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March 2013
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May 2013

April 2013

Magnolias in all their magnificence

My brief respite for the year is over. My Magnolias will keep me hard at work from now until the last leaf falls in November.

2 magnolias-1
At the front of this photo is my soon to Bud burst Magnolia Soulangeana, - This weekend it started dropping it's bud casings. - These furry covers for the flowers have been sitting on the bare branches all through the winter, waiting for Spring to arrive.

In the back ground is my Evergreen Magnolia Grandiflora. - It may not drop all its leaves at once in the Autumn, but from now on, until the summer when it flowers, it will divest itself of a good proportion of its leaves, all over my border below, - just enough to make it untidy, and clear it all off, where upon the wind blows and a few more fall.

When the flowers of both are finished, Petals rain down, and if not removed quickly, soon become soggy on my beds and lawn. And of course in the Autumn, the leaves of the deciduous tree create piles that my son loves to leap in. But with almost weekly work ahead of me, - would I rather get rid of my 2 week flowering wonders?


Lots of Dahlias for full vases of late summer colour

So the boy finally went back to School after the Easter Holidays today. - Not that either have us have been idle while he's been off, as we've had Dahlias to sort over the holidays.

Dahlias can be planted as Seeds, Cuttings or Tubers.

Last year I just did Tubers, and they were badly munched by slugs, although as you can see from the picture above, I did get some rather good blooms. This year, i'm trying all 3.

Last week though was the turn of the Tubers. I've ordered some in from JP Parkers, and then i've Split and potted up mine from last year.

Dahlia tubers potting up-2
I stored mine overwinter in wood shavings, in my greenhouse. - They all seem to have come through very nicely, although there is evidence that they were sharing the bedding with something (mouse?) at some point during the winter.

I'm potting them all up and letting them shoot in the Polytunnel for the next few weeks until the danger of Frost is past, - you can see that the Tubers already have lovely fat buds on them. If they produce more than a couple of stems, then i'll take cuttings, and root them as well, - however with 110 pots of Dahlias already in the Polytunnel I won't need too many more. I've also grown from seeds, and the seedlings are coming up nicely in my greenhouse. - My previous experiences of seed grown Dahlias is that they are usually single flowers, - great for the bees, but not so good at lasting when cut, So we'll see.

We've finished making 46 planting beds and the perennial border now, a massive boost by a big team of family and friends on Saturday, and a finishing off session with my boys on Sunday means the bulk of the hard labouring is done, - so the beds just need a good topping of Organic compost to be able to plant into.

and a big shout out to Brandon Hire in Guildford who have been so helpful to me with the kit that i've hired over the last couple of months. - Great Service, and keen prices, which really help when you're doing a big project.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April 2013

I reckon my garden is about 2-3 weeks behind this time last year, - but with the sun over the weekend, there are at least now flowers showing, and there is scent from lots of Hyacinths, that i've been adding.

The Euphorbia Robbaie and Hyacinth combination is shamelessly plagerised from a suggestion in Sarah Raven's Bold and brilliant Book, - Excellent for in the dry shade of my Evergreen Magnolia.


The Primulas are doing brilliantly, and are now spreading them selves round my garden, - including in the lawn, which hasn't yet been mowed this season (to be added to the list for an evening this week), the blue behind it is Brunnera Jack frost, which I love as an early flower, and a summer foliage.

The Hyacinth and Daffodil combo i'm not sure about, but they do add a splash of colour to the kitchen. This Purple Hyacinth is Woodstock.

- Additional, - i've now tried it with White Leucojum and Scented narssisus, and I much prefer it.




Sweet peas and summer flowers

I'll admit it, - i've got a bit of a sweet pea obsession going on at the moment.

I've grown them for years, but never had them at show standard by the time our local garden society show takes place in mid June. - This year, I want them flowering their socks off by June, and in large numbers, with long stems and beautiful scent, and all in a year when we've had January weather for the last 4 months!

Sweet peas planted in polytunnel-1
But, at least I've now got my Polytunnel, and as you can see, I've been quite busy the last couple of days.

The Sweet peas that I wrote about on my  blog at the end of January now have fantastic root systems and have been grown really hard, so will survive if the temperature falls again overnight this week. So they were all planted along the centre of the Polytunnel, with some very handy fencing for them to grow up.

i've already planted up most of the side border with some of the flowers i'm hoping will provide a mixture of early blooms in a range of colours. Cornflowers, Gypsophila, Larkspur, Calendula and a selection of herbs have been planted, and i've found a few ranunculus that were looking rather windswept, and i'm hoping they'll like the warmth of the tunnel.

The next big task for the Polytunnel is going to be potting up all my Dahlia Tubers.

Let Polytunnel growing commence

Narsissus fabruary gold-3
This weekend has been one of great leaps forward at Hill top farm, and i've still got today left to add to the success list.

My first yipee, was this modest bunch of February gold bunch of Narssisus. Small, but all grown by me at Hill top farm, so the first of my English grown flower harvests.

The next was that at the eleventh hour, my Polytunnel planning permission came through, - so we've spent the weekend erecting a 40ft Haygrove tunnel.

Day one was all about Metal work. - Which went together very easily, and just needed a Spanner and lots of fiddly finger work.

Day one polytunnel building-1

Day 2 was about the cover, - which we put over cushioning hotspot tape which protected the plastic from the metal. Yes we did have help for this bit, - our friends David and Dana Leigh arrived just at the right time.

Day 2 of polytunnel building-2

Clever clips and crocodile wire means that it is held into place with no nailing or splitting the cover, and meant that by early evening it was all up and water tight (or snow tight, as that  is snow on the picture! - 30th March!!!!!!!)

Yesterday, we put in my lovely potting benches, (including one at William's height, so that he can help me with planting up and sowing seeds) and tidied/ tightened up some of the clips.

So now I have 12m x 4m of insided growing space. - Sweet peas are first on my list, - what would you grow?

Finished polytunnel in the sun-4