Tag Archives: foxgloves

The Garden

The front garden, which has been my project for the last 12 months is coming along nicely. It needs more plants in it and I got another dozen to plant up on Sunday. Typically, since then the weather has been foul and I’ve not had a chance to actually put them in the soil. I’ve got Astilbes, Lupins, Freesias (my mums favourite if I remember correctly), Anemones and a couple more Geums. I also got several ferns for Eeyores place down one side of the house that is particularly gloomy. I think that once they’re in it will begin to look more cottage gardeny although I suspect more plants will be required to get the desired effect but I’m pleased with it so far. 20160531_113633

The tulips out there did very well on long, straight stems but didn’t last as long as I had hoped mainly due, I think, to the wet weather. The alliums are looking particularly good at the moment as do some other plants I put in last year but have no idea what they are now.

I have been disappointed with the foxgloves though. After writing about how easy they are to grow and how they self seed everywhere, this year, despite having loads growing previously and possibly a billion seeds falling to the soil, only half a dozen have started to grow. What a bummer!20150612_100703

I like foxgloves for their height, their attraction to bees, their beautiful flowers and how easy they are to grow (usually). I can’t help thinking that the extremely wet winter we had has caused the seeds to rot away or, knowing my luck, the seeds floated off and one of my neighbours has a beautiful display.20150612_100842

Having said that, apparently it’s one of the joys of gardening insofar as you never quite know what each year will bring. I’m inclined to go along with that although the sense of disappointment when something doesn’t quite work out how you planned is a pain in the neck or, in my case, a pain in the lower back. Still, very soon now the front garden will be looking splendid and it will be time to contemplate the back garden which is looking more than a tad neglected. We (by ‘We”, I mean PIL) have plans for the back garden. Just about any plants we put in the beds last less than a season due to being flattened by youngsters playing, in no particular order, cricket, football, basketball, tennis, trample dads plants and take off the flowers with a frisbee (the last two being particular favourites with our kids). Once the front is finished, all the plants in the back garden will be transferred to the front to fill in any spaces there and the ensuing space planted with shrubs.2004_OND-BELL-HEBEVI4

Shrubs tend to be more resilient to the kind of abuse my kids hand out plus they don’t seem to be so sensitive to being pissed on by the dog (and by me from time to time when I can’t be arsed to come in). The additional bonus of having shrubs there is that they quickly grow large enough to devour all kinds of balls, frisbees and water pistols. Either that or shrubs have some kind of portal to another dimension where stuff like that disappears for all time. A bit like washing machines and socks.

Now that I have made my sister Boo

Boo. My sister. She often looks like this

Boo. My sister. She often looks like this

happy by writing about gardens and my toiletry habits I am going to go and dig some holes to put our new plants in cos it’s stopped raining. I just hope there isn’t any cat crap out there.

Have an outstanding day. They are the best ones to have.

More Dick soon.auto

Just Looked, Sat, Thought and Did a Bit of Gardening.

When I took Dexter for a walk the other day I found myself looking around at all the wonderful countryside we have in England and thought to myself,

“This really is a green and pleasant land.”

I was astounded by the colours. Mostly it was green but so many different shades. There was dark green, not so dark green, mid green, light green, creamy green, bluey green, reddish green, golden green and silvery green. Perhaps it was the light on this particular day as it was very sunny and bright. In amongst all the greens were splashes of other colours. There was the blue from the last of the bluebells.20150506_173052

White from the flowers of wild garlic and ox eye daisies (a particular favourite of mine).20150522_125122

Mauves, pinks and purples from wild flowers I couldn’t identify. We reached the top of a gentle slope and I turned and looked around me. The view that I saw was just achingly beautiful. In a moment of eloquence that I’m not often capable of I said;

“Fuck me!”

 

I felt a sense of complete contentment, peace and well being. So much so that I had to sit a while and have a jolly good think. I thought a great many thoughts which you are prone to do when thinking. Mostly they were to do with my life and how it had turned out so far. I thought of the appalling bad times I’d had and still have from time to time. I thought about the fabulous days and times I’d had and how I still have lots of those. One day soon I may pluck up the courage and write about those thoughts I’d thought. However, one of the thoughts I did have at that time was how wonderfully well nature created such stunning combinations of plants and colours and shapes. I try to bring that into my garden. I recently read a post by Steve Morris over at blogbloggerbloggest about a dogwood he has in his garden. Earlier this year he had pruned it really hard and now it’s in full growth mode with many superb young red stems. In addition, Steve planted a number of his cuttings and now has a great many more dogwoods to plant (and prune haha). This is a man after my own heart. Free plants! Can’t beat them. I’ve done a similar thing with foxgloves.

Some of the foxgloves in my back garden

Some of the foxgloves in my back garden

I got a couple of purple foxgloves from our local garden centre two years ago and after they finished flowering I left them to set seed, which they do in huge quantities. Generally, I let them grow wherever they happen to grow, but if they really are in completely the wrong place or you want some in a different area  they don’t mind being dug up and replanted. I probably have 20+ foxgloves flowering in my back garden now plus a dozen or so more in the front garden. All from two plants! I love ’em. So do the bees. The best thing though is that you can never be absolutely sure what you get. A bit like Mrs Gumps box of chocolates. The foxgloves I planted a couple of years ago were all purple.

In my garden earlier today

In my garden earlier today

This year, I have purple foxgloves but I have also got WHITE foxgloves!

In my garden this morning. Beautiful flowers.

In my garden this morning. Beautiful flowers.

This isn’t an unusual colour but I never planted them. Some of the seeds that took just happened to have a white gene I guess but the combination really is tremendous.20150612_100349

Next year I hope I get many, many more growing. Most of them will be moved to the new beds I’m starting to prepare out in the front garden. I know what I want to do in my head and hopefully I’ll achieve it but suffice to say, scent will be an important part of the new beds. Roses however, will not feature. In the meantime, I am about to start my experiment with a sl*g deterrent.  Despite hating the slimy bastards for eating my plants, I don’t like to kill them just because they’re doing what they do and besides, who wants little piles of snot all over the place? Nah. I chuck them in next doors garden! I hope it works because then me and Mrs SD Gates are going into business selling our patented slug deterrent, get us a shed load of cash, retire and spend all our waking hours pottering around in our respective gardens and walking our respective dogs.1978841_686052051438740_1830563984_n

Plus getting new furniture of course.

Have a great day.

More Dick soonauto

Gardening

 

Me

Me

 

Perhaps the only thing that can be said about the lawn in our back garden is that it’s generally green! A small percentage of that greenness is caused by grass. The rest of the greenness is made up of moss (18%), clover (23%), buttercups (17%), daisies (16%), dandelions (12%), sundry other weeds etc (11%). I think when all the weeds are flowering it actually looks quite pretty and in my opinion having a garden that pleases your eye is really what it’s all about. The abuse the back lawn gets from the amount of football, basketball, cricket, hockey and rugby that the kids play on it makes maintaining it the way my dad maintained his lawn a bit of a waste of time. However, I have discovered method in my laziness. I have a cunning plan!

I have a cunning plan

I have a cunning plan

My dad used to expend huge amounts of energy, time and money on his lawn. Even when he was getting on a bit he would mow, weed and feed it constantly and it has to be said that 96.87% of his lawn was actually grass. Every year he would grab his lawn rake and spend the day furiously raking up every scrap of moss and dead grass. He would then spend the next week in hospital with a suspected coronary. Each spring he would scatter spring lawn feed over the lawn. Every autumn he would spread autumn lawn feed over his lawn. Every year he would aerate his lawn with his garden fork and chuck lawn sand everywhere. As far as I can make out “lawn sand” is ordinary sand in  bag marked “Lawn sand” enabling the retailer to sell it for three times the price. I could be wrong. My dad used so much weed killer and sundry other chemicals that his lawn would luminesce at night.

Personally, I try not to use chemicals and weed killers. I do use it on the paths where, typically, the grass grows quite happily. It’s the same with pests. I’m not allowed by law to use chemicals on the kids much as I may want to when they destroy my Choisya Ternata. I dislike slugs intensely but now as I grow older I try to think of them as little bunches of DNA sliming around doing what slugs naturally do.slug1-400x301

Which is EATING MY FUCKIN’ GARDEN YOU BASTARDS! DIE! DIE! DIE! KILL! YOU SNOT COVERED DOG TURDS, FUCK OFF AND DIE!hostas-being-terrorized-by-slugs

Ahem. Excuse the little rant. Sorry. Much as I try to remain calm the mere thought of slugs drives me potty. DIE YOU FUCKERS DIE! I wouldn’t mind so much but the fucker slug fucks DIE YOU SHITS DIE! in my garden all seem to look like and are the size of Jabba the Hutt with an appetite to match.review_jabba_1

I do apologise for my outburst. Anyway, generally speaking I’m quite fond of the little garden beasties, so if it’s not a s**g or a sn**l, I try to encourage them. Our back garden is effectively divided into two parts. Last week I gave the whole lawn its first cut of the year. Now I like bees. Hate wasps but like bees. Bees like clover. There’s clover in our lawn and clover when cut, takes about a week to start flowering again. So. Each week, weather permitting, I will mow one half of the lawn so that each half gets cut once every two weeks. That way it looks neat(ish), the bees have a constant supply of food and I get to put my feet up for an additional half hour having done my bit to save the planet! That’s what you call a cunning stunt. (unless you’re my sister Boo, the Queen of spoonerisms, in which case it’s something else entirely).

Boo. My sister. She looks nothing like this

Boo. My sister. She looks nothing like this

Speaking of beaver, Clit Eatswood is regularly ensconced in my beard. It seems to like it there and comes quite often.

I’ve wandered off again haven’t I?

I started gardening and enjoying it relatively late. To me it was something your dad did and therefore gardening was done by old people.gardener

When PIL and I first got together we lived in a nice house overlooking a little copse with a stream running through it. It had a garden. So in an effort to further impress her and to get her kit off as often as possible I started to garden. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing (still don’t). I built a little seat out of bricks and old fence posts at the bottom of the garden where we could sit and look out over the stream. As you would expect with something I built only three buttocks could fit on the seat but this was fine because it meant PIL sat on my lap. I started watching Gardeners World on the Beeb Beeb Ceeb and the presenter, the late Geoff Hamilton, became a bit of a hero to me.

The late Geoff Hamilton

The late Geoff Hamilton

I discovered I enjoyed gardening and even better, that I was quite good at it. I can never remember the name of plants but I can visualise what I want to do and get the plants that achieve my visualisation.

Part of our garden

Part of our garden

The best thing though is that if you cock it up and have a colour clash,  a plant in the wrong place or it doesn’t suit the scheme you’re trying to achieve all you do is dig the bugger up again and plant it somewhere else. Brilliant! It helps that both PIL and I prefer informal planting with lots of colour and form and that is easy to do. For instance, bees like foxgloves. We like foxgloves. Foxgloves self seed like nobodies business so you buy a few and let them seed and you end up with big swathes of purple foxgloves springing up in the most unexpected places.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves

If by chance they arrive where you don’t want them, just dig ’em up and plant them somewhere else.

I think most people know I like wild primroses.

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Dinky little plants with lovely yellow flowers in early spring. If you’re lucky you can get the pink form which is also lovely. You can’t just go and dig up wild flowers in England. Big fines if you’re caught. So I collect the seed which is legal. Not all of it, just enough for what I want. I pot the seeds up, they start to grow, plant them out and hey presto, loads of plants for nothing. Again, brilliant. Or you can take cuttings from your existing plants, pot them up and once again, a short time later, free plants! Herbaceous perennials are the best though. Buy one (or three), plant it immediately and enjoy the flowers. Then a year or two later, dig it up, divide it into two or three bits and replant. Then two or three years later dig each bit out again and divide it again. Bloody marvellous.

One year it wasn't there, the next it was! I did absolutely nothing.

One year it wasn’t there, the next it was! I did absolutely nothing.

The thing to never forget though is that no matter how much you enjoy the physical labour of gardening and the associated aches and pains, take time to actually look at your garden or (someone elses) and enjoy it.

A bit of our garden

A bit of our garden

Have a lovely day.

More Dick soon.auto