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A totally new garden

So I haven’t been on here for QUITE some time… Almost two years in fact. During the past couple of years James and I have experienced a bit of upheaval, change and a rather large setback which thankfully we have managed to move past.
So to explain … We have moved from Malvern back to Bromsgrove, which is where we are both from originally. The main reason for this is that we both have new jobs!! James now commutes to London where he has a very swanky and important Software Developer job for one of the big consultancies there, and I am now working as a Manager at a rather large and well known chocolate manufacturers based in the midlands.
So unfortunately we left our rural idyll and have moved into a lovely Victorian semi with a lovely long but shadowy garden. We are settled here now and James is home each weekend.
The setback I speak of was a rather nasty horse riding accident that culminated in me fracturing my L1 vertebrae ( the very middle of the back) and needing three months of basic bed rest. So basically no garden action occurred during or in fact after my recovery period, sadly. I did manage to pot up and grow some beautiful orchids from bulbs though …
We also have a new addition to the family. I would like to introduce…. Claude the kitten, affectionately known as ‘Claudey’, ‘Monsieur le Claude’ or claudeyface. He will feature fairly heavily in the blog I should think, particularly as he is quite a character!

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Tulips!

Isn’t spring lovely?? What a lovely weekend we are having so far. To0day James has been weeding the flower beds and moving some plants from shady areas to give them a bit more direct sunlight. He has also planted out our giant sunflowers, which is VERY exciting, cant wait to see how tall these grow this year!!

The tulips and hyacinth bulbs that we planted in the raised bed are looking beautiful, here are a few snaps!

Our hanging basket full of pansies is also looking brilliant…

And I’ve cut some of the hyacinths to use as cut flowers on our conservatory, on account of their lovely fragrance!

Lets hope the weather stays like this!!!

You know I said I had that plan to paint an old picnic bench?? Erm…well, the plans has gone down a slightly different route!!

This weekend we were out and about looking for house plants and general other garden-related stuff. We headed over to Focus in Malvern (James is currently boycotting Homebase as they sold us some rather over priced, rubbish drainage rods that broke the first time we used them). We turned into the car park, but as we did, We noticed a store across the road called ‘J Mart warehouse.’ It had logs, compost, trellis etc outside it so we went to take a look before inevitably being ripped off by Focus.

This store is AMAZING!!! You dont tend to see stores like it so much now, but it was full of everything you could possibly need for the house and garden. In the centre of the store was a lovely teak six seater patio set (six chairs and a really cool hexagonal-shaped table). We asked how much it was and the chap behind the counter told us it was £199.

Anyway…. we left it at that as, being the middle of the month, neither of us are exactly rolling in it and we’ve just paid for our summer holiday.

We mulled it over all weekend and today we decided to go and fetch it. Whenever I go to do things like fetching flat pack furniture etc I am always ASTONISHED that we manage to fit it in my car. BMW 1 Series are like Mary Poppins’ bags – we have managed to fit in a washing machine, sofa, flat pack bookshelf, and now a six seater flatpacked patio set in there  so far, but that is by the by….

So we have now assembled it and it does look lovely. I have heard horror stories before now of people paying stupid amounts of money like £2,000 for patio sets, so I think we got a pretty good deal. Plus it is a lovely size for having guests over for BBQ’s (fingers crossed for the weather eh?) and for working in the garden. I cant wait to enjoy some Sunday morning breakfasts at this table!!!

Anyway, here is the finished product…. isn’t it fab? I think I am a bit in love with it……p.s I won’t be painting this blue!!

As part of my job I have a lot of driving around the country to do, so it is inevitable that I tend to stop off at the services every now and then to grab something to eat and generally have a break from driving. This week, on my way back from Northampton I popped into a Services near Birmingham which had a Starbucks in it. I was queuing up for my hot chocolate when I noticed that in one of their display baskets they were giving away big bags of used coffee grounds for free, to dig into your garden.

I had never heard about using coffee grounds as an additive to garden compost before, but on doing a bit of research it turns out that coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil. Some posts on the internet advise sprinkling coffee grounds around plant bases before rain or watering as this becomes slow release nitrogen.

You can also add it to your compost to enrich it, and you can even water them down and use them as liquid fertilizer! Coffee grounds mixed with old egg shells and laid around the bases of your prized plants and flowers can also act as a pest repellant!

Good old Starbucks eh? I will definitely be stopping off for more free bags of coffee grounds!!!

New garden project!!

Well isnt the weather taking a lovely springlike turn?? I have been in Dover on business for a couple of days and I can’t believe the temperature gage on my car has gone to 17 degrees!!! Positively tropical! I am actually starting to remeber what summer feels like….!

So this weekend I have started to put my garden furniture plan into action. I basically want to buy (or, hopefully, ‘acquire’) an old pub/picnic style bench. I want to paint it bright blue, and I want to ask my lovely mommy to make two bench seatpads from some stripey deck chair material! I would do it myself but I am frankly useless at that kind of thing. Some times I wish I had paid more attention in GCSE Textiles….

Here are some pictures that I have found for inspiration…

I want a bench like that…..

I need that colour wood paint…..

…And I want the seat pads to be decked out in this sort of lovely material!!!

If I actually manage to get all three items this weekend, then I can start my project on SATURDAY! This excites me. I will post some piccies and a blog post on it if my little plan comes together…!

Bulbs!

This morning James and I took ourselves off to Morrisons bright and early to have a look at their bulb selection.

This year I have decided that rather than buy loads of plants to go in the pots on our patio, we will just buy lots of different types of bulbs instead, as if you bring the pots inside during the winter they can bloom again each summer.

We bought the following selection of bulbs:

Which came to about £15 in total as Morrisons were doing a 2 for £3 offer. We bought dahlias, gladioli, lupins and lots of lillies!

When we got home we set about potting up the bulbs:

The best way to pot bulbs up, I find, is to do the following:

1) Line the bottom of your pot with pebbles and stones, so that the bottom of the pot cannot be seen at all (this helps with drainage).

2)Fill the pot up with either shop bought or home-created compost (I.e from your compost bin!) and if you can, mix this with some of your regular garden soil.

3) Using your fingers or a little thin trowel, dib a hole in the soil to the depth that you need for your bulb (the instructions on the packet should explain this but if not, go for a depth of at least 7 centimetres). Drop the bulb in and cover with soil. You can often fit two or three bulbs in depending on the size of your pot and the spacing that they need (again, this will be on the bulb packet).

4) I am trying a new thing this year, which to cover the top  ofpots with a sprinkling of sawdust, just to protect them a little from any unexpected frosts.

In other news… James has started chitting some potatoes. This basically means laying out the seed potatoes on a layer of tissue or newspaper inside a cardboard box or egg box, storing them somewhere with plenty of light (ie a window sill or conservatory) and spraying them with water daily:

Once the seed potatoes have grown stalks which are about 4cm long, they are ready to be planted in the ground.

So we have had a very productive day today. The beds are now full of bulbs and our pots are too!

The next quest: find an old picnic bench that we can use as garden furniture!!!

 

 

Saturday Gardening

Well, we have made a good start on our gardening, the weather was lovely yesterday, do I spy the coming of Spring… I do hope so….

First up we checked the compost, which doesnt seem to be quite ready yet, boooo. Oh well, maybe next year…!

Next up, we planted the three peony bulbs, two in the front bed and one in the rockery. We dug a nice deep hole and popped the bulb in, with the fresh new shoots facing upward, and gave them a good water. I cant wait to see how these grow.We also raked up all of the leaves and twigs that had blown onto the vegetable patches. James raked and dug his vegetable patch ready for when the seed potatoes go in.

I meanwhile potted up seeds for: aubergines, two varieties of tomato (super marmande – big beefsteak tomatoes, and rio grande – plum tomatoes), giant sunflowers, romano peppers, sweet basil and lettuce (lollo rosso – red leaved variety). These will now stay in the conservatory and be watered each day until they sprout into little plants big enough to put into the ground. The sunflowers will be grown against the back of the garage to try to disguise it a little.

We also had a little walk around the garden and already we have snowdrops and crocuses sprouting through. The Helibores are budding and we have tulip and hyacinth bulbs coming through. The hollyhock and lupins that I planted last year seem to be doing well and shortly we will need to think about creating a new hanging basket for the front of the house. I might have a go at making one myself.

So all in all, a successful day, the next step will be chitting the seed potatoes ready to go into the vegetable patch. I will do a step by step guide to this when we start to do it.