Sunday, 31 July 2011

End of Month View ~ July 2011


After spending a good part of July away from home, garden and allotment  the settled weather of the last week has provided me with a good chance to catch up with a myriad of tasks. Sadly I did not like what greeted me in the new end of month of border. BINDWEED has reared its must ugly head in no uncertain terms ~ I could weep!  I can cope with the clover, thistles and other undesirables that have appeared but bindweed is another matter. This thug was not there last year so my suspicion is falling on the topsoil that came in during the spring. So there is a serious war to be waged.

In the meantime despite the bindweed most of the plants which were planted in May are flourishing. I did treat myself at the time to a couple of new hardy geraniums, a chocolate cosmos and a penstemon which has still to flower. The majority of the plants were either grown from seed, established from cuttings or were gifts from friends. It has been amazing to see how much growth dahlias 'Bishops Children' have put on in during the course of three months. They are a definite to be repeated.

However the plants that are giving me the greatest satisfaction at the moment though are dwarf French beans 'Stanley'. In a moment of madness I stuck a few spare bean plants in to fill some bare earth the day before we went on holiday. They were surplus and were initially heading for the compost heap. I puddled them in well and then forgot about them. They are doing better than the beans at the allotment, which have received tender loving care from my allotment neighbours and from me when I have been about. Sometimes it seems that plants thrive on tough love.

I am looking forward later on today to seeing how the end of July is treating other people's gardens and allotments over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog', where Helen kindly hosts the end of month view.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Slightly Blushing


One of the most exciting moments of the gardening year for me is when I see my tomatoes beginning to turn colour. Each year you begin to think that it will never ever happen and then by magic overnight there is a subtle but distinct change. Even then I have to go back for a second and even a third peek just to reassure myself. This year the first of my tomatoes began to blush a couple of days ago.

The tomato in question is 'Losetto' which was a new introduction this year from Thompson and Morgan. It is an F1 variety and has been bred with blight resistance in mind. It has a cascading habit so is suitable for containers and can be grown under cover or outdoors in a sheltered sunny spot. I must admit I did not have my full wits about me when I bought the seed on a garden centre trip back in January, as if I had clocked the price before I got to the till, I think that they would have not come home with me. At £3.49 for six seeds these are rather expensive. One of my allotment friends happened to choose the same variety to try and had the misfortune to sneeze when sowing them, blowing one of the seeds away into obscurity. She was not amused.

I sowed my seeds in a heated propagator on 28th February. From there they moved to a heated sandbench in the greenhouse, where they continued to grow except for the occasional night in the house when the temperature was very low. This particular plant has had a bit of a nomadic life going from greenhouse at home to outside at the allotment and then back to the greenhouse at home.

I will have to reserve judgement though until the first tasting, which by the looks of things will not be too far off in the future. Have you grown any new to you tomatoes this year - if so any recommendations as yet or are you like me still waiting to have that first bite?

PS I am pleased to report that when I got to the allotment this morning I saw that its siblings are turning colour too.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

"Don't Worry, Be Happy"

B IS FOR?
BEES ! ~ 
"The only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee...The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey....and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it." 
~ Winnie the Pooh in A.A. Milne's 'The House at Pooh Corner'

The atmosphere has been positively buzzing at the allotment this last week with the arrival of a bevy of bees - approximately 20,000 of them. These busy creatures were out and about in bright sunshine on Saturday afternoon so hence not a particularly brilliant photo.

Three plotholders have taken courses in beekeeping via the British Beekeepers Association and now with the council's approval, have located two hives on the allotment site. The hives are situated in a closed off area at one end of the allotment which is going to be especially landscaped for them with a pond, wildflower area and other planting to get them off to the very best start.

The bees can fly up to five kilometres from the hives so there is a chance that I may well see some of them flying about in my garden. Next year hopefully we can look forward to munching bread, butter and some beautiful local honey.

Be prepared to be bewitched and bewildered by the letter B over at ABC Wednesday.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men .....

A IS FOR?

AFTER EIGHTS! - not as in the chocolate kind but as in dahlia 'Twynings After Eight'.

Alas my attempts to have an artistic arrangement of dahlias at the allotment this year have gone abjectly awry along with a lot of other aims. I do have some new to me dahlias though albeit still in pots at home. This particular variety is most appealing I think with its white flowers occasionally streaked with pink and its dark foliage.


Away to ABC Wednesday for more adventures featuring the letter A.

P.S. Again this time around I am going to attempt to keep to a horticultural theme but may occasionally go astray!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

"Hi Lily"

 Z IS FOR?
"ZING, ZING, ZING WENT MY HEARTSTRINGS!" when I saw my new lily finally open up its flowers for the first time on Sunday. I fell for Lilium LA Hybrid 'Eyeliner' when I came across mention of her on 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' last year. Helen has posted about this delightful lily here and more recently hereNot wanting to risk the possibility of being disappointed I placed an order last autumn with Harts - a nursery specialising in the sale of lily bulbs.

Three well packaged bulbs arrived in a cardboard box in the depths of February. Duly planted in a pot (note to self - must plant in a bigger pot next year) there were soon signs of growth. A one woman vigilante patrol was mounted against the dreaded lily beetle, which was successful on the whole, bar one or two little nibbles of the foliage of one bulb. I caught two of the little beasties in the act of munching but no more damage thereafter. I was convinced that the buds might open whilst we were away on holiday but they teased and teased a while longer before revealing their true colours. I am quite smitten.

Zip over to ABC Wednesday for more on the letter Z!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Peeking Over The Fence

Y IS FOR?

YELLOW! - there were lots of enjoyable opportunities to peek into other people's allotments on our recent holiday. Here a vivid splash of colour from some most attractive looking courgettes. I would have liked to meet the plot holder to ask what variety they were and to have found out was lurking in that green bin but there was nobody about to ask.

If you would like to find out more about the letter Y you should visit ABC Wednesday post haste.

Monday, 4 July 2011

End Of Month View ~ June 2011


A brief report on the state of affairs as far as the end of the month view goes. After ten days away which typically coincided with the best spell of weather here for an age, we arrived back on Saturday as the sun was going down. Just time for a quick reccie of the garden including the very recently planted border which was showing more colour than we left home. Unfortunately the day lilies which were glowing in the twilight lived up to their name and the flowers dropped overnight. There were buds on the points of opening yesterday but they have not obliged yet. Instead a couple of current star performers in the border. Firstly above a glimpse of a penstemon which is one of the cuttings I took last year. So glad I did - the original perished in the winter. Not sure of the name -  maybe 'Apple Blossom' - suggestions welcome.

Secondly one of the dahlias 'Bishops Children' which I have grown from seed and will definitely be on the seed list again. They were planted out about a month ago when I was amazed to see little tubers already forming. I like the dark foliage. This is the first to open - others look as if they will be similar in colour whilst some are orange in bud.


In my absence a number of weed seedlings have sprung up in the border so time so urgent culling is called for. Meanwhile I am sad to report that the transplanted castor oil plant has turned up its toes - oh well it was worth a go but was not to be.

For more end of month views from flower gardens and veggie patches do visit The Patient Gardeners Weblog.