The Lighter evenings are very welcome…….

frosted plants february

February has come and gone and on the South Coast here we had a week of freezing fog which made the garden look good but certainly not the roads.

I finished ordering my plants from Thompson & Morgan, I don`t know about anyone else but I look at the order and think where will I put them all, but of course they all find a home once they arrive, usually in my case, in hanging baskets, containers and troughs. As I don`t have room for a permanent greenhouse I have a four foot one which has a plastic cover round the frame, and also a hexagonal one which holds quite a few trays. These have worked very well in the past I just have to make sure I watch the weather forecast so I can get the small plants covered with fleece in good time. When I have finished with them they can been cleaned off and put away until needed again and I have extra space on the patio for my containers, and space to put a few more hanging baskets up. I believe some of the plug plants are due during March so that will be an exciting time checking them all out.

Alan and I have moved a lot of stored items from the patio so he could pressure wash it ready for the summer, even during the rain on one day but now it looks really good. I had almost forgotten what the original colour was. Also thinking about moving four containers which have had roses in them for three years and transplanting them along a border by the fence. I hope this will be a good move and that they will be happy in their new home.

nemesia cerinthe hydrangea

There are a couple of bedding plants from last summer that seem to have survived the winter outside, Nemesia and Cerinthe Major. I believe the latter is from seeds that have been dropped in the Autumn and the Nemesia is one that was left in a container. The frost on my Hydrangea Annabelle early one morning looked lovely but soon disappeared once the sun started to rise.

We arrived back from a close friends funeral in Somerset to find that my Incredicompost from Thompson & Morgan had been delivered. The driver had kindly stacked the bags in the porch for me instead of leaving them outside in the bad weather or worse still taking them back to the depot. My eldest Grandson thought I had over ordered until I told him that it was probably only a third of what I would need for the containers and baskets.

compost daffodils

This year I am trying the new Ruby Falls Raspberry that can been grown in a hanging basket. It has started well having been kept it in the front porch, as it arrived during the freezing weather, where it gets plenty of light and covered each night. A couple of warm days this last week has seen some of the daffodils flower but others seem to be very slow, just waiting for a little more sun!

A footnote to my Blog re California November 2015:
ducksI wrote about the awful drought that Southern California was going through when I visited my Sister in California with a lot of restrictions on the usage of water, 2 minute showers etc. They still didn`t get much rain last year until the end of the year when they had several storms following each other. To date they have had so much rain that the rivers and gardens cannot take any more. A dam in Orriville Northern California overflowed and 180,000 people were evacuated. All this before the snow has melted on the mountains which runs down to the rivers. Some wild ducks obviously took a liking to to the very wet garden and have been visiting my Sister`s garden every day and making themselves at home. The good news is, at least the drought is over for now!
That`s about all for this time gardeners, enjoy the start of Spring and all the new planting ready for the summer……..

Jean Willis
I started gardening 65 years ago on my Dad's allotment and now live in Bournemouth, where spend a lot of time gardening since retiring. In 2012 I won the Gold Award for Bournemouth in Bloom Container Garden. I am a member of Thompson & Morgan's customer trial panel.

Y Mis Bach – The little month

Hello Gardeners,

Hope you are all well. I’m writing this from the comfort of my living room as Storm Doris rages across the UK. Luckily there is no damage to the greenhouses but our rotary washing line has snapped in two.

In Welsh February is sometimes known as “Y Mis Bach” meaning little month or short month, so maybe it’s not a coincidence that February’s flower is the primrose, a short little thing that brings a lot of cheer. Our primroses aren’t flowering yet, but I do have Bergenia, Daffs, Crocuses the purple Daphne in flower. The Dutch Iris leaves are at least two feet high as are the flag irises. The Japanese Maple and weeping cherry tree has tiny buds forming. Last year’s tulips in pots are magically regrowing and are a few inches high already.

daphne tulips

I’m afraid I’m behind in my seed planting, all because of Valentine’s Day, no I wasn’t treated to a romantic break at a luxury Parisian hotel. I spent it at hospital having my tumour removed as part of my final cancer treatment, now although I am allowed in the garden I’m not allowed to lift anything heavier than a cup for 4 weeks and then nothing heavier than a bag of sugar for a further 12 weeks. I’m determined my blog is not going to have to be renamed A Year Not Allowed in the Greenhouse, so again I will be recruiting Mark to do the jobs for me.

The following is a list of things to be done by the end of the month:

  • Sow tomato and herb seeds.
  • Plant the Gladioli bulbs that I have been delivered early.
  • Send someone up the garden centre for aubergine seeds.
  • Sow the seed potatoes that have chitted themselves in my food cupboard
  • Plant up the Camellia my Auntie Mary gave me as a get well gift.
  • Plant up my Christmas Flowering shrub collection

In the large greenhouse a clump of daffodils have shot up in one of the borders, they look very pretty but I’m not sure how the bulbs have got in there, I’m going to let them flower then when the leaves die back Mark will dig up the bulbs and plant them elsewhere in the garden. On the shelf there is a Spider plant that’s looking unhealthy I think the frosty weather got to it, however they are quite tough plants so I think if mum cuts off the dead bits it may still grow. Additionally there is an Ivy that we had for Christmas that is growing well in the basket it came in, soon it can be transplanted to our west facing wall. I love native Ivy for its scented flowers and shiny black berries, but I love it more when it’s being pollinated by bees, wasps, butterflies and hover-flies as the whole wall sounds like it’s being electrified. It’s a great place too for spiders to hunt in, and often at the base where the Ivy is at its thickest both the wren and the blackbirds dart in and out looking for tasty bugs.

In the small greenhouse I’m still waiting for my seeds to germinate, again due frosty weather and me being over keen to get things growing I may have sown them to early. The aloes are starting to respond to the longer days and do not appear to be as dark a green as they were last month. However, part of the money tree has broken off and the leaves have turned a bit yellow. We cut out all the dead bits so I’m hoping it just a phase and it will pick up again.

daffodils leeks

Soon it will be St David’s Day, (1st March) and this is usually the start of spring for me. Growing up in St David’s we would celebrate the day in the way youngsters down there still do; girls dressing in traditional Welsh Woman’s costume of a skirt, thick shawl and black bonnet, and boys with thick shorts/trousers shirts and flat caps, then with morning lessons cut short to attend a celebration day mass at the Cathedral, each child or adult would have either a fresh daffodil or piece of leek attached to their lapel. After the service we would walk the half mile back from the cold cathedral to school for a warming bowl of Cawl, (Thick root vegetables, potatoes and meat broth) bread and cheese, followed by Hot Welsh Cakes. Perfect. From then on adult conversations would change from the hardships of winter to early potatoes and lambing. I moved from St David’s in my 20s but went back to visit just before my operation I went to St Non’s healing well which is reputed to have sprung up on the day St David was born. There was a beautiful clump of snowdrops on the
path down to the well and I was so tempted to pick some I love flowers in the wild.

My nieces have informed me that they are having a potato growing competition at home. They are trying the Albert Bartlett variety, but they told me they spent ages with daddy looking at the different ones in the shops. I told them I would be growing Charlottes as they make a delicious potato salad. I will let you know what their results are, the girls are pretty competitive so I’m sure there will be a lot of stories along the way.

The final gardening thing that I have done this month is to send off for sone free tree seeds from the Woodland Trust. They recently sent an email explaining they would like volunteers to take part in growing, monitoring and reporting on five different species and I was lucky enough to be able to take part. The seeds come in their own plug of compost with detailed instructions on how to germinate them and bring the saplings on. I did think carefully about whether or not I have room for five more trees as we already have a weeping cherry, a standard cherry, a Japanese maple,a Canadian maple, plus two dwarf apples and a dwarf pear, and a yet to fruit plum tree. I also have many shrubs including the four new ones, but in the end I decided I will use them to make a new native hedge between us and next door, it will take a few years for them to reach maturity and it will be a long term project to look forward to.

Until next month,
Love Amanda xx

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

Spring flower fashion

Selecting new plants and flowers isn’t so unlike the fashion world you know..!

Our autumn catalogue range has been launched, and the first of the new varieties has begun to strutt its stuff on the catwalk..!

First up, let’s talk bulbs. I often think they’re a great place for a beginner to start, as all the goodness is already inside, all packed up and ready to go! They’re easy to plant too, and a lot less maintenance than you’d think!

Tulips… ah, how traditional! BUT, things have moved on from the humble red tulips of Amsterdam, there’s now a whole bunch of new kids on the block, from some top ‘designers’! The star of the show is undoubtedly tulip ‘Cupcakes Mixed’, which was created with a touch of serendipity. Our receptionist simply arranged a few cut blooms from our new tulip trials, but together they looked fantastic. Big, blousy, peony-inspired blooms in purple, pink, green and cream, such a fab vintage mix!

Fashions for spring

Tulip ‘Cupcakes Mixed’

Another new fashion trend in tulips is ‘dual purpose’. Tulip ‘St. George’ demonstrates this perfectly, with red and white blushed flowers, which change appearance almost every day, partnered with hosta-like, red veined leaves. Just a gorgeous combination!

Fashions for spring

Tulip ‘St. George’

Daffodils are also in vogue and what’s great about them is how some newer blends are mixing the old with the new, but with a particular focus on fragrance. Sweet, sticky, and the right side of intoxicating, ‘Sweet Aroma’ is the perfect blend, with almost every type of bloom.

Fashions for spring

Daffodil ‘Sweet Aroma’

Elegant daffs are still as popular as ever, season after season. ‘Replete’ is everyone’s favourite pink daffodil, which manages to combine pastel AND rich tones superbly. Triple-layered flowers are flamboyant, fancy and flash!

Fashions for spring

Daffodil ‘Replete’

I hope that gives you a taster of next season’s styles and colours, and that’s only daffs and tulips, you just wait until you hear how the latest primroses are looking!!

Happy Gardening,

Michael

PS Remember you can keep up to date with my new plant developments by following me on twitter: @gardening_greek or liking my Facebook page: facebook.com/planthunter.uk

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan's New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

Summer’s over, what next? Michael Perry asks

Tulip Everlasting Mixture

Tulip Everlasting Mixture

I think it has happened.

When leaving the house today; the feeling of autumn seemed to have descended. Although bright and sunny, the temperature was cooler and there were misty windows. Darn, I’ll have to start wearing socks again!

So what do we do now summer’s ‘over’?

In terms of summer bedding, there’s no need to hurry, just enjoy it while it lasts, trimming and dead-heading here and there. You might want to clear some areas to make way for bulb plantings though…

Now’s the ideal time to plant a tapestry that will burst into life next spring- just at the point where you’ve forgotten you planted it! Think colour, think fragrance and think non-stop interest. Plant up a lasagne of bulbs such as tall tulips (‘Everlasting’ Mixture is great as it comes back year after year, each time as good as the last), sprinkled with the newest and best rainbow daffs (‘Rainbow Butterflies Mixed’, and in the foreground some of our newest and rare crocus cancellatus.

Primrose Primlet Berryblossom Mixed

Primrose Primlet Berryblossom Mixed

And, bedding isn’t just for summer – there are some fab winter and spring varieties you can try too! Save £££s by planning and buying now; the world really is your oyster. There’s as much to choose from as there is for summer! Pansies, primroses, polyanthus, wallflowers, double daisies, violas… the list goes on! A couple of my favourites are pansy ‘Frizzle Sizzle Yellow Blue Swirl’ and the lovely primrose ‘Berryblossom Mixed’.

And if you’ve wanted to try fruit for a bit, now’s the ideal time to give it a go! Strawberries planted in the autumn will actually give 50% more fruit than those planted in the same year. And <a href=”/fruit/fruit-trees”>fruit trees</a> are best planted as bareroot right now – so get out with your spade!

Follow me on twitter @gardening_greek keep up to date with all the latest plant developments!

See you for now,

Michael

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan's New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

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