A February full of drama

Hi Everyone,

February might be the shortest month, but boy has it been packed with drama – at least for me anyway. First we had the wicked west winds so bitter they could have given an expresso a run for its money. These annoying gusts meant for several days we couldn’t go in the greenhouses for fear of the glass being blown out on opening the door. How the flowering marigolds inside Ty Mawr managed without a drink for three weeks is pretty astounding.

On the second weekend of the month I happened to stay with my mum on the Saturday night, we had met friends for lunch and that evening I was trying to teach her Logic colouring-in puzzles. We didn’t notice the wind picking up and by the time I did it was too late for me to text Mark to check the cold frame was secure. It was wedged under the shelter of the eaves between the bungalow wall and the side of a garden bench, plus there was a large plant pot just in front it, so I assumed it would be fine. I had overwintering Violas, cornflowers, foxgloves and calendula in it .Mark is pretty good at checking the cold frame as the pesky thing likes to make a dash for the shed in windy weather. Credit where it’s due, Mark spent most of Sunday morning walking around the neighbourhood looking for Rhett Butler(aka the cold frame), as now it had literally Gone With The Wind- He broke the news on the drive back from mum’s. – the plants were okay, they hadn’t moved from their position. I was upset, I didn’t cry but I was mad at myself for not noticing the inclement weather, and for the fact that I won Rhett in a T&M blogger only photo competition

In frustration I put a post on Pembrokeshire-Bay asking if anyone had found an unexpected polycarbonate cold frame in their gardens near me. Lots of people replied, many had even gone to check their gardens for me. One extremely kind Gardening lady who lives eight miles away said I could have hers for free if I wanted. I was touched, and told her I would contact her again in a few days if mine was gone for good. Her generosity sparked offers of free manure from a person with horses, and thus my post grew, so I thought, well at least Rhett leaving brought out the best in other people.

Mum called for over the following Monday, we went for a short walk,with her peering into gardens and hedges still seeking Rhett. It’s okay mum, I said, Mark has looked and looked. Do you think it was stolen? she asked. I replied No, they would have taken the plants and solar lights as well. Anyway our part of town is relatively crime-free.

Much later, when we were doing the dishes after supper Mark suddenly exclaimed, “I know where your coldframe is!”

“Please tell me…you didn’t put it in the shed and forget did you?” I ask.

“Would I be that stupid?!”


He takes a torch and no more than five minutes later he’s back with a disheveled looking Rhett. Apparently the one place none of us had thought to look was behind the wheelie bins between the old youth club and the surgery. I asked him what made him look there. He said because he saw an old patio table there yesterday and thought it was a funny place to put one – , so perhaps someone had fly-tipped it. So maybe Rhett is not Rhett, but then again maybe someone is still missing a patio table…




When the winds blew themselves out, I ventured into The Office as I needed that start off some seeds. The first packet were a Freebie from Just Bee Drinks, a lovely blend of bee friendly flowers, as I won them – and three cartons of Honey infused fruit juices for submitting a good bad-bee-pun at the end of January.

I am also taking part in a tomato germination seed trial with a different company so was keen to get that underway.



The Office was in a bit of a state as I had only being going in to check things and water small pots, so that afternoon I tried to rearrange the shelves. I was glad I had. After a wait of nearly nine months grass Ponytails had germinated and was in dire need of repotting. I found a surprise turnip, that needs transplanting and I nearly pitched a fit when I looked down to wipe water from my wrist to discover it was a baby slug happily sitting there.




A tray propagator that I had completely forgotten about had sprouted a couple of Heleniums and some Malvas as well as several kinds of disgusting white moulds. Holding my breath (not ideal with heart failure) and zipping my hooded fleece up to my nose I carefully carried the tray outside, rescued the good stuff then had Mark empty the tray. I moved another propagator (clean and empty) and found a remarkably big radish growing behind it in a three inch pot. I threw out the refused to germinate-in-a-year Liatris seeded pots as well as several Snow Princess Marigolds that were ruined by frosts and my new pet Slugsy, who I had put near the bird feeding station.



A few days later, I had Mark sieve fresh compost so I could start my T&M seeds. I set off some sweet peppers, Boneta’s and Bullhorns, then came the Cayennetta Chilli peppers. Fed up of buying supermarket mixed salad leaves, that are too much for one person to eat in a week, and washed in chlorine I sowed some speedy salad leaves, so we can just pick them as we need them. The final food item i sowed was my favourite basil variety Lemonade. This year, I am hoping to grow more flowers from seed, so I sowed Lewsia and Commelina Dianthifolia, both of which need cold weather to germinate. Talking of which I am hugely excited to announce that both my Himalayan and Grande Meconopsis Blue poppies have germinated. The Himalayan ones in the Plant Butler outside and the other type in the heated propagator on the kitchen window sill.



After seed sowing Mark watered the aloe border and swept up for me. I was back in Ty Mawr checking the status of the potato grow bags which were in need of water, so were the marigold  and cornflower borders. Mark watered these for me, while I mourned the loss of two baby money trees from the cold. Thankfully the newspaper wrapped dahlias are not affected. Ty Mawr is overcrowded now as I had to put the rescued cold frame plants on the path as the shelves are full. If I put them in the borders they will take root, which I don’t want. I need to cut off the dead foliage from last year’s pepper and chilli. I am not sure if the Nicotiana has survived I can’t climb over the pots to see. A sorry state really, but on the next warm day l’ll do a proper inspection.



Today the cold frame is in the confines of The Office. Mark has straightened it back out and secured lengths of narrow batons to three sides to make it heavier. He plans to add another baton to the top to keep the lids closed with clips of some kin, (don’t know what as I have no DIY skills whatsoever,) so that the lids don’t act like sails again. Fingers crossed that no other dramas occur, but with the Beast from the East on its way I wouldn’t be surprised if something did. Our coldest day so far has been 4°c and we had a light frost a few nights ago. I am not looking forward to the cold snap, even if it does mean more Blue Poppies.

Stay warm,

Until next time,

Love Amanda.

PS Does anyone have any idea why I can’t grow Welsh Poppies in the same heated propagator on the kitchen window in the tray next to Himalayan ones when they both require the same growing conditions, heat and light , AND I’m in Wales and in the Himalayas?

From Rake To Bake – Leek Muffins

Welcome to February’s Baking Blog. Each month will feature an in-season fruit or vegetable dish to make with a little bit of grow-your-own information on the side.

February is perfect for making Leek Muffins.

Have you ever wondered why Welsh fans carry inflatable leeks to Rugby or Football matches? Legend says Cadwaladr a 7th century King of Gwynedd once ordered his men to wear one into battle for identification purposes. But this tasty veg, is more versatile than identifying troops, rich in antioxidants Leeks are packed with vitamin K, manganese, vitamin B6, copper, iron, folate and vitamin C, as well as vitamin A vitamin E, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Leeks may be perfect for roasting, souping and frying, but they make surprisingly good cakes too.

Prep Time 5 -10 minutes . Oven Temp 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Cooking Time 25-30 minutes

Skills Level Easy Peasy.***


  • Measuring Scales.
  • Measuring Spoons.
  • Wooden or silicon spoon.
  • Measuring Jug.
  • Cheese Grater.
  • Fork.
  • Vegetable Knife.Leek muffins - ingredients
  • Sieve.
  • Mixing Bowl.
  • Bun Tray.
  • Paper or silicon cases.
  • Cooling Rack.


  • 1 Leek.
  • 1 Egg.
  • 175g of Plain Flour.
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder.
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda.
  • 100ml of Olive or vegetable oil.
  • 50ml of Milk.
  • 75g Cheddar Cheese.
  • 2 -3 Teaspoons of Mixed Herbs.
  • 1 -3 Teaspoon of Black Pepper.
  • 1-3 Teaspoons of Turmeric.


  • Preheat the oven.Leek muffins - preparation
  • Grate the cheese.
  • Line a bun tray with paper/silicone cases.
  • Wash the Leek throughly to remove any soil from between the leaves then slice into thin circles, then slice these into thirds.
  • Measure out the flour, baking powder, herbs and spices in the mix together in a bowl, then turn gently with a wooden/silicon spoon. (Note salt can be used if desired.)
  • Pour the measured milk into a glass and beat the egg into it with the fork.
  • Make a well in the flour add the milky eggs and required amount of oil.
  • Quickly blend together for one minute.
  • Next add the leeks and cheese. Continue stirring for two minutes until the mixture is of a stiff consistency.
  • Use a filled teaspoon to drop the mixture into the cases.
  • Place on middle shelf and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack before serving.

 leek muffins - baked and cooling

Serving Suggestions.

leek muffin - ready to eat!Go Welsh and serve with a bowl of Cawl.

Go Oriental and dip in a bowl of sweet chilli sauce or mango chutney.

Freeze for the summer and enjoy with an egg fried in plum tomatoes for lunch.

Grow Your Own.

Leeks are hungry plants, so add plenty of well rotted manure to your plot, or alternatively grow them in a deep container with fresh compost, adding a feed of Incredigrow. Start the seeds in late February or through March and April either in a single seed in cellular trays outdoors or direct in your soil. From May to July the plants can then be transferred to their final growing positions. To have a more blanched stem it is necessary to fork the soil around the stems as they grow, being careful not to get it between the leaves. Beware of the leek moth and leek rust – for more information on this you can always visit The RHS online guide How to grow Leeks.

*** Easy Peasy – Basic techniques/Suitable for Children with adult supervision/help.

Treat as Tender – Intermediate Skills required/Children may need more help with this.

Seasoned Kitchen Gardener – Confident Baker/Children might not be suited to this.


Hello Gardeners,

I can’t quite believe this will be my fourth year writing for T&M. I have learned so much more about writing blogs as well as gardening over the years. I’ve shared my ups and downs with you, and formed many friendships with the blogging community. One of things I love is your interactions, a little message on my page really does make me smile.

Each year I start off by promising to write more factual and interesting pieces, but by May, all I am focused on is telling you how this or that is faring. So this year I added a new blog called “Rake to Bake,” where I will attempt to encourage you (not that many of you need it…) to try something new with your edibles. Did anyone make the Parsnip Scones? I recently modified the recipe to include sprouts as well as parsnips – all I can say is I am very sorry for the unusual high winds the UK  is experiencing.

I must be the only blogger here who has not abandoned the winter garden. I haven’t done any work, but I have watched Mark tidy up. My job is to examine the plot by walking around taking photos, tracking the pattern of the sun and sighing at the wind damage. I spend time laughing at the antics of the birds that don’t mind coming to feed at the table when I’m watering the plants in the greenhouse. Finally when I come in from the cold it is usually sees me getting pens and paper to draw fancy plans for where I plan to put things. Then on a day that is far too bitter to go out I revise the plans or draw them up again.

Due to my ineptness for the last three years I have put the bee hotel facing west. It was only when I read an update from The Bumble Bee Trust that I realised the poor bees would not move in, unless I repositioned it. I also noted that Bees don’t nest at too high a level, so about a foot off the ground for the hotel is just as effective as head height. In case you are wondering I have a Bee obsession, I would love to have bee hives, unfortunately Mark is allergic to their sting, so I’ll just have to settle for feeding them instead.

The greenhouses are ticking over, inside “The Office” nothing new has germinated this month, except for what could possibly be a new lavender. The odd frosty nights have seen most of the seedlings go dormant. I only need to keep the compost moist and ventilate on warmer days. There are a few pots of violas that smell divine and have been flowering for over a month. I’m itching to start off my sweetpeas, but the gales mean it’s too unsafe to be in the greenhouse for more than a quick five minute check.

In “Ty Mawr” the peppers and chillies seem to have survived the winter, although Mark forgot to water them, so I nearly lost them. The English Marigolds have really shot up, and even though some of the same batch are flowering outside the ones under glass have not. Curiously, the plants inside are much larger, and I am assuming this is because they are warmer and drier. The cornflowers did not like the cold, nor the lack of regular watering, but they have picked up over the last few days. Incredibly the Nicotiana is still flowering – I expected it to die off between Christmas and now, but no it just keeps going. (Hope I haven’t jinxed it.) The turnip looks like it could be ready soon. The garlic bulbs died. The stored dahlias have not rotted, the baby money trees need repotting.


I ordered and received my onion seeds at the start of the month. Followed closely by an offer on seed potatoes. By placing an order for Maris Piper I was able to order a trial sample of the new Vizella potato variety for the bargain price of £1.99 and potato fertiliser for 50p. They also came with a free packet of mint seeds, perfect for a late spring/early summer salad. I have started the chitting process, hopefully I can plant them mid February, that’s the beauty of living by the coast – less frost. I had to leave my cold frame in the large greenhouse due to the fact it keeps going off on its own accord every time the wind picks up, scattering its contents here, there and everywhere. The last time it went off on one it ended up from being in a sheltered spot by the bench in front of the bungalow to almost putting itself in the shed round the back.


I’ve set up my electric propagator on the kitchen window, I’ve planted seven types of seeds, so far nothing has grown, but it takes 7-21 days so I’m not worried yet. I am planning to write more about the propagator at a later date.

As January is traditionally a time to look both forward and back, here is a short summary of my past actions and new plans:-

January 2015

I introduced myself and asked you to share a year in the greenhouse with me. Everything from the construction of the greenhouse to the last produce of the year. I wrote about the importance of keeping a gardening diary, (something I still do today), and I told you that I couldn’t grow cucumbers. – I still can’t grow them…

January 2016

I started the year by explaining the rookie mistakes I made with a bigger greenhouse, I complained about my Labrynthitis, I was ecstatic I had grown Californian poppies. I noticed that we had plenty of blue skies in in early 2016. I bought hanging shelves for Ty Mawr, and I was excited to try out the seeds I had won for blogger of the month the previous December.

January 2017

Full of optimism I wrote this :- “The first thing I learned this year is how powerful plants can be. During my final session of chemotherapy, I decided to google what goes into the drugs that are saving my life. Cabol is synthetic and therefore uninteresting, but Taxol, as the name suggests, is derived from the Pacific Yew tree…” “…It (Taxol) also contains poisonous plant alkaloids from the periwinkle (Vinca Major) and the American wild mandrake, commonly known as the May Apple. Plus it has extracts from the Asian Happy tree – a 40 meter giant that is also grown in Canada.”

I went on to talk about the plans for my grassy knoll area the Orange coloured garden flowers I would grow, and the plans to help mum rejuvenate her front space. I stated my brother still hadn’t put his greenhouse up.”

A month after I wrote the blog, I had my surgery and just as I was returning to work six months later, I had a blood clot in my heart leaving me with Heart Failure.

Through all of these setbacks the greenhouses and garden kept me sane, the act of planting a seed and watching it grow enabled me to be determined to go on. I didn’t want to die without tasting the new variety tomatoes, or seeing the dahlias bloom.


I have many plans, I might not achieve them, but here they are –

  • Have a go at growing Cape Gooseberries.
  • Have a go at growing Himalayan Blue Poppies
  • Improve the grassy knoll.
  • Have all my family and friends around on warm sunny days to sit outside eat cakes then go home with a bunch of flowers/fruit/veg picked from the garden.
  • Visit Geoff at Driftwood on his Open Day.
  • Visit Caroline and her cats.
  • Encourage even more bees into the garden.
  • Nag my brother until he puts up his greenhouse – he has done the base…
  • Advise (nag/dictate- delete as appropriate) my other brother on his new allotment.

But I know as well as anyone that things do not always go according to plan, so my all time favourite thing to do this year is to just enjoy being in the greenhouse whenever I can.

Until next time,

Happy Gardening.

Love Amanda.

From Rake To Bake.

Welcome to my new monthly Baking Blog. Each month will feature an in-season fruit or vegetable dish to make with a little bit of grow-your-own information on the side.

January is perfect for making Parsnip Scones!

Parsnip GladiatorThe humble parsnip, a mainstay of the Sunday Roast has been cultivated since the Ancient Greek and Roman times. Long before Sugar Canes were harvested this tapered cylindrical cream coloured vegetable acted as a sweetener for foods. Originating in Eurasia (Europe and Asia) and closely related to both carrots and Parsley this root can be eaten in both its cooked and raw forms.

Fibre-rich Parsnips contain plenty of vitamins and minerals so by baking them you can sneak one of your five-a-day into the kids’s lunchbox without too much drama.

Prep Time 10-30* minutes. Oven Temp 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. Cooking Time 15-30 minutes**

Skills Level Easy Peasy.***

  • parsnip scone ingredientsMeasuring Scales.
  • Measuring Spoons.
  • Measuring Jug.
  • Vegetable Peeler.
  • Sharp Knife. Blunt Knife.
  • Sieve.
  • Mixing Bowl.
  • Rolling pin.
  • Rolling Mat (optional).
  • Scone or pastry cutter.
  • Baking Tray.
  • Baking Parchment/grease proof paper.
  • Cooling Rack.
  • 500g of Parsnips.
  • 375g of Plain Flour.
  • 4 Teaspoons of Baking Powder.
  • 275ml of Milk.
  • 2 -3 Teaspoons of Rosemary or Mixed Herbs.
  • 1 -2 Teaspoon of Black Pepper.
  • 1-2 Teaspoons of Turmeric (optional).
  • 50-70g of your favourite cheese.
  • parsnips steamingPeel and Dice as many parsnips as it takes to measure 500g. If you have an electric steamer cook them until they are soft enough to mash around ten to twelve minutes. If you intend to boil the parsnips do not use salt as this recipe does not require salt.
  • While the parsnips cook measure out the dry ingredients. Sieve the flour and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Add the herbs and spices and turn gently with a blunt knife or metal measuring spoon. Cover until parsnips are ready.
  • Drain and mash the parsnips allowing them to cool completely.
  • Heat the oven then add the cold parsnips to the dry ingredients and combine with a blunt knife until the mixture sticks together.
  • Gradually add the milk in 50ml increments constantly blending it with the knife. Once it begins to form a dough use your hands to knead it well. Do not worry if there is plenty of milk left over as you can use it to brush the scones with later. Leave dough to rest while you line a tray with baking parchment. (Alternatively grease tray with a little butter.)
  • Once you have a crack-free dough use a little flour on your rolling mat and pin then roll the dough into 2cm thick even layer.
  • parsnip scones - ready to bakeUse a scone/pastry cutter to cut the scones and place them on the baking tray. Re-roll the leftovers until you have used all the dough.
  • Lightly brush with leftover milk or an egg if you prefer.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top of each scone.
  • Place on middle shelf and bake for around 15 minutes or until they are a warm golden colour and the cheese has melted.
Serving Suggestions

Parsnip scones ready to eatSlice and fill with pickle/chutney and cheese.

Slice, butter and dunk into soup.

Freeze for eating with a ploughman’s salad in summer.


Grow Your Own

It couldn’t be easier to grow your own parsnips as they virtually look after themselves. To start off pick from the following varieties: Albion, Gladiator, Panorama or Tender and True all available in the The Seed Catalogue (page 54) or online. Prepare you ground over winter – they like a light weed free deep bed, in a preferably sunny and open site. Sow the seeds in March April or May 15cm apart and 13mm deep. Then thin the weakest so that once the seedlings’ first two true leaves show they are 30cm apart. Continue to hand weed to avoid root damage. Catch crops such as Radish can be sown alongside them – finally ensure the soil is kept moist to avoid the roots forking. Also consider covering with Enviromesh or horticultural fleece to protect from Carrot fly and other pests.

More information can be found from T&M online How to Grow Parsnips guide.

*Depending on if you have pre-cooked Parsnips.

**Depending on if you have pre-cooked Parsnips.

*** Easy Peasy – Basic techniques/Suitable for Children with adult supervision/help.

Treat as Tender – Intermediate Skills required/Children may need more help with this.

Seasoned Kitchen Gardener – Confident Baker/Children might not be suited to this.



Hello Gardeners,

Season’s Greetings, I hope you are happy and healthy. Soon 2017 will draw to a close, and the growing cycle will begin again.

Every year I am grateful to the fantastic Thompson and Morgan team for allowing me to write a monthly customer blog, but what I value most from them is the new friendships that I have made along the way. Friends who have supported me through difficult times by sending me emails, messages and gifts when I least expected it – and as regular readers will know the last 18 months have been hard. So thank you Geoff Stonebanks, Caroline Broome, Jean Willis and our editor Graham Ward.

As the season comes to a close, you would think that the work in the unheated greenhouses is over, but alas no – as its still over 7°c in them most days the plants are still growing. In fact even our lawns need cutting again, but we will save that until next year.

Yellow stuffer - December 17In “The Office” I managed to keep the Yellow Suffer Tomato going until the second week of December before it finally succumbed to blight. I didn’t manage to put the amaranths seedlings into individual pots as I found it too cold for me, and with the nerve damage in my fingers I kept dropping things with my woolly gloves on. I tried thin gloves but once the cold was in my fingers I couldn’t do anything anyway. So now I’m at the stage of just checking the pots every few days and just giving the plants a tiny drink of water if the compost is mostly dry. I can’t risk watering them after 3pm in case there is a frost, but as they are still growing I can’t let them get stressed or dehydrated either – it’s harder than keeping them alive in the summer!



greenhouse border - December 17My Snow Princess Calendulas are getting far too big for their 3 inch pots, I didn’t put them in the Ty Mawr borders as I wanted to keep these separate from the yellow/orange ones, mainly because I want to see how they perform outside and to collect some seeds heads once they are spent. There is a tiny turnip that seems to be semi dormant, and a few tiny lavenders just freshly hatched from their pods. The violas are flowering like mad making the greenhouse smell divine. The Larkspurs are about 4 inches and the remaining cornflowers are about 6 inches high. There is still no sign of the grasses, or Liatris, Foxgloves, Red Hot Pokers or olive trees, there is however lots of little Heleniums popping up in the seed trays. Sadly the hyacinths didn’t come back, but I can still feel the corms so I’ll leave them for a bit longer. In the border of course are the house plants as well as Aloe Vera’s and money tree.

A couple of seedlings are emerging which are from seeds I have spilled over last few months with my chemo fingers. There appears to be foxgloves (typical as they don’t grow in the seed trays), and things I cannot identify but are not weeds. I am hoping in spring I will know what they are.

A few days ago we had a westerly gale that unfortunately sent my cold-frame spinning across the garden (from what is supposed to be its sheltered position), spilling its contents along the front of the bungalow. Mark rescued the plants by putting them in the large greenhouse; however, a few of the more badly damaged plants have since died.

Ty Mawr is filled almost to its rafters. The shelves have overwintering dahlias wrapped in newspapers to keep warm; the begonias wrapped the same way too. I have a couple of baby money trees that need repotting but they really need to go dormant as I haven’t any spare pots at the moment.

The borders are edged with Calendula and Cornflowers. One garlic plant has died, the other looks questionable. The single turnip looks awesome. Can you tell this is my first time for growing turnip? The sweet pepper looks a bit droopy but seems happy enough. The non T&M aubergine is hanging on but I am doubtful I can keep it going until next year as I think it’s just too cold for it. The tiny T&M one though looks very healthy, even if it’s still only as tall as it was in the summer, which is about two inches. Brings a whole new meaning to patio dwarf mix. The Nicotiana that made its home in the border is still flowering. Its bright colours adding to the festive Christmas feeling.

The only maintenance needed is to water the plants maybe once a week, check for pests and ensure that the panes of glass are secure after any storms.

Between now and the first of January, I will be looking back over my blogs and diaries and drawing up next year’s plans. I want to add to the grassy knoll and redesign the wildlife patch in the front garden. I would like to also do something with the patio area as it’s a bit overgrown with herbs, roses and sedums. Finally there is a triangular bed in the back garden that needs a bit of a going over.

The plans will also include a list of things to grow next year, I will go through the tin of seeds selecting which tomatoes I will grow along with cape gooseberries, and melons, aubergines, peppers, and chillies. I love this task of seed selecting, it’s like childhood Christmas presents, where you get to pick something but you have to wait a few months for it to arrive.

I’m proud to have been given some amazing free seeds to trial from the new 2018 Spring Catalogue. I’m going to be growing and writing about the following varieties. I have included the catalogue number in case you would like to buy them yourself.

TT79397 Radish Blue moon & Red moon F1 mix.

TT61821 Marigold Strawberry Blonde.

TT38788 Rainbow Beet,

TX38777 Sunflower Shock-o-Lat

TT38829 Sweet pea Turquoise Lagoon.

radishes, strawberry blond, rainbow beet, sunflower

I cannot wait to grow interesting coloured radishes. How cool will they look in a Spring Salad. I especially can’t wait to share them with my Vegetarian niece. Pot Marigold flowers can be eaten, so I bet the strawberry blonde one will look beautiful frozen in an ice cube or placed on a cheesecake. Beetroot is a super veg, rich in antioxidants and so versatile in the kitchen too. The fact that I can grow it in various colours should be another crowd pleaser. Who doesn’t like a sunflower? Not only can you and the birds share its tasty seeds, but for me they are the epitome of a great summer, with their nodding heads and vibrant petals. However, I like to be different so I cannot wait to grow a browny/bronze orange type. And lastly, sweet pea Turquoise Lagoon, I urge you to get hold of your catalogue or go on the website and look at the picture of this plant because I do not think I have the vocabulary to explain how utterly taken I am with this flower. I’ve never grown this variety before, but it excites me – I don’t know if it’s the fact that the petals change colour from pink to turquoise as it matures, or that it’s a prolific climber or because it’s meant to have a strong fragrance. I guess it’s a combination of all three. If anyone has grown it before please can you let me know if it lives up to its name – is it really turquoise?

electric propagatorBack in the summer I won blogger of the month with “The Sentimental Gardener” and used the prize money/gift voucher to bag myself an electric propagator, which I will be setting up very shortly. In January I am hoping to let you know how I got on with it.

Strangely, I am looking forward to some frost. Reason being I’m going to attempt to grow Himalayan Blue Poppies from seed – they are meant to be planted in seed trays and exposed to very cold temperatures ideally frosty conditions. So on New Year’s Day you will find me in the greenhouse celebrating life as a gardener/blogger/diarist by setting off my first seeds of the year. Poppies and Sweet peas.

I feel really emotional as I write this as I really didn’t think I would get through my cancer and heart failure- it’s been tough but with help from Mark, family and friends (near and far) I have completed another gardening year. Wishing you all the most magical of Christmas’ and I hope 2018 is kind too you.

Until next year!

Love Amanda xx

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