End of Month View May 2011

This month I’m finally taking the plunge, and joining the EOMV hosted by Helen to track the (hopefully rapid) changes in our garden now that we have the makings of our first partial ornamental borders.

There is still a lot of work to be done! However, the small planted section along the northern border of the garden is holding on despite the recent gail-force winds.

At the back, the oak-leaved hydrangea is looking a little floppy still, while the viburnum plicatum ‘Pink Sensation’ looks much more settled with three or four clusters of white flowers. In front of these is a motley collection of aquilegias which are rapidly coming towards the end of the season; some cosmos, gypsophila, cardoons and black tuscan kale all raised from seed; along with a white foxglove and at the front two small astrantias bought from local stands on market day. A small start, but promising…

On the other side of the border, I have been filling up the available space with a little more restraint.

The yellow rose towards the front left is starting to form buds, bringing promise of some sunny flowers to come. Elsewhere in this border I have planted various lupins, gypsophila, larkspur, dianthus barbata, echinacea purpurea, rudbeckia and some snapdragons raised from seed. These are mostly still small, although some of the echinacea were raised last year and have the first hints of flower heads. I planted two phlox paniculata and the ladybird poppy all bought at Malvern in this bed too, despite initially intending them to go elsewhere. With the strong drying winds and erratic rainfall they were starting to suffer a little in their pots, and it seemed sensible to plant them where I could, with a view to moving them later if desired when more space becomes ready for planting.

Back at the productive end of the garden, the month has seen more activity.

The salad leaves, lettuce, rocket, radishes, beetroot and ruby chard at the front of this middle bed are coming on well, and we have had regular salad pickings for some weeks now, accompanied by baby spinach leaves and watercress in pots by the greenhouse. The squash and sweetcorn are looking rather forlorn yet, and we suspect that planting them out so early has checked their growth quite a bit. Hopefully they should pick up soon! The row of dwarf French beans have not made much progress either, looking rather windbeaten and nibbled, so we sowed more this weekend in modules in the greenhouse just in case we need them.

The runner beans are putting on growth at last though, beginning to wind around their supports, and beside them the florence fennel and celeriac went in over the weekend. I have also been starting to add companion plants around the edges of this plot to bring colour, scent and herbs through the summer: calendula, borage, limnanthes, hyssop and nasturtiums.

A half row of further celeriac are planted out in the lower bed, between the row of parsnips, which is marked by emerging radish leaves, and a row of late broad beans still to appear along the edge. King of the Hill added a third cabbage cage at the end of this bed, and we have put out the spare pots of savoy cabbage, black tuscan kale along with pots of brussels sprouts and cauliflowers to harden off outside, still safe from the flickering cabbage whites, and free up space in the greenhouse now that the threat of frost is all but over.

More wood working skills were applied late yesterday afternoon by King of the Hill, to create this four-shelf staging to free up even more space in the greenhouse as the endless trays were making it a hazard to move in here! Another one should be constructed shortly to stand outside and hold the trays of plants for hardening off, as these threaten to clutter up the paths near the greenhouse. The tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and aubergines have a little more space to grow in here now without being flanked by quite so many trays of seedlings. Amazing how much space it all takes up.

King of the Hill was seduced by the flowers on our first early potatoes this weekend too, and dug up one of the plants for our first potatoes of the year.

They were still fairly small, but tasted wonderful lightly boiled – a sneaky taste of the delights to come. We must be patient now and let the rest of the earlies bulk up a little before our next harvest.

As the month draws to a close, things are starting to look good here, despite the rather unseasonal weather we have been experiencing. By the end of next month, we are expecting to see a lot of change, both structural and from the plants as they settle into their stride. Farewell to the merry month of May.

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17 thoughts on “End of Month View May 2011

  1. Hurrah! I was hoping you would join the EOMV fun! I think you did the right thing getting your new plants in the ground, they will be easier to look after than stuck in pots. I like the sound of your new borders, they will soon bulk up and be full of colour. The rose sounds lovely.

    Your sweetcorn and squash story is familiar – I only planted mine out last week, but the wind has battered them and something has been munching. Like you I am starting other beans off in the greenhouse. Impressive salad array – I keep losing seedlings to the snails that lurk in hard-to-reach areas of the greenhouse so we haven’t eaten much. Mind you, this also because I seem to be the only one who really loves large salads so I haven’t sown as much as I was intending to.

    • Yay – very exciting to finally have progress to track! I’ve slipped a couple more things out of pots and into the ground tonight too; they just keep drying out so fast and looking rather sorry. If we don’t clear the rest of the borders soon, there won’t be anything left to go in them, as it’ll all be cheek-to-jowl in front of the shed :-). Not that I’d have any problem filling them still, I suspect. Rather like bookshelves … can you ever have too many books, or too many plants? I’m inclined to think not 🙂

      I’m pleased with our salads so far. We haven’t had any whole lettuces from our plot yet (we’re still not quite set up for extending the start of the season yet) but the first ones are starting to fatten up, and the loose leaves we’ve been harvesting have been lovely. Just as well for us, we have big salads most lunchtimes so can get through quite a few leaves in a week.

      It’s always such a shame that the snails and slugs are so quick to munch everything that the wind doesn’t batter to pieces. I hope your squash and sweetcorn fares a bit better than ours so far.

  2. You and King of the Hill obviously have a good partnership going! I keep seeing you write about all the carpentry , engineering , moving and shifting tasks that the poor chap gets involved in! [This is what Jane and I normally refer to as the Brute Force and Ignorance factor – which is of course a vital element of gardening success!] Maybe it is time to see him in the limelight – in front of the camera – for once???
    One thing I noticed immediately when I saw your photos: the garden is beginning to look green – or at least not mostly brown! Progress.

    • I am very lucky – he designs and builds rather clever and functional things at the drop of a hat. Not sure whose hat, mind…
      Alas he’s loath to be caught on camera – to protect the innocent, he says! The most I am permitted to share of him so far is his gloved hand full of potatoes. One of these days, perhaps…
      Yes, green. Beautiful green. Such a relief after brown and grey for so long! I was starting to feel like a broken parrot, “one day… one day…”. Progress indeed, and more to come!

  3. Its all beginning to take shape – the June EOMV is going to be very colourful! I can’t wait to have my first potatoes, very soon now :-). I do envy the amount of sunshine you clearly get in your garden, there is so much shade in mine I have to be very careful where I place things. Great post, thanks

    • Thanks Ronnie, I’m looking forward to watching it all fill out. We are pretty lucky with sun since we opened the garden up. It was a dark shady place when we first looked round! In return we get more wind, of course… One of these days I will post some ‘before’ pictures.

  4. Like Ronnie – I envy you your sun, your views and your handy man but so glad you have given us a glimpse of the garden in progress. The orderly veg garden reflects a tidy mind, Sara! Wondered how you do with rabbits and what ornamentals you can/cannot grow. Happy June to you. Laura x

    • It’s lovely to have some bits of garden that don’t look like a builders’ yard to show :-). Hmm not sure about the tidy mind, the lines in the veg patch tend to weave about a bit. Every time we sow or plant anything we say ‘cottage garden!’ to excuse this…
      So far we haven’t seen any rabbits or damage from them, *fingers crossed*. Perhaps they don’t like hilltops? I’m sure there must be some in the fields… Snails/slugs and caterpillars are the biggest vandals. And the onions are looking a bit battered where the cats sit on them 🙂
      Will report on which ornamentals flourish and which we sadly lose as time progresses.
      Happy June to you too! Can’t believe it’s June already… x

  5. Your veg patch looks great – much tidier than mine! I envy your cold frames, I had some cheap ones and they are just useless – I need to get some decent ones.

    • Thank you. Don’t look too closely, though, it needs a good weeding! Ah the frames have enviromesh on them to keep the cabbage whites off the brassicas. Our cabbages were devastated by caterpillars last year so my husband built them for protection. They do give a little wind protection too though, which is particularly needed of late!

  6. Sara lovely to see how much you have progressed in the few months since I found your blog,
    re not wanting to be photographed my father was the same and one of my fav photos of him is one my mum took through the kitchen window but he saw her and turned round so it’s of his back but I love it as I can imagine what he was mumbling and it is so him!
    I thought when Monday and Tuesday were less windy we were near an end but last night the wind/gale was back! you must have your bean canes in a sheltered part of the garden or they’d be gone, looking forward to seeing your continued progress, Frances

    • Thank you Frances.

      I like the story of your father turning from the camera. 🙂 My husband does that to me sometimes, though he will let me take his picture from time to time but not for the ‘public domain’. I have many pictures but I can’t use them on here! 🙂

      Strong breezes still whip past our beanpoles but perhaps they get a little protection from the structures of the woodstore, greenhouse and shed to prevent them flying off!

  7. Enjoyed your end of month view. Hasn’t the wind been a real problem recently ~ we had more wind in May than we did all winter 😦 Looking forward to seeing how your border knits together. I imagine that your potatoes were delicious.

    • Thank you! The wind has been fierce. I’m hoping it has died down again now, some of our plants have severe windburn! The potatoes were wonderful – from plot to plate within 20 minutes. Looking forward to more where those came from!

  8. I love your cold frame…very neat and tidy looking. Your veggies look wonderful, too!

    It will be fun to see how your borders end up. I usually have the best intentioned plans, but the plantings never end up the way I have imagined them. 🙂

    • Thank you! They’re mesh frames rather than cold frames, to protect the brassicas from the cabbage whites, but they probably help break the wind a little too.
      I think only the professionals manage to stick to strict planting schemes, the rest of us end up influenced by chance finds, time, weather and a hundred other factors.

  9. Pingback: May Review « Hillwards

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