Garden reflection

November has come round in a flash. Up until last weekend the weather was rather pleasant, we hadn’t had much rain at all and even though night temperatures had dropped, the days were still mild. However last weekend began the assault of storm Angus! With it’s timely arrival came rain, rain and more rain. Coupled nicely together with an ice cold wind, my trips to the stables to feed my beloved pony ended with my face feeling quite, shall we say, fixed. Yes, that’s right, between the wind and the rain I think I ended up with a cheap version of a facelift.

Days like these, give an opportunity to reflect on the garden and allotment for 2016. If you haven’t done this yet, may I recommend to do so on a squishy, comfortable sofa preferably in front of a fire with your dog gently snoring on you. Have paper and pen to hand to make notes and plans for the next year and of course an obligatory stash of seed catalogues to pour over.

In the flower garden

I was really pleased with growing Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) from seed this year. The two varieties I tried were ‘Vesuvius’ and ‘Ladybird’, both flowering throughout the summer, in fact the Vesuvius, right up until last week when the frosts finally got it. These are easy to grow from seed. Perfect for a pot on the patio or as a bedding filler (especially raised beds where they can elegantly trail over the edges).

 

The sunflowers (a cut flower mix) produced sturdy plants, whose cheery faces made a great addition inside. Tagetes (African Marigold) was also a pleasure to grow, providing big blooms at a lower height. I was impressed with ‘Pineapple Crush’, the colour was very unusual for a flower and quite rightly named, it is the exact shade of a pineapple!

At the allotment

Looking back at my plans for this year, I may have been a little over ambitious. I wanted to grow ten varieties of tomatoes…I managed two! In 2017 I probably won’t aim quite as big but I think four varieties would be suitable yet doable. I have had great success with both ‘Flamingo’ and ‘Sunbaby’ and will probably be growing them again as they were heavy cropping but also tasty. Broad Bean ‘Masterpiece Green Longpod’ was a success in the fact that this year I had beans to taste (in 2015 my plants were completely destroyed by black fly), however six plants weren’t enough when I realised how much I actually liked broad beans, so I’ll be growing more next year. The unusual yellow wax bean ‘Orinoco’ did really well, and I actually grew this in pots as the plants are compact.

 

All photographs provided by fortheloveofpeas. Seeds purchased from Chiltern Seeds http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/

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And it was all yellow…

I can’t believe we have just welcomed the first week of September, where has this year gone! In the garden we are still picking generous amounts of tomatoes, courgettes and beans. The flowers are still in full bloom and enjoying the warmer temperatures that we have been experiencing, I’m not quite ready to fully embrace autumn but am sure by the end of the month I will be digging out the jumpers for those chillier starts.

Quite unintentionally I have ended up with a colour scheme this year…yellow! In a bid to grow things more unusual I have been inadvertently pointed towards this probably less favoured colour amongst gardeners.

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The first yellow on my growing list for 2016 were these scrumptious yellow beans (from Chiltern Seeds, the yellow wax bean http://bit.ly/2cEVEKv ). I’ve been picking plenty and adding them with courgettes to a stir fry, or boiling for an easy addition to any meal. They are quite unusual and received lots of comments from visitors, and a few questions as to what they were!

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The vegetable plot also saw the addition of yellow courgettes, this variety is Gold Rush. These have been roasted, fried and added to pasta dishes. With their bright colour they are easy to pick, avoiding the typical monster courgette!

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Over in the flower garden I grew, of course the compulsory, traditional yellow sunflowers but also added in the ‘Ladybird’ Nasturtium, a very nice warm yellow with pretty red splodges at the base of the petals. Tagetes ‘Pineapple Crush’ also did well and offered a more unusual shade of yellow, paler with a hint of lime. It very much lives up to it’s namesake.

Have you grown anything yellow this year, intentionally or unintentionally?

Binfield Heath Flower and Dog Show

On Saturday we spent the afternoon at the Binfield Heath Flower and Dog Show. This is an annual event held on the August Bank Holiday weekend and we have been a few times before. However on this occasion we were putting our dignity on the line and gearing up for full on red faced embarrassment, for we had made the incredibly brave decision to enter Murray into some of the dog show classes!

Now for any of you that know us, you can definitely liken Murray and me to the famous story of Marley and Me! Murray being a Dalmatian has not been easy to train especially as once off a lead everything in the world is way more interesting than me! Having said that we have made great improvement recently on the listening front and recall. So with our brave faces on and having given Murray a strict ‘pep talk’ about behaviour, we were off!

I’m not sure weather it was the ‘pep talk’,  the new surroundings or whether it was all his four legged peers around which made Murray behave absolutely impeccably. The visions of me being dragged around the arena were long forgotten and we really enjoyed ourselves. We entered four classes and came 2nd in one (dog the judge wanted to take home) and 4th for non sporting breed. I think Murray was just as pleased as us with how the day turned out and now he can be trusted to not make a mockery of us, I think we’ll be doing this again!

A huge thank you to all involved in organising the dog show, the judges and the sponsors for the most fantastic winners bags.

We spent most of the afternoon by the side of the showing arena but managed to have a quick wander round before hand and a peak in the show tent afterwards, of course there was the compulsory hot dog break too! Here are some photos from the show tent:

The most stunning selection of bouquets.

One of my favourites, the Dahlia. I really fell in love with the white tipped gently with lilac, so unusual and pretty. I will be looking out for these for my planting schemes next year.

A true village/country fair must have the compulsory show off vegetables and just look at these! First and second prize featured above, the carrots almost look like they have been moulded from plasticine and the onions are perfectly spherical! Too good to eat!

Did you visit the Binfield Show too? Comment below would love to hear your experience.

The Loseley Park Garden Show

Last weekend we headed out to Loseley Park near Guildford for their Garden Show. It was a bit of an impromptu decision, but hey that’s what weekends are for!

The long sweeping driveway up to the house and grounds was enchanting, it is such a beautiful property and I would love to visit again to look around the house. We were blessed with the weather also, beautiful sunshine and blue sky with the odd fluffy white candy floss cloud.

There were lots and lots of stalls and I would liken it to a mini Berkshire Country Show. We had a go at Archery, which requires a surprising amount of strength in the upper arms! I did manage to get one of the arrows fairly close to bullseye though! We also watched the birds of prey show which was spectacular.

 

Next we hit the food stalls and I came across THE BEST fudge company yet Mini Mouthfuls http://www.minimouthfuls.com so many wonderful and more unusual flavours and so fresh. I love fudge when it is slightly squidgy and moist, I was quite disappointed with some that I bought at a show last year which was very crumbly and dry and I must say at least double the price as to what Mini Mouthfuls charge. I took their card and will certainly be ordering…quite possibly next week!

 

We also were introduced to Giggly Pig sausages, have you tried them? Again so many different flavours and they had samples of every one of them to try. It was hard making a decision as they were all so scrumptious, but we settled on three packs and chose Caribbean, Spicy Cumberland and Honey and Mustard. You can read more about Giggly Pig and their products here; http://www.gigglypig.co.uk

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So many beautiful flowers were on display and available to buy. It was hard not to take a whole garden home with us! Here are a few of my favourites especially the Gazania and Echinacea.

So a big thank you to Loseley Park and everyone involved for such a wonderful day filled with so much to see and do. I can’t wait to come back next year.

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Flower Farm Fun

Last week saw florists and flower farms across the country celebrating British Flower Week. We took a visit to the inspirational Green and Gorgeous flower farm based just outside of Wallingford. I fell in love, around every corner are lines of the most beautiful flowers making you long to have your garden just as beautiful. I took lots of photos, but they just don’t do the flowers justice. I would highly recommend a trip to Green and Gorgeous for any flower lover, they are open every Saturday morning when you can also buy cut flowers and home grown goodies.

My favourites that I saw growing there on the day were Cephalaria gigantea (giant scabious), sweet peas in every imaginable colour, white Nigella and Verbascum ‘Southern Charm’.

Tea, coffee and cake were served and there were also scheduled florist talks and displays throughout the day showing how one can conjure up the most magnificent arrangements from cut flowers in the garden. Leaving feeling very inspired and with some Dahlia tubers I am now busy planning what I can sow and grow next!

 

 

Allotment gardening has begun

I have been meaning to get started on the allotment for the past few weeks, but with one thing or another taking priority or the weather being less than pleasant it has taken a back seat so far. With the greenhouse becoming quite full it really urged me to get started with the mammoth task of digging over the plot and getting rid of my small field of grass and weeds!

So last weekend I headed down there and with the help of my lovely mum we got digging. After an hour we had cleared a sizeable space and we were ready to plant up the redcurrant bushes I had bought from the garden centre a few weeks back. I also had broad beans yearning to leave the greenhouse, so they accompanied me down to the plot and now have a more favourable place to reside.

 

You can see from the photo’s how tall the grass has got, in a matter of two weeks it has at least doubled in height. With the sun and rain of recent weeks you will no doubt have noticed our surroundings have become quite green and lush.

Next on the allotment to do list is to dig over the rest of the plot and plant out the tomatoes and courgettes.

Transplanting Flamingos

Last weekend I was busy transplanting my first batch of tomato seedlings. The first variety I have sown this year is a new plum variety called Flamingo, offered by Chiltern Seeds. I am super excited about these and am so in love with the name. Here is their journey from seed packet so far!

 

When transplanting seedlings it is best to do when the soil is moist and neither too wet or too dry. Too wet means removing the seedling from the tray is near on impossible and there will be guaranteed root damage in the process. Too dry means the soil will crumble away and again there is a possible chance the roots will become damaged.

These tomatoes were started off indoors and now the temperatures are warmer they will be spending their days out in the portable greenhouse and nights moved indoors as the night temperatures are still a little low. Over the next few weeks they should grow on well and can then be planted out at the allotment.