It is Spring Bank Holiday this weekend (Memorial Day in America) and by tradition this is the BIG weekend for gardeners in the United Kingdom to make a start on readying their gardens for Summer. The garden centres and big D.I.Y. conglomerates ready themselves for the biggest garden supplies trading week of the year. Millions of bedding plants, pots, tools, compost, all manner of garden sundries, and the odd shed or two will be flying off their shelves, and good weather is imperative to get this off to a good start. Sadly, this year, the weather is still stuck in a rut with below average temperatures across most of the UK, strong winds and rain are forecast for tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday) and the week ahead does not promise any improvement. Normally, by this time, I have already got some salad crops ready to pick, and my courgettes would be getting ready to plant out in the ground. This year nothing is ready. It is worrying. If things don't pick up soon this could be the second year I don't grow very much. I reckon we are about a month behind on the weather.
On I plod, and here are some of the jobs I got up to over the last few days, with some random images of things growing in my garden.
A few weeks ago over 100 foxglove seedlings arrived at my cottage and I had to pot them all up into individual modules. This is what they looked like yesterday, and the task of potting them up into bigger pots, around four inches, began.
These are the first nineteen, potted on and in a large tray of water having a good drink to help them settle into their new pots. This is where they will stay now until they are planted out directly into the soil in about two months, depending on how quickly they grow. They will not flower this summer, being biennial, and I am anxious to see what colours they are, so I must be patient!
I bought some new seeds, Calendula to give some bright, annual colour, a lovely splash of oranges and yellows to dot around the borders, and a packet of Garlic Chives because I don't have any of these and they are quite delicious, and a packet of Dill as I do not have any of that and it is one of my favourite herbs, to eat, to look at, and to photograph.
I found a packet of Runner Beans called "Scarlet Emperor" and planted them up in a large dustbin that has a split in the side. I filled it with compost and I planted a dozen seeds using my trusty dibber to guide me to the correct depth of two inches for each seed. When the seeds germinate and there are tiny plants starting to push their heads above the compost I will show you a picture.
A dibber is a very useful tool. Mine is made of wood, I love the feel of wood in my hand as I garden. It is marked, you can see the rings, in increments of one inch and by pushing it into the freshly tilled soil you can make a hole of exactly the right depth to sow your seeds. Brilliant!
There are flowers on the Alpine (miniature) strawberry plants. These make excellent ground cover, and I let them run almost where ever they want. Moving a leaf aside I often find a tiny, sun~ripened, sweet, warm fruit, picked fresh they are a real treat for the gardener at work. They produce very tiny fruit that make an attractive garnish for a summer berry dessert, added to a Pimm's cup, or to decorate a pretty cake.
The apple tree is full of pristine, snow white blossoms. I do not think I have ever seen so many blossoms on the tree. Now all we need are the pollinating bees to come and there will be apples, crisp, sun kissed apples, freshly picked, and juicy on a warm Autumn afternoon.
Isn't this a sight to see? It looks quite bridal, don't you think? Thinning the apples at each cluster will be quite some job this year if they all set fruit.
Here is the pot of Alchemilla Mollis I showed you a few days ago, heavy with dew, sharing space with the glaucous leaf of a Pasque flower. It is growing so quickly, as Alchemilla often does, so soon I must separate them out.
I love the daisy~like Osteospermums. A native of South Africa, they seem to thrive in our British climate. This surprises me, for I think of South Africa as being warm, but apparently it can be sharply cold as well! I am happy, for these bright blooms give splendid drifts of colours, pink, purple, white, and yellow across the borders. The centres are all so different too from fuzzy velvet to shiny satin textures. I can only imagine what they must look like in their native home, growing wild.
Gentle Reader, the forecast for the week ahead is unsettled at best. The lawn needs mowing! There is heavy rain for tomorrow, so a typical forecast for Bank Holiday, with winds of 20 mph, with gusts of 40 mph and more. Oh dear! I think we might have seen the last of the apple blossom looking so magnificent, and this news could really impact on the fruit, as there are far fewer bees than usual and without the beautiful blossom to attract them the pollination will not happen.
We will wait and see. My water barrel will be filled with freshly falling rain flowing from my roof. I have brought all the tender plants and trays of fresh~sewn seeds indoors for a day or two, until the heaviest of the rain and the wildest of the winds have passed to protect their leaves and roots, and stop the seeds washing away as can easily happen in torrential downpours. My next entry might be a few days away, for there is little I can do in these conditions except hope it will pass by quickly. Everything will be watered and refreshed, and I hope for warmer days to speed the growing of my plants and seeds.
I will leave you on a cheery note, a blackbird often gives me company in the garden as he seeks out fresh worms and bugs for his hungry brood. Today, I was delighted with his precious song, so here he is for you.