Clippings by campanula

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posted by: campanula on 06.25.2014 at 06:16 pm in Perennials Forum

This is my stressiest time of year -as may have been apparent with an increase in churlishness and general whining. No more plants can go in the ground now (no water) so the garden is filled with hundreds of pots filled with plants getting larger and thirstier by the day while the fruit harvest is gathering pace. Weeks of eating strawberries failed to make much of a dent in the insane crop while the raspberries have been at the other extreme - virused and deathly, a crop, any crop, a rare event (it has been 8 years since we last had decent raspberry crops but we must have raspberry jelly) so they had to be seized and gathered - bad enough spending hours is the days of hot jamming, pureeing and kitchen toiling which oppresses me......but I am old enough and mean enough to be unable to waste perfectly good food (and frankly, our fruit is excellent). The currants are ready too I used to make a lot of cordial for my children (which is why I have 20+ bushes). Cutting the grass paths is no sort of priority anymore so the allotment is going into jungle mode (it is only midsummer - why did I think I also needed 100+ (huge)roses). Or 50 tomatoes (ketchup).
Worst of all, at the moment of maximum stress, hair-pulling despair, the most comforting, calming activity was to find myself SOWING MORE SEEDS. Foxgloves (again), rehmannia, name is Suzan and I am a plant addict


clipped on: 06.25.2014 at 06:17 pm    last updated on: 06.25.2014 at 06:17 pm

RE: A very un-american attitude....but still worth discussing. (Follow-Up #27)

posted by: campanula on 06.11.2014 at 06:21 am in Perennials Forum

yep, this has been an intriguing romp into the mindset of fellow gardeners and I am glad something interesting came out of a rather grumpy post. Very true, though, I do feel I have bitten off rather more than I can chew so it was obvious that. stretched as I am, a tiny setback was going to have dire effects...and the rather large annoyance has certainly rocked me. I have been less keen on going to the woods since I am confronted by an inability to do what needs doing....and whilst I feel OK about being a bit slack when I have a choice, it becomes irritating when it is an imposed condition - a state of affiairs all gardeners must surely be familiar with (drought, floods, fires and all things in-between).
Donna mentioned a rather key feature of gardening - the idea of instant gratification........which I do indeed suffer from. My home garden is minuscule - 36square metres, over a third of which is greenhouse. I got used to fairly swift and radical makeovers (those days when I REALLY earned a living)...while the allotment has been 12 years in the making and is fairly abundant despite bad years (something always fails but lots thrives). I think I am just having a dose of reality, moving out into a massive space which requires completely different skillsets (I had initially assumed it was seeds as usual, but expanded by 100....and yep, am really a bit burned out there (although there I was ordering lysimachia seeds).
Side note - another one struggling with winecups....but actually, out of all this verbiage, a rather useful idea did occur - the difference between growing in containers and growing in the ground......and yes (lightbulb moment) it makes absolute sense since everything is connected - plants grow in symbiosis with a whole troupe of microbial life. You can throw maccrorhizal granules in your potting mix forever.....but it often needs to be plant specific.
Wintersowing: we always do this in the UK ( I sow stuff all year round) - although we tend to use trays (flats) instead of milk containers. I have tried the milkjugs....but hated not being able to see what was happening, worrying about moisture, and ended up prising the tops off, thereby defeating the object.....
So, my plant revolution this year- and I can put it off until autumn and idle away the summer - is to build a few raised beds in the wood - small 2x6 ones - just 3 or 4, and make a direct sow nursery using the native soil. This should mitigate the effects of direct sowing (needing loads of seeds and losing track of where they are...and I have already moaned about tiny seed packets) while doing away with all that worry about tending to tiny plantlets.

Al;ready feeling a whole lot better GWebbers! A project to do, a plan in hand while I get to have a bit of time to sort out the 'kitchen' in my horsebox........or the bed skylight (it is currently like sleeping in a very small box - getting in bed feels like posting ourselves through a letter box and there is no sitting up and reading.....and we have to sort out the heating situation (again) but will be going for something cheap and tatty rather than new, shiny and tempting to thieves.
Joyously, I was sent a huge bag of white martagon lily seeds from Sweden so just after our burglary, I went all round the woods making little footscrapes and sowed over a thousand seeds. I would expect at least a few of them to grow over the next 4/5 years. White turkscap lilies!! a single bulb cost me almost 10dollars (actually 6pounds but converted for you).

So thanks everyone - I have loved hearing about your plans, styles, thoughts. I know I have been far too solipsistic and needed to look beyond my personal woes.


clipped on: 06.11.2014 at 06:24 am    last updated on: 06.11.2014 at 06:24 am

A very un-american attitude....but still worth discussing.

posted by: campanula on 06.10.2014 at 09:18 am in Perennials Forum

I want to talk about failure. I know that this giving up attitude is frowned upon in the land of bootstraps, but nonetheless, in the interests of full disclosure, I am happy to reveal my own lacksadaisical attitude towards growing stuff. Being both penniless and greedy, seeds have always been my choice of plant additions....but I am starting to wonder if I am doing myself a disservice here since there is a high rate of attrition throughout the whole process. Yep, I can often get stuff to germinate (but not always....would say it hovered around 15% fails)....but oh, those long months of caring for tiny seedlings, in a huge but untidy greenhouse and an erratic hand watering system (drip impossible dream given the hundreds of plants I have on the go....and have tried capillary matting - another fail). I may start the season with a nice dozen or so plantlets....but it is not uncommon to dwindle to around 3 or 4 by transplant time. Have experimented with getting plants in ground as soon as possible (where I am not confronted with death on a daily basis at least - results are spotty to say the least.
Now, although I have been a pro gardener for years, I have never worked in a nursery and feel certain there are many secrets to success which I simply do not know. Or, am I being an impossible optimist? I learned years ago to avoid looking at images of gardens in magazines and such since they never represent reality on the ground (another reason why flower shows make me grit my teeth). So, those of you who mainly grow their own.....what are your success rates (be truthful, we are among friends here). Do you have certain annoying species which evade your tender cares? Easy-peasy things to pass on to others less blessed?
Here in temperate and mild England, once plants are actually growing well, they tend to thrive (although my fruit gardens are sorry this year) is the germinating and raising which flummoxes me. Is this a common complaint and we just never hear about the failures? Or am I just rubbish.
I would say that, if I can get 50% of everything I have sown into a reasonable plant, I am generally OK with that....but there is always a suspicion I could be doing much, much better. How about you?


clipped on: 06.10.2014 at 09:18 am    last updated on: 06.10.2014 at 09:19 am

Summer is icumen in

posted by: campanula on 05.25.2014 at 09:21 am in Antique Roses Forum

sing cuckoo!

This weekend (a bank holiday in the UK) I am stuck here in Cambridge rather than working in my woodland....which is why I am writing instead of grubbing around with spade and trowel. In truth, I absolutely needed a rest since this last month has telescoped into an intense period of changes - need to take breath for a while. The bluebells came and went at the same time as a startling phenomenon, unseen in my life, of poplar woods coming into new growth. Nothing could have prepared me for the deep bronze and gold canopy, so utterly different from the acid green of new oak. The birdsong, which starts before first light then ratchets up to a furious but never dissonent chorale. We sowed clover, in preparation for the new hives, finally stacked the cut wood for next winter and added an old forage plant, sainfoin to any bare patches in our main clearing. The umbels have been rising since April, with the first alexanders, Queen Annes Lace, angelica and hedge parsley glowing creamily against the deepening green - we are now waist high in velvcet hogweed foliage (an ugly name for a lovely plant, beloved by charms of goldfinch which balance on the flat flower heads, nibbling seed.
And yep, the elusive cuckoo, along with the first sightings of swallows swooping over the Yare, have caused us to pause, smile and feel blessed.

An additional bonus to woodland exile has been the spring blooms of roses -all of which are in voluptuous maturity, tumbling untidily about the amateur supports which clutter the allotment. As usual, I have failed at any sort of tying in and taming so certain paths are now impassable while entry to the toolshed can only be effected on hands and knees - despite using an assortment of rakes and hoes as impromptu rose supports.

This year (as in every year) I am berating myself for backsliding on the vegetable stakes and vowing to do better - hence I ventured forth into torrential rain to spread horticultural fleece over the diminishing french beans (and stick extra seeds in the snail chewed gaps). Once there, muddy and wet, it seemed only reasonable to take a hard look at the overgrown late summer borders - massive clumps of asters and hemerocallis dug out and transferred to a new patch (now that the old rhiubarb has finally been evicted)....and, having made some veggie effort, I rewarded myself with planting some new and thrilling perennials (strobilanthes, so-called 'flowerless' phlox, more aconitum) as well as half a dozen dahlias. Will be back later to fill gaps with some direct sown zinnias and flax.

Lots and lots of truculent little wrens in the honeysuckle hedge which borders the north end of the plot while again, a family of bluetits have invaded the toolshed (just as well it is a nightnare to enter) - the enormous brood of at least 8 have been running around dangerously near my clumping boots. Finally, I am sitting at my desk with new(ish) PC and a huge vase of sweet peas which are almost narcotic in their penetrating but never sickly fragrance.
Yep, summer is definitely in the post.


am attempting to keep some record of this, our first year in the woods.
clipped on: 05.25.2014 at 05:56 pm    last updated on: 05.25.2014 at 05:56 pm