March saw the plot’s second anniversary in our care. Sometimes I worry that progress is slow, but when I look back at photographs of our first day I realise just how far we’ve come.
2017 was beset with rabbits, but for the most part we’ve since kept them at bay. I know it’s early spring and there isn’t much going on, but how do you fancy a tour? Yes? Well, follow me…
To the left here, as we walk through the gate, is my flower bed.
We’ve coppiced the hazel. I think it’s six or seven years old. I’m hoping this year the peony will flower, but it hasn’t yet woken from its winter slumber. This bed looks very different from when I first planted it as it was decimated by rabbits. Only the hyssop survives. It’s now a jumble of plants including Sweet William, London Pride, sedums, strawberries, aquilegias, an unknown iris, catmint and honesty. A few weeks ago I added a pulmonaria saccharata ‘Trevi Fountain’. You can just see it at the back of the photo, beside the fence. It’s only a small plant, and I’m hoping the catmint will give it shelter from the sun until the hazel grows again.
I planted another two pulmonarias, ‘Blue Ensign’ and ‘‘Mrs Moon’ along the north side of the shed. The bees are loving them. We’ve already seen mating activity from two hairy-footed flower bees. I’ll show you the plants’ new home on our return journey down the plot.
If we continue walking along the path and looking to our left we come to one of my favourite parts of the plot: the mini orchard and wildflower meadow. You may remember last year we planted around 300 spring bulbs, and it’s been agonising waiting for them to grow.
Well, we have life! And some of it was rather surprising. For a start, the gnomes have herded the tulips into the centre, and left us a couple of little gems such as this iris:
There’s some other stars of the meadow too, such as the beautiful blue hyacinths. I confess that I bought them from B&Q prior to them flowering, but the whole plot is heavy with their scent.
I’m really chuffed to see the winter aconites and snake’s head fritillaries finally make a show. There’s no sign of the snowdrops so I’m guessing they didn’t survive.
It looks like we also might have a good number of poppies growing. I’ve really enjoyed marking how winter has turned into spring by the growth in this bed.
Just past the wildflower meadow is a new oval bed I’m preparing for sweet peas. I’ve used coppiced hazel to make a tepee to support them.
We’ve not made any changes to the asparagus bed this side of the greenhouse, but Rob has been busy working in the greenhouse preparing it for tomatoes and chillies. It still needs frost protecting.
On the other side of the greenhouse is the herb bed and the flower bed I dug last year. It didn’t quite turn out as I imagined, and the tulips seem to have grown in a block, aside from the stray one protruding at the front. I’d like to blame the gnomes for this too, but I think the planting scheme was human error. The tulips are ‘Mystik van Eijk’ and are a beautiful apricot with pink edging.
The strawberries are growing rampant in the herb bed and I think they might distract the slugs from some of the more tender herbs.
Beside this bed is the part of the plot that until a couple of days ago looked a mess. It was used as a storage area for sacks of sand, wood chip and weeds, and we’re also storing pallets here ready to make a bench in a few months’ time.
We’re slowly tidying it up. We’ve dug out one of the pallet bays at the very back of the plot and are stacking the sacks here.
To the right of the pollarded willow is our pond and bog garden. It used to be a dried up old well. There isn’t currently a lot going on at this time of year. I’m hoping we’ll get frogspawn, but I’m not sure frogs can access our plot since we barricaded it against rabbits.
I’m really excited (REALLY, REALLY excited) to see new growth on the primulas. I’ve a selection of Bulleesianas and a Japonica ‘Miller’s Crimson‘ that I planted last June and I’m desperate to see flower. For a long time I didn’t think any of them had made it through winter, but then…
Turning away from the pond, and starting our journey back down the plot, we come to the old fruit bed. This was the first bed we dug and our first crop was potatoes before we repurposed it for fruit. It’s now home to three red currant bushes and a tepee ready for climbing peas. I have a dream of sitting here on a bench contentedly munching freshly picked peas whilst watching damselflies and dragonflies flit around the pond. It’s not going quite to plan as I’ve had such a poor germination of the peas (variety ‘Alderman’) that I might not get much munching done. I’ve sown another batch.
After the fruit bed we come to the main bulk of our vegetable beds. The first is for perennial vegetables, currently rhubarb, more asparagus, and maybe a globe artichoke if it survived the winter.
Most of the beds are still covered for winter, but our plans include the three sisters method of planting using sweetcorn, borlotti beans and summer and winter squashes. We also intend to grow cabbages, soya beans, onion, beetroot, kale, salsola, cabbage, fennel, garlic, and potatoes – I’m sure I’ll write more about them as we sow them, but there’s been very little activity on these beds save for digging over, planting garlic, and sowing Spanish onion seeds under the bottle cloches.
Most activity over winter focused on digging a new bed that wraps around the south and east side of the shed. I hope to grow a little cut flower patch.
I’m thinking some cornflowers, larkspur, scabiosa stellata ‘Ping Pong’, ammi majus, gladioli, and rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ would be nice. I’ve been digging in sand to aid drainage as the soil is quite heavy clay. I was going to add a little canary-creeper to grow up the side of the shed, but that also failed to germinate.
Beside this bed is a bath that we’ve been using to mulch down perennial weeds, but we thought it would be good for growing carrots. We’ve removed the weeds, added drainage holes, and after a little more attention it’ll be ready to sow.
Another area we’ve worked on over winter is the little border on the north side of the shed.
There’s foxgloves at the far end, as well as the ‘Blue Ensign’ pulmonaria I mentioned earlier, the acanthis mollis ‘Rue Ledan’ isn’t doing very well here but it’s still early days. There’s also a little hart’s tongue fern, wild garlic, chives, the other pulmonaria (‘Mrs Moon’ – the bees adore it), a hellebore my mum gave me with a beautiful purple flower, a honeysuckle to grow up the arch over the gate, and a rose to trail over the shed. We bought the rose as an anniversary present to ourselves. I chose this species because the beautiful yellow flowers should contrast nicely with the blue/grey of the shed, and because the flowers are simple and open and easy for pollinators to access. Rob chose it because he couldn’t stop laughing at the name – ‘golden showers‘.
And here we are, back at the gate where we started. I hope you enjoyed your little plot tour, and I hope you visit again soon to see how we change with the seasons.