Monday, 13 January 2014

My Fledgling Garden - A Series

I always think that January and February are busy prepping months for the garden. All those bulbs that you planted will hopefully be steadily growing away. Some may already be pushing little green shoots through the soil. I have been in and out of the garden and greenhouse quite a lot of the past week or so. Mostly stopping and looking at what is there, what isn't there and what will be soon.

I'm lamenting a lack of winter colour. I have lots of evergreen shrubs in the garden, and they keep the garden from looking too bare. But I would like to get some more winter colour n the form of ealry flowering plants, more shrubs with red leaves and winter berries. I have a list (of course), and I have slipped it into the back of my garden notebbook for later in the year.

It's probably a good time to have a real hard look at your garden now. Here in the UK, our gardens are mostly sleeping, and it is a good time to look at the gaps, look at potential and plan for the coming growing season. I have re-sited some plants and have a couple more to do. Some of them have been dwarfed by faster growing companions, and need some space of their own. My orange Geum has been moved to a newly created wider borde r It isgetting too big for the raised bed, but isn't quite big enough to divide into more plants.

I was lucky enough to have some garden centre vouchers from my Mum for Christmas, and have bought four roses in the sale. They are all bush roses and highly scented. I don't think that there is much point in having a rose that doesn't smell. I'm really excited about this addition to the garden, because I have longed for them and yet have been a bit fearful about buying them. I always thought that they needed a lot of care, but my guru Laeticia has convinced me otherwise.

Using the garden hose as a marker for digging out the wider border. I know, very high tech.

It is not a climbing frame, Olly

They have gone into the area above that I dug out at the end of last year. The screen will be used to grow an evergreen clematis, I just haven't bought it yet. It looks a lot tidier than in this photo, because I have given the whole border and length of this part of the garden a neat gardener's edge. You can also see a Hebe in it's pot that I picked up in the sale. This is evergreen and should start to flower soon. It's a slow growing shrub that I hope will establish itself nicely this year. Oh and I also bought my first Camellia. Just a little thing for now, but I can't wait for it's flowers to unfurl and greet me this Spring.

This area will look rather patchy for a while. If you want longevity in a garden you need patience. Shrubs can take time to get established. But it's worth the wait. They should be the backbone of a garden. Shrubs provide a foil to all those gorgeous blooms that appear in Spring and Summer. They add interest and texture and are beautiful in their own right. They can provide ground cover for birds and other garden visitors. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. There are as many for shade as there are for sun. Hooray for the shrub!

This year my big plan for the garden lies in my attempt to grow as much as possible - annual, perennial and vegetable - from seed. Growing from seed is an inexpensive way of gardening. It takes a little time and patience, but if you give it a go you can be rewarded with so much. Not only a bounteous crop of salad vegetables or beautiful wafty blooms, for example. But from the pure joy of nurturing a dormant seed into a living, breathing thing of beauty and usefulness.

It is a rollercoaster adventure when you start playing with seeds. If you are like me, and love a good catalogue browse over a cup of tea, then you will faint from delight at the beautiful mail order seed suppliers out there. My favourites are Sarah Raven and Chiltern Seeds. I spend days perusing them, highlighting my favourites, whittling down the lust list and then placing my order.

When the seed packets arrive, I sit at the dining table and fan them out in front of me. It is a precious moment. One full of potential. In my head there is always this picture of my garden in full bloom. It is a riot of colour and shape and form. Here are Cosmos, Snapdragon, Nigella, Zinnia, Larkspur and Cornflower attracting the pollinators and wafting in the breeze. There are runner beans, broad beans, french beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies, courgettes swelling and ripening on the vine or in the ground. It smells delicious too.

I have already planted my sweet peas into seed trays to give them a head start for summer. This week I will be sowing my bewildering amount of Cosmos. I am lucky enough to have a greenhouse, so will get cracking with most other seeds next month. And the beauty is that I can collect seed from all of them, and the cycle continues.

Children love growing stuff from seed. I have found with Olly that it is a good idea to grow some quick growing cress seeds or broad bean seeds alongside others that take longer to germinate. It helps to hold their interest and attention. They love the process of potting up seeds too, although you may want to give them some seed of their own and accept that it may not survive their unique kind of love and devotion....


I'm wondering whether I should make this a weekly post? It would be a shorter post of course, and would become more of a gardening diary. I like the idea of sharing the garden with you all week on week. What do you think? Would you be interested at all?

And another thing. Is gardening a middle aged pursuit? I don't think it is; I think gardening is vibrant and cool and sexy!! What do you think?

Leanne xx


  1. Gardening is creative wonderfulness and not at all middle aged! Its funky and the way forward! yes make it weekly, even if its only a photo diary, i would love to see! xxxx

  2. I am sure that your roses will do very well! I like your plan for more shrubs too, they are as you say a great background all year round for all the other plants aren't they. Oh, and the hose as a guide for the edge of your flower border - Alan Titchmarsh does that, so you are in very good company! xx

  3. I hate my garden and find it an overwhelming burden. When I moved here I had a lovely idea of myself becoming very immersed in having a garden for the first time but I find grass cutting absolute purgatory. My big plan this year is to find someone to cut the hedge and the grass. I so want to find the love for my garden that it tempts me out on a nice evening instead of looking out and my heart sinking as it grows ever more jungle-y.

    I love your blog and would enjoy reading a weekly garden post. I hope if I get the grass and hedge sorted then I might find a seasonality and connection with the huge space I have as there has to be more than somewhere to hang my washing.

  4. Such a great read, Leanne. I love these posts and I'd be glad to read them every week but you do what you're comfortable with. You're going to love having rosebushes. I have one large one and a few minis and I really enjoy caring for them. It isn't difficult once you know a few basic techniques. I wish my big one smelled more strongly because I agree with you, it does seem a little pointless. But I didn't plant it, it came with the house. Have you ever had nandina? That will give you bright red berries in fall and winter, and the leaves will turn in fall too. I have two big ones and they're easy to care for. Looking forward to seeing more from your beautiful garden. :)

  5. I loved reading your post and ended up talking to hubby about how we should think about doing something out there. Very inspiring and would love more of your sexy gardening :) xx

  6. Gardening is certainly not a middle-aged hobby! I'm not quite young and trendy but not yet middle aged and it's something I would love to do if I had more time. It would really help my teaching too as I'd love to be more exciting when doing gardening activities with my class. x

  7. Lost my previous comment, sigh. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your garden posts. I've got a new little rose to put in at the allotment, and a couple of camellias for the garden, they always look so exotic and flower so early in the year. They're some of my favourites. I'm hoping to grow things from seed this year, and also to save some of my own seeds. A new year is always exciting - so many plans. Olly is right by the way, it clearly is a climbing frame - the little holes are the right size for little feet, and, well, it's there, waiting to be climbed. Wishing you a good gardening year, CJ xx

  8. Oh yes please I would love to read about your garden, your photos are so beautiful .I cant wait

  9. Another vote from me, I'd love to read about your garden. Presuming that you get very little frost you should be able to grow some lovely plants!

  10. I'd love it if you posted on this topic weekly, especially in a very basic way like "Plant cosmos seeds this week." That sort of thing. I am full of good intentions but essentially a rubbish gardener and look to you for help! x