The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Friday, 22 June 2012

Garden of Edible and Useful Plants

I had some time to kill before I went to the Chelsea Flower show and I'd read that there was a new garden within the Chelsea Physic Garden so I went to have a look. The new garden, the Garden of Edible and Useful Plants, covers half an acre, and was newly opened the day of my visit.

If you've never been to the Chelsea Physic garden before then I definitely recommend a visit when you are next in London, it is an oasis within the city. Take the tube to Sloane Square and follow the signs for the garden. I visited last year, and wrote a post, which you can read for more information on the history of the garden.
The new garden is designed in a potager type style.

There is a lovely stone raised bed area at one end of the garden into which is planted multiple herbs which probably like the good drainage that this design would provide. You can sit on the bottom step and enjoy the scents from this area. This is called the perfumery amphitheatre!

There are plants used in perfume, in hygiene and cosmetics, treatments, fibres, dyes, clearing the land, even plants used in our religions and faiths. All plants used in our day to day lives, its fascinating to see them all together and read about this wide range of plants.
The edible garden has plants used to extract oil, ones grown for different vitamins, plants which flavour or spice up our foods, plants grown to make beverages and alcohol. There are some unusual and heritage varieties and some grown in a forest garden style.
Though it looks a bit sparse at the moment being newly planted it promises to develop into a lovely garden section and prove how much we rely on plants in our everyday lives often without even thinking about it.
Now I realise how big my lemon verbena could get, though I guess this garden is a lot more sheltered than mine.
 Other attractions in the garden at this time of year are the Echiums.

The poppies.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

This weather is good for some, the slugs....

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself when I went to the allotment after lunch today. I'm full of a cold, I managed to get through the whole winter and spring without catching a single cold and then in the middle of June I'm croaky and snuffling away! I got to my plot after a few days of not being able to get there, we have had some heavy rain and strong winds the last few days, though I think we have got off lightly compared to the south and parts of Wales. But I arrived to a scene of slug destruction! Every single one of the courgette and cucumber plants that I planted last week have been eaten. I have two squash plants which have survived.

This is what is left of my celeriac, which was not touched by slugs at all last year.
More devastation of the Brassica bed. Last year I struggled with these and planted them a couple of times, the culprits last year were the pigeons, but they are well netted this year but unfortunately you can't keep slugs away with net.
I always grow on more plants than I need though and I had some more at home to replace some of these plants with. These are Calabrese 'Belstar' and Romanesco. My kale plant have also partially eaten.
Swede, which I have grown for the first time this year, looked a sorry state too.
OK I'll stop now, I'm sure you get the point. 
I was really fed up with my first walk round the plot. Its so demoralising, I may have to go and get some plants from the garden centre to replace if these ones don't get going. I need to sow some more cucumbers and courgettes. Other things are so behind too.
Apparently I'm not alone and there has been a bit of a slug and snail explosion, not surprising with the milder winter and cool wet spring. Click here to read an interesting article about it in the Telegraph. Here is another link to a novel DIY slug killer. It is a way to make your own nematode brew. I may have to give this a go, someone on my allotment site sent me this link, he is trying it out so I await news on whether it was successful. I did put some organic slug pellets down but with all the rain that we have had the first lot will have just dissolved. I think I might try the beer traps again. Its a perennial problem for the gardener I guess but one that we haven't got any good answer to, especially for the organic gardener. In the past I've found copper tape useful but that is more for single plants really. I've just been up there at dusk and my calabrese plants were covered in slugs again, not the newly planted ones but the others, so they were humanely removed and I've put a few more slug pellets down, but I don't really like doing that. On the positive side it was lovely being up there at dusk, there is a red sky tonight so hopefully that means a reasonable couple of days.
Some things are growing well, my potatoes are looking good.

My first sowing of sweetcorn is coming on, but it will need some sun.
The onion sets that I planted in autumn are ready for picking now, I'm very happy with them, the spring planted 'Red Baron' sets and the shallots 'Golden Gourmet' are all doing well.

The peas and broad beans are doing ok. My strawberries are just starting to ripen and they look like a good crop. Lots of herbs and flowers in the garden and they are all doing well. Overall the plot looks nice but I need to have some hope that this second planting of these crops is successful. 
I've harvested some of the globe artichokes today and had my first taste of these vegetables. Fiddly but delicious!
Anyway overall I'm still happy with my plot. I'm coming to learn that I've just got to accept that growing vegetables is so weather-dependent, some things will do well and others not.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Gardening on the edge

We've just spent a few days on the North Yorkshire coast, staying in a lovely village called Runswick Bay, which is just north of Whitby. Its a higgledy piggledy group of houses, with a pub and a cafe on the edge of a lovely beach. When we got there the tide was in so we walked round the village admiring the gardens.

Its obviously reasonably mild as they grow some less hardy plants like this fig.
A gorgeous Verbascum.
Mind-your-own-business has taken over in the crevices of this garden.
Some lovely cottage gardens.

Then we discovered this vegetable plot, talk about gardening on the edge.

The spuds are looking healthy.
I can see carrots, onions and beetroot, all thriving.
Fantastic, I saw the owner pop out of little cottage, pick some salad for his lunch. I'm just not sure I'd like to stand on the edge to weed!

From colourful gardens to ancient gardens made of stone.
While in Whitby we visited the gothic abbey.
Next to the abbey ruins is the mansion house of the Chomley's a prominent family in Whitby, the mansion was built using stones from the abbey after its destruction in the time of Henry VIII. In front of the mansion is the recently restored 17th century 'hard garden'.

Sir Hugh Cholmley II built the house and courtyard in 1672 and installed a Bronze copy of the Borghese Gladiator in the centre, the original marble statue is now housed in the Louvre, Paris. This statue was often copied in the 17th century.
Not sure I'd like that sort of garden!
The beach at Whitby is a great beach with all the features of a British beach, colourful beach huts, ice cream vans and donkeys.
Further along the beach was a mass of a garden escapee, snow-in-summer looking fabulous.

I'd definitely recommend a trip to this coast some lovely beaches and coastal villages, Staithes, Runswick Bay, Sandsend and Robin Hood's Bay.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Chelsea miscellany

There are many other things to see at Chelsea apart from the gardens, the great pavilion is a must for all plant lovers and as soon as you enter the scent of flowers hits you.
As a veg grower myself, I'm always interested in the vegetable displays. Here is an amazing display with peppers displayed as a stained glass window.

Look at these parsnips and carrots, madness.

A mixture of colourful bean varieties.
There were a couple of strawberry varieties which caught my eye, but they may be more ornamental than taste good. A variegated strawberry and one with dark pink flowers.

I'm also drawn to the herb displays.

I like to view the sweet peas, well not view, sniff!
Here is a new variety that I will be trying next year, with a name like that it was a must.
Some sumptuous paeonies.


Some amazing plant displays.

The flower arranging displays are always fascinating, look at this depiction of a Monet painting entirely in petals and leaves.

There are also some interesting sculptures for your garden.
Would you like this snail in your garden?