Hmmm. Yes, a little late to the party, I’ve been submerged under a pile of work and other chores, struggling to get any time in the garden, let alone time and energy to blog. In fact, without the efforts of TNG there would be precious little different in the back garden, other than the very welcome signs of Spring.

Photo of the kitchen garden

It was TNG who cut the grass, so that the kitchen garden looks tidy and the raised beds are actually raised above the level of the grass… The first of the sweet peas, broad beans and peas are in, as are the Jerusalem Artichokes that I swore I would never grow again due to the (ahem) flatulence. I am also growing sorrel though, so that should be fine… One thing I am really pleased about is the way that the fence no longer shouts out. Now that it is painted black, the bamboo, fatsia, Drimys lanceolata etc. really stand out.

Photo of the park border

The above shows how many gaps there still are in the Park border at this time of year, plenty of scope to add more spring flowering loveliness, though I am holding off a little to give myself time to plan a moderately coherent planting scheme. I have some day lilies to add to the border when I get some gardening time again, and some more aquilegias to add, and I also want to add some geums and geraniums, but I am undecided which ones. Also on the list are bulbs. Lots of bulbs, including erythroniums, and epimediums. Oh, and ferns. It will all be low growing since the dogwoods, edgeworthia and choisya will eventually dominate the space, but in the mean time I plan to fill the gaps with annuals.

Photo of the middle of the Park border

I love the way the self-seeded Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) are erupting at the back by the trellis – which needs painting, so that I can plant clematis against it. There are buds breaking out all over the place, on the fruit trees, the black elder, and most exciting, on the magnolia.

Photo of a Magnolia stellata flower bud

One bit of gardening I did manage to do was to plant out the wonderful gift Cathy@Rambling in the Garden sent me – a very generous mass of Anenome nemerosa roots, many of them with flower buds already.

Photo of a mass of anenome nemerosa roots

Cathy took pity on me when I whinged about the difficulty I was having in getting wood anenomes established here. She sent me so many I was able to bolster the rather pathetic smattering under the acer and then have plenty over to spread under one of the plum trees and under the dwarf cherry in the front garden. They are such beautiful flowers, and it makes me smile every time I glance out of the kitchen window and see the little dots of white under the plum.

Photo of anenome nermerosa

I did manage to finish edging the raspberry bed, which in turn gives me the edge to work from to define the back border. I have removed most of the log edging ready to square off the new border. I’ll have some useful new planting space in which to add some spring colour.

Photo of a new border emerging

photo of the new enlarged back border

I was determined to have more colour in the back garden this year, and I have managed to set up the first of several new raised beds which will be filled with bulbs and annuals for cutting. I want this first bed to be full of vibrant colour, and have some dahlias potted up in the greenhouse. The others will probably be a little more muted. In time I will move more towards perennials in these beds, but at the moment I keep stealing time to drool over Louise’s (aka WellyWoman) wonderful book on cut flowers, ‘The Cut Flower Patch’. If you’ve not read it, I thoroughly recommend it, beautifully written and illustrated, full of great information and inspiration for anybody interested in having flowers for cutting. This first border is only 60cm (2′) wide, but I am already excited at the thought of vivid oranges, purples and blues singing out.

photo of a new raised bed for part of a cutting garden

The pile of bricks you can see in the background is the result of TNG’s labours out in the front garden, where he has been demolishing the walls and water feature that cut the space in half, cleaning up the bricks as he went. I have become very interested in rain gardens, in the whole idea of managing water run-off from roofs and hard standing so as to lessen flooding. The past winter was so very wet, the beach road was regularly partially flooded due to the drain being unable to cope with the run-off. We currently have large areas of hard standing and I want to gradually re-lay paving on sand rather than mortar, leaving the joints open to allow water to seep away, make any new paths from gravel and bricks, again laid on sand rather than mortar or cement, and hopefully add a green roof or two.

We had planned to get somebody in to lay a new patio for us, and would have built the new raised bed after this had been done, but we didn’t want the disruption this year, and wanted to have more time to decide exactly how big a patio we wanted. Besides, a lot has changed in our thinking about the layout of the garden because of the need to re-site the aluminium greenhouse. Consequently we are taking an evolutionary approach to it all, and are aiming to experiment with patio surfaces rather than assume we will go for slabs. As for the greenhouse, it is going to go alongside the cedar greenhouse, oriented so that the wind flows over the ridge rather than hammering at the door. TNG has been hard at work removing turf, and once I get some free time to move the remaining plants from what was my little holding bed, we will mark out and lay a couple of paths using the reclaimed bricks and then firmly anchor the greenhouse down into its new home by bedding legs into concrete at each corner. Hopefully in time for the tomatoes to be planted out!

photo of the area being cleared for the greenhouse

There will be a narrow utility path at the back of the aluminium greenhouse running to the raised concrete plinth that the cedar greenhouse sits on, and as you can see, the area of grass that was to be filled with naturalised bulbs will become somewhat marooned. So I will enlarge the bed instead, and use the fact that water running off the concrete platform means that the soil is always damp to plant it up with lush moisture-loving plants. Until the greenhouse is in place I won’t really have a good feel for how to plant it, but certainly some of the more delicate flowers in there will need to move to somewhere they will be more visible.

We’re both excited about the way that moving the greenhouse further into the garden like this will bring together all the “utility” buildings and really open up the space as you round the corner from the side path.

A photo of the area immediately as you round the corner from the side path into the back garden

This area will be a real sun trap, and although we will need a clear route through to both the shed and the greenhouses, there is space for two more quite deep borders up on this platform once the slabs are lifted. Even better, by moving the path out from the back of the garage, I gain something very exciting.

photo of the garage wall

A south facing wall to plant against. At the moment we are thinking fan trained cherry, but who knows. Peach? Apricot? A great set of new opportunities, all thanks to the wind wrecking the greenhouse. Without that, I am not sure we would have got round to thinking about siting the greenhouse anywhere else, not when there was already such an obvious spot to put it, one that had been used for a greenhouse before too.

Lots of work to do, so I am grateful to have the little raised bed alongside the patio, at least I can be confident of having one small patch of vivid colour this year. And who knows, the one drumstick primula lurking in the back border might be happy enough to seed itself around and add more jewel-like colour.

photo of a drumstick primula

Now I am off to Patient Gardener’s blog to sneak in a late entry to the End of Month View meme

49 thoughts on “End of Month View March 2014

  1. Hi Janet,

    I’m pleased to see you’ve posted and hope you are well?

    Your garden is looking much too tidy, it looks like TNG has done a good job there ;) I’m looking forward to seeing the garden develop and no doubt you’re very excited to get planning the new borders and spaces. I think it would freak me out a lot and I’d have to work in one space at a time otherwise I find my mind becomes far too muddled – definitely not a garden designer!

    How are your Forget-me-nots doing? I assume they must be starting to bloom by now?

    1. Hi Liz, I am, quite frankly, knackered, but quite cheerful! I do sort of focus on one area after another, and actually find I need periods where areas lie bare while I ponder my options. I don’t do anything until something crystallizes in my mind and it all comes together. I’m definitely not a designer either! My forget-me-nots are just starting to flower, still a bit dotty rather than that wonderful blue haze. I think I may have to collect seed this year and spread it more wilfully, they aren’t always popping up where I want them to!

  2. Interesting how adversity, the wind ruining the greenhouse, has turned into new possibilities. Sounds like likes of good things going on in your garden. BTW: the black fence works really well. I didn’t even notice it because of the foliage and had to go back & have a second look when you mention it!

    1. Hi Julieanne, I was once told that the Chinese character for challenge also means opportunity. It is probably baloney, but I like the philosophy! And yes, that is exactly how the black fence works, you only notice the way it sets the plants off, not the fence itself, I love it. Though I don’t love the idea of painting the trellis to match…

  3. Hi Janet, your vegetable garden looks fantastic! I really like the neat raised beds and the freshly cut grass. Despite being busy you got a lot of work done already, but, boy, do you have plans for the future! If I could do a quarter of that in my garden in a year I would feel very happy :-). I love white, so, of course, I love your white magnolia and the white dainty anemone, so pretty! How generous and nice of Cathy to sent the latter to you. I am longing for a little bit more color in my garden this spring, too, and bought some annuals and perennials in the last couple of days. Now I just need to find the time to plant them ;-)! Happy spring to you and your garden!

    1. Thank you Christina! The raised beds make growing veg so much easier, and I like that it is all part of the main garden. I’m afraid I always have huge plans, we only moved here 18 months ago, but hey, I’ll never be bored! Enjoy your new plants, I am waiting for my ideas to coalesce but I am champing at the bit…

  4. The fences, I wouldn’t have noticed it until you mentioned it which shows how effective the black paint is in blending it away. Real life gets in the way sometimes but the garden is looking so tidy despite the busy period. And good idea of keeping the utility bits into just one area.

    1. Hi guys, in some ways I think the black fence works even better in the back garden than it does in the front, because it really does just fade away. The tidiness is mostly down to my better half, I am thrilled he is having a good patch at the moment, or the grass, in particular, would have been driving me mad by now. Can’t wait to get the greenhouse into its new home so that I can really get a sense of the changed spaces.

  5. You are making real progress – the kitchen garden is looking very smart and will look even better when it is full of edibles. Nice to see how everything is coming along and getting sorted – I reckon this time next year it will be looking fabulous.

    1. Hi Elaine, yes, I can’t wait to see the broad beans and peas filling the beds, and the potato foliage billowing out. I shall be happy if next year is a clear improvement on this year, as I am already amazed at how much it has changed since we moved here. I forget, a lot of the time, in my impatience with my lack of time and energy, but I do also – mostly – enjoy the process too. Just as well!

  6. Janet even though you say you have not had much time in the garden you seem to have done an amazing amount, you have also spent a lot of valuable time planning which will save you time in the future, I like the way you are recycling the bricks as you have other materials you have in the garden, it must be so nice to see your plans taking shape as well, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, I think it helps that I didn’t post in February!! You are right about the planning though, in the end when things all slotted in to place it felt easy, though there is still the small matter of execution. We’ll tackle it slowly, bit by bit, enjoying the process, and I love that we have recovered enough bricks to be really useful, they will add character as well as practicality. Those pink slabs definitely have to go though…

  7. What a huge amount of work you’ve already done – I am impressed!

    (Missed the EOMV myself – must get my act together – but now I’m all embarrassed about the state of my blasted heath. Dead holly leaves everywhere…)

    1. Hi Kate, it was mostly TNG to be honest, though the raised bed is all me. It is the flowering weeds everywhere that are threatening to drive me into a real tizzy, I just know they will be setting seed any time now… Holly leaves – not fun to pick up. Lets hope April is better for both of us!!

  8. WE like to take the evolutionary approach too.

    I do believe the practice of building houses with tiny gardens that are then conctrered over has a lots to do with flood problems.

    1. Hi Sue, I absolutely agree about the tiny gardens thing, and if you add in ever larger driveways and the concreting over of front gardens to create them, and you have massive problems with run-off. Vive la evolution, or something like that…

  9. My, your back garden is looking so organised, it has certainly changed from last year when you were first making your raised beds. Your plans all sound very positive, I like the sound of your cherry, peach or apricot up the south facing wall. It’s good that you are thinking of relaying your slabs on a bed of sand, so much better to have the water sinking through.

    1. Hi Pauline, thank you, I sometimes lose sight of how much better it all is now when I feel submerged in all that “must be done”, but on a good day I just love the process of evolving the garden into something that works for us, and hopefully, the environment too.

  10. Good to hear from you Janet. I know the feeling when life gets in the way of gardening! Fortunately I have more time this year. Hope you manage to get the greenhouse resited in time for planting out. Exciting to have a new space to fill too! :D

    1. Hi Cathy, sometimes Spring can feel like a runaway train, can’t it! Good to hear you have more time thise year, ironically my time has freed up just as the weather has worsened! Shall have to spend the time pondering what to fill all those new spaces with…

  11. There is nothing wrong with an evolutionary approach. You have a much better chance of getting it right when you consider ideas properly and live with them for a while to see how it is all going to work. I can totally identify with feeling overwhelmed… the bank is getting covered with flowering weeds again and there is more I need to do elsewhere before I can even start it. There is only so much we can do,

    1. Hi Jessica, my sympathise with the flowering seeds, sat where I am right now I can see plenty poking up in between the desirable flowers, important to enjoy the Spring and not get too stressed by the never ending to do list I think! I really don’t envy you having that slope to weed, I think I would be tempted to rig up rope and harness!!

  12. If I could insert a blushing emoticon I would do so, Janet – I was just pleased to be able to share some wood anemones but even more pleased they have given you flowers this year. You seem determined to play down your part in the tidying and plans and improvements that have been going on but if you are ‘knackered’ then it is clearly not only TNG who has played a major role in them. It is SO exciting to be moving on with plans and schemes, opening up new ideas as you do so – I really look forward to watching your progress. And those beds and the grass in your first photo look astonishingly neat and tidy, whoever was responsible!

    1. Hi Cathy, the anenome flowers are a wonderful bonus, so no apologies for making youy blush!! Hopefully you and the golfer will be able to see the changes in person some time this year, I’m looking forward to trying my hand at building brick paths. I fear the kitchen garden may never look as neat again, at least this year, as TNG has a new boat to play with, much more fun than strimming. What to bribe him with….

  13. You are making a lot of progress Janet, black is definitely the best choice for fences, it is a shame that developers don’t realise and end up painting them ORANGE! It seems like everyone is starting a cuttings garden this year, it is very exiting to see what everyone will grow and share ideas and resolve problems.

    1. Hi Christina, that particular shade of orange is truly horrific, isn’t it, all it does it make the fence stand out like a sore thumb. I will enjoy watching all these new cutting garden adventures unfold, I was lying in bed plotting how to provide support this morning.

  14. It’s nice that you have a partner in your gardening pursuits–it’s apparent that you both have been lovingly tending your beautiful property. Your “end of month” looks impressive. And you have Magnolias blooming!

    1. I have been tremendously fortunate that TNG has had the time and energy – and willingness – to help in the garden, and I do love that it makes it all a more shared venture. Though I am not sure how I would respond were he to start having his own ideas about the planting…

  15. Goodness, there’s lots going on which will show as being well worthwhile later on. Two greenhouses does give me just a touch of envy.
    I like the colour of that primula, it’s a right sparkler. Flighty xx

    1. Hello Flighty, sorry, yes, two greenhouses is rather indulgent, I am very lucky to have so much space to play with. I love the vivid colour of the primula, I really hope it self seeds itself around.

  16. Here’s me thinking I had lots to do. Your plans all sound wonderful and it’s good to see how things are coming along. I think I started reading your blog when you had just started painting the fence. It really has done what you hoped it would.
    Will be looking forward to seeing how things progress next month Janet.

    1. Hi Angie, thank you, I am enjoying it all starting to make sense, in my head at least!

    1. Thanks Patricia, it is good to feel that things are moving forward, and always a delight to create new planting opportunities.

  17. So good to see all the green coming to life in your garden, Janet! We are still waiting for spring here, though I think–and hope–winter may finally be behind us. I understand your wish for a cutting garden. Even though I keep trying to make my garden more low-maintenance, I can’t resist planting bright colored annuals every year.

    1. Hi Rose, hopefully in the time it has taken me to respond to your comment Spring has arrived for you too, the fresh spring growth has a particular magic to it, and after a long harsh winter doubly so. As for the annuals, and the cutting, time will tell. I have previous for being really bad at cutting flowers, even when I know it will encourage them to flower better, so this is a challenge to myself. I do foresee me switching more to perennials in years to come though, annuals can be a hassle to raise if you get busy at a crucial stage.

  18. Yep, with you on the Jerusalem artichokes. But I almost want to grow them just because they are such impressive plants with their sunflower-like flowers towering way over-head. (The last time I grew them I gave all the tubers to a neighbour’s pigs – and beat a hasty retreat)! It does always seem a race though between the flowers and frost as they flower so late. Dave

    1. Hi Dave, the flowers are rather wonderful, aren’t they! I still can’t quite believe I allowed myself to plant them though. I doubt frost will be an issue here, but if I eat them too much, and without the addition of the crucial herbs… Well, the sea air might not be quite as fresh in my immediate vicinity…

  19. There is so much going on in your garden, Janet and your veg beds look so neat and organised. It is interesting that your new plans for the greenhouse have led to all sorts of other changes. I love wood anemones; they are in full bloom in the woods here. That is good news they’re now spreading well in your garden.

    1. Hi Wendy, not only do I have a knack for starting new projects, they also always seem to get interdependent, I despair of finishing anything! But I do really enjoy the messing about and in my head it all hangs together and makes sense! I remember carpets of anenomes in the ancient oak woodlands near where we used to live. I will settle for small white clouds, thanks to Cathy’s generosity.

  20. It’s a mad time of year and as well as trying to enjoy it all there’s so much to do but I love it and have decided to reduce the blogging a little, no harm. Your potager looks very pretty and your borders are coming on nicely. How wonderful to receive anemones in the post. Cathy is so kind!

    1. Hi Annette, the reduction of blogging happens automatically with me I am afraid, something has to give at this time of year! Enjoy your garden and the excitement of Spring.

  21. Well done TNG, everything looks most shipshape. And the dark fence makes a perfect backdrop. What a lovely gift from Cathy; I planted our first Anemone nemorosa corms in the autumn here. I’ve spotted a few leaves emerging, but suspect they won’t be flowering for a few years. I hope they do! They are all out along the verges of our lanes, making such pretty white carpets…
    Your garden plans are shaping up nicely too, it’s all going to be very smart, and I’m sure you’ll keep both greenhouses hard at work!

    1. Hi Sara, needless to say it is now all shaggy again, must see if I can get him to repeat the act, it all looks so much better with tidy grass, with or without dandelions! Good luck with your anenomes, maybe if you do have trouble I will be in a position to share my bounty with you. Speaking of which, the potentilla plantlets you sent me last year are thriving, and soon to be hardened off and planted out!

      Your “smart” comment made me smile ruefully, since the detritus from the many as yet unfinished projects littering the garden rather spoils any pretensions to smart, or even tidy!!

  22. TNG is an absolute star Janet although I’m sure your magic is behind some of the work that’s been going on behind the scenes. What a lovely gift from Cathy. Hope that you get more time to play soon.

    1. Hi Anna, the lovely thing is that the new layout for the back garden is very much a shared plan, making it extra special. I’ve even had him transplanting shrubs for me! Hoping to get some time to plan out the paths for the greenhouse soon.

  23. Janet I love seeing your kitchen garden growing….and how nice of Cathy to send all the anemone. But the greenhouse relocation is quite a project but I am sure will be worth it once it is done. The site sounds perfect.

    1. I love the anenomes, it was a wonderful gift! I am so enjoying having a kitchen garden, so much easier to look after than the allotment was, though I sometimes struggle for space and get greedy for more!

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