Sunday 20 February 2011

Some lesser-known stars

This post is really an opportunity to show you some aspects of my garden that don't warrant a dedicated post of their own...

First up - the Aquilegia. I have a few of these next to one of my compost bins, and growing down the side of my house where there is only a narrow path between us and the neighbours' fence - in other words some of the least desirable parts of the garden. This is only fair, since the Aquilegias moved in uninvited, so must make do with the space that no-one else wants...

No flowers yet of course, but later in the year these plants will produce masses of pink and dark blue flowers. Notice how the leaves are water-repellent - the raindrops sit in the dished leaves like little silver ball-bearings!

Next the Crocus. At this time of year everyone is writing about Crocuses, and they are so well-known that no-one needs to be told about them, so they often get overlooked. These ones of mine were being a bit shy, staying firmly closed. Later in the day, when the sun had warmed up a bit I'm sure they opened out fully.

These ones, although more delicate in colour, were somewhat more forthcoming...

This next photo shows one of the least desirable effects of making your own compost. There is a carpet of tiny green seedlings on the surface of most of my raised beds (where I distributed the compost from the old cucumber bin that I dismantled at Christmas time).

I'll be able to hoe them off fairly easily, but I'll wait for a dry day. Hoeing weeds in wet conditions may just re-plant them without killing them.

Talking of compost - I MUST show you this photo (close your eyes at this point if you're squeamish). I was turning the contents of one of my compost bins to help with the decomposition process. The number of worms in the bin was absolutely amazing!

I'm not worried by this sort of worm - I see them as useful allies. I sometimes think about how many trips to the Council recycling point must have been avoided over the years by the presence of these voracious little waste-processing creatures. [My friendly Robin also likes them - for a different reason.]

The Good King Henry plants are coming up strongly now. This plant is another prolific self-seeder, so it tends to crop up all over the place. I have not been impressed with its performance as a salad ingredient (I find it tasteless, and all but the tiniest leaves are tough). I suppose I could cook it like spinach, but I've never yet felt inspired to do so. However, despite all this criticism, you have to admit that it looks pretty in the sunshine.

The Prunus Autumnalis "Surbhitella" has a lot of blossom at present - which is a bit surprising, as it is supposed to be Autumn-flowering. Over the years I have had it (probably about 18) its flowering season has gradually got later and later.

Last week I ordered some of those "Longrow" plastic cloches, which I hope will help me to protect seeds and young plants from weather and foxes, and will allow me to get plants started a bit earlier in the season than would otherwise be the case. As the name suggests, these cloches are long and thin - 1.2 metres by 0.45 metres. I sowed my first seeds of the year (chillis) on Valentine's Day, indoors in propagators, and I have noticed that my rhubarb is just appearing above the surface of the soil, so things are beginning to happen, and within a month or so I will have a lot more to write about.


  1. Love the columbine! One of my favorites. Now the worms, did they just move in or do you put them there? That is a fantastic number. Might have to go fishing!

  2. I need some of those worms! Amazed. It kinda grosses me out but I keeping going back to look at the worms. Yep, 3 or 4 times, looked at the worms. Nice close up of the crocus. (but i'm going back up to look at the worms)

  3. Worms are my best friends. This is the most worms I have seen in one place!

  4. I palnted Good King Henry one year but never got it to grow. I believe the catalog said it would make a great spinach substitute along with malabar spinach but neither grew real well for me.
    The worms are great. I get the big fat brown worms in mine. My garden and under the dog food pan are great places to dig for worms for fishing, lol.

  5. Nice photos...really like the Aquilegia with water drops and the lovely worms!

  6. Your aquilegia is well ahead of ours - and it took several years before it would condescend to grow in our garden at all. Do you grow lupins? They have a similar effect on water and have beautiful jewels in the centre of their leaves every morning after rain or dew. (Not yet though!)


  7. Nice photo's Mark!
    I'm thinking of putting a few aquilegia's in this year... it's on my list to do.
    I put all my Chilli seeds in last weekend... most of them have germinated this morning when i checked!! :)
    That is a lot of worms!!!! I'm finding a lot this year while i am digging... maybe it's a good year for them??

  8. Our crocuses are refusing to open as it is just so damp - the snowdrops too. Just hope they don't die off vefore they have a chance to shine!

  9. Wow, you're great at growing worms too! I'd be very happy with that lot in my compost.

  10. I am amazed with the number of worms too! At this time worms in my compost bin have moved to a deeper layers, as it is warmer there.
    My crocuses are just starting to show some green above the ground. It will be some time before they flower.

  11. Looks like I'm going to be getting a reputation for being Mr.Worm Man as well as Mr.Chilli Man...
    Seriously, having lots of worms in the compost bin is surely desirable for any serious gardener, isn't it? I will have to evict some of my lodgers soon because I will need to use the compost from the bottom part of their residence, for growing my cucumbers in.

  12. I'm a big fan of aquilegias, and you are right, the leaves look stunning decorated with water droplets. Great worm collection, I am always delighted to see that kind of activity in one of my compost bins. I hope your cloches do the trick re fox damage.


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