Last Post 1178 days 9 hours ago
28 February 2010 21:39:13
More Garden Bargains
Very frosty here this morning but I had a couple of things to do with my friend Kate, first was discussing and trying to decide on flowers with Caroline for her June wedding time is rapidly moving on to the big day. Job number two was for Kate to show me how to edit and update the website for my equestrian centre, hopefully I now will be able to change it as required. Job three was to go shopping for some supplies so it was off to Armagh to Lidl. Needless to say some garden items managed to find their way to my trolley 2 Queen Elizabeth climbing roses and 2 bags of bulb compost didn't buy any bulbs as they only had mixed boxes. Next stop was Pound Stretcher just to look see but once again more items just appeared at the checkout with me including a 3 tier greenhouse for £10stg and set 3 propagaters and celltrays for £3stg , 2 packets Lily of the Valley, Peacock Orchid bulbs, Iris Gypsy Beauty and Gypsophilia roots. Once the greenhouse is assembled if it looks a good job I'll get another one tomorrow. Then as Heatons was next door I decided to have a look see and ended up with 3 Sarah Bernhardt peony, packet of blue Fressia and packet Ismone Festales for £10stg. Total spend £37.50stg. Tomorrow I have to go with Caroline to the florists in Armagh to see what is available for bouquets and the church now she has decided on a colour scheme and then I will plant up todays bargains.
On the propagation front have removed the first of the climbing beans from the propogater tonight think the others will be up soon. Off to put together the greenhouse and then maybe I'll find some worktop space again in the utility room as it's totally covered.
28 February 2010 21:10:36
Very Bold Ducks
Over the last week the ducks have become more and more courageous venturing out of the pond, everytime the door from the kitchen to the terrace opened they were out of the pond. By Thursday they had picked up enough courage to make their way to the terrace problem is they didn't climb the steps but made an assault course over the lower boulders edging the south east bed and then through the rest of the beds. This evening once again they returned on the hunt for food and it was only when the dogs appeared that they took off rapidly through the air to the pond. Think I'll need to encourage the dogs to sunbathe on the terrace to try and halt the ducks invading my flowers but at the same time I don't want the dogs to have duck for dinner. Took this photo of them this evening.
27 February 2010 19:13:16
Lone Begonia Seedling
On the 14th February I sowed up various flowers and I am amazes at the difference in germinating. I sowed 2 trays of Unwins Gro-sure seeds 48 seeds each tray they were Begonia Volumia and Begonia Eureka Bi Colour I followed the sowing instructions and the trays sat on top of the propagator in the utility room which is around 17C all the time so I thought I was bound to get a result quite quickly. Seeds in the propagator were Cosmos Comonaut and Agetatum Tycoon Blue which both had germinated and out onto the window sill in a couple of days. I thought to help the Begonias along I would put them into the propagator but really I am amazed that nearly 14 days later I have 1 seedling and not another one in site. I decided yesterday to remove the cell tray as this seedling was becoming quite tall so the question is what did I do wrong as I thought being sure grow seeds I'd be guaranteed a reasonable result. I sowed more Cosmos Red Seashells on the 22nd put them in the propagator on the 24th and they were out on the 26th nearly all 24 cells germinated and I'm sure the remainder will pop up yet as the tray is sitting on top of the unit so benefitting from heat. Other seeds not germinated are White foxgloves sowed 29th January and the poppies look a bit weedy but if it ever warms up I will sow more of them outside. Any advice on what might be the problem for the Begonias. Should I go back to the garden centre where I bought them and look for a refund or replacement or just put it down to experience and move on.
22 February 2010 17:51:22
Hollyhocks and Phlox
Had to go into Monaghan this morning so parked beside the shopping centre and walked through and after hearing about all the bargains everyone has been getting I had a quick look in the Euro store. I would never have thought of looking in it for gardening items and was surprised at the amount of seeds, vegetables and sundry items. After I had finished in the town centre I came back to collect a few items and on entering the shop noticed a stand of bulbs and herbaceous plants, impossible to walk by ended up with 3 Red Phlox and 3 packets of Chocolate Hollyhocks - 6 plants in total. Other items 2 packets of peat pots and 2 sets of plastic pots total spend €17. Thought about the planters for salad but decided to sort out the wire basket that I grew salads in last summer as well as 2 terracotta herb planters that can also be put to use.
Before going to Monaghan I had set the bag of potting compost in front of the cooker to defrost as it was a bit hard and very cold then after lunch sowed up 24 climbing beans blue lake and another 24 Cosmos Seashells red after pricking out the first ones sown. Some of the first seedlings had been affected by the cold so not too sure if the surviving ones are going to develop. Hopefully I have learnt from that first sowing experience, cleared an area on the basement shelving for the 6 hollyhocks, 3 phlox, pricked out Cosmos seedlings and also the basket of salad mix. In the basement I found a plastic cover off a collaspible garden bag and the salad mix is now inside it's own makeshift propagator by the window. The potatoes chitting on the egg carton are nearly ready to plant so I will have to get a half ton bag of compost from the local manufacter, plan to put the potato bags onto a pallet and put them in one of the farm sheds to avoid the frost, they can then be easily moved on the forks of the tractor once the frosts are past - whenever that will be but at least they'll be on their way. Although it is still very cold it actually was a pleasant afternoon out and the stretch in the evenings is great now we just need warmer days. Well off to an AGM meeting outside Navan not really looking forward to the drive or the meeting but it has to be done.
21 February 2010 12:33:19
Caroline and Ducks at Breakfast
This morning once again everywhere was white again but although the temperature was -1 it certainly didn't feel as cold as yesterday. Think there will be no gardening outdoors today even though the snow is departing rapidly as the ground here has been fairly frozen the last week. Took some photos of the views around the garden and the ducks. Everytime the door opens from the kitchen to the terrace they are out of the pond looking for feed. Caroline went down to feed them this morning but put the feed down on the snow and the ducks couldn't find it, so 2nd lot by the pond was successfully found.
One job I plan to do later is repot my Cymbidium orchids and move them to a cooler environment to the shelf in the basement. Growing tips need pinched out on the sweetpea as well and think they will move to the porch which is a lot cooler than the utility room and then I'll have more space to sow some more seeds.
20 February 2010 17:34:53
Copse Birch glistening white in the frost
Don't know about elsewhere but today was bitterly cold with the temperature reaching only 1C at about 3pm. There had been freezing fog till 12:00 and although it lifted the sun stayed away one of the sharpest coldest days for a while with it chilling right to the bone. Even if I had time the ground is rock hard and the jumping competition scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled as the outdoor arena is unusable. I will have a day off but cann't see any gardening being done but perhaps the arch will be fixed permanently. I have posted up some photos o the trees and views which are well frosted, there are more crocus out including white ones but they are all firmly shut.
19 February 2010 23:25:09
A touch of spring
This week has seen little or no gardening other than making sure the numerous trays of seedlings are okay and opening up my temporary greenhouse for a while each day once the sun gets up. I have been busy with book work and teaching unfortunately work allows you to play. The weather here has been very cold and Wednesday morning there was a light covering of snow. The days have been nice but very chilly however plants are beginning to show a bit of life and the daffodils and tulips are emerging. On a quick wander round the garden took some photos of the crocus that give a real burst of colour am sure some were purple but no sign of them flowering yet. The other plant that is sparkling in the sun is a sedum that I bought in Lidl last year Sedum spurium coccineum on a downside there are a number of scutch holes in the south bed made by those little bunny blighters. I wish I could motivate Johnny to finish fixing the arch for me but everyday he always is too busy with cattle, as it's over a step up to the basement roof terrace it needs to have extensions fixed to it otherwise the boys would have to duck to get under it. Talking of ducks the four ducks are really at home they are getting more and more confident looking for their feed every morning and thankfully the dogs seem to be ignoring them, between watching ducks and the birds on the feeders it's an ever changing picture.
14 February 2010 19:24:09
Arch temporarily in place
After finishing work on Saturday made a quick visit to Mahon garden centre near Portadown to buy a few bits and pieces and hopefully some seeds. First place to visit was the main plant area and I gave into temptation and collected a trolley collecting 2 David Austin Roses at £9.50 each and 3 Erysinium Bowles Mauve then into the shop to browse through the seeds adding 2 types of Begonia Volumia and Eureka Bi- Colour, Cosmos Cosmonaut ,Ageratum Blue Tycoon and Phacelia. While looking at the seeds I spotted arches and decided that one was to come home with me. Other items included labels cell trays and peat pots so I reckoned I was all set for a good days work. Another really cold start to the day this morning but it brightened up and so it was wrap up well and outside to sow up more annuals. Not out long when the drizzle started but what so what there was a job to be done. It started to rain quite heavy after lunch so it stopped work for a while but once it cleared finished sowing a tray of the Phacelia even though it is sowed direct, the remainder will be sown direct in March and not to let down the vegetable front a tray of 24 cells of leeks to see what happens.
Had hoped to get a lot more done and tried to get some help to put up the arch but didn't materialise but with any luck tomorrow I'll get it fixed permanently once everything is plumbed and screws tightened, then it'll be some more plant shopping a climbing rose and possibly honeysuckle. Well tomorrow's another day and hopefully the sun will shine and the arch will be all set for my planned shopping trip.
11 February 2010 18:56:04
First Crocus out
Managed to get out for a short time today and potted up the remainder of the herbaceous plants bought a few weeks ago in Homebase and B&Q. The DIY greenhouse shelves are now full with todays plants potted 6 Echinea White Swan, 6 Chinese Lantern roots and 8 Echinops some of these plants were already beginning to sprout which is why I would rather pot them up than leave until they can be planted in the ground especially with the way the weather is at present as the ground is so cold.
Left in the basement now are onions, shallots and potatoes with a tray of potatoes chitting for planting into potato planter bags, if I can get a large bag of compost from the a local firm I will plant up the potatoes setting the potato bags on a pallet which will mean they can be started under cover and moved outside once the weather picks up.
On the seed front the China Asters and Stock Heaven Scent are up, had moved the Cosmos and Cauliflowers seedlings out yesterday to the DIY greenhouse but the severe frost last night has finished off some of the cosmos, so another lesson learnt I have moved them back into the porch which is quite cool and I'll just have to do another sowing. Sweetpea nearly all up and poppies as well but no sign of the white foxgloves or the Larkspur yet this is a definitely learning curve. Feel another shopping trip coming on for some more plants managed to get in and out of Lidl today without any plants, very tempted on Camellia but decided against it due to the weather.
10 February 2010 00:09:00
Tete a Tete open 9/02
Quick look round the garden Tete a Tete now open in a number of the pots, found crocus just showing buds but they're sort of creamy white not as cheerful as Myrtles, they are planted through Anenome The Bride, think they're should be purple ones as well. Posted up a few more photos of the pots and also the NW bed since it got it's tidy up, looks so open now the buddleia has been pruned and a few plants have been moved due to being frozen to death. THink I will try and put an arch onto the basement terrace and plant a climbing rose on it to soften the view. Lots of activity on at the bird station goldfinches, green finches and tits and robins foraging in the bed. Noticed a lot of shrubs losing leaves over the last few days including the escallonia bushes in the beds on the north side of the house, are looking quite bare hope that they recover, must be a combination of the seveve weather and there have been some very sharp winds . Hope the rumours of -12C again isn't right although Johnny went out to check on something in the farmyard and says it's freezing hard so perhaps it's true.
09 February 2010 23:52:22
DIY Temporary Greenhouse.
Made up this temporary greenhouse yesterday using strong garden storage shelving, I had two sets of this shelving so I dismantled a shelf from one and added it to the other and it was just the right height for the plastic cover from a growbag frame that was sitting unused in the basement. The crates on top have lupins in them and the pots contain all herbaceous plants planted up yesterday. Plan to move sweetpea etc out to it but first need to bring out the other 2 shelves still in the basement and also rig up a polythene covering for them using some lathes I found today. Opened it up for a few hours couldn't believe how warm it was around midday as it's to the NW of the house facing south.
08 February 2010 19:03:56
Anenome The Bride in bloom
Another good day with only a brief skiff of rain around lunchtime, once again I managed to get most of the afternoon outside coming indoors at 5:30pm, temperature dropped sharply around 5pm to under 3C. Potted up a number of the plants in waiting, set up racking covered it with a plastic cover for a growbag frame and the plants will now hopeully be on their way to growth. I always find that if they aren't planted up reasonably soon after purchase they start going downhill or sprouting spindly growth. Most are in large pots that will be placed into ceramic pots or even sunk into the flower beds. Plants in groups of 3 are 2 pots agapanthus mixed blue and white, 1 pot nerine bowdenii, 2 pots spider lilies, 2 pots double white begonias and rudbeckia goldstream was planted into 3 individual pots,. Divided in 3 one plant of Campanula Elizabeth was really pot bound, hope the reasonable weather continues although think it'll be Thursday before I get much more garden time.
08 February 2010 00:36:35
Artichoke Crowns got the chop
The swans have departed and the pond seems so empty with out these elegant birds floating about, the ducks are still resident on the pond so still this ever changing picture between watching activity at the pond and on the bird feeders it's easy to just sit watching what's about. Managed to get out about 3pm and spent until 5:30pm in the garden and althoug the plan originally had been to plant up the numerous bulbs in the basement I ended up clearing and tidying up the bed to the NW of the house. The two budlelia bushes were pruned back as they had become very untidy, the artichoke crowns eventually got the chop and the mushy leaves removed from the achillia mollis. There are bulbs peeping up everywhere and hopefully in the next weeks there will be a burst of colour. Another plant lost to the severe weather was the New Zealand flax, I was planning to move to a better location, Trimmed back the perennial sweetpea need to organise 2 obelisks as they will add height and structure to the border and the willow ones are now a bit tatty. The bed looks so different now with plants pruned and the brown mushy leaves removed, bit more work to do yet though. One plant that suffered badly was the varigated Eurphobia so it was removed will have to plant out some of the plants in waiting, other Eurphobia were also pruned as they suffered in the severe weather. Planted the white freesia in the rose pots and tomorrow plan to plant up the bulbs etc. stored in the basement and clear the top shelf to house these plants until I have a cold frame organised. Climbing roses and honeysuckle need to be tied into the wooden beams at the backdoor.
Yesterday I bought Gardeners World magazine as there was no Irish Garden magazine this month, I had decided that I was only going to buy it and Grow Your Own but Alan Titchmarsh on the cover enticed me into buying this months copy. In it Alan has a feature on borders and how we shouldn't just go out and buy things on a whim but make out a plan. It's an interesting feature and if I followed his advice then there would be a lot less mistakes, Toby has an article on seed sowing and there is good advice on greenhouses so makes interesting breakfast reading.
06 February 2010 23:49:27
Yesterday I resisted the temptation to buy 2 Witch Hazel shrubs in Lidl but along with few fresh vegetables I left with seed compost, leek, brussel sprouts, brocolli and China Aster American seeds. Today in Aughnacloy similar happened and I bought Larkspur, Stock Heaven Scent seeds and Red Baron Onion sets funny how these seeds find their way into grocery shopping. Decided it was time to rearrange my seedlings and sow up some of the Larkspur and Asters in cell trays and then into the propagator, the stock was sowed into pots now on the utility counter. The sweetpea are just starting to germinate on the window sills while the tomato Roma seedlings have moved to the porch. With any luck tomorrow will be another good day and the afternoon will be spent in the garden. I plan to plant the freesia bulbs in the pots of roses and then if I have any wood chip left mulch these pots hoping the drumstick alliums, David Austin roses and white freesia will provide a good display come mid June. There are a number of packets of bulbs etc in the basement and with any luck these will be pottted up and kept out of the frost hoping they'll be well on their way growth wise when the spring really appears.
See Lidl have Camellias this week might be tempted into buying some.
03 February 2010 15:16:34
Snowflakes and Swans
Woke up this morning to snowflakes falling the ground was white and looking out to the pond there were no swans to be seen. Yesterday they appeared to be thinking of leaving as three or four times they took off rising just above the surface before putting down again before the island. However the swans had moved right around to the narrow end of the pond so no move yet. The four ducks are swimming around like a fleet of battleships following one behind the other and become quite adventrous coming out onto the grass. There are at least two moorhens also floating about and venturing out onto the grass as long as the swans stay the I think Connie won't venture in after the ducks. Sowed the remainder of the swwtpea into pots which are on the utility room window sills and repotted the Japanese Tree Peonies and have put them outside under cover to slow them down a bit if possible, really need to sort out a coldframe or something to be able to pot up the herbaceous plants I bought last week and give them a bit of a kick start as it's too cold and wet to plant even ones that recommend Feburary planting.
February photos up of the garden today.
03 February 2010 15:00:01
Tomato Roma and peony Poppy seedlings
Tuesday morning most of the Tomato Roma seedlings are up along with quite a number of the poppy seedlings, as window sills in the utility room are full and also the front porch I have switched off the propogator and removed the top. At first one or two of the tomato seedlings were leaning but now they have straightened up with nearly all of them having germinated. More of the poppies have also germinated leaving only the white foxgloves to make a move. Due to our underfloor heating and the fact that areas are controled by thermostats the temperature in the utility room is around a constant 15C so I suppose if I had racking I could have an incubation area as well as using the propogator. Think a shopping trip will be needed to buy some more seeds - have decided after reading the article on hollyhocks that they are on my list as some apparently are more like annuals than biennials. I have a packet of Nigra that I got free last year in I think Garden Illustrated but sort of decided I'd missed the boat as I hadn't sown them in the autumn, perhaps I should give some of them a go once I free up a bit of space.
01 February 2010 23:32:10
Japanese Tree Peonys
I was given 2 Japanese Tree Peonys at Christmas and due to the weather conditions they have been living in our front porch while is quite cool, they have really grown in stature with leaves opening on the purple one and the pink not far behind. I plan to pot them on into larger pots to let them develop further before either planting out once the frost is past or be able to set them into large glazed pots so as they can be moved to whatever location required. I'm wondering will they be too far advanced to be in bloom in June at the time of Caroline's wedding. I want to have a good selection of flowers in pinks and purples, while the countdown is on for Caroline with dress fittings etc I'm on a countdown to have the garden ready as I'd love to have her photos taken here. I already have the roses, peony Sarah Bernhardt and lots of flowers and shrubs that will look well but think there will be a shopping trip for more bulbs etc that should be in flower in June. At the moment in the propogator I have a selection of peony type of poppies just starting to germinate and on the utility room window sill pots of 6 different sweetpea again in the right colour scheme. I really should have a cutting bed for flowers for the house if I was going about it in the right way. I'm hoping that I can get Johnathan my eldest son to make up some structures for the garden that the sweetpea can be grown up, in one of my Geoff Hamilton books it gives details how to build them.
On the veg front the Roma tomato seeds also in the propogator are just being to show so tomorrow they will probably need to be moved.