about it for now - more "status reports" will follow soon, I'm sure.

Here in the UK it's a Bank Holiday on Monday, which means most people get a 3-day weekend. It will probably be the busiest weekend of the year for gardeners and Garden Centres alike. Have a nice time, Folks, and make the most of it!