Raking up leaves, sowing seeds, and enjoying the garden

The central bed on a February day.

I’ve had a busy day in the garden today, raking up leaves, weeding, sowing seeds, filling a raised bed with topsoil and some general tidying. The garden is starting to look more alive than it has for a couple of months and there are plenty of new young shoots coming up.

The Delphiniums seem to be doing especially well at the moment and I have a number at different stages of growth; some are in the ground, some are mature plants that were removed from a bed at the end of last autumn and kept over winter in pots, and others are small seedlings from seed that I sowed in august/september time last year.

It was also cheering to see the Pulmonaria breaking into flower. I’m not a huge fan of the foliage as it seems to very easily go brown and slimy so I tend to cut this back to the fresher green stuff which makes for a tider, more attractive plant. The flowers are dainty but the colour is intense when there is so little else around it.

I managed to get some seeds sown too today: Broad beans, Nicotiana Affinis, and Lupins.  But the most exciting part of the day was discovering the root cuttings of the poppy ‘Patty’s Plum’ that I had taken on 9th January had finally sent up shoots. I had given up hope that they were going to do anything so I was overjoyed to see the little shoots reaching for the light! 

Tiny shoot but HUGE excitement!

I know it doesn’t look like much, but trust me, this is very exciting stuff!! A successful bit of propagation.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Brilliant time of year isn’t it…I’m still a little nervous about doing much in the way of flower seed sowing….but it won’t be long now…a couple of weeks and I’ll turn into a freak.


    • I know what you mean; it won’t be long before every available warm and light surface in the house will be filled with trays of seeds and I begin the ritual of scrutinising them morning and night, willing the first shoots to appear. And the excitement when they do finally appear is little understood by anyone who does not garden; indeed, such folk probably would think it freakish!


  2. Well done with Patty’s Plum. I think that’s a variety that Monty raves about, isn’t it? Must get some seeds.

    Was just going to say (carrying on from t’other day) that most gardeners I know drifted into it from other things and all started off part time. I was working on doing up a property when I started lawn mowing for a couple of clients. I’d posted leaflets through letter boxes. Soon found though that customers wanted other bits of gardening done. The RHS encyclopedia was invaluable (and still is!) But it was only after having worked in an Alpine nursery for two years and then a garden centre that I learnt enough and gained sufficient confidence to strike out full time, having gradually gained first one, two and then three days part time employment as a gardener.

    And it sounds like you read as many gardening books as I do, so you probably already know much, much more than you think you do. (And definately a lot more than some employed gardeners I’ve met).

    Anyway, off to work. Love the look of your garden by the way – where abouts in the country are you? You probably say somewhere.



    • Hi Dave,

      Yeah, I think Monty, Carol , and Sarah Raven do like that particular variety of poppy. There are plenty of good ones and I’d like to get a few more varieties this year. The flowering period isn’t long but they are definitely worth it and the seed heads look good too. At the moment they sit amongst Alliums, Delphiniums, Phlox, Salvias, Rosemary, Sage and Roses so it’s a very country garden feel and great for the Bees.

      I guess that experience is everything when trying to get into gardening as a career (as with most things); perhaps I’ll try little steps to begin with and see how things go. At the moment I do the commute up to London so I would need to find work close to home if I wanted to try and set up as a gardener on the side too.

      My wife and I are currently living with her parents just south of Tunbridge Wells, on the East Sussex side of the Kent/East Sussex border. We’re in a place called Broadwater Forest which was bought by the RSPB a couple of years ago and they intend on returning it to heathland. It’s going to be interesting to watch the landscape change around us and the whole area become more open. Where are you based? Is the Priory near to where you live?



      • We’re veritably neighbours! My partner and I have recently moved down to Seaford on the south coast. We’ve bought a 70’s bungalow to do up and sell. It’s our 4th house but it can take 3-5 years to get them back on the market, so hardly a quick turnaround.

        Up unitl last summer I lived opposite the Priory, which was dead handy as even when I wasn’t working, I’d walk down with my dogs and just keep an eye on things and water the greenhouse, that sort of thing. I really miss the intimacy that I had with the place but as I’m still there four days a week I can hardly complain.

        I’ve been studying your book collection with great interest. I see you’ve got GH’s Cottage Gardens (not The Cottage Garden as I erroneously called it) – so I’d like you to go out and build the rose arch. Ready, steady …… go! (Be warned though the timber doesn’t come cheap).

      • Ha ha, well I might give it a try. I have thought before about building some of the things that Geoff suggests but have never got round to it. I did build a large potting tray last winter (which sits on a table in the poly tunnel) and really enjoyed doing it, so you never know.

        Must be nice living down on the coast? Katherine (my wife) and I sometimes trundle down to Rye and to Camber Sands on a nice day. We keep meaning to walk some of the Downs but, as with so many things, haven’t got round to it.

        Do you still think there’s a decent market then for doing up and selling houses? I thought it was hard these days to find a good deal on a property that made it worthwhile?

  3. Yeah, it is nice being back on the coast. I really did miss the Downs as well, having lived with them on our doorstep, prior to moving to our last house. I would spend hours and hours with my dog, Hobbes, walking and exploring. Sadly, now that we’re back and with the South Downs National Park literally across the road, Hobbes is too old and arthritic to do more than short walks.

    As to property-doing-up – who knows? We always buy something that needs work. That way even if property prices fall, we should add value to what we’ve bought and so cushion ouselves against the worst excesses of the market. And of course, when we come to sell, whatever we wish to buy will also be cheaper. Think that makes sense!?

    Our current house is a bungalow bult in 1973 and pretty much not touched since then. All very Abigail’s party. (Well, perhaps not that posh). They certainly built them big in the 70’s. We’ve only ever lived in Victorian semi’s with really small, icy cold rooms prior to this, so it is a little odd having space and warmth! We’re knocking down walls, putting in an en-suite, study and utility room and doing a big garden makeover. New kitchen, bathroom – all the usual stuff. And a trick we’ve always employed: buy a house that you like not just one you can make money on. That way if you get stuck longer than you originally planned (as happened in our last house due to the property dip three years ago) it needn’t be really depressing.

    Anyway, will shut up now. Sorry for the blah, blah, spot lighting, blah, location, location, blah, contemporary exterior living space, blah, good sized room, blah stuff. But you did ask!

    Still need to comment on your books ……


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