Anyone out there looking for left hand gloves?

Gloves

Why oh why don’t they make gardening gloves reversible? Being right handed I have a drawer full of superfluous intact left hand gloves as all my right hand ones get ripped and worn with monotonous regularity. As I value my nails I opt to double glove, that is, to don surgical gloves first (well, I do come from a medical family) followed by fine weave gardening gloves with reinforced palms and fingers. I find this way I can actually feel what I am doing! But it seems such a waste to throw a whole pair away just because one glove has had it. So if there are any dainty size 6½ left handed gardeners out there in need of spares please do get in touch!

And so…….Spring is here, that is if you are of the meteorological persuasion. Personally I feel like that’s cheating and am opting for Monday March 20th before I celebrate the demise of Winter. But the frogs are definitely in the first category! Having sluiced out the fermenting rill (oh boy did we stink; even after our clothes had gone in the wash the smell lingered on in our olfactory senses) we decided not to refill it straightaway. (Why not, David? You still haven’t given me a viable explanation.) So when David came running in from the garden a couple of days later, lamenting that it was, “Too late, too late”, I wondered what on earth had happened. I should have put two and two together when the previous evening friend Lesley reported hearing strange throbbing noises whilst sneaking a fag on the patio, during our pancake eating Shrove Tuesday Book Club: Frogspawn in the rill! One centimetre of rainwater was all the encouragement they needed. So now what? Do we gently fill it up and hope the frog spawn rises with the tide, or run the risk of evaporation if we leave it be? And how would they climb out? Eventually, having watched a group of five milling around (is that what they call it in polite society?) amongst the frogspawn, David came up with a makeshift ladder cut from a piece of tongue and groove floorboard. They queued up to use it but slid down again, so he then applied a piece of fine grade abrasive anti-slip tape. Lo and behold, off they went to find fresh fields, croaking away happily…..

frogspawn

Accident prone as ever, I dove into the flower bed to prune a clematis, only to catch my toe on the irrigation pipe coming out, and landed knee to shin on the stone path. Dear me, the air was blue and so were the bruises! Undeterred I soldiered on (back of hand to forehead) until rain sent me under cover. Oh the inevitability of my seed sewing failures: Basil nothing, leeks eaten by mice (you’ve overstayed your welcome folks), broad beans etiolated under protective tray cover, sweet peas dying of thirst. However all is not lost. I have managed to prick out three each of T & M tomato Garnet & Indigo Cherry Drops but alas no sign of Artisan Mixed. Perhaps a few cells of tomato Mountain Magic will produce better results. So the next lot of greenhouse sowings for March are as follows:

Sweet pepper Gourmet
Pepper Sweet Boneta
Courgette de Nice a Fruit Rond
Nasturtium Troika Spotty Dotty (surely these can’t go wrong)

And then there is the allotment. When it comes to The Good Life I am definitely a fair weather gardener. My first visit since last November was relatively painless. Hardly any weeds, a few brave broad bean seedlings valiantly growing away in splendid isolation. So I achieved my objective of pruning the blackberry hedge and the strawberry patch, with the welcome help of the allotment tortie cat. Originally from an adjacent semi, said cat opted for the outdoor life by adopting a plot holder who now provides bed and board. He feeds her twice a day and makes alternative arrangements in his absence, and has provided shelter in his shed with access via a cat flap. She has the hump right now because the local vixen has taken up temporary residence whilst in confinement with her two cubs. Obviously I didn’t hear this from her (!) but she did share my hessian ground sheet for a good hour, purring away as I struggled with the thorny brambles. (Who’s the mug here?) Anyway I digress. On my next visit I shall sow T & M Pea Terrain and Pea Eddy direct: I always surprise myself with the success of peas and beans. I have decided that I shall relocate the T & M tree lilies from the front garden to the allotment, to join the existing half dozen four year olds that flower so profusely you could see them from space. As I can’t grow them at home (as all parts of lilies are poisonous to cats) I might as well enjoy them on the plot. I wonder if the dahlias Fox Mixed and Trebbiano have survived, this being the coldest winter since transferring them three years ago. Plenty of daffs coming up though, good for cutting. All the flowers and bulbs on the allotment are from previous T& M trials, which reminds me that I have been on the Plant Triallists’ panel since its inception in 2010.

dahlias peony tree lili

So with the growing season well under way, David and I have really got stuck in. Clearly not satisfied with the mess created by Rill-Gate, David pressure washed every hard surface in the garden. So traumatised am I by the inevitable mud splashes and sodden border edges that I won’t set foot outside until it’s all dried off and swept away. For my part, having completed all the heavy duty tasks – top dressing the borders with manure, successfully liberating T & M Tree Peony Hong Xia (2011) from its container to the pastel border, replacing aucuba with outrageously expensive cornus Kousa (and it’s not even my birthday for another month) and lifting & dividing monstrous miscanthus – I can smugly look forward to pottering about over the next few weeks. Who am I kidding; it’s almost time to hard prune the fuchsia and the hardy salvias, bring the giant cannas out of hibernation, and so the list goes on……..still, it keeps me off the streets! Love, Caroline

Staff tree lily competition results

A few months ago staff at Thompson & Morgan were invited to take part in the company’s tree lily® competition. Each entrant was given 3 tree lily® bulbs to grow, nurture and photograph throughout the year. The winner was announced earlier today…

Staff tree lily competition results

Rita with her winning tree lilies®!

Rita Cosson, sales office manager in the wholesale department, was declared the outright winner with her stunning display of tree lilies®.

According to the judges, there were some fantastic pictures and were very impressed with the efforts made to nurture the tree lilies®, despite difficult growing conditions earlier in the year.

We asked Rita how she managed to get such a stunning display: “I planted them in multipurpose compost in the largest pot I had as soon as I got them, not sure when that was! They do need a large pot to get them as big as that.

I fed them every week once they started to grow with Miracle Grow fertilizer. I checked them nearly every day for lily beetles and removed them and any grubs that I subsequently found on the leaves, this proved to be a very regular task as the beastly little beetles tried to out run me every week!

I removed some of the small lower shoots that did not have flower heads to encourage top growth, not sure if this helped really but it seemed like a good idea at the time!”

In her own garden, Rita mainly grows flowers, shrubs and few vegetables. Her favourites are lilies, fuchsias, begonias and pansies. Her top tips are to use the correct sized pot or basket for the plant you’re growing, always use fresh compost and water and feed regularly.

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Tree lily® challenge for Thompson & Morgan staff

Staff at Thompson & Morgan have been set the challenge to grow the best tree lily®!

Tree lily challenge for Thompson & Morgan staff

The race is on to grow the best tree lily!

Those of us who have signed up have been given 3 tree lily® bulbs to plant, nurture and photograph over the coming months.

Tree lilies® are amazing plants to grow. A single bulb can produce up to 30 huge trumpet blooms and the plants can grow to 8ft in as little as 2 years!

They’re very easy to grow and pretty much take care of themselves. They’ll thrive in a sunny or partly shaded spot and are stunning against walls and fences, where they’ll take on a ‘shrubby’ appearance in time.

The foliage remains lush all season and the stalks are so sturdy that they don’t need staking.

With all this in mind, the 86 members of Thompson & Morgan staff have been sent home with their bulbs and a set of instructions. Now it’s up to us to get the best results. I’ve planted mine in a large pot on the patio – the weather’s a bit unpredictable at the moment and I don’t want to risk them getting frozen in the ground if we get this cold snap that’s been forecast.

We’ve asked participants to write blog posts for us, charting the progress of their tree lily® bulbs over the next few months, so watch this space!

Photo competitions for you

Each year we run photo competitions for our customers and 2013 is no exception. You can enter as many categories as you like, which include growing the tallest petunia tower, tree lilies®, plant portraits, baskets and containers and more.

Click here to see all photo competition categories

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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