The Joy of Geraniums
Perennial geraniums are a fabulous plant. I mentioned ‘perennial’ because the misnomer that pelagoniums are geraniums continues, led by garden centres and nurseries around the country. In fact, both of these plants are perennial. Pelagoniums, though not frost hardy, will quite happily develop into a…
A 'Blooming' Good Reason for Growing Houseleeks
Succulents have, by and large, passed me by for most of my green-fingered life. It was only when I began planning my wedding and looking at more masculine table settings and bouquets, that I began to realise just how wonderful Sempervivum (houseleeks) are. Until then I knew them only for nostalgic r…
Making a Case for Violas
There’s no love lost between Pansies and I. I’m not really a big fan of gaudy flowers, and I’m afraid I normally put pansies in this category. Add the fact there’s a vast amount of deadheading to do throughout the season, not to mention these plants tend to be short-lived and get very straggly, and …
Plant Pick - Growing Hollyhocks
I’m the first to admit I’m not a fan of short-lived plants. I like to plop a plant in and leave it, allowing its perennial nature to keep it growing year after year. All this annual and biennial sowing nonsense; no, I can’t be doing with that. Aside from a few plants, however. And one of these is th…
Plant Pick - Growing Dahlias
‘Tis very much the season for dahlias. I’m a huge fan of these blooms, though I admit, I have a slight love/hate relationship. There are a vast array of varieties in the dahlia collection, from sinewy, single-petalled bloomers to small, clump forming plants with huge, gaudy flowers. It’s the latter …
Plant Pick - Growing Tulips
If you hadn’t heard, it’s September already. That means it’s time to plant bulbs for a spring show in 2015. And, if you’re stocking up, then it’s definitely time to be thinking about tulips.
I often think that tulips are one of the more overlooked bulbs. We all fill our gardens with daffs, crocus…
Plant Pick - Growing Osteospermum (Cape Daisy)
I always feel as if some plants are vastly overlooked for tropical looking species and varieties that are new on the scene. Osteospermum (African Daisy), for example, seems to have a new colour shade coming out every years. However, I still have an extremely strong affection for Osteospermum jucundu…
Plant Pick - Growing Sedum (Herbsfreude)
Okay, hear me out; Yes, Sedum Herbstfreude is an extremely common plant that may seem rather dull to you. BUT, I feel this plant is often overlooked. It has a huge number of positives; it’s wildlife friendly, it’s easy to grow, it has fantastic cover during late summer/early autumn AND it provides s…
Plant Pick - Growing Skimmia
Okay, I know it’s still summer, but winter will be here before you know it. I’m honestly hoping for a cold snap this year – the wet, grey winter of 2013 was horrendous; I don’t think we had even one frost in London. That’s BAD for plants – they need dormancy. And it’s BAD for gardeners – we need a r…
Plant Pick - Growing Thrift (Armeria)
I think I must’ve first come across Thrift (Armeria) when I was a lad holidaying in Scotland. Our family didn’t head abroad, but jumped in the car and journeyed to the stunning landscapes of the Lake District, Scotland and Northumberland. I distinctly remember great swathes of thrift clinging to the…
You know, I sometimes feel that all I do is talk about the weather, and not necessarily in a positive light. This weekend has been GRIM. Rain, grey winter has truly arrived on UK shores, and as the fog and dampness flows up The Thames, I’m getting hit with some unwelcome weather. Of course, it’s all rather good for the garden – the plants love all this extra moisture. But it is NOT good for the chickens who don’t want to be damp, and it is definitely not good for mud. Damn. There’s lots of that stuff, and where livestock’s concerned it’s normally mud mixed with poop which is even worse than plain old dirty mud.
Things have quietened down on the growing front. All the bulbs are in. All the tender veggies have finished. Even the dahlias, though not frosted off, have become to look sad and tired. The cornus – much to my delight – is dropping its leaves and revealing those bright red stems; in the spring I need to chop back to ground level again to get new growth and brighter colours next year.
I am, however, still growing – Pak Choi, Winter Density and Arctic lettuce are all germinating and there’s still enough light in the day to get them going. But mostly, I’m planning for next year; the chickens, the market garden, the vegetables, the borders. Planning, organising, listing, drawing, planning. My main focus at the moment is finding customers. I have some egg customers already who I hope to upsell vegetables too. And when I have the Ixworth flock established, I can sell hatching eggs online. However, for the main veggie enterprise, I need to find outlets. It won’t be a large enough enterprise to start a CSA (Customer Supported Agriculture) <- plus these aren’t very common in the UK. There also aren’t any immediate Farmers’ Markets here so I need to research the nearest verses the most profitable; i.e. has local shoppers willing to spend more than they would their local Aldi. But the silverlining here is that it’s winter, and winter is the best time to be sorting this all out!
Finally, here’s Monday Magic. Look how the chicks have grown!
At Brimwood Farm, I’ve been focused on increased biodiversity and creating a wider range of habitats as part of my conservation efforts. There’s very little I can do in the way of growing and farming because the land is over two hours away; so until I move closer, the smallholding has to wait. However, in the intermediary, you may have noticed I’ve been doing a lot of work – a Wildflower Meadow has been created, Owl Boxes have been put up and I’ve also begun planting a Bluebell Grove.
After the failed efforts of last year, when the bulb company had sent me the wrong bluebells (they were a hybridised version and I was very upset), I’m starting over. So, a couple of weeks ago, Saad and I set about putting in 200 new bulbs for spring 2017!
I’m excited to see just how the wood progresses over the following years, and now I KNOW I have the right bulbs I can actually sit back and enjoy it’s beauty!
It’s THAT time of the year. You know what I mean….you arrive home from work. It’s dark. It’s gloomy. But, ‘oh look’, there’s a huge stack of seed catalogues to snuggle up to. You warn yourself only to look, to order a couple of packets at most, but before you know it there are packets and boxes and envelopes of exciting seeds, bulbs and other goodies arriving at your door.
I’ve had my first – a Dobies delivery with a couple of essentials….but, I’ll admit, mostly luxuries. Man…new plants! Wahey!
For the kitchen garden I picked up my favourite broad beans – Aquadulce Claudia. They’re reliable and you put them in before Christmas. I’ve always found these overwintering broad beans are more resistant to blackfly in the long run; a must-have feature. However, the warm winters recently have been a problem, allowing plants to grow and then get frost bitten later. I also ordered some Beetroot (Chioggia Pink). I’ve fallen for beets in a big way. For some reason I always thought they were hard to incorporate into meals – but they’re delicious. So LOTS more for 2017.
Meanwhile, I have cosmos, alchemilla and zinnias for the cutting garden. I also want to grow loads of marigolds and experiment with some wool/feather dying and making hand lotions etc. See the full list of seeds below:
Broad Bean – Aquadulce Claudia
Artichoke – Purple de Provence
Beetroot – Chioggia Pink
Cyclamen Hederifolium – Winter Cheer
Cosmos – Apollo White F1
Achillea – Noblessa
Alchemilla – Giant Molly
Wallflower – F1 Sunset Red
Calendula – Citrus Daisy Mixed
Calendula – Snow Princess
Zinnia – Illumination
I’m sure this won’t be the last delivery. The cyclamen have already been sown, and the broad beans will be to follow. Shame I have to wait until next year for the rest….
You may have noticed over the past few weeks that I’ve posted videos here instead of the rambling written posts. Why? Because I’m moving more into video stream via my Brimwood Farm YouTube channel (see that red button on the right of your screen? Click it and subscribe).
But why am I moving into video?
Well, it’s far easier to show updates on the garden, plants, chickens etc via video. I’m snapchatting a lot too, so there’s daily stuff going on. I post gardening/smallholding videos every Friday, and a Monday Magic short on, you’ve guessed it, a Monday. I’m also doing a little vlogging, and though this isn’t strictly speaking wholly about gardening, I’ve added a ‘Vlog’ playlist so you can see a little more about my life.
There will, of course, still be website updates that aren’t video so don’t worry! You’ll probably just see more video in the months to come, and if you hadn’t already realised I was doing it, come along and join in the fun!
And…I may as well tout myself a little…here’s today’s Monday Magic!
So I hope you’ll enjoy me over on YouTube. Just hit the subscribe button in the right hand column. It’s a great place to hang out and…okay….it’s a mega time sap buuuuuttt I have learnt SO much from like-minded YouTubers already.
I don’t know why because, man, if there’s one season that’s busy it’s autumn, but the past week has been relatively calm. I suppose this time of year signals a change in growth patterns; in fact, most things are slowing or dying off. And so the garden takes on this gentile approach instead of the full-throttle approach of spring and summer.
There’s time to enjoy deadheading without the need to pull rampant weeds. There’s still growth, of course, but it’s a bit slower, and the dew clings to it in the morning, giving it an extra jewel-like quality. Dew – that is something we need because the lack of rain over the last few months has been dramatic. Just that small piece of morning freshness helps give life.
I am, of course, already thinking about change. The garden has undergone radical alteration over the past two years. First, it was away with the strip of lawn and thin flowerborder I inherited. Then it was out with the oval lawn and cutting garden to make way for raised beds. Now, I’m rethinking the three main flower borders because a) the grass became out of control in the Mediterranean bed and Bo wee’d on all the lavender and killed it, b) the soil is really poor, c) I need to do some MAJOR digging in the fern bed as huge ash tree is sucking all life out of the area and d) my planting plan hasn’t really come together how I’d like. I’ve got a load of chocolate cosmos and deep purple penstemmen cuttings so I’m going to pair them with white nicotiana next year, hopefully to good effect.
Finally, I’ve also started a new mini-series on my YouTube channel called Monday Magic. I love to walk around the garden and discover something new everyday; something that’s a little inspiring whether it’s a new flower, a plant or some little critter. So I thought I’d start sharing this with the world by video as a little pick-me-up for the week ahead and a way to connect with Mother Nature again. Get involved if you’d like!