Actually, let’s not. I’ll let these pictures tell a thousand words or more.
Actually, let’s not. I’ll let these pictures tell a thousand words or more.
Last winter we took three cuttings from the damask rose. At first, all three took and thrived, but eventually there were two, and then, just one. But what a one that one is!
It’s been repotted to a large handsome terracotta pot. And has set bloom. This is the third mature bloom. And all from a twig mere months ago.
P.S.: Squirrels were burrowing into the pots to scavenge crocus bulbs, hence the pea netting around the base of the pot. We’ll have to work on finding a more attractive solution.
The success of our small strawberry patch last spring heartened us to increase its size. We’d left all the nigella (aka love in a mist) to flower and go to seed, and now have dug over the previous wildflower plot, added some manure and extra soil to improve the clay, and started a new bed. We’ve also raised the height of the bottom bed to help level the ground and make it easier to tend.
The shed is pretty much complete, with a working water butt with eavestrough. And the box planter on the bottom of the side of the shed that faces down the stairs has been installed, with attractive scaffolding supports. The plan is the hang some pea netting on the side of the shed under the windows, and grow low-growing snap and sugar peas in the box planter.
Can you Adam and Eve it?! There were simply too many berries for us to eat fresh. We were gorging on blackberries every evening – with meringues, with yoghurt, with whipped cream, with vanilla ice cream. Berries ’til we were blue in the face.
So we made jam. Using the original family jam-making spoon I used with my folks when I was under the age of ten. I just love its utilitarian simplicity! It has a small slotted tongue so it can sit neatly on the edge of the pot, as shown.
Michelob said the jam was delicious.
Where did summer go? We started gloriously, with a modest harvest of garlic in June…
Followed by good crops of calvero nero (black Italian kale), beans, courgette, onions, and an almost impossible steady supply of delicious sweet blackberries.
We’ve also had good crops from the cherry tomatoes – both yellow and red. The red ones were round and sweet. The yellow ones tear-shaped and equally delicious. Yum!
The photo below, showing home grown white onion, garlic, swiss chard, calvero nero, beans, broccoli and a yellow zucchini, also features R’s apricots, which he gifted to us as he had bumper crops. And a sieve full of blackberries.
The sea holly, which had disappeared during the heat wave last summer, has re-appeared. The big dude’s delighted. I’d protected and marked the spot with a broken tool handle, which we’ve now removed. It’s likely that the very heavy clay soil it’s planted into is not good for it. As coastal plants they would naturally prefer well draining, gritty ground. We may adjust the conditions by adding some grit around the base of the plant. And we’re also not going to over-water it. With any luck it will come out stronger and more resilient than ever.
The great Malink had been very vexed when it disappeared last summer, and repeatedly threatened to dig it out. But I always cautioned against it – on the principle that the plant might come back, and also that even dead roots keep weeds out. And here we are: the super-powers of plants!
In the top left corner you can see the small glossy leaves of wild celandine growing in under the rose hedge. Probably considered by some a ‘weed’, I love celandine – low growing, glossy, found in shady spots that are otherwise empty of interest, that sport bright cheerful yellow flowers (also glossy!) in the early spring. So I’ll leave it growing.
Another plant growing on it’s own which we’ll leave in place is the clump of bluebell.
It grows in what otherwise is naturally a ‘path’ running along the side of the damask rose fence that is edged with terracotta pots (just visible in this photo).
In addition to the pots is a line of rusted old garden tools – all found buried under bushes and revealed in the process of clearing the plot.
The whole of the top level has been generously wood chipped to stop it being slippery in the rain – the ground is solid clay and gets slick when wet. Thank goodness for all that free wood chip arranged by the allotment committee.
In the back patch the long flower bed that runs beside the railway path is fairly well established – and full of perennial flowers of all sorts: iris, hollyhock, day lilly, gladioli, asiatic lilly, climbing roses on the pergolas, and so forth.
Also wormwood, peony, lungwort, cyclamen, hyacinth, daffodil, campanula, low growing saxifrage….
So well developed that I’m now starting to plan to dig out, divide and spread some of the plants elsewhere – into the woods!
The back bed, that run along the back fences of the garden flats, is something else altogether. A bit wild. A bit ‘in development.’ At the start there’s some sage which has spread wildly and needs taming. (Don’t even like sage that much!) And a red currant bush, which really needs a bit better tending.
And of course there’s the well-established (but somehow flagging) rhubarb patch. (Ground’s too poor and needs huge amounts of manure added).
And a handful of amazing globe artichoke plants – they’re growing so large that they’re shadowing out three rhubarb that are planted behind them. I’ll have to move the rhubarb if I want to save them.
I think the artichoke plants are in their third year, and are already setting flower heads. We’re going to research how to eat them. I know, really – steam and eat with garlic butter. Just have to watch a you-tube video on removing the ‘choke’ – the hairy non-edible bit.
Went up this morning, despite some light drizzle. There were tomato to plant in (two cherry red tomato and one yellow tomato), as well as the beans (starter plants purchased at Homebase). Overcast and rainy is just about perfect for transplanting – but not so much for people!
I was going to give up after planting in the beans but as the conditions were perfect I chivvied myself to stay on even though I was starting to get damp. Luckily once up there the rain let off – eventually!
So the beans and tomato are planted in. I re-sited some of the calvero nero growing in the salad bed as the plants were growing too close together.
Moved the blueberry to the end of the patch in its new planter.
Dug out some of the self-seeded euphorbia from the flower bed in front of the ivy hedge and transplanted those into the front end (on H’s side of the shrub barrier) – I’m sure he won’t mind! Then forked loose the soil and added some fresh compost, watered then seeded a small coriander bed in there. Watered well and wished them happy sprouting.
Coriander are pretty robust so should do fine there, despite the very poor and pebbly state of the soil. They are a great allotment plant – you can eat the leaves for a savoury salad (delicious!!), and also eat the tiny umbrels of white blossom. The seeds, if you let them go to seed, are edible as well – and in oriental cuisine the coriander root is also used. So a completely fully edible little wonder. Magic!
Sunday morning – intermittent sun but pretty chilly if the breeze blows. Lots of new growth on the raspberries – looking lush! Strawberries all coming to life and coming into flower. And signs of seedlings in the basket bed of radish and coriander (more signs of radish than the middle line of coriander, but fingers crossed).
But some losses too. Slug and snail damage to some of the early planted brassica. And the mini-cukes are completely gone. The potted summer squash is looking sickly – we’ll have to dump out the soil, wash the pot and start completely new.
We were up and at the plot before 9 in the morning. Two more wheelbarrows of mulch for the top level. The pile of wood chip was still steaming and hot – it’s scary. It might actually be a fire hazard all heaped up like that.
More shed progress – despite technical difficulties: broken and bent drill bits, and over-leaning tree branches, another wall support was put in – albeit needing future strengthening. The over-leaning branches in the end did have to be cut out, so we did it, and then did all the subsequent cutting, trimming, tidying-up. Done!