Garlic

Today was the day for digging up the garlic and weeding at the same time. When I planted it way back in the autumn the ground was extremely wet and soggy and I half expected them to rot away. But no, they grew well and, although they aren’t as large as last year, there is plenty for our needs. I shall sort out some of the bigger ones to hold back to plant out this coming autumn. My veg beds are really rather neglected and so there are plenty of sow thistles and annual rose-bay willow herb, also a lot of groundsel too so it felt quite good to be getting rid of these weeds. I had to call a halt though because we had a few of those rare species known as customers who kept coming in and needing help. So some of the weeds are still there, waiting to self seed and annoy me next year.

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Hot

Temperatures yesterday were in the high 20′s. We shared doing the watering and then did very little else except lurk in the shade. Had quite a few customers, very small sales though but we’re grateful for anything right now.

There was a little bit of rain in the night which won’t have been enough to water the sales beds but might have freshened up the garden.

A visitor who went round the garden said it was ‘random and informal’, I’m still trying to work out if that was a compliment or not. He expanded by saying he was bored of some of the National Trust gardens and their formality. I feel that our garden sits easily in its surroundings, there is a blurring around the edges where the less managed bits blend into the wild areas. There’s a trend for encouraging wildlife and we do that without trying.

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Rain

I hadn’t realised that the sky was ominously dark over to the east and south because I had my head down weeding in the garden. We packed things up at 4.30 and got home just before a heavy downpour happened. If we’re very lucky it should mean that we won’t need to do any watering tomorrow.

The plants continue to grow with gusto, the verbena are taller than they’ve ever been, the day lilies are flowering extremely well in spite of the gall mite on some of the buds (which I picked off and burned) and some of the bamboos have sent up very tall canes. This is the time of year when many plants need trimming so I’ve filled many wheelbarrows of clippings from various shrubs, also spent flowers of foxgloves and poppies. There are still many plants which have yet to flower including asters, helianthus and heleniums not to mention the ornamental grasses which should start to put up the seed heads next month. Lots to look forward to.

I did a total of the donations we’ve had so far this year for the National Garden Scheme and it comes to approximately £500 which is pretty good. It would be brilliant if we could double that before the end of the year. We do appreciate those of you who have put their £2.50 in the box.

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Early July

The rain that was promised has arrived which is most fortunate because the poor plants at Bridge Nursery didn’t get watered yesterday. The trouble is that is was very windy so quite a few were blown over. I’m a bit like a child who doesn’t want to do their homework in that I will avoid doing the watering if I possibly can, it’s so monotonous.

I did some planting last week, adding in some Salvia uliginosa, some sanguisorbias and some penstemon so the rain will help settle them in.

I had the customer from hell the other day, it was someone who was trying to get one over on me. They went and picked up an Arbutus which is £9.50 but swapped labels for something that was £3. I’m not stupid so he didn’t get away with it but if someone had been standing in for me they wouldn’t necessarily know the prices of everything.

It sounds like I’m always grumpy but some people do test me to the limit. Another example is the woman who came the other day clearly doing some research for plants for clay soil. It’s possible she is a garden designer. So she looks carefully at plants in the nursery all the while making notes then goes into the garden and then off she goes. I don’t think much of it until I see that she put just 4pence in the donation box. To have the nerve to use us like that is enough to cause me to despair.

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June

If anyone reads this and if they were thinking of coming to visit us then I can recommend a stroll round the garden where the roses are wafting their scents which is quite intoxicating. It is still quite wet though after all the rain on Saturday so Philip hasn’t been able to mow the rather long grass. Hopefully it will get done this week sometime.

The nursery is full of many plants many of which can be seen growing in the garden. We always say that if it survives in our horrible heavy clay soil then it will thrive in good soil in a more sheltered position. We are very exposed to all the winds.

The moorhen has built a splendid nest on the pond and there are seven eggs which will hopefully hatch out soon. I wonder if mummy moorhen is going round the garden and eating all the slugs? They are quite shy birds so hurry off if they hear anyone coming but, strangely, they are not frightened of the mower.

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Lots of loverly plants

End of May, beginning of June and a beautiful day today but where were the customers? We have an abundance of plants which are good, reliable and some are quite unusual but not enough people coming in to buy them. It makes me despondent because I have no idea what we are doing wrong. Are plant buyers going to supermarkets where there will be no helpful advice? Or the ‘sheds’ where plants are often dry or almost dead? Maybe some people are going to car boot sales where plants are for sale at ridiculously low prices, the sellers won’t be making their living selling plants, it will be ‘pin’ money. If anyone reads this I would welcome any reasons regarding why we are so quiet this year.

Equally slow are garden visitors, who are few and far between. Is there too much competition out there so that people are spoilt for choice with their leisure time? We would like to raise lots of money for the NGS who distribute the donations among a number of very worthy charities including Macmillan and Marie Curie cancer charities, close to our hearts this year because Philip is currently having chemotherapy.

Meanwhile I plod on because I don’t know what else I would do but it grieves me that we have such poor recognition.

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Well grown plants

We have lots of well grown plants for sale. We use expensive compost and fertilizer and the plants are well watered (a monotonous job). They are also reasonably priced compared with some other nurseries and garden centres. But there are few people buying them the moment and I’m baffled. The weather is fine and the soil is not too dry for planting.  I’m blaming the supermarkets and the chain DIY stores where you can buy cheap but dry or dead plants which are displayed so that customers have to walk by them at the entrance. It seems to me that the supermarkets trying to cash in with things they know little about. Are there experienced staff to offer help and advice for the novice purchaser? I doubt it. So why are so many people buying these poor offerings? Is it because its convenient? Or maybe its because they are cheap? I wish I knew. I’d welcome your comments.

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Update

Its a good thing sometimes that we don’t know what’s coming up in the future. Looking back at my last blog we had no idea that P would end up in hospital for 11 days after the first lot of treatment. Fortunately, although there was a reaction to the 2nd course of chemo earlier this month, it was no-where near as dramatic and he was up and doing things a few days later. He does get tired though and has been known to make terrible mistakes on the card machine so if he should be left in charge do make sure he has added up your bill correctly!

Everything is growing incredibly well and I’m finding it hard to keep up with all that needs doing almost single-handedly. I’ve had two off-site consultations which are both a bit of a challenge in that I’m having to think through ideas for the two gardens and recommend suitable plants. Both have been/are good for me to use my plant knowledge so that I can advise which are most suitable for the two very different sites.

The cowslips I transplanted earlier in the year are all doing well and are flowering their heads off, hopefully they will seed around and there will be many more next year. They are all tall and looking very healthy, presumably due to the wet winter? The blossom on the trees has been abundant and there are many bees on the catkins on the willows. My ‘snowdrop’ lady brought me some more snowdrops earlier this month which I have planted and marked the positions so I can report back to her on their progress.

On top of all this my father has not been well which is a worry because I live 60 miles away. Fortunately my brother lives close by and can help out as necessary and the operation this coming week should solve my dad’s problem. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy year but this is turning out to be something of a challenge to keep up with everything.

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Early March

The first day of the month was beautiful and sunny after a frosty start. We’ve had so few frosts this winter and -5 degrees c has been the lowest. My daughter and her man came down for the day so not a lot of work got done but it was an enjoyable day sitting in the sunshine, (light winds too). They left at about 3.30 and I did a bit of hand watering in one of the tunnels. I became aware of an unusual noise above my head, when I looked up I saw a major tear along one of the hoops. Its definitely not repairable and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time due to Philip starting his treatment on Monday. The cover has done amazingly well and we think it was put on 12 years ago. I presume that all the strong winds we’ve had this year has finished it off. Once we got home we started to look up who could do the recladding job asap. We emailed a number of people including Martin from Lineside Nursery not to ask him to do it but to see if he knew anyone who could. He has plenty of his own work to keep him busy. Imagine my delight when I found an email from him this morning offering to do the work for us.

All I have to do now is order the polythene sheet, the batons, the nails and some extra help. Then, with help from the young George, we need to remove the old sheet, the old batons and the guttering and generally get everything prepared in between taking P to and from the hospital for 4 days. Its going to be a difficult week.

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3rd week in Feb

This mildness is most welcome and is bringing many plants into flower rather early compared to the last couple of years. But I don’t trust it. I bet we have some more frosts which will damage the new fresh growth and spoil precocious flowers. It is a pleasure to be able to work outside without a jacket on and to get some of the jobs done without freezing to death.

I’m mainly busy getting lots of potting done but also working in the garden. The ornamental grasses are getting their annual chop, the verbena is also being cut down and I’m weeding as I go. I’ve pruned back the clematis and Philip has done the dogwoods. Its looking rather bare but a lot tidier. Some of the trees have become rocky after all the strong winds so, today, Philip has staked them in the hope of keeping them alive.

Its interesting how quickly the ground is drying out. The general squelchiness has diminished although the front ditch is still flowing quite well. There is more rain forecast for tomorrow so it will soon be a soggy site again which means it will be a while before we can work on it. Nearly March!

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