Wednesday, 18 September 2013


The Echinacea Alba has gone to seed.  The flowers in the garden have begun to fade.  Autumn has arrived.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Aster Unicum Mixed

The Aster Unicum Mixed (Callistephus chinensis) is adding a welcome splash of colour in the border late this summer.  The newly planted border (this spring) has been disappointing with many of my bought plug plants failing to flower.  However, the beautiful Asters were sown by my teenage son back in the spring and he is proving to have the gardeners touch!  I am going to ask him to sow some more for me next year as he is obviously doing something right.

I have really caught the gardening bug this year and can't wait to grow as many  things from seeds or from cuttings as I can next year.  There is a deep feeling of satisfaction knowing you have grown plants yourself even if you do have a little help now and then.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Seed Pods No.1

On a dry day, late in summer, it is quite satisfying going around the garden collecting seeds from their pods.  The seed pods above are from a stray Californian Poppy that must have self seeded from last year.  You only have to touch the tip of some of the pods and the seeds burst out all over the place!

You can see what the Californian Poppy looks like by clicking here.  It has a lovely translucent quality and prolific blooms.  I am going to sow some of these seeds this autumn time and some more in the spring time and see which fare best.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Ripening Toms

My upside down tomatoes are ripening up nicely now and each flower was pollinated.  I am growing the same variety conventionally in pots in the greenhouse.  Although the plants are very leafy and healthy looking there are hardly any fruits and yet still some flowers to be pollinated.  Next year I think I will just grow tomatoes outdoors in hanging baskets with a contingency plan of transferring them to the greenhouse if we have a cold and wet year. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ginger Mint

The gardening shows on t.v recommend cutting back mint plants now before they flower and to encourage a second flush of growth.  I have been picking from my spearmint plant regularly over the last couple of months so it hasn't flowered. I will be cutting it back by half and drying the cuttings for use during winter.

My ginger mint (mentha x gracilis) however, has been allowed to flower profusely throughout the summer.  It has been a magnet to all kinds of beneficial insects and can often be seen covered in butterflies and bees and other winged creatures.

If you want to encourage the bees and butterflies to your garden I strongly recommend getting a ginger mint plant.  Keep it in a container to avoid spreading and enjoy the bounty of wildlife that come to visit it.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Echinacea Alba

On a visit to Myddleton House Gardens today,  I was delighted to find that they had a sale of the plants they grow there.  This Echinacea Alba (pictured above) really stood out for me.  Purchased and safely transported home, I now need to find a place for it to shine in the border.

Monday, 22 July 2013

French Beans

This year I am growing two types of French bean from The Real Seed Catalogue.  They are a great company and supply good quality seeds.  Here is what they say;

'You'll find no F1 hybrids or genetically modified seed here - just varieties that do really well and taste great when grown by hand on a garden scale. The name of the catalogue reflects what we are working to provide: real seeds for real gardeners wanting to grow proper vegetables.'

I am growing 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' Pole bean which is a climber and 'Minidor'Yellow Bush bean which doesn't need any type of support.  I have grown both of these types before and have had good results.

If you want to save the seeds from these beans then The Real Seed Catalogue advise that you keep the different varieties 6 to 12 feet away from each other to avoid cross-pollination.  They have some great advice and give encouragement on saving seeds from your own plants.
I love to eat French beans but have found British ones increasingly rare in the shops only being able to buy those from Kenya or Egypt which tend to be tough and tasteless and flown miles before they reach my plate.

Next year I must remember to sow more French beans as I only have two 'Minidor' plants and six of 'Cherokee'.  I don't suppose I will have any need of making room in the freezer for any surplus!!!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Growing Tomatoes Upside Down

I left it too late to sow tomato seeds this year so jumped at the chance to buy a small tomato plant from the supermarket at the beginning of June.  I presumed it was a cordon variety but didn't want the hassle of staking it or indeed pinching it out. I decided to try growing it upside down as a trailing tomato.  I knew that the stems would naturally grow up towards the light but the weight of the tomatoes would bring them back down.

I reused an old hanging basket that had a hole in the bottom, lined it with a plastic bag that I had punctured with holes, pushed the tomato plant up through the large hole and filled up with multi-purpose compost.  Six weeks later I have a plant that is thriving and covered in clusters of mini tomatoes.  I will definitely use this method of growing again.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Slug Stats

On 16 random days/evenings between 5th June and 5th July I collected over 500 slugs from my garden.

Some Observations

  • most collected slugs in one session: 69.

  • least collected slugs in one session: 2.

  • skinny white/creamy white or beige slugs showed up best on grassy areas at dusk as they glowed  in the dark.

  • skinny black slugs, fat brown/orange and medium sized dark brown slugs were easier to spot in the morning on lawn, bare soil and plants.

  • putting upside down plastic plant pots in between the plants and borders gave the slugs somewhere to hide overnight and a nice/nasty surprise for me to collect in the morning.  

  • I am an 'expert' slug hunter.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sowing the Seed

Welcome to my new gardening blog named in honour of my Nan who introduced me to the delights of growing things.  I am an enthusiastic amateur gardener.  I make mistakes but also have successes in the garden too.   The purpose of this blog is to exchange gardening information and learn from one another regarding our gardening exploits.

I believe that the flower above is of a Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia, Papaveraceae) which must have self seeded in my garden from the previous year.

Back in April, I sowed some Sarah Raven seeds directly into raked earth called Cottage Garden Mix.  The mix was supposed to contain zinnias, cosmos and malopes but they have yet to come to light.  The previous year I sowed Sarah Raven's Pictorial Meadows Classic Annual Mix and I believe that the poppy must have self seeded from back then.  The trouble with pre-mixed seeds is you can't be absolutely sure of what you are going to get as I know from my experience over the last two years.

Next year I am going to make up my own mixture so I don't have any 'nasty' surprises such as the Phacelia Tanacetifolia that cropped up unexpectedly in last years mix!  I think I may experiment with wildflower mixes in pots too to see which combinations are the most pleasing.

Preparing ahead:
Winter job: Make a note of this in diary for Dec, Jan, Feb. Scour seed catalogues and look for individual packets of seeds to make up mixes with e.g. Cosmos, Black-Eyed Susan, Larkspur, Cornflower etc.