The garden is still full of flowers but I can’t help feeling a bit sad – it won’t be too long before the weather changes and the brightly coloured summer flowers are gone. Somehow gardening in the winter isn’t quite so appealing as getting out there on a warm day! However this year I will be investing in some serious thermals – mainly on account of the impending rise in gas prices – but they will also come in handy when outdoors.
I’ve been taking stock of my garden – what’s gone well and what’s been a “disaster daahling!” (Strictly is another sign that winter’s on its way!). My mini pond has not been a triumph – all the plants I put in originally – gone – eaten – by larvae and tiny snails – at least they enjoyed them! The only consolation is the birds are using it as a swimming pool – I don’t mind the sparrows but when a pigeon gets in there it’s like a tsunami.
I’ve had lots of tasty tomatoes but now they’ve got blight – luckily Victoria has a bumper crop and is passing on regular supplies. Courgettes have been a bit hit and miss and I won’t be bothering with mange tout next year – this is my second year of failure with them. I will be growing broccoli again though. My sister gave me 2 plants which have produced plenty of spears despite me nearly giving one of them up for dead when they were both savaged by caterpillars at the beginning of the season – they have fought back valiantly.
The sunflowers have been a great success this year – that is until the squirrels chewed off their beautiful heads. I have been quite pleased with my attempt at creating a packed herbaceous border with plants grown from freebie ‘Garden News‘ seeds . Next year I need to group several of the same plant together for more impact. To be honest I’m hoping everything will self-seed and all will come up in the right places – unfortunately this is in my dreams. Another thing I’ve learned this year is that I need to move plants that have self-seeded to a more appropriate place while they’re small enough. This year I have been both irritated and enthralled by a purple toadflax that decided to set seed right at the front of the border. Its has grown almost as tall and wide as me but the bees love it so I haven’t had the heart to chop it down.
Up until very recently we paid for our lawn to be cut but I am forward planning to my retirement and looking at ways to cut back. So, I suggested to Grumbling Rose that we buy a lawn mower – “it will have paid for itself in a year” I said. He agreed – as long as I was doing the mowing! The gardening mags are full of how to care for your lawn at this time of year. My purchases have now extended to a strimmer/edger and a grass feed/moss killer distributer – think it will be a couple of years before we see the benefit of our investments. The advice is also to rake your lawn. I borrowed a grass rake from Victoria and Albert and set too. It was hard work and I have a slow to heal blister on my hand to prove it – I needed a sit down part way through! I couldn’t believe how much moss and thatch (dead grass to you and me) I raked up – the lawn looks as though it has been in a fight and Lily didn’t do anything to help – she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time during the raking process! I have also been educated regarding grass feeds – for a start I didn’t realise there is a Spring variety and an Autumn variety. Apparently Autumn lawn feeds are low in nitrogen, as we don’t want to encourage any top growth, which can be soft and easily burnt by frost – we know all about frost. The spring feeds quickly help the grass to start growing again and control any weeds that are present, plus kill off the moss that might have invaded the lawn over the winter. I found half a box of Autumn feed in our garage but although there wasn’t a use by date on it, even Grumbling Rose agreed we shouldn’t use it as our paid grass cutter has been doing all this for at least 10 years, so it must have been sat there for at least all that time! The instructions for use are quite frustrating – apply to dry grass but damp soil – we’ve had no rain for ages so the ground is rock hard – it’s due to rain this week so probably need to wait for that to happen first. Keep pets off until watered in – so once applied need it to rain quickly before Lily can venture out safely.
What has gone well, after a dodgy start, is the Morning Glory and those notorious Cerinthes have mustered a second flowering – the flowers are smaller than the early ones but very pretty – and as for the verbena bonariensis – look at these – why did I fret so much! The final word has to go to Captain Sir Tom who is making a magnificent second appearance – many buds – I hope the blooms last as long as the first round!
I am also amazed at how the toadflax thrives all over my garden – and as you say the bees love it. Love your Cerinthes and will only ever think of a highly charged Bernard sweating in his greenhouse when I see these flowers
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