Cases of manure contamination are still cropping up
see here so it's still important to take care when acquiring supplies. This is especially important in areas where Forefront weedkiller is available.

Harrod Horticultural are offering 10% off raised beds - quote code RB10 at checkout click here

Suttons have a 48 hour clearance sale of a huge range of bulbs click here

Sarah Raven also has a bulbs sale click here

Friday, November 21

Plot update

This week we actually managed a visit to the plot. We took advantage from a break in the gloom to replenish our fresh vegetable stocks.
At first glance the plot gives the impression of having little to harvest. For those of you that think all our plot is neat and tidy, cast your eyes over the herb bed that has sneaked into the foreground. I just don't seem to be able to keep the weeds from insinuating themselves in amongst the roots of the hebrs so it's maybe a candidate for weed control fabric
The garlic - top left - and autumn onions - top right - are away to a good start. I just hope the onions do as well as they did last year.
Sprouts are ready to be picked and the red cabbages are hearting.  We did consider removing the insect netting thinking the plants were large enough to withstand pigeon attack, but learning from CJ's experiences over at Above the River which was also a timely reminder of past mistakes, the netting will remain firmly in place.
The parsnips and carrots are tucked up beneath their duvet of straw.
The wallflowers, sweet Williams and sweet rocket have made good plants which I hope will bring early colour to the plot next year and provide me with some cut flowers.

From the view below, it all looks bare. Some beds are dug over and covered ready for planting in spring and other have been roughly dug over and are waiting for the weather to go to work on breaking up the lumps of sticky earth.
In the background above to the left you can just make out the sad remains of what was the lovely colourful annual flower bed that I hope, with a bit of tweaking, to reproduce next year.

To the right of the annual bed hiding in straw is a row of beetroot.

To the right the autumn All Gold raspberry canes are preparing to shed their yellowing leaves.

In the far distance you can just make out the bed of leeks. Here they are.
Hopefully these will keep us supplied through winter and into early spring.
On the other side of the plot there is very little still to harvest - just some savoy cabbages in the centre background.
The fruit bushes and trees will soon be totally bare and no the pear bed does not need weeding. More about that in a later post.
The flower bed in the foreground is a different matter - it needs sorting big time.

Wednesday, November 19

A brief spell of sunshine brightens the gloom.

Monday, November 17

Thorny decisions

We have four climbing roses in the back garden. 

One is Golden Showers - a yellow rose.  This rose grows up the back of the summer house and has amazed us. It was cut down to the  ground and the summer house was just about built on top of it. Since that shock it has come back stronger and healthier than ever and has an incredibly long flowering period, sending up blooms until the weather finally becomes too much for it.
Then we have White Cloud which we bought this year to add to the blue and white border. This rose is still fairly small but is showing promise.

Then we have a rose that we have had so long that I can't remember its name - it could be Crimson Glory, (a name that seems to ring a bell somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory). It's very vigorous and thorny with no real perfume but a lovely flower. It's been given the freedom to roam and is in need of a bit of taming and training.
Finally we have Compassion which is trained up an obelisk. It maybe is a bit too vigorous for the height of the obelisk but I manage to keep it under control.

We want to add more climbing roses to our garden and I have been going round in circles pouring over varieties, I think that I have found one that I like and then find it is susceptible to disease, has no fragrance or only one flush of flowers. 

My problem is that I am in search of at least four or five perfect roses. As well as being disease resistant, they must have perfume and a long flowering period. On top of this I am looking for particular colours and we're not to keen on the really full cabbage type flowers. Oh, and I don't want them to be too vigorous!

I want a cream rose (not a pinkish cream) to go in the white and blue border. Many that have been recommended are lovely but too cabbagy and others when Googled hint that they may just be more yellow than cream. At the moment I am leaning towards Creme de la Creme or Big Ben (trouble with Big Ben is that it is exclusive to one company and I'd like to get all the roses from the same place).

Then I want to create a yellow and red bed so I am looking for a red rose and a yellow rose. At the moment my tiny short list includes, Etoile de Hollande and Chris.

The final one or two roses are intended for the cold frame courtyard and could be any colour really although I am leaning towards a sort of apricot. Maybe something like Lady Hillingdon. I quite liked the single Meg but read it can be susceptible to black spot!

Has anyone grown any of the ones on my mini short list and can give me some advice or do you have a favourite climbing rose that would meet my requirements.

Friday, November 14

Magnolia watch

It may not be obvious from the photo below but since my last magnolia post the magnolia tree has undergone surgery and the canopy has been reduced somewhat.
Branches were clawing at the bedroom window and the canopy was spreading wider than we wanted and in danger of extending the shade beyond those plants that could tolerate it. A second operation may be required next year but for now we felt that the tree had suffered enough.

As other trees in the garden had either completely shed their leaves or were displaying shades of red and yellow, the magnolia was resolutely remaining fully clothed and green.

Then suddenly it all changed.
Green turned to yellow and the leaves started to fall revealing patches of daylight through the once dense canopy.
The leaves quickly lose their temporary autumn colouring and become dry and brown. 
As the leaves turned paler they also seemed to become thinner. The tree also lost leaves quicker on the side that is battered by winds whistling between the houses.
Leaves that fall onto the garden beneath will be left to rot away naturally as nature intended. The plants there are happy growing amongst leaf litter and the birds and other wildlife enjoy foraging amongst the dry leaves and shelter over winter.

You can see from the photo below that there is still evidence of leaf fall from previous years.

Wednesday, November 12

Autumn comes to Clumber Park

 Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Monday, November 10

Owt for Nowt - Lavender

We have lavender hedging around a couple of our fruit beds.
I can't remember how many lavenders I actually bought originally - no more than six and maybe less. They originally lived in the garden. When I was trimming one of the plants I noticed lots of seed flying out and so (as you do) I decided to sow some and as a result ended up with quite a lot of baby plants that found their way to the plot.
Taken in 2005
Over the following years I took cuttings and increased the stock and decided to create the lavender hedge but at the time only had enough plants to plant up two edges of each bed.

A couple of years ago I took some hardwood cuttings and planted another third side of one of the beds.
The other fruit bed didn't really have space for more lavender until we replanted it this year. (Please ignore the coltsfoot that has now been dealt with).
So I needed more lavender and was going to take some hardwood cuttings until I watched Monty Don on Gardeners' World taking cuttings from softwood. This was something I could do right away rather than forgetting at some later date.

I took everything that I needed to the plot with me including the propagator tray. I wanted to give the cuttings the best chance of success so didn't want them to dry out.
4 July 2014
In just over a month some cuttings were starting to grow and roots were coming out of the bottom of some pots. These cuttings were potted up and the others left until they too showed signs of having 'taken'.
12 August 2014
All the cuttings have now been planted up and placed in a coldframe to overwinter. I Have nipped out the tips of the cuttings and some have already grown into healthy little plants.
7 October 2014
I took 36 cuttings and now have 30 baby lavenders. That is certainly in keeping with the Yorkshire saying "Owt for Nowt" (Translation S"omething or anything for nothing")