The sun is out despite the weather forecast for thunder. We are in the garden, it’s all happening out here. Glenn is slashing and hacking and taming the beast that once was an unruly jasmine and is now an enlarged deck, a spot for some more plants and a much better feel to the whole plot. I, on the other hand have been tormenting the bottom bed. I’ve moved the chives which were being swamped by the sage. I’ve moved the polemonium which was being swamped by the persicaria. I’ve moved the stinging nettles which were swamping everything in their path and I’ve ruthlessly pulled up handfuls of three brilliant plants. Here they are;
Firstly the euphorbia, it will not quit. It started out as three small seedlings which Sarah Raven gave us. I used it as a foundation to my wedding bouquet and it has been in nearly every flower arrangement we have had in the house for the past three years. You can chop bits off it an it doesn’t seem to mind and it carries on through the winter. Its’ brilliant green is endlessly cheerful and sings out against the dark background of the neighbouring trees in summer. What they tell you about the sap is true. Always wear gloves, always wash your hands. If you get some on your skin and then put your contact lenses in it feels as if your eyeballs are being peeled by elves from hell with burning fingers….trust me.
Next is lamium. We bought ten plants three years ago for 50p each as we needed ground cover. We got it. It took a while to get going but it has totally covered everything we wanted it to and has spread throughout the woodland area at the bottom of the garden. This spring it had a fantastic show of yellow flowers and continues to encroach at a sensible pace. The best thing about it is, again, you can pull bits off and it won’t mind one bit. Just now I have reclaimed the steps and fill the compost bin.
Lastly, the no idea plant. We had a tiny bit growing in the original rockery which was here when we moved in. We saved a little bit as it has tiny pretty purple flowers. Underneath the current carpet of craziness there is stepping stone path and a dry stone wall but you wouldn’t know it. The beauty of this thing is that you can rip it up from wherever you don’t want it and it carries on, doesn’t even care.
Are you sensing a pattern here? I love this kind of gardening!
November and the sun is shining. Well, to be fair this photo was taken at the weekend so it was technically October but what does a few days matter. One week off work yielded much activity but almost none of it was spent in the garden. We have had the builders round laying the base for a much awaited conservatory so that has dominated our outside time. As you can see the garden has been left to do its thing which I think is to be encouraged. Too much time is spent fussing and worrying plants. Sometimes you just have to let things go for it in their own space and time.
We were given a small cutting of Salvia Hot Lips two years ago when our garden was new. Today it is almost triffid like, not yielding to any amount of pruning, defying us with utterly vigorous regrowth, flowering furiously all year. It has overshadowed the Alchemilla Mollis and the dainty Geum. I have hacked it back three times and this has only encouraged it to grow more bullishly. I intend to be savage once it has finished flowering and have taken some cuttings just in case I finish it off.
The cosmos are raging still and I am cutting four vases of flowers each week. Not bad for a small garden. We haven’t planted any new bulbs this year so it will be interesting to see what comes up in a few month’s time. I am hoping for a field of black and pink tulips but fear squirrel action.
A couple of weeks ago I picked all the crab apples from the little tree my mother gave me several years ago. I have managed to make one jar of jelly from it each year but this year I have four jars, a bumper crop. There are still some on the tree I didn’t pick them because at the time I was doing battle with a few garden spiders so rather than risk being covered in arachnids, I let the last few fruits stay where they were…for the birds….I tell myself.
The benefit of having designed a garden to reach it’s peak during October is that every Autumn it is in full bloom and we are over run with stunning colour begging to be picked.
When we decided to overhaul the bare patch we inherited we didn’t really think about the seasons and flowers or colour schemes or anything really. Other than the fact we needed to be able to walk down it without breaking our necks.
Being on TV gave us a focus and that fact we got married in October meant that we had to aim for something. So quite quickly we planned flowers that would still be going strong as the big day loomed. We also discovered that late sowing of annuals yielded late colour thanks to consistent dead heading or actually, live heading. So we combined two gardens into one. A cutting garden which gave us a lot of blooms for the house throughout the summer but also a prolonged flowering season thanks to forcing plants to keep making flowers and a herbaceous border with an established feel.
This year, our second season, has seen us popping outside to be blown away by the riot of colour. Our garden is quite sheltered so unaffected by wind and rain and cold snaps. The dahlias, salvias, fuchsia, verbena, roses, cosmos are still going strong. We still have plenty of alpine strawberries and nasturtiums. Oranges and reds are predominant colours as are the purples and whites in the bottom bed. Separating the colours has proved even more impressive year on year. The hot colours in the top bed, catching the sun and burning bright whilst the blues, violets, soft pinks and whites glow in the shade of the neighbouring trees.
Next year we are focusing on the woodland area at the base of the garden and finally, the conservatory we have planned and longed for is looking like happening so we can sit and gaze at the glory of it all.
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.
If you have never been to the Maldives, go to the Maldives. It is the most outrageously beautiful, fragile, isolated place I have visited yet. This picture was taken when we were there three years ago. Two weeks spent in utter awe and stunned smiling fabulousness. The colours, the incredible sea life, the odd balance between civilisation and abandonment. I felt hugely privileged to be able to be there, it didn’t seem right somehow. The staff at our small hotel told us how the sea level had risen by over a metre in two years and so the island was very quickly being claimed back by the turquoise sea. I wondered if we ever returned if it would all have been swallowed up, just the tops of the palm trees showing.
Our days quickly formed a lazy routine and this was part of our late afternoon stroll into the water to wait for passing fish (and sharks) to come along and say hello. Incidentally neither of us are this shape but I love how distorted we appear which indeed is much like the reality of the Maldives.
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…
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
7.45am Rabac, Croatia. We are eating mostly carbs laced with cheese, meat, blueberry jam. I will miss the mini croissants that are almost one mouthful but modesty forbids. We have been here for a week and now our flight home calls. The best thing about eating breakfast outside is watching the thuggery of seagulls as they pounce on other diners’ breakfasts while they have gone to fetch more coffee. When they get back, all their food has gone. The seagulls flap off into the distance leaving bemused gazes and mild confusion.