I bought this lovely delicate star-shaped Vinca oxyloba at the Garden Museum‘s plant fair this weekend. It actually grows in their garden and this is from their own stall. It’s a new plant to me and one I’ll be using again and again.
I’ve grown to love vincas over the years for their ability to colonise the most difficult of shady areas and to surprise me with flowers when least expected.
Herbal Haven was the nursery that originally lured me to the plant fair, and I stocked up on African basil (and some other tasty plants) for the year ahead. Not only are the leaves absolutely delicious, but the gorgeous pink spires of flowers will attract bees all summer long. Herbal Haven offer a great online shopping service too with a fantastic selection of herbs, and The Garden Museum will be opening its doors again for the Heroic Herbs Fair on June 1st.
Posted in Plant and flower shows | Tagged Decorative herbs, Herbal Haven, Herbs, herbs with beautiful flowers, plants for shade, The Garden Museum London, Vinca major var oxyloba | 11 Comments »
This year I planned to have a lovely contrast of pink and purple tulips in my front garden. Blousey pink Tulipa Rai proved to be a big success with clients, so it’s back again as the star of the show. I love it here alongside my Red Giant Mustard leaf. The purple tulips which I hoped would work well with the T.Rai look to be a week or so behind, but orange Ballerina is now returning for its third year since planting, and yellow and red Helmar has also popped up again in quite a number from last year’s planting.
I’ve always assumed that in my heavy clay soil that tulips will struggle to return, but these are raised beds that I’ve added plenty of compost to over the last few years, and some varieties are definitely more adept than others on making a comeback. As ever, my chosen combinations are not quite as planned (yet!), but looking forward to seeing how the bed progresses over the next week or so…
Posted in Bulbs, Tulips, Uncategorized | Tagged Red Giant Mustard Leaf and Tulips, Tulios that come back every year, Tulip combinations, Tulipa Ballerina, Tulipa Helmar, Tulipa Rai | 39 Comments »
I love lettuces. Can never get enough of them. This year I was determined to get sowing nice and early and be eating my home-grown leaves by the end of May. Well, I found a mildish day at the beginning of March and optimistically sowed a number of small trays of lettuces. I popped them into my mini outdoor greenhouse (with no heat) and started to get excited. Six weeks on, and a lot later than I had planned, I’m pricking out these ‘All the year around’ lettuce seedlings above into modules. They’re rather on the leggy side due to the low light conditions and low temperatures that we’ve had in March.
However, these leggy stems can be twirled around into the soil when you’re pricking out your seedlings (I use a spindly crochet hook, although I can’t crochet) and hopefully, with much better light levels (hurrah!), should go on to be very healthy seedlings indeed. So far I’ve sown
- Ashbrook (a frilly loose leaved variety, but sadly they didn’t germinate-disappointing, but luckily a rare occurence these days!)
- Chatsworth (A chunky dark green Cos lettuce from Sea Spring Seeds, claiming to be virtually bitter free)
- Red Salad Bowl (another red frilly type from Sea Spring Seeds)
- All the year around (a soft butterhead, hopefully slow to bolt from Seed Parade)
but Michelle at Veg Plotting has sown an impressive 22 different varieties this year and is hoping to add a few more as part of her 52 Week Salad Challenge. Really looking forward to seeing how they all grow. I wish I had a bit more growing space! I’m just off to sow a few more varieties:
- Cocarde (a very tasty pointy upright reddish tinged oak leaf lettuce that I loved last year, available from Chilterns Seeds)
- Freckles (a fab lightish green Cos, spotted with reddy/brown markings, that gave me delicious salads all summer long last year. Originally from Sarah Raven, but grown this year from my own painstakingly collected seeds!)
- Navara (a deep red oak leaf from Sarah Raven, new to me this year)
- Forellenschluss (an heirloom Cos variety from Chilterns seeds, means ‘speckled like a trout’ and I wonder if this is very similar to/ the same as ‘Freckles’?)
Out of everything I grew last year, I think lettuces gave me the best return for the space and time they occupied. I loved experimenting with ‘no dig’ potatoes and rainbow carrots in pots-they were a true delight to unearth-but it was the lettuces that kept me in dinners all summer long, from June until August. I’m so looking forward to planting these seedlings out to create decorative displays (as well as supplying many meals) and I still have it firmly in my head to try and master successive planting of these leaves (sowing again in July and August), so that I can have salads all year round from my own garden.
p.s. I’ve also sown ‘Green in Snow’, ‘Red Knight Mizuna’ and ‘Broad leaved Mizuna’ to add a mustardy bite and extra texture to my salads.
Posted in 'How to', Lettuces, Mustard leaves | Tagged Cocarde, different lettuce varieties to grow, Freckles, How to grow lettuces, Succession=al planting for year round lettuces, Veg plotting, Where to buy lettuce seeds | 29 Comments »