Friday 9 March 2012

Adding a bit of colour

In early Spring my garden is usually a bit jaded and in need of re-vitalisation.

Last weekend I set to on a major tidying-up session. I removed the last few bits and pieces of over-wintered veg from a couple of the beds (e.g. the bed in the left foreground), dug in the compost that I had spread the previous weekend, and prepared the beds for sowing.

In one bed I put in some Parsnip seeds (Gladiator and Panache) and some Beetroot (Boltardy, Red Ace and Detroit), and covered them with two of my long cloches. I am trying hard to adopt the principle of successional sowing, so I only put in a half-row of each (actually they are double half-rows - half a row, side-by-side), and I will sow another lot when the first ones begin to show through. This ought to mean that my harvest period is a bit longer.

In another bed I put in some peas (Purple-podded Desiree, Boogie and Premuim), and two different types of Broad Bean (Imperial Green Longpod and Witkiem Manita). Again, the fact that I have sown small quantities of several types should mean that I get a modest harvest but over a longer period. I have erected my usual pea support mechanism - a length of 4-foot high chicken wire suspended between two stout posts and stiffened with three bamboo canes - and I have covered the whole of this bed with netting to dissuade the local cats and foxes from digging in it.

Pea-support mechanism in the foreground - unlovely but practical!
After the practical work was done I made a trip to our local Garden Centre in search of some instant colour. I came back with some Polyanthus plants in a mixture of colours:

I put them in pots so that I can move them around as required. As well as these I now have the Crocuses, which are probably just about at their best now; the Irises which are on their last legs; and lots of Daffodils which are just coming into flower:

My wallflowers won't be long now either. I can see colour in the buds of some of them:

Finally, a confession. It wasn't only Polyanthus that I bought. Acting on an impulse I also bought some Strawberry plants. They were being sold at four plants for £5, so I splashed out a fiver and bought four different ones.

I plan to put these in the big wooden planter outside our kitchen window - a place that is seldom visited by birds or squirrels! For the record, the plants are Cambridge Favourite, Honeyoe, Eros and Florence. Anyone know these?  I've heard of the first two, but I have never grown them, and indeed it's many years since I grew strawberries of any sort, so I shall have to go and read up on how to do it. A good place to start will be Sue's blog Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments, I think...


  1. Mark, your gardens are always so immaculate and beautiful. Thank you for the garden porn this wonderful morning. I know you were saying a while back that your row covers weren't perfect, but wow, they sure look beautiful.

  2. We have grown Florence before Mark but I don't remember mush about it.

    1. There's an unfortunate typo - I didn't mean they turned to mush - should read much!

  3. All is looking spic and span as usual Mark, 10 out of 10 for neatness. Those cloches are perfect for the width of the beds. I hope you have more luck with your strawberries than I do.

  4. Just what I'm about to do! Sort out some strawberry plants!!

    Martin :0)

  5. My succession planting goes well sometimes and less well at others - one day I will have the self discipline not to fill up the whole garden at all times, but I've clearly not got to that point yet as I've no room for any successions - yet again. Love the strawberries - I'm keen to try some different varieties this year.

  6. I have grown/killed Honeyoe before but can't say as I paid attention to what variety grew best after I put them in the ground since I never labeled them.

  7. A very tidy garden indeed! And happy you have the color! still waiting here....

  8. Hi Mark, doesn't it feel good to get that first big spring garden tidying project completed? I like your pea supports, I may steal that idea. And strawberries..good for you! It will be interesting to see if one variety over the others is more vigorous. Your gardens look prepped and ready for the big growing season :)Cheers, Jenni

  9. Good luck with the strawberries. I've grown Honeoye before, it's an early variety. I've got some Sonata this year, I've never grown them before so I'm looking forward to seeing how they do and what they taste like.

  10. Those strawberries look healthy. I've currently got Cambridge Favourite - and they're lovely! This is their third cropping year, so I shall be taking my final lot of runners from them at the end of this summer and replacing the whole lot.

  11. I have Forence - it's a late variety and very nicely flavoured. Haven't tried the others though so will be awaiting your verdict! Can only wish my garden looked as good as yours does... one day.

  12. You are so blinking organised. We started our big tidy up yesterday. Planted out a lot of stuff and a large area was prepped for a wild flower meadow. All very exciting. Weeding frenzy today tho.

  13. It's very satisfying getting everything straight at this time of year isn't it? Nice to see a splash of colour too (although I must confess I prefer my primulas in the wild pale lemon rather than brighter mixes).
    Eros is one of the strawberries that our local PYO grows: they were so tasty that we asked which variety they were a couple of years ago! They also grow Honeoye, not sure if we ever picked them - though I have heard good things of that variety too.


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