Mid Week Review

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Sometimes it’s the happy accidents that make the all the difference like this Euphorbia characias and Clematis macropetala, what a lovely colour combination.IMG_20170404_173008

Always exciting to see Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ piercing through the ground. It loves my heavy clay soil.

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The Fritillaria imperialis just before I spotted a Lily beetle!

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Who says Hyacinths don’t grow well after being forced in pots. This one is five years old and getting better every year.

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Wonderful Winning Weekend

005                                                                                                                                         Despite all the recent meteorological doom and gloom, The Cheltenham Horticultural Society held it’s Spring Flower and Craft Show as planned on Sunday. It was only my second foray into the mysterious world of horticultural shows but buoyed up by last summer’s relatively successful attempt, I entered eight classes including the above attempt at ‘Floral Art’ for novices which was titled “At Breakfast”24032013532.                                    Even with the tray back to front I won first prize and a kind note from the judge! 24032013533              And yes, I did the whole thing myself including the boiled eggs!

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This was followed by a further 1st prize for a vase of 3 yellow un-named Daffodils,  1st prize for a vase of 3 daffodils of any other colour combination (pictured above) and 1st prize for a vase of 1 tulip stem.002

The demure little common Primula vulgaris I entered won 2nd prize for ‘1 container of Primrose or Polyanthus’ beating off stiff competition from loads of garishly coloured and unnatural looking examples of the species. It might have done even better if I hadn’t had to remove the front two leaves due to slug damage!24032013530

My wife, Cathy, swept the board with 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Handicrafts section for ‘An article, hand knitted or crocheted’. Her baby’s jacket, baby blanket and scarf were simply the best. 24032013536

Her Orange Drizzle Cake came second in a class of 12 others and is absolutely delicious!

All in all, a wonderful show in dreadful weather. With over 200 entries and 300 visitors, it was a tribute to the hard work of the organising committee and volunteers.

Roll on August and the Summer Show!

Signs of Spring

Front Garden in February It is still early in the year, cold and wet, but Spring is definitely just around the corner. The garden is slowly waking from its winter sleep, buds are breaking and shoots are stirring.

I am very behind with all the clearing and pruning jobs I had planned to have completed by now. The new weed-free turf I laid three years ago looks thin and scruffy with moss under the trees and daisies beginning to take hold. As soon as I can I will aerate and scarify it but currently it is too squelchy.

All around me, everywhere I turn at the moment, it’s all about snowdrops. I am not a ‘Galanthophile’ but I admire snowdrops for their guts and determination to make an appearance at the coldest time of year, sitting in frozen ground and often covered in snow, which just goes to show how tough these fragile beauties really are. One of my neighbours recently had their drive re-surfaced with tarmac but that wasn’t going to stop the snowdrops, oh no, they managed to push their way up between the tarmac and the wall!Strong Snowdrops!

The Hellebores are stretching their necks and unfolding their flowers ready to announce the arrival of March and longer days. My little patch is in the wrong place but they hate being moved once established so I have decided to work around them and to lift their seedlings each year to start a new colony under the trees where I would prefer them to live.Hellebores

Another sign that things are improving is the arrival of our slimy friends the slugs. I have found a few keel slugs venturing out from their hiding places to investigate my Delphinium seedlings, gourmet food if you are a slug. However, I was just about to reach for the slug pellets when my conscience got the better of me and I remembered a promise I made to avoid chemical controls and use an organic alternative. I recently heard about ‘Slug Gone’ wool pellets which have received good reviews and so this is the new deterrent.Wool Pellets

They look rather like rabbit food but smell dreadful, a bit like a dead rat. They are made from the fleece around the sheep’s bum area which absorbs the potassium salts from the sweat glands. When you wet them they go mushy and spread out. It is this wet smelly woolly consistency that the slugs don’t like and apparently go off in search of pastures new. Come to think of it, I have never seen a slug on a sheep’s bum so they must work.Delphinium seedlings with wool pellets

So far, so good. No slugs have returned to the Delphiniums and I am not concerned about the Labradors dying from chemical poisoning or the Blackbirds eating poisoned slugs.