All happening in the gardens

There were very warm sunny days in April, it was then suddenly cool again but very dry, and now in May, lots of rain (at last) but an evil wind. Seeds germinated happily, but seedlings then sulked a bit due to the cold and now we’re ready to plant after the rain, the wind is torturing small plants. Looking back over this blog, it’s clear that every year has brought its challenges. This year at least, we are blessed with an evidently reduced snail population and no sign so far of aphid infestation.

Typically in April and May, I’m trying to catch up with myself. We’ve done lots of work in the gardens over the last month or so and I’ve not had time to update the blog.

In the shady garden, lush greenery is coming back and I think our star plants this spring are the orange-red heuchera I planted last summer. Heuchera all over the place are very happy, bringing purple, rich red and bronze into the otherwise dominant green of the shady garden. I propagated a lot after my potted collection was decimated by vine weevil last autumn so there are more to plant.

Our main campaign has focused on getting rid of the sycamore seedlings. Was it because of a windy year last year, or have conditions been such that the little helicopter seeds germinated strongly this year? There are colonies and colonies of them. Sue went for them yesterday with her characteristic vigour.

In the edible plot, Maggie and Tobias have planted up a new strawberry bed, we’ve got dwarf peas in pots growing under two apple trees, Madeleine is still willing the beetroot seed to germinate in the far ‘orchard’ bed, while the oriental leaves are providing wonderful additions to salads and the leeklets are holding their own.

The far central bed is planted up with chard and the shadier left-hand bed under the wall now has our mint bed (with Mark in mind), our strange variegated sorrel (how do we use this? it tastes awful but looks pretty), a rosemary plant desperate for transplanting, chives, parsley, leeks and standard sorrel.

The star experiment this year is our central sunny bed where we are trying out the ‘three sisters’ method: beans, squash/courgette and sweet corn. The sweet corn and courgettes went in yesterday after we’d spent the previous week mixing in lots of compost. I wondered about delaying planting but was reassured that corn at least is a prairie plant and should be able to withstand blustery conditions. Beans thus far have not been enthusiastic and have only just germinated: we’ve learned to be cautious about planting out too early.

And with Marlene yesterday, we sowed marigold seed and planted up the right hand tree pit in front of the station with some pansies. Tobias also potted up the two long-suffering rosemary plants, grown from cuttings back in 2013, which have been root-bound in a window box for over a year! Liberation for these generally well-tempered plants. I promised to make rosemary biscuits for next week’s session.


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