Friday, April 27, 2012

Pea teepees

So, here we are, hurtling towards the end of April, sunglasses and factor 50 in one hand, umbrella and wellies in the other. I could take the easy route with this blog post and make some side-splitttingly ironic comment about the drought conditions and the current weather. But I won't.

Well, maybe just a little one? Just quickly?

*clears throat* "I'm glad the hosepipe ban is still on. I'd get dreadfully wet going out to water the garden otherwise" Boo, boom, tish!

Anyway, despite the monsoonal conditions of late, things are still growing in the suburban veg plot - and in the suburban veg greenhouse and the suburban veg front bedroom, aka the propagation facility.

The rain did refrain for long enough earlier in this week to allow me a quick walk around outside to review the current situation.
I have planted two varieties of peas so far - Meteor and Kelevedon Wonder. Both are reputed to cope with early sowing so hopefully they will be coping well with the return to more typical seasonal temperatures. I've come over all a bit rustic of late, so in place of a formal line of peas (that I usually struggle to suitably support, I've gone for some homegrown pea teepees. And by homegrown, I mean they've been constructed from rather large prunings from the strawberry tree and the forsythia bush. They look pretty attractive actually (she says modestly) and I've just got to hope now that the peas appreciate them enough to hang on.

Over in the greenhouse, the tomato seedlings are growing strongly and will need repotting sometime soon. I've got 3 strong seedlings of each variety: San Marzano (plum), Gartenperle (cherry) and St Pierre (salad).

The pear tree blossom is out in force on both the winter nellis and the conference pear trees. I think we've still got some cooked pear left in the freezer so I'll have to get that defrosted and cooked up in a tarte tatin to clear some space. Hopefully the wet weather won't affect the pollination of the pear trees too much. Wet weather can reduce pollination rates as, generally speaking, bees and other pollinating insects fly less when the weather is wet. Though the moment the sun comes out, I can usually spot plenty of fluffy bees hovering around the winter nellis tree.

Winter Nellis pear blossom
Conference pear blossom

The broad bean flowers are also proving popular with the local bees. And is it just me, or are they even louder than previous years? I've got 2 types of broad bean in flower - Sutton, which has a purple tinge to the outer petals (or tepals, or sepals... damn you, plant morphology module. I'm sure I was happier just thinking they were all petals) And my old reliable Claudia Aquadulce are looking as gorgeous as ever. I can almost taste my first broad bean risotto!

 What's flourishing in your garden this week?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Growing media

If you've opened a newspaper or clicked on a news website in the last few weeks you can't have failed to have fallen over an article, press release or review on the subject of gardening or gardening events. It's that time of year where the clocks go forward so we get longer days and the weather starts to warm up so everything in the garden begins to sprout forth. Much like the PR machines, marketing departments and journalists I guess.

Just a few short weeks ago was the annual press launch of the NGS's Yellow Book at the Royal Festival Hall. I was invited but, having already booked a ski holiday that spanned the launch date, could only follow on Twitter as excitable media and gardening types posted photos and comments during the canapes and drinks reception. The NGS is celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2012 which made for an extra layer of celebration. The amusing video below was made by Joe Swift, Cleve West and James Alexander-Sinclair to mark the anniversary.

Last week saw the RHS London Plant Fair open over 2 days at the RHS halls in Victoria. Daffodil, camellia, bonsai and photography competitions abound in one hall and nursery and seed suppliers trading their wares in the other. I came extremely close to buying a nectarine tree, but thankfully common sense got the better of me. A bad back, a tube and a train home are not the best companions for a 3 foot potted tree so I decided instead to make my purchase online from the comfort of a chair at home. I did stop at my favourite secondhand garden book stand and acquired a lovely book entitled: The Sun King's Garden, which I shall be putting away until my intended visit to Versailles later this year.

And finally, it's been raining all night and morning so that must mean National Gardening Week has arrived. This RHS-delivered event is designed to encourage people into gardening and to celebrate gardens and gardeners all over the UK. Events are in full swing at each of the 4 RHS gardens every day this week as well as a range of other gardens across the country - you can weave willow structures, pot up perennials, get involved in a gardening careers Q&A and join a guided tour. I, for one, will be heading to RHS Wisley later in the week to see what's going on.
In the meantime, I've decided to mark National Gardening Week by offering a 10% discount on my vintage garden items on Etsy. Click here or on the side banner and you'll find the coupon code on my Ember Gate shop front.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Highlights of Denver Botanic Gardens

Aside from the Water Saving Garden, I discovered so many other wonderful areas and plants in Denver Botanic Gardens that I thought I'd produce a predominantly photo post to share this fabulous place with you.

Firstly, the Oak Grove, a shady area of quercus planting and woodland paths. A welcome respite from the strong sun on the day we visited.

Some familiar plants were blooming beneath the tree canopy here, emerging from the leaf litter - crocus and white squill.

The potager – a french-style vegetable and flower garden – is under redevelopment and so many of the beds were empty but the shape and flow of the beds and paths really inspired me. And I loved the central gazebo and box topiary at the corners of the beds.

Raised beds around a decked seating area were filled with spring bedding plants in full flower, all straining their heads to the sun.

The beautifully ornate entrance to the Birds and Bees Walk - a section dedicated to flowering and fruiting plants that provide food for our feathered and winged friends.

A range of apricot trees in and around the Scripture Garden were in full blossom and contrasted wonderfully with the azure blue sky.

And on the way out, we headed one floor up above the Offshoots Cafe to see the Green Roof Garden. Developed as a visitor garden as well as an ongoing research garden, this will be studied to determine the effects of the various weather conditions of the area (hot dry summer, cold dry winter, intense radiation and parching winds).