Hello Again!

Hello again!  Sorry for the very protracted break but pressure of work meant the garden has been neglected for an exceptionally long time.  Nor have I done any wildlife conservation work since 2012.  Consequently this blog has been rather put on the back burner of late but I do now intend  to make amends.

I am slowly beginning to get on top of all the greenhouse potting, partly be reducing the number of plants – more of this anon – but the garden itself has gone extremely wild!  The photographs illustrate what was originally intended to be a wild garden but I which I had planned to turn into an area for fruit; despite there being two gooseberries hidden among the alkanet I think the wild garden concept has probably won!

Wild garden turned into fruit garden turned into wild garden!

Wild garden turned into fruit garden turned into wild garden!

The wild garden with pond

The wild garden with pond

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The Small Lean-to

I am still not making a good enough effort of writing posts for this blog – apologies but I hope things will get better once I get into it again.  Here are some photographs of the little lean-to taken in June and August.  Like the temporary house this greenhouse is now devoted to conventional pot plants although I have potted some of my largest and long neglected Dioscoreas and placed them along the back wall.

My remaining three greenhouses are devoted to succulents with space on the lower stagings and ground for bulbs.  The top house is devoted to Crassulacea with Haworthias and Gasterias under the staging; the large house to cactus and miscellaneous succulent families including the Agaves and Bromeliads and the smallest one to the Mesemb family.  More about all of these in due course.

The small lean-to in June

The small lean-to in June

The small lean-to in June

The small lean-to in June

The small lean-to in August.  Everything has got a bit wild!

The small lean-to in August. Everything has got a bit wild!

The Temporary Greenhouse (Photographs From The Beginning Of The Season And Now)

The steel framed and plastic temporary greenhouse I purchased this year has proved a little disappointing.  Light levels were lower than in a glass greenhouse while humidity and consequent possibility of disease was higher.  I couldn’t stop the tomatoes going lanky and gave up in the end.  The structure itself is not that strong and I found I couldn’t put very many plants on the built in staging and even with a very modest number the greenhouse is leaning badly that side.  With hindsight it would have been better to have separate staging and also additional support for the main structure – or have no staging at all and use the greenhouse for cucumbers (who would appreciate the humidity) or similar plants.

Here is a photographic record of the growing year.  It has to be said that if I had had more time to spare I could have probably managed the plants and greenhouse a bit better.  I hope to do better next year!

The greenhouse in March

The greenhouse in March

At the beginning of June 1

At the beginning of June 1

At the beginning of June 2

At the beginning of June 2

The greenhouse in the middle of August

The greenhouse in the middle of August

Another New Start

I had great horticultural plans for this year; leaving off painting and writing a little to try and get the garden looking relatively respectable again.  Unfortunately everything did not go as planned for a number of reasons – although the garden did look great for a week or two!.

One of the reasons was that my wife and I found ourselves looking after two terminally ill cats, one passed away at the turn of the year and the other in June.  One was a rescue who we took on knowing she was poorly and actually gave her over two years she wouldn’t have had, although we desperately hoped she would have lasted longer, and the other was a young cat we had since a kitten and her illness (in fact she had two quite separate ones which seemed to us such bad luck) came as a complete shock.  To stretch coincidence even further just after the second cat died we discovered that our dog had a tumour on her leg: it was the worse kind but very low grade so it has been removed and we are hoping it doesn’t return.

The second drain on my time was that, quite out of the blue, I decided to invent a second artistic career independent of my main one.  In fact I started afresh as if I was a young man (I wish!) beginning his artistic journey and I am exploring radically new media, styles and themes.  This has meant two sets of blogs and two sets of paintings to upload to various online galleries which consequently left too little time for other blogs.

Anyway I have started to get back into the garden again now – a rather daunting task! – and I am also beginning to make a photographic record of my plants.  There have been quite a few changes predominantly in the greenhouses and hopefully I will begin to share the images and my gardening experiences soon.

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The succulent house immediately after potting in May. Please not the ex hot water heating pipe plant stands.

The Various Places I Can Put The New Greenhouse

I have finally settled on placing the new greenhouse towards the end of the mixed border quite near the large wooden greenhouse (putting it here means I can align it north south which is preferable to east west).  However before reaching this decision I weighed up a large number of possible sites, all of which are illustrated below – apologies in advance for the weeds!

On the bottom patio

On the bottom patio

On the upper patio

On the upper patio

In the top "Temporary Plants" border which abuts, none too happily, the wild garden

In the top “Temporary Plants” border which abuts, none too happily, the wild garden

Between the box hedges where the frames are

Between the box hedges where the frames are

Where the small pond is

Where the small pond is

Where the plastic lean-to now stands

Where the plastic lean-to now stands

And finally the far end of the mixed border

And finally the far end of the mixed border

The Garden Circa 1999

I fear I will have to redesign the garden yet again as I want to fit in the new greenhouse – I have lost count how many times I have changed it.  My real love is greenhouse plants and greenhouse management so the inevitable upheaval may be worth it.  If and when I get the greenhouse erected I may not heat it initially but rather use it for tomatoes et al in the summer, chrysanthemums in the autumn followed by lettuce through the winter and bulbs in the spring – this was the regime I adopted in my first greenhouse over forty years ago.

By coincidence my wife has just found out some old photographs of the garden at the end of the Century when we had the first avatar of the lawn and there was only one, admittedly large, greenhouse and a tiny lean-to.  All the shrubs had either not been planted or had not grown very big and there was actually flowers in the borders!!!!!

Two Surreal Images

As usual I am desperately late with my gardening jobs (partly blamed on the very hot summer but mainly because my default state is sat in front of an easel, painting!).  To illustrate here are two, I think rather surreal,  photographs: one taken from the kitchen window and one taken from the dining room. Both show a complete mess which I should really be ashamed about but probably aren’t!

The tubs are for mature Dioscorea caudiciforms which ideally should be potted every three of four years but I am not sure if I have actually potted them this century!  If I had they would have armchair sized caudexes by now, which admittedly would take up a lot of room.  I am potting the ones that grow in the winter and will now have to, reluctantly, leave the summer growing ones to the spring (or will I – I may chance it).  Interestingly whether they grow in winter or summer is almost dictated by chance, or more likely watering regimes when they are still seedlings.  They come from South Africa so would normally grow during our winter months.

Someone has given me an eight by six foot greenhouse but I am not sure where to put it; hence the bits propped up against the outhouse!  I already have four plus three ponds, not to mention a relatively newly planted lawn so flexibility is somewhat lacking.  Logically the best option would be to remove the six by four plastic lean-to and put it there but I am reluctant to throw away an old friend.  I will continue to muse!

Incidentally something I am ashamed about is not realising the lemon was not getting the rain during a wet spell last month.  It subsequently dried out and lost its leaves -very embarrassing that!

Test Valley-20130828-07520

Test Valley-20130828-07522