DIVIDE AND CONQUER
So last month we had spawnography, and this month we have tit wars! Honestly it’s like Animal Farm out there! We have two nesting boxes and a number of nesting pouches in the trees, but it seems the only Des Res worth considering is the one in the apple tree. So, the great tits, who have been nesting in it practically every year since we moved in, are now being dive bombed by the blue tits, who sit (perch?) in wait in the tree canopy, ready to mob them every time they try to roost. But my money is still on the GTs, as the BTs seem too flighty (haha get it?) to me, veering off in the direction of the bird table at a moment’s notice.
I’ve never had so many birds in the garden as this spring; David loves the ones I mentioned above, but my heart belongs to the robin. When I’m working in the garden I can see him he flittering about in the corner of my eye, singing so quietly it’s almost as if he is humming to himself. He has another more sinister side to him though; I can see why people say that robins peck the eyes out of new-born lambs. Jitterbug our Devon Rex cat, whose intensions are not good when it comes to our feathered friends, has a love hate relationship with Robin. Being separated by only the wire netting of the catatorium, they torment each other at every opportunity.
So having said in my last Blog that all the hard work was done, I can now officially eat my hat! I have always shied away from lifting and dividing if I can possibly help it but this year I have had to knuckle down to some serious hard graft. Scuttelaria, liriope, day lillies, flag irises and phormium just got completely out of hand. I had to use my First World War trenching tool just to prize them out of the ground! When it came to splitting up the clumps I had to use David’s heavy duty saw as my dainty hand saw just bent under the strain. The phormium and flag iris divided into over a dozen new plants each, and the day lilies were so heavy it took the two of us to lift them out of the border. Doc Page, esteemed Chairman (person, sorry!) of our Hort Soc – he of the immaculate hostas – donated a sackful of divisions that had to be split again just to be able to pot them up into 6” pots. The Three Cannas, still bursting out of their cut off dustbin sacks, are pushing out vigorous shoots in all directions and will have to be divided an’all. But oh, the number of plants I have propagated for our plant sales is mounting up apace. Ka-ching! Think of all that money we will raise for the NGS this summer.
This positively tropical weather has brought the garden on so fast I can’t keep up. I am not allowed to switch on the irrigation system as David is painting the summer house (Project Beach Hut is well under way, more of that next time) and the roof terrace tends to leak water down the outer walls. Nor may I have access to the hose as its mount has been removed from said walls for same reason. So it’s the watering can and moi. Now that we have stripped back most of the clematis Montana from the pergola all the pots of ferns have suddenly become exposed to direct sunlight and keep wilting pathetically. I have to say that the cats love their new sunny spots: It was especially thoughtful of me to leave the black fleece on the cannas so that Jitterbug could enjoy the afternoon sun in comfort. (Cannas not so happy, having lost all their new tips in the process).
Progress of a kind is being made in the greenhouse now that the mice have finally vacated. (Not so much as a backward glance.) So now that it’s safe to uncover the seedlings do I switch off the heated propagators and risk damping off (I know all the technical terms y’know) or leave them on and roast them to a crisp? Off, and I’ll take my chances. So far so good. I haven’t managed to kill the tomato seedlings yet, in fact they have even developed their first proper pair of leaves, and last year’s begonia tubers are sprouting nicely too. Dozens of T & M plugs have been potted up, some mini plugs doubling up per 10cm pot. Oh for those surplus containers that were tossed asunder for taking up too much space last autumn. So far Bidens Collection 15 Postiplugs are putting on the strongest growth, and this year I was ready with the slug pellets to protect Petunia ‘Romantic Mini Rosebud Peachy’, which got devoured within their first fortnight last spring.
I’ve raised four seedlings of Courgettes ‘De Nice A Fruit Rond’ ready for the allotment next month, and the broad beans were transplanted onto the plot last weekend. (Do any women actually like broad beans? Mr B loves’em. I recon it’s a man thing). One long row of Pea ‘Terrain’ seeds were sown a couple of weeks ago, followed by a parallel row of Pea ‘Eddy’ seeds, sown by my allotment partners Rose and Ed – we’ve decided to conduct a controlled experiment, nothing to do with competitiveness or one-upmanship at all! Talking of which, last weekend it was like a holiday camp down there, never seen so many plot holders in one go; nothing at all to do with the imminent site inspection, I’m sure. Truth be told, I feel put to shame; on the one half of our small plot the soil has been turned and manured to perfection but on my side of the plot the soil surface has at best been scratched. Clearly I believe in the No Dig method. (Actually I believe in the No Work method, however I am in the minority here.) I brought home armfuls of daffs from previous years’ transplanting, and will add this year’s assortment of T&M jonquils, currently flowering their hearts out and wafting their fragrance all over the patio.
For this Spring’s trials, I have just received a new T&M potato variety, complete with Incredicompost, Incredibloom fertiliser and grow bags, as well as a couple of experimental varieties of cosmos and poppy to grow from seed. Well within my comfort zone and not too likely to embarrass me with poor results Oh well I will just have to rake my cut flower bed to a fine tilth and get down to it. Still, ever the optimist, here we go…..
And in conclusion, this month’s star performance goes to Erysimum Red Jep and Coronilla glauca Citrina. Happy gardening, love, Caroline
I am not sure if it is a common perception but due to working within the horticultural industry, it is clear that here in Britain we are a nation of gardeners. With the development of the industrial sector and the new homes within our largest towns and city centres; space is now at a premium. However, new and innovative concepts such as an urban gardening, balcony growing, growing plants on your windowsill, and products such as our Tower Pot™, mean that space is no longer a required component to gardening.
Episode 1 of the Great British Garden Revival discussed the nation’s favourite flower, the rose. We live in a world that seeks new innovations, whether it is having the latest smart phone or fashion trend and I think this the same for our choice of flowers. We don’t like to feel that we are missing out on something and with our focus on new varieties, traditional varieties are taking a back-seat and we are at risk of losing them from our gardens forever.
So, roses. I have to admit I fall in love with roses every time I see them. There are over 1,000 cultivars of rose, from trailing to shrubs there is a variety to suit most requirements. The first episode featured traditional climbing rose varieties such as Crimson Glory. With deep crimson blooms, this older variety is beautiful and the fragrance is simply divine! However, even though older roses tend to have amazing fragrance, they can lack in vigour and good disease resistance. This is when we see the newer varieties take centre stage with the best of best of both worlds. Hardy rose variety Rose ‘The One and Only’ has flowers rich with crimson-red petals that give the appearance of an old-fashioned English rose. They are renowned for their scent, as this hybrid tea rose is like no other – fruity and indulgent. That being said, every rose has something to offer to the garden and we all have our own favourites. Have you got a favourite rose?
Episode 2 of the Great British Garden Revival focused on daffodils, blossom trees and shrubs. The history of daffodils dates back before the First World War, where fields were coated in a blaze of yellow. They were then cut and packed for the consumer market. The big affect on daffodil growing came after the Second World War when fields were taken over for the production of food. However, now we often see daffodils in front gardens and scattered along countryside lanes where they bring a smile to our faces as they are seen to resemble one of the first signs of Spring and the growing season ahead. I love the all time favourite Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’. This delightfully small variety is the perfect variety for cutting. Undemanding an easy to grow, they will make a beautiful addition to cottage gardens. What is your favourite daffodil?
On tonight’s episode James Wong attempts to revive a plant that has disappeared from our gardens, the rhododendron. Christine Walkden puts the case forward for the carnation, as she heads to a specialist nursery to recover some important facts.
Have you been watching? We would love to get your thoughts. Tell us if you prefer traditional or modern varieties and why.
Daffodils growing in masses are a delightful sight and, with colours ranging from white, yellow and pink, there’s a daffodil for every garden. Plant them in pots or grow them in bold drifts naturalised in grass for maximum effect. Watch our video on how to grow bulbs for the best results. You can plant daffodils right through to the end of November. But, to get that stunning display for not much work you need to be planting your daffs , or narcissus as they’re also known as, now. Here are our top 5 daffodils for planting now.
Few flowers can rival the sumptuous double flowers of Narcissus ‘Replete’ for its delightful colour and form. Lavish ruffles of peachy-pink petals form the eye-catching flowers up to 10cm (4”) across. Undemanding and easy to grow, they are ideal for borders, rockeries and containers; or grow them in bold drifts naturalised in grass. Aftercare – After flowering, allow the foliage to die back naturally before removing it in June or July.
Narcissus ‘Rose of May’
This hardy bulb is a distinctively different variety produces fully double whorls of ivory white petals that resemble gardenias, and exude a most delicious fragrance. For a dramatic spring spectacle, grow Daffodil ‘Rose of May’ in bold drifts naturalised in grass.
Narcissus ‘Happy Faces’
Perfect for a cheerful display in your garden to announce the start of spring! Grown in your borders, or even in big patio pots, the two varieties in this mix will complement each other with varying heights, creating a stunning full display.
Narcissus ‘Green Eyed Lady’
Daffodils are amongst the most cost effective, pest-free perennial plants available and make wonderful companions for other spring bulbs,perennials, annuals and flowering shrubs. The big, bright blooms are for many gardeners the first visible signs of spring.
This unique daffodil is just like a golden carnation! Billowing blooms, filled with curled petals, and a punchy sweet fragrance.
Watch our video on how to grow bulbs for the best results.
After all the horrendous rain, gales and floods I think I can at last say I believe spring is on its way. The heavy rains have stopped here in Bournemouth although we are still getting heavy showers, but in between we have had sunshine with reasonable temperatures. We have to repair a couple of panels that were damaged in one of the gales, but taking everything into account I consider myself very lucky that no other damage was done.
The daffodils are out in my garden, making it look very cheery, also many crocuses on the side of roads which makes a great difference to floods everywhere. I noticed today that several trees have their pink blossoms already – another sign that spring is here. My small acer trees, which are in containers, all have new shoots on them. I noticed also that some of my tree lilies are showing themselves – a little early.
New shoots on the acer
At last I have been able to get into the garden and cut back and feed my fuchsias and generally tidy up by sorting out the containers ready for the new season. Whilst doing that and getting some ready to be emptied I came across a window box, which at first looked as though it was full of weeds, only to discover that my strawberry plants from last year were just starting to shoot, so I tidied them up ready for the new season.
Early tree lily
On Sunday 23rd February part of the film that was made in my garden on 3rd September last year was on TV, I was watching whilst having my breakfast and there I was onscreen – I must say that it felt kind of funny watching myself!!!
The front garden in 2013
On 14th January I was presented with a cup for winning Gold First Best Container Garden 2013 in the Bournemouth in Bloom competition, and certificate for Gold Third Best Private Hanging Basket, I was thrilled as we are not told until called up to the stage.
Me being presented with the cup for Gold First Best Container Garden 2013
Looking forward to another busy season…
Plant daffodils now for the best spring displays
Narcissus ‘Rainbow Butterflies Mixed’
A colleague heard Alan Titchmarsh talking about planting daffodils in August on his radio show at the weekend and was a bit surprised. After all, August is hardly the usual time to be thinking about planting spring bulbs, is it?
Generally speaking, you can plant daffodil bulbs up until the end of November, but in fact the earlier you plant them, the better they’ll flower. According to Alan Titchmarsh, daffodils that are in the ground now will already be putting down roots, ready for the new season’s growth.
Growing daffodils (or narcissus, as they’re also known) is very easy – they really don’t need much attention once you’ve planted them and you’ll get a stunning display for very little work. They’ll grow in most soils, in sun or part shade and are perfect in borders, containers or naturalised in grass. They’re most impressive if you plant them in groups.
Narcissus ‘Replete’ – the pink daffodil
As for colours, there’s such a wide choice – all shades of yellow, white, pink and even rainbow coloured daffs. Some grow to 45cm, while other miniature daffodils barely reach 15cm.
We’ve introduced a number of new daffodils into our range this year, all of which are available to buy online now. These are our top recommendations:
Narcissus ‘Sweet Aroma’
Narcissus ‘Sweet Aroma’
As their name suggests, these daffodils have a delightful fragrance and bloom for up to ten weeks. We thinks it’s one of the best fragrant mixes ever!
Narcissus ‘White Diamonds’ Mix
Narcissus ‘White Diamonds’ Mix
Pure white daffodils in every shape and size. Delicately fragranced, they’ll add a sophisticated touch to your borders and containers.
Narcissus ‘Tête à tête’
Narcissus ‘Tête à tête’
Probably the world’s most popular mini daffodil. Dozens of blooms grow on delicate stems, giving perennial beds and borders a much-needed splash of colour in spring.
Narcissus ‘Jonquilla’ Collection
Narcissus ‘Jonquilla’ Collection
A sweetly scented mix of five different varieties in a lovely mix of colours – ‘Martinette’, ‘Pipit’, ‘Pueblo’, ‘Sundisc’ and ‘Suzy’.
Narcissus ‘Rose of May’
Narcissus ‘Rose of May’
Compact and late-blooming, this daffodil has a truly delicious fragrance and flowers that resemble gardenias.