adventures in gardening

Category: Gardening

Propagation

I was lucky to get a heated propagator earlier this year and I have been putting it to good use in helping with my many seeds I have sown.   It’s amazing how much a bit of bottom heat (I know, I said bottom) and lovely bright light really helps the little seeds germinate.  I am still surprised how one tiny seed, the size of a grain of sand can grow into a large green and floral plant, it kind of blows my mind.

This year, unlike previous years I have grown all my seasonal plants from seed, which I also think really gives you a huge warm glow watching them appear from the depths of the dark compost into little plants.

The success rate has been pretty good, with the majority of seeds germinating and flourishing.  However, there were a few that didn’t do anything.  This may be down to my impatience or just my lack of previous experience.

These are some of the seeds that have done really well.
Teasel, Gaura, Nasturtium, Lychnis, Salvia, Courgette, Lupin, Antirrhinum, Cosmos, Spring onion, Wild Rocket, Sunflowers, Peppers and the tumbling Tomatoes.

If you’re new to gardening or propagation, give it a go, what is the worst that can happen? You can use a nice sunny windowsill and you’ll have lots of cheap plants that you can be proud of!

Making a garden your own

Garden design is the process and art of designing a space that not only looks pleasing to the eye, but is practical.

The first thing you need to think about, what ever the size of garden you have, (be it a small back yard or half an acre) you have the same question to answer. How do I want to use my garden?

Considering your garden as an extension to your home is a great way of thinking about it.  It shouldn’t be a dumping ground, like that cupboard everyone has in their home, where the ironing board sits alongside photo albums, old books and general clutter.  Use the space well and don’t neglect it, as a garden can bring so much joy and solace to the soul.

Once you have thought about what you want to use your space for, that’s when you can plan it successfully.  If you enjoy just sitting, either alone or with friends then make sure you have space to do so.  If you like nothing more that pottering and tinkering make sure you have plenty space and plants to do that, either making a larger flower or vegetable bed or using pots and planters.

If you are one of those people who love plants and want to encourage wildlife into your space then really think about the plants you use.  Use the motto “The right plant in the right place” and you won’t go wrong. Happy plants are healthier, grow better and bigger with more and larger flowers, they are also less likely to be affected by pests and diseases as they are stronger and more resilient.

Knowing the type of soil you have isn’t a deal breaker, but you do have to think about how shaded or sunny your garden is, if your garden is sheltered or likely to be exposed to strong winds on a daily basis.  Read up about the plants you like first to see if they will be happy in your garden.  Another good way is looking at gardens near to your home, what plants are thriving there or even in the wild.

Don’t get stressed about the perfect design, gardens evolve and you can move things about if they don’t work.  The most important thing is, you enjoy it.

Bring a bit of buzz into your garden

Did you know that bees help to feed us?  Over 30% of worldwide crops require cross pollination, which is done by our buzzing friends, without them we wouldn’t have tomatoes, blueberries, apples, olives, carrots, the list is endless.  Scientists and ecologists around the world are encouraging everyone to use our outside space, be it a window box or 1 acre garden to benefit our bees.  Planting flowers, herbs or trees that bees love is the way to go.

I have decided to do my bit for the bees by sacrificing our front lawn.  The lawn has never been a thing of beauty or envy, rather a mix of grass, moss, mushrooms, daisies and dandielions.  It was a battle we were never going to win, or really wanted to either.

This morning I planted some seeds  into the front lawn.  Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s foot trefoil),  Lychnis flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin),  Zaluzianskya capensis (Night scented phlox), Trifloium pratense (Red clover)

 

All good for bees and colour.  I’m really looking forward to watching our lawn turn from green to a mix of colours this summer.  Why not try it yourselves and see what happens.

 

Now, where did I put the label?

The Katie of the past didn’t keep a note of plant or bulb names, she just merrily planted them, hoped for the best and if someone asked, “what’s that lovely plant?”, she would just reply with, “um, I don’t know”

How times have changed, or at least they’re changing.  Doing the horticultural course with the RHS  and gardening in a professional capacity I am having to learn Latin names for everything, which for someone who isn’t good at languages is a struggle.  I might be able to say some or spell others, but it’s rare to be able to spell and pronounce everything.

So, the Katie of the present and future is going to gather the names and cultivars of the plants. I will then be able to look after them better and give an answer when someone asks “what’s that plant?”.

A great example of this is a beautiful tulip that I have in a couple of pots on our patio.  They are petite, but pack a punch when they sit in the sun, with a bright yellow centre.  They are stunning and I was talking to a fellow RHS student about them and she identified them as Tulip tarda.  After researching them, I think that’s exactly what they are.

It seems to be a popular flower for buzzing friends too!

 

Mini Wildflower Meadow

Last year I bought a large rectangular planter for our front step.  Instead of planting it with the standard bedding plants for the summer I decided to plant my very own mini wildflower meadow.

It’s a huge pot, so instead of filling it all with soil I put three large plastic plant pots upside down on the bottom, thus reducing the volume and overall weight considerably.

The seed mixture I have used was from Thompson and Morgan called Meadowland mixture, which annoyingly doesn’t list the different seeds contained in the pack but looking at the picture on line I can spot some Rosebay willowherb, which bees love, but gardeners tend to hate.

I added some poppy seeds to the mix or for all you latin lovers out there Papaver orientale.

I planted them on the 25th March in situ and they’ve already started to germinate.  I’m looking forward to watching them grow and flourish.

 

 

Propagate

The garden I usually work in, (when the world isn’t on lock down) has a fantastic glass house with plenty space to grow lots of unusual plants.  They also grow your more common plants and seeds for pots and plants for the house and garden. The glass house provides light and warmth, which let’s be honest can be in short supply during a Scottish winter.  It’s always a lovely place to be sent to work during a cold and wet day.

I would love a glass house like it at my home, but I think the whole area would probably be the same size as my entire back garden!  So, I went for the next best thing and bought myself a fairly large heated and lit propagator, which has made its home in our garage.

I have the lights on a timer for about 12 hours per day and the heat set at 20-23C depending on how I am feeling.  I haven’t grown many things from seed in the past, but it’s such a good time to do it and it’s a lot cheaper too…(if they germinate)

As a member of the RHS I was able to buy a lot of seeds from them as part of their Seed Scheme which I would highly recommend.  Some of them were especially enjoyed by pollinators and others that would  “Green up Britain”   On the food front I have courgettes and chilli peppers already in the propagator and am still to receive carrots, sweet peppers and tomatoes through the post.

A lot of my back garden is made up of beds for flowers and plants for all year round interest, I’ve never been an avid fruit and vegetable grower so don’t have much space that I can dedicate to fruit and vegetables, which is the reason I am thinking of planting the vegetable seedlings into pots.

It’s early days still but the courgettes have flourished and are already out of their small seed tray and into individual pots.  I think it might be a bit of a juggling act to a) find space to germinate all these seeds and b) find somewhere to grow them on.  I think friends and family may find a pot or two left on their doorstep later in the season.

 

Did someone say spring?

The seasons are changing and the weather slowly but surely improving.  With the clocks jumping an hour on, the evenings are lovely and light and buds, bulbs and colour are all welcomed back into the garden.

Life is very unsettled at the moment because of the Coronavirus and we’re all having to change our daily routines.  I am writing to-do lists like a mad lady to make sure I stay busy and not dwell on the situation too much.  It’s been great to spend some time in my own garden giving it a bit of TLC, and planting those cuttings and new plants that have been sat waiting for me.

I cut away more of our grass to make a larger flower bed, allowing me the space to plant all my new purchases and to also help attract more wildlife into the garden.  Grass might look lovely when it’s lush and green, but with a dog and a lot of moss, our grass has never been prize winning.

So, yesterday I planted a Cornus sanguinea “Midwinter Fire” that I had bought back in January.  What can I say? I was seduced by one in a garden I was working in.  Its fantastically bright stems shining in a grey winter world, so I had to have one for my own garden.   I also planted my  Viburnum x bodnantense “Charles Lamont”, which I am really looking forward seeing grow and blossom.   Charles Lamont was the Assistant Curator at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and created this variety back in 1933, so having studied there I had to buy it.

Planting for spring

It’s that time of the year when we can plant our spring flowering bulbs.  There’s a huge variety out there, so take your pick and go for it.

I usually create 4 or 5 pots with spring bulbs in each year for my patio area and it’s such a welcome treat after the winter months.

You can mix and match the bulbs in each pot, so they open in succession keeping that colour and interest for longer.

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