Propagating heuchera

I had posted on Twitter to say my heuchera cuttings were coming along well and  I was asked how I had grown them. I started these a few months back and they are starting to root. Heuchera are super foliage plants and make up a good part of the permanent foliage tapestry in my front garden. The leaves are usually evergreen and normally manage to stay looking good through winter. They work well in pots on their own or as part of pot displays. However, after a few years, they can get a bit woody and leggy so it is useful to keep a supply on the way as it can be costly to replace some varieties. Heuchera are also vulnerable to vine weevil. So if your plants are attacked it can be a way to provide insurance for their survival.

1. Propagate by division

The easiest way has to be by division. If you have a nice big clump that has been growing a few years you can dig around it and lever it out. Then slice the root ball into several parts. I favour doing this in spring so the divided plants have time to put down roots before the next winter. Once you’ve dug out a section you can either dig the divided parts back in around the border or grow them on in pots. Either way, I aim to keep the root ball slightly above the soil surface to avoid rotting. I generally divide leaving a big section in the space it came out of and then pot up the smaller sections in pots. This way I can make sure they remain moist while they put on roots. I like to water in trays so the soil gets to soak up the water but without getting waterlogged. This is probably one of the easiest and most reliable methods for dividing but you will only get a few extra plants a year. So it is quite slow. For most people, this won’t be an issue as you probably only want a small number of extra or ones to replace leggy ones.

I divided this heuchera marmalade in early spring. It had claimed a good section of the border and I wanted to clear the space for another plant. Rather than waste it, I divided it leaving a section of the heuchera in the border.

Then the divided section has been grown in a pot where I can keep an eye on it to ensure it isn’t drying out while it forms roots.

2. Propagate by seed

If you are looking for a mass of heuchera you can grow from seed. You can get hold of seed either by collecting seed from your plants or you can buy seed. If you collect seed they generally won’t come true from seed, so the offspring may not look like the parent. Palace purple is one of the exceptions that I have found self-seeds from time to time. If you want to buy seeds Chiltern Seeds offer a few varieties in several colours and I’ve generally found reliable. To grow the seed they need a free-draining seed mix. The seeds themselves just need to go on the surface, a light watering and then a tray lid on. They normally take around 10 days to germinate. If they don’t you can place them into a colder space for 4-6 weeks before returning to warmth. While it may take a year or so to get plants up to size this gives you the option to grow a large number of plants. However, there isn’t the selection of buying from a nursery.

3. Propagate by cuttings

I have been growing my heuchera cuttings in a really useful box. I mixed a compost using a peat-free multipurpose, a little bit of grit, and some perlite to help water retention. The compost mix goes in the bottom of the tub and the lid seals in the moisture. I watered before taking cuttings so the cuttings were going into moist but not waterlogged compost. I took cuttings in spring. Some sources recommend autumn after flowering. However, I prefer spring as the cuttings then have the warmer period of the year to put on roots. I only take cuttings from plants that have plenty of growth on that can spare a few stems. I take cuttings from the younger growth choosing smaller leaves. These won’t lose as much water and the juvenile growth seems to root better. I make holes in the compost mix with a small skewer. The cuttings are dipped into rooting powder and then placed into the holes. I try to position them almost on the soil. Leaving just a small gap so they aren’t resting on the compost to avoid rotting. The box lid can go on and then the box needs to go somewhere shaded. This went under my plant display table and has been left there for a few months. Every so often I’ve lifted the lid just to check they are ok and removed the ones which have shrivelled. The majority of the cuttings seem to have taken and I can see roots three months on. These will be grown on until I can either see they have a decent root structure or that they are putting on new growth.

I hope that’s helpful to those of you who asked. Heuchera are great foliage plants. As I said already, they are great for pots and for winter interest. They work well in shade and are great for wildlife. There is lots to like about them and they come in a whole kaleidoscope of colours. If you are looking to buy some I would wholeheartedly recommend Plantsagogo. Vicky and Richard offer an amazing range and they hold the National Collections for heuchera, heucheralla and tiarellas. An impressive feat for a very wide-ranging species. And they are always very helpful in offering advice. They are very useful plants and I wouldn’t want to be without them.

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Book review-How to get Kids Gardening with the Skinny Jean Gardener

I’ve had this book a little while now and I’ve been meaning to get around to reviewing it. Photos on the blog today are of my little girl gardening as no one likes long pages of pure text on a screen. For those of you who don’t know Lee Aka. The Skinny Jeans Gardener I first came to know him through his podcast. The podcast is a burst of energy. He’s had some great guests and it’s always a laugh. He’s appeared on TV on Blue Peter and the gadget show and appearances on Sunday Brunch. More recently he has been an ambassador for M&S little garden promotion. He has worked hard pushing gardening within schools and encouraging gardening to be taken on as part of schools curriculum. In March he toured a mass number of schools promoting gardening to kids. A hard-working chappy with fingers in many pies.

Available from Amazon currently £12.99.

Or direct from Lee with the option for signing.

The book has clearly been a labour of love for Lee who is passionate about kids gardening from his work with M&S and the school tours. The book is a record of many different gardening activities Lee has carried out with his daughter Olive, the star of the book. The ideas are tried and tested with Olive and during the school tours. As a former teacher and parent, I was interested to see what activities Lee would suggest. With children confined to their gardens, there has never been a better time to look at getting yourself and the kids into gardening.

The book has lots of great ways to get kids into gardening. It suggests easy things to sow. When growing with kids they want to see results, so it lists things where they will see results. Lee also understands the importance of using grow your own with kids. Growing fruit and veg gives the kids something solid they can enjoy in a greater way than a flower. They get to enjoy eating and helps promote a healthy diet. Win-win! There are a ton of things to make, things to promote wildlife: bird feeders, bug hotels and seed bombs. There are fun builds to give the kids more to play with, music areas, mud kitchens and more.

If my recommendation isn’t enough it comes with celebrity endorsements from Adam Frost, Sam Nixon (of CBBC fame) and GQT panellist Mathew Biggs. Most of the projects Lee details cost very little to make. They are almost all limited materials or involve upcycling something. So even on lockdown many of these projects can still be made. For the teachers out there Lee makes reference to the Early Learning Goals. For the non-teachers out there these are the standards children are meant to meet by the time they leave Foundation Stage (age 5).

Overall this is a great book for parents and teachers looking to get children involved in gardening. It’s rammed with ideas. You can dip in and out of it for ideas. It’s a book you can go back to. Well worth looking into if you are struggling for things to do right now.

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Book Review: The complete guide to garden privacy-Alexandra Campbell

Alexandra put out a call for reviews of her first book last week, so in the interest of disclaimer, I have been sent this to review. That said, I was excited to see what she had to say. Alexandra’s website, The middle-sized garden, contains blogs and videos sharing many useful gardening tips. She has written for many magazines and newspapers: the Times, The Daily Telegraph, Good Housekeeping and more. Her blog has won many awards over the last few years.

The book is available through Amazon:

Paperback priced £14.36 at time of writing.

Kindle Priced £7.83 or free with Kindle unlimited.

From the blurb:

Find out how to make your garden feel private, no matter how small it is. This book will help you choose the right trees for privacy, find out which hedges are best for privacy, how to select a new garden privacy screen and how to screen eyesores. Create a secret garden or help minimise noise in your garden. Expert tips and advice from The Middlesized Garden, a top award-winning garden blog from the UK.The Complete Guide to Garden Privacy offers practical solutions with easy-to-read diagrams and inspiring photographs of real gardens.

So, this book couldn’t really come at a more opportune moment. With many us contained within our homes and gardens, more people are looking at spending their lockdown time in their gardens. Across the country, people have been discovering gardening for the first time. This is in many ways a fabulous development, gardening brings so many benefits, both physical and mental. But, it means the volume level has gone up. In many gardens, the privacy level is low as the gardens haven’t previously been used. So people are hastily trying to renovate their gardens to make them better spaces. Prior to my work closing, we were seeing good sales in fencing equipment as people looked at upgrading and fixing their existing screens. But there are many ways to add privacy to your garden that this book explores.

Trees can block line of sight to upper store windows

The book covers some basic principles of privacy asking you to think about which key areas do you want to be private. Within a row of gardens, it is almost impossible to make your garden completely private but if you identify key areas you can work to give yourself a secluded area. You may not need the privacy all year round. It may just be that you want privacy in summer when you will be out more. This opens up more seasonal options allowing for light to still reach your house in winter.

A parasol provides privacy from windows

Many of the options discussed are pretty obvious. Hedges and fences can be used to block views. But Alexandra goes into the extra detail of discussing the legal aspects such as where planning permission is needed. Plant lists are included for evergreen and deciduous options. The book makes use of nice clear diagrams throughout to illustrate the points she is making in the text. For example, for a seating area, you don’t necessarily need a high screen. An obstacle of 1.5m will hide you to people when you are sat. This is shown clearly through the diagrams and explanations. Screens, trellis, structures are discussed. A chapter is devoted to privacy in the front garden looking a few different ways I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about to add privacy such as window boxes.

A wall can provide privacy and block some noise.

The final chapter was particularly interesting and relevant right now looking at noise and wind. The wind can carry noise a long way. Alexandra looks at the way sound is carried by the wind over obstacles and discusses ways to increase your privacy.

Euonymus blocking line of sight to the eyesore of the compost heap

 

Overall this is an informative read. I devoured it over two days back and I’m sure I will return to look up aspects again. Anyone who reads her blog will know, Alexandra writes clearly, concisely and presents a lot of information within a relatively small book. It has made me look at the privacy in my own garden differently. I am starting to think out how I can add some extra seclusion to particular areas. I would recommend this book if you have issues with neighbours overlooking your garden or if you are looking at ways you can change your boundaries. This book will show lots of options for making your garden into your own secluded paradise.

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Floral Friday-Supporting Greenfingers

After a downbeat blog on the crisis in Horticulture earlier in the week I wanted to look at doing something more positive today. Today is Floral Friday so we are dressed in our best floral print to raise some awareness for Greenfingers Charity. Greenfingers are a UK charity that supports children and families in hospices. They help to create green spaces to give therapeutic benefits to children with life-limiting conditions. I am very fortunate to have a lovely space to garden in with Alice and we love our time together out in the garden. A beautiful garden space can uplift the spirits like nothing else. At this difficult time any support, no matter how small will be appreciated. This is a time for kindness. Donations can be made through https://www.justgiving.com/greenfingers/donate

https://www.greenfingerscharity.org.uk/

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Building a raised bed

As part of the RHS course, I need to look at veg production which is currently one of my weakest areas of knowledge. I have grown potatoes as a teacher with classes and I’ve always grown something to eat each year in pots: tomatoes, lettuce, beans, etc. But, for the course, I need to know details such as spacing for various veg. With the state of food shops, it seemed like a good idea to get cracking on growing. It’s also an excuse to remove another section of lawn. I could quite happily change the lawn into a potager but we’ll try just one raised bed for now.

I built this last week before we went on official lockdown starting with a trip out to the builder’s yard. Three boards and a few corner braces and I had the start of the frame. One board was cut in half to make the short sides and then screwed together. It’s just a small bed at about 2m by 1m. But it’s long enough to grow a few different choices. The lawn here is pretty worn so we’re not losing pristine grass.

A layer of card went at the bottom to suppress the grass.

A layer of leaves from the leaf mulch bags went down on top. It’s not as well broken down as I’d like but it should carry on breaking down and adding some nutrition to the bed.

I added the compost and a frame made from two willow trellis panels. The two panels were leant in together and opened to lock into each other in a tent shape.

I sowed dwarf broad beans last week to go up the frame and then I have radishes and lettuce to go in the space. Alongside this, I have a few tomatoes from work to grow in pots and some early potatoes chitting inside. It won’t give us a mass amount of food but the routine of tending to it and watering it will help give some routine during the lockdown and adds another activity to help engage Alice’s attention while she’s off. Wish us luck!

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Tuesday poetry-The garden Nicholas Grimald

A little bit of poetry to take solace in while we are in strange times.

The Garden
THE issue of great Jove, draw near, you Muses nine!
Help us to praise the blissful plot of garden ground so fine.
The garden gives good food and aid for leech’s cure;
The garden, full of great delight, his master doth allure.
Sweet sallet herbs be here, and herbs of every kind;
The ruddy grapes, the seemly fruits, be here at hand to find.
Here pleasance wanteth not to make a man full fain;
Here marvellous the mixture is of solace and of gain.
To water sundry seeds, the furrow by the way
A running river, trilling down with liquor, can convey.
Behold, with lively hue fair flowers that shine so bright;
With riches, like the orient gems, they paint the mould in sight.
Bees, humming with soft sound (their murmur is so small),
Of blooms and blossoms suck the tops; on dewed leaves they fall.
The creeping vine holds down her own bewedded elms,
And, wandering out with branches thick, reeds folded overwhelms.
Trees spread their coverts wide with shadows fresh and gay;
Full well their branched bows defend the fervent sun away.
Birds chatter, and some chirp, and some sweet tunes do yield;
All mirthful, with their songs so blithe, they make both air and field.
The garden it allures, it feeds, it glads the sprite;
From heavy hearts all doleful dumps the garden chaseth quite.
Strength it restores to limbs, draws and fulfils the sight;
with cheer revives the senses all and maketh labour light.
O, what delights to us the garden ground doth bring!
Seed, leaf, flower, fruit, herb, bee, and tree, and more than I may sing!

Nicholas Grimald

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Crocus

Time at the Bay

We have returned from the in-laws at Robin Hood’s Bay. The weather hasn’t been the best but we managed a few walks and had a bit of time to enjoy their garden.

It was quite windy both days so we stayed off the cliff path but managed to walk down between the houses.

We revisited the Victoria where we had our wedding meal.

The gnomes of the bay are still looking cheerful.

Amy borrowed my camera to get a bit more practise before she starts teaching photography again.

Alice wanted a photo next to hellebores outside one of the pubs. Maybe my influence is rubbing off.

The Victoria has wonderful drifts of snowdrops and daffodils open together at the moment.

A spectacular camellia on the walk down.

The stone walls on the walk down are full of life at the moment. Ferns and snowdrops are filling the walls.

Here are bricks made from the local clay. When I talked in my last blog about the soil being thick clay I meant it.

The in-laws garden is in transition between seasons. A lot going over while other bulbs haven’t come up to replace them. The cyclamen and snowdrops are starting to go over.

A lot of the hellebores are starting to go over but there are still many putting on a good show.

The pond is doing well. Amy’s dad has added a solar panelled fountain. Not at it’s best on a grey day but still entertaining Alice. I saw a few of the newts in the pond. They are probably eating all the tadpoles each year so they aren’t getting the frogs as much currently.

Alice is enjoying pretending to take photos. We’ve dug her out an old camera now so she can start taking some actual photos.

The willow hedge is establishing nicely. I rather fancy making a willow tunnel in my garden as it’s so easy to grow from cuttings but not sure how it would fit with the existing structure.

The daffodils along the hedge going strong.

The bird feeders were seeing as many visitors as I think I’ve ever seen there. Charms of goldfinches, bullfinches, chaffinches, sparrows, magpies, jackdaws, robins and peasants.

The blackbirds were rather inquisitive.

The chimney pots by the back door looking good.

A few cyclamens still providing some deep colour.

The greenhouse is filled with some succulents doing very well at the moment. My aeonium is miserable and just lost a stem after I knocked it but the ones here are looking great.

Alice was keen to get out and race in the garden. She ran lots of laps in the garden.

The crocus in the lawn looking great. Mine are starting to come through but the weather hasn’t done them much good. It’s going to be a good few years before I have a good show from them.

It’s always nice visiting the in-laws garden. I normally come away wishing I had lots of their plants in my garden and wanting to rush out and purchase lots but I’m actually pretty happy with my own garden currently. Though I wouldn’t mind some chimney pots for planters. Alice had a great time. She’s walked up and down the steps to the seafront several times over the weekend and she hasn’t needed carrying at all this visit. She’s growing up rapidly.

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Six on Saturday: 22.2.20-A week of practical jobs

I’ve had a super week with Amy and Alice off for half term. We had a great time at Burton Agnes seeing the snowdrop walk. I’ve been busy trying to get jobs completed around the house and in the garden while I’m off work. More news on my work situation later though. I’ve been endeavouring to become more practical and develop more skills. So this week’s six features a mixture of practical and craft activities I’ve done over the last few weeks.

1. New lights

Alice wanted to buy these lights for Amy earlier in the week as mummy likes twinkles. I got some hanging basket hooks and attached them to the log store. I’m not sure the lights are the best quality solar powered ones but they look nice enough during the day as well with the cracked glass look.

2. Lick of paint

I’ve given a few bits of the garden furniture a new lick of paint. The plant stand hadn’t been painted before but looks much smarter for it. The table and chair set up aren’t massively comfortable so I’m going to use this on the patio for a display stand for some of the seasonal flowers. I’ll shift pots onto show as they come into season.

On the plant stand, there are some tins of sempervivums. One of my pots broke so I have employed tins for now to house them. I employed a nail and hammer to hammer some holes for drainage in the bottom. They need top dressing with some gravel. But as I fill up the plant stand it’ll make a smart enough display. Tins heat up in the sun so lose water quickly but as this like to be fairly dry they should be alright.

3. Back gate

The back gate was one of the few casualties in the storms of the last few weeks. It came off its hinges. I don’t think the hinges were really strong enough in the first place. I have gone with some heavier duty hinges and swapped them to the other side of the gate. It’s a job I’ve wanted to do for ages as the gate opened on the wrong side meaning I came out the gate and then had to close it to get down the path. Now I can go straight out with the wheelbarrow. So the storm has spurred me on to complete a job I wanted to do anyway.

4. Front garden

The front garden has spent periods of winter waterlogged. The soil is thick compressed clay. As you can see from the photos it is thick enough to mould with. Digging in it I can see why clay bricks used to be a local industry. I’ve used the auger drill to drill down holes where several of the stepping stones are and then filled with rubble and sand to give several spots the water can drain through a bit better. While I planted many options that like moisture I don’t think many will like to sit permanently in water.

I also got hold of some SupaGrow soil improver to mulch the front garden. This is 4 for £10. Not a bad price for a peat-free option. It took about 5 and a half 50-litre bags to cover the area but it makes the whole area look better each time I do it. The soil improver looks like it may have been green waste. There were a few random bits of plastic in the mix but for the price can’t complain. I wouldn’t be surprised to find weeds coming out of it but fingers crossed it won’t contain anything nasty. The mulch will gradually get taken into the soil by the worms and other life in the soil. This will add nutrients to the plants and help improve the soil structure which will aid the drainage.

I also got around to finishing the last of the stepping stones. When I originally did them I just planned a path to the water butt. Then I decided it would be nice to have a path that went all the way around so I put some temporary log cuts down. These were a bit slippy so I bought the last few stone steps that I needed. Alice likes working her way around it on the way in and out of the house so it keeps her busy while we’re locking and unlocking the door.

5. Scottie doggy

This little dog ornament had been left at my last garden by its previous owner. It came along to my current house hidden in a pot. It’s a bit naff but it had lost almost all its paint. I decided I’d give it a fresh lick of paint while Alice has been crafting. All those years painting Games Workshop figures has to be some use.

6. Punning

I made a new garden sign to give me a bit of motivation as I try to get started in horticulture. This bad pun came to me a while ago and I thought it’d go nicely on a sign. The slate was a cheese board that had been reduced. So I painted on the design and I’ve given it a varnish. It also came with two cheese knives for good measure. I had mentioned that I was looking to change careers and last week I had an interview for a garden centre. I’m pleased to say I was successful. It’s a temporary job but on the growing side which will be an excellent start. Lots to learn.

So, all in all, a good week. I’ve got a week off until I start my new job. I want to try and complete a number of jobs in the house and garden before I start. Then I’ll probably find I’m tired initially while settling into the new job. I’ve already been given strict instructions that I’m not allowed to bring home new plants every day. I’ll have to see whether I get a staff discount.

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Dahlias from seed: my first years experience

Over last year one of my biggest gardening successes was growing dahlias from seed. I’d heard mixed reports on how successful this method was. With the addition of slugs and snails eating the young dahlias I had low expectations of how many if any, plants I would get. But despite low expectations, I ended up with a mass of dahlia plants. So many in fact we had to give them away. Even the window cleaner got some. So while I am no expert with one-year growing knowledge here is what I did.

I grew Bishop’s Children Dahlias bought from Sarah Raven. I had looked into a few types, some varied in germination, some varied in end results whereas these were meant to be easy. They looked to produce a variety of colours that I was happy to have in my garden.

I lack for a greenhouse or a cold frame. I also live up North in the UK so the winter frosts could have potentially caused a problem. Traditionally these are started in a heated greenhouse to give you a headstart to get the most out of them across summer. If you have access to these things that is great. I’m envious but even without they can still be managed. The seeds are little thin seeds. I used one large seed tray filled with peat-free compost. The seeds were pushed in upright so they were poking out a little. The tray was given water and a lid went on. They had to be kept inside, so initially, they went on the windowsill in our North facing spare room. The light is low in there but I have a couple of IKEA grow lights I put on in the evenings to lengthen the daylight. I don’t know if this was necessary but the IKEA lights are LED types, they don’t get hot like the old fashioned ones so I don’t think they will have done any harm.

I didn’t expect many to germinate having heard about mixed success rates. Just about every single one did and they put on growth rapidly. The seedlings initially grow their rounded leaves before they put on their true more jagged leaves.

From the seed tray, they were moved into 10cm pots to grow on. I grew these in Dalefoot clay breaker compost. At this point, it was still mid-April so there was still a chance of frost. As I wasn’t sure what to do I kept some in the spare room where I’d kept the seed tray. Some went outside in the shelter of a plastic box. The majority went in a really useful box. I moved it out during the day and in on a night until we got into May and the nights were looking warmer.

At this stage, it was tempting to put them in the ground. But I resisted and potted them into a mix of larger pots. Most were 3-litre pots. I reuse the plastic pots, as most can’t currently be recycled, from plant purchases so the size varied. I did this to get them nice and strong before going in the ground. As already mentioned dahlias are slug and snail favourites. The best defence for most plants is to ensure they are healthy enough to survive attacks. While they were in plastic pots on the patio they were less likely to be attacked. The young growth needed pinching out every so often. By nipping off the leading growth you encourage bushier growth and more flowers later on. As they put on growth I fed them with a mix of slow-release fertilizer on the soil surface and a weekly fed of liquid tomato feed. I kept as many of the pots as I could in trays as I was watering every few days to stop them getting too dry.

Once they were up to about 30cm and had filled out I spread them around the border and grew a few in pots on the border. With regular deadheading and more tomato feed, they have given me a mass of flowers through to late October and some hanging on in November. The variation in the packet was great: reds, orange, yellow, pink. The foliage of bishop’s children is rich and dark making for a nice contrast with many of the other late summer plants.

Once the frost’s started hitting I emptied out the ones in pots first so I could get on with planting spring bulbs. Then I’ve dug some out from the border for storing over winter. Opinions vary on whether lifting is necessary but I have clay soil and I think mine would rot. Many people had told me by growing from seed without a greenhouse they wouldn’t have enough time to form decent tubers but I can report they look good. Some are the size of a decent jacket potato. Advice suggests putting them I dry old compost or sand and storing them in a frost-free shed or greenhouse. Mine have gone in the loft. I don’t know that this is a good idea but I’m lacking other spaces.

If they do rot it isn’t a big issue though as I’ve got more seed to try next year. I’m also trying a cactus variety that claims to also be good for pollinators. These will hopefully add a few more colours to the mix and add some variety in shape.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my recount. I am indebted to many people who have advised me through the blog, Naomi Slade’s beautiful book and Twitter about how to grow them and would heartily recommend giving them a try.

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Six on Saturday: 14.12.19

The weather continues to get colder. The car is needing time to warm up in the morning. The garden is looking a bit bare after shuffling plants. The bulb planting is slowly going down. Alice helped plant two pots of tulips last weekend making that the last of the tulips. We planted some iris harmony in the top layer. The idea being we get a nice layer of blue irises, the tulips are planted deep so will flower later. I’m now down to a mass amount of alliums and the crocus for the front garden. The forecast this weekend is for a bit of rain this morning and then moderate breeze tomorrow. I’m still not feeling that well so I’m not sure I want to brave moderate breezes to plant the last bulbs. Moderate breeze round me means facing Northern sea winds. Not nice.

1. Cleaning the feeders

Currently, the birds have become particular about which food they want. The seed is going down fast and the fat balls are disappearing but the suet is getting left and going mouldy. The feeders are needing regular cleaning to stop the build-up of gunk to help prevent the spread of disease.

It is a grotty job but it brings plenty of rewards. Lots of visitors have come.

2. Primula

The existing primulas in the border are flowering but have been well chomped, though I don’t particularly mind. They were a gift that has spread out a little bit. They grow under the dogwood where I couldn’t put much else as it is too thick with leaves in other seasons.

I picked up a few more from the florist a few weeks back to bulk out the existing patch. I’ve stuck to the basic white as I quite like that basic colour set up in winter.

3. Hellebores

The hellebores are doing a good job showing the key major issues with hellebores. The flowers consistently look tatty and get eaten. Even when they do flower well the flowers aim down somewhat taking the joy out of them and making it awkward for a photo. But still, I persist in trying to get them to perform in the way I picture in my mind with stunning white flowers shining out in winter.

4. Patio

As well as reworking the border at the back on the left side I’ve also been shuffling the patio around. I’d built one log store a few months back. However the wood delivery was slightly more than one store so we got another one delivered which had been sat in the utility room for weeks, but I got pushed into getting it made so it was out of the way for Amy’s birthday a few weeks back. The two look smart together, though I’d have liked one on the other wall but we are still waiting on the builders to finish jobs. I figure they’ll act as a little bit of a windbreak fo some of the plants I’d like to grow. Alice is excited to be jumping, not about the log stores.

I’ve had a lot of the pots sat on the lawn while the builders have been working but now they have done this wall I’ve moved a few back. I’ve made a small platform out of a tile sample and breezeblocks. Not the smartest setup but it only intended as temporary displaying some of the winter foliage plants next to Alice’s mud kitchen.

5. Christmas lights

We have a handful of battery-powered lights out on the trees now we are into December. Hard to photograph but they add a bit of cheer in these dark months.

6. Rose

The pink rose has had a bit of poor performance this year. It has flowered several times but the wet weather has meant a lot of the flowers have been pitiful when they have bloomed. It is going through its last burst of flowers for the year. Impressive that it’s still flowering in December but unless it manages a few better flowers next year it may face the chop. In a small garden, you have to be ruthless. I don’t mind going the way of Lloyd and removing the rose from my garden for more foliage.

As mentioned already still not that well, so only managing short bursts in the garden doing quick jobs. Combined with the weather I’m not sure I’ll manage that many job this weekend, but I hope you all have good weekends. Might be winter but the jobs don’t stop.

Check out the six on Saturday guide if you fancy joining in the fun.

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