The veggie patch and garden have begun to reward us for our hard work. We are enjoying salad leaves, cucumbers, strawberries peas and potatoes. My annual flower beds are also providing a daily source of cut flowers. The polytunnel is proving invaluable, and I’m enjoying growing plants for the garden from seed. I read that July was a good time to sow bi-annuals and set about sowing stocks, wallflowers and foxgloves in droves. The speed at which they germinate is amazing, some seedlings were up within a week. A mistake I may have made is to keep them in the polytunnel, as my stocks are now flowering! Thankfully the wallflowers and foxgloves are less eager. Some of the foxgloves have already been planted in the borders up near the house. The rest have moved outside to harden off and get used the Welsh weather.
I’ve sown some of the white foxglove seeds collected from my garden. It feels like a real achievement to be able to collect your own seeds and sow them when we’ve only been here 18 months. These seedlings will go in the wood where their white flowers will brighten up the heavy shade of the woodland floor.
My dahlias have also proved a success. Although they are very small compared to those that grew at Kelmarsh Hall, where I had the privilege to volunteer before I moved. Their dahlias were spectacular and featured on a gardening programme the year before we moved. Filming day was fun! We were allowed to pick the flowers just before they turned to encourage them to continue flowering. I would come home with armfuls of giant exotic dahlia flowers! Anyway, I degress. Mine are not up to a BBC feature, but I’m very pleased with them considering I’ve never grown them before. They can be seen in the centre of the picture above. Hopefully they’ll survive the winter and grow even better next year.
I’ve always grown sweetpeas, mostly for their scent, which I am addicted to. Thankfully, these are doing really well and are surviving the quite open location thanks to good tying in. Another success in the annual flower beds have been the Cerinthe Major, an annual I was unfamiliar with until I worked at Kelmarsh. They are curious looking plants who don’t really have flowers as such, but are prized by florists (apparently). They do look very lovely in a vase with the sweetpeas. I’ve also found that cutting them encourages them to send out more stems, which is always great. There’s also cosmos which are always a delight.
The strawberries have needed taming. These well travelled plants came with us when we moved and have thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of being planted in the ground. They provided some delicious fruits and then set about sending out hundreds of runners. I spent several hours freeing them from the netting, cutting and repotting the rooted runners.
The layout of the veggie patch has changed serval times this summer, but I think I’ve finally settled on a plan. I have dreamt of having beds laid out in a pretty pattern, the sort you’d find in a stately home – a centre bed with numerous beds around it etc. rather than dig the beds out by hand, I decided to lay mypex on the ground and wait until spring when the grass will have long gone and I’ll be presented with a beautiful bare patch of earth (hopefully!). I spent a very long hot day laying out a very ornate design with mypex, cutting the sheeting to the exact shape I wanted and then pegging them down with millions of tent pegs. Then move the heavy roll of mypex (which is about six foot long) up the slope a bit to the next bed. I was so pleased when I’d finished and vowed never to do it again! However!
Meanwhile, I proclaimed to Mr Bumbleandme that I was missing having a lawn. I’m a little odd and never thought I’d miss a bit of cut grass, but I did, I’m not ashamed to admit it! Being the lovely man he is, he went out and bought me a petrol lawnmower and set about mowing the grass next to the veggie patch and within the veggie patch. It looked amazing! He requested I did mowing from now on and happily agreed once he’d shown me how to use the mower. My first mowing session was interesting as I kept the brakes released whilst I was mowing downhill and struggled to keep up with it and keep it on the ground. The veggie patch is on a slope you see (everything is on a slope here!). Mowing uphill was much easier and I experimented with only mowing uphill, but it wasn’t easy. Mowing the narrow paths I’d left between my ornate future beds was also a disaster. Hopefully your getting the picture, it didn’t go well. Undeterred I tried several different approaches, but finally realised I could make life easy for myself! So, there is no longer an ornate arrangement of black mypex laid out with dainty grass paths around. Now, I have covered a large area completely with mypex, so I no longer have to mow uphill, downhill, nor do I need to undertake skilled lawnmower manoeuvres in order to mow the grass! Instead I shall wait until spring, then dig out the ornate beds I’d originally planned and cover the paths with wood chip or ash from the fire.
We’ve left an area of the top paddock wild. This has been really pretty and we’ve enjoyed cow parsley, ragged robbin and the grasses have grown high. The moths, butterflies and birds have really enjoyed this area. We decided to mow a path through it so we can also enjoy the wild wilderness.
The evergreen trees that can be seen in the picture above have also gone. They weren’t native and took up a huge amount of space. Of course we’re now left wondering what to do with the area now. It’s not like we’re short of space! I think we’ll leave it to go wild (without the brambles) next year and maybe sow some wild flowers.
Nearer the house, the main garden area has been doing well. It’s been lovely to see several new plants emerging. Several roses have shown their faces, and the honeysuckle has flowered on the verandera. My battle with weeds continue in the flower beds, but I think slowly I’m triumphing.
Slowly but surely we are making progress. It’s nice to see things developing and hopefully we’ll make this little patch of wales our very own haven.