August – Potatoes, Carrots….. and Elephants!

Theresa's Garden in August

Hello, it’s been a long time since I had the time to sit down and let you know how the garden has been progressing through August.

We have been harvesting everyday in the vegetable patch. I can’t remember a year where we have had such a good potato crop, both early and main crops have grown very well and to date no blight.  Carrots are abundant and no carrot fly, they have been well protected behind insect mesh along with our lovely crop of brassicas.  We have managed to keep the dreaded white butterflies and local wood pigeons off with netting.

Runner beans are all in the freezer as are the surplus Victoria Plums and we are busy cooking and freezing the cooking apples to see us through the year.

The tomatoes have proved very abundant and all varieties have ripened well.  They are being skinned and frozen in readiness for pasta sauce using all home grown garlic, basil and onions. This is then bottled for use throughout the year.

elephant hawk moth caterpillar in August

In the flower garden the baskets tubs and bedding are all full of colour. The large hardy fuchsia that has been in the garden for twenty years has been completely de-foliated by the biggest caterpillars of the beautiful Elephant Hawk Moth. Not a problem for the plant and a big boost for the moths.

 

Theresa Bloomfield

I have had my hands in soil ever since I could crawl. I remember well going out into the garden and watching my Father double digging the vegetable plot and being shown how to pick caterpillars off the brassicas. You could say he was an early organic gardener. There was something nice about sneaking round behind the outhouse and pulling rhubarb and dipping it in sugar, picking raspberries and stuffing handfuls into my mouth. It is these memories of taste and smell that never leave you and make you want to grow your own fresh fruit and vegetables.

It has been something of a treat then, to find myself working for Thompson and Morgan for the past 13 years and being able to help customers to solve their gardening problems

Was it a bird? Was it a squirrel?………….

………….I actually found out later that it was a Sugar Glider from Australia. Whilst walking away from a garden centre to the car I saw something on the trunk of one of the Yucca trees that was in a planter just outside the entrance.  As we got closer it looked like a baby squirrel but then it took off and jumped about 10 metres on to a wall covered in ivy.  We watched it for a few minutes it then disappeared.  On checking Google found that the Sugar Glider is sometimes bought in this country as a pet but because they are very difficult to keep, they are then let loose.  I hope it survived all the rain we had had lately, I am just grateful that Alan was with me and also saw it otherwise I might have thought I was seeing things.

I am trying to catch up with my Blog after a hectic few weeks, my right hand man (Husband Alan) has not been able to help much with the lifting etc. in the garden as the lens that was put in 12 years ago after a cataract operation slipped to the bottom of his eye and he cannot see above half way.  A new cataract operation was scheduled for 13th July which was cancelled and the new date is 2nd August.  All this time he is unable to drive, so we have had to rely on neighbours, friends and family for getting to supermarkets etc.

begonia apricot shades

Passion or Obsession……………I love Begonia Apricot Shades amongst many other.  This year I have planted over 200 garden ready plants of Apricot Shades, mainly in hanging baskets, window box and tubs.  I was asked if I was obsessed with them, I hadn`t really thought about it like that – but maybe I am.  I am always thrilled when they are all flowering, especially if I catch the early sun shining on them.    I had a head count and found I  had a triple basket (12” 14” 16”) joined together by a chain that my husband made for me, three baskets on one fence and two half baskets on the other fence, with a 2 further hanging baskets, a window box as well and the remaining plants amongst several of my containers.  Two half barrel containers which, at the moment, are overflowing with flowers.

jean's fuchsias

My other passion is Fuchsias, I bought some Fuchsia `Icing Sugar ` which I trialled last year and they were very successful.  Another favourite fuchsia is called `Wendy`s Beauty` a pretty mauve and white large flower, my Sister`s name is Wendy so I grow them for her as she lives in California.  This year I bought some Giant Flowered Fuchsias from Thompson & Morgan and they certainly grow like their name.  For something different this year I am growing a climbing fuchsia called `Swingtime` in one of Thompson and Morgan Tower Pots;  they have now reached the top of the trellis and flowering profusely.

Having decided to grow petunias again this year after a couple of years that were not too successful, I am now thinking that maybe I should have decided on something else.  We have had such awful winds and rain that a couple of containers were completely destroyed one night, yet I discovered that the Night Sky petunias and the Queen of Hearts petunias stood up to a lot more rain before they too shredded.  Also in future I think I will grow smaller petunias and not the big ones although I really like them.

Hope you are all enjoying your gardens this summer, don`t forget the sun cream and hat, so until the next time……..Happy Gardening.

Jean

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.

Looking Forward to 2017

Petunia 'Night Sky and Bidens 'Firelight' mixed
Time moves on so quickly and 2017 will be the 5th year that I have been trialling plants for Thompson & Morgan in my multi-award winning seaside garden! Back in 2013, the first items I received were a Cox’s orange Pippin Apple Tree and a Plum Gage, Reine Claude. Back then we were sent whatever was chosen by the company and I feared that I would not be able to use then in my exposed coastal garden. Now, they are both established and have started to produce small amounts of fruit, always difficult here on the coast, with the wind blowing across the garden!

Another arrival that first Spring was a delicate rose ‘garden party’, which still flowers profusely in the front and back garden each Summer. Also received in the first year were Peruvian Tree Lily, Alstroemeria ‘Everest Collection’. These have been quite stunning year on year and much remarked on by our many garden visitors. They were all planted in a large container and are still doing really well. Last Summer, I was very lucky indeed to have trialled 2 brand new 2017 plants, featured in the Spring catalogue. The stunning new fuchsia ‘Icing Sugar’ on the front cover and the equally beautiful Bidens ‘Firelight’ on page 11. I’d suggested 2 names for the plants, but I’m afraid they weren’t the final ones chosen! However, my quote on the Fuchsia was used in publicity last November.

Fuchsia 'Icing Sugar' Alstroemeria 'Everest Collection', Bidens 'Firelight'

“Geoff Stonebanks, gardening writer, blogger and creator/owner of The Driftwood Garden near Lewes in Sussex, trialled ‘Icing Sugar’ for T&M last year and says: “The beautiful new fuchsia, ‘Icing Sugar’, certainly lives up to its name; a delicate and frosted gem.” Geoff added: “As an avid fuchsia lover, this delicate and frosted ‘Icing Sugar’, on show in my garden for the first time this summer, is utterly stunning.”

Both of these plants are ones I would heartily recommend for anyone’s garden this Summer.

So, what can I and my garden visitors look forward to seeing in 2017 from Thompson & Morgan? We’re set to open 14 times this summer and already have several coach trips booked into the garden as well, as a result of me and the garden being seen on BBC Gardeners’ World last Autumn. Here’s what we will be receiving in the next few months. Strawberry ‘Just Add Cream™’. Petunia Amore ‘Queen of Hearts’, Buddleja davidii ‘Wisteria Lane’, Geranium ‘Black Rose’, Osteospermum ‘Falling Stars’. Gazania ‘Shepherd’s Delight’, Calendula ‘Winter Wonders Collection’. Petunia ‘Mini Rosebud Romantic Peachy’, Sweet Pea ‘Earl Grey’ and finally Petunia ‘Night Sky’ again, as it was such a success in 2016.

Petunia 'Night Sky', Strawberry 'Just Add Cream', Sweet Pea 'Earl Grey'

The information both on-line and in the Spring catalogue certainly made me want to see these on show in the garden. Who could resist the chance to smell the intense perfume that evokes childhood memories of your first taste of a strawberry or appreciate the fashionable new sweet pea, offering stunning colour on both sides of the graduated or ‘flaked’ petals. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they all grow this Summer and will be posting update son my garden web site throughout the season. Check them out at wwww.driftwoodbysea.co.uk

Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks was very lucky to be able to retire early from 30 years in Royal Mail back in 2004. He had 3 different careers with them first as a caterer, then manager of a financial analysis team and finally as an Employee Relations Manager and Personnel Manager. He sold up and moved with his partner to Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex in 2004 and now spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden, featured on Gardeners’ World on BBC TV and finalist in Gardeners’ World Magazine Garden of the Year 2016, he’s raised £95000 for various charities in 8 years, £53400 of that for Macmillan. In his spare time, he is also Assistant County Organiser for the National Gardens Scheme and their Publicity Officer for East & Mid Sussex.

Busy summer enjoying the fruits of our labours

It’s been a busy summer, what with the new shed roof terrace, the beach hut themed patio makeover and the plans for our new front garden.

This is the first year that the greenhouse has really been used to its full potential; it’s a veritable salad factory! Our 8ft x 5ft greenhouse is home to 2 cucumber Mini Fingers Cucina, 3 bush tomatoes Losetto and 3 cordon tomatoes Sungold, along with 15 varieties of chillies and sweet peppers, a spare courgette Defender from the allotment, an aubergine and some of last year’s leftover strawberry runners. Despite cramped conditions, good housekeeping and regular attention has resulted in an early and abundant crop of cucumbers, several promising tomato trusses and dozens of peppers; even the aubergine has 4 flowers on it – beginner’s luck perhaps. Having said that, the tomatoes are trying to climb out of the skylights and the cucumber vines are being suspended across the entrance on string! I’m looking forward to harvesting the produce to make my favourite Gaspacho soup.

tree lillies
The emphasis on colour has shifted somewhat from the main body of the garden, now that the towering tree lilies have finished flowering, to the basket and container displays on the patio. Begonia Apricot Shades Improved combined with lime green and black ipomaea foliage is a winner, blooming away through drought, rain and wind, no deadheading needed. The two hanging baskets of Petunia Peach Sundae just keep on flowering; daily deadheading and the occasional haircut keeps them compact and good as new. A couple of extra plugs crammed into the window box are the perfect match for the pastel striped bench beneath, although sitting on it is out of the question now that they are trailing over its back!

begonia apricot shades

Calibrachoa Ruby Buttons, although slow to get going, is flowering away in a hanging basket brightening up a neglected corner. Bidens ‘Hawaiian Flare Orange Drop’, selected to hang above abutilons megapotamicum and Kentish Belle, has produced an abundance of vigorous ferny foliage but very few flowers, although they are starting to bud up now, better late than never. Fuchsia Eruption hasn’t stopped flowering for weeks and needs no maintenance other than the occasional feed and regular watering. Pots of begonia Glowing Embers are having a tough time due to Fred our oriental cat’s tendency to treat them like a running buffet, so perhaps they will have to be displayed in hanging baskets next year instead of ground level. I find begonia tubers really easy to overwinter so I see no reason why these ones can’t be rescued at the end of the season.

petunia peach sundae

But surely one of the most striking additions to the garden has been the planting scheme for the shed roof terrace. I’ve been able to indulge myself with all the plants that I have never been able to grow at ground level due to slugs & snails and heavy clay soil: echinacea, helianthus, red hot pokers, heleniums, rodgersia, interwoven with tall grasses – and bubbling up through them all is Nasturtium Jewel of Africa, tumbling down the sides of the shed almost to ground level, a froth of huge marbled leaves and fiery flowers! And all from one packet of seeds. That’s what I call value for money.

As for the new front garden, watch this space…..work should start in September.

A look into the ‘fuchsia’

When you look at how many fuchsia varieties are available in the UK, in Europe, even worldwide, you would be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing left to discover or breed. But, you are wrong.

As a product developer, I have a mental wish list that covers pretty much every Genus… and for fuchsias it’s just as long a list than any other. My dreams cover: a true yellow fuchsia, a fuchsia with tasty berries, triphyllas for hanging baskets in every colour, more exciting coloured hardy fuchsias…. you get the idea!

fuchsiaWhilst some plant breeders may be beavering away on these projects behind closed doors, they could still be 20 years or more away. However, there’s some superb fuchsias right around the corner too.

We could soon be seeing fuchsias more suited to growing in sunny borders, which could change how they can be used in the garden or the patio. For many years, fuchsias have flagged in full sun, and far prefer dappled conditions. Their versatility will grow!

One of the most interesting breeding angles to emerge recently has been one that’s responding to European tastes; table top fuchsias. These small beauties, called the Bella Series, are covered in blossom, jutting out in every direction, not just dangling and hiding in the leaves!

And then, how could you have missed it? One of the biggest developments in fuchsias, the climbers!! Well, they’re not truly climbers, as they have no tendrils, but varieties such as new ‘Pink Fizz’ have upright growth, and reach 6 feet in just a few months too! Finally, an alternative to the predictable choice of clematis!

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