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

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Sad Spring

This is such a difficult post to write, I didn't know whether to talk about this here or let it go by, but this blog is not just about my gardening its about my life and life is made up of shades of dark and light. We all have our share of difficult times and my family have had a tough few months. My dad has not been in great health for a few years but this has escalated in the last 6 months, my family and I have been there with him through many hospital admissions. I now know the M62 like the back of my hand.
I'm sad to say that my lovely dad passed away a couple of weeks ago, and though he'd been poorly for quite a while, that never really makes it any easier. He died peacefully in hospital and I have to say the care he recieved there in his last days was impecable, caring and respectful. I'm incredibly lucky to be part of a big family of 4 sisters and a big brother, I'm the youngest, and we are all supporting each other and my mum to get through these sad days.
I won't write much here except to say what a big support dad's been in my life, taking me round to all my activities when I was young, helping me through university, starting my first job and always there when I needed a big hug. I'm incredibly fortunate to say that I know that my dad and mum have always been there for me, not everyone can say that. Dad wasn't a great gardener himself, surprising maybe as his dad was such a keen gardener and Grandad was one of my inspirations for getting into growing my own, but dad helped my mum out in the garden and they loved to spend time out there with their dog.
Having my garden and my allotment has helped me get through the last few months to take time out from all the difficult times and I know it will continue to help me get by. Spring is a beautiful time, with May probably being my favourite time of year, and though things are behind this year its lovely that at last the blossom is out and tulips are in bloom but a sad time for me this year.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Spring has finally sprung

Thought I would try and write a less frantic blog post this time, though I think that will be hard as its such a busy time. I'm struggling to find time to write my blog and I'm behind on reading all my favourite bloggers but I'm sure I'll catch up soon. I've been busy in both the garden and at the allotment. In the garden my spring plants are finally getting going, with masses of primroses and an ornamental cherry blossom whose flowering was short but very sweet.

The daffodils are just finishing but they have been lovely, amongst others I have 'Jetfire' and 'Minnow', the coolish weather has kept them flowering for such a long time. Another plant which seems to have liked the cool weather has been the violas and the pansies which have really taken off again in my garden. My tulips are just starting to colour up.

One exciting sighting has been a flock of birds in a tree in the park near my house, I walk through it on my way home from work and a couple of evenings, at 5.50-6ish, I've walked past and there has been a flock of biggish birds making a lot of noise, I would describe it as trilling, but on mass. The first time I walked past I knew they weren't anything normal but I couldn't really get a good look to see them. Anyway they were there again the next evening and this time I stopped and tried to get a good look, they were the size of a blackbird but sort of plumper and light coloured, plus they had a crest on their head. So I texted my bird guru, my brother Will, and he said they would be Waxwings (this page has a link to listen to their sound, I just played it and confused Bob my cat, his ears were twitching all over the place!), gorgeous birds over from Scandinavia, he thought they were having a pre-roost gathering and would soon be flying back home. Well they've gone again now, not seen them since, but a lovely surprise.

At the allotment my fruit bed is coming on a treat, I've got masses of flowers on my redcurrant, going to be my best harvest yet and my gooseberry bush likewise has lots of flowers and the bees have been busy there. I think I'm going to have to properly net the bush this year, as much as I love the birds, this crop is for me.

Its peak rhubarb season and as with many other bloggers I've just started harvesting mine, my first dish was a rhubarb and ginger crumble which was delicious. I have some plans, if I have enough, to have a go at making some rhubarb wine, following the advice of the lovely John Wright, a recipe he posted in the Guardian in 2011.
I've planted my onions and shallots, which I got going in modules and my garlic is doing well, there are some tentative plans to build a sort of greenhouse in the corner of this bed so I've had to put my maincrop onions in one of the other beds.
I've some broad beans which I sowed in modules, the ones I sowed direct have not come up yet, neither have my peas! I never have much luck with sowing direct.
My potatoes are in and I'm waiting for the first shoots, though we've had a few light frosts this week so hope they will be OK.
I've been trying to finish off the structure of my allotment, last year I divided the big main plot into 3 beds, though the paths at the bottom end of the plot were not finished as this bit was a mass of buttercups and grass. I've been finishing off the ends of the beds and the paths. I can't decide whether to dig up this green path in the picture below and create a woodchip path. It looks quite Ok at the moment, but if you look closely its full of buttercups, though maybe if I keep it short like a lawn the grass will take over. Will leave it for now and see whether it causes much trouble. The patch of earth next to the fence has got my thornless blackberry plant, three raspberry canes, which are just starting to come up and a tayberry, which I'm hoping will get going this year. I've done my final digging of the year digging over these bottom beds, with plenty of muck, this is where my squash and courgettes will go. I'm hoping for better things for these this year.

I've had my first and probably my last crop from the only surviving plant of Purple Sprouting Broccolli. I planted them too late and most got demolished by slugs, note to self, be organised this year.
Finally a quick thanks to Anna at Green Tapestry for the lovely gift in the post, some foxgloves seeds, I'll sow them in a month or so, one of my favourite flowers.