Green Is The Colour

If months were colours then May would definitely be green. There are little shoots and leaves appearing everywhere and I’m sure if you could stand still for long enough you would be able to see things growing. The hanging baskets have been planted ready for Summer and they’ve been left in a sheltered place until the risk of frost has passed.
I’ve had a bag of dahlias tubers from Sarah Raven sitting on my kitchen table for ages – I’m convinced that I get more excited with the contents of this package than those contained within a Tiffany’s box. The ridiculously dull little tubers have finally been planted and I’m already excited about them popping up next to the salad and vegetables and adding a burst of colour. I could easily turn into a dahlia addict……

May Planting

The pansies are still flowering well so I haven’t replaced them yet and I’m pleased to say that the Mr Fokker anemones are finally in bloom!

Unfortunately, the war on slugs and snails has begun (well in truth it’s more like a little scuffle at the moment). The hosta pots have now got a band of copper tape around the rim which will hopefully deter the slimy molluscs  from crossing it and helping themselves to an all day breakfast. I’ve also surrounded the chrysanthemums with crushed egg shells but this appears less successful as there are already holes in the tender leaves. I want to try the slug pubs and up turned grapefruits but in the meantime I would love to hear if you have any favourite natural solutions that would help? The chickens would have a feast but would probably do more damage than the slugs!

Slugs & Snails

The cats are also doing their best to help me with the gardening jobs. They love a spot of weeding (digging for no reason) and pest control (pouncing on anything that moves). It is lovely to have them outside in the garden with me and they love to show off, climb trees and race around the paddocks. They have been particularly entertained by the baby rabbits who are thankfully faster than they are! In the photo below Bella & Milo are absolutely transfixed on a rabbit on the other side of the window.
Isn’t it funny how the small things in life can make us happy? I’m so pleased that the French Tarragon has started to come through again this year – I expected the snow and frosts to have killed it so I’m really chuffed to see it again :-)

Stripey Cats & fields

The weather forecast remains poor – wind and rain for most of the weekend so garden plans are put on hold for now. Enjoy your weekend!

Green Things

Kitchen Garden April 13

The herb border is looking rather ragged and this isn’t helped by the cats rolling around it but generally things are looking greener. Bella smells particularly fragrant at times (rather like Thyme) so I know where she’s been and when I’m out there both kitties love to roll around in the soil. It’s so good to be outside again and it’s lovely to see the currants and gooseberry in leaf – I hope to get a reasonable crop this year before the birds have a feast. I’m growing potatoes for the first time and using a black tub with drainage holes in the bottom. I’ve since covered this tub over with bubble wrap as I fear it looks remarkably like a cat litter tray!

Fairy House for Sale

The fairy garden is filling out nicely and is starting to be dwarfed by the squash, aubergine and chilli seedlings. There’s no occupants at the moment probably because of the two, furry creatures that zoom around at a hundred miles an hour before collapsing outside for a rest….

Cats In Kitchen Garden

I’m Rooting For You!

I’ve been toying with the idea of taking cuttings for a little while now but, being such a newbie, I thought I’d do some research first. Wow! There are so many different ways and times to propagate… my brain started to whirr and I felt trepidation (not good) so I decided to keep it simple.

For hundreds (if not thousands) of years people have been taking cuttings, saving seeds and dividing plants to make more. They didn’t have fancy equipment, hormone rooting powder or the internet to help them so… deep breath… I decided to give it a go!

Various of prunings from around the garden

The selection of plants above all grow easily in my garden and have, so far, survived my attempts to prune them.

Experienced Gardeners – Look away now!

All I did was cut the stems with clean secateurs just below a leaf node and removed most of the lower leaves and top growth.

Prepared for potting in compost

The prepared (very loosely used term) stems were then planted into a mixture of fresh compost and fine grit, put in a sheltered, bright location, watered and misted with water. They were then all given a little chat about “you may feel worse before you feel better” and I guiltily left them to it! I hope that they won’t die but the Smoke Bush cuttings are already looking sick.

The Usual Suspects: Hydrangea, Viburnum, Smoke Bush, Rosemary & Thornless BlackberryT

Dana from Mom in the Garden recently recieved some cut hydrangeas from her friend and noticed that roots had appeared at the base of one of the blooms. She successfully potted this on and she gave me an idea to do the same. Her garden blog in Ireland is well worth a visit :-)

Cuttings of hydrangeas in the kitchen window

So, I now have 3 small hydrangea cuttings in the kitchen by the sink and I’m impatiently waiting for the first little signs of roots.

Come on!! It’s been 12 hours already!!

Floral Dance

The flowers are certainly thriving now that the sunshine has arrived, in fact, we’ve been over run with poppies! I’ve cut the seed heads off the poppies before they can spread further. I do think they’re pretty but I want to limit where they’re growing at the moment so I cut their heads off (how cruel) before they can set seed. I’d like to dry them in the hope that the seeds can be scattered in the paddock… the problem is that seed heads are usually left on the plant to dry. Has anyone managed to dry them from the green?

Dead heading is great therapy and a good snipping session always makes me feel better – especially as I know the reward will be further flowers!

There are several stars in the floral department and most of them have come from Sarah Raven. I am a huge fan and I’ve been very impressed with her plant selections, reliable service and customer care. The small sunflower Vanilla Ice is such a pretty lemon colour and compliments many other plants. I still love the Cosmos and will definitely be growing more next year.

Helianthus “Vanilla Ice” and Cosmos “Antiquity”

In the herb bed the Curry Plant is a clear winner… I love the smell if this plant so much and, although it’s not the edible variety, the flowers are pretty enough to use in bouquets and aromatic enough for a pot pourri.

Curry Plant and Agastache

Three Agastache plants were carefully labelled as, until they flowered, I had the urge to weed them out thinking they were dead nettles! The insects certainly love them, especially the bees, so they have earned their place in the nectar bar.

Despite the floral dance that happens this time of year there has been a distinct lack of butterflies. I assume that this was due to our very soggy weather this year – any ideas? I’ve seen the odd Cabbage White trying to access the netted brassicas or the odd Fritillary or two. In your experience, apart from Buddleja, are there any other plants that butterflies go particularly mad for? I want the Flutter-By’s back x

Summer Cold

Head colds are a nuisance at the best of times but there is something so wrong about having a cold in Summer! I tried to take things easy this weekend but there is an awful lot to do in the garden at this time of year… mowing, strimming, weeding, sowing. My mind was soon taken off my sore throat and aching bones and because of the head cold I didn’t notice my hayfever! Bonus!

Tea time

Everything in the kitchen garden is starting to look like it should. I spent ages in winter looking through seed catalogues and trawling the internet for great plants. When I first looked at the various little seeds in my hand it was hard to believe they would transform so quickly into such great plants!
The first sunflower is out and there are lots of different colours in the raised beds. Admittedly, it does look like a five year old has been in the crayon box but in my first year excitement I just threw plants in – and it does look pretty! My main aim was a productive fruit, vegetable and herb garden with a nectar bar for the wildlife. Next year I would like a more cohesive flower design if possible… maybe there’s an artistic seven year old out there?

Flower Power

The first sweet peas are out so I picked the few that had already opened and put them into a small jar along with some Rosemary. I love to put herbs and fresh flowers together and I’m just disappointed that I can’t smell them at the moment!

Sweet Pea

The thing that I’ve enjoyed more than anything this weekend is the fresh produce for lunch – baby carrots, roast beetroot, chard, and broad beans (freshly podded and lovely). The sun made an appearance late afternoon and I could almost hear the tomatoes and dahlias singing!

Herb Planter

Occasionally when we have a nice bottle of port or red wine it is packaged in a handy wooden box. It seems such a shame to throw the box away after the drink has (long) gone!

Mmm… so many ideas…

1. Turn it into a bird box (but the birds are already nesting)

2. Store seed packets in it (but my collection is too large)

3. Sewing box (already have one)

4. Herb Planter for my baby herbs…..

I planted a few different herb seeds – parsley, thyme, purple basil and coriander -and placed their individual pots inside the port box. They’re only little at the moment but in a couple of weeks they’ll be all grown up!

French Lavender

Numerous studies have shown that Lavender helps to reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia. Lavender stops me in my tracks. It makes me crouch down and take  several deep breaths…. and close my eyes. As a stress reliever, it works for me!

After all the rain has come a predicted growth spurt. The Broad Beans are looking good, and with the extra help from staking, they have resisted everything that the weather could throw at them… wind, hail stones, torrential rain, frost and even a bit of sunshine! This only adds to my theory that they will probably taste like weeds but I reserve judgement until I taste my first bean…..

The raised beds are starting to fill out nicely now. I’m trying not to plant too much, too soon for fear of a massive glut (our freezer isn’t very big!). We are still in danger of frosts for a few more weeks so that will keep my enthusiasm in check.

Today remained pretty dry, and despite my cold hands and feet, I thoroughly enjoyed my first weekend in May in the garden. The air temperature was cold but I was surprised how warm the soil felt but I suppose that the raised beds help with this.

As I closed the gate to keep the rabbits out I realised that I was smiling… and had been for a while.

Meet The Doodles


Chickens are the most delightful creatures! We originally had eight when we moved house five years ago but only have four at the moment. We joke that we’re running a retirement home for chickens so I’m looking forward to getting some more youngsters this Spring. We recently lost a couple of our ladies to a hungry fox – I’m completely to blame as I decided it would be a good idea to let them scratch about in the garden…. RIP Jemima and Bernie. So here are the remaining ladies, safely fenced in, but trying to escape every time they get fed! 

From Left to Right: Goosey, Matilda, Doris & Tallulah

Matilda is most definitely the boss and keeps the others in order and she doesn’t suffer foolish behaviour from either chickens or humans! Next is Goosey, ever since she was a fluffy chick she has always sounded more like a goose than a chicken, she has always been sensible one. Tallulah is my husband’s favourite – she likes cuddles but isn’t too bright (what does this say about his taste in women?). Finally, there is Doris who is always the most inquisitive and eager to explore… which is a bit of a problem when a lawn tractor is heading towards her!

Hellebores

Hellebores

I had an empty jam jar and five minutes to spare so I picked a couple of Hellebore stems and brought them indoors. I dipped their stems in boiling water for about 20 seconds (it sounds far crueller than it is), placed the flowers in a jar and added a sprig of Rosemary and Cotinus. I have a drawer full of ribbons, buttons and other oddments that come in handy for jazzing up jam jars! I must say that whilst  I love to see the Spring flowers in the garden I also like to bring a few in the house to enjoy them even more! 

I love adding herbs to flowers so I like to have plenty around – all the seedlings are doing well but the Thyme seems particularly fiesty!

And as for the Broad Beans… they have been safely transplanted and seem to be doing well. I’ve had some lovely suggestions for recipes so, who knows, I may actually like them after all!

March Already!

I’ve planted some “Golden Gourmet” shallots but unfortunately couldn’t find the string to mark a nice straight line so I did it free hand. The result will probably cause palpitations in many gardeners but to me it’s perfectly imperfect! I buried the shallots so that just the stems were poking out and then covered them with a cloche to stop the birds from pulling them out.

Shallots, Pulmonaria Officinalis, Beetroot & Strawberries

I was happy to see that the Lungwort (pulmonaria officinalis) was in flower. This pretty little herb has pink flowers that turn soon turn blue with age. Long ago most herbs were classified by the way they looked and Lungwort was thought to have leaves that looked like the thin, elastic tissue of the lungs. Remarkably, modern scientists have indeed confirmed that Lungwort has beneficial properties for the  lungs especially for the treatment of bronchitis!

I need to tidy the strawberries up as they’ve been sadly neglected in the shed all winter and the first signs of growth are there from early beetroot Red Ace. The seed packet states that they can be sown with protection from February but I’ve never sown beetroot that early before. I’ll give it a go as I’m sowing little batches every couple of weeks anyway and if it all goes wrong I can eat the leaves!

Crocus, Herbs & HebeThere’s not a lot of the usual yellow in the garden at the moment as the daffodils are still in bud but there are a lot of restful blues, pinks and purples. The crocus are particularly lovely this year and there’s already been a huge bumble bee checking them out!

CyclamenI’m looking forward to the weekend but the weather report is rain, rain, rain. How typical is that? It always seems to be perfect gardening weather when I’m at work or is that just my imagination :-) 

 

Daffodils Aren’t Herbs

The old lady who lived in the house before us absolutely loved daffodils. She planted them throughout the garden and hedgerows and looked forward each winter to seeing them in Spring. I wanted to continue this tradition, especially as we had to unceremoniously uproot many bulbs during the building work, so I have re-planted some in the Kitchen Garden. The Victorians believed that daffodils were a symbol of regard so this somehow seems appropriate.

Narcissus Tete a Tete

Flowers and vegetables have always loved working together to encourage the bees and butterflies but I’m always careful to keep daffodils and other toxic plants away from edible produce…. if someone poisons me I want to know it was deliberate!!