Category Archives: Grow your own

Where did you come from my lovely

With ample blossom, snowdrops and the beginnings of the narcissi blooming about it would appear that Spring is emerging.  Time perhaps to start thinking about getting seeds in for cultivating your summer window boxes and baskets.  As bedding can get quite expensive why not save seeds from last years pots and plant them to grow your own blooms this summer. If you have already discarded all of these remember there is always another chance at the end of the summer blooming season.

I especially love French marigolds for their bright colourful display and their easiness to grow and maintain. I usually have them in abundance

marigolds5

Keep summer going for longer with these zesty coloured marigolds that stay blooming well into September and October if the weather is mild

marigolds pots

marigold seeds

extract the tiny seeds from dead flower heads.  Happy cultivating there is nothing more satisfying.

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Winter Warmers

Just like some people there are lots of plants that don’t like the cold harsh Winters.  Some tend to die back underground in the depths of  it all and reappear in Springtime.  There are others who have less chance to  survive that way, so to keep them going I have acquired  for them a special house of their own and placed it in the garden in a spot that will get any winter sun that happens to be about.  Endlesss pots of  geraniums and mint are amongst those who have sought refuge as well as various pots of bulbs that have been under squirrel attack.

mini greenhouse

The mini greenhouse also has a top that opens up separately which will be ideal for starting off seedlings for next year.  It will help keep the seedlings free from any late spring frosts that can sometimes unexpectedly appear and sabotage young seedlings. mmmmmmmmmmm cosy!

It’s also time for the lemon tree to come inside as the risk of freezing night temperatures become more of a reality.  The tree has now grown so big and it could not be housed by the mini greenhouse – so I brought it inside to the conservatory for winter protection.

The lemon tree won't survive    freezing temperatures so safer to take it inside as the temperatures plumet

The lemon tree won’t survive freezing temperatures so safer to take it inside as the temperatures plummet

Meanwhile in the garden……………………..

The pretty heathers are still sweetly blooming, and the joy of all joys, the hellebore , is just beginning it’s flowering season and popping out generous numbers of beautiful white blooms.  Last Springs primroses are also “having a go” at adding some winter colour alongst the landscape.

winter blooming hellebore raises it's head

winter blooming hellebore raises it’s head – hellebore rules!

White heather in an old terracotta pot sets the perfect winter scene on the patio

White heather in an old terracotta pot sets the perfect winter scene on the patio

Succumbing to the festive season surge I purchased some giant baubles at Petersham Nurseries the other day

Succumbing to the festive season surge I purchased some giant baubles at Petersham Nurseries the other day

heather and baubles2

The lantern with star cut out casts a starry night over the mirrored table once it turns to dusk.  Anything with stars equals christmas in my book!

Also I could not resist the lantern with star cut outs which casts a starry night over the glass topped table once it turns to dusk. Anything with stars equals Christmas in my book!

Just back from a trip to Ireland and judging by what I saw blooming about over there  they seem to be having a pretty mild Winter so far. (or are the plants getting hardier??)  There was a giant fuschia in my mums garden, keeling over with flowers,  blooming like it was mid summer.  It was coupled with the deep red fading heads of a huge hydrangea bush opposite . True poetry in motion. (note to self get some cuttings for my garden when the time is right!).

fuschia in bloom

Fuschia blooming in early December

The blooms were so bright and vivid and the colours were so seasonal it was almost as if the celebration birthday cake (made by me and a friend) which was  topped with pommegranate was specially commissioned to work hand-in hand with the garden.  A beautiful blend and celebration of food and nature befitting a queen!

Smaller of the two celebration cakes made with my master chef friend.  The marscapone, lemon and vanilla frosting was borne as the perfect fusion with pommegranite

Smaller of the two celebration cakes made with my master chef friend for my mums birthday. The marscapone, lemon and vanilla frosting was borne as the perfect fusion with pommegranate

A birthday cake befitting the season

A birthday cake befitting the season

Happy 80th birthday mum

Fuschia

Fuschia

JINGLE BELLS

I have now finally given up on resistance – let the festive season commence

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Haul in the Harvest

Bag up any seeds that you collect from fading flower heads this time of year.   Store them in a dark dry place.  You will then have an abundance to hand ready to plant early next spring

Autumn is a great time for harvesting seeds to help you get your annual planting pots in full bloom for next year or for increasing your stock of all ready existing perennenials such as the lupin.  It is a natural by product of an end of summer clear up essential in all gardens, to refresh  for the autumn  blooms yet to come.  Collect the seeds now and plant in a cold frame frame in late winter or early spring for a beautiful blooms in late spring and summer. 

Amongst the favourites I am collecting from the garden this year are

Lupins

The stems where the flower heads have faded and died have now dried out and left behind the seed pods

 

Pick each pod from the stem and split open

The seeds will spill out from the split seed pod

 

Each seed will produce a new plant for next year

All of these seeds were collected from one faded flower head and will produce many plants for next year. Plant them in some moist compost early spring and water regularly once they start sprouting

When the seedlings are big enough transplant them into large deep pots or straight into a semi shady spot in the garden (beware! protect them as slugs love them too)

 Await the  joys to behold in the summer

The lupin in bloom

 

Marigolds

The seeds can be pulled from fading flower heads, each one containing multiple seeds. 

If you look closely, individually the seeds look like tiny little paint brushes.  To think each seed will produce a plant if it grows to fruition, you could grow yourself a field of marigolds from just one plant!  Plant the seeds in some compost early spring , keep them watered and grow them on for flowering plants in the summer.

The fruits of your labour will be evident throughout next summer and fall

 

The last of the summer apples got picked this week, and I’ve still got room in my tum for some more apple crumble

 

I “heart” apples

 

All this gardening is making me thirsty – cuppa cha?

Still al fresco – for how much longer I ponder

 

Indulge while you can

and it’s not even my birthday yet! Well you know what they say all work and no play…..

Thanks to our visitors from Paris and yes they do taste as good as they look!

Think I will be spilling over some recipe books after this little lot have been demolished……..

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And the Hits Keep on Coming

Throughout July and August the blooms came and went in the garden giving ongoing and ever changing colourful displays to feast the eye.  It truly was a treat.

Perrenial bulbs such as the lilly will give you endless pleasure year upon year and you can always add to them as the years go by. I have planted all of my favourites.  Plant bulbs out in early spring for summer blooming.  If you notice anything nibbling the leaves and flower buds it is more than likely the lily beetle, get some spray that will eradicate them otherwise the buds will never get to bloom.

Agapanthus

Summer blooming agapanthus

The african lilly (agapanthus) with it’s elegant long stalks and and large blooming heads, made up of many little flowers to give  a spherical shape,  enjoys semi shade and will bloom for six to eight weeks throughout the summer. You can buy plants with  purple flowers or with white flowers.  When the flowers die back they leave behind an interesting structural shape, giving stature and architectural form to the garden,  for you to enjoy into autumn.  Plant corms in early spring or if you have existing plants you can dig them up and separate them out after they have finished flowering to produce more plants for the following year

Tiger lillies blooming early summer

The tiger lilly usually blooms early on in June each year giving me a bright colourful display

The perfume of the oriential lilly fills the air

A smell you will want to remember and never forget

The oriential lilly blooms a little later giving a flouncy display with it’s blousey blooms and will fill the whole garden with the most amazing smelling perfume.  The usually flower to two to three weeks.  Keep them well watered if in pots.

The elegant white longiflorum lilly

Along with the longiflorum lilly which I love to grow for it’s long elegant shape and form with trumpet shaped blooms and subtle scent. Mine are really late this year but the blooms are just about to break forth – waiting patiently!

about to burst open lily blooming in late July

White Patio rose in a pot bringing blooms every summer

Roses are another great summer plant – they will die off in winter back to twiggy stalks and regenerate themselves in spring – I like to grow small patio roses in pots if you feed them they will give you a long summer blooming reward.  You can prune them back in late autumn or winter.

White Hydrenga

Hydrengas will  bloom prolifically throughout the summer and in to september adding colour and life to a shady corner.  They will die back in winter and sprout back out again the following spring.  A great low maintenance plant providing you with lots of summer blooms

Violas

Pretty Violas grown from last years seed head collected late autumn and planted early spring

Purple violas in terracotta window box planter

Violas  are similar to pansies but produce smaller (and I think cuter) flowers in abundance, plant bedding each year or grow from seed yearly to give colourful displays of pots.  They smell so sweet when the sun is shining on them and they will tolerate a semi shady area. Deadhead and feed on a regular basis for a long flowering period throughout the summer.  Seeds will form on dead flower heads that are not removed, you can collect these and grow bedding plants for the following year.

Marigolds

Sunshine in a pot!

It’s truly summer

The bright summery colour of the marigold will herald summer whatever the weather – guaranteed to cheer you up on the gloomiest of summer days.  They have a long blooming period and flower on for months on end throughout the summer and early autumn season.  Feed them and deadhead them regularly to get the most from the plants.  Plant bedding each year or collect seeds from the dead flower heads to grow plants for the following year. They love a sunny spot.

White Geranium

Geranium window planter – open up your windows and bring the summer inside!

Geraniums will bloom for months on end throughout the summer.  Feed them now and again to keep the blooms going and take them inside in winter to protect from the frosts and they will gladly bloom for you again the following summer.  They will happily bloom in a semi shady spot.

Geraniums to the front with pots of million bells to the back planted beneath the lemon tree

Million bells seen to the rear planted beneath the lemon tree produce blooms all summer long and are great all summer long bedding for pots or hanging baskets.

Buddleia in bloom brining in the butterflies

The Buddleia in bloom to the left of the picture blooming throughout late June and August attracting butterlies into the garden – they love this tree. It gets chopped right back each year and sprouts out again in early spring producing deep purple flowers.  Staring into the distance I am already thinking about next spring! Now is a good time to get spring bulbs in.

Apples a plenty

If I say there are about one thousand apples on the tree this year it is probably an accurate calculation.  Have started to harvest some and distributed amongst friends and neighbours.  They are delicious to eat really juicy and quite sharp and leave  an after sweetness lingering in your mouth. Great for cooking as well because you don’t have to add any sugar.  Loads more left to pick – mustn’t grumble apple crumble. Apples anybody?

Home grown carrots

Home grown carrots – where else in the world would you get carrots that looked or tasted like this?

A Summer to remember

 

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Sites to remember

Having spent the last six weeks  with a serious back injury (and a holiday on the side) I have been totally off gardening duties (and blogging duties) for quite some time.  Luckily the garden didn’t need too much tending thanks to nature and it’s generous rainfall this year and I still managed to capture the garden, as the blooms came and went, in photos during this period so I can look back on them now.  The garden seems unaware of our complete lack of a summer in the UK this year and plants are blooming bigger, better and longer than ever before.  The plants are loving the combination of the  rain and the coolness  and it seems the blooms  are starting earlier and  staying fresher for longer. The intermittent bursts of sunshine have been enough to keep the plants flowering – so they are not complaining – neither am I now come to think of it – well at least I’ve had ten days in the sunshine and my back is on the mend – things can only get better.

June was the month of……………..

The self seeding foxgloves.  They love a shady spot and will set themselves down and naturalise over time giving your garden that lovely “wild and natural” look.  They flower every two years so plant blooms for alternate  years if you want a blooming session every year. Put in a couple of plants in early spring and nature will do the rest.

I love the serenity of the white ones but they also come in a deep velvety pink, these are the ones you normally see growing in the wild, and they give a lovely countryside feel to the garden.

Foxgloves and ferns compliment one another beautifully as they are both like shade  and look happy and natural growing together as a combination in the garden

The ferns finally unfurled in full to join the party with the foxgloves

The orange lillies under the apple tree  burst open with annual regularity.  Annual bulbs like lillies are always a joy they usually flower for about two to three weeks depending on the conditions and never fail to bring joy with each year they bloom. Plant the bulbs in late Autumn or early spring.

What depicts a summers day more than this? Pink lupins, I grew these from some seeds collected from seed heads of fading plants, that I happened upon on one of my many walks. You can easily grow from seed or purchase some ready grown plants in Spring, they will come back year after year and you can collect the seeds each year from the heads to grow on into more plants.  But be careful the slugs and snails love these! So protect the plants especially the young ones otherwise they will never reach maturity.  I grew mine in big deep pots which makes pest control a bit easier.

Crown and Glory

Interspersed with the ongoing poppies and forget- me- nots that insisted on  “not being forgotten”, June has been  a very prolific and colourful blooming season this year.  The scene has now moved on and the garden looks completely different.  That’s what is so great about spring and summer a very colourful and a very different garden comes with each month.  More to come……………………………..

Eternal Sunshine of the Occupied Mind

I love the satisfying circle of prolific self  seeders,  partnered with a combination of other perennial plants and bulbs,  my idea of a  perfect garden is complete, wild, natural and self perpetuating.  For plants that need a helping hand I like nothing better than to collect their seed heads in autumn, plant them in some good compost in pots and reap the joy of their rewards the following year.  Potting up and prettily presenting your excess plants grown from seeds will help spread the joy amongst others that you know.   If you are a beginner, try sweet pea, nothing could be more easily grown and beautifully rewarding when in bloom  The plants will provide you with cut flowers for the home throughout summer, the more you cut the more they bloom.  Plant the seeds in autumn in some good compost and when they begin to sprout in spring support them with some bamboo or wicker which they will readily spiral up, cut the flowers for indoor display , this will keep the sweet pea blooming throughout the summer months.

The perennial bluebell bulb and the prolific self seeding forget-me-nots and poppies make a marvellous colourful display year upon year with little or no tending apart from some gentle taming of the poppies which involves removal of some seed heads before they set themselves down in your garden

Bees luvin’ the poppies

forget me nots profilific free seeders for that wild natural look

The perennial fern they never fail to unfurl each summer bringing joy, greenery and serenity to the garden, great for that shady corner where nothing else will grow, there are also many ever green varieties which are hardy throughout winter for all year round foliage

Nearly there

Ferns – luving’ this shade!

Support the sprouting sweet pea seedlings with bamboo cane, they will latch on with their tendrils and climb the canes

What a sweet gift they make

The gift that keeps on giving, sprouting sweet pea seedlings. They will bloom in summer,  when the seed heads are formed in autumn, collect the seeds from the pods produced and plant in a pot filled with some nice compost.  The seedlings will sprout the following spring giving you flowers for next summer

The art of creating a beautiful space……….

The solace of a space, love, nurture and cultivate

giving you time to  contemplate

tend and nurture it will grow

not enough, stunt, it’s slow

too much drains the natural flow

would anybody ever really think

too much love and it’s over the brink

strike the balance, find your feet

then all around will tap to the beat

strong, decisive, apply what you know

now you’re gardening in rhythmic flow

 full of joy the learning’s life long

creating, just being and singing your song

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Something for Nothing

Ever the keen gardener my eyes are always peeled as I walk along surburban streets and parks alike to see what I can find.  Many of my garden plants are bourne of seed pods spotted and picked in the depths of winter or cuttings from friends and families gardens. These ones shown below I spotted a few weeks ago dangling daintly from a twig like shrub devoid of all its leaves so no idea what to expect from the planted seeds found inside the pods.  Watch this space……..

 

Spotted dangling daintily

seeds in a pod, plant in a pot

 

these little beauties found inside the pods wonder what joys they will bring….

   

the begining of a wisteria vine

 

It will take a few years but the wisteria vine will eventually be producing beautiful blooms like the mother plant pictured  in early summer

Last years major seed haul produced two huge pots of lupins which have started to sprout already again this year.  Mine looked  great  displayed in large tall pots on the patio or you can plant them up in the border in a sunny position.   The plants also produced another yield of seeds that I have just planted to produce more blooms this year which I will be able to share with friends.

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