Friday, 2 November 2012

Lest We Forget

Poppies for Remembrance.

I have wondered for quite a while now why we have the poppy as the symbol of Remembrance. So I decided to do a bit research and this is what I discovered.

A young Canadian medical officer named John McRae was serving in a field hospital in the year 1915 near Ypres. While attending to the wounded and dying soldiers he would look from his window upon masses of Corn poppies growing over graves and through the trenches. These beautiful poppies made him remember a Greek legend that said the poppy was created by the god of sleep and so to McRae the poppy symbolised the everlasting rest of the fallen and he was inspired to right a paoem called "In Flanders Fields" with the final lines being.

"If ye break faith with those who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields"

One his death in 1918, McRae's need for Remembrance remained and he asked that his grave be strewn with poppies in Remembrance not only of his death but those of his fallen brothers.

To this day a poppy wreath is lain on his tombstone in France and in 1921 The British Legion adopted the poppy as the symbol of Remembrance.

We shall remember them.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gardening Dog

I blame the dog!!

My only excuse for not posting for a while is my new puppy, Bailey. A gorgeous red and white Border Collie. He is now 4 months old and will become my assistance dog not only around the house but in the garden. Yes he will be the only other living thing allowed anywhere near the potting shed :) So far garden dog training consists of how many gloves can Bailey bury? Where have all my seedling pots gone? and who keeps eating my flowers? Seriously look at that face, how can I be mad that I have no gloves, pots or flowers. Oh yes he is also to blame for my lack of beans. All was going well until the blasted snails slithered into the raised bean pot, out came the crushed egg shells the snails began to slither off, but oh no who is this? Yes it is the egg shell eating puppy! Yay thanks Bailey said the snails, back they came and nommed all my beans!

The Weather, I blame that too!

Sitting here looking out into the drizzle I feel forlorn. This year ahs brought us garden fiends more trials and tribulations than ever before. My friend June has lost her beloved tomatoes to blight, I have lost my beans, but not weather related. Several other friends have had potato issues, including no signs of life whatsoever to total water logging!! How are we meant to cope? Roses are going mouldy, petunias are trying hard to survive, even my lobelia is no where near as floriferous as last year. Fuchsias though, now they are they stars of my garden and amazingly the Dahlias are just beginning to emerge with the biggest blooms they have ever had, how come with all the snails? hum not sure, I may have to do some research on that one.

Our pond though is positively ravishing, (if a pond can be ravishing) well it is if you are a frog or a newt as we have two frogs and three newts and the pond is only six months old! I am really happy with the results, not only for the new residents but also for the old ones as the larvae is keeping the bats well fed.

Well as it appears to still be raining I had better just carry on planning ahead for next years garden. I have already begun the seed collection, including Aquilegia, Dianthus and Sweet Williams. Collecting seeds has probably got to be one of my favourite things. There is no better feeling, in my opinion, of looking at your garden and thinking I grew all this from my own seeds, a practically free garden, what could be better?

Happy gardening my fellow gardeners

The Potting Shed

Friday, 11 May 2012

May......the fork be with you

         May…..the fork be with you

Stand by your beds, borders and pots the time to plant out has finally arrived, or has it? The weather just gets worse and wetter as we stand by with our trusty forks or trowels in hand desperately awaiting that sunny moment to un-stuff the poor over filled greenhouse, kitchen window sill and every other space that has been utilised for our precious seedlings. This time last year the heating had been turned off, the planting had begun in earnest and the greenhouse was empty. Rain rain go away bring us a drought another day.

Attracting wildlife into the garden

If like me you want to Bee friendly in your garden then there are a few plants you can consider to help you on your way.

Bees prefer their flowers in the sun, so if you have a gap in a sunny spot it’ll be perfect for the pollinators. Single, open flowers are best as they allow excellent access for the bees to get at the pollen and nectar. Scatter a few wildflower seeds, such as Knautia Aruensis (Field Scabious) or perhaps Meadow Clary. Not only will there be an amazing splash of colour, the bees will flock to it. I have managed to convince my husband; James to leave a small section of the lawn un-mown again this year for our tiny wildflower patch, meadow seems far too grand. Clover grows in great swathes here and in the border I shall be planting cosmos sea shell and single flower Asters amongst the wildflower seeds. Hopefully we’ll get all sorts of interesting insects.

Bumblebees love more pendula trumpet like flowers such as Foxgloves, I’m sure you have seen many a bumble bee backing out of the flowers bottom first only to dive straight into the next flower, buzzing with delight at the thought of more food. A bit like the May gardener really, bottoms up, face forward, searching for weeds, after the success of finding and removing some, it’s back out of the border, bottom first and off to find some more. Bumblebees also love Antirrhinum (Snapdragons) and Aconitum (Monkshood) as they are heavy enough to open the flower heads and find the treasure inside.

So May thus far has not been the month that it usually is. Many gardeners love May as it signifies the start to seeing the fruits of our labours over the winter months. Planning, buying, potting on and seed sowing has been going on in earnest. It’s time to get your garden clobber on and plant out the tender little babies that you have nurtured for so long. Sadly it is taking longer this year and every time the sun shines, eager gardeners head for door only to be turned back by hail, rain and wind before they have even had time to call out “I’ll be in the garden.”

Keep your chins up my fellow gardeners the time will come and it won’t be far away (hopefully) either that or we’ll just have to brave it, put the wet weather gear on and plant out or be damned.

A short list of to do’s……May has endless jobs but here’s a few to get you get started

  • Hanging baskets can be planted up, I have several already up but they are in a settled area
  • Regularly water newly planted trees (humm, with all this rain?)
  • Finish off summer bulb planting
  • Give your spring a liquid feed ready for next years flowers
  • Dead head spent spring bulbs, although you are meant to leave the leaves for about six weeks I never do, they get all floppy and untidy, I'm afraid I chop mine down to a few inches, they always flower again next year though.

Fruit and Veg garden

  • Earth up your sprouting tatties. Mine have grown to the top of the bag in two weeks!
  • Seeds to sow directly…radish, spring onions, runner beans, winter broccoli and herbs including coriander, and parsley, maybe a few chives (leave some chives to flower, the bees love it)
  • Strawberry runners need pinching off when you spot them, this helps the fruit growth


  • If you are lucky enough to have any sun, shade your greenhouse to avoid overheating and scorching
  • Take a few leaf cuttings from your houseplants if you’d like a few freebies. African violets work well as do Cape primroses.
  • If herbs are your thing then carry on sowing in the greenhouse
  • Leave your door or vents open during the day, don’t forget to close again or you will be like me, rushing out in your nightie to do it at midnight

General garden

·        Search for those pesky perennial weeds, this rain has helped them grow quickly, couch grass is doing well and the ever present bind weed
·        Take soft shoot cuttings from fuchsias, penstomons, ceonothus, buddleja and honeysuckle to name but a few.
·        You may like to begin to feed houseplants now too
·        Clean out pond algae


  • Clematis Montana, after flowering. This will promote new base shoots for next year.
  • Any spring flowering shrub including forsythia, kerria japonica and pyracantha

And lastly, don’t forget the wildlife

  • Clean bird feeders to avoid nasty infestations and viruses for your birds
  • Build a few bugitat for the insects, bees, ladybirds, hoverflies to move into. My husband, James had lots of fun drilling holes of different sizes into the branches of trees that we had chopped down; these are now nestling in pots all around the garden.

One of James’ bugitats behind the azalea.

Friday, 27 April 2012


 Well that's it my poor greenhouse is saying "no more seedlings in here, please"

Here are just a few photos of the greenhouse that I had hoped had elastic sides alas it clearly doesn't :)

This rain everyday has definitely put the brakes on any ideas I may have had about getting these little babies out into the lovely sunshine. Maybe we have been spoilt by last year's April weather and were expecting just                                  
too much!

Poor Alfie doesn't know what he wants to do, he has decided that all this rain must mean it's winter so he's back to eating all day and all night and hiding out in the veg trug or greenhouse cupboard, silly Alfie.

Even though I really don't have any more room left I am still sowing seeds but in my head herbs don't count as flowers so that's ok, I am sure I will find a spot for them somewhere. later today I hope to have some Basil "Dark Opal," Coriander and Dianthus "Sonata" under way. I know I know, Dianthus are most definitely not herbs but I just love these fragrant perennials and they will fit in really well with the new fragrant garden area that I am planning this year to go near the swing. Lovely summer evenings, glass of wine in hand, the sweet smell of Dianthus, Nemesia and Roses wafting over me. Heaven :)  

Well I will leave you, wishing the sun would come out :)

 Happy gardening, or looking through the window

The Potting Shed


Monday, 16 April 2012

Useful tips

Over the weekend I thought it would be a good idea to take some photographs of the garden tools that I use and show you all how I use them. Hopefully they might help and inspire you :)

These three tools I most definitely could not live without. I can not in any way use secateurs, for years and years I tried but all I could manage was daft cuts that left stems hanging off the plant! Not a good idea.
The small pink deadheaders are just great for snipping off heads and taking cuttings. They are very light and even I can use them one handed, very very unusual for me. The slightly larger pink by-pass snippers are equally useful for those stems that are a little thicker and need a bit more effort. I have to use two hands here but as the blades are nicely pointed I can get them in between the stems easily as I can not hold whatever it is that needs a snip. Trust me I have tried to do this with the cordless electric secateurs in the picture and only just managed to avoid chopping off my little finger, the secateurs went one way and I went the other. With only three fingers I really don't have any to spare! :)

here you can see me in action, one handed  happily snipping the dead heads from my violas :)

Tulips need a bit more force so here I use the by-pass snippers, brilliant 
These cordless secateurs work a treat on those pesky tough branches and I can now prune much bigger trees and shrubs. Something I have always wanted to be able to do but could never manage it until now. My husband, James's face was quite a picture after I had finished pruning for the first time, the whole garden had become me sized!
My newest invention that came into being over the weekend is my new  mobile watering system.

After spending quite some time wondering how I could water the garden without trying to drag a hospeipe round the garden and getting very wet into the bargain I came up with this handy idea after watching James use his fertiliser/weed killer sprayer.
This sprayer holds 10 litres of water and fits neatly inside the shopping trolley. Once filled with water I can wheel the trolley around the garden, even across the grass and water away to my hearts content. I can even reach my beloved hanging baskets that used to wilt in the summer waiting for a water thanks to the handy wand. No heavy lifting of watering cans, not actually possible for me anyway and it also beats the hosepipe ban so it doesn't matter if you have a disability or not, everyone can water their garden easily.

I hope you have found some of my ideas useful

Bye for now


The Potting Shed :)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

April...The Journey Begins

     April…. The Journey Begins

I wandered lonely as a … gardener searching for signs of life, new growth, old friends and a host of tiny seedlings. April is one of the most loved months in the gardening calendar. Blossom aplenty around nearly every corner, with its heady scent, plump Peony buds that look good enough to eat, awakening all the gardener’s senses. Spring is well and truly here. Many a happy gardener makes that welcome return to the weekend garden routine. It will be non-stop from now right through until the end of October. Mind you, if the end of last year was anything to go by, we will still be toiling away in December. I still had Gazanias in flower right up to the end of the year!

Gardening in some ways is very much like driving on a busy motorway. In the beginning there can be a faltering start, lots of stopping and starting before the road ahead clears, giving way to a mad rush with the occasional stop for sustenance. The height of the journey being summer and the mass of blooms, vivid colour, vegetables and abundant wildlife it brings. Then we rush off again towards Autumn and Winter until we get all snarled up, back inside, coming to a virtual standstill, with only the highlight of the enticing seed catalogue study whilst waiting for those signs of movement again and low and behold you are back where you started, and round you go again.

Trying something new

This year I thought that I might try some things that I have never grown before. My first idea was to be a bit more veg friendly and grow more than the usual suspects of onions, garlic and carrots. So I am going to try some Sweetcorn “F1 Sundance” variety which is meant to be easy to grow. Remembering to sow them under glass now as they love balmy weather and I am hoping this will help them grow more strongly when I plant them out. I am also going to try Runner Beans “Prizewinner”. I usually get my bean plants given to me by my mother-in-law, lovingly known to us as Granny P but this year I thought I would try from scratch. I bet you anything hers will be miles bigger, better and tastier than mine, but I shall bow to her far superior garden knowledge, after all she has been doing it for some forty odd years. Granny P knows best.

 The other thought I had was to trial an Alpine area, it is only small with six plants in at present, including, Pratia County Park, a ground cover alpine with pale blue flowers and the beautifully formed Mazus which has dainty orchid like purple flowers.
Trying out new plants that prefer dryer conditions might be a useful experiment for potentially changing planting schemes in the future. The inevitable hosepipe ban is just around the corner for many of us poor gardeners so if you don’t have any already maybe now is a good time to think about getting a water butt or two (and hope for April showers) Unless of course you are disabled then the ban (in most areas) doesn’t apply, so for once I am quite happy to be in this category!

Ideas for Pots

As I garden mainly using pots and raised beds, due to not being able to bend easily and there is no way I am getting up of the floor without help, I decided to include some ideas for pots and raised beds. Space can at times be an issue, but it doesn’t need to be. How about companion planting? Not only does this look amazing and adds interest all round your garden, some planting combinations benefit each other and help repel pests into the bargain. Here is a short list of some you might like to try:

  • Chives with carrots, tomatoes, broccoli or cabbage (Brassicas) can repel carrot fly, cabbage worms and aphids.
  • Geraniums with peppers, grapes or even roses. Act as a trap crop, attracting pests away from your most prized possessions.
  • French Marigolds with Tomatoes will emit a strong odour that can repel greenfly and blackfly.
  • Nasturtium planted with melon, cucumber and squashes (cucurbits) can deter aphids.

April then is a time of pleasure, preparation and forward planning. You can begin to imagine how your summer garden will look and have many hours of enjoyment to come. Yet the worry of “will there be a frost?” “Shall I risk planting out just yet?” still linger in the back of the April gardeners mind. Enjoy the extra hours of daylight; soak up the delights of spring, after all it will soon be June.

Jobs for April

A little list of things to be getting on with in April.

  • Pinch out Fuchsias …….. this will ensure a lovely bushy plant, pinch out regularly to encourage side shoots to get a stronger stem which in turn supports the flowers. ( on young Fuchsia wait until 2 or 3 pairs of leaves are established before pinching out)
  • Dead head spring bulbs
  • Sow hardy annuals directly where they are to flower
  • Any emerging shoots on Delphiniums and Lupins might need protecting from snails and slugs. Try copper tape or egg shells. If they are in pots rub some vaseline around the pot, the pests can’t crawl over it.
  • Take any cuttings from new growth on Dahlias, Pelargoniums and Fuchsia (late April)

Greenhouse Jobs

  • Sow annual climbers such as Morning Glory (Ipomoea)
  • Cup and saucer vine (Cobaea) and Nasturtium
  • Pot on any rooted cuttings
  • Start to feed your young plants..3 to 4 weeks after they have been re potted.
  • Pop your tomato plants in grow bags or large pots (late April)

Veg and fruit

  • Sow Sweetcorn…under cover now for planting out in June (not before, it is still too cold for Sweetcorn)
  • Feed any fruit trees or bushes
  • Maincrop potatoes can go out now
  • If it stays warm then here is a list of things to sow..
  • Beetroot, salad leaves, cauliflower, peas, cabbage and spinach
  • Feed Strawberries with a high potash feed, tomato food works well (late April)

General garden Jobs

  • Check for plain leaf growth on variegated plants, snip any plain ones off
  • If conditions are dry enough mow the grass, on a high setting if it is a bit long or damp.
  • Clean up your patio so it doesn’t get slippery
  • Treat moss and weeds in the lawn (late April)
  • Rake out any dead grass (put the grass in your compost bin)
  • Why not make a bug habitat out of old branches you may have lying around or even use an old slab, raised in a corner for frogs and toads to shelter under.
  • Honeysuckle, Leycesteria
  • Hedges (check for nesting birds first)
  • Early flowering Clematis such as Montana, needs a prune after flowering to keep it under control.

April 3rd,handy tips

Morning all.

Today I thought I would do a brief post about the handy things I have and share some ideas on how to keep on enjoying your garden if you have a disability, back problem or any health issue really :)

Firstly a photo of my newly raised cold frame. My lovely husband, James put my cold frame up on large shelf brackets. My first idea for this was actually to reduce the risk of frost damage to my tender seedlings, but once it was up and I went to put everything back in I was amazed at how much easier it was! No bending right to the floor and having to drop the tray that last few inches :) Not a good idea as this has potential to damage my lovingly sown seeds. No more struggling to straighten up again. Wonderful. I can highly recommend making your cold frame higher, its a life saver, not only for your back but for your plants :)

I have also recently invested in a potting table. Which has a handy hole in the front so you can sweep away the left over compost into a bucket underneath, no waste. It is the perfect height to pot things on whilst sitting down, singing away to the radio. Absolute 80's radio for me. Again this reduces back and hip ache no end. Everything is to hand with no awkward twisting or bending. I could pot on here all day and that's saying something as I find it really hard to get comfortable and have to forever shift about. Being here sitting on my beautiful pink office chair is just about one of the best places to be. The chair is soft and comfy and can be adjusted to the perfect height, I can spin around if I need something behind me and wheel it away when I am finished. Brilliant. A simple yet perfect solution.

I hope you found this interesting. I am off to take more photos of all my useful tools and will be back.

Love from The Potting Shed


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

27th March

The weather just keeps on getting better. 18.5 yesterday, nearly 20 today. Such amazing sunshine for this time of year. With a hosepipe ban around the corner we really could use a little more rain though, just a little.The weather for the end of March has been truly spectacular. As they say, "in like a lion, out like a lamb" and so it would appear to be very lamb like.

My greenhouse is bursting at the seams. 70 plus Petunias, 120 or so Geraniums, several different varieties of Tomatoes, including Alicante, Roma and Moneymaker. 40 or more Aquilegia mixed and pure white. Some Trailing lobelia in shades of blue aswell as 20 Gazanias and 40 or so Aster, both single and double head flowers.

Saturday and Sunday were spent sowing yet more seeds, I have many spaces to fill. Well in my head I think I have many spaces to fill :) I hope my fences are elastic and then everything should just fit in. I decided on a new variety of Sunflower this year called Earthwalker, they are shades of bronze and chocolate so should add a bit of height and interest, I also sowed my favourite Cosmos Sea shell and Sarah Ravens white species, along with some Brachycome, some were from free seeds on a garden magazine and other's were from Granny P's garden. I wonder which ones will appear first.
This photograph of these two happy Goldfinches has to be included as I have waited ages to get a good shot ( in my opinion) of these stunning birds. They stayed on the feeder for a good ten minutes flinging Nyger seeds all over the place. Such a wonderful sight.

Anyway I must go and make the most of the sunshine, which will probably involve the garden swing and quick nap :)

happy gardening

Thursday, 22 March 2012

March 2012

March so far has been very busy. New tulips,johan strauss have flowered and they are truly stunning. I just love the way the edges curl outwards to reveal the bright yellow stemen. Lovely. My new greenhouse has arrived and once the blue air had cleared, my lovely hubby had one heck of a job putting it up! It is now full of flower seedlings, bulbs, and tomato and pepper seedlings.
The march weather has been a mish mash so far. Sleat and snow in the first week, bright sunshine, to frost this morning , 22 march. This just shows you that you need to hang on
and be patient and keep those tender plants under cover for a few more weeks.
Once last comment for today, i have begun my alpine garden. With the weather warming up or so we are told i thought i would trial some plants that grow in dryer climates. I'll keep you posted.
Happy gardening nx

Friday, 16 March 2012

Spring… A time for action

Spring… A time for action

Well here is my first article. I hope to one day be published in a garden magazine and getting paid would be lovely, but you have to start somewhere :) April is the next instalment. Not absolutely sure what it will entail as yet but I'm sure I will be inspired soon :) I am trialing a few new things this year so they may well be included.

Happy gardening Nx

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sunny feb 23rd

Today is such a lovely sunny thursday. It is 17.5 degrees and the garden is finally bursting into life! Golden crocus snd a stunning deep crocus are in full flow in the front garden. My early sown seed experiment seems to be going well although a few tomatoes have given up the ghost. Now is the time to get a few sweet peas going. Some say they need soaking over night first but i never have and they always work so give it a go.
This weather is so much better than a few weeks ago when on the 12 feb it was -16 and our cold water pipe to the kitchen froze solid.

Roll on more sunshine and seed sowing.

Bye for now
The potting shed xx

Friday, 10 February 2012


Oh no some of my seeds have keeled over! I will try and rescue them tomorrow 

Monday, 6 February 2012

Feb 2012 snow

So here we are February already!! How time flies. The first snow of the year arrived over night and Sunday was very white outside. We had about 4 inches of snow and Alfie jumped on the grass and disappeared up to his tummy,silly boy.

On a good note my new indoor propagator is working brilliantly and the seeds that I planted only last weekend have come up already. Two varieties of tomato, Alicante and Money Maker are doing really well and I am hoping for a huge crop this year. the Cosmos have also sprouted well from the seeds that James gathered last year! How exciting,we have never grown anything from our own seeds before so we are both looking forward to seeing how well this works. Free flowers!! Yippee :) The other seeds that we collected from our snapdragons are also trying hard but they are very tiny. I am sure they will come up trumps though. On looking today I also noticed the beginnings of the peppers growing too so it's all going on.

I am really hoping that the weather improves so I can get back in the Potting Shed which I am missing so much mind you it is meant to drop to minus 7 by Wednesday,brrrrr.

Right I need a cuppa. Photos of the snow and seeds will follow.

Happy growing

Niki x