Top of my list of things to do was some catching up in the garden. It's rained heavily for most of this week so I've not been out as much as I'd have liked to have been, and my tomatoes are long overdue for planting in the greenhouse. Being out in the garden is good for my soul. The fresh air weaves some kind of magic that can't fail to make me feel better, and I love the connection to the earth when I'm gardening and watching my plants grow. I also chat to my Dad, who no doubt would have been asking why on earth it has taken so long to clear out my greenhouse which was still full of the stuff from his shed when I told you about it in March. We'll quickly gloss quickly over that, but suffice to say that the greenhouse is now tidy, the dustbin is more full than it was and I can get in through the greenhouse door without having to have members of the family on standby in case I can't get out again.
Come on, do you want to have a look around?
I was determined that I was going to be more successful in growing sprouts this year, and this is how my plants are doing. I'm really pleased with these as (apart from one tiny plant which I planted far too late last year) I've never grown sprouts before. Also, the cat hasn't managed to dig them up yet because of the netting (although something has been eating my peas and I'm not very happy about that) and they're looking nice and healthy. With any luck we'll be having home grown sprouts with our Christmas dinner - I can't wait!
I'm very pleased with my potatoes, too. I've only started growing potatoes in my veg boxes over the last couple of years as before that I grew them in bags and pots, but I'm getting a much better crop now I've moved them. This variety is "Charlotte", which is a lovely variety for eating with salads or for roasting whole. They won't be ready for a few weeks yet but that's definitely something to look forward to.
Small daughter is keeping a close eye on the progress of the strawberries. This variety is called "Christine" which amuses me no end; when I was little there wasn't the abundance of things that you could buy with your name on and the few pens, rulers, mugs and notebooks that there were never had Christine as an option - unless you were in Scotland as the name was more common there. So although now I can have pretty much any thing with my name on it and now that I'm older I don't need much of it, I do like the idea that there's a plant that shares my name :)
The blackcurrants are doing nicely too ... it'll be a competition with the blackbirds to see who can get to them first once they start ripening!
Big daughter bought this for me for Mother's Day back in March and I finally got round to planting the seeds it contains today.
The instructions tickled me ... for the gardener who enjoys a tipple ... I don't think I'd be safe in charge of a pair of secateurs if I started drinking cocktails before I headed outside, but there's always the hope of balmy summer evenings - and now that big daughter's got herself a job in a bar then I'll have someone to mix my cocktails for me (the instructions say to "muddle" the ingredients together which is pretty much the limit of my cocktail-making). I'll just provide the flowers. There's mint, lime basil, agastache, borage (uh-oh, that can go pretty wild in the garden so I'll need to watch that one), cucamelon and lemon balm and a whole raft of recipes to try out - what's not to like?!
And finally in the veg garden, the tomatoes are in the ground. Hooray! They're only about a month late and they look so small because I've buried them deep in the soil to make sure they develop a strong root system. I've got three varieties this year - a mini plum that I bought as plug plants from Aldi, a cherry tomato called "Sweet Aperatif" that I grew last year and was very impressed with, and "Alicante" which is a good-sized tomato for cutting up for sandwiches. I've also got two cucumber plants which produce small, lunch-box-sized cucumbers which are easy to eat whole. It feels good to have them in the ground now, and I know they'll probably catch up to where they should be quite quickly now that the weather's warmed up.
I've had the radio on today whilst I've been in the greenhouse, but outside in the garden I've been treated to a variety of bird songs. We're very lucky that we have an abundance of garden birds here - blackbirds, thrushes, wrens, robins, blue tits and other not-so-common birds like tree creepers, woodpeckers and nuthatches. We also have the ubiquitous wood pigeons which could have been responsible for the Pea Incident (I've already ruled out snails so it's down to the pigeons and the rabbits which are also in abundance around here because I've never seen the cat eat peas). Every year, we also get house martins which nest here in the summer and then fly south for the winter. They came back a couple of weeks ago which always makes it feel as if summer is on it's way.
I only spotted one up on the wires today but later in the season there'll be anything up to twenty of them sitting there and chatting away to each other. House martins chat incessantly, I'm sure they must be the birds that the idea of Twitter was based on! You can hear what they sound like here - it's such a lovely, happy sound and I love it when the house martins are back, swooping over the trees and hedges and never once stopping their conversations as they do.
Would you like a quick look at the flower garden too? Ours is definitely a spring garden (and a rather wild and tangled garden too in places, I noticed!). It makes me so happy to see the flowers returning after the winter when my husband always grumbles that the garden looks like a wasteland. Here's one of the wild and tangled places ...
Oh, how I love the oriental poppies (Papaver orientale)! They're one of my favourite flowers in the garden. This is a variety called "Coral Reef" which I grew from seed a good few years ago; I had about five or six different varieties of oriental poppy but so far this year, this is the only one to be flowering. It's entirely possible that the others are somewhere in that wild and tangled wilderness, although I'm a bit sad that my "Mrs Perry" variety looked particularly sick when I found it this year so I'll need to see if I can rescue it. Yes, another plant with my name on it. I'm easily amused.
I'm showing you a photo of this Hosta for the record - usually by this time of year it's looking like a paper doily as the snails have been at it but this year the leaves are still intact. So far. Shh, don't tell the snails!
More poppies; these are Welsh poppies and they range from yellow to shades of orange. Another wild and tangled part of the garden. (If I tell you it's intentional, you won't think that it's just because I haven't weeded.)
When we first moved to this house, I emptied a packet of Aquilegia vulgaris seeds over the borders, not expecting many of them to grow because of the aforementioned snail problem. It seemed like a good idea at the time as I do like Aquilegia very much, but then they started to appear everywhere and suddenly it didn't seem like quite such a good idea as other plants also need to grow. Anyway, several years on they have thinned themselves out and I've now got a few different varieties which reappear every year in various shades of pink, blue and purple and they're all much more under control. This is one of my favourites. Whatever your views on creation, whoever (or whatever) designed the plants must have had a whale of a time!
Do you remember the flower bud that looked like a Crispinette? This is what it looks like when the flower comes out. It's Centaurea montana and is such a lovely shade of purpley-blue. There are lots of shades of purple in my garden!
And here's another one! Complete with a bumble bee. I do love their furry bottoms!
The last picture of flower, I promise - I wanted to show you these Alliums which fascinate me with their flower heads made up of tiny flowers (surprise, they're purple!); they normally have a bumble bee attached to them too as the bees love them, but I obviously picked a moment when the bees had other things to be doing.
Right, time to get on with that Sunday evening stuff - baths, hair-washes, packing school bags and checking calendars for the week ahead. I might even get a few rounds of knitting in if I'm lucky too! I hope you have a lovely week!