Sunday, 5 May 2013

The garden in May - relaxing, repotting and using a cold frame

This month I'm really starting to enjoy the work a garden demands. It's so relaxing to go out into the garden with a cuppa for 'just for ten minutes' and start pottering and doing a bit of weeding. Ten minutes soon turns into 30 or an hour, but I'm happy in my own little back garden haven. It's a way of relaxing that is relatively new to me and I can't recommend it enough.

Tessie usually comes into the garden with me and relaxes on the new lawn. When she's not relaxing she'll be on the look out for the blummin' squirrels who have pulled down the bird feeders (can you see them on the step?)

One of the highlights this week has been the stunning colour of this pieris which is on the back border, sandwiched between two choisyas.

This garden, like our previous one, is south-facing but although we had very little shade in the last one this garden has just the right amount. The garden backs onto parkland, and one of the things I enjoyed last year was the dappled shade provided by the trees in the park.

young dahlia plants
I've been busy again this week, and once again I've been buying plants at the supermarket - some of them are so well priced it's hard to resist.

After stupidly planting out dahlia tubers far too early I wanted to rectify my mistake. I bought a couple of new tubers plus some young dahlia plants that were 6 for £2 at Asda - what a bargain!

Even so, I bought them a couple of weeks ago and had kept them on a windowsill indoors but according to Dan Pearson it's still a little early to plant them out so I decided that what I really needed was a cold frame to help harden the plants off a bit.

My garden is too small for a greenhouse, not that I could afford one, but I had the perfect spot for a cold frame. At the back of the garage there's what I call the garden utility area. It's basically where the potting bench is, some pots, tools and bits and pieces are kept. It gets a fair bit of sun too so it seemed a good place.

I looked around at some inexpensive plastic greenhouses and cold frames and in the end chose this cloche greenhouse from Wilkos.

I was a bit disheartened to open the packaging and find all these bits to assemble and a very inadequate instruction sheet, but that's what you get for £11 I'm afraid.

In the end it didn't take that long to assemble (20-30 minutes?) but the hardest part was wrestling the plastic cover over the metal frame.

I put the dahlia plants in, plus the fuschia I bought last week, a hosta in a pot that I thought had died last year but has started to grow again, and my cosmos chocca mocca plant which, because its not hardy, had been growing indoors all winter.

I had also been growing some sweet pea on the kitchen windowsill but they were getting a bit straggly.  On a recent Gardeners' World Monty Don suggested pinching out the shoots to promote a bushier plant so I've done that. They also needed to be potted on but still need a bit of protection from the weather so they were also put in the cold frame.

It's big enough for what I need, and I'm sure it'll do an adequate job but as it's secured to the ground with some small metal pegs I just know that as soon as the colder weather and heavy winds arrive in the autumn I'm going to see it flying past my bedroom window.
Upright coldframe Of course, what I'd really like would be a proper wooden cold frame like this Grand Cold Frame from Gabriel Ash. 

But better still, and in the absence of any room for a greenhouse I've been coveting this one. It's their Upright Coldframe and it would fit perfectly against the garage wall (I know because I've measured!).  Isn't it a beauty? 

As I gain experience and confidence  in the garden I can see how much more I could do if I had somewhere to grow my own plants from seed in the spring and keep some of the non-hardy plants over winter. It could even accommodate some tomatoes.

I'm already saving up.

This post is sponsored by Gabriel Ash, but the words and opinions are my own.