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Venturing into the psychedelic

I have never grown Dahlias before but absolutely love their showy, multi coloured blooms and think they really add impact to floral arrangements. They are an absolute must for my cut flower bed and I’m going to grow then on my allotment to. I think because of their extravagant appearence I assumed they might be high maintenance or difficult to grow. I have since been told that they are actually pretty easy to grow and that they really reward you if you take care of them. Slugs apparently love them and yes you do have to lift them in the Autumn but I’m happy to do this especially as you can take shoot cuttings from the dried tubers, so one tuber the following spring can produce multiple dahlia plants!

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Dahlia ‘My Love’

I planted some of my tubers in trays and some of them in pots. I want to see which technique is best to propagate the shoots so watch this space…

I have chosen different Dahlias that are good for cutting. I read that the Karma variety are particularly good for cutting as some Dahlias last longer in a vase than others. Here are some of my favourites

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Dahlia ‘Sun Explosion’
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Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’
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Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’

I can’t wait to see how they get on and I’m looking forward to my first year growing these beauties.

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Building a garden on a budget

I knew when we bought the house (and garden!) it would take a lot of time and money to get it up together but unfortunately we don’t have bottomless pockets of money so we try to think of ways to get the garden we want but without spending lots of cash!

The other day Joe constructed this beauty in the back garden out of leftover timber from a building site.

img_2087Puzzle had claimed the spot underneath the bay tree as her own. She dug a huge hole which she would fill with what she considered to be treasure (mainly chewed up plant pots, odd gardening gloves and old tennis balls). I thought it would be nice to help shape the garden by giving the middle of the garden a bit of structure by adding a raised bed. The bay tree looked a bit isolated on its own so I wanted to add low level plants to add a bit of interest in this area.

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The raised beds will contain Heather and Hebe’s

When we left our old house I took a few plants with me. This wasn’t just a way of saving money our last garden was a small shady courtyard in Bristol and it was where I started getting into gardening. I filled it with as many pretty things as possible, I experimented a lot with various seeds and bulbs and I really started to love growing flowers. Understandably there were a few plants that I felt rather sentimental about and luckily they seem to have survived the move.

img_2090They are actually doing really well and the poppies have all propagated nicely. I’ve put the smallest in my newly made cold frame so they have a bit of protection whilst they grow. The cold frame again was made out recycled timber and our old shower screen that we removed from the bathroom. It works perfectly and doesn’t look bad either. The whole build cost ten pounds which was spent on nails.

IMG_2089.JPGAll my window sills are crammed with seed trays right now so I think I’m going to be filling it up in no time.

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Pond life

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Garden plant list: Roses

img_2039For me a garden filled with roses is the dream and I want to have lots of them in my cut flower arrangements. Roses from shops can often be mass produced on farms in other countries where the farming process is pretty relentless. We have the ability to grow beautiful roses in this country and I’m all for the more rustic, less perfect looking blooms (which is probably a good thing as I’m a complete beginner in terms of growing roses). It was so much fun choosing which beautiful blooms to buy but it was worth considering what I wanted from the roses in our garden. With all the different types, colours and varieties to choose from it helped to narrow my selection down by choosing roses that had the right qualities. I wanted roses that would be fast growing, good for cutting and would also smell amazing. As well as a few shrub roses I have chosen climbing roses that can scramble over the garden fences and walls and will hopefully work well with the other climbers and shrubs I have chosen.

Here’s my rose lineup:

ROSA ‘A SHROPSHIRE LAD’

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A Shropshire Lad has repeat flowers from Summer until Autumn 

A stunning David Austin rose with large peachy pink blooms and a gorgeous fragrance. Mum has this one growing in her garden and I’ve always loved it. This rose is lacking in the thorn department which is great news as I want as many roses as possible to be used as¬†cut flowers . I hope to grow this rose up the back of the house and over the patio doors. It’s a fast growing, vigorous climber so should do the job nicely. It will be so lovely to walk through its rosey perfume and into the garden.

¬†ROSA ‘NEW DAWN’

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New Dawn is a repeat flowering climbing rose

New Dawn is a fragrant, vigorous climbing rose. It should grow quickly and will easily help to cover the fence over on the east facing bed. New Dawn will do well in partial shade so should be ok in this slightly shady bed. It has classic sprays of pearly pink blooms and flowers all the way from July until September.  I hope that it will also spread onto the back wall adding some soft pink tones to the evergreen climbers on the north facing wall.

ROSA ‘CHARLES DE MILLS’

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Charles De Mills flowers in July

A highly recommended rose by David Austin and Sarah Raven. This deep crimson beauty really caught my eye and will look stunning in any border. I going to plant Charles De Mills in the east bed as I want vibrant colour to pop out even when the bed is in shade. A hardy and reliable shrub rose, it smells delicious and is apparently really good for use as a cut flowers. I can’t wait to see it bloom in the garden!

ROSA ‘MADAME ALFRED DE CARRIERE’

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Madame Alfred De Carriere has repeat blooms from July until September

I have read that this is one of the best roses for growing on a north facing¬†wall. SOLD! By growing a rose along the north facing wall at the back of our garden means I can hopefully have happy roses in every bed. Is it possible to have too many roses in a garden? I don’t think so. Growing in shade is not the only trump card this rose has; It’s full hardy, has a lovely fragrance and grows quickly. It also has stunning flowers that change from white to pale pink.

ROSA ‘ICEBERG CLIMBING’

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Climbing Iceburg flowers from July until September

A vigorous, bushy climbing rose with white, double headed blooms with a sweet fragrance. The stems are pretty much thornless which makes it a great cut flower option. I plan to plant my climbing Iceburg in the west flower bed to help cover the fence. I’m hoping it will bush out into the bed and form a pretty back drop my poppy’s (which I’m slightly obsessed with) and other perennials.

ROSA KONIGIN VON DANEMARK

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Konigin Von Danemark flowers in July

Such a beautiful, soft, classical rose. With deep to light pink, crushed, double blooms. Fast growing ¬†with a lovely fragrance. Koni¬†(as I’ve started to call it) will look stunning in the garden and vase as the flowers are apparently great when cut and will add impact to my south bed. I want to match it against pretty shrub foliage, peony’s and fox gloves for a romantic feel that I hope will do this old fashioned beauty justice.

ROSA MALVERN HILLS

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Malvern Hills flowers from summer onwards

A fragrant, repeat flowering rambling rose. I had to include this magnificent David Austin rose as a tribute to the Malvern Hills where my Grandma lived and Grandpa still lives. I’ll always remember walking on the hills with my Grandma. She would talk to me about the different wildlife and plants that we came across. Her passion for flowers has always inspired me and continues to do so. I know I will smile often and think of her when I see this one bloom. Great for cutting and almost thornless I will be able to make the most of seeing if flower inside and out.

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Some of my roses ready to be planted out

All of the roses have now arrived and it’s so exciting to put them in the newly formed flower beds. As they are all going in at once and I’m going to have my hands very full this year I tried to choose roses that were known to be reliable and resistant to disease. Anything too high maintenance might lead to a lot of disappointment. Fingers crossed this hardy bunch take to the garden and more importantly to me and my rather novice approach to gardening!

It would be great to hear any rose growing tips or advice. I’d also love to hear about other people’s faveourite roses. What roses can you not live without in your garden?

Photo credits:

www.davidaustinroses.co.uk

www.rhs.org.uk

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Starting a wormey

Welcoming some wiggly friends.

Yesterday these little beauties arrived. I have inherited two wormery’s¬†(one will be in the back garden and one on the alottment). The worms came with bedding and food and after finding some instructions on You Tube to set up my Can O Worms three tier wormery I stacked it up, said a little prayer to the compost Gods and hoped for the best. Not only will it help reduce our kitchen bin waste but I’m hoping to get some lovely plant food for the garden. I hope the little guys are happy in their new home.

Look what arrived today! #worms #wormery #composting #howlifehaschanged

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Garden update-the journey so far!

A new year and and a new start for our back garden. When we moved into our new home we franticly focused on turning the inside of the house into a liveable space.  It seemed like a good idea to start on the garden at the beginning of a new year as a way of really marking and tracking the progress of the garden through the different seasons planting and growing as the garden takes shape.

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Back Garden Summer 2016

When I first viewed our new back garden it was a beautiful summers day. We were viewing the property and for me one of the biggest selling points was the opportunity to have a south facing garden. The space was a rather unkempt blank canvas and this also excited me. I knew like the house it would need a lot of work but the challenge of being able to plan and design a garden from scratch was one I wanted to take on. I could see the potential the garden had to offer and what better way to improve my gardening know how than starting at the very beginning!

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Not a flower insight!

The strongest feature in the garden is the apple tree which I love! I have since cooked the apples from the tree and they make a mean apple pie.

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The Branch family handprints – set in stone

We haven’t done anything to the garden until now. After settling on a plan, we dug the flower beds and put down horse manure compost to¬†help enrich the soil before planting. Joe also rendered the back wall so it has a nicer texture and looks much smarter!

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Note the emergency planting of 2016’s Christmas tree!

This flower bed forms a shady semi circle at the end of the garden. I have chosen evergreen climbers that will grow on a north facing wall including a honeysuckle called ‘Mint Crisp’ which has lovely verigated leaves and the hydrangea’s ‘Seemannii’ and ‘ Pileostegia Viburnoides’. I also wanted a shade tolerating rose for the bed and found out that ‘Rosa Madame Alfred Carrier’should do ok on this aspect and will hopefully¬†integrate¬†nicely with the other climbers (so long as I keep them in order as the hydrangeas can get pretty huge!).

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Honeysuckle ‘Mint Crisp’

In trying to create some sort of order in the ¬†back garden and by digging the flower beds we have been left with what looks like the aftermath of a small muddy festival in the back garden. Despite this I still think it looks better with some deffinition and it’s nice to be able to imagine how the garden will look this time next year!

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February 2017

Some of the other climbers I have chosen to grow along the fences are a mixture of clematis, roses and honeysuckle including ‘Rosa New Dawn’ and ‘Rosa Iceberg’ which will not only help to cover the fence but are good rose varieties to mix with cut flowers. When it came to clematis again I wanted good coverage but also pretty flowers. I chose ‘Elizabeth’ and a freckled clematis ‘Cirrhosa¬†var Balearica’ which I think will look beautiful mixed in with the soft palette of the climbing roses. So we had made a good start and I’m looking forward to getting all the plants in the garden soon. I’ve also started sowing some of my half hardy annuals to propagate inside as well as potting root cuttings for the greenhouse. I want to get as much done now as I think things are going to be pretty hectic once things start taking off and I have seeds and soil coming out of my ears.

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Clematis Cirrhosa Var Balearica
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Hellebore #2

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Hellebore #1

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Sowing Sweet Peas for the cutting garden and allotment