I’ve been feeling a little bit grumpy of late. The weather has been preoccupying me somewhat. With my book deadline looming and photo shoots booked I’ve been anxiously looking at a garden and allotment that should be springing into life. Instead I’ve got bare soil and plants that are sulking, sitting there waiting for some warmer weather. The first photos of the year have already had to be postponed and now it’s a waiting game with me wondering whether spring and summer will arrive in time.
Over the last week or so I’ve started to write a post but I’ve heard my words as I type and I just sounded pretty fed up. I don’t like writing when I feel like that. Sometimes it can be cathartic but most of the time I find it just compounds my thoughts rather than relieving them. I promised myself I would only post if I could write something more positive, rather than inflicting my rants and frustrations on you all. So today I bring you flowers to cheer, green shoots and seedlings galore.
Last week I finally managed to plant up my purchases from my break in Cornwall. My run-in with some ropy seafood and a spell of decorating indoors has meant that they have languished in my cold frame for nearly a month now. I’d chosen a selection of shade loving, spring-flowering plants. a pretty little heartease and a sweet violet which was in bloom when I bought it in mild Cornwall, but a spell in colder Wales has made it a shrinking violet and there are no flowers to be seen at the moment.
My gold-laced primulas don’t seem too perturbed by the lack of warmth though. I’ve developed a bit of a primula addiction recently. Lynne Lawson from Barnhaven Primulas recommended a book to me, ‘The Polyanthus’ by Roy Genders. Written in the 1960s I managed to track down a copy on the internet and I’m now hooked. Hence my other purchases of Primula ‘Francisca’ and P. sieboldii ‘Snowflake’. Francisca has really unusual green, ruffled flowers which are tantalisingly close to opening and ‘Snowflake’ has small, white flowers with intricately cut petals which are held on tall stems above the foliage. My P. denticulata are just coming into flower. This is my first year of growing them and I’m intrigued to discover that they have quite a strange way of producing their flowers. Rather than sending up a stem and then the flower buds opening, the flowers are opening in a tightly packed rosette nestled in amongst the leaves, instead. I had thought it was something I had done but in the last few days I’ve noticed the stems are starting to elongate, carrying the globe of individual flowers upwards. Apparently this is perfectly normal and what these drumstick primulas do.
The Bodmin Plant and Herb Nursery in Cornwall is one of my favourites and no visit to the area is complete without a trip here. They have the most amazing selection of herbs. I never realised there were so many different types of rosemary and thyme for instance until I wandered into one of their polytunnels. This time I was tempted by a pot of parcel or leaf celery. Celery itself is notoriously hard to grow and I’ve never attempted it but the leaves of parcel taste just like celery and can be added to soups towards the end of cooking to give a celery flavour. I’m also hoping they’ll taste good in omelettes and salads.
My herb planters are otherwise engaged at the moment, planted up with tulips I couldn’t get into the ground last winter because of all the rain. But once they have finished flowering the parcel can go in the zinc baths along with my other herbs which have spent the winter in the greenhouse.
It may have been unseasonably cold so far this spring, and this may have played havoc with plants outdoors but we have been lucky in this part of Wales to have had some lovely sunshine at least. And, behind the glass on my windowsills, seeds have been germinating at a pace. In fact, my seedlings are at the stage I would expect them to be for the time of year. I sowed some zinnias at the start of April and they had popped up within days. The addition of a heated propagator this year has made a difference, certainly with some flowers I’m growing which needed to be started off in February. I’ve also tried to do everything properly, using seed compost for seed sowing rather than just multi-purpose and incorporating perlite. Germination from most seeds has been good but there have still been disappointments and frantic resowing in the hope I don’t lose any time.
In the greenhouse the broad beans have finally started to grow. I’ve potted them on into bigger pots and they can sit in the cold frame for a few weeks now. I much prefer to plant out substantial plants if I can and my February sown broad beans are even a little further on than some of those my allotment neighbours sowed back in November. I’m pleased I ignored the weather and sowed trays of lettuce, peas, beetroot and spinach. We have a fairly short growing season anyway so anything to try to gain some extra time is worth it for me.
My windowsills are pretty much at full capacity at the moment so some milder weather would be welcome, allowing me to move a few hardy annuals into the greenhouse. Oh, and I did get quite excited yesterday to discover the first shoots of a dahlia poking through the compost. I let out a bit of a squeal, loud enough for Wellyman to come downstairs to see what was going on. I think he thought I’d discovered a mouse or something.
So I’m trying to defy mother nature as best as I can but soon my plants will have to go outside. Lets just hope by then spring, at least, has arrived.
I know the feeling, I too haven’t been inspired to write about the garden, it has just been too depressing. It looks almost as though someone has walked through with a flame thrower, everything is burnt by the freezing winds that we had. Temperatures are rising slowly and today it is raining so maybe next week the garden will look better. Your veggie seedlings are looking great, hope you soon get the weather to plant them out!
It’s good to see everything starting to come together. The greenhouse has been a boon!
The late spring is frustrating enough for those of us without photo-shoots hanging on the back of it. I hope it picks up the pace soon.
Am I too late to plant broad beans inside? Have never tried before… spot the newbie allotment-holder and serially failing gardener – best to call a spade a spade, after all. Any tips on how best to persuade broad beans to germinate and stay alive for as long as possible gratefully received.
Not too late at all. I’ll probably sow another set in a few weeks to follow on from my earlier sown ones. I sow mine into those modules trays you often getting bedding plants in. Sow into multipurpose compost and push the bean into each module so that they are covered by the compost and water. If you can put them on a sunny windowsill, if not somewhere a bit sheltered will do and keep them watered. They should take a week or two to germinate. When you see roots pushing through the bottom holes of the trays pot on into 9cm pots. Plant out when the roots are pushing through the bottom of these pots. It can take up quite a bit of space to do this. Have you tried looking in your local garden centre? Mine has good-sized broad bean plants for sale that could be planted out at the allotment now. I’d harden them off a little first, leaving them outside on a night with some horticultural fleece over them or in a cold frame just to get them used to outdoor temperatures and then plant out. Hope that helps. WW
Marvellous! Thank you. I’ll take a look for established plants too. I have some horti fleece and pegs kicking around somewhere. Will keep a beady eye on this blog from now on too in the hope of becoming increasingly less bewildered! 🙂
Glad to help. Doing is the best way of learning. I hope we get some great weather this year to encourage new gardeners. So many must have been put off last year.
It doesn’t sound as though you’re behind at all. The drab weather we’ve had has put me off sowing seeds, and though I’ve started a few things off, most of my seed sowing has been shelved. I really need a mammoth sowing session now that we’ve got some warmer temperatures forecast. Can you believe they’re predicting 16 degrees here on Sunday? I’m not counting my chickens yet though, they’ve got it wrong too many times before to get excited about it. I’ve never grown primula Denticulata but I do like them, it’s fascinating how they produce their flowers, I didn’t know that.
Hi Jo, Indoors plants I’m fine it’s just outdoors that’s the problem. Nothing to take photos of unfortunately and I need plants to be cropping by the end of June if I’m to meet my deadline. It’s going to be tight. I’m trying to get my hopes up that the weather may be changing. It’s been cold here again today so I’ll believe it when I see it.
I agree I feel like I’ve spent most of this season posting about the weather! I’m going to resist from now on. Great to see all your seedlings coming up and it will get going for your book. I know what you mean about shrieking when you see things like new growth on your dahlias, I’ve taken to visiting and talking to my seedlings in my spare room every night and did exclaim when the first shoots came up! Martin thinks I’m mad and I probably am!
🙂 Not mad at all. I say to my seeds when I sow them ‘grow little plants, grow’. I hope my positivity encourages them to grow. Now who’s the one who sounds mad? 😉
Such a frustrating season, grrrrr; I absolutely identify with your frustration.
(The only seeds I have planted so far have been the broad beans; everything else is in waiting. Still, i expect they’ll catch up. Hopefully…)
Each year seems to throw a different set of challenges at us and this year is no different. I’m muttering to myself daily that I will not grow tomatoes again from seed. Must be rather rather disconcerting though WW with your book deadline in mind but I’m sure that it will not be long before everything goes woooooosh. It looks as if your new greenhouse is proving a valuable asset. Glad to read that you did some plant hunting and buying in Cornwall – a girl has got to keep up her spirits.
I know Anna. I guess that is the main challenge of gardening – battling the weather. It is quite stressful this year though. Last year was frustrating and at times disappointing but the book has put a whole new spin on it. I’m hoping for that whooooosh 😉 The greenhouse has been amazing. I knew last autumn I would need one and I’ve been proved right. I’m buying in small plants of some things this year to ease the strain. Tomatoes and chillies will be bought towards the end of the month from the garden centre.
David Marsden said:
I’m not the only one who squeals at the emergence of seedlings then? That’s good. Dave
🙂 Every morning I do a tour of my windowsills checking the trays and pots. Even if I only sowed them the day before. I was so surprised to see zinnias after only 2 days.
Anna B said:
Aw Wellywoman! Sorry to hear you’ve been a bit fed up, don’t worry summer is on it’s way (one day soon I hope!) I love seeing what you’ve got in your greenhouse. I feel behind too but that’s just how it is this year and it’s definitely not too late. I’d only just come back from India this time last year and I started everything after that and had a great year and that was when we had good weather! Nature finds a way! Hope you feel more positive soon 🙂 x
Thanks Anna, I’m pretty sure summer will turn up at some point just as long as it’s in time for my photos. 😉 I need my garden and allotment to look like high summer by the end of June. I could do with it at least looking like spring by the end of next weekend. I’m beginning to think I should have got a polytunnel as well as a greenhouse. 😉 Really feel for everyone preparing for the RHS shows, the cold must be playing havoc with their plans. It’s Cardiff show next week so it’ll be interesting to see what they have managed to get to flower.
Laura Bloomsbury said:
Book deadline – did I miss something? The heartsease are almost the only cheery thing around but how sweet their optimism. I can feel a 10 hour shift of catch-up gardening coming on
Hi Laura, Yep I’m writing a gardening book. Working away on the text at the moment and hoping my garden will look a little more like spring by next weekend than it does now. I’ve got loads to do this weekend in the garden too.
Laura Bloomsbury said:
I’m impressed and look forward to it – Sunday is supposed to be sunny and warm so there goes your day of rest 😉
Hi Laura, thank you. I’ll be more than a little nervous when it comes out. I hope people like it. Everything is really hectic at the moment. Seeds sprouting everywhere and plants to be pricked out and potted on. It’s good though. 😉
To gain some space you can plant the broad beans on the allotment now. My second row was planted two weeks ago (10cms tall) and they looked very happy yesterday. I have covered them with a hooped-fleece.
I did think about planting them out last weekend but I kept mine in pots that bit longer last year and they seemed to do really well so I’m going to try the same this time. I’ve got an empty cold frame at the front of the house they can go in, now it looks like it’s going to be that bit milder.
The wait has been worthwhile though, I trust, now that you have new growth to shriek and squeal at? We are all experiencing this delayed start to our growing year in different ways, and I have been fortunate to have had my woodland edge border to exclaim over throughout the unseasonable (?) weather. Now that seed sowing is well under way I am doing more than daily checks on these and a lot more exclaiming as well! Hope all progresses well and in time for your photo shoot.
Hi Cathy, Had my photo shoot yesterday and everything went well. :)) Everything has perked up in the garden and on the plot and it’s brilliant. Still behind but hopefully things will catch up. Love the sound of your woodland border.
Lovely primula, and I love the picture at the top of your blog too. I get hugely excited when things come up too, in fact just as soon as this monsoon downpour has finished I am going to look at my dahlias; it’s just possible they have sprouted and I haven’t noticed. I’m checking my chillis hourly… they take so long to come up, maybe a month I think.
Thanks CJ, Hope your dahlias have sprouted. 😉
I think that we’ve all been feeling like that thanks to the weather, let alone anything else.
Anyway I enjoyed reading this post, and I’m sure that we’ll all soon be happily gardening in glorious weather. xx
Thanks Flighty. Hope the sun is shining for you today. It’s lovely here. Off to sow more seeds in a bit.
It’s been lovely to have some sun – and some rain at last. Hopefully the temperatures will keep increasing and the garden will make up for lost time. I’m hovering impatiently over ungerminated seeds too, though the broad beans are just a little behind yours, which is encouraging.
The sun and rain have been much needed. It’s good that April is proving to be a little more true to the season.
That very special moment when seeds germinate – Ah! the squeal of the true gardener! – we all do it. Christina
Never get bored seeing seeds germinate. WW :))
This Spring has been so very delayed by the cold I am surprised you didn’t yell loud enough to be heard by the whole neighbourhood when you saw the dahlia was alive and well! So heartening to see trays of seedlings growing away, hope you get a great photo shoot later, I am betting everything suddenly all happens at once now that it is finally warming up. I was getting really fed up too, and was likewise rescued by seedlings and signs of life. Am looking forward to seeing your primula collection, I intend to grow lots here, I have several ideal spots already marked out…
It’s all systems go here now. Plants are growing rapidly in the greenhouse so I need to get out there toay and pot on and prick out. I’m so excited. 🙂
Paula @ Spoons n Spades said:
It’s lovely to see all of your seedlings doing so well. I think the weather put everyone on a downer, but hopefully things are changing and we can get back to enjoying our gardens now.
Thanks Paula, Hopefully the sunshine recently has cheered everyone up. We all deserve a lovely summer.
Haven’t blogged nor gardened for weeks with the cold but spring appears to be here at last. Now to squeeze in 6 week’s worth of jobs into a 3 hour window tomorrow morning when it won’t be raining.
It is crazily busy now. The lighter nights are great though for that extra hour or so of pottering.
Arabella Sock said:
I’m glad I’m not the only one who gives up on writing a post when I realise it has turned into one long moan! Too many of those in the last year. I think one ranty/moany post in ten is fair enough. I too have bought a heated propagator – I’m having to get used to a less slapdash way of treating my seedlings although it would be true to say I’m usually fairly successful. Sun is shining and there is frogspawn in my pondlet – Spring must be here!
I’m envious of your frogspawn. Nothing has deigned our pondlet with their presence. Not a sausage. Obviously a real sausage would be very weird. Although some of the stuff the neighbours put out to feed the birds I wouldn’t be surprised to see one floating in there one day.
It must be very frustrating all this non-growing of stuff this year with your book coming up. But I was quite surprised to see how things have taken off here with just a few days of sun, so hopefully, yours will start catching up now as well. My window sills have been groaning with pots and trays, have moved most of into the greenhouse now, the ground is still way too wet and heavy for most of it be planted out yet. Apart from the broad beans and peas – my peas are actually growing this year!!
It has been incredibly frustrating but I had my first photo shoot of the year yesterday so I’m much happier. Really pleased to hear your peas are growing. Just planted mine out at the plot. Can’t wait to eat them.