The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

A Sudden Turn In The Weather

It’s 25th April and it’s snowing. Last night the temperature dropped drastically. The reason? I had potted on the Tomatoes and courgettes and planted some outside. Going against everything that I preach and paying the price. Also the Butternut Squash were  screaming to get out of their small pots and I was short of pots and compost so I risked putting some of them out too. I don’t think that I will get away with this mammoth mistake. Watch this space.

Regional Forecast for West Midlands. Cold and windy with wintry showers and some sunny spells. A strong northerly wind will make it feel cold for all of us. There will be sunny spells and scattered showers, locally heavy with hail and thunder possible. Some sleet or snow is also possible, mainly over higher ground.

Verbascum Southern Charm – Celsia

This hardy perennial, Verbascum,  was amongst the tiny seedlings, bought from T&M last year, that have been overwintering on the window ledge. All four seedlings look healthy with a good root system and I have transferred them into a 7″ pot. They will stay in the office until the last frost has passed. I believe that these flowers grow quite tall. I have never grown them before but on reading up about them I am looking forward to seeing them in the garden and hope that as they self seed that I will enjoy them for many years.

Verbascum Hybrida common name Mullein is a gorgeous flower in lovely shades of apricot, lilac, buttermilk and sugar pink.. It will grow to four foot. It is a short lived annual that self seeds well.

Viola Sororia Freckles

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Quite unlike any other variety, Viola Sororia Freckles bears violet, speckled flowers from spring through to summer. The blooms are carried above neat clumps of heart shaped foliage. This Violet will self-seed freely. Perfect for growing in containers or rockeries.

These tough little plants will seed themselves anywhere. They’re  strong like Adam was strong and they will be growing all over the garden along with lots of other Violas next year and every year in memory of my brave boy.

 

Chionodoxa – Glory of the Snow

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa bulbs are new to me and were part of a collection of Spring bulbs I bought from www.thompson-morgan.com . I am planting them in a large pot for now but maybe next year when we remake the rockery and pond I can use them there too.

One of the first bulbs to flower in the spring, Glory of the Snow, creates a carpet of colour, naturalising well beneath trees and shrubs. These flowers also make a hardy and low-maintenance addition to rock gardens and spring patio pots where they’ll return year after year. Height: 6″ Picture and information from www.thompson-morgan.com

Spring Cleaning

On Sunday we at last had some time to call our own and went to visit the plots at about ten o clock. We were expecting a short visit halted by sleet after reading the weather forecast. However, it turned out to be a four hour clean up with sunshine. We have decided to give up our second plot and concentrate on plot eight from now on so we have until April to get plot eighteen tidy and move all the bits and pieces that we want to keep over to plot eight.I started by cleaning out the shed as the communal skip had arrived and I wanted to make good use of it. After that I helped Rob with clearing plot eighteen. We bought over the ‘Dalek’ composters and our seat cum storage box, a couple of wire frames and a load of slabs. The only job left is to dismantle the tunnel which was flattened by the snow and bring the tubes and netting over. I shall also dig up a few strawberry plants and a couple of black currant bushes. After that we can concentrate on making plot eight look good for this season.

Because we had the slabs from plot eighteen we could get rid of the strips of carpet that we had been using for paths and throw them in the skip. Rob has already made a good start in laying new paths and plot eight is already looking better. We have bought some metal reinforcing rods to fix the fruit tunnel and the brassica tunnel so that will be the next job to do. Rob has laid a slab path down the middle of the inside of the brassica tunnel and that should make working in there much easier. I dug over both the side beds in there and limed the soil.

Spring Pruning Roses

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Pruning a bush Rose – I am a relative new comer to the ups and downs of growing roses. Although we already had a rambling rose, Wedding Day, a climber, Dublin Bay, and a Hybrid Tea, Margaret Merrill in the garden they had more or less been left to their own devices. This year however I have taken a more keen interest in roses and have recently bought another climber, Compassion, a hybrid tea, Helen Robinson, and a few floribunda so I need to read up a bit about care. The first lesson I learned involved Spring pruning. The first four new plants are already in and the last three should be in before the end of this weekend. I have already hard pruned the existing three and found out that one negative aspect is that roses can rip you to pieces if you don’t treat them with care. I hope that future skillful pruning will reduce the risks. The following is an excerpt from Gardeners World Magazine.

“Any old stems showing signs of dieback can be pruned away, and badly positioned and congested shoots can be cut out to shape the bush. Last year’s stems need shortening to prevent new growth developing higher up the bush which may result in flowers with leggy stems. You should prune just above a bud, but remember that the developing shoot will grow out in the direction that that bud points. In most cases you want this to be outwards, keeping the centre of the bush light and open. Prune to an inward pointing bud and the shoot will grow inwards, crossing other stems to create a congested bush.” 

A good link http://www.gardenseeker.com/roses/pruning_rose_bushes.htm

Appenzeller Spitzhauben for a Spring Hatch

appenzeller-spitzhaubenemma.jpgThis is the national breed of Switzerland. The feathers of the crest are forward facing. Spitzhauben means pointed hat or bonnet. The plumage markings are black-tipped feathers. With their crest, V-comb, and spangled plumage, these birds are very attractive. They lay a beautiful white medium sized egg. 

I have bought six hatching eggs of the above breed for hatching in the incubator. (Sorry Sean)