April Fools

So here we are on the first of April and it’s a weekend and we are both at home. Somehow does not seemed to have happened for along time and if you also throw in some fiendishly good weather you have everything for a great start to the day. People have been asking us how our garden is a lot recently. Our stock answer for the past couple of months has been that it isn’t doing much and there isn’t a lot to see. However, a couple of hours out there today has proved us both wrong. There is a lot happening.

At first glance there is a lot of bare soil but the tulips have popped up, albeit very sparsely. I seem to remember planting hundreds and hundreds of bulbs. Gradually everything is coming back, the geraniums, the verbena, alliums, reum, gaura, geum all making their way back into our lives. In addition the roses are in glossy leaf and the wallflowers Glenn grew from seed are so bushy and perfumed you never would have thought it possible. I am heartened that a few things I thought were dead are showing me they most certainly are not. We gave everything a mulch last month which has helped to keep things looking neat and cushioned against a cold night. The woodland area at the bottom of the garden still needs work and despite lots of primroses, anemones, hellebores, primulas and snowdrops, there is still space for them all to stretch out and be wild.


Our favourite spot, the boat seat, is back in action too now that it’s warm enough to be able to sit outside and have a cup of tea and stare at the world. The plum tree has more blossom on it than last year but it’s growing in a really bad place, right in the shadow of the sycamore and will never give us the glut of fruit we want. Right now it’s smothered which is promising but we both know it’s all for show.
So we are back in the swing of it, weeding, seed sowing, moving things, planning things, cutting things but mostly sitting and looking at it which was the plan all a long really. And all the while in the back of our minds is…….the allotment.

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February

It’s possibly the coldest day of the year, it’s been snowing but nothing has settled which is disgraceful as I am praying for a day off work. Glenn has been outside all afternoon building a new stepped planter from pallets and I have broken my vow of avoiding the garden until spring by going into the garden. No resolve.

The day is grey, bitingly cold and from the snug security of indoors there is nothing going on outside. How wrong can you be? It is all kicking off out here. The first thing I notice is the sound of birdsong. My knowledge of birdsong is limited to the obvious ones; pigeons, cuckoos, seagulls, ducks. So what the various birds are that are giving it their best out there today is totally beyond me.

What happened was what always happens when I am out in the garden, I pop out to do something very straightforward and end up getting sucked into many tasks.

 

The garden looks rubbish at the moment. There is so much that needs clearing and the dahlias still haven’t been lifted but we didn’t lift them last year and they came back bigger and better than ever. Go figure. We have hibernated since October, we meant to do so much but it has not happened. But you know what? It doesn’t seem to have mattered.


We planted hundreds and hundreds of bulbs in the autumn and they are coming up, full of lush promise. The primroses, snowdrops, hellebores, wallflowers are all going mad. It just makes me yearn more for those warm bright days of early spring. There is one area of our garden which escaped us. It’s a slope down the side of the garden, next to the steps. It’s hard, dry, shady and unloved. Our aim is to grow a meadow style patch of grass and a lot of seed has gone into that area so we shall have to wait and see. In the meantime Glenn planted many crocus bulbs and thankfully they are in evidence.


So after I have had a walk around the garden and marvelled at nature I decide to do some hacking back. Glenn has already had a good tidy up today and so I re-wrap the canna lily in bubble wrap and cut back all the dead growth. This may well be the wrong thing to do. Last year we kept the pot in the greenhouse but since our greenhouse is smaller than a cupboard and it already full of geraniums and sweet peas, outside in a sheltered spot is our only choice. I have collected a lot of seed so I intend to sow some successors in case of unplanned death. Jazzy is helping me, as only cats can.


So with frozen feet and fingers I scurry inside to sort through the seed tin. I now have a pile of ‘to plant’ seeds for this month. Once again every windowsill in the house will be occupied with seed trays. This year we are growing for two, the allotment demands our attention and large scale veg and flowers will be our driver. In the meantime there is chard to pick with to go with our pulled pork.

Long Time No Blog

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It’s been a while since we last uploaded a proper blog and now we have a heap of followers it’s only right we give you all something to read about. So why the long pause? It was summer, it was sunny, we were outside – a lot. There has been a lot of this…

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Today is a very grey day however and as it has been raining most of the morning it’s been a good opportunity to go through the hundreds and hundreds of photos from the past few months and put them to good use.

Autumn has hit Wiltshire this week. Our first frosts and properly cold days that never seemed to warm up. The heating has been on and meals are hearty and filling again (hooray). However, since the weather has taken a turn the garden has not. We still have many, many flowers. This is such a wonderful thing for us as last year we planted with Autumn in mind. Our wedding was the focus, we needed October flowers and we got them. This year we got them again and more besides. I am stunned by the amount of vibrant colour we have, something which we have never had in a garden before.

We have spent the year gardening but also visiting gardens, going abroad, buying plants, collecting seeds, planting hundreds of bulbs and in addition, work and family have had their place. There also seems to have been a lot of baking if the photos are anything to go by. So what will follow will be a swift round up of the past few months in tiny bite sized blogs. Mini blogs, blogettes.

Topics will include; Kew gardens, Croatia, the Boat Seat, the allotment, cut flowers, the Isle of Wight, Stratford upon Avon, the great dahlia debate and much much more. So put that kettle on and cosy up by the fire.

Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea; Every Garden Needs Cake

Photo Challenge – Frame

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This is Hinton Ampner in Hampshire. It is a National Trust property, has beautiful gardens, a haunted house, fabulous tea rooms (cheese scones a must) and many many seeds in autumn which I collected last September and grew this year.

I am not sure if collecting seeds on a National Trust property is allowed or not but I did it and have grown a wild selection of plants, most of them mysterious and defying description.

One Week in Showbiz

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It’s been a bizarre and genuinely exciting time for us. Ever since we heard from Lion TV that the BBC were finally going to show the series we took part in last year we have been on a bit of a media ride. Hence this blog, it had to be done.

Take today for example, we were stopped in the street by a lovely little old lady. I say lovely, she might not have been of course but she at least seemed it. She came out of nowhere, grabbed Glenn by the arm and said to us “You’re the gardeners! Well done!”. We were bowled over, thanked her and carried on our way laughing in disbelief. We have both been recognised separately in the last week, today was our first joint outing so we could enjoy the experience together.

We have had many emails from old friends who happened to see us on TV. Many lovely comments from colleagues, friends and of course, family. Social media in all its forms has been incredible, so much positivity, encouragement, new contacts and opportunities. We have been in the local and national press which has cost us a small fortune as we have bought each one we appeared in and now have a great stack waiting to be archived. Local BBC radio has been to interview us and we were asked for our tips on garden design. This totally floored us and we had to fumble for a decent answer as it was for an RHS competition, no pressure. Most exciting has been the invitation to give some talks and a demonstration at the Salisbury Home and Garden show on March 20. We cannot wait! The demonstration side of the day will need some thought. Based on our experience we could demonstrate endless hours of digging and soil shifting with some sleepless nights and tortuous discussions on planting schemes thrown in. Not sure how well that will go down with the gardeners of Salisbury though.

The weather though cold has been less dreary and we have been feeling refreshed and enthusiastic for a looming growing season. Probably spurred on by the fact we have applied to open our garden via the National Garden Scheme. Today we went to Baskets and Blooms in Fordingbridge to buy hellebores and primroses. We also found a lot of summer bulbs we were planning on buying via mail order. They were so cheap we couldn’t walk away, always an eye for a bargain. The last time we went there it was to panic buy as many plants as we could fit in the car but more of that another time….

We have planted many annual seeds this week, determined to make a proper impact with our cutting garden. Sweet peas will feature heavily as will all our favourites from last year. I am also trying out some varieties we didn’t have time to grow; ammi, gypsophila, echinacea and large quantities of cerinthe are a priority. The trees at the bottom of our garden had a much needed trim. Glenn had his eye on the logs as potential mushroom growing hosts. It turns out almost any wood is good apart from ash and sycamore. Guess what the trees are we had chopped? Plans B, C, D; wildlife homes, structure in garden, burn in outdoor woodburner.

The next few months are set to be busy but a lot of fun. Our new found passion has taken our lives in a direction we hadn’t considered a year ago and it all began with an email.

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Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea; It’s All Glenn’s Fault