Colin’s Northern Update No 5

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From Colin Hewitt, your Northern correspondent.

Hi everybody,

 I am pleased to report that at last I have managed to plant the two rose bushes that you all kindly gave to Janette and myself, which I had potted on as soon as we arrived here last July. They have been pruned and planted out in a crescent shaped bed in the middle of the front lawn. I have also sown seeds for plants that will accompany the roses and the hardy geraniums planned for this bed.

The hardy geraniums are in the greenhouse being grown from cuttings and should be ready to go out in about 3 months’ time when they are big enough. I have 5 different varieties of hardy geranium hopefully rooting and they are; Geranium versicolor (white with purple or pink veining on the petals), Geranium phaeum (Bluey purple), G oxonianum ‘Rose Clair’ (Pink), G ‘Wargrave Pink’ (unsurprisingly this is pink) and G ‘Bevans Variety’ (purple).Once the bed is fully planted, I will send a photo so that you can, hopefully see the roses in full bloom.

In the centre of two separate beds in the back garden I have also planted a Forsythia and Phormium ‘Platts Black’ and put around them Gladioli nanus which will only grow to a height of half a metre. This is to disguise the base of the larger plants whilst not screening the upper part of the plants.

The Forsythias yellow flowers will be long gone before the Gladioli bloom but the green leaves of the Forsythia and the black leaves of the Phormium should provide a good backdrop to the Gladioli blooms.

Last time I said that whilst I was rough digging the beds I would think about what vegetables to grow in the raised bed at the bottom of the back garden. Apart from some salad potatoes already planted now in bags in the cold frame, I have already planted Garlic and Onion sets. The onion sets where placed in small two-inch pots in the cold frame in October and they had been growing away quite nicely and as soon as the raised bed was ready, I planted them out and they are growing on well.

The garlic has also grown well and looks set to provide a good quantity of bulbs for the winter. Lastly already in the vegetable plot, I have sown some parsnip seed which have yet to germinate. I have sown Parsnip ‘Tender and True’ which is an old variety with a proven track record. I n Sussex on the clay I used to grow Parsnip ‘Guernsey Half Long’ as they did not grow too long down wards and so could be dug out easier.

The soil here is still a bit cold and the weeds have only just started to poke their heads up, so the parsnips will germinate shortly.  Janette will have her herb garden next to the patio which is als adjacent to the kitchen for convenience. So far I have sown Mentha requienii or Mini Mint, the leaves are quite small compared with Pepper or Spear mints but they are packed full of flavour. This seed germinated in about 3 days which took me by surprise as I was expecting it to be a bit longer.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, I will pot on into a larger pot a few seedlings and then plunge that into the herb garden. This mint is not supposed to take over as much as standard mint if planted into the ground, but I will take no chances. Also, I have a couple of pots of Parsley ‘Champion Moss curled’, this has yet to germinate but once it has large enough plants I will transplant into the ground.

Lastly already sown are some pots of Chives and Rosemary and once these are big enough to plant out, I will sow some more so that we have a succession, as I like to have some of the Chive clumps to flower. It, along with Rosemary in flower add some colour to the bed. Once the weather warms up, I will also sow Sage, Dill and Basil. The Sage will go into the ground but the Basil and Dill will be kept in pots on the kitchen windowsill.

     That is all for now and keep well and safe and I hope to give another update next month.

Colin Hewitt