Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Shiny thing spotted in sky.

Sun is out, sky is blue, birds are tweeting... Snow is on its way out - well everywhere except in my garden it seems.  That's the joy of a north-facing plot I suppose.  The white stuff lingers longer.

In the greenhouse, out of the cold wind, it is warm and snug and things are looking happy, if a little crowded.  Ousted most of my September sown seedlings (snap dragons, scabious, sweet williams) to the coldframes this week and dumped any sickly herberts that didn't seem to merit the space they were occupying.  Being very brutal when space is at such a premium.

Checked in my big cardboard box of dahlia tubers to see that those awaiting an acquaintance with soil were still in fine fettle.  Witteman's Best was looking eager to get going, showing little sprouts near the dessicated stalks on the tubers, so they got planted today - I now have a line up of pots in my living room in addition to the one in my bedroom.  Still have 5 Purple Gem and 5 Peaches dahlias to pot up, so hope the days continue to warm up so some of the piano top inhabitants can move towards the greenhouse to make room for another dahlia parade.

On our family day out to Baddesley Clinton, a National Trust property in Warwickshire yesterday, it was grimly comforting to see that the lack of growth on my patch is not just the result of disorganised ineptitude - the kitchen garden there was closed 'due to the recent poor weather' and was yet to be planted up. Neither were the borders were as far on as you'd expect for April, even in the walled garden. However, there were some lovely daffodils and hellebores around, and the primroses tucked into the grassy walks were just "aaaahhhh".

 What I found myself coveting were the lean-to greenhouses - I might know just the spot where one could live in my garden....

Came away from my visit with two very muddy happy children, 4 timed entrance tickets for the house which we'd never got round to using (we'll be back) as we were having too much fun outdoors, two primroses (couldn't resist - want to get lots of these going),  four Fentimans pop bottles (brilliant to cut down to use as sweet pea vases), and a bag full of foraged sheeps wool.  Why the latter? On a recent #britishflowers tweet up we were discussing pest and slug control and apparently sheeps wool is a very effective slug deterrent, so I have spread the top of my larkspur sown raised bed with a layer of it to protect any sprouts miraculously jolted into life by their spell in the cold.

I'm always amazed by the seeds that need this cold treatment.  My auriculas have now all emerged in the warm fug of the propagator following their two week banishment to the subzero nights and cold days in the greenhouse.  Have subjected my reluctant cleome sowings to the same treatment, but haven't had any success there yet. Will give them another couple of weeks to emerge or be chucked.

Steadily sowing sweet peas, still a few more batches to go to hopefully get a well-staggered harvest.  First batch of this year are almost ready to start hardening off now.  Roll on flowering time so I can press those pop bottles into service.

Repeating arrangments of Pink, purple and white sweet peas in a row on a mantelpiece.
Last year's sweet peas in sawn off bottles - suddenly posh pop seems worth it!


  1. I've read about the sheep's wool slug control too. I hope it works for you. I think there is a product on the market made from it too.
    Isn't it great that the sun is trying to make a comeback! Everything is just so slow!
    Those little bottles really do a good job of showing the sweetpeas - very understated! Lovely.

    1. I recently bought some of the commercially produced wool-based slug repellent but have not had enough growth around which to sprinkle it yet! I'm planning a multi-pronged defence of my dahlias this year so may be opening the packet in the next few weeks.

      Sun still with us today, but an icy wind accompanying it - brrrrrrrrrr. Snow still going, but small patches remaining to testify to the freezy temperatures we've had for weeks now. Am hoping that the upside of the weather will be more frozen slugs and pests, leaving me fewer to deal with when things start to grow. Buds forming on my clematis though, despite the weather.

  2. O everything is so late and slow this year, and today no sun but an icy cold wind with some snow in the morning. I love walled gardens but even there it seems to be too cold for the year. Hopefully, we get soon an explosion of growth and green soon, but we need first a lot of rain, it is very dry.

    1. Apparently we have slightly warmer weather forecast for next week, but still not reaching double figures. The wind here is icy too. Out at a farming show with the kids today and we had to retreat inside after two minutes of trying to eat sandwiches with bare hands in the great outdoors - just too painful! Was just thinking today that the 'boing' moment still seems a way off in my garden.

  3. Love your bottles they so show off the sweetpeas.

    Its still cold and snow with us .

    Its been such a long cold winter think we may go right into summer.

    I and a friend are working in the walled garden restoration project at Glamis Castle you can see it here.http://blog.trowelslg.com/2013/04/part-2-glamis-castle-walled-garden.html

    1. I have just one blob of snow left on the drive. Am impressed by its tenacity. A bit colder here again today, but I can't wait any longer.... have planted out my Ammi and some of the September sown snapdragons. Have put plastic tunnel over my forget me nots to try to bring them on a bit over the next couple of weeks - never thought it would come to that, but flowery things are scarily sparse at the moment.

      Will definitely check out your restoration project - I envy any walled garden, very jealous!