We have had a few really lovely – if very cold – days in the past couple of weeks, but mostly it has just been grey and wet. My garden is saturated. I squelch when I walk round to assess the progress of the Spring plants. So, not much outdoor gardening for me at all. Just as well that I have a greenhouse to play in!
Unfortunately the cedar greenhouse we inherited when we moved here is rotting away at a distressing rate. I have no idea how old it is, and I have read of this make of cedar greenhouse lasting for fifty years, but I think this one is seeing its last few years. The main problem is the roof. The horizontals that support the clips that hold the glass in place have completely rotted away, and they had obviously done so some time ago because when we moved in (over three years ago now!) the rear roof panels were mostly kept in place by gingerly positioned screws. Which were failing because they were in rotten wood… A joiner friend has had a look and told us that he thinks it is too far gone to try and rescue, so I am on a mission to keep it going as long as possible with kludgy “fixes”.
This shows you how bad it is – spongy wood barely holding the roof panes in place. As it is, they were slipping down because there were no clips – or working screws – to stop them. So the rain was just pouring in the gaps left at the ridge end. Far from ideal.
Since this is the greenhouse I use for propagation, and since I really, really needed to get my propagator set up again, I screwed some tanalised timber offcuts from when I made my veg bed climbing frames along the long edge at the back, and then used (very carefully placed!) screws to hold the glass up in place.
Elegant it is not, but it has allowed me to get my lovely Vitopod propagator set up. There is something special about turning on the thermostat for the first time each Spring. It will soon have tomato seedlings in it, but for now it just has some cerinthe, cleome, shallots and various leafy things in it. My plan is to turf everything bar the tomatoes out as soon as they germinate and grow them hard. I am itching to sow more, but will leave it a week or two as the extra light will make a huge difference to the health of the seedlings.
Out on the benches, I have sown broad beans and peas, and beetroot. I love seeing the first trays all laid out, all full of hope, good peat free compost and the dream of tasty food to come. Oh, and hopefully I remembered to put some seeds in there as well…
I’ve been working hard to finish of my current website project, so in some ways it was a relief to not have had good gardening weather, but when a large box turned up on my doorstep I had to down tools and open it. After all, I couldn’t let new plants suffer in the dark…
This particular order was from Peter Nyssen. I buy all my Spring bulbs from them now, and since last year, my dahlias too. This year, for the first time, I decided to try out their perennials too. They are good value, sold either bare rooted or in 9cm pots, so that they will romp away (hopefully!) once the weather warms up the ground dries enough for me to plant them.
I remember being totally freaked the first time I bought bare rooted perennials. I hadn’t realised when I ordered them, and the sight of all those exposed roots put me in a panic. Peter Nyssen packs them in plastic bags with plenty of compost, and they are large and healthy looking specimens. In fact the only real downside of buying plants this way is that you need large pots and therefore loads of compost to pot them up in. The heleniums (‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’) above already have good healthy leaves. I also bought some Eryngiums (‘Blue Star’), which have really long tap roots, and therefore needed to be potted up in long toms. These don’t have leaves yet, but are sprouting…
I found it impossible to resist the lure of new dahlias. I told myself that I might not be lucky enough to have the dahlias left in the ground come back given how relentlessly wet it has been, and anyway, I have decided I want pots of colour this year. So, I bought ‘Ariko Zsaza’, not just for the name, honestly, but because it is a lovely bright orange pom-pom of a plant that should go wonderfully well with shocking pink and lime green in a vase. Yum. I also treated myself to ‘Rip City’, a sumptuous dark dahlia that I grew in my old garden. Add ‘Jescott Julie’ for its burnt orange and plummy yumminess, and another new dahlia (for me, anyway), a single, for the bees, called ‘Happily Single Juliet’. She is lilac pink. Supplied as lovely plump and healthy tubers, a really good size, they have been potted up and added to the benches. Which are now looking rather full.
The rest of the plants were already in pots – Anchusa Azurea ‘Loddon Royalist’ and Salvia caradonna because I want to inject some strong blue into my front garden, Anemone Honorine ‘Jobert’ for elegance late on in the year, Achillea ‘Terracotta’ because I loved it in the central bed in the front garden and am determined to get it to thrive, and Geranium sanguineum ‘Album’ because, well, you can never have too many hardy geraniums and I want some splashes of white in my back border.
They join my over-wintered perennial wallflowers, which have gone very leggy, and some hellebores that really need to go in the ground, but not when it is this wet. If anyone has any good advice about how to rescue my wallflowers I would be most grateful. I potted them on and they just flopped over and are now consequently growing all higgledy-piggledy. I am thinking, chop the tips off for cuttings and hope they bush out, but am also wondering about planting them deeply. Thoughts?
So, despite the soggy weather and workload, I am feeling quite excited about Spring and the changes I plan on making in my garden. I love that my greenhouse is filling up, though I know I will soon be panicking about lack of room. Such is life as a gardener.
Oh, and my Edgeworthia is flowering. Hurrah!