Raised beds, borders, and green seed

As the daylight hours are getting longer I have the opportunity of doing a spot of gardening once I arrive home from work.  Today I had the added bonus of leaving work early and so was able to spend a good couple of hours tackling a job that I started at the weekend: building another raised bed. 

We have 6 large beds and 2 small beds and these are used exclusively by my wife, Katherine (some of you may know her as Florist in the Forest) to grow cut flowers.  At the moment it seems like we can’t build enough beds, or build them fast enough, to ensure that we have the necessary space to plant all of the plants that are growing in pots and seed trays but that will soon need planting out.

Building another raised bed; all the turf lifted by sundown.

Now that the turf is lifted, the next job will be to rotavate the soil, add some more topsoil and compost (this will either be mushroom compost that has been sitting around for quite some time or well rotted horse manure) then get the actual boards in place. 

I’ve also lifted some paving from an area next to the house in order to extend the size of the border that we have there.  I think that Katherine is eyeing up this area for more cut flowers but I am determined to retain this patch for purely ornamental purposes.  The earth here is very compact and is going to require plenty of work and added nutrients before it is fit for planting.

Having lifted a number of paving slabs, I'm looking forward to cultivating the soil and getting in some new plants

We have plenty of primula vulgaris in the garden, and I intend to propagate from this by sowing green seed.  As ever, Carol Klein is the lady to turn to for advice on propagation and green seed should be sown as follows: 

1 Fill a seed tray with good seed compost and firm down.

2 Take off a whole seed pod, starting with the fattest at the base of the flower stem.

3 Carefully open the seed pod from the top using fingernails or a sharp knife.

4 Peel back the capsule covering to expose the green seeds and gently scrape off the seeds on to the surface of the compost.

5 Distribute the seed evenly over the surface. This is sometimes tricky because the seed is sticky.

6 Cover the surface of the compost with sharp grit.

7 Place the tray in a container of shallow water until the surface of the grit becomes wet, then remove and put outside in a shady place.

There are accompanying images which can be viewed by accessing the article (printed way back in 2002) via the Telegraph gardening section.

For me this simple Primrose is the best of them all; I’m not a fan of the various gaudy colours available at garden centres. This Primrose, nestled against the base of a tree trunk, is beauty without ostentation; quite wonderful.

The beautiful primula vulgaris


Finally, and this goes out especially to Dave, Alliums. How do they compare?

Just waiting for those umbels!

So this weekend will be one of hard labour I think; but it will all be worth it come the summer.


6 responses to this post.

  1. An area for purely ornamental purposes, I don’t think so! I’ll be out there by night armed with my secateurs if need be. But don’t worry I won’t touch the Alliums – I know the limits, it would be a short marriage, I’m sure xx


  2. Evening Jason.
    You had some hard graft when you got home this evening! It will all be well worth it when you get it planted up (or Katherine gets it planted if you don’t get there first).
    The primrose is lovely, but i prefere the cowslip which i believe is a member of the primula family too… primula veris?
    I had the pleasure of bumping into your wife today for the first time… I can’t believe you both have such wonderful blogs!
    Your allium is bigger than mine! 🙂


  3. Hi Simon, yes Katherine did mention that the two of you had now met. What amazes me is that Katherine and I both blog about the same garden or about gardens we visit without suffering too much duplication of content. I guess that as individuals we always see things from a slightly different perspective; that makes working together in the garden really good as we’ll have a different take on things, even though we do share some very similar tastes when it comes to gardening and plants.

    I do like cowslips too and we usually have some but this year they have inexplicably failed to appear and I’ve no idea why.

    I’m sure that before too long you’ll have some strapping alliums, especially if you’re bringing them on in your polytunnel.



  4. Hi Jason

    A fine allium – please accept this slap on the back. However, you do realise that you’ve now thrown down the gauntlet! Now, where’s my camera ……

    Tough luck after all your hard work, but my money’s on Katherine wresting control of the new house border.


    P.S. I think it’s still a little too early for cowslips – but they shouldn’t be long.


    • I knew that it would mean competition but I’m ready for the challenge so let’s see what you’ve got! I’m thinking that as spring moves into summer the competition may get a bit fiercer.

      It’s funny how both you and Simon think Katherine is going to get her mitts on the border, but I’m confident that I can keep her at bay (naturally, she disagrees!).

      Thanks for the cowslip tip; I’ll keep my eyes peeled.


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