Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Off with their heads!

Sadly, the Aquilegia (granny's bonnets) have just about finished flowering, which is a shame as they are a great addition to my cottage gardening style.  Sentiment aside, I must remember to cut of their seed heads, if I don't want the whole garden covered in them.  They are prolific in their seeding habits and I only want them in certain places .  The same goes for foxgloves when they are finished flowering, although they are easily transplanted  into new spots around the garden.  Also the Sweet Rocket is on its way out, it has flowered for many weeks, and with its intoxicating fragrance, will also be sadly missed.  On the plus side, it is a great opportunity to plant some annuals to add colour which will hopefully last until the first frosts.

Yesterday, I took some root cuttings of Alchemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle) for extra plants to place below some shrubs.  These plants don't mind shade so are very useful - they also look lovely with their lime green  froth of tiny flowers and scalloped leaves -in flower arrangements.  You also have to remember to dead head them after flowering to keep their numbers down.
Pictured above:  Foxgloves (Digitalis) - last year I had some white ones but they haven't shown up this year.  Never mind, the dark and pale pink ones are still beautiful.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Typical bank holiday weather

We are having a good steady downpour of rain this morning - hallelujah!  It is the sort of rain that really soaks in to the soil - no matter how you water by hand it never reaches deep down to the roots of the plants - unless you stand there for hours.  It is a shame for those who had something planned for today, but we gardeners are a selfish lot. On the plus side, we do make the world a beautiful place to live in through our    gardens Pictured above:  Rose, Zephirin Druin - a climber with a wonderful fragrance

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Garden Challenge

With  most of my seedlings now transplanted into pots or out in the garden, now is not the time to stop planning for the future.  Cuttings have to be taken of various plants that might not make it through the winter; veg seeds will continue to be sown for late crops.  Those that may not mature before winter takes hold can be used as baby veg.  Gardening, as with anything else, needs forward planning.  Here I am talking about winter when we haven't had our summer yet - as it is, with most of the veg plants I have put out they are not making much progress.  The lack of warmth and rain is holding everything back, and the way things are going we will be lucky if we have anything to eat from the veg garden at all. Most evenings I get the hosepipe out which is a chore, just to keep everything alive - normally, this only happens during long hot summers, except for the pots which are watered on a daily basis.  But the new perennial plants I have bought to replace those lost over the last hard winter soon start to droop  as their roots haven't had time to establish.  This year is definitely a 'gardening challenge' only the strong will survive.
Pictured above:  Penstemon (the only one that survived the winter, luckily in my favourite colour).

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Plots full of produce

Spent last evening at the allotment garden, handweeding between the rows of veg that were getting choked with that pesky chickweed.  Backbreaking work, but worth it, of course it won't last, but for now the plot is looking reasonably ship-shape.  This morning managed to squeeze in a row of Scarlet Curly Kale, which I have never grown before, but is supposed to get more scarlet the more mature it gets.  Should look stunning by the winter.  Will post some pics. then - if it survives.  Some years, when time is tight, I am not so fussed at keeping the garden weed-free, but I pay for it the following year - so I am trying really hard to keep the weeds down this year.  I just hope it pays off.  I do allow some self-seeders in the veg garden - there are a lot of poppies popping up and marigolds, so together with my cutting patch it should look a riot of colour in a few weeks.  Last year I planted a row of nasturtiums but the soil was too rich for them and there were hardly any flowers, just masses of leaf.  I was hoping that they would self-seed, but so far I have only found one plant on top of a potato ridge.  Oh well, you can't win them all.
Pictured above:  onions, chard and cabbages all looking very healthy so far

Friday, 27 May 2011

Weed Worries

We have had the odd shower of rain this week and yesterday a fairly good downpour, which is good.  The downside is that the allotment garden is now covered in chickweed.  It has seeded in the carrots and parsnips and that means getting down on my hands and knees and carefully pulling it out without disturbing the roots of the seedlings.  It  isn't as if I haven't been hoeing regularly, so goodness knows where they have all come from.  I have the brassicas covered with mesh cloches to stop bird attack, so it means I will have to take off all the cloches, and give everything a good weeding, then put everything back.  What a pain!  As an aside, there were one or two cabbage plants spare so I put them out uncovered, and they have been ravaged by birds; hopefully, they will keep on eating those few plants and leave everything else alone.
Pictured above:  Sweet Williams from the cutting garden.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Allotment Wildlife Reserve

At the allotment, the areas where I used to keep hens are now completely overgrown.  When the hens were in residence there was hardly a blade of grass to be seen.  As any hen keeper knows, they are extremely efficient as lawnmowers  and any hope of a picturesque hen run is out of the question.  I don't keep hens any more; after many losses to 'Mr. Fox' I decided to call it a day.  I have decided to let nature take its course and let it revert back to what it once was.  At the moment it is overrun with goose grass, which I am pulling out, as I don't particularly want it seeding in my veg garden; but, I noticed today that other wild flowers are starting to appear, so hopefully a wildflower meadow may emerge eventually.  To the untrained eye it may look a bit messy, unkempt and unloved - but gradually it may turn into a thing of beauty.
Pictured above:  Greenfinch Rose (the buds start out apricot coloured then as they open out fully they turn into beautiful clotted cream coloured frilly tutus).

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Followers Gadget

Incidentally, I have added the Followers Gadget, in the hope that someone is reading my blogs.  I know I have only recently set this blog up, but I have a feeling that what I write is just going into the ether and no-one is aware of it.  I just don't want to feel that I am wasting my time and no-one is interested in what I have to say.

Superb Herbs

Spent the afternoon in the greenhouse transplanting herb seedlings into large containers; flat leaf parsley, coriander and basil.  Herbs are an essential part of a cottage garden, originally to give flavour to rather bland food when salt wasn't as readily available as it is today.  Earlier in the month I took cuttings of sage which have now rooted and they too will be planted, initially into containers, then when large enough dotted throughout the garden, not only is it a useful herb, but it beautiful when in flower. 
Pictured above:  Thyme in flower.  I have several varieties of thyme, lemon thyme being my favourite - they are all growing in a large rectangular container together, and put on a wonderful show when in flower.

Normal Weather Resumed

At last the wind has dropped and we are back to relative normality, the sun is shining, the birds singing and all is well with the world.
Pictured above:  Sempervivums.  Plants that can withstand anything that is thrown at them.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Gardening advice on the move

Cycling back from the allotment this morning I spotted a friend walking her dog; I waved and carried on cycling, then she shouted "What do I do about chillies".  I slammed on my brakes, gave her advice on chilli growing , and pedalled away.  I think I have found a niche in the market a, 'roving gardener' giving advice to all and sundry as I pass by. Pictured above:  Escholzia(with attendant bee) a self-seeder from last year's plantings.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Windy Weather

When will this wind stop?  It has been blowing strongly here for over a week. A lot of the tender plants that have been planted out are suffering, especially the outdoor tomatoes, which are looking very sorry for themselves.  In other years they have been fine being put out at this time of year; if they hadn't been growing strongly in the greenhouse, I would have kept them in for another week.  Alas, I put them out, and am now suffering the consequences.  Hopefully, they will survive, and pick up - if not - well, we'll wait and see.
Pictured above:  Pelargoniums in window box

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Transplanting little treasures

One of the boring jobs, that I quite enjoy, is transplanting trays of seedlings.  It is one of those jobs that allows your mind to wander whilst you are doing it, you don't need to think about what you are doing so you drift off somewhere it your head, and before you know it, you have transplanted 48 wallflower seedlings, and you come back to earth and on to the next tray for a bit more of the same.

Pictured above - Alliums at their best.

Elspeth Thompson

For the last couple of weeks I have been reading a book called 'Urban Gardener' by Elspeth Thompson, which was published in the 90's.  My own garden is about as far removed from an urban garden as it is possible to be, and yet I have been enthralled by her garden and allotment articles from the Sunday Telepgraph, which have been put together in book form.  You can imagine my shock when I looked up her blog, hoping to enjoy more of her style of writing, only to find that she had died earlier in the year, aged only 48.  Why should I be so saddened when I don't even know the lady; well, I felt, through her writing, that I had come to know her and her gardens, and I shall miss not knowing how she is progressing and the invitation into her world.  I have another book of hers, although I hadn't linked her name with it, it is called 'The Wonderful Weekend Book' which I also found inspirational.  She took her own life, and what I can't understand about depression, is how someone who obviously loves life (or at least appears to in her style of writing) could get to a point when live is no longer worth living.  I don't suppose I will ever know.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Container gardening

It is exciting to grow your own flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits - and you don't have to be an expert.  It is equally pleasing to nurture a window box or grow a tub of rocket from seed as it is to plan a large-scale garden.  When it comes to home-grown produce, it is possible to grow things in confined spaces, in any sort of container.  This year as shown in the picture above I am growing radish, lettuce and carrots in containers plus potatoes in sacks - maybe even a courgette plant in a bucket.  Anything is possible.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cutting Garden

Planted out Zinnias and Sunflowers in the cutting garden - should put on a good show in the summer.  The Sweet Williams are not far off flowering, they are such a good cut flower, and last ages in a vase.

Leeks before breakfast

Planted out 2 doz. leek plants before breakfast this morning.  Keen or what?  The ground was so hard after weeks with no rain that I had trouble with dibbing them in.  Contrarily, even though the ground is solid, the weeds don't seem to have a problem germinating!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Cottage garden jobs to do in May


  • Continue successional sowings of salads, peas and spinach
  • Pinch out the tops of broad beans if they are attacked by blackfly
  • Put up a protective screen around carrots against carrot fly
  • Earth up potatoes and, if the shoots are threatened by frost cover them with fleece
  • Plant leeks and all members of the cabbage family
  • Stake tall herbaceous plants before they grow too big
  • Take cuttings of mint and rosemary
  • Ventilate cold frames more generously
  • Tuck straw under strawberries as the fruit begins to swell
Sow hardy perennials and biennials in a seedbed outside


  • Keep greenhouse well ventilated
  • Remove side-shoots from tomatoes as they appear and start feeding with a liquid fertilizer at every watering
  • Pot on peppers into their final pots
  • Start to feed aubergines, cucumbers, melons and peppers growing in pots
  • If plants in pots waiting to be planted out begin to look yellow, give them a liquid feed.

Started early - beat the worm

Cycled to the allotment with a basketful of French beans to plant.  The wind has been so strong over the last couple of days that some of those already planted have 'wind-burn'.  In this area we definitely could do with more rain, less wind and a bit more warmth for things to really take off.  Pictured above are Radish my first crop this year.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Garden Allsorts

I suspect that this site is aptly named as I do tend to ramble on a bit when I get going, but, as I have spent most of the evening trying to set it up I will keep this blog short - just to say - Welcome to Ramblings from Rosebank.  Pictured above are Chives which edge one of the raised beds.