A garden update

This morning has been cold and windy. I was going to pot on all my ludicrous numbers of nicotiana, pelargoniums and petunia but after an hour and a half I have only done about a quarter. Why must I always bite off more than I can chew?
I have a rest by wandering through the rest of the garden. All the rain has made everything reach for the sky, broad beans climbing, roses budding, paeonies falling over, battered by rain, their huge heads almost lying on the ground. There are gooseberries filling in such quantities on the bushes that when I went to the farmshop this morning I considered asking whether they wanted to sell some but then I bottled out. Do I want yet another job? This year I must make four times the quantity of gooseberry and elderflower jam I did last year. It was delicious, looked and tasted special and was gone in no time. There is somehow greater satisfaction in jars glowing on the shelf than in a full freezer.
Weeds are on the march too. The bindweed is twining and pushing, feet of it apparently appearing overnight. The dandelions are so thick in the grass in front of the bakehouse they are taking over. I thought grass always won? Not here. Goosegrass which I know as sticky willy is everywhere, in the bottom of the hedges, suddenly appearing in the flower borders, popping up through the lemon balm. And the self sown flowers are starting to show: pale greygreen foliage of the opium poppy in all sorts of places, in the vegetable garden, in the bank, huge lush ones in the new bed for the autumn fruiting raspberries, overdosing on well rotted manure.

There are alliums everywhere. I thought I would never get to the end when I planted out seventy five of them in the autumn but now they look great, fizzing above the mainly green flower beds on their strong straight stems. We could easily have more.
Last year I grew lots of white foxgloves from seed and planted them out in the side garden. They are not quite ready to flower. I walk out everyday, casually, as if that is not what I have come for, hoping the green spires will have opened to white, but no, not yet, too cold. We need a couple of days of sun and they will be there.

The rhododendrons are glorious. Most of what I have planted is gentle and native, hoping to create something not too far from what might be happening on a Welsh hillside, but the rhododendrons were put in by our predecessors and they are magnificent, fountains of pink and deepest red, a tiny slice of Bodnant.
In the field all the fruit trees have taken except the white mulberry. They looked so little and stick like when they went in it that it is lovely now to see leaves and growth, still a baby orchard but not quite such a joke. The wild cherry and the silver birch and rowan are all growing away strongly although the whitebeam seemed to die off at the top and has been cut back to a new shoot a long way down the trunk.
In the vegetable garden it is a mixed story. Success: broad beans looking good, mangetout peas climbing and twining, red onions shooting, courgettes and squash growing by the day, globe artichokes grown from seed muscling up in their pots. Failure: one type of cabbage being eaten alive by slugs (and Ian and I scrapping gently about my refusal to use slug pellets, will I hold out if they all go down?), parsnips hardly germinating, peas obstinately refusing to come. Jury out: French beans and borlotti beans sulking in the cold, oriental salad veg doesn't want to play. And I need to sow radishes and rocket and more lettuce.
So much to grow, so little time.


  1. I adore alliums - how fantastic you have 75 of them! we have white foxgloves growing wild at the sides of the track where we walk the dogs, I had never sen then before I came here. It will be a long time until ours are ready to bloom, though, they haven't grown higher than 9" yet. Your garden is phenomenal.

  2. Greetings from mid-Wales.
    It is sunny here,hope it is with you now. Your garden sounds glorious, you have the green fingers!
    I too love alliums. I like the way you intersperse your photos in the text,how do you do that? I love foxgloves too, they grow well in Wales don't they?
    Thanks for taking us round your garden.

  3. Your garden sounds glorious-+what a lovely peaceful haven. Loved what you said about always biting off more than you can chew!-So true, although my large sheep pen is pitiful in comparison to your garden.

    warm wishes

  4. Your garden sounds and looks beautiful! I love alliums and foxgloves because the deer don't eat them. My foxgloves are up but nowhere near to blooming yet - it has been a cold spring and things are behind.

  5. The nicotiana you gave me is nearly open.. and the wild foxgloves will be open soon..
    it's been a lovely day but a bit chilly, i'm off to bodnant this week..xx

  6. Your garden sounds so abundant - v envious of your impressive crop of alliums! They do look fantasticly impressive, don't they?

  7. Lovely writing Elizabeth, your garden sounds really amazing, I have many of the same things happening here but on a much smaller scale - I've probably only got about a dozen alliums in my little cottage garden but they give me an inordinate amountof pleasure! I love foxgloves too. And thank you thank you - I have been wondering what the correct term was for 'sticky willy' as it is known by all the children here - now I know! It is everywhere in my garden. And by the way your avatar is my favourite of all!

  8. Funny thing, your favourite plant list is nearly exactly the same as mine! One of these years I'm going to time it right so I get to see Bodnant again at the optimum azalea/rhodendron time - it is stunning. I know rhodies aren't good for woodland but I adore the fizzbomb colours - particularly when they clash. They grew splendidly round here and we have some stunners up the drive...but can't match anything else - except possibly foxgloves which grow like weeds (but only the native pinky ones).
    Thanks so much for continuing to read Walker....and for your comments which are SO helpful. jxxx PS - so glad all was well...

  9. Elderflower jam!! how wonderful! do you share your recipes. We always make elderflower cordial but have never tried jam -- wonder how you do it.
    your veg sounds inspiring. most of our seedling cabbages have been eaten by pigeons! harrumph.

  10. Beautiful alliums, one of our favourites too. I agree with not using slug pellets, especially when there are so many baby birds around, and parents looking for things to feed them with. But they have eaten many of my veg seelings, so I am going to look for a nemotode or something green to zap them.

  11. So sorry you were poorly after your scan, Elizabeth. Am with you on the alliums and foxgloves and in the veg garden, my parsnips are struggling too. Broad beans and French beans going great guns as are the onions and shallots, but not doing peas this year.x

  12. What fab photos you do.
    I love allium too, only got one rather poor little specimum. I adore rhodies but they dont do well on this heavy clay suffolk soil. I love the way you put your photos throughout your text, I am only able to produce one at the top as yet. Most impressive.


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