Monthly Archives: March 2013

Planting Plans:Ornamental Plants

I feel like I’m being quite lazy this spring, as it seem we haven’t spent much time on the plot this month. Of course, my decision to buy in many of my plants has meant our flat isn’t awash in tiny seedlings this year. Also, given the recent weather, I’m quite happy that there isn’t anything that urgently needs doing. It’s given me far more time to make plans and work on other parts of the plot. The most neglected section was probably the ornamental beds at the top of the plot and this year I’m determined to make something of them.

Last year we cleared the top area and moved the raspberry canes down into the fruit cage. These beds are right next to the access road that cuts through the allotment site and is quite close to the main gates. We get lots of passers-by,  and lots of hellos as well, but in years past Simon noticed that these raspberry plants never produced fruit. We had a slight hunch that fruit theft wasn’t entirely down to birds, so we decided to move the more tempting fruit to the far end of our plot.

The first stages of clearing the ornamental beds.

The first stages of clearing the ornamental beds last winter.

 

In the late autumn, we planted spring bulbs galore and have done so again last autumn. The daffodils from the first year have returned in abundance, as daffodils often do. The tulips last spring were a bit stunted, so this year I’ve mulched the beds with our lovely compost we produced. The trial beds of tulips are coming on well too, I do love having fresh cut flowers in the house when ever possible, especially in the early spring.

Fresh Daffodils in the house.

Fresh Daffodils in the house.

Last year by the summer however, the beds had become a fairly weedy mess. Other than the sunflowers and sweet peas, the beds we’re really not looking like much. I had attempted to sow some wild flower seeds, but they never really took. So in the autumn, I cleared most things out in an attempt to start over and added a few perennials such as Japanese anemones and coreopsis. I’ll likely add more and include some annuals such as cosmos and corn flowers later in the early summer.

While I’m mainly after cut flowers, I can’t possibly use everything and the excess flowers will left to attract bees and other pollinators. We did have an enormous comfrey plant in one bed, which did an amazing job attracting bees. Sadly, it also did a stupendous job at protecting and feeding hundreds of slugs. So I’ve dug it out and will replace it with something else. As  I’ve also ordered some summer bulbs of dahlias and species lilies, which will need to be planted soon, they likely take up that space happily.

I’m not really planting with any real design, which is a bit of a departure from what I do all the time in my job. With this little patch of ground I can plant what I like and where I like, no client imposing any limitations on me. I find it quite liberating to plant like that and I imagine some interesting combinations will come out of it. I’m hoping I’ll finally make something of it, even without a absolute “plan.”

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Anticipation

Spring, it’s all about the anticipation. As much as I love the warmth and abundance of the summer months, it’s the spring season I love best. I feel like a kid at Christmas, I keep peeking at the soil to see what’s coming up and checking bare branches for the first buds.

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First Spring Bulbs.

The spring bulbs are making an appearance finally, the daffodils are about to flower and the tulips are coming along. I tend to use them primarily as cut flowers for the house, but the odd one that flowers before I can cut it will always bring a welcome splash of colour to the plot. For the first time, I have actually given one bed over to a set of “trial tulips.” The gardening company I work for orders thousands of tulip bulbs in the autumn and yours truly was in charge of all our bulb sales. Our suppliers very kindly gifted me several sets of new tulip varieties, which I’m indulgently trying out at our plot. My boss got quite excited at the idea of trialling bulbs and plants in my allotment, but I had to remind him I do want to grow some veg!

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Red and blue potatoes going in. 

Last weekend I planted our shallots and this weekend we planted up our chitted potatoes. We’re growing Charlotte again this year, as it made the most divine French potato salad last summer. As part of my Heritage/ Unusual Variety Helps Disease/ Pest Resistance Experiment, we’re planting Highland Burgundy Reds and Salad Blue potatoes. I was worried the weather is still much too cold, but the soil is perfectly moist and they’d been slowly drying out in our spare room. Also, in deference to the baby potatoes, the heat has been kept off in the spare room, but Scott was getting tired of having to wrap up in a duvet every time he wanted to work on the computer.

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Kale harvest!

In order to make some space for the potatoes, we did have to clear out the kale plants. We met up with our co-plot mate Simon and we set about dividing the kale. We’ve got a nearly exploding carrier bag sitting on the kitchen table now. I will attempt some kale chips/crisps with some, but otherwise will blanch and freeze the rest.I asked for some good kale recipes via Twitter and got some great suggestions, but I’m always open to more. We’ve got lots to go through!

Despite the cold, I can’t wait to get back out there. I’ve got a few long weekends coming up thanks to some leftover vacation still owed to me. The plot is nearly ready to go and I can’t wait to get it up and running again. The anticipation is killing me…