Spring has sprung so work’s begun

It’s that time of year when a little lightness starts to lift the spirits. The end of March means sunshine and smiles – and a sense of needing to be outdoors soaking up any rays Yorkshire is lucky enough to linger under.

It’s officially Spring, we lost an hour when the clocks sprung forward which didn’t help the hangover after a friend’s 30th birthday party, but it was too exciting to stay feeling sorry for ourselves for long. It’s time to get things done!

A well-spent Mother’s Day was a fabulous time to wonder at all the amazing things we could create in the garden. Dave had built a big flower bed on the sunniest side of the house last year which has spent the winter looking sad and empty. Now we could finally start playing with colour, texture and shape, planting the seed quite literally for something pretty special by the time summer comes around.

Here’s what we did:

Operation tidy up:

Rose ~ I was pretty sure I’d killed off a gorgeous pink rose my friend Katie had bought me as a housewarming gift this time last year. But there’s hope yet!

  • Lifting the rose out of the pot revealed tons of white roots wrapped around the soil – it needed a bigger pot. We teased the roots loose around the sides and base to help it find a home in it’s new bigger space.
  • A new pot was found and stones placed in the bottom to cover the base (just to stop soil from falling out). Paper would also do just as well if you have any magazines lying around.
  • We mixed soil and potting compost (and here you would also add slow release fertiliser granules if you had any) and filled the pot up to the height of the plant.
  • With its new home ready we took to work chopping off all the dead stems and twiggy / straggly ugly bits, then also cut away any inward growing stems as this will mean any new growth will form a nice outward shape.
  • Next, we were ruthless and chopped outward stems down by half their length up to an outward facing bud. Cut the stem in a diagonal as you would with cut flowers.
  • Finally we popped the newly pruned rose in its new pot, filled in soil around it until tightly bedded in and then topped with potting compost! A good water and it’s good to go.

 

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New beginnings in the flower bed:

With planting it’s best to divide and conquer. Think of it as though considering a bunch of flowers – groupings that go together because of their varied heights and complimenting colours. There’s more to it of course such as light and shade, but it’s a good starting point.

Section 1: Along the fence

  • This section is a little bit pic n mix at the moment with a small number of plants already there. We shuffled the fern back to the corner where it’s shadier and left the foxgloves where they are for now as seem happy enough. The ground is part shade part sun depending on the time of day.
  • We marked out a path line in front of the fence using an old decking plank.
  • In front of this we planted a row of lady’s mantle which will create a frothy yellow fizz of flowers over summer (June – Sep). My mother-in-law-to-be and garden guru Susan often refers to Sarah Raven as a garden expert so I’m going to use her links to plants where possible. I used Susan’s cuttings and you can be pretty rough and ready snapping off the stick-like roots to plant quite shallow in the ground.
  • Sadly this activity was not without tidying up. We cleared the ground as we went. There were A LOT of weeds but no pain no gain and it was a good workout too!
  • In between the fox gloves we also planted pretty little primulas – mine aren’t this colour but this gives a good idea, and the best part is they have flowers now (March – May) so something nice to look at sooner. They need shade when the flowers go so they can hide under the foxglove leaves. A good pairing!

Section 2: In the main bed

  • Again we divided this space in two with a makeshift path using bits and bobs of stone and old planks for now to create the right shape.
  • We decided to line the path with tall plants as brushing against plants creates a fun atmosphere / experience when everything is fully grown and full of life. I always like gardens with secret walkways and bits to discover, this is a mini version of that.
  • The tallest plants to go in first of all are verbena banarensis. This will be joined by white cosmos (may not be this exact one) and tall alliums – all great for arranging indoors too.
  • From there we fanned outwards with middle height plants next and short neat plants at the front which will drape over the decking edge.
  • I’m not loving the heather which was already in here but I’m putting up with it for now and trimmed it back so a nice green bun. It looks a little better and the new interesting things are helping to distract me!

That’s all for now!

~ Green Fingered Girl x

Because a watched flower never blooms

What do they say about a watched flower never blooms? Nothing I think, but in any case my going on holiday proved to be just what my garden needed!

While my back was turned Greece-ward, the garden has taken on a whole new life, and I love it! I’m in two minds as to whether pretend to I’m still not here and take sneaky sideways glances through the window, or to swoop in with the snippers and fill the house with flowers.

Here are my three favourite new discoveries!

1 Baby figs: After a couple of years of a nice if twiggy pot plant, we have real life bonafide figs on our tree! Very exciting after how deliciously the air was scented by fig trees all over Kefalonia!

Fig

2. Lavender flowers: Partly a victory entry for having potted the lavender successfully (as in my How To) and partly because ‘yey flowers!’

Lavender

3. What can now be officially referred to as a flower garden! This patch of garden took a massive amount of overhaul after a couple of decades of not really being touched, removing several thousand (probably) bulbs and bits and bobs. We cleared the lot and filled the empty space with flowers. I had no idea how the plants were going to look but I’m really happy with how it’s turning out!

Step 1: Flower arranging

Flowers 1

Step 2: Using imagination

Flowers 2

Step 3: Awesome Flowers

~ Green Fingered Girl x

Meet Martin!

Meet Martin This is Martin. I love Martin!

Martin in pot

Martin gets his own special mention because he’s so pretty. He’s also the gift that  keeps on giving as he flowers all the way from April – October. As well as being a  stunner the flowers are edible and are great as toppings for salads or as cake  decorations. I LOVE MARTIN!

He is perfect for pots so I followed my ‘how to pot plants’ steps when popping him in  my new containers from Harlow Carr (an awesome cheap find for quite an expensive  place), but did a slightly different mix so less sand and more leaf mould (or compost  if you don’t have any), seeing as how he’s not from the Med.

Martin is a viola and should live for years (hopefully!). To keep him looking fresh he just needs watering regularly (I’m going to try a couple of times a week) and snipping off any wilted flowers low down the stem at the base of the plant making way for new ones to grow through in its place.

~Green Fingered Girl x

How to pot plants

New terracotta pots

From bringing life into a living room, to making the most of a decking or balcony area, pot plants are an easy way to get a little green fingered without the commitment of a whole garden.

We were given three large terracotta pots, which we decided to use to create a fragrant finishing touch to our decking. As we use this space to socialize and eat outside during the summer, now seems like the perfect time to prepare a deliciously scented detail that will grow over the season.

New terracotta pots

The plants we chose were a combo of Mediterranean lovelies – lavender (lavender grosso – meaning ‘big’), rosemary and a scented pelargonium with cute pink flowers. They smell amazing and work nicely together, and I’m promised will grow to fill their pots and give a sensational scent. But, to give them the best chance we needed to help them move into their new terracotta houses.

How to pot a plant:

  • I assumed if it rains that means everything in the garden gets watered, but I was wrong! Pot plants might struggle to soak up enough water this way and do need watering regularly (note to self – don’t go overboard on pots otherwise I’ll be a slave to the watering can). As a result of my mistake, the pelargonium was looking pretty peaky before we started potting with some brown, dry leaves. To make sure everything was happy, we ran our plants a bath – a good soak in a bucket of warm water will help ease in to the stress of moving day! Cold water can be shocking to plants as well as humans, apparently, which I can understand. To soak we removed the plant from its plastic shop pot and submerged the soil and roots under water, which caused it to release bubbles as all the dry trapped air was replaced with moisture. We also picked off the brown leaves to make it look a bit happier.
  • With the plant primed and ready for its new home, we started prepping the pot itself. Most will come with a hole at the bottom which is good for drainage but without wanting all the soil to just fall out or wash out, cover the hole with cardboard or something degradable.

Prepared pot

  • Mix up your soil – the mix we used was 1/2 multipurpose compost, 1/4 sharp sand (both can be bought in big bags) and 1/4 leaf mould – which you can’t buy but if you can’t get any then just add more of the other two. This ratio works for these plants as being Mediterranean they were made for drier, sandier places. We used an Aldi potting tray to mix it up, which you do like a cake mix using your hands to rub the textures together like flour and butter. We also added a small handful of slow release fertiliser (kinda like hundreds and thousands to continue the theme!).
  • Fill the pot to a third full with the potting mix. You can then hold the plant in place to check the height and decide if you need to add more soil or if the plant will be well positioned where you are.

Pot a third full of potting mix

  • When happy place the plant in the pot and fill in around it with the rest of the potting mix – you’ll probably need quite a lot of soil altogether as need to make sure the pot is full and the plant is supported and upright.
  • For a final settle in and pat on the back, tap the soil down by picking up the pot and tapping the base against the floor a couple of times – this will help to knock out any air so the roots can get going and get happy in their new home.

Tapping the pot

That’s it! Super simples but I didn’t know how to do this before my walk through. Another awesome idea I’ve come across is to create mediterranean ‘pizza pots’ growing all the ingrediants you’d need for an Italian feast – love this but maybe not a beginner choice!

~ Green Fingered Girl x