Before the storm

We are promised ‘unseasonably’ high winds and rain today. I am beginning to think that ‘unseasonable’ is starting to lose any relevance because a ‘normal’ season is about as likely as a lottery win. Despite the phenomenal weed and lawn growth in the past few weeks I have no complaints about the weather really. We have had days of 20c and although we had a ‘shower’ of 1cm of rain and hail a few days ago it is good growing weather.

I did put fertiliser on the lawn* so I can’t blame all the grass growth on the rain. I have not attempted to kill the weeds yet – and there are lots – but feeding the lawn goes a long way to keeping the grass strong and able to compete with the weeds. I am slightly offended by dandelions in the grass but am happy to step on clover and speedwells. Maybe I will feel the need to kill the weeds at some time but there is more to worry about at present. My only issue is the creeping buttercups which lurk in the lawn ready to thrust themselves into the borders.

*Mix of weeds and grass

The yellow and white garden is being held together with viola ‘Ivory Queen’. Some of the plants did not survive the drought last spring so I need to propagate more since all the perennial violas have proved worth their weight in gold. These violas are easy to propagate but you have to use basal shoots and not flowering stems which are hollow. I will cut one plant back to about 3cm high and use the resultant shoots as cuttings.

In the greenhouse (having been moved from the polytunnel where it was over winter) I have two sarracenias. These arrived in late autumn, knocked out of their pots, and I had to pot them and keep them moist. Now they are starting to grow I have them standing in a tray of rain water. I didn’t have a suitable compost at the time so used an orchid compost which was largely pine bark and clay granules. I think it will work and I am delighted to see new leaves appearing and they are starting to show that they will be swollen and have lids, unlike the flat winter leaves. And this one has a flower appearing too which is even better.

Rather more prosaic, the potatoes in bags are growing well. I need to roll up the bags and add some more compost and start to liquid feed. Keeping the compost moist is essential or the spuds may be hollow or odd shapes. I could put them outside now but, with windy weather forecast and the plants being soft and many weeks ahead of those outside, I will leave them in the tunnel for now.

I discovered, the hard way, that some parts of the garden are just too wet in winter for tulips to grow. I need to be sensible this year in where I plant them. But I popped a few in the borders and while they look rather mean, they have provided a splash of colour. These are ‘Dutch Dancer’ which is like a stocky ‘Ballerina’ ( possibly my favourite of all) and I hoped they would look good against the dark, fresh foliage of peony ‘Bartzella’. My gut tells me it would work if I upped the ante by a factor of ten, but it does catch the eye on a sunny day.

7 Comments on “Before the storm”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    May 20, 2021 at 9:55 am #

    Yes, it is very unseasonal as it has been all spring and now continues into summer. There has been great growth in plants and a few which have previously suffered in the dry weather of summer have thrived this year – a patch or rodgersias especially so.

    I have two small lawns – i.e. grass which is given the attention it needs to be classed as lawn – and everywhere is grass, which includes all the usual weeds of grassy areas. I haven’t used fertilizer on it ever though I did give it one dose of weedkiller a few years back. I am between minds to leave it weedy or to apply fertilizer to promote the grass which would, to some extent, supress the weeds. What fertilizer did you use?

    • thebikinggardener
      May 20, 2021 at 10:12 am #

      I am not overly proud to say that I went to the agri merchant and bought a 50kg bag of 25.3.3 (more or less). I know it is not very organic or eco-friendly but was only 18 euro and was enough for the whole lawn area. I chucked some on the hedges too to give them a boost. I try to be organic where possible and I have long grass areas etc and lots of native hedge planted. I will still be able to sleep but maybe my halo has slipped.

      • Paddy Tobin
        May 20, 2021 at 1:03 pm #

        It’s good value. I use one of those 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 products on the small front lawns and it gives reasonable results but I don’t want to use weedkiller on the larger grass areas but the weeds are becoming more and more dominant and I would like to redress the balance.

        • thebikinggardener
          May 20, 2021 at 2:28 pm #

          Yes. I want to encourage wild flowers in some areas so will use a weedkiller in a few areas in time but at the moment I am happy to have ‘green’ so feeding rather than weeding is the order of the day for now.

  2. Meriel Murdock
    May 20, 2021 at 1:35 pm #

    Lovely to see the long views down the grassy areas. What a fantastic looking Peony. I have clouds of both ordinary Cow Parsley and ‘Ravens Wing’ and Aqualegias looking very pretty so I’m keeping fingers crossed that the wind and rain doesn’t last too long and flatten some – or all!

    • thebikinggardener
      May 20, 2021 at 2:26 pm #

      I have to say that of all the plants, most of the peonies have done well. I have several ‘Bartzella’ and while they do not seem to have as many buds as last year the plants themselves are big. I have cow parsley in the hedge, where it can stay, and planted some aquilegias from seed but they all failed apart from one. There is time to get more established though.

  3. Faruqe Abdullah
    June 2, 2021 at 3:33 am #

    Thanks for your nice article. I love gardening. That is why I am here to read your informative article. Here you mention “Before the storm” in the first point. I really support this point. Thanks again.

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