We've been so busy outside that we haven't done much in the house for the last month, so here's a photographic update of how we are getting on in the garden.
As always happens in the first year of living in a new home, we are discovering the hidden plants that were put in by the previous owners. They had planted lots of cheerful spring flowering bulbs and there are pots of pretty tulips and swathes of daffodils all around the back garden.
In the greenhouse, seeds sown over the last couple of months are germinating well and producing little leaves that promise good things to come. The cut and come again salad leaves are now about 3 inches high and while I will pick some, I also think that I will transplant a few into the garden to allow them to grow on into large plants giving us an early lettuce crop.
In the area of the paddock that will be the herb and cut flower garden I currently just have grass, but before too long I can start planting out some of these seedlings to give the herb beds structure and height. This Bronze Fennel will add colour and frothiness of texture as well as useful seeds for the wild birds that visit the garden later in the year.
Lovage is one of those herbs that I think people either love or hate. I dislike the smell of it on my hands intensely, but do like the taste when added to stews as I think it adds a depth to the sauce in beef dishes. I also like the height and structure that lovage offers to the herb bed.
The young Lupin Russell Mixed plants have now grown their first true leaves and I've potted up some of them and left others (as an insurance policy) in the seed tray. These will help to fill the herbaceous border with colour this year and, I hope, help to improve the soil's nitrogen content.
For my birthday in January, I was given a Boysenberry rooted cutting by my daughter's in-laws and I'm delighted to see that it has started to throw up new shoots. It will be planted out in the soft fruit garden before too long. All I have to do is create the soft fruit garden area first!
Another delightful find that was left by the previous owner is this Acer Palmatum Dissectum . There is no label with it, so I don't know what variety it is, but I'm really enjoying watching the leaves open to reveal the fresh green against the red edges of the leaves.
I had thought that this beauty was a ground elder when I found it in December as a bare stemmed plant but sensibly potted it up to wait and see what happened, just in case it was something nice. And here it is, I am still not entirely sure what it is but think it is either a variegated Sambuscus or more likely that it's a Weigela. Either way it will now be planted in the shrubbery and will be a nice surprise when it eventually flowers.
There are quite a few Camillias in the garden, they aren't a plant that I would chose to buy, but I'm certainly not going to get rid of the ones that are here. The pale pink flowered one in the courtyard at the back of the boot room has been flowering since New Year's Day and is only now starting to look rather sad for itself. This rather brighter pink flowered plant is one of several that I found in the back garden. The leaves are showing signs of stress or nutritional problems, so today I will do a bit of research to see how I can help them recover from whatever ails them.
This is a utility corner of the garden, that isn't visible most of the time. Tucked away around the back of the stables, the corner of the reed bed system can be seen on the left of the photo and the compost bin corner towards the centre. The chickens have been having a field day with the large pile of hay, woodshavings and manure that I have mucked out of the stables. Once we find a few more pallets, we plan to create another large compost bin to store it in for a couple of years while it rots down.
In the reed bed system the settling pool has a huge iris around the edge, I have lifted a few rhizomes to transplant into the herbaceous border, I don't know if it will be happy without its roots in water and I have no idea what colour or eventual height it will be, but it's certainly worth a try.
On the other side of the settling pool is a Marsh Marigold, I really like the richness of the yellow flowers against the slightly glossy leaves. It is currently just waiting to burst into flower.
We also have several patches of stinging nettles, actually calling them patches is an understatement. Beneath the hedgerow and stock fencing that surrounds the smallholding is a metre wide strip of stinging nettles and there are several large areas that are covered in stingers. Mr J and I want to leave some and let them grow to provide habitat for butterflies and other wildlife, but we need to think about just how large an area we want to leave to grow wild. Behind the piggeries is an area that's approximately 75 feet by 50 feet and currently it's filled with brambles, stinging nettles and other pernicious weeds. I don't think I have the energy to tackle it this year, so for now that will remain as a wildlife haven as it is and at some point in the future, we may create a large pond there.
The poultry continue to run riot, yesterday the chickens decided that the bark covering on the shrubbery was the best thing since sliced bread to play in and scattered it all over the driveway, so for the next few days they will be confined to the paddock area and not allowed to free range over the whole smallholding. The ducks walk back and forth inside their enclosure almost crying to be let out into the vegetable garden to snuffle around under the weed suppressing membrane that makes up our pathways.
Taking over someone else's garden is an exciting process but at times it's also a bit daunting, There is so much to be done, so much that we want to do and whilst we have plenty of time, we only have so much energy. The lesson that I have learnt since we moved here is that I am even more impatient than I had realised!