Propagating hebes

Last year for my birthday my mum bought me a rather lovely hebe. Unfortunately it had lost its label. I have a vague idea of what it is, but I’d like to try and grow another. I’ve had reasonably good success at keeping bought plants alive, but I’m trying to establish more now from seed and from cuttings. Partly to develop my gardening skills and partly to garden frugally.

So just before Christmas I took two cuttings of my hebe. I had a theory that it would root just in a jar of water as it is similar to willow, though on a different scale of size. I couldn’t find any references to this, but thought I’d give it a try. In my work as a teacher I wanted to show the children how roots develop. So I think they would have rooted easily in a pot of soil, but it’s nice to see them develop.

Two months on it looks like my theory was right. They have both started to form good root structures.

I think it’s time to transfer to soil, so I’m starting them in the mini terracotta plug pots. So with soil added I’m now going to see if they grow to go on to fill a larger pot, then eventually, with some luck and care, they’ll make it outside.

I’ve no idea if it will work out or not. Wish me luck! But even if it doesn’t the experiment hasn’t cost me anything to attempt.

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Garden update: February

Yesterday I got out to finish the edging started earlier in the week. Upcycled bricks have been used to give the lawn a marked edge.

The view from the upstairs windows shows it best. It’s just added a bit of definition to the borders. I’ve got a few areas where I need to spread grass seed to extend the lawn to where the bricks are. Overall I’m quite happy with how it looks, but may need to a bit further work levelling them.

The next hardscaping job I think is to put a path in. Walking over the patch at the bottom of the steps is leaving a bare patch. I’m unsure whether to go basic and just do stepping stones or an actual path of slabs. Or may go for something more fluid like a curving gravel path.

The hydrangeas have had their haircut for the year. Not something I would have planted. They came with the garden, but with all the rain run off from the patio they do wonderfully here. They flank the entrance to the lawn nicely. It’s a balancing act though of cutting the flower heads off, trimming back so we still have a path, but not cutting too much to stop blooms.

The hydrangea at the bottom of the garden near the bug hotel had its trim as well. The bluebells are starting to come through in this corner. From last year it looks like they are starting to form decent clumps.

Last year I planted some crocus. They didn’t really take off, but this year they seem to be establishing better.

I’m continuing to add ferns near the shed in the difficult to weed space to supress the weeds.

Daffodils are springing up around the border.

And one over eager allium.

On the patio the tulips around the prunus angustfolio are poking through.

And the daffodils in the pot are coming through. They made an early dash to bloom. Then, with colder weather, seem to have thought better of it.

With the daffodils, snowdrops, blue bells and then a little later on the tulips I’ll hopefully have more happening in Spring. A little more for pollinators than last year.

My seed trays are planted up. I’ve planted hollyhock, morning glory, cosmea, verbana and sweet peas. I’d like to do some more, but that’s all the space filled. My foxgloves from last year have self seeded all over, so that’s good. I’d like a nice mix of cottage garden flowers.

I’ve taken out two roses that came with the garden. They’d been neglected a good while. I’d tried reviving last year, but I don’t care for the position that much either. So I’ve cut my loses and dug them out. To replace the loss I’ve added a Paul Scarlett Rose climber a little further along the fence. You shouldn’t place new roses where old roses have been. It encourages disease and poor growth. I’ve gone for climbers as I’d like the gradually cover the fence in climbers and would prefer having the thorns to the back of the border, rather than working though them.

With a good weed done it should all look nice over the next few months as colour comes in.

Edging the lawn

Today saw me braving the cold to make a start on my plans to edge the lawn. Our next door neighbours have knocked out a chimney breast and we claimed lots of vintage Edwardian red bricks for my garden. They were heading for the skip, but were upcycling them. The bricks are getting dug into the lawn edge to hopefully give me a neater edge when mowing.

I’ve previously edged the bench area with stone bricks, so it won’t all match. But I don’t want to see these lovely bricks go to waste.

Alice watched on.

Before enjoying her Christmas present.

Then abandoning me to play on her push along.

The blackbirds have been watching me from next door but one while enjoying the apples left on the trees. Hornsea is full of fruit trees where the fruit are never harvested giving the birds a good Winter food source.

I’ve got through half today and hopefully finish the job later in the week.

The garden is looking set for Spring. The daffodils are coming up strong now. Soon be flowering. I’m seeing a few tulips peeking through. I’ve even got one allium making an early break for it.

Big Garden Birdwatch

Last weekend saw the Big Garden Birdwatch. The RSPB is survey has been going since 1979 and provides useful information on the rise and fall of garden birds. I have been putting out a variety of food across Winter attracting in a good variety of birds. However the weekend before didn’t bode well.

The snow started to come down. At first slow, then in proper flurries.

Thick enough to settle.

Come the day of the birdwatch the snow had gone, but it was still a cold, grey day. Not ideal conditions, but I’m pleased to say I still had good numbers in. The way the survey works is you count the greatest number you see at once, so you don’t count the same bird again and again.
So my results as follows:

4 Blackbirds
5 Starlings
14 Sparrows
3 Wood pigeons
2 Great tits
1 Crow
1 Wren
1 Blue tut
2 Jackdaws
10+ common gulls

So I just managed to break double figures. This was a quiet day as my garden goes, so several regular visitors didn’t show. No robins or goldfinches, which are out there now as I write. But still a respectable variety of species for a small garden.

A mass of gulls made up one of my highest counts. Though only in briefly they swoop in, quickly, and in large numbers.

The missing birds.

A little disappointed that a few birds didn’t show, but I’m still happy that my garden is helping support a decent variety of garden birds. The initial results nationally seem to be showing the sparrow as top, followed by starling, then blue tit. Being by the sea my results differ from the norm. Hopefully over next year as the cover in the garden builds at a variety of heights I will see further wildlife visiting.

Secret Seed Swap 2018

Today I encountered the seed swap. The basic idea is you register. You are sent an address. You choose seeds you have collected or bought and send them on. In return you recieve a suprise seed packet from a stranger. To add another dimension people create their own seed envelopes. Looking at the website some of these are mini works of art. A lovely idea for bringing gardeners in the digital age together.

Once you recieve the seeds you can post progress growing using the hashtag #secretseedswap

Registration is open through January. I’ve registered. Now the hard choice of what to send.

Winter feeding

The last month has been busy with Christmas preparations beginning. The disaster that is my Nativity play has begun. So blogging has been low of late. But now I’m getting past deadlines. Quite a bit has been happening in my garden and progress has been made on my school outdoor area, which I will try to update during the next few weeks.

After thick snow descended on Thursday the garden has been well coated with ice on snow. It had just thawed on Saturday. This has left the garden with lots of hungry birds struggling to find food.

Through Winter it’s important to help the birds. The water sources freeze, so I’ve been trying to get out to crack the ice in the bird bath. The food I put out disappears quickly. The seed goes in a few days. So as well as the seed I try to keep the peanut feeders filled with either peanuts or suet pellets. These seem to last a bit longer than the seed. So even when it’s been a busy week and I haven’t got out to replenish the seed I’m still leaving something for the birds.

Haith’s have been helping me out as they sent me a bag of their help to fly Autumn/Winter mix to review. This is a seed mix with high energy and oil content to¬† help give birds that fat and energy they need to survive the Winter. Haith’s bird food is put through a cleaner process. The grain dust created during harvest can be damaging if seed is not cleaned. Much of the bird food you buy won’t be cleaned in this way.

Haith’s sent me a bag of both the cleaned and the unclean mix. I wonder if from the photo you can spot the difference?

On the left is the cleaned and the right the unclean. I was surprised at how much of a difference I could see in the two batches. While I’m not able to do the test taste to appreciate¬† the difference I’m sure the birds will appreciate it at this time of year when food is scarcer.

Before filling the feeders I also gave them a good clean out. I’ve talked about it before, but it is important to clean feeders to limit disease spread.

Before I’d left the garden the birds were already sneaking in, clearly ready, for a feed.

Over the day I’ve seen a good mix of visitors: sparrows, great tits and blue tits got in to test it first. Then pigeons, starlings and jackdaws followed. Then had wrens, dunnocks and robins in and out.

Then a few herring gulls came in, although not for the seed.

Alice has enjoyed getting out to explore the garden again after several days of frost. She checked in on the bug hotel and gave the flowers a sniff.

Thanks again to Haith’s for sending the bird food to review. The birds seem to be enjoying it. It’s been nice to get out briefly into the garden and then sit in doing data input while looking up to see the birds enjoying the new seed.