My garden has been a work in progress during the past 10 years. This is when I first met my husband to be and moved into his house and garden (I say this term loosely!). The actual garden consisted of an overgrown bit of lawn, a mud patch for a patio and a grapevine that had taken over the top of the garden to the extent that no-one else could visit!
When I moved in, I enlisted the help of my Dad who just looked at the grapevine at the top of the garden and said “we’ll have to burn it and start over!”. Can you now begin to see the challenges facing me in my quest for a nice space to sit in and grow some veg!
I remember coming home from work and yearning to sit outside, however my only seat was a garden bench that had seen better days, resting on a mud patch!
Over the years, the garden has been transformed (it’s definitely a child friendly garden – for our young son), but it’s also an oasis of calm in the middle of Birmingham suburbs. I always grew up with my parents gardening so had a bit of background knowledge to start with but I enrolled on a part time Level 3 Certificate in Horticulture which I absolutely loved. I went mad on buying plants and trying all different ways of propagation and really learnt such a lot in a fairly short period of time. I devoured gardening books, ranging from Gertrude Jekyll to Monty Don and the obligatory Gardeners World magazine.
Now nearly all of the original plants have gone plus we now have a row of pink trellises! Somewhat eye-catching if not to everyone’s taste. (This was my project when my son started school and I didn’t know what to do with myself!)
I think the pinnacle was participating in Moseley in Bloom in 2010, with at one point in our garden we counted 150 people!
April/May is a very busy time in my garden – not much time for sewing (as readers of my blog will know this is what I like to do!). At Christmas every year I cheer myself up through the dark days and short nights through poring over seed catalogues. I circle the ones I would like (normally around 60/70 packets)! Eventually I get down to a more realistic figure and plan my next gardening year from there.
This year I started in March and have sown my usual crop of tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and runner beans. As a couple of new additions I’ve tried French beans (dwarf) and melons (seeds saved from our fruit salad).
From a flower point of view, I usually sow nasturtiums and have supplemented these by climbing nasturtiums too. I’ve never grown these before, so will see how they do! My dahlias are doing well as are the Russian Giant sunflowers that badly need planting out. All these seeds have been growing nicely in my greenhouse and most have been planted out last week or will be done so in the next week or so.
I also love Black Eyed Susan (Thunburgia), the native Africa/Asia plant and have grown it the past few years climbing up my trellis. Everyone comments on it as it is so eye-catching. Unfortunately this year, I couldn’t find any at my local Wyevale centre in Bournville and had difficulty in sourcing it altogether. In desperation, I sowed some seeds (I find that buying the plant is more successful in Thunburgia than actually sowing seed for once), knowing that ideally the seeds should have been started off earlier. However, last week to my amazement, I found a fantastic specimen at our local florists. I was so excited, I texted my husband (how sad is that!). My lovely thunburgia is happily growing away in a new pot against the trellis. Additionally, the seeds I sown a few weeks ago have started sprouting! Probably too late, but I will give them a go and see how they do.
I love sweet peas (see future separate blog on these) and can’t get enough of them. I usually buy the blue ones (Blue Ripple) and this year sowed a packet of the red Air Warden which seem to be growing strong.
I have also sown carrot seeds direct as well as lettuce which have just started to come up. I think the snow that we had in the Midlands a couple of weeks ago put them back a bit! This week I’ve sown poached egg plant (Limnanthes) directly and Nigella, which is an annual favourite. In the greenhouse, the Canterbury Bells are taking a while to emerge but only today, I saw some little stems emerging.