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Picture Snaps


It’s another one of those “elsewhere in the garden” posts, with pictures and excerpts to explain them. We start off with a mix of cheery self-seeded lobelia in one of the staging pots.

It’s too nice to weed out. The actual plant that’s meant to be growing in this pot is the belladonna lily (the one with the yellowing leaves) but as you can clearly see, the lobelia looks much better there instead.

Elsewhere, the birds have generally been a nuisance this year. Pigeons, as usual, take the top spot, eating the blossom flowers, then eating berries before they’re ripe, usually snapping branches trying to get to the end ones. Blackbirds have been digging in pots. Jays and magpies are literally cherry-picking and there are far fewer red currants than I remember. Other birds have been pinching the coir from the hanging basket liners and using it for nesting material. It’s expensive stuff and while they also pinch it from around the trunk of the trachycarpus palm, the hanging baskets are much more visible and easier to get to.

It means that a coir hanging basket liner will barely last two seasons. I’m going to have to look for alternative linings that the birds can’t pinch and hence can’t expose the embarrassing fact that we use toilet roll bags to help hold in moisture.

Elsewhere around the patio, the annual bedding plants we use to fill in the empty or sparse pots have been arriving in dribs-and-drabs over the course of April, May and now June. Normally we buy all the bedding annuals in one hit, around Easter, from the garden centre. It hasn’t been possible to do that this year. Rather than face a patio full or half-empty pots for the season, I decided to get the bedding online. I must say that the quality has been good, plants have arrived generally unscathed and haven’t spent very long in transit. The only thing is that their delivery has been spread over months. This is understandable given current circumstances and I was warned of this when ordering so it’s nothing that I can admit ignorance to nor complain about. It does mean that the marigolds (thankfully the last set of plants on the list) will finally be arriving this week, but it’s already mid-June, so we’ve missed out on some growth and flower time and given they’re annuals, time is money.

It has got me thinking that perhaps if we tried annuals from seeds we wouldn’t be spending so much on the plant-versions. More and more of the patio pots have annuals in them and it’s getting more expensive each year to keep buying them. The display is fantastic but it adds up. If we can do annuals from seed, that would save a lot of money. The lobelia and mimulus seem to readily self-seed. The dahlias have universally survived the winter in their pots and are almost flowering. If I could get organised with saving seed and perhaps ordering a few packets and growing them, I could end up with far more than I know what to do with, at a fraction of the cost that it takes to have the display we currently do.

Away from the patio and in the garden-proper, the grass needs to be cut. While many lawn enthusiasts probably cut theirs once a week or more over the summer, ours might get done every three or four weeks. I like the daisies, buttercups and clover too much to cut the grass often and – over the years – leaving long periods between mowing gives these lawn “weeds” a chance to flower, set seed and spread with beautiful results.

And they have been spreading, gradually over the years the daisies have spread to other areas of the garden and the buttercups have been the best ever. I will have to cut the grass soon though as there are “genuine” weeds appearing, such as rose-bay willowherb – this one self-seeds so easily it would take over the entire garden. It’s a bit of a struggle to keep it under control and right now – though we don’t have much of it – it takes a lot of vigilance and weeding to keep it from getting out of hand.

The support frame for the delphiniums that I redid this year has proven its worth with the recent windy weather we’ve had – while the delphiniums are in full flower. We seem to get these late Spring winds that come at a really bad time, all the plants are in full leaf and are putting on fantastic growth, but they haven’t had chance or time to harden wood, stems and just generally get robust, so they’re vulnerable to windy weather, such as the kind we get in late May/early June.

The delphinium crescent is vulnerable as it faces the prevailing wind and there are no plants or shelter either side to protect them, just the bamboo and twine supports. It worked well this year but I think there are a few tweaks I would like to make to the supports to make it stronger as the whole thing flexed in the wind more than I wanted it to. The windy weather has gone for now, leaving the display intact with the delphiniums are a little shaken, but not stirred.

There’s lots happening elsewhere in the garden too but I’ll leave it here for now and back back to this year’s project of “the Goat Willow Border”.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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Lynn Hunt 18/06/2020 - 8:58 pm

Love the delphiniums. So lovely. Sadly we have to treat them as annuals here if the do grow at all!

Sunil 18/06/2020 - 9:04 pm

Thanks Lynn, you need to start them off very early in the season if they’re to glower and flower in a year! Ours are still the original set I planted and they’re reasonable clumps now. There is still a bias to having taller plants are one end and the shorter ones at the other.

susan maclean 18/06/2020 - 10:33 pm

Delphiniums are so lovely. i did have a couple of them (white) in a mixed border about three years ago, but they never came back, so it’s goodbye to them! Yours look like Chelsea!!

Sunil 19/06/2020 - 1:06 pm

Thanks, Mrs Mac, that’s quite the compliment! I like how they’re all graded in height order, tallest on the left with shortest on the right. I thought delphiniums were supposed to be pretty reliable – they can get eaten by slugs (tick) and deer (tick) when first emerging after the winter.

Jason Kay 23/06/2020 - 4:59 pm

Those delphiniums are fantastic. For a while we had a lawn chair that was being stripped bare by goldfinches, who would pull off bits of the material used for the back and seat. Not much we could do about it. I’ve found one of the challenges of growing plants from seed for the containers is figuring out the timing – not planting too soon so that they need to transplant outside when it is too cold and not too late so that you are still waiting for blooms in the middle of summer. Last year I made the former mistake, this year the latter.

Sunil 28/06/2020 - 8:03 pm

Thanks, Jason. I’ll make a note about the timing. I was going to start with hardy annuals so that a bad turn in the weather might not be the end of the world. I’ll have to figure out how I can get space in the greenhouse as it’s full of patio staging and the nomadic pots until late April, after the whole patio’s been cleaned for the season. It’s a logistical problem more than anything else.


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