Tag Archives: livingstone daisy

If Noah had a garden……

…..do you think it would have looked like this?

 

 

 

 

Or this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gardeners in the UK will  relate to my plight. For those elsewhere in the world, this is not just another Brit moaning about the weather. Record after record has been broken since April and today was just one downpour too far for my already waterlogged garden. There has been so much rain that I have not needed to water any plants outside since May! After this afternoon’s deluge, what the slugs had not eaten has been washed away. Underneath the water in the photo are livingstone daisies, snap dragons and california poppies.

Apparently it is all down to the jet stream being in the wrong place but if you are to believe the weather forecasters it is on its way back to where it should be and things should be back to normal soon. For central Scotland that means humid drizzle and frizzy hair!

On the plus side we have harvested and eaten the first early potatoes. Having read the books, when first earlies flower, that is the time to dig them up. However, we waited and waited and they never flowered. The stems went yellow and fell over so we decided to see what was underneath.

The main crop tatties are in bags in the garden and are currently being decimated by slugs….but that’s a whole other blog, dear readers!

My experiment to have early carrots and petit pois worked and both crops have been eated and frozen respectively. Unfortunately, the second lot of carrot seeds I planted seemed to stop growing when they got to about 1cm high and as I have not got round to planting some more I now find myself having a bit of a carrot shortage. The peas outside are flowering so hopefully there should be more of them soon.

The spinach and pak choi were great but lack of maintenance meant they went to seed before we could eat it all.

Outside we have started to pick raspberries but as I write, the strawberries are under water! The blackcurrants and gooseberries should be ready for picking this weekend – jamtastic!

My first head of cauliflower has formed and there have been some small spears of brocolli. I need to research how you are supposed to pick  grow brocolli because mine just seems to flower immediately before an actual head forms. It’s tasty all the same. If anyone can help, please tell me where I am going wrong.

And finally, I have three tomatoes! In recent years we always started eating tomatoes around mid-June. Now we are half-way through July and look at how far behind we are. I am looking forward to my first roast cherry tomato and spaghetti supper.

 

 

 

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A week of firsts

Well after everything being really slow to get growing, the hot sunny weather last week brought everyting out at once. It has totally transformed the garden.

Here is a selection…

My first Livingstone Daisy – and it’s a pink one!

The Cosmos started to flower before I even got them planted in the garden.

Oriental Poppy. I got up one morning, put the kettle on, looked out of the window and there it was! There are lots out now but it is raining today which means they are all falling over because, despite my earlier blog promise, I did not put in supports for them!

We have a small track into our house and the last part is lined with rhodedendron bushes. This is the first one to flower this year. Normally they would have finished flowering by now.

These are allium bulbs we planted in a pot last year. The pot was lying outside the greenhouse and we thought it was empty – so this was a nice surprise. We will definitely plant the bulbs in the ground this year after they have finished flowering.

This clemetis was bought 2 years ago from a discount store and it has never failed to produce giant purple flowers. Not bad for 99p!

Mr Mac’s blackcurrants. We can look forward to lots of blackcurrant jam, provided we can keep the birds and whitefly away!

I was not convinced this courgette plant was still alive but then it produced this flower.

OK I realise this pea flower is not quite open but it will be by tomorrow!

Kermit was hibernating in the lavender of all places.

The brown blob you can see is a 3 week old fawn. Unfortunately my camera could not zoom close enough to pick out the white spots. We knew it had been born but only saw it for the first time at the weekend. It’s mother is just behind the bushes to the left of the picture. They were grazing beside our garden all afternoon.

And finally, a little self-indulgent story. The first time my grandmother came to see our new house the first thing she said when she got out of the car was, “You can plant me a magnolia tree. I’ve always wanted one”.

We had nowhere to put one but she kept asking us and asking us when she could get one so we could plant it for her. Finally, last year we removed a hug laurel bush at the gate and started researching the type of tree that would be best suited for that spot.

Magnolia Susan was the one. Tolerant of cold and wind – this is Scotland remember! The tree was purchased and planted. A few of the giant pink flowers came out and my gran was thrilled when she saw them.

This is the first year the tree has flowered fully and sadly my gran died at Christmas time so she never saw it. Even when she was in hospital she asked if her tree had survived the hurricane we had a few days earlier.

She is no longer with us but I hope she can see her tree from heaven.

The greenhouse that time forgot

It feels as if nothing is really growing but I have just looked at some photographs taken a month ago and there has been some movement…but not nearly as much as there should have been. It is as if time has stopped.

I should have my tomato plants in growbags by now. I am only growing three varieties this year, moneymaker, red cherry and sungold. These are the ones I always have most success with.

I was having a bit of blogger banter with fellow gardening blogger Adam Leone (see Carrot Tops Allotment http://carrottopsallotment.com/) about the tastiest cherry tomato. He reckoned Gardeners Delight is the best variety but I think sungold is just that bit better. Put it this way, last year very few of our sungold tomatoes made it as far as the kitchen. In fact, very few made it out of the greenhouse. They were so sweet we ate them like sweeties.

So I set Adam a challenge. Grow both varieties and then do a blind tasting to see which one he prefers. He has even gone as far as mention my challenge in his last podcast and he has planted his sungold seeds – so the challenge is on! All we need now is some sunshine!

This week I managed to plant swedes and Florence fennel outside. The beetroot and peas I planted outside a couple of weeks ago have germinated which is good news.

I have potted on some zinnias, cosmos and diascia. The flowers and brassicas are all hardening off nicely. It has certainly been the perfect hardening off weather!

The brassicas could really do with being planted out now but we dug over the plot two weeks ago and normally we would have expected the clods of earth to have dried enough to crumble when stamped on. However, it has never stopped raining long enough and so I am unable to get the patch prepared for planting!

The brassica patch is not quite ready!

My sweet peas have been ready to go out for weeks and they have become really straggly and unsightly…so I sowed some more.

My gran’s magnolia tree is about to flower but we have had to cover it with fleece a few nights when frost was forecast.

Casper the friendly ghost!

I lost a melon and courgette plant, so only have one of each left. I have planted some more seeds just in case.

The good news is the peas, livingstone daisies, sunflowers, potatoes, blueberry, carrots and pak choi are thriving in the greenhouse and the strawberry plants outside have started to flower! My 4 okra plants seem to be in the land that time forgot.

24 April 2012

18 May 2012 – spot the difference!

I have not been able to sow any seeds for cut flowers outside, something new I wanted to try this year. So I have just planted up some large pots and left them in the greenhouse until things warm up.

The forecast for the weekend is sunny spells with a high temperature of…FIVE DEGREES! Never mind, it’s nearly June……

 

Recession friendly plant supports

In these times of austerity, it is alarming how much a quick trip to the garden centre can cost. All the bits, bobs and gadgets you think you need soon add up.

There are lots of ways to save money:

  • Our local garden centre has a 10% off day every Wednesday. You may only save a couple of pounds but over a whole summer of weekly trips this soon adds up to a substantial saving.
  • Larger chains also have some great deals and 10% off weekends. Keep a note of what you need and wait until you can get a discount.
  • Try growing your own flowers and veg from seed rather than buying plugs or garden ready plants. I calculated I saved over £180 by buying a packet of livingstone daisy seeds for £1.99.
  • Make your own compost.
  • Rather than buying cell trays for plants, save up yoghurt pot and tins, small and large and make some holes in the bottom.
  • Use the inside of a toilet roll for starting long rooted plants such as sweet peas or beans. The cardboard can be planted into the ground without disturbing the roots.
  • Subscribe to gardening magazines to save money on the cover price and benefit from the free packets of seeds they all seem to be giving away with each issue.
  • We have a local “freecycle” website where people advertise anything they want rid of. The purpose is to try to stop items being sent to landfill but quite often people will advertise excess plants or garden equipment they are giving away. It’s worth a look. I got rid of over 100 jerusalem artichoke tubers this way.
  • Look at what you have lying around that would do the same job. Instead of spending £6 on a dibber and dobber use a pencil and a fork!

Anyway, I digress.

This year we promised to make more of an effort to stake up all of our plants that need support. This means supporting plants as they are growing rather than sticking a bit of wire in the ground and wrapping some string around the plant when it is already lying at a jaunty 45 degree angle!

We have a clump of beautiful blue delphiniums and every year they just flower, then it rains and they fall over. They are about 12 inches tall at the moment, so bearing in mind our resolution to do the right thing by our tall plants I started to look at websites and magazines to see what kind of plant supports were available.

Let me tell you there is very little for under £10…and we need quite a few! Mr Mac promptly advised me there was no way he was spending £10 on some bent wire and disappeared off to his shed.

He came back with some lengths of wood (2×2 I am reliably informed), some fence paint, some fence wire, a pair of pliers and 2 screws.

This is how he did it

 

The wood was cut to the required length then painted with fence paint.

Dennis helped

A stake was hammered into the ground either side of the delphiniums. They grow against a wall so no support was needed at the back. The fence wire was bent and each end looped with the pliers to allow the screws to fix the wire to the stake.

The finished article. As the plants grow they will cover the stakes and more wire can be attached to support them when they grow taller.

The plants will grow around the stakes so you will never see them. I was also impressed that Mr Mac has pre-prepared 2 more lengths of wire to attach to the stakes as the plants get higher. This is so he has no excuse for not adding support as the plants grow, defeating the purpose of have a support in the first place.

I asked Mr Mac what he thought his plant support cost. He worked it out and it cost less than £1!

My favourite livingstone daisies

Our first few years at this house were spent renovating inside. The garden was neglected other than cutting the grass, some emergency tree surgery and seeing what plants we had inherited.

There was an overgrown bush in front of the kitchen window which blocked our view of the gate. It was also a jaggy bush and as Mr Mac has made it his mission to eliminate all things jaggy from the garden,  it was pulled out and burned.

This did leave us with a large area to fill and so off we went to the garden centre to buy a selection of bedding plants to give us some colour for the summer. After parting with £50 of his hard-earned cash Mr Mac announced that from then on I could grow my own flowers!

We bought a selection of livingstone daisies, calendula and zinnias and I fell in love with them all, especially the livingstone daisies. These are the flowers I chose for my blog banner at the top of the page.

Now some of you may have noticed that there has not been much actual gardening going on over the last week although I have (hopefully) been keeping you entertained with tales of broken pottery and growing chips. There is a reason for this. See below!

A victim of my own succcess! All of these little seedlings need a new home.

I planted a tray of livingstone daisy seeds and look at how they have germinated. I knew they were ready for potting on but I could not face it and kept putting it off. However, I had a word with myself yesterday, cleared a space in the greenhouse, put the radio on and got on with it.

There was a lot of wastage but in the end I stopped after 360!

360 livingstone daisies

I grow so many because we have several long borders and the daisies create a stunning display as well as provide good ground cover. I have also grown some to give to friends.

There were two things that kept me going. The first was knowing how fantastic they will look. When they open their wee smiley faces to the sun my heart just melts. The second was the fact that the garden centre sells 6 plants for £3. So I calculate that for a packet of seeds that cost £1.49 I have saved Mr Mac £180!

As a bonus this year I also got a free packet of livingstone daisy seeds with Amateur Gardening magazine (worth £1.99). They are a different variety but (thankfully!) have not germinated quite as successfully. They should be ready to pot on soon.

If you are tempted to grow some I promise you, you won’t regret it. They are perfect for the edge of borders and seem to be able to grow in any type of soil as long they are in a sunny spot.

Their “Sunday” name is Mesembryanthemum which means midday flowering. They are native to South Africa and are also known as fig marigolds or icicle plant.

This is what they looked like last year.