Flower power

It may be feeling cosy and almost Christmassy indoors but our garden is blissfully unaware that we’re speeding towards the shortest day of the year. It’s been gloomy of late; we’ve had very strong winds and rain (but nothing like the devastating rains in other parts of the country) and not much sunshine. It has been unseasonably mild, though, and this is probably why some plants seem a bit confused.

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There are still marigolds.
A strawberry plant is flowering..!
A strawberry is flowering!
There are still snapdragons...
There are still snapdragons. They’re a bit windswept but they’re hanging in there.
The Erigeron is still flowering on the front steps - continuous flowering since April. It's such a hard-working, joyful plant.
Erigeron karvinskianus is still flowering on the front steps – continuous flowering since April. It’s such a hard-working, undemanding lovely plant.
Salvia 'Hot Lips' is still going strong.
Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is still going strong.
Some hardy geraniums are still sending out flowers and the leaves on some others are only just starting to fade.
Some hardy geraniums are still sending out flowers and the leaves on others are only just starting to fade.
Primroses! This one has been munched by an opportunist mollusc..
And, yes, the cheery geraniums are STILL flowering. This time last year, we'd moved them all into the greenhouse for the winter.
And, yes, the cheery geraniums are STILL flowering. This time last year, they were tucked up in the greenhouse.

In other news, I took the dog for a short walk this morning – a gentle stroll (no stomping yet) up to the top of the cliffs to breathe in some fresh, sea air and blow the cobwebs away. It was windy and drizzly and grey but it was marvellous. Have a lovely weekend.

It’s all going on

photo-50 After yesterday’s heavy rain, today was one of those high blue sky, vivid colour days. It’s not as warm as it was a couple of weeks ago, though – there’s been a chilly wind which has battered my lovely tall tulips and knocked some of the blossom off the cherry tree.

The wind has loosened some of the tallest tulips' petals but they're still looking gorgeous.
The wind has loosened some of the tallest tulips’ petals but they’re still looking gorgeous.

But wait… Guess what I found peeking out from the soil this afternoon? Only our first asparagus tip! SO exciting. I know we’ll have to wait a couple of years for our first proper crop but we have asparagus! Growing in our garden! I’ve so longed to have the space to grow these precious spears of loveliness and now we have. Brilliant.

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Look carefully. It’s definitely there. The first of hopefully many asparagus spears.

And that’s not all. The autumn raspberries are properly sprouting now and the strawberry crowns we planted two weeks ago are thoroughly romping away.

The strawberry plants have quadrupled in size since we planted them two weeks ago.

The pear tree is blossoming, as is the greengage and the three small cordoned apple trees. These were hidden underneath old, leggy lavenders and gooseberry bushes when we moved here. We freed them from their clutches and I gave them a fairly tough prune earlier this year. It’s good to see that they’re doing ok.

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The first bea-u-ti-ful apple blossom.

What else is looking good? Oh yes, the Erigeron karvinskianus is coming into flower on our front garden steps. This must be a pretty hardy plant as we had major groundworks for two new retaining walls either side of the steps last year and they were trashed. It’s lovely to see this perky little plant is thriving.

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Erigeron karvinskianus

I’ll say goodnight for now and sign off with a photo of my lovely rescue dog, Cassie, flaked out after this morning’s walk because that’s how I feel right now. Wishing you all a very happy bank holiday weekend. photo 2

Good things to come

It worked! The tomatoes obviously prefer the balmier climes of the kitchen window and have finally germinated. Once they’re all up, I’ll return them to the greenhouse and pot them on. The cucumbers are there growing well, as are the French beans and various flowers. We’ll soon be running out of space (and pots).

My French beans are growing!
My French beans are growing!

The weather has been wonderful here. Once the early morning fog has burned off, we’ve had three days of sunshine (albeit hazy today under the Saharan-sand smog cloud). Perfect Easter-holiday weather.

We had friends staying with us earlier in the week, so I took the opportunity to take them to nearby Walmer Castle. The hightlights for me were the glorious gardens – a formal garden with a large, rectangular pond and topiaried yews; a woodland walk; and a fabulous kitchen garden. I can’t believe it’s taken us almost three years to get round to visiting this lovely place. As it’s just up the road, I’m sure it’ll become a regular destination for inspiration.

The kitchen garden at Walmer Castle.
The wonderful kitchen garden at Walmer Castle. You can just see the amazing, wobbly yew hedge in the background.

With the children all busy (one ‘adventure training’ in Cornwall, one ‘resting’ after exerting ski trip, and the youngest happy pottering about) we’ve made the most of the weather and had two days of full-on gardening. Our mail-order strawberry plants arrived this morning inside a jiffy bag. Not quite what I was expecting!



Luckily we’d prepared the bed yesterday so we were ready to go. It was quite fiddly planting them – spreading out the roots and making sure the crowns were level with the top of the soil – but they’re all in. There are 12 mid-season fruiting (‘Alice’) and 12 late (Vibrant), so hopefully we’ll have some fruits this summer and a bumper crop next year.

Progress in the veg plot. The strawberry crowns are in the foreground.
Progress in the veg plot. The strawberry crowns are in the foreground (really!).

It’s the village spring show tomorrow. We don’t have any suitable named varieties of flowers or veg to enter the show classes (competition is quite hot!), so I’m entering the beginner’s flower arranging class and my daughter is entering a posy. Our entries have to be at the village hall by 10am sharp, so we’ll be out in the garden early in the morning to see what we can find.

PS Thanks to my lovely sister-in-law for showing me how to insert photos into my blog posts!