Marigold mania

Blooming marigolds, ready to plant out

This year I opted for the work-intensive option of growing my own annuals: marigolds, salvia, nasturtiums and cosmos. On the up side, I ended up with plenty of bedding plants, which is good news for the bees and butterflies … and the slugs have enjoyed them too! On the other hand, it involved a lot of extra effort. For the…

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Hanging tomatoes

Tumbling Tom tomato planted in hanging basket

I’m still cramming the vegetables and annuals into the garden. As I haven’t got a greenhouse, and I’m rapidly running out of space – and pots – on the patio, some of the tomatoes have gone into hanging baskets. There are plenty of bush-type varieties with shallow root systems that do well in hanging baskets. I’m trying Tumbling Tom (yellow)…

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Huffing hedgehogs

Hedgehog in garden

I was walking around the garden last night. It’s amazing how much unseen activity there is after dark: plenty of rustling in the borders, small rodents no doubt, or perhaps a few larger ones! Then I heard the ‘huffing’, a loud persistent raspy panting or puffing. Which could only mean one thing … we have hedgehogs back in residence. It has been…

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Magna Carta celebrations

Odiham embroidery, depicting King John setting off from Odiham to Runnymede where Magna Carta was sealed

On 10th June 1215, King John of England and his entourage rode out from his castle in Odiham, Hampshire, to meet a group of rebel barons in the water meadows at Runnymede, near Windsor. On 15th June, they sealed ‘Magna Carta’. Well, actually, they sealed the ‘Charter of Runnymede’, a forerunner of what later became known as Magna Carta in 1217. But…

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Memories of May

Centaurea montana

As Rodgers and Hammerstein so succinctly put it, “June is bustin’ out all over”. Indeed, much of the garden is now a dazzling display of glorious technicolour. But this month has a lot to live up to. Let’s not forget the slightly more subtle splendours of May. Here are my highlights, re-lived in pictures. Delicate tree blossom … The last of the Spring bulbs ……

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Spud update

Potato sacks in leaf

Last time I mentioned the potatoes, they were merrily chitting on a bedroom window sill. A lot has happened since then. First, I had to decide where to put them. If, like me, you are pretty limited on space, the perfect solution is to plant in sacks or containers. I’ve just about managed to squeeze mine in behind the raised…

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The Great Garden Sowing Marathon

Germination success

Move over the Great Chelsea Garden Challenge (as seen on TV), it’s time to make room for the great garden sowing marathon (as seen in my garden recently). Having gone a bit nuts on the seed buying earlier this year, I now realize that I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew. My post on ‘Seedy decisions’ earlier this year…

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Bluebells, bikes and Hockney

Road across the Wolds, 1997, by David Hockney

This time last week I was travelling back from Yorkshire, after a fabulous bank holiday weekend catching up with ‘old’ friends. The ‘green’ highlight of the weekend was a walk on the Bolton Abbey estate, starting at the Bolton Priory ruins, a 12th century Augustinian monastery overlooking the River Wharfe. At this point, not being the most sure-footed of individuals,…

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Pura Vida

Green baselisk lizards, Costa Rica

For the past few weeks 15minutesofgreen.com has been on hold while I have been experiencing the ‘pure life’ (Pura Vida) in Costa Rica. This incredible land between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean has a unique geography, rich in its variety of habitat. I travelled between humid tropical rainforests, jungle-fringed beaches and cool misty cloud forests, all teeming with spectacular wildlife. Costa…

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April wonderland

The heavy-blossomed pear tree shouts the promise of a fruitful autumn harvest

Oh what a difference a month makes. Back in the UK, after inspiring green travels far afield, a walkabout in the garden reveals it has been blooming busy in my absence. On first inspection, yellow predominates. The last of the daffodils are waving their nearly spent trumpets, clumps of wild primrose (Primula vulgaris) are holding their  faces aloft with gentle but confident beauty, and the Forsythia…

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Lupin experiment

Overwinter success with lifted lupins

Last autumn I collected a few lupin seeds from the desiccated pods of the plants in my perennial border. I stored the seeds in envelopes (protected from mice in a tin) in the shed, where they stayed cool and dry over winter. Come sowing time, I googled what to do with the lupin seeds, but came up with conflicting advice….

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Watch the birdie

Female robin, starting the nest building process

Nest box update Monday mornings are always a struggle for me, but as I brewed the first of several mugs of tea this morning I spotted movement in the ivy opposite the kitchen window. What a joy to know that robins have returned to our recently cleared nest box! At present, the female is busy toing and froing with leaves and moss;…

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