Tick Tock

With 4 nights at my Mum’s and two days travelling, quickly followed by a day on polling duty at the recent elections, I am conscious that the clock is well and truly ticking and the number of days until the garden opens gets shorter and shorter. Having deliberately waited till we were back from our travels to begin serious planting out this has been my priority this week and – along with watering to make up for the transition from dry April to an equally dry start for May. It is still possible for us to get frosts this month, of course, but as more seedlings are being potted on, more shelf space is needed in the greenhouse to accommodate them, and at least there is fleece to hand if any frosts are forecast.

It is good to see the cutting beds start to fill up, although it will be a good few weeks before  anything in them available for cutting. So far sunflowers, cosmos, larkspur, calendula, alonsoa, aster, godetia and seed-sown dahlias have been planted out here, although the cosmos that Monty Don planted out on Gardeners’ World last night are far taller and sturdier plants than mine! The sweet peas were planted out in mid April and have responded well to being pinched out. Overwintered dahlias have also been planted, some in very big pots to provide space for more in the borders; they were all started off in smaller pots before the end of February, thus rewarding me with earlier growth and hopefully making up for last year’s delayed flowering.

Some seedlings have also been planted in the borders elsewhere, although with the season’s luscious growth it is a wonder anything else can be squeezed in! A reassessment and overhaul will be the order of the day in the autumn, with plants having to have worked hard to earn their ‘keep’. Most gaps remaining are ‘front of border’, despite the emphasis on low growing plants amongst recent plant purchases. Here are just two of the borders, with tulips now side by side with emerging allium, billowing aquilegia and rapid growth of several plants that have sulked for the last year or two:

Carrying a notebook and pencil with me on my rambles is becoming a necessity, as new tasks spotted as I walk round are often replaced by others before I get back to the house and there are so many of them, even without the  upcoming openings, that none has any real priority over another, other than watering and and creating space in the greenhouse. I had hoped to get the manger baskets  planted up today to give them a chance to settle before they were rehung, but the pleasure of treating the baskets to brand new liners was tempered by realising the replacements were too small…grrr…so they have to wait. However, the new window boxes adorning the sitooterie were filled and planted with different scented leaved pelargonium, having last year begun to appreciate the subtle pleasure of scented foliage in the garden. When Dorris and I met up at Broughton Grange Garden last Sepetember we were both taken with large pots of scented pelargonium, triggering their introduction here. Mine were bought as plug plants from Fibrex Nurseries who grow a large range of varieties and hopefully they will bush out as quickly as other pelargonium do.

Lacking a prioritised list, on a whim I also took hand shears to the streamside grass today, with the intention of giving its wayward locks a preliminary hair cut; once the first tuft was removed, it became clear that the ‘Tête á Tête’ foliage amongst it probably still needed a couple of weeks to recuperate so the area had a selective chop instead. Definitely a Bad Hair Day!

With the recent sunshine the rhododendrons in the woodland edge border have rapidly opened their buds, contributing a range of pinks to the patchwork pieces of the border, a border that never fails to delight whatever the time of year:

The rhododendrons will be well and truly over before the garden opens, and the vagaries of the UK weather are such that it would be foolish to assume anything about what will or will not be flowering towards the end of June. Planting, tidying, weeding, sweeping, cake baking and the like are all within my control and despite that awareness of the clock ticking and there being less than 7 weeks till the first opening I am confident that it will all be done in time. Rambling Rector, however, despite June flowering ostensibly being a dead cert, is already covered in his usual mass of buds and will almost certainly now miss the party …


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18 Responses to Tick Tock

  1. Wow Cathy – busy, busy, busy! as the bizzzzeeeeeest bee from Bee Town.

  2. rickii says:

    Deadlines always get me going but since I have none, the garden has fallen into a state of neglect. Understandable, with the winter and wet spring we have had, but my juices are beginning to stir and two days of sun and warmth got me out there to face the music. Your deadline is a daunting one but your progress is impressive. I’ve no doubt it will be a stellar event.

    • Cathy says:

      I suppose I aspire to at least a moderate success 😀 Glad that things are looking up for you and your garden now the weather has improved

  3. Brian Skeys says:

    I purchased some scented leaved pelargoniums from fibres nursery this year. Great minds…….

  4. Anna says:

    Nothing quite like living on the edge Cathy but you will get there 🙂 I love scented foliage including pelargoniums but have never succeeded at overwintering them. I’m just sitting down now with a late morning coffee and will be making a to do list in a moment for a gardening marathon this afternoon. Himself has offered to cook 🙂 I hope that the Rector loiters long enough to join in the party.

    • Cathy says:

      Hope you completed your garden marathon and without suffering too many after effects – these days I am well aware I am not as young as I used to be! I usually overwinter my pelargoniums but this time used the sitooterie where they retained flowers all winter despite only occasional watering

  5. Tick tock, indeed. We had our first official group visit yesterday which was a bit of a wake up call. Your post is a timely reminder of how little time there’s left to primp, preen and pray for a dry day for our opening days.

    • Cathy says:

      Hope your group enjoyed the visit – how many groups have you got booked? I restricted mine to July for this year but will see how it goes for next time. I had 3 booked but one has cancelled 😕

      • They did, thanks, and bought lots of plants too. We’ve twelve garden clubs firmly booked, running through to end October like last year. With ‘casuals’ pattern seems to be odd one or two do change their plans. Worth confirming with them a month or so ahead. You are wise to cluster them together 😉.

  6. Jackie says:

    Looking so good, I do admire your hard work, and the fact that you don’t rely on nurseries for your plants but grow from seed and cuttings too. Wishing you all the luck in the world for your open day. You deserve it to be a great success.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jackie – this is the first time I have tried cuttings but have been seed sowing ‘seriously’for about 3 years now and just love the whole process. I do buy some plug plants though, like petunias for baskets. I am enjoying the challenge of preparing to open and have done what I can in advance but now it’s the nitty gritty plant stuff and keeping on top of tidying 😀

  7. Chloris says:

    There is nothing like a garden open day to concentrate the mind and goodness, you have been busy. Trying to time everything to be at its peak for a certain date is an impossible task. I love the planting in your woodland edge border, what a wonderful sight.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chloris – when the woodland edge border fills out it just looks better and better, and it rarely needs any attention at all.I can’t of course time things to be at their peak for opening and people will have to take this garden as it is – it is not and never will be a pristine garden with nothing out of place

  8. sultanabun says:

    Just think how you can relax and enjoy a fabulous garden afterwards.

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