Saturday 27 November 2021

After - and before!

After ...
Some editions of this blog just don't want to leave the departure lounge. They sit there waiting for a rewrite until they are no longer news
So old codger is breaking through the lassitude in an attempt to launch this post whilst the snow is still on the ground. He was awakened at five this morning by the howling wind. About six, it went very quiet - I guess that's when the snow fell. The photo (above left) shows our garden a couple of hours later

... before
Up to now, of course, we have had an amazingly mild autumn - they reckon a

couple of degrees above average for the time of year. Early this week I took this shot (right) of a sweet pea that keeps flowering - there are even some further buds waiting to emerge but perhaps that won't happen now. The pot is just yards away on the patio where the old water pump, shown above, is situated

On the same day we took advantage of the sparkling sunshine to visit Mrs Codger's favourite walk - tuther side of Claverley from here. I'll put a few photos at the foot of this edition - we call it our secret walk

After ...
Spring Bulbs
My next 'after' shot shows containers of of Spring bulbs - obviously after the snow - taken just this morning. The photo below show the same pots earlier this week when we had the sunshine. If you look back to the previous edition (Spring Bulbs anyone?) you'll get the picture

I can hardly believe that it five weeks ago when I wrote about the Spring bulbs. Since then I have had to work around around a number of distractions but, between times, have been busy planting up more containers. Thanks to everyone who has been in touch - and especially to those who have called in - over a hundred pounds-worth have been sold. All for charity, of course - see next item including the BCM Toylink video

... before
My usual practice has been to take donations online but, responding to requests, I have put a price on the Spring bulb containers. The price reflects the cost of the pot, the planting medium (see below) and the bulbs. Some containers contain one layer and others two - usually tulips and daffodils

In addition, I managed to source some really posh large pots - these have three layers (so-called lasagne planting) so cost more - £25 - but we have plenty of pots and troughs much cheaper than that - even £2.50 if you go for a lucky dip

Blushing Lady

The cold has driven me indoors today but I still have a few containers to plant up. Perhaps I ought to say that in addition to the combo I mentioned last time (tulip Sunset Shades and daffodil Belle Vista) I have some more really lovely combinations

Planting bulbs is an exercise of faith. However, trusting reliable suppliers, I am optimistic about the tulip Slava grown together with the narcissus Blushing Lady. See what you think to the photos

There's also something new. I have stumbled across what looks like large grape hyacinth but isn't. Same blue colour but larger - correctly called Bellevalia rather than Muscari which is the correct botanical name for the more usual, but smaller, grape hyacinth. The shade of blue varies between plants giving a pleasing mix 

I have also been working on a range of alliums - no time for this now - hopefully next in the next edition. Rather, what I would like to do is give some hints about successful bulb planting based on my experience over the last few years. But first, for those not familiar with Toylink - a short video about this really worthwhile cause:

So, if you would like to help - why not have a container of Spring bulbs from Codger? Plenty in stock and I can do more if necessary

Drainage, drainage, drainage
Successful bulb planting
You can pick up bulbs cheaply as we come to the end of the season so, should you wish to do your own, the mantra has to be this: drainage, drainage, drainage

Ninety-nine percent of bulbs hate wet conditions (camassias are said to be an exception but Codger has not found that to be the case). I do two things to get good drainage - assuming the obvious - holes in the bottom of the pot! 

Smaller sizes available - this is 100 litres!
First, some form of drainage at the bottom. Old crocks (broken clay pot) are usually recommended but I never have enough so off we go to B&Q. A bag of 10mm shingle only costs £2.50 or so - and does the job well. I usually wash it first, just to be safe. I picked up a couple of bags for only two pounds yesterday - you often come across burst bags that are reduced

Second - this is really important - it is best not to use general purpose potting compost straight from the bag - the standard material holds the water far to much and risks rottin gthe bulb. I lighten the mix with perlite (vermiculite does the same job but is more expensive). In fact, the best combination I have found is to add say 25% perlite to a vegetable growing bag - that gives a really good consistency 

Add for more oomph!
I always incorporate a little garden soil or my own compost to spark a bit of life. If I'm unsure about fertility I sprinkle some blood, fish and bone into the mix. But not too much - in a container it can go rancid - it's an organic product, of course. Since the pot will sit around few a few months, I like to finish off with a top dressing of grit. Apart from other considerations, it looks a lot nicer

Just one H&S point: keep your Covid PPE mask handy. Handling perlite gets me coughing in seconds - there's always a lot of very fine dust. And breathing in the dust from blood, fish and bone is not too great either

Gardening on TV
Now Gardener's World is taking its winter break you may wish to know about a couple of series that you can watch on catch-up. Carol Klein has had a good autumn series on Channel Five. There are several programmes - this one deals with bulbs

And a fascinating two-part job on BBC. Wildlife photographer, Colin Stafford-Johnson, converts his country patch in Ireland into a wildlife garden. Codger found this fascinating - you can find it here

Quick update
What else has Codger been up to in November? Well, dealing with unwelcome wildlife has been one preoccupation. There is a downside to being a keen composter. The clue is in the photo (left). I've even resorted to moving my compost containers - this extended the old chap a bit - I tend to over-engineer such things. I dare not guess how much the reinforced bin weighs

The cheeky visitor had been removing the compost and using it to build a nest in the adjacent hawthorn hedge belonging to the school at the bottom of the garden. 
When time has permitted, I've done other essential maintenance in that neglected part of the garden - perhaps more on this next time. I owe you an item of growing raspberries and redcurrants

And only today, Mrs Codger consumed the last of our tomatoes. Despite the battle with blight we did well - eating almost into December! Plums were good, too - and figs. But we failed with our pear tree this year. Looks good, doesn't it - but this was the one solitary pear!

Well, folks, I'll try to get another edition in before Christmas. Until them I'll add a few more seasonal photos - please see below

Don't forget the Spring bulb Toylink offer. It would be great to boost the funds a bit more

Best wishes from ....

... the old Garden Codger

Postscript. Before I add the photos - did you hear Michael Morpurgo's poem dedicated to those poor souls who died in the channel this week? It is haunting. You can see the BBC video here

Camellia brought down by last night's storm - now fixed - no harm that I can see

On our walk earlier in the week

The first batch of Spring bulb planting - mostly now sold - but more to come!

Figs have been good

I'll give you the recipe sometime

This is a 'before' - the frost has now got them - time to dig up the tubers - a job for next week