Saturday, 23 May 2015

Party in the greenhouse and I wasn't on the guest list ...


Tendrils escape under the greenhouse door and plants press up to the glass, in their attempt to be set free ... yes, it's that tine of year again and the greenhouses are bursting with adolescents in the midst of uncontrollable growth spurts, desperate to party together. For a long time they were small and well behaved, staying quietly in their allocated spaces and growing in a seemly manner. Then May arrived and sent them into overdrive. The runner beans are twining round anything which comes within reach of their waving arms, and I have to constantly unwrap them as they suffocate some poor unsuspecting tomato plant. The giant Dahlias are living up to their name and the Tithonia clearly have a competitive streak as they strive to keep up. There is a wild, wild party going on in there, to which I have not been invited. I have to squeeze into the greenhouse, then sidle past temporary decorator's tables groaning under the weight of yet more plants to water them and try to control their random growth.


So, today is the day I set them free in the garden, to rampage to their heart's desire. They have been hardened off (a bit ! I'm a bit rubbish at that!)  so ... fly free my little ones ...


This year though, I have a secret weapon in my battle against the 'F' word - no, not THAT 'F' word, the really bad one ... FROST ! I truly hope that any danger of Frost is behind us now, but there is always a lurking suspicion in the back of my mind as we had one a few years ago in mid May, so it is not impossible to have one now I guess. But, it wouldn't be the end of the world as I can now deploy my secret weapon which is the RHS Frost Alert. It is a free App which I have downloaded onto my iPhone (don't know if it available for Android)  called 'RHS Grow your own'' and it is free. There is lots of other useful stuff on it, but the bit I love is that you can enter your post code, and a warning will be sent to your phone if frost is expected in your exact locality. Fantastic! Time to rush out with fleece/ bring them all back inside/ knit little jackets for them all.


So today is going to be a busy one for planting out and watering, but I love getting the greenhouse empty before setting it up to grow tomatoes, chillies, peppers and aubergines. The tomatoes are grown in a bed and the others are in pots on the benches. This year, at the instigation of my son, we are having a joint Chilli Challenge. When he was home, one cold grey weekend back in March, we trawled the sites of chilli fanatics before choosing the varieties we would both grow. The challenge will have different aspects and prizes will be awarded for taste, quality of plants and hotness - judged by my long suffering partner. The varieties we chose were Kashmiri Mirch, Royal Black, Black Habanero and Giant White Habanero.



Even though I sowed my seeds straight way and put them in a propagator, my son's germinated first, kept in his bedroom by a window. That room must be positively tropical. However, he came home for the weekend very recently and conceded that mine now have the edge and are taller. Time will tell !


I am growing several varieties of tomato this year, the main one being Thompson & Morgan's 'Sweet Aperitif'. When I was down at their Trial Grounds last year they had set up a blind tomato tasting and 'Sweet Aperitif' won hands down for taste and sweetness. Way ahead of the others. This is a tomato which will never be available commercially as it does not travel/ handle well apparently, so will be a delight only gardeners can experience. I am also growing 'Sungold' which are  sweet and yellow, and favourites of mine, and 'Romello' which are new to me. They are outdoor bush plum tomatoes with good blight resistance.


This year I have grown - Cosmos (dwarf and tall); Melianthus Major; Ricinus; nasturtium; Dahlias ('Bishop's Children' and 'Giant'); Tithonia 'Torchlight'; Hosta 'Sum and Substance); Datura; sweet peas ('Sweet Dreams' and 'Snoopea'); Musa Basjoo, Asters and Zinnia ('Hot Mix') and veg - sweetcorn ('Lark'); pumpkin ('Jack of all trades') ; Aubergine ('Black Enorma'); pepper ('Tropical Heat' and 'Summer Salad').

The biggest enemy they all have to fear is not blight or greenfly or whitefly but the dog, whose mission in life is to shimmy under all defensive barriers, get into the greenhouse and dig frantically in the soft soil of the bed. He delights in causing untold damage in seconds and never once has had the good grace to look guilty!


The garden is now a terrifying focus of our attention as the NGS Open Day is only 4 weeks away, on Sunday, 21st June 11.00 - 5.00. Please do pop in if you are anywhere near. Work in the garden will be full on and a bit hysterical from now on as we try to tick off all the jobs on the list. It has been totally neglected for the last fortnight as we have been on holiday to Florence, staying in a hotel in a 16th century palace, then celebrating a big birthday of mine. So, lots of weeding and catching up to do.



Today is also the day of the month when I have pledged to myself to buy a new plant for the garden which is in flower, and also out of my comfort zone. I have a little confession in that the one I fell in love with is not actually in bloom, but it is fantastic eye candy all the time, so it does tick the box. It is named as Ligularia 'Othello' on the label, but does not look like any of the online photos I have found, as they all have smooth, dark leaves. I fear it has been wrongly labelled. This one is, as you can see,  silver and hairy at the same time. The leaves are very tactile as the urge to stroke them is irresistible ... they are so soft and silky. I have not come across it before, so I am keen to see how it copes with conditions in our garden I am hoping that you clever gardeners out there will tell me what I've got !!



29 comments:

  1. Florence sounds very grand, a belated happy birthday. And good luck with the open day too, you are very brave to do it.
    It's very satisfying getting stuff moved out of the greenhouse, big sort out here today too, but I fear for my little charges having set them free in the world. There are so many bad things out there that want to eat them!

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    1. It is a big, bad world out there ! Lily beetle , slugs , snails ... and those are just the things which are smaller than my squishing thumb! You have lots of bad things which are much bigger than that and so cannot be squished in the same way!!

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  2. I love how you described the growth of your plants and compared them to adolescents!! And I will have to check out that app!! What a brilliant and handy thing to have! How lovely to have had some time away!!! Have fun planting all of this goodness...your plant selections sound incredible! And I have othello and you are right his leaves are dark and smooth. I'm not sure what your plant is up there but in curious to hear what others say! Happy gardening! Nicole xo

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    1. Hi Nicole and thanks for your comments. Thanks for further confirmation that my new plant was wrongly labelled and is not 'Othello'.

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  3. wow..congrats ..all your vegetables plant growing well!

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  4. So finally they are getting to go out into the big world... I have been worried about our dog too, but outside, not in, which is one reason my peppers are still growing indoors. She has learned to leave large pots alone, but I can't help being concerned about the smaller ones...
    Happy birthday wishes - what an exciting celebration :)

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    1. Both of my dogs also graze like horses and will eat tender new stalks and grass! So frustrating! My grasses take ages to get going as they are continually nibbled.

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  5. We have, or did have as it seems not to have made an appearance this year., Othello's mate Desdemona. A lovely plant but as well loved by slugs if not more so.

    Things really have gitt growing now both inside the greenhouse and out in the garden

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    1. Hi Sue, I have Desdemona too and love her dearly ! Goodness knows who this new furry chap is !!
      Yes, everything is galloping away now... such a fantastic time of year.

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  6. Loved reading this post about your garden and plants, so exciting to have a chili challenge with your son. The leaves of the hairy plant look familiar to me but I cannot tell the name, definitely not the Ligularia ´Othello`. You have a lovely variety of plants to plant in your garden. The Melianthus major is such a wonderful plant I had for several year until heavy frost made an end to it. Did you sow it yourself?
    Wish you Happy Gardening!

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    1. Hi Janneke and thanks for your comments. I love Melianthus Major and, like you, lost them all in cold weather. I have grown them from seed this year and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to germinate and grow. I think I am going to treat them as annuals and grow them every year as they quickly enough to be treated like that.

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  7. Looks like Salvia argentea the silver-leaved sage to me Jane.

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    1. Hi Rick, thanks for that - the mystery is now solved!

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  8. It sounds as if your rebellious plants have been having a greenhouse party in your absence, what have you been feeding them on?
    You certainly have plenty to plant out ready for your NGS open day, best wishes for then.

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    1. Thank you Brian ! I just feed them spinach, like Popeye !

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  9. Love your first photo of your garden, I don't think you need to worry about your open day, it's looking really good!
    I must clear out my greenhouse too, plants are more than ready to come outside, although I've been leaving the door open for the last week, so I think I can consider them hardened off maybe?

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    1. Hi Pauline and thanks for your kind comments.
      I think your open greenhouse door more than counts as hardening off ! Does anyone really carry them in and out every day ?

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  10. If only I lived a bit closer I'd be at your open day like a shot, your garden looks wonderful from your photos and I bet it's even better when you can see it in person. I'm at the same stage with everything packed in my little greenhouse, it's time for them to make their own way in the world now so I'm slowly shipping one thing and then another out to fend for themselves.

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  11. Hi Jo. Shame you aren't nearer! Thanks for comments.
    It's very satisfying to empty the greenhouse and get it all organised again!

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  12. Florence is a wonderful place to celebrate a special birthday. Belated wishes. I have been away for 2 weeks too and I can sympathise with the feeling of being a bit overwhelmed by the growth of everything, specially weeds And of course all those greenhouse babies which are now adolescents and in need of planting out. You are going to be busy. . I wish I lived near enough to come to your garden opening.

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    1. I wish you were closer too! Would be lovely to meet! Thank you for birthday wishes.Bit scary to be so undoubtably old!!
      Hope you had a lovely 2 weeks away, and have come back to the garden with renewed vigour !

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  13. I envy you both your greenhouse and your trip to Florence. As for the occupants of the greenhouse, isn't that always the way with teenagers? They behave so sweetly when they are little and cute, then - watch out! But they are fun in all kinds of new ways.

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    1. So cute when they are tiny, then all they want to do is party when they hit adolescence !!

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  14. Goodness - all those plants - you are going to have a busy time of it planting them all out - good luck.

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    1. Hi Elaine - they are nearly all in now ! hard work but very satisfying!!

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  15. Hi Jane, I'm so confused....I wrote a comment and it made me choose a profile and Flower Freak wasn't there so I chose Google and when I pushed the publish button it's gone who knows where!
    Now, after my rant :) Happy Birthday! It sounds like you had a wonderful time.
    You have done a ton of work! It will be so worth it when the veggies are ready for picking.....The Saver bought a yellow tomato plant....I'm looking forward to tasting them....
    I love your first picture.....your grounds are lovely!
    Happy Gardening!

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  16. First of all, a belated Happy Birthday Jane - what a lovely way to spend it. You are going to be so busy but if anyone can, you can! I sometimes count my blessings that I don't have a greenhouse, when I see just what others grow, I'm often pleased I don't need to put in all that work.
    Love the foliage of the new plant and I see that Rick has named it for you. I hope it does well. Good luck with the open day when it comes around. I'm sure we'll read more about it in due course.

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  17. I loved reading all about your greenhouse party & subsequent clear out. I am in the process of clearing out my greenhouse too - there is just so much to plant out at this time of year! Thank you for the tip about the RHS app - I will certainly get that. Good luck with your NGS day and belayed birthday greetings - Florence sounds the perfect place to celebrate.

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