Helmsley Walled Gardens

We have returned from a break away in North Yorkshire. We’ve had a fabulous time glamping out in the moors. We’ve crammed a lot into a short break away but today’s blog will focus on our trip to Helmsley Walled Gardens. I had heard of the gardens previously but haven’t visited. We opted for it as we had for one through the gardener’s world magazine card. This comes free with the magazine once a year and is well worth the issue price. Just this one trip has paid back for the magazine. Alice was free as under 16’s don’t have to pay. She also got a good activity booklet to take away.

The walled gardens go back to 1758 when it was built by the Feversham family to supply them with fruit and veg at the nearby Dumcombe Park. It fell into disrepair after WWI but was re-envisioned as a therapeutic garden by a local practise nurse, Alison Ticehurst. While she didn’t get to see her idea come to her fruition it has continued as a place for people to heal through horticulture. The garden continues to aid people with a variety of physical disabilities as well as depression and anxiety. It is maintained by a core of staff and friendly volunteers, many of whom we chatted with as went around.

The Orchid House

You enter the gardens through the cafe area and we then turned around to see the Orchid House. This is in the process of being renovated. The panes have been replaced which has been a painstaking process as the spaces are of many different sizes. A new heating and water system is going in. It is looking good and when it’s all complete and stocked it will be able to house some fascinating plants I’m sure.

Currently, it is housing the pelargoniums in the centre.

Then one side has a good collection of aeoniums. I enjoyed a talk from the British Cactus & Succulent Society last month on aeoniums so it was good to see many together. It showed their native spread across the Canary Islands. It was interesting to see the variety in the lecture as we normally see just a handful that have emerged from the same couple of cultivars. My own two are a bit sorry looking and I want to try and give them better care through this winter.

Then a few random succulents along the bench.

There were several moth traps set along the orchid house and outside and several of the catches were on display before being released. There was a good variety and a volunteer showed us some of the catches.

The Long Border

From the Orchid House we went along the long border. This runs from one end of the garden to the Orchid House. This is largely herbaceous perennials and it was looking very nice currently. The central hot border was used for the 2018 film of the Secret Garden.

The Echinops were stars currently. They grow in poor soil and are drought tolerant. But when grown on richer soil they grow taller. These had formed large globes.

The bees could get enough of them.

Hidden Gardens

Alice was excited to explore all the paths from the side of the long border which she considered to be secret paths.

Little border run off the long border with spots to sit and explore.

The annual border

To what I think was the east side of the gardens several large beds had been given to annuals. The cornflower were dominating the mix currently. I hope they get left to go to seed as the birds will love all the seed heads.

Then some daises and poppies stood out amongst the blue.

The Orchard

Alongside the annual beds there is a good orchard stocking a good variety of fruit trees, then a few more growing as cordons along the wall.

They are looking to have a good harvest in a few months. The shop sells a number of preserves and chutneys so I imagine these are harvested for those.

The labyrinth

Neighbouring the orchard is a labyrinth cut into the grass. Garden labyrinths fit well into the therapeutic garden as they are meant to be walked as a time and place for contemplation.

Alice on the other hand has no respect for tradition and sees them as a race to the centre.

Chickens

At the other end of the garden is a wildlife pond and chicken area adding to the productivity of the garden.

Not the friendliest-looking birds though.

And in the corner a shaded area with a good grouping of Acers.

The west wall is given over to Irises which are over now but I’m sure make a spring visit worthwhile. There were a few Kniphofia still in flower.

Statues

There are a number of metal statues dotted around the garden. These are nicely displayed and fit nicely within the loose planting style.

Insects

Even though it was a bit of an overcast day there was still plenty of pollinator activity.

There were many busy bees taking advantage of the garden. In many ways, I think gardens encourage more biodiversity than reserves with the gardener’s desire to ram in many different plants rather than small monoculture areas of limited planting.

Wasps have a bad reputation but they are actually quite useful as pollinators and they attack many pests of garden plants maintaining a natural balance.

A wall of passionflowers in the plant sales area was buzzing with many visitors.

The Vinehouse Cafe

No garden visit is really complete without refreshments. The cafe is housed within an orangery setup along one of the garden’s walls. It was worth a visit having been voted Visit England’s Visitor Experience Award winners in Yorkshire within the food and drink category. Grapevines grow up from one edge and hang over the tables.

We both enjoyed a savoury scone, while Alice had a caramel shortbread slice. I particularly enjoyed mine as I went for a blue cheese and walnut scone. Blue cheese is frowned upon by the rest of the family when at home but I can get away with it when out.

The grapes are reaching a good size. I don’t know how well they ripen but it looks very nice.

Normally a garden visit would have ended with a plant purchase but as the car space was going to be needed for the return journey after glamping I had to forgo that pleasure. The plants for sale were largely from the Yorkshire Plants company which are stocked local to me there wasn’t anything I couldn’t get closer to home. If space wasn’t an issue there was a decent selection of plants available at a reasonable price. I would recommend a visit to the gardens. It was a good family day out The gardens were looking good. The food was delicious and we all came away happy. Plus by visiting and spending you support the therapeutic side of the garden. Hope you’ve enjoyed the tour.

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Dinosaur Terrarium

It’s been a good while since I made a terrarium and I’ve found several good containers to make ones in. The last one I made was an open terrarium that lasted a good few years before the fittonia outgrew it and it started looking messy. The point of a terrarium is to help grow plants that need higher humidity. Unfortunately what you mostly see sold are succulents encased in glass. Succulents are adapted to dryer conditions and the higher humidity of a terrarium will slowly rot the plant. The plants that are suited terrariums are ones which want high humidity and are slow growing. A lot of plants that come from the rainforest understory are used. These would naturally grow in the damp undergrowth which will be similar to the conditions of a terrarium in our houses. A really well-made sealed terrarium can be left for long periods without much maintenance making them an attractive choice for the home or work.

I had a lot of the ingredients for making a terrarium in and bought in a few others. Today’s terrarium used:

  • Glass container
  • Leca (Lightweight expanded clay aggregate)
  • Spagnum moss
  • Potting mix
  • Moss
  • Plant (fittonia)
  • Decorative items

Alice helped make the first closed terrarium. We started with the drainage layer. I used Leca for this one. This acts as a reservoir for water so the roots don’t sit in water. Leca makes for a good choice as it’s lightweight and holds the water and releases it up as needed. Gravel or stones can be used but are heavier. Glass pebbles can be used for a more decorative choice.

Next, we used sphagnum moss to act as a barrier between the drainage and the potting mix. Some people use activated charcoal as it is believed that it helps filter toxins and impurities. We misted it down at this point to help squash it down before adding the potting mix.

The potting mix went on top of the sphagnum moss as the growing medium for the plants. I had bought a fittonia for the main plant for this terrarium from a new local houseplant shop, Botany Boutique. The shop seems to be doing well and I hope it continues to as it’s nice to have somewhere close to buy interesting choices from. The fittonia will eventually outgrow the space and then I can either restart it or cut and replace with cuttings. The moss is a carpet moss I bought from Etsy. I have used moss from the garden before and it has been alright in the spare room as we don’t heat it. But in most situations, our native moss will dry out too quick inside which is why I’ve bought actual terrarium moss. Alice chose a few rocks, the Trex and a polished ammonite for decoration. She was very proud of the end result.

Open terrarium

Then we made a second larger terrarium in an open gold fish bowl I’d bought cheap from a charity shop. I’m keeping my eye out for a glass plate or acrylic disc so I can make it a closed environment. While it’s open it will need more watering whereas if I can close it it will increase the humidity for the plants.

I used the remaining fittonia from the first and I was able to split it again to use for two sections. I had a little bit of carpet moss that I arranged around the fittonias and made a path between the two. Then grit was used to cover the bare soil.

I think it looks pretty good. Now we have to work on getting the moisture levels right in both. The nerves of this fittonia are great vibrant ones.

And a dinosaur prowling for good measure. I’ve made this one for work where it’s probably going to be in a room with fairly low light so I will probably be supplementing the light with a grow light.

I would like to develop a better knowledge of terrarium plants. There are better choices than fittonias that will stay small for longer but these should give me a year or so by which point I’ll probably want a different display at work anyway. A lot of the fun is in the construction. It makes for a pleasant craft activity.

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Six on Saturday: 16.7.22

With the heatwave, last weekend watering has been the main job. I’ve not been looking at planting anything in the heat we experienced. I did a little deadheading but got quite a few shrubs in need of a prune now they’ve flowered. A job for the summer holiday probably.

Asiatic lily

This was part of mixed box of bulbs from Tesco’s labelled as something like hot colours. I quite like the muted red. There are a few more to come. I’ve got them growing in a pot on the patio currently.

Potentilla ‘William Rollison’

This was a purchase Alice made back in 2020. I wasn’t that keen on it at the time but it seems to be a reliable plant. Fairly drought tolerant which is useful currently and producing a reasonable spread of flowers.

Outside play

It was too hot for many gardening jobs but it was good weather for getting out for a play. We filled the paddling pool up. I reckon it probably took about as long to play as she actually spent in it but it did give a good section of lawn and border a water after. She enjoyed doing a bit of birdwatching.

Eyngium planum

With the heat, we are experiencing these drought-tolerant plants are coming into their own. Sea holly does grow naturally on coasts but it is primarily a grassland species. In the border, it grows tall towers and then lots of the flower spikes off the main stem. It formed part of our wedding flowers along with daisies and I’ve been steadily adding more since we got married. It’s beloved by insects and the flowers are seeing lots of visitors.

Dahlia

Another dahlia in flower. It’s possibly Addison June, though possibly not. It was left in the pot over winter. No lifting and nice and bushy. Plenty more flowers to come.

Hildewintera Colademononis-Monkey tail cactus

I saw a decent-sized one at Wassand Hall and I was very taken with it. They form long tails over the edge of a pot. Well suited to macrame hangers. But more importantly, they are very tactile. This is a cactus you can stroke making it a much safer option for me than some of the recent cactus purchases.

We had some light showers last night. It will help the parched lawn a bit as I refuse to water it. It will recover fine. It looks like watering is still going to be the main garden job with the predicted heatwave. Hope you all enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 9.7.22

It’s been a busy week at work but I got out in the garden with Alice last weekend and achieved a good bit.

Alpine planters

We picked up some alpine bowls to make mini displays for gifts. Alice helped mix up the compost. We needed a more free draining mix, so we mixed sand and grit with peat free compost.

Then she helped pot up a number of sempervirens.

Dianthus

Then she made one for herself. I like having her involved in jobs like this where she learns that different plants need different soils. We use the grit to keep the weeds off and so the leaves don’t sit on damp soil and rot. It brings up lots of knowledge.

She went with just the one Dianthus in the middle. She didn’t want anything else around it.

And in flower

It’s a delicate pale pink. Nt my favourite flowers but she likes it.

Cactus and succulent display

We also potted up our purchases from a few weeks back into terracotta pots and set up on the summer room window sill. The dinosaurs were reduced in Morrison’s. I picked them up after my last RHS exam as a present for Alice after my night away.

I’ve sunk some of the individual pots into sand in the white planter to create a mini display like we saw on the long benches at Wassand Hall. Check out the previous blog if you want to see what it all is.

Rose Peter Pan

This is a miniature rose from David Austen. It has tiny flowers, maybe 2cm in a deep red. It’s growing in a pot as I decided I didn’t like having the roses in the border except climbers. They just weren’t complimenting the other surrounding plants. But I like this little one on the patio.

Scabious butterfly blue

My pots of scabious are flowering. They haven’t attracted many butterflies this year but they are popular with the hoverflies.

I’m off into work today so I won’t get a chance to read other six on Saturday posts but hope you all enjoy your days.

Wassand Hall

It’s been a good while since I wrote a blog but this week I finished my last RHS exams. Hopefully, I passed and won’t need to resit. The first exam covered fruit and veg which isn’t my strongest knowledge area but it didn’t feel too bad. The second is on protected environments. They had changed the exam from any of the previous past papers. You usually have a good few questions where you write profiles of particular houseplants. There weren’t any of these questions but a lot more of growing veg in protected structures. A bit disappointed as I know houseplants better but so it goes. Now I’ve got the exams out the way I can get back to actually focussing on my own garden so expect a few updates.

Yesterday I made it out with Alice to Wassand Hall. It’s our closest country house and garden open to the public and we’ve visited it plenty of times before so I’m not going to go into lots of detail about the gardens in this blog. Check the previous blogs for more information. After a few weekends of revision, it was good to get out and to get Alice outside into nature.

Meadows

We began with a walk around the meadow land that surrounds the house. The grassland was filled with butterflies and damselflies. Countless speckled browns and meadow browns and a few more colourful butterflies on the wing. I’ve spotted the deer quite a few times while I’ve been out on my own but no sign today. We did see a good few orchids though.

Alice walked much further than I thought she would, enjoying everything we saw. This area is such a valuable habitat for so much wildlife I’m glad we have it on our doorstep. I’m glad it’s managed as it is creating a variety of niches for different wildlife.

Walled garden

After a snack refuel we headed into the walled gardens. The walled garden is roughly split into four beds with a tropical corner, a more cottage garden feel, a shaded corner and a more mixed one. Alice loves a water feature. Whenever we visit the garden centre she loves spending her time on the water fountain aisle. She spent a good while watching the fish in the central pond.

The tropical corner is probably my favourite area. The large foliage plants mixed with spectacular lilies and dahlias are just so lush to be irresistible.

With the heat, an ice cream break was needed.

Hot house

After cooling off with ice cream we headed into the hot house. Every time we visit I am very envious of the hothouse. They have a fabulous collection of plants growing in there at sizes I could never achieve without the heat and humidity they can create in here. As the last exam was on protected environments it was good to see it all in action.

Alice loved walking through the mist of the humidifier which with the heat outside was quite refreshing. I don’t think Amy will allow me to do this with the summer room though sadly.

Fabulous gloriosa.

Mandevilla growing from a large pot.

The carnivorous pitcher, sarracenia guards the door against insects.

And a few more carnivorous nepenthes protecting the greenhouse from pests.

Back to the outside world Alice was attracted to the rill. As I said she is fascinated by the water features.

Woodland Walk

I thought Alice would have had enough of walking by this point but she was determined to do the woodland walk. It takes you in a circle around the woodland surrounding the walled garden. Along the way you look for animals doors and record the colour on a sheet.

It takes you to the stumpery, which any long term readers will know I like a lot. The mix of ferns and gunnery and wonderful foliage plants makes for a wonderfully calm environment.

I’m glad Alice still enjoys doing activities as basic as these trails. It’s valuable time together and she still found such pleasure in finding each door. At the end, we returned the clipboard to the cafe for a reward of a bag of sweets.

Cactus house

To the side of the cafe is a long thin glass-ceilinged room with the cactus and succulents collection. A stark contrast to the hot house. From warm and humid to super dry. Cactus and succulents are fascinating if strange-looking things. My A-level biology teacher had a love of them and had them dotted around the lab. At least I assume she loved them from the quantity. I also have a suspicion that they were out so the more annoying students would end up touching when they decided to give the furry-looking ones a stroke. She did have a bit of a sadistic sense of humour, though a very good teacher. For adaptations, there are few plants as interesting botanically.

While I’m sure most readers understand the cactus and succulent distinction a few might not. Succulents are defined as plants with water-storing adaptations such as fleshy leaves or fleshy trunks. While cacti are succulents with leaves that have adapted to become spines or scales to suit desert conditions.

While it is only the one stretch of plants there is an amazing variety of plants that have adapted differently for dry conditions. The spines forming micro climates to conserve water and protect the plant from anything that might eat it.

While the succulents have fleshy leaves for water storage in all manners of configurations.

I think this little one was one of my favourites, Mammillaria gracillis. I like how the spines are adapted to flatten over the cactus stems to make a web.

Plant sales

OK, I’ll be honest this was one of the main reasons we came out. I was looking to take Alice out for a nice day but no reason that couldn’t cross over with me seeing some interesting plant stalls. There were a few local nurseries there with a mix of perennials and bedding plants. Long Riston plants are very reasonably priced. The Hardy Plant Society were there with a good selection of perennials. But as we visited the local open gardens a few weeks back I already have a good pile of plants needing planting so I resisted these. I couldn’t resist the Hull branch of the British Cactus and Succulents society stand.

I think they have involvement with the display at Wassand and they had brought out a great selection for the display table.

Alice likes the ones which look like they are covered in wool as mum likes to needle felt and she felt it looked like the wool she uses.

Best of all, all of the pots were £1 each regardless of size and rarity value meaning we could pick many just based on what we liked. We both picked a good few. Then a picked up a not-so-mini tetrapanax. This is capable of becoming a large-leaved tropical-looking tree. In milder areas, they can remain evergreen. I expect mine to be deciduous dying to the ground in winter. Accounts online differ in how it copes with the wind. But I have seen a good few accounts saying it can manage with sea salt winds so I’m going to risk it. If it works out it will make for an impressive specimen within the front garden jungle.

Glad I managed to find my favourite cactus from the cactus house. I can see how people become obsessed with collecting and growing these wonderful plants. Their small nature means anyone can fit a good few. The great variety makes them very interesting. I’m tempted to join the society as they look to have a good number of online lectures each month making it easy for me to fit it around Alice. Then they meet once a month close enough for me to get to. If they ever have a press office job going I’d leap at that for the amount of bad puns that can be made. “They’re a bit of a prickly bunch with dry sense of humours.”

It was a great day out and wonderful seeing Alice taking such enjoyment from the wildlife in the meadow, to the plants in the garden, to the woodland trail, to simple pleasures such as watching the water. Despite dragging her around for over 16,000 steps, during the whole day out the only whine was when I said it was time to go.

Winchester Science Centre

As the forecast was rain during much of our week away we planned for days out that had both indoors and outdoor areas. Alice has shown a good interest in space as a topic over the last year so the science centre and planetarium seemed a choice.

On arrival, Alice was very excited about the bins. I think she possibly enjoyed them enough to justify the price of admission. When she was asked what here favourite parts were at the end of the day the bins were mentioned.

The main exhibit area upstairs had lots of displays around the science of sound. Lots the kids can get their hands on and lots of visual displays of how sounds travel.

The planetarium show was great fun. We were shown several key constellations and then taken on a journey through the planets.

There were several displays downstairs showing visual illusions. Tricks of the mind. The little/big room was like an Alice in Wonderland illustration with the room appearing normal but shrinking in the corners.

In the middle is a space for experiments. They had different shows about every half an hour or so. Here they built up pressure in the tubes to fire socks up to the roof. Alice watched and cheered along.

Alice picked her souvenir, a space ted which she showed around the space are.

A Lego model of how we move around the sun.

The outside area had been set up for a butterfly trail but it was a bit wet so there weren’t many to be found.

A gatepkeeper sheltering on yarrow.

A caterpillar hiding on scabiosa.

It was starting to get busy when we left just after lunch but we’d had plenty of time to go around the centre. It kept Alice’s attention well and she came away happy. Well worth a trip to.

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Hengistbury Head

We have returned from house sitting in Doset. We’ve had a lovely week down there looking after a house in Christchurch and over the next few blogs I’ll be recounting our adventures. The journey down was painfully slow. You can really tell more people are staying in the UK this year. But it was well worth the journey.

After our day of travel we headed off to Mudeford Quay. We have visited before when Alice was a tiny toddler and could only manage a short burst of walking so it was nice to return. Mudeford Quay is a stopping point to get on the ferry to Hengistbury Head. Hengistbury Head has every nature title going for it. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also a Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area, an Environmentally Sensitive Area and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. There are many critically endangered insects found here. We have usually been in the rain so seen none of the things that make it significant. The quay is filled with lots of crab and lobster pots. The sparrows and starlings were clambering all over and stealing the odd scrap from tourists.

The ferry goes back and forth between Mudeford and Hengistbury. It’s probably only ten/twenty metres across the water to the headland of Hengistbury though it’s fast flowing. But it’s a nice little loop across and going on a boat is an adventure in itself for a five year old.

Hengistbury has lots of holiday lets along the beach section. The beach is sandy and covered in shells. There are patches of wild plants along the beach. Some like ragwort I see regularly then a few less common to us like Crambe martima, sea kale

Alice’s legs can handle us going a bit further these days and she was in a fairly cheerful mood, though she puts on daft expressions any time she’s asked to pose for a photo.

She’s also rubbish at looking in the right direction.

It’s the first time we’ve made it along the beach to go up the cliff top. Here is the view back along the beach.

Along the top heathers predominate. Alice’s legs weren’t up for walking any further but it was good to make it further than previous visits.

A patch of honeysuckle.

Ragwort was attracting more than anything else. There was a lot of soldier beetles around.

We saw a few of the cinnabar moth caterpillars. I’ve not seen many this year so good to know they are still around.

And a strange something.

Gatekeepers were probably the commonest butterfly we saw throughout the holiday.

And a white. Ragwort really is a great plant for insects. It supports so much.

We made it back across on the ferry to the carpark just as the rain started. It was nice to visit and see the area in slightly dryer weather than previously and make it a bit further along. There is still more to explore if we return. I’ll be looking at some more of our holiday over the next few days. It’s been nice being away but good to be back at home and my own garden.

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Six on Saturday: 15.5.21 bee week

This week with Alice we’ve been looking at bees with a bee themed play tray. So I thought for this week I’d take a look at some of our measures to help the bees. Educating Alice about the world around her feels like the best way to encourage her to grow up to care and respect all that we find in our world.

The play tray consisted of a tinker set from tots of fun. Then the large bee peg dolls I painted. The bee hive was a special purchase having sold off a few magic tricks I made a while back. She’s come up with some lovely stories over the week with it and enjoyed the open ended play taking it in different directions each day.

We got some wildflower seed with the tots of fun set and some bee bombs from Rowse honey. Alice helped plant them in her bee pot now her tulips have gone over. Didn’t really look at exactly what was in the mix but hopefully something will come up.

For my birthday I spent part of my birthday money on a Mason Bee tube. Mason bees are one of our more common solitary bees that are easy to help. These tubes are great. I wanted one that was easy to replace tubes as they are used and a set up easy to clean. Many marketed bee hotels are too short with tubes too wide or too narrow. Sometimes plastic encouraging damp. Basically most sold at garden centres to people with good intentions are rubbish encouraging disease and parasites. So I decided I just want one decent one rather than several that potentially harm the bees. They benefit from some maintenance each year which you can find on the mason bee website.

I also bought the new Dave Goulson book gardening for bumble bees. The garden jungle covered this subject briefly but good to know more. Dave’s books are easy to read but filled with research based facts. I like his focus on positive steps people can do to help wildlife. Looking forward to reading this one.

Within the garden we grew lots for wildlife. As a general rule less cultivated single flowers are better for pollinators. I provide a variety of open flowers and tubular flowers as different insects favour different flowers. This geranium phaeum has been very popular with the smaller garden bumble bees the last few weeks. It flowers well. Then I prune it back to the ground and usually manage 3 sometimes 4 bursts of flowers over a year.

The forget-me-nots are out in abundance currently. I let them spread all over the border. These are favoured by the honey bees. Here photographed by my wife. These self seed all over and then over plants come up through. Many of the alliums are coming through which are also great for bees. The single dahlias are very popular with both bees and butterflies. Planning for different flowers through the year keeps an interesting variety of visitors coming into the garden.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at bees. It’s Alice’s birthday tomorrow. She’ll be 5 years old and very excited. So lots to get on with. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 10.4.21

It’s been a funny old week. We had a glorious weekend last week followed by a week of cold weather. I have got a few jobs done during my school holiday though not as much as I’d like. But, I have completed my next RHS assignment on design. Not feeling great about this one as I think I may have misinterpreted the questions. We’ll see when I get feedback.

Fun in the sun

So last weekend was Easter Sunday so we had our Easter egg hunt. Normally we would see see family but it’s not a possibility this year. Alice still had a good hunt. The Easter Bunny may have gone overboard on the eggs, so I didn’t put them all out and she still had a very full basket by the end.

Taking stock of her hunt.

Sun lounger

Amy bought herself a new sun lounger which was immediately claimed by Alice. You can see the difference in the weather to now. Dress, no sleeves, no hat, no multiple layers.

Dancing

Alice relocated a ribbon stick she made last year and had a good dance around the garden.

Random seeds

I gave Alice some of the seeds from the draw that can be direct sown to scatter. This fills gaps in the border and gave me some interesting surprises last year. The blackball cornflowers were quite pretty last year so hopefully they’ll do well again.

Ballerina tulips

The tulips are going strong now. I think these are ballerina tulips though the photo makes them look redder than they really are. There are patches of these coming along the border. It seems to have come back strongly.

Snow

And from glorious sun to snow. It came down pretty quickly for a period on Tuesday, though it didn’t settle. The wind was pretty strong and the garden is all looking very dry now. We haven’t had any of the forecast rain this week and the garden could probably do with a good shower. There is some forecast but I think I’m going to need to start watering the front again. I’ve been watering some of the more tender plants as it helps protect them from the frost a bit. When the leaves have a fine layer of water it provides a bit of insulation and slows the thawing a bit. Don’t know how much truth there is in this but can’t see it’ll do much harm.

Hope your week has been good. I return to work next week and I’m taking on a few more hours. So, a little less garden time but a bit more time to make use of the nursery polytunnel.

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Six on Saturday: 13.3.21

Well, I made it out into the garden a few times last week. Got a few jobs done. The front garden is largely weeded so now need to do a bit more work on the back garden. Lots coming up now.

1. Science week

This week in the nursery the topic has been flowers. I’ve done a few activities with the kids, sowing some seeds, sketches and we tried food colouring in the carnations water. Red and yellow didn’t take, but the blue has given them some edging.

2. Bleeding heart

Or Lamprocapnos spectabilis for those of you who remember the new name. I like the fresh growth of these. They come up as strange bony fingers and spread. The leaf colour stands out amongst the darker heuchera and ophiopogon.

3. Crocus Joan of Arc

I had doubted their existence a few weeks back. It didn’t look like many of these were coming back in the front garden. But I’m glad to say many of them are poking up now. The first bees have been coming in to enjoy.

4. Snowdrop planting

The lack of signs of crocus at the start of the month had led to me ordering more snowdrops from Gee-Tee bulbs as they snowdrops were coming up stronger. We got 100 nivalis into the ground last weekend. It sounds like a lot but it isn’t really when you put a few to a hole. Alice helped plant them and then we gave them a good water as it had been dry for a few weeks. This has, of course, meant it has rained all week since.

5. Mud kitchen

And we got to play in the mud kitchen for the first time in a few months. Despite her face in the photo she was actually enjoying herself.

6. Iris reticulata ‘George’

I think this has been one of my favourite of the early irises. The dark colouring and patterning is gorgeous. I planted these in pots and in the planters at work, so these are on display as the hundreds of parents and kids come around the site. Pretty little morning treat for those who notice.

Forecast is pretty grim for today with rain and wind. The rain I can stand but the wind is a hazard for sorting roses. So may give that a miss today. We are looking at frogs next week at work so I’m preparing the activities while Alice trials playing with it all. I went in the garden at night earlier in the week and could hear them all croaking away. I hope you all have good weekends whatever you are up to.

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