The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. sweet-pea-close-up-dark-pink-310x240 lilium-citronella-310-x-240



      February is  not too early to begin planning summer colour.

    Sweet Peas are a colourful, highly scented annual climber which can be started off in February.  At this stage sow underglass and keep warm until they have successfully germinated. Sweet peas can then be hardened off ready for planting out usually around April. Sweet peas are half hardy annuals so will take a fair degree of cold once established. Pinch out the top growth to have multiple stems per plant and more summer flowers. For details tips and sowing advice check out How to Grow Sweet Peas.

    There are also summer flowering bulbs which can be started off  later  February such as Dahlia and Lily. Plant only during a mild spell and bear in mind they are not frost hardy. It should take around 6 weeks or more for the top growth to emerge which should be around mid to late April. If there is a frost protect the top growth with a cloche. Planting early, with the right winter protection, will get the bulbs off to an early start. If you garden in an exposed area prone to late frosts, or with a lot of winter wet delay planting until later in March.

    For more tips on growing Dahlia and Lily.


  2. Owl-in-winter-310-x-240

    In winter Tawny Owls are busy calling and looking for a  mate, which means they are more vocal. I am always amazed and delighted to hear Owls. I often hear them but rarely see them. Tawny Owls are the most common of our native Owls and as shown in the image, very beautiful.

    Tawny Owls tend to live and stay in the same territory which means the pair which live within audio distance of our house can be heard quite regularly.  

     I have placed on You tube the haunting sound of Owls on a frosty night and is only audio. The reason there is no video footage of the Owls is, (apart from the fact they are hard to spot,) it was pitch dark and nothing to be seen, just the sound of Owls hooting alongside a stream. Have a nature moment and relax to the lovely sounds of Owls.

    Tawny Owls looking for a mate or to re establish contact with their mate, (they pair for life,) will call out and the familiar sound of to-wit, kewit followed by to-woo, hooo is in fact two Owls, the female first followed by the male response. Only the male makes the familar 'towoooo' sound responding to the female call. If you hear just a single call it is like a male Tawny Owl in search of his mate.


  3. close up of wreath 500 Christmas Wreath on door 500


    It's definitely not perfect, homemade rarely is. But on the plus side, this wreath is free and compostable. When the festive season is over, it can go on the compost heap or in the green bin. 
    The framework is made from Cornus stems, but any shrub stems which are flexible will do fine. Start by weaving or winding bout 6/7 stems to make a round framework and then bind it at the top with raffia. This secures the wreath and binding the top helps to make it more circular and hold its shape.
    The 6/7 stems also make a base to weave in, tie in and add in other matter. This wreath has bits of a fir tree, green Portuguese Laurel, bright variegated Euonymus and some Ivy.

    There is also (very prickly) green and variegated Holly, Orange Berberis and some dark purple Hypericum berries with some added dried seed heads and old Astilbe flower heads. You can use whatever you have in your garden and make a Christmas Wreath unique to you.

    Merry Christmas everyone.



  4. What is mulching a border ?


    mulching the borders

    This time of year  is a good time to clear up in the borders. Most of my borders are  planted with herbaceous perennials and so look a complete mess by now. Various plants collapsed and frosted.

    On milder days at this time of year I am working to clear the weeds and mulch.

    Once the finished plants are cut back, the weeds are there to be seen in all their resplendent glory as a result there is more weeding to be done now than in the spring.

    Late Autumn and early Winter is a good time to mulch the borders. The helps to improve the soil structure, protects any slightly tender plants and makes the borders look much tidier.

    In the image above all the weeds have been removed and then a mulch applied. I like to use Strulch, it is light and so easy to handle, supresses the weeds and keeps in the moisture and will rot down to improve the soil structure. Apply a mulch layer around 3-4 cms and do not over cover the center crown of plants, especially roses. The image left may not look up to RHS standard but before the weeding and mulching it really was a mess. The mulch makes the border look neater.

    You can also use compost, or make a leaf mulch, which is free to anyone who has too many leaves in the garden. Although leaf mulch is not a nutritional mulch, it is good for the soil structure and the borders will benefit. 

     It is hard to keep a garden tidy and surprising how much neater it looks when covered in a tidy layer of mulch, and it will keep the weeds at bay.

    Leaf mould is easy to make; tips on making leaf mould and a bin.