Nature wins everytime.

The first week of June has been at times rather blustery and the plants have been knocked back and forth with the gusts. I expected the garden to look a little worse for wear, however it appeared to have remained reasonable intact. I can probably thank the large row of trees that are in a garden a few doors down from us that appear to filter out most of the effects of the wind. In short the only damage, if that’s what you can call it, is that the onions are looking somewhat a little flat and the clumps of poppies have also been squashed from the centre outwards. But no worries, the onions will be cropped before too long and the poppies although a little more squat appear to be none the worse off with plenty of flower buds pointing skywards.
It’s not just the windy weather that has been a problem of late, but the birds too. Some of the sparrows that have visited the garden in the past have taken a liking to the peas, to such an extent I now net them. Following on from this I have noticed on more than one occasion the sparrows sitting on top of the canes, which support my peas and beans. Initially, I thought nothing of it, until I noticed that they were taking an unhealthy interest in the twine. They were actually pulling at the threads so that they could take some as nesting material. I had visions of the whole coming apart and the offending bird being catapulted across the garden. To make matters worse, they have been taking the lining from the hanging baskets as well.
We can’t do anything to control nature and have to work with it as best we can. By giving plants the Chelsea chop in May for example, not only do you extend the flowering season, but you are making the plants shorter and stockier and therefore more resilient to the gusty weather of late. If your garden is constantly subject to windy weather then you may find that your plants take action of their own by growing shorter as a reaction to the conditions in which they grow. To try and filter the wind it is an idea to use windbreaks such as a hedge or even fencing can be used, so long as the fence is not solid and is designed with gaps to filter the wind through.
As for the birds, you cannot help but like them. They keep the aphid and slug populations down, entertain you with the antics, especially at the feeders, and as for the fledglings, need I say more.


Time is a funny thing, when in the garden it sometimes feels like time itself has slowed down and yet the day itself is over before you know it. I can potter around getting jobs done and not stop all day and then at the same time feel like I have not done much of anything really. I suppose it comes with finding an inner peace when in the garden, whatever else is happening in life, for a short while it can be forgotten about.  
At the minute we have some fledgings visiting the garden and it is so easy to get caught up watching them that time just slips away. Unfortunately, the blue tit that had laid nine eggs this year has met her demise. It is possible that the male can take over looking after the eggs, but not in this case and thankfully none of the eggs had actually hatched. There’s always next year.
I recall last month worrying about whether or not I was going to get any parsnips to grow this year, and had directly sown them every few weeks as well has trying to get them started off in pots as a last resort. Needless to say the planting in pots wasn’t much of a success, but eventually some of the seed sown direct did germinate and are looking hopeful.  Obviously just needed time and the right conditions for the seed to germinate.
Looking at the onions and garlic it is hard to believe that in just another month they could be dug up and used. Despite the recent rain and warm weather the bulbs are barely swollen and have some way to go before they are ready.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are also steady away with the plants being shorter and stockier this year. Maybe this will be a good thing.  They are starting to produce their first truss and today some have been planted direct into the greenhouse borders. Whilst some of the remaining tomatoes will be planted into a grow bag, the others will be hardened off over the next couple of weeks for growing outdoors.
The garden borders continue to look good with the box balls being given their first clip over of the year. The sedums have been given the Chelsea chop and whilst the plants look a little strange at present, in time new growth will ensure the plant grows much more sturdy albeit flowering a little later. Whilst the dicentra and clematis looked good earlier in the month, the Centaurea does so now. What originally started out as a packet of seed has soon become a drift of electric blue through the border and is loved by bees.

What a difference a day makes.

Things are really moving now in the garden, at the beginning of April we went off for the Easter break only to find on our return the garden had come on in leaps and bounds.  Everything was already starting to green up before we went, but on our return the good weather had ensured that everything had not only doubled in size, but there were also plants now growing that I thought I had lost over the winter.

The primroses have continues to put on a fantastic display this year and once the brunnera started to flower the border looked even better. To top it off the dicentra have shot up, giving that much needed height  and I cannot wait for these to flower. Of the hellebores we have had only two of the four put on a good show, the other two have looked a little sorry for themselves for some reason. However, they are putting on new growth so maybe things will look better next year.

In the flower border opposite, the daffodils have put on a really good display this year and the anemone blande gave a good carpet of blue, increasing year on year as it self seeds freely.

Elsewhere in the garden the bees love the clematis and the ornamental cherry, both of which are in full flower. The bird box that is sited on the cherry has also been occupied by bluetits again this year and already there have been eight eggs laid. Wonder if we will get to nine as last year.

Things have been more than a little busy in the kitchen garden. The greenhouse has been, and still is, full of plants at varying stages of growth. As one lot is hardened off and moved outside, in goes the next lot. With the unpredictable weather we get these days I tend to sow more in pots than I used to do.

The first sowing of spring onions are coming on a treat and the second batch are just showing signs of growth.  The broad beans, peas and mangetout have all been planted outside now and are happily growing away. The mangetout were sown a little later than usual this year, as they always seem to be ready for picking when I am going away, so figures crossed that a couple of week makes all the difference.

The courgettes are growing well, tried a different variety last year, but I think that I planted them out too early as they just seemed to sulk all summer. This year I have gone back to the trusted defender and will not be putting them outside for another few weeks at least. That said, there was one evening when I was bringing them back indoors and I must have got distracted. The next day I was looking everywhere for them, to put them back outside, and realised I had left them outside the greenhouse all night! Thankfully with no ill effect.

The swede, turnips, beetroot and spinach have all been slow going, but are hanging on in there. As for the parsnip, there is not a lot to say. I have sown a row every couple of weeks since the beginning of March and nothing. I have even tried to get the seed germinating on some damp kitchen tissue first, but no luck. The seed is fresh and the first time I tried growing parsnips I had loads of success, but sadly it is looking like none again this year. Any hints and tips are most welcome.



Catch up time

It is hard to believe that it is already the end of March. I have spent today catching up on my seed sowing for both the garden and kitchen plot. Not a bad thing all considered as the weather hasn’t really been fit for any of the outside jobs that needed doing. I did manage to get the tomatoes off to an early start in February and it won’t be long now before these will need potting on. Today I got sown peas, mangetout, broad beans, spinach, cabbage and various flower seeds, I also managed to get sown a row of parsnips and plant out the onion sets. For some reason last year I had no luck what so ever with the parsnips, didn’t even get a seedling!  After having great success the previous year I have no idea what went wrong, but I have my fingers crossed for this year.

Whilst the greenhouse benches are filling up with seed trays and young plants from last year one of the borders is now filling up with tulips. I planted these  last November, the idea being to provide cut flowers for the house. Being in the greenhouse they are protected from the worst of the weather, make use of my otherwise empty borders and they flower much earlier than those planted outdoors. It was a success last year, providing several bunches of tulips.

Last week I managed to get out and get some lawn care done, which basically for me amounts to scarifying the grass to get rid of some the thatch that has accumulated and putting down some more lawn seed. Had a look at how it was doing today and it looked patchy in places, I am sure the birds must have been eating the seed. Wouldn’t mind but it’s not as if I don’t feed them!

The flower garden at the minute is a mass of yellow, from the subtle shades of the native primrose to the loud cheerfulness of the daffodils.  Everywhere you look in between there are signs of life as where once there was bare soil it is slowly greening up, the days are getting longer and the garden waits for no one.