It has been a busy time in the garden.
My main project is transforming our overgrown strawberry bed into a floral haven. I love strawberries BUT my kitchen garden has disappeared under a sprawling mat of runners. Winter has given me time to take stock. I decided to transplant roses from other borders, which were swamped by invasive plants last year. I dug out patches of strawberries with my new Burgon & Ball National Trust garden fork and transplanted ‘Spirit of Freedom’ “Ferdinand Pichard’ and a brand new bare root rose ‘Sweet Honey’ from Roses UK, all planted with a good dose of mycorrhizal fungi. Also planted out was a large pot-bound rosemary, which was begging to have its roots in the open ground.
The greenhouse has also seen lots of action! I’ve sown five pots of herbs for the kitchen windowsill: coriander, flat-leafed parsley, parsley ‘Champion’ and two pots of basil. A couple of the packets of herbs were part of a seed swap I did with a fellow Instagrammer. Seed swaps are a great opportunity to try new varieties and share spare seed. As meeting up has been out of the question, the online community has overcome restrictions by using the post. I also received artichoke seeds, which I have never personally grown before. ‘Green Globe’ seedlings will hopefully be sprouting up by the next I time I write.
Seedlings reaching for the skies were climbing peas ‘Purple Magnolia’ and sweet peas ‘Top to Bottom’ from Thomas & Morgan but the resident mouse family have ransacked my precious shoots. After saving what I can, Garden News magazine seeds have come to the rescue and I have re-sown with ‘ Early Mammoth Mixed, King Sized Navy Blue and Fragrantissima.’ I’m growing my sweet peas in toilet roll inners so I can plant the whole tube in the ground and not disturb their roots. As the tubes often disintegrate after a few waters I put them inside a plastic pot for support.
My other passion is growing dahlia from seed and I have a few trays of ‘Bishop’s Children’ coming on nicely. I find it amazing they go from seed to tuber in one year. The wonders of nature!
I was given ‘Taunton Deane’ kale last year; this hardy plant is growing strong as is my colourful favourite kale ‘Redbor.’ I like to plant kale in my flower borders intermingled with annuals and perennials so I have sown a tray to bring on in the greenhouse for this year’s borders.
I continue to build up my compost bin with kitchen and garden waste and once the temperature warmed up the worms came out to play. I opened the bin one day and was greeted by an army of worms writhing around, content in their warm, dark home.
I’ve been cutting back old winter stems of herbaceous perennials like Hylotelephium spectabile (formerly sedum) and enjoying my new Niwaki garden snips. Their long sharp blades easily got into tight places and cut the stems without damaging the new foliage around it. Cornus alba 'Sibirica’ and Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea' have also been in for the chop, I took out one in three old stems to stimulate new vibrant growth and propagated the pencil-thin cuttings.
Narcissus, crocus and hyacinths are blooming. My Belfast sink herb garden is sprouting back to life. Spring is in the air.
Highlight: Blackbirds eating our fallen apples when food was scarce.
All photos © Debi Holland 2021