I’m never quite sure where to start when I have had a bit of a blogging break. I didn’t plan a hiatus. I rather like the discipline of writing a post every week and know from my attempts in the past to keep a diary how hard it can be to start writing again once you get out of the rhythm.
A virus sapped me of much of my energy for several weeks. I know something is wrong when the thought of going to the plot, or the need to spend some time in the greenhouse feels like too much of an effort and more like a chore than something I normally love. Work was pretty hectic too and the two combined to result in a stinking cold. There wasn’t much I could do but crawl into bed and stay there for a few days. Of course, I spent the whole time lying there thinking about how much there was to do. I would say if a gardener is going to go sick the worst time to do it is probably April. I could almost hear the weeds at the allotment growing as I reached for another tissue. Oh, and there was the small matter of having to prepare for the first photo shoot of my second book. I’m not quite sure how that bit happened but I find myself growing plants for another book and entering round two of my battle with the weather. Last year my panic was fuelled by the lack of any spring and the worry we might never have a summer. This year it’s all change with a spring of warm sunshine. Beautiful, and I wouldn’t swap it but it has been a bit of a nightmare trying to keep plants from going over.
With a bit of breathing space, now I have some photos in the bag, followed by a relaxing Easter break I thought it was about time I put fingers to keyboard and return to my neglected blog.
In some ways being otherwise occupied has been a bit of a blessing. I do have a tendency to get a bit carried away with half-hardy annuals, sowing them too early. I always seem to forget, or choose to ignore the fact that they germinate and grow pretty quickly. By the start of May, I have windowsills chock full of courgettes, French beans and squashes romping away with nowhere to go because it’s still too chilly for them outside. I’m hoping my timing this year, sowing in the middle of April rather than at the start of the month, might be a bit more realistic and save me the headache of trying to accommodate the triffids reaching for the sun.
It’s a pity I can’t be more realistic about the number of plants it is possible for me to grow. The greenhouse, cold frames and windowsills are running at full capacity at the moment. But it’s impossible to turn away more plants. One day, a few weeks ago, an unexpected parcel arrived from Suttons Seeds. They had very generously sent me a sample of 3 tomato plug plants. I did groan a little initially, thinking where on earth was I going to put them, but it wasn’t long before I had mentally rearranged the myriad of plants I already have to be able to squeeze them in. I’m really looking forward to giving them a go. I have had pretty disastrous results growing tomatoes since I moved to Wales, with tomatoes succumbing to blight, and then last year, with the greenhouse installed they suffered at the hands of a bad batch of compost and shrivelled up and died. The tomatoes Suttons sent are a new variety called ‘Indigo Rose’. It’s a black-skinned tomato that is apparently packed full of the antioxidant anthocyanin. It’s a grafted tomato too which I have never grown before. The apparent advantages of grafting include greater yields and improved disease resistance. They’re growing quickly on my study windowsill at the moment. Hopefully it won’t be long before some space is freed up in the greenhouse so they can take up residence there. I’ll let you know how I get on and hopefully I’ll get some fruit so I can report back on the all important flavour test.
My cold shifted in time for me to make a trip to the RHS Cardiff Show. The weather couldn’t have been more spring-like and the show does have a feeling of excitement and anticipation of the growing season to come. The floral marquee looked spectacular with the incredible R A Scamp narcissi display winning best exhibit. The show gardens were much improved this year compared to last. I particularly loved Victoria Wade’s Norwegian inspired garden with its naturalistic feel.
The highlight of the show for me was the discovery of this beauty, Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’ on the Avon Bulbs stand. It’s a variety of the humble honesty plant with incredible chocolate coloured leaves and striking purple stems. I love honesty for cutting, both for the spring flowers and for the moon-like seed pods produced in summer and think this will be a stunner when arranged with tulips. I came away with a packet of seeds. As a biennial it won’t produce flowers until next spring but it’ll be well worth the wait.
I might have room for Chedglow and Avon Bulbs is pretty local to me. 🙂
Glad you’re feeling better. x
Thank you! I still sound like I smoke 20 a day when I get up on a morning. ;0 Feeling much more energetic though. Think Chedglow is a real stunner. Can’t wait to see it in flower next year. x
Welcome back and congrats on your second book! Glad you’re feeling better. I know how frustrating it is at this busy time of the gardening year, when you want to get out and get on, but, for whatever reason, you can’t. Nice to see snippets from Cardiff show. Must give it a go. I just love the RHS shows, and can’t wait for Malvern next month!
Thanks Ali. I love Malvern too but not sure I can make it this year. I always think it’s such a beautiful setting with the hills as a backdrop.
Glad to see you back and I hope that’s it for colds! Those daffodils are quite the sight, but it’s the lunaria I would want to take home too. Do you sow them now or wait for later in the season?
Thank you! You can sow the lunaria between now and the end of May for flowers next year. You can sow later on into summer but they might not flower for 2 years then.
Another book Wow! Sorry to hear that you’ve not been well, hope you’re soon fighting fit once more.
I rather like the look of Lunaria Chedglow, it might find its way into our woodland!
Hi Pauline, Thank you! It is a beauty, although it won’t come true from seed if you have other honesty dotted about. Definitely worth growing though.
Backlane Notebook said:
Yes I always sow too early and then have to juggle seedlings from place to place for weeks on end. I love your book and you may well have covered this in it but can I ask a question. I have a tray of seedling Cosmos ‘Sensation’ just at the 4 leaf stage and I wonder would you carefully lift each out (there are 30 or so) and pot them individually into small pots? Or can I leave them growing in the tray for a few more weeks before lifting and planting straight into the ground next month?
I would lift and pot on. It’ll possibly be a while before they can go out and best not to let them get root bound. I’m just potting my cosmos up. Although 30 would be quite a lot to have in pots. I tend to only use about 4 or 5 with a few potted on as spares in case of slug damage or my clumsiness. 🙂
Backlane Notebook said:
Thanks.so much and I’ll pot on ten and give the rest away.
I was beginning to wonder where you’d got to! I hope that you’ve now. fully recovered.
As always a most enjoyable post, and a busy one what with the RHS show and of course catching up with your own garden and allotment.
Take care, and happy gardening. Flighty xx
:0 I kept thinking about the blog and missing out on how everyone was getting on but I’m finding it hard to keep up with everything at times. Still I’m feeling much more perky. Typical though, it’s raining now so I can’t get on and do much gardening. Hoping for a dry weekend. x
A second book! How exciting! Congrats on your new project – look forward to hearing more about it, Louise 🙂
Thank you Annette. Hoping it’s going to be fun and inspirational. Have a lovely weekend.
Oh so sorry to read that you have not been well WW and how rotten that a nasty inconsiderate bug has zapped you at this time of year. Hope that you are soon restored to full vim and vigour. A second book – how exciting! I saw lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’ on the Avon stand at the London RHS show last February and immediately fell in love with it. Have seeds on order 🙂
Thank you Anna. I’m feeling much better. Chedglow is a stunner.
Stephen Studd Photography said:
Great blog, congrats on book number 2. Had terrible cough too know what that’s like. Was supposed to be at Cardiff but press pass never arrived. Now in Paris for spring workshop.
Thanks Stephen. Sorry to hear your pass didn’t arrive. Hopefully you’ll get there next year. Ooo! Paris in spring sounds fabulous. Are you going to Chelsea on the Monday?
Lucky you, my courgettes didn’t germinate:( I am glad I still have time to get a new pack and sow some;)
Plenty of time to get your courgettes started off. Hope you have more luck with the second batch.
Horrid time to be away from the garden, and I always find it hard to leap back into the blogging flow after an absence too, but welcome back! And you cam bearing gifts, that Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’ is a stunner, I must get me some of that….
I’m trying ‘Indigo Rose’ too, grown from seed, will be fascinated to swap notes later in the year. I have been trying to stave off panic over the unsown courgettes with the memory of trying to keep them going until I could plant them out last year, in fact I am trying to be more laid back about sowing in general.
All of which neatly avoids the obvious question, what subject lured you back in to the whirlwind of book writing yet again?!
Thanks Janet. That will be interesting to compare notes on Indigo Rose. Mine are growing REALLY quickly. Eek! The study windowsill won’t be able to accommodate them for too much longer. I have high hopes for tomatoes this year. (Oh dear, possibly shouldn’t have written that!) Laid back about gardening in general would be nice 😉 I need to try not to forget this is something I love in amongst the various deadlines. I can’t really say about the book at the moment but it won’t be out until Feb 2016. The term ‘deferred gratification’ was made for the world of publishing. 😉 It will involve flowers though. Seemed to make sense to make the most of the fact we know we have a garden and allotment this year. Who knows where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing next year. Maybe I could write a book about moving a garden next. ;0
Unnerving, that uncertainty, hopefully the book challenge will keep you rooted in the now, and then you can write about starting a new garden… Look after yourself and remember to breath!
Hello Louise, I had the pleasure of reviewing your excellent book on my blog. I also did a review for our garden club and currently it is being offerred as a prize in a garden club contest. if you ever swing by Vancouver, British Columbia let me know. It would be great to have you as a speaker. Sue
Hi Susan, Thank you so much, that all sounds fantastic. I’m not sure how likely it is I’ll make it out to Vancouver in the near future but that is a really kind offer. Really pleased you like the book, it makes all the hard work worth it. Louise
I was wondering if something was up, good to hear you’re beginning to feel better. My arms are getting longer and longer from moving seedlings from and to the hot house twice a day, the nights are still too cold to leave them there. But, like you, I sow too much, too early. Always decide to do better “next” year, but still do it :-)))
Another book, I am impressed.
Hi Helle, It’s been so frustrating to feel unwell. I’m so used to running about and feeling full of energy. I’m feeling much better now though. It’s the same here. I have got into a routine of opening the cold frames and greenhouse to ventilate them and then closing them again at night followed by a torchlight slug patrol. I’ll be glad when it’s June and everything is in the ground and then I can breathe a sigh of relief.
Thank you about the book. Have a lovely weekend. :))
I love honesty, I’ve got lots blooming in my garden at the moment but haven’t come across the variety you mention before so I shall have to look that up, it sounds delightful. How exciting, a second book. I shall look forward to reading that as I’m still picking up and reading the book you’ve recently released, it’s already one of my favourites. Hope you’re feeling better now, as you say, it’s the worst time of year for a gardening to get ill.
Hi Jo, I’m so pleased you like the book. The next one isn’t out until 2016. Nothing is quick in publishing. I’m feeling much better now, thanks. Of course now it’s raining and too wet to garden. 😉
I’ve been rather taken with that lovely purple honesty somewhere recently too – though haven’t acquired one – yet! Didn’t make the Cardiff show this year, probably better for the bank balance! Glad that you are back 🙂
Yes, the temptation at the shows is hard to resist. Cardiff is lovely though. It’s on a much smaller scale than the others and it’s in such a beautiful location in Bute Park. Thank you, it’s good to be back. 🙂
Charlie@Seattle Trekker said:
I agree that writing requires the discipline of working at it on a regular basis. I find that if I have to come up with a new topic each week it keeps me thinking, keeps my thought process much sharper.
Hi WW – it was good to hear from you again and as I am behind in reading blogs people have said all the usual stuff already, but I am still sorry you have struggled with that pesky cough and Work and am chuffed for you that another book is in the pipeline. I get the impression that the Cutting Patch has been very well received so I wonder if you were commissioned for this second one? Very exciting – for all of us! I have white honesty grown from seed but plucked a stray purple one out today and then regretted not using the flowers! I am at the ‘some of these are ready to be planted out stage’ with my seedlings, so have realised that sowing early is not necessarily a good thing! It’s all part of the learning curve though 🙂
I know how you feel about getting back into writing your blog, I’ve been a bit lacklustre about mine, I’m getting my mojo back now though I think. Lots of ideas of things to write about. Poor you getting a cold, in April definitely the worst time, glad to hear you are feeling better.
Great news about your second book, something to look forward to. That Honesty looks great, will make a note of that one, with the dried moon seed pods too I bet it looks fabulous.