Garden Cadet's Blog

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Long overdue update

Well I thought it was high time i started blogging again. It seems despite the best of intentions I just dont seem to have found any time to keep the blog more up to date.

Now with a new season ahead i shall endeavor to keep you posted on developments in my garden, and perhaps provide a summary of the past few months since i last posted to the blog.

They do say that in gardens and for gardeners New Years Day is not January 1st but October 1st. Its the true start of autumn, summer (and its drought) is over and its time to start sorting the garden out, to ensure it looks its best over the coming seasons. This is the ideal time to plant anew and make changes to existing plantings, while the soil is warm and moist. I for one will be busy over the next few weeks doing just that, sorting out all the planting problems that have manifested themselves over the summer, and refreshing areas that have become rather tired. It will also enable me to plant out some of the new plants i grew from seed last spring, and have been caring for over the summer.

When possible i shall try to post a weekly update, adding photos where appropriate.

Thats all for now. Be back soon.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Garden Update

Well its been a long time since I last updated this blog, however as i shall explain below i have been very busy of late. Apologies to those of you who were expecting more regular contributions.

A little late perhaps but its finaly that time of year when all of us gardeners are busy in our gardens, tidying up cutting back, planting and generaly putting the winter season behind us and preparing for the seasons ahead. I have been no exception and the prolonged cold weather in March has meant that these tasks have become more condensed and seemingly more hectic than normal.

There have been times recently when I thought that the garden would never start to look tidy and nice in time for summer. There seemed to be things needing doing everywhere I looked and it was a job to know where to start. Worst of all I think was the great pile of prunings that had accumulated in recent weeks as a result of late winter and early spring pruning.

Starting with the Buddleias and late flowering Spirea japonicas, and on through dogwoods (Cornus alba) and hardy fuschias (Fuschia magelanica cultivars) later on a considerable pile had developed. Added to this was a pile of pine prunings, the result of a crown lifting exercise on a couple of our big pine trees back in January. I'd managed to burn some of it at the time it was cut but there was still some left that wouldnt burn. There was also the results of a one off pruning of 4 large Hebe 'Great Orme' that had become too large. All this had resulted in 3 large piles filling the area of the garden reserved for such waste.

So last weekend I resolved to deal with some if not all of it. The pine was taken to the local tip as it could not be recycled within the garden. The hebe prunings were rather sappy and 'green' still whils being a little too woody to go straight on the compost heap. To deal with this I 'mowed' them to break it all up and make it compostable. This is a technique I use frequently with hedge clippings in the summer and involves laying out the material on the grass and running the mower over it until it is well chopped up and is drawn up into the grass collection box. The by product is then stored and added to the compost heap over a period of time.

This left me with the very woody shrub prunings. These were dealt with by a proper shredder machine, which after some maintainace on the blades soon made light work of a vast majority of the material. I say the majority because some of the prunings could not go through the shredder, being either too small or too 'twiggy' to fit and was primarily prunings from my goosebery bushes. These I now plan to burn once get favourable conditions for doing so (I live in a suburban environment, so I must be carefull not to upset the neighbours with inconsiderate bonfires).

So from several large piles I was left with little more than a large bag of shredded material suitable for composting or turning into a mulch for other plants. In addition I now have a tidy and spacious area where once there was chaos! Now thats what I call a good days work!

Of course there is still plenty to be doing but I can at least start to move forward now.

Well thats all for now (thank goodness! i hear you cry ;-) ). I will try not to leave it so long next time and maybe tell you about some of the other things i have been doing in my garden.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Different Garden - Pictures

Here are some pictures showing the garden in March over 3 years (2004 -2006), showing the effects different winter weather can have on a garden. Click on the photos to see a larger image
The Main Border
2004 (top left) 2005 (top right) 2006 (above)
The Front Garden
2005 (left) 2006 (right)
Please also see the article I have written on this subject.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Different Garden - March

A Month in the Garden
The Effects of a Cold Winter

Well what a difference a year (or 2) makes!This winter has by far been the coldest for many years, particularly in terms of sustained cold, rather than short sharp cold spells. These have lasted between 10 days and 2 and a half weeks, interspersed by quite short mild spells. This is in contrast to previous winters when the mild spells lasted longer and the cold spells quite brief (if quite intense). This has had quite an effect on the garden as you can imagine.

Late winter flowering plants such as snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) in particular have lasted longer this year. The cold has apparently preserved the flowers for longer and with fewer insects about to pollinate the flowers, they have not run to seed so quickly. Winter flowering heathers (Erica carnea and Erica x darleyensis) have also had a good flowering season for similar reasons, and the lack of other flowering plants has allowed them a more prominent flowering role.

More noticable has been the effect on the early spring flowering plants. In my garden these include; Daffodils (Narcissus), Forsythia, Helleborus x hybridus and in a very mild year Clematis armandii and Camelia japonica. At this point in March for the past two years, all of these have been in flower to a greater or lesser degree. The hellebores in particular had been out for at least a month, and the same could be said of the Forsythia and Daffodils.

This year of the plants described above, only the hellebores are currently in flower, having come out only in the past few days as I write this. The rest remain tightly in bud, if in bud at all. A similar story story could be told of the majority of the deciduous leaved shrubs in the garden. There is litle sign of life at this point. The only rare exceptions are a handfull of miniature daffodils in pots that have started to flower, and on the shrub front, a shrubby potentila (Potentilla fruticosa) in a sheltered part of the garden. A sign perhaps that, despite the continuing cold, spring is not THAT far away!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Favorite Links

My favorite links. More to follow

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Garden Diary Update

Wednesday 1st March 2006

Weather: Cold and cloudy with sunney spells. Snow showers late afternoon.

Daytime Temperatures: Maximum +7.4. Minimum -0.9c

In Flower: See entry for 27/02/06

Observations: A day of all weathers. We had Sun, rain, wind, snow and even hail! Still there appears to be an end in sight, as the forecast is to get milder next week.

Thursday 2nd March

Weather: Sunny and clear, but cold.

Daytime temperatures: Maximum +7.9c . Minimum +3.2c

In Flower: See Entry 27/02/06

Observations: Still cold, but sunshine today made it feel a lot better to be outside.

Friday 3rd March 2006

Weather: Sunny and dry, but still cold.

Daytime Temperatures: Maximum: 8.4c . Minimum: 3.5c .

In Flower: See entry 27/02/06

Observations: Still cold but not unpleasant to be out in. Hopefully not many more days until it gets a bit warmer!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Garden Diary 28th February 2006

Weather: Sunny but cold AM with a northerly wind. PM Cloudier with snow showers from 1600hrs. Maximum Daytine temperature: 8.8c; Minimum Daytime temperature: -0.8c;

In Flower: See posting for 27th February.

Observations: So much for it being 1st of March tomorrow. We are still firmly in the grips of winter, with no end in sight as yet. Managed to get into the garden this afternoon and had the bizarre experience of gardening in the snow! So many jobs to do yet so far the weather has allowed precious few to be done. Will let you know later in the week what i have managed to do in the garden this week.

Garden Tour Part 3

The Terrace

Once a sloping lawn, this area was landscaped in the winter of 2002/3 to create a level seating area and a place for displaying pots and containers. The surrounding beds are planted in a 'mediteranean' style suited to the hot sunny conditions this area receives in summer. The first picture shows the area in July 2005

The second picture shows the same area in late autumn (November 2005)