I hope you are all feeling good, and still working hard in the garden. This month has been so mild,it’s been the best year ever for Autumn sowing. Well at least it has for me here in Pembrokeshire. I feel so privileged to spend so many warm dry days pottering in the greenhouses, especially as I was so unwell for the first six months of the year.
So what have I been up to? Well lots of things – apart from my gardening, I’ve been taking part it in a long distance writing course, two online mini photography courses, and I’ve set up my own blogs on Weblogit and WordPress. Both of them are about living with Fallot’s Tretology, Ovarian Cancer and Heart Failure. My personal blog links are on my Facebook page If you would like to read them.
Gardening-wise – since being off sick, I have had an awful lot more time to study my garden. I’ve been able to understand more clearly why things are failing, (unfavourable conditions/wrong site,) the areas of deep shade, the sun’s path through the garden, micro climates, soil types and wildlife. I have made many plans in my head, about what to improve or change altogether. I have fallen in love with simple flowers that have done nothing but flower their hearts out all summer. My surprise love is French Marigolds.
But most of all I have learned to live in the moment. Best described by the words of the late great Welsh Poet William Henry Davies’ poem; Leisure
. “What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?”
Well I have found plenty of time to stand and stare!
I have been keeping a paper diary of my gardening year. Again I feel so lucky to have done this. I would encourage any gardener to keep a diary similar to mine. Track the sun’s path, note your soil and weather conditions, record the wildlife. Draw your plans, jot down your favourites to grow. However, most importantly, record your mistakes. Mistakes, show that you tried something that didn’t work this time around, but maybe you can improve it next year, or at least not make the same mistakes. It’s really is better to try and fail, rather than never try at all. I’ve failed at growing pumpkins because my supports were not good enough. I can change this if I grow them again. I failed at melons, as the weather changed, so there was nothing I could do, but I will try again next year. I grew cucumlelons two years ago, I hated the taste. A mistake? No as other people liked them, they were easy to grow. Though I won’t do them again.
The last bit of news is I have got so many new blog ideas for here, that I am hoping the kind people at Thompson and Morgan will let me write some additional blogs apart from my monthly ones. It’s so lovely writing for them, as well as sharing my gardening exploits with you lovely readers, I also get given some excellent seeds free to grow and write about. Occasionally, I win blogger of the month and as winner, they give fantastic prizes. Have a look at the photo below, it shows my latest box of goodies sent by the editor. I especially love the teal Gubbins tray, flower pouches, and vermiculite.
October has given me many things – let’s start in The Office – it’s so well stocked, I could give my local garden centre a run for its money! I have recently had to move a load of plants to the cold frame as they are growing too quickly in the warmth of the staging under glass. The border is almost carpeted by Aloe Vera’s rooted houseplants are flowering, the spiky cactus has got fatter, and the yellow tomato is still producing. The money tree, is definitely becoming more tree like.
I’ve had great success with germination and transplanting of Calendula Snow Princess, and Orange English Marigolds. There are a few nasturtiums appearing too. I have a mass of beautiful Black Ball Cornflowers ready to go out in spring. There a numerous pots of Viola Jonny Jump Up ready to go outside.
Next job pot on Amaranthas Ouesburg seedlings from an old soft fruit punnet (I like to recycle) to singular pots are – these I would sorely miss if I didn’t collect the seeds each year. I think the most similar type that T&M do are called Ribbons and Tails. However, mine look more like a cross between a bottlebrush and a pampas grass flower. They have dark red/chocolatey leaves, that start off a deep grey green. The flowers are a cerise/burgundy, soft and fluffy to the touch. They don’t seem to have any scent, and the only thing I have seen feeding from/pollinating them are tiny bugs. They grow anything up to six foot in a hot summer, or even taller under glass. I’ve not tried eating the leaves, although it’s a delicacy in France and akin to spinach, nor have I wanted to try the flowers either. I have no idea which Amaranthas varieties are edible, so I wouldn’t chance it
Once I have done these, I then need to transplant the Larkspur, which look so pretty when they are small; as well as a few lavenders, Malva Moschatas, Heleniums and Radish. I also have a surviving turnip after a pesky slug got in and munched its way through them, as well as my cabbage and broccoli.
There is still no sign of the Kniphofias, Lupins, Foxgloves, and Stevia. Nor the grasses, nigella, hollyhocks or liatris. I’m not ready to give up on them yet.
In gaps on the middle shelves are White Lavender cuttings, a Christmas Cactus, some hyacinths that I have just started to water, two slightly dead looking buckthorn alder trees and a broken stem off my apple tree, that I’m hoping might root. It probably won’t, but I want to give it a chance. On what little space I have on the lower shelves, I have pots, vases, baskets, and various gardening equipment and tools.
Ty Mawr has been mostly prepared for late autumn and early winter. After giving fruits from late July until just a few days ago, the left border has now been cleared of tomato vines. What were left of the fruits were splitting at every opportunity, or failing to ripen. I made green tomato chutney once, but the bungalow stank of vinegar for days after, so I vowed never to make it again. There were hardly any green ones left anyway, so it wouldn’t have been worth the bother.
The only things remaining are a slightly floppy Amaranthas and a few French Marigolds. I plan to put the turnip and radish in this border for winter pickings. I also plan to overwinter my strawberries here too. I’m tempted to try some really late potatoes, but usually it’s best to get them in by September, so I might do onions instead.
The back border has been stripped of all except one aubergine plant. They didn’t really amount to much, maybe two or three fruits per plant. We just didn’t have the long hot summer they prefer. This is my least successful year for aubergines. Strangely the plant that’s left is a tiny T&M one, I grew from very late seeds. It isn’t even four inches, and has stayed this size all through summer, it had food and water and heat like the rest of them, but it just never grew any bigger. It’s the only one not to succumb to powdery mildew, mould or blight. So it’s staying for now. I have no idea if it will be strong enough to cope with winter. I may have to put a little cloche over it, even though it’s already under glass.
The right border has the two peppers which look really healthy, so again, I’m hoping to overwinter them. The chillies are turning a hot red, so fingers crossed I can keep this plant going too. Behind the chillies are ever expanding Nicotianas. One purple, one lime green. They are still flowering and smell divine. However, if they carry on multiplying as they are they will have to be evicted. Or even potted up to put outside next year.
Next to the chillies is a Sweet Aperetif tomato vine, that it still producing little red treats. I’m hoping to beat my personal best and pick tomatoes in November. The plants have usually caught blight by now, so I’m really chuffed this hasn’t happened yet. Spotted between the vine stems is a mini Amaranthas. I have a feeling they will grow like weeds in the greenhouse next year.
We had to take the Yellow Stuffer tomato out from the left border as it looked odd. The leaves were turning brown and the fruits were becoming mottled with brown patches. It didn’t look like blight, but I didn’t fancy eating the fruits so out it went. Lastly, there are two garlic plants growing. They have shot up over the last week, and have three leaves each.
On the hanging shelves in Ty Mawr are two money trees, repotted and brought in for the winter, as well as the spider plant that had to go out for the summer. There is also a single leaf from the money tree in a pot of its own, as it fell off one of the little ones. It had such good roots to it, I thought it might propagate this way. The other hanging shelves hold random pots, tomato feed, secateurs, a few garden ornaments, and outdoor solar lights so they don’t get damaged in the high winds and frost. There’s also a couple of China coasters for when I bring my hot chocolate with me on a plant inspection.
Anyhow, that’s enough from me.
Love Amanda xx