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April 2010

Deadheading Daffodils, to improve next year's narsissus.

Spring is now well under way, and the Tulips are in full bloom in my garden, but unfortunately that means that the Daffodils are now fading.

What looked fresh and crisp a week ago, is now rather jaded.

and now all the plant's energy is being put into producing seed, (that's in the green pod at between the flower and the stem)

To ensure the underground bulb gets as much stored energy as possible, to give you a flowering show next year, you need to dead head. Just take off the faded flower just after the seed pod

Don't be tempted to tie up the stems into little bundles, (hands up who else remembers that from their childhood), or cut them back at ground level, just feed them a couple of times over the next couple of weeks, - worm food, or seaweed food, or miracle gro will be fine, and let them die back naturally.

Harvest for this week w/e 30/04/10


it's been a salad week this week, i've had 2 bunches of cherry belle radishes, spinach leaves, lettuce for 8 portions of salad during the week, and the last of the overwintered coriander. The Mizuna is now over as it has flowered, so is going to be replace with hearting and can can lettuces outside, and tomatoes in the greenhouse.

I've got the rest of the leeks to harvest this weekend as I want to get more broad beans and peas in, - any good leek recipes anyone?

Border planting - high colour, low maintenance

Designing planting schemes is one of my favorite gardening tasks, and finding the right plants to fulfill all my clients needs, is a great challenge.

The border that I was finishing today, was a fairly typical project.

Last summer, this was a fairly typical border, a range of shrubs and perennials, available from Garden centres, - lots of weeds, as the plants didn't cover all the ground, but, some of the shrubs had grown too fast, and were blocking the view and the sun at the far end of the border.

My clients love the warmth and colours of the far east, and wanted to include bright coloured flowers for as long as possible throughout the year BUT, because they visit the far east and are away for more than a couple of weeks at a time, they need a border that is easy to look after, and where the plants will come back year after year.

This is how it's looking now, - Narsissus Tete a Tete, has now finished to be replaced by Narsissus Thalia, and Frittilaria Imperialaris.


We moved around some of the shrubs that fitted our needs (the rose and Euonymus), and managed to divide some of the perennials (Nepeta and Geranium Johnson's Blue) so that single plants were now in groups

I've also planted Heleniums, Rudbeckias and Penstemons, and there are lots of Alliums with buds showing.

I could have put in Tulips for colour, but the soil is sandy and very free draining, so they wouldn't be long lasting, whereas alliums, fritillarias, and narsissus, should go on flowering year after year.

One of the parts of my job that I love is that I get to go back and tend to the borders and add and tweak them over the years, so i'll update you on how colourful this looks in the summer.

Mint fit for your summer pimms.

it's that time of year again, when Mint is starting to peek it's head up, and we are starting to think of all the ways it can be used in the kitchen, - Spring lamb with mint sauce, Minted Peas, Mint tea, and of course the queen of summer drinks a Pimms.

Mint is very invasive, and needs to be kept in a pot, unless you have an enclosed space in which to grow it. Because it grows fast, you need to make sure that you divide it now, before the roots get too tightly wound, to ensure that you have a healthy supply for this year.


This apple mint is one of the less vigorous varieties, but it has filled this 30cm pot in a year.

To keep it growing strongly, I cut it into 3, - using a sharp spade, or probably if the roots are very matted, a pruning saw, or an old bread knife.

it doesn't matter if some of the fibrous roots are severed, the mint will regrow from small pieces, so don't be afraid to chop it up.

I then repot one third into the original pot. using a mix of John innes compost or garden soil, and multipurpose compost. And water well.

The pot can then be resunk in the ground, but beware, - i'd advise leaving a lip above the soil level, because the mint wants to spread, and i've found that if you put it level with the ground, you will find escaping trails during the summer.

I'm growing about 6 varieties of mint this year, - my favourite for pimms is a large leaved variety that I can't find in the garden centres, but was growing all over my vegetable patch when I moved to this garden. - it's now firmly potted.

Tulips Queen of Sheba and sunshine

The sun was shining yesterday, it was a great day for gardening, and for taking photos of plants that were looking stunning.

These tall thin planters can be hard to plant, the black stone bakes in summer, and although they are tall, they don't hold much compost or have space for a root ball, - upright plants look great, and these tulips, Queen of Sheba are lovely.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, flowering in my garden April 10

What a difference a month makes....

Last month, we'd only just got the first of the daffodils, probably about 3-4 weeks later than normal, now, all the spring plants are flowering, and the trees are budding, and it finally feels like spring

My Magnolia Soulangeana is doing its 2 weeks of thing, for the year, - we'll spend the rest of the year raking up the leaves and debris it leaves on the lawn.


Continue reading "Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, flowering in my garden April 10" »

Supporting your flowering performers

In April, spring is here, but, there are still gaps in the border, and although things are now spreading out, it's hard to imagine that they will be filling all the space and flowering their socks off through the summer (and autumn if you've planned your borders right)

This is the time to be supporting those star performers, the plants that may become top heavy through the weight of their blooms.

Over the years, i've collected a multitude of devices for supporting my plants

my tomatoes grow up metal grow spirals, so that I don't have to tie them in


Continue reading "Supporting your flowering performers" »

April, the hungry gap.

Historically, the month of April, was the leanest time of year for gardeners, when the food stored from the winter has run out, and the new year's plants are yet to be at cropping size.

This season, I was determined to have more to eat from the garden at this time of the year, I made sure I planted things out last autumn, and i've been making the most of the greenhouse and my bell cloche's and so my harvest this week has included,

Leeks, not huge, but a good addition to the shepherds pie, and there are another 20 or so to come.


Lots of salad leaves, and 2 full size lettuces.The Mizuna (bottom left in this picture )is cropping for the 4th time this side of Christmas


The first Radishes, - admittedly rather small, but now there is room for the others to grow large this week.

and my best harvest of this week, - the first of the Rhubarb

Now where is my recipe for Rhubarb Crumble to go with the roast Chicken tomorrow?

There were a few very small overwintered carrots, but they appear to have been eaten, and the Broccoli spears gave way to caterpillars way back in late October, so there is room to do better next year. I've just finished up the last jar of green tomato chutney, so i'm hoping this week the sun will shine, so I can move on to eating spinach, and new season peas.