Sunday, 15 March 2015

March flowers in London – GBBD

Winter is well and truly over here in London and we have had spring for a good while now. Last year everything was incredibly early, this year most things are just about normal – if such things exist. Perhaps I should use the word average instead, as every of the 16 winters I have been in London seem to have been different. The first year I was here we had an amazing summer just like last summer and a mild winter just like last year’s winter. I foolishly thought that this was how the climate was in London. How wrong I was. But even though it varies, the two really cold winters I have experienced here were nothing compared to what I was used to from Norway and I really appreciate what I am able to grow here and the early spring we get.

My garden has been bursting with crocuses for a few weeks, I keep planting them every year, the squirrels keep eating them – fortunately they are easy to plant and quite cheap to replace. This time I have opted for planting more in containers with heaps of bark mulch on top as a trial, and it seems like they have been left more in peace. I have heard that squirrels are very lazy animals and moving lots of bark mulch seems like too much of an effort so they have gone for the crocuses in the ground where the mulch layer is thinner. A lesson for the future me thinks :-)

Last year I kept saying here on my blog that I had too many plants in pots and containers and that I wanted to get rid of some so it would be easier to take care of them over the summer. There has been a reason for all these pots....I just haven’t shared it here but I am now about to drop a bombshell: I am going to move house and leave my garden!

I have been thinking about it for a few years, and actively searching since last October. I am looking for a house without stairs so it will be easier for me to manage. Since I live in Social Housing I will not be entitled to more than one bedroom anymore, so in the process of moving I will have to downsize from my current 2-bedroom to a 1-bedroom house. That’s going to be hard - with the size of British houses, where the living room usually is no larger than the average size bedroom I don’t really know where I am going to put everything. I use the second bedroom in my current house as a combined guestroom, music room, computer room and office. Plus this is where I store everything I don’t use daily, and this is where I dry my clothes as I don’t have a tumble dryer. Downsizing is going to be a challenge yes, and I will no longer be able to have family and friends visiting to stay over.

And I have finally found a place I might move to! Things are not finalised yet and there are many things to sort out before I can sign on the dotted line, but at least I have got as far as finding a suitable place. It is a 1-bed bungalow, small inside, but with a slightly more spacious garden – perfect size for me. As a result of my plans for moving I have kept a lot of plants in pots that could have gone out in the flowerbeds so they will be easier to take with me. I have also taken cuttings from some of the plants I have that can’t be moved. But I still intend to dig up as much as possible to take with me!

My garden is going to look more and more like a nursery or garden centre during the spring, I have had a count today and so far, counting every pot and container, from the smallest cutting pot to the largest container I have 427 pots. And I have not started digging up anything yet.

But now to the flowers in my garden. Crocuses! They bring a smile to my face every time I go outside. The bumblebees are busy collecting nectar and I often see them just lounging inside the crocus cups. Who wouldn’t want to doze inside a nicely scented crocus :-)

More crocuses, and the first few Anemone blanda are flowering too, I had a mix of them but over the years they seem to revert to blue.

I planted two containers with one layer of daffodils in the bottom and crocuses on top. The container to the right has much earlier daffodils so they emerged at the same time as the crocuses – a lesson to learn for the future. The container to the left looks better. Camellia ‘Takanini’ in the middle is still flowering, one or two flowers at the time – this is the 5th month it is flowering and I am really amazed how this little twig can just keep on like this.

The grand lady in the garden, the huge camellia has started flowering too, she got a severe prune late last spring and looks nice and tidy now. Next GBBD she will be absolutely covered in flowers. Sadly I won’t be able to take this one with me when I move so the new tenant will be inheriting her. Bottom right photo is of Takanini, still with lots of buds.

Down at the bottom of my garden the rhododendron is in full flower and the hellebores have been flowering since January.

Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer' is a bit of a misnomer as normal flowering time is late February or March, depending on conditions. The trilliums are just days from flowering and the hyacinths I dug up earlier this year are still in pots, flowering but with rather tatty leaves from being dug up.

The hellebores are definitely coming with me to my new house, I will leave some babies – there are certainly many enough to spare, but the main plants will be dug up. I don’t look forward to that job, they have very deep roots.

I just love the diversity of the hellebores, so many different colours and patterns – and so many I still don’t have. With more space I could find room for many more. Yeah!

The first daffodils are flowering too, these have a lovely scent – unfortunately mislabelled by the nursery so I am not sure what they are. Scilla Siberica 'Bright Blue' to the left.

The snowdrops are coming to an end and look rather miserable now. I leave the flowers on in case they set seed, but I assume most multiply by bulb division so perhaps it is not that necessary. What do you do, do you deadhead your snowdrops? The black pots on the shelf are all daylilies, all are developing leaves now and will be in flower in 3 months’ time.

The biggest pot to take with me will be my 3m tall magnolia, in my new garden I will certainly manage to find a space for it in the ground. It flowered beautifully already first week of March last year, this year it is slightly later. The photo to the right is one of my fuchsias with new leaves, finally! I have missed seeing fuchsias for months, but since cutting them all down they have taken their time developing new leaves.

Just before going inside today I noticed one of the magnolia flowers had cracked open, it means flowering has started after all! I remember from last year that this process was painfully slow, taking about 8-10 days from the first crack to fully open flower, but I suppose it will depend on how warm the weather will be the next week too.

The hydrangeas are sprouting like mad, these bright green leaves are so lovely. Chaenomeles 'Crimson and Gold' is in full flower and Viburnum 'Farreri' is almost finished flowering.

And now to some indoor flowers. I bought a Dendrobium nobile in December 2013, it had one tall spike and was covered in lovely white flowers, and after reading about how to get it to re-flower I thought ‘this is going to be tricky, if not impossible’. It requires both a severe temperature drop and stop in water for 2-3 months during mid-winter, when it is too cold outside and too warm inside my house. Fortunately the Dendrobium didn’t care too much about the temperature drop and settled for just no water for 3 months. That was rather scary, to not water a green, healthy plant for 3 months – it kind of felt so wrong! But look at it now, the flowers are so beautiful and I got TWO new spikes.

And in my bathroom there’s been another miracle, this is my Dendrobium kingianum, keikis or babies from the mother plant I bought in spring 2004. The mother plant died many years ago, but the keikis have been in this pot for 7-8 years and never flowered. I have had buds produced a few times but they have dried up before they have developed into anything. But this time I actually got 3 flowers and I so wish you could smell the scent of them! I keep this orchid in my bathroom on the window sill, and if the bathroom door is left open the scent will fill both the bathroom and the kitchen – from 3 tiny flowers :-) And if that’s not enough, my Christmas cactus decided to start flowering again too, it flowered beautifully in November and December, and now it is starting all over again.

And now, a quick look in my front garden where my window boxes are full with flowers. The colour scheme this time was supposed to be pink and cream, I was hoping I didn’t get too many yellow primroses in the mix but as it turned out there are quite a lot of yellow. I might replace them with some pink as the yellow stick out as a sore thumb.

Finally, my boots, also planted with daffodils in the bottom and crocuses at the top. The daffodils are on their way up, but a late variety so hasn’t disturbed the look of the crocuses. When they are all finished flowering I will scoop out the crocuses and plant something else on top here.

That was the end of the roundtrip for March 2015, I hope you have enjoyed the tour. I will hopefully be very busy with moving soon, all going well with the house I have found. If not I will have to continue searching. Suitable bungalows in my area are difficult to find so I hope this doesn’t fall through at the last minute. I must admit the thought of moving is rather daunting, both packing up and moving, and getting settled a new place. I know exactly how much work it is, the house I am currently living in is the 23rd house I have lived in, counting from birth. I am rather experienced in packing up a house, even though I have lived here for over 13 years, the longest I have ever lived in one house - so I know what the next 6 months or so will be like. But I will keep you all posted about what’s happening :-)

In the meantime, please visit our host, Carol at May Dreams Garden for many more March gardens around the world. Until next time, take care.

62 comments:

  1. Hei Helene! Dette var jo spennende nyheter! Håper du finner et sted med passe stor hage da! Jeg vet alt om hvor frustrerende det er å ha for liten hage. Vi bodde i et rekkehus i 17 år med en knøttliten hage(synes jeg da) ;) I 2006 flyttet vi på "landet" og fikk da tomt på 2 mål :)
    Så en stor hage er viktig å ha, og jeg håper du finner et sted som passer deg. Jeg hadde med meg 700 planter som jeg gravde opp, og sommeren 2006 var knusk tørr her. Det var et mareritt å holde alt i live, men mesteparten overlevde. Du vil jo få det lettere i og med at du har så mange planter i potter allerede. Synd du ikke får med deg den nydelige camelliaen da! Den er virkelig flott!
    Lykke til med flytteplanene!

    Ha en fin søndag!

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    1. Hei Marit, store hage i London er bare for veldig store lommebøker, men hvis det blir til at jeg flytter til det huset jeg har funnet så får jeg i hvert fall større hage enn jeg har nå – med plass til både shed og greenhouse :-) To mål hadde blitt for mye for meg å ta vare på hvis jeg skal være helt realistisk, men jeg drømmer om plass til mye jeg ikke kan ha her!
      Ha en fin uke.

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  2. Helene you are going to move for the 24th time.......I understand you are very experienced, but.....to leave your amazing little garden full of beauties will be a bit sad. And you have to move all these 427 pots and more to your new garden, I´m sure that garden will be `a garden of Eden` in no time.
    It´s good to get a bungalow, so much easier, and you are lucky to have garden at your new place. So nice you will keep us all posted, I shall follow you.

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    1. I must admit the whole process of moving is rather daunting, I am not sure how I will be able to without paying for help. I hope the bungalow I have found will end up being suitable, I am waiting for an occupational therapist to come on Wednesday to help me look at it and to ‘future proof’ it. It will be sad to leave my house but much more sad to leave the garden.

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  3. It's strange I don't really think of last summer as being particularly special August was not very good at all here.
    I look forward to seeing how your new garden grows. It will be a new challenge for you.

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    1. Yes, it will be a challenge and although the thought of a new garden excites me I am also dreading the whole process of moving.

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  4. Wow! What a surprise. I'm glad that you have been able to plan so far ahead for this move and pot up so many of your plants. I trust you have lots of friends to help you move all those pots! In all the moves we've made it has always been bitter sweet. I get very attached to my gardens. The prospect of starting a new garden is exciting but it is so very hard to leave a garden that you have such a connection with. It is lovely that we get to enjoy all this garden has to offer through this spring. I'm sure you will keep us posted on your progress with your new home.

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    1. I have never been such a long time in one place before so leaving this garden will be much more difficult than any other garden I have ever had. I am afraid I don’t have many people around me to help with the move, my son will help, but with full time work it is limited how much he can chip in. I look forward to having a new garden to play with, will be exciting!

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  5. Wow 427 pots....and so many lovely blooms and plants to go with you. Good luck with the new house and garden. I am excited for you Helene. At least you have lovely spring weather...cold and snowing again here. Sigh....

    Your blooms have cheered me!

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    1. I hope to get an answer one way or the other soon so I can start planning, not knowing if I am moving or not means I can’t really start digging up things yet. I hope spring will arrive for you soon Donna!

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  6. Helene....your gardens are always amazing and I am sure they'll be just as grand at your new place. Putting everything into a pots is a great idea. That way you can bring most of it with you....all 427 pots and the some! Good luck with your endeavor and I am looking forward to your new gardens to be! For now I am enjoying all your wonderful blooms. Happy GBBD!

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    1. Thanks Lee, I will try to bring as much as possible, but with thousands of plants I will have to leave lots behind. Also, I have no idea what will emerge in the new garden, for all I know there might be full flowerbeds there already, I saw it a couple of weeks ago and not much had come up yet. And of course, I don’t even know yet if this will be the place I am moving to so for now I have to be patient and not start digging up things too soon. Happy GBBD to you too!

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  7. Helene, I could imagine how much work you have to do: packing all your things and plants. Do you want to take your rhododendron with you? The move such big bushes and trees as rhodie and magnolia is very difficult. How I want to help you, but not sure I could come in that time...
    I hope your new garden will be as pretty as yours is now. Happy GBBD!

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    1. I wish I could take everything with me Nadezda, but I have to be realistic. My magnolia is in a container so it should be easy to take, even though it is 3m tall. I have 3 rhododendrons and I might take the youngest one – which happens to be the biggest, but it has only been in the ground for 2 years so should be possible to dig up. I would have loved to get help from you, but it is a long way to come! If you are in England in the late summer or autumn, please let me know, I will probably still have plants that need to be planted in my new garden :-) Have a great week, happy GBBD to you too!

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  8. Good luck with your big move Helene! I am happy you will have a larger garden space to grow your beauties. I'm looking forward to seeing it all come together for you. Happy GBBD!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, it is scary to think about everything I will have to do, but it is all for a greater good – and the prospect of a larger garden is also tempting :-) Happy GBBD!

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  9. Gosh - I continue to be so amazed at how many plants you fit into your quaint backyard garden, and how many blooms you constantly have going. The crocuses are so cheerful. My favorite bloom is definitely the camellia. Good luck with the move - how exciting to have a bigger garden and the adventure of figuring out where you want to place everything. I look forward to seeing your journey with your new garden.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, daunting and exciting are the words that best describes the process as I see it now – time will tell! And I don’t think my new garden will have any less plants and flowers, I will soon be able to fill it up!

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  10. Your blooms are stunning, Helene. England in March is so pretty -- I miss it. Quite a shock that you are moving. It will be so much easier with your plants in pots. I linked to your crocuses on my posting today. Happy GBBD! P. x

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    1. Thanks for linking to my post Pam, I can understand you miss March and spring over here, it is a lovely time of year. Happy GBBD!

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  11. The very best of luck with your move Helene, I know just how disruptive it is. But what a joy to have a new garden to develop! I look forward to seeing it take shape.

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    1. Thanks, I hope the move is going ahead, I will probably know more by the end of this week. I have never moved with such an amount of plants before so this will be a challenge. Also, since I have been here for such a long time my health was much better last time I moved. It will be one challenge after the other – I will keep you all updated :-)

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  12. I'm in awe of the advance planning you've already done in preparation for your move, Helene. It's always hard to leave a garden you've loved (harder by far than leaving the house itself, in my experience) but I have no doubt that you'll be as prepared as anyone could be. I continue to wish I'd brought more with me from my tiny former garden 4 years ago. I hope your move plan goes smoothly. In the meantime, even in this time of flux, you've managed to surround yourself with beauty inside and outside.

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    1. Thanks Kris, yes I am sadder about leaving the garden than the house – even though I love my house. I am going to try to take with me anything that is willing to get dug up. If it survives then fine, if not at least I tried!

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  13. You are moving! Wow, that is BIG news. 427 pots! I can't imagine your garden without you, but it's good your planning to take many of the plants with you. And once you move into a new place it will be easier to navigate without stairs. If I lived closer, I would come over and help you move. I hope your son and/or other family members can help you move? Gosh, good luck with all this. I hope it all goes very smoothly for you!

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    1. I would have loved to get help from you, shame you live so far away :-)
      The only family I have here is my son and he will of course help me a bit, but it is limited how much I can draw on him as he works full time and is not home until late evenings. And he is certainly no gardener so getting help to dig up things from him would be futile. If the house swap goes ahead I have already an agreement with the other tenant that I will be able to come back at a later stage for more of my plants, in exchange for tips on how to take care of the reminding plants. I would be more than happy to help and I get to take with me some of my plants left behind. A win-win I think. But first I have to pack up and move. Not looking forward to all that but it will be good to get into a place without stairs. I will keep you all updated about what’s happening :-)

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    2. Thinking about you, Helene. I hope your preparations are going well. Such a big task to move a home ... plus, an amazing garden like yours!

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    3. Thank you for your kind regards Beth, I am preparing for moving but still don’t know if I get the house – frustrating but that’s how this process is. Could be as much as another 4-5 weeks before I know for sure and if I get it I will have to move quite quickly so I have started to organise things in the house. And I have dug up and filled over 100 pots so far, more than another 100 to go! I hope to make a garden movie at the week-end and post on Tuesday, it will be a very different movie – my garden looks like a garden centre!!

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  14. Helene, that is a bombshell! Best wishes in your new home! It does seem like a lot of work, but just take it one pot at a time! Definitely you will enjoy a one level home, and downsizing may make life easier still, with more time to garden and less time caring for the house. Your Takanini makes me realize what I missed this winter. I bought two and planted them in the garden last fall. They were covered with hundreds of buds. They were all opening when our first hard freeze hit, then another and another. All those buds were zapped. I did not see even one fully open!

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    1. Oh, that’s really sad to hear about your Takanini, poor thing! Maybe that’s not really the right camellia for your climate? Over here it is so mild that I can really enjoy the long flowering time it has.
      I know I will enjoy getting a one-level home once I am finally moved in, I just have to get there :-)

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  15. It's always sad to move away from a garden, but I hope your new place is everything you want it to be. You're certainly preparing thoroughly for the move!

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    1. Thanks, I hope I will be able to take with me as much as I want to, I have invested a lot in my garden so it will be sad to leave the things that will be too big to dig up.

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  16. The must be difficult for you to leave your house and garden. But when it's better for your health. I keep my fingers crossed for you that everything works out well.
    Have a wonderful week ahead.

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    1. Thanks Marijke, yes it will be sad to leave this garden, I have been here such a long time. But I must admit the thought of starting up a new garden is quite exciting too!

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  17. Beautiful spring flowers! I've been missing your fuchsia. The 'boot' pot is so interesting! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Endah, there will still be many months before I have any fuchsias, but they will be back! The boots were a good fin on a garden nursery website.

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  18. Beautiful blooms! Love the Hellebores!
    All good wishes for a successful move.
    Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!
    Lea

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    1. Thanks for your wishes Lea, the hellebores are stars in the garden right now. Happy GBBD to you too!

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  19. Dear Helene, wow, you intend to move?! It must be sooo.... hard to even think about to leave your beautiful garden. But you want to move for good reasons and once it is done I am sure you will be very happy in your new place! And the prospect of starting a slightly bigger new garden is a wonderful one and certainly something to look forward to. I am truly wishing you that you can seal the deal on the new house you have been looking at, since you really seem to like it. Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thanks Christina, it is a slow process, lots to sort out but yes, I am moving for a good reason and although it will be difficult to leave this house and garden I also look forward to starting a new garden. Exciting!

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  20. Helene, twenty three houses, 427 pots, you don't half do things in a big way.
    I hope you get this bungalow, it sounds just ideal. Love those Hellebores.
    I must say, already I am looking forward to what will be going on in your new garden.

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    1. I hope this is going to be my last move, ever!! By the time I have lifted everything I want to take with me I suspect the 427 pots will have doubled in amount. I have no idea yet how I will be moving them to a new house, I am taking one thing at the time :-)

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  21. Stunning photos of your flowers Helene... Wow that is a lot of pots! Good luck with your move, although daunting, just think what you can achieve with your bigger garden. Looking forward to see how stunning you'll make it :o)

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    1. Thanks Julie, although very daunting at this stage of the process I am also already dreaming about what I can do with a new garden :-)

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  22. Such big news! I hope all goes through with the new house. It is too bad it is smaller, but at least the garden as a bit more room. I am sure you will make great use of the extra outdoor space.
    Moving after so many years must be daunting. I guess the best way is to tackle it bit by bit. I wish I was there to help you move some of the pots.
    Your crocus are such a welcome site. I love the pink rubber boots! There is still snow on the ground here if you can believe it!
    My fingers are crossed that the move goes off without a hitch.

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    1. I would take any help I could get, shame you all live so far away :-)
      If I get the house I have been looking at it will be a house swap, which means we both have to move on the same day and swap – that’s VERY difficult, everything has to be emptied out, ready for the new people to move in. Very daunting indeed, fingers and toes crossed :-)

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  23. Good luck for your move, Helene. It's a good thing so many things are in pots and are portable. I'm astonished (and impressed) at the number and variety of plants that you have.

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    1. Thanks, I have been collecting plants for a long time, and I am a bit of a plantaholic :-)

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  24. Big news, indeed! Good luck with your move, Helene. Downsizing does sound rather daunting, but I'm sure you will enjoy a bigger space to garden--that part is exciting! You have so many beautiful blooms; I hope everyone will be happy in their new home.

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    1. Thanks Rose, it is still early days so I don’t know if the house I have looked at will be the one I end up with, but I will be moving somewhere soon so I am preparing my garden for a move anyway. I am dreading the move but I am excited about having a new garden to play with :-)

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  25. Best of luck with the big move, and I commend you for being so smart as to plant things in pots. It makes for a much smoother move for sure! Looking forward to seeing your new garden grow too!

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    1. Thanks Anna, things are slowly moving forward here, but I still don’t know whether the bungalow I have found will be the one. But I will move as soon as I can so I am continuing to plan for it – soon the crocuses in the ground will come up and go into pots :-)

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  26. I love your containers with daffodils and crocuses, Helene! And, of course, I'm impressed with 427 pots!
    I wish you the best during this transitional time!

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    1. Thanks Tatyana, it’s exciting and scary and daunting, happy and sad times –all of it at once. Will be good when I am finally installed in a new home :-)

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  27. Interesting comment about your Dendrobium Helene, I did not research mine and despite there being no temperature drop and watering it with the same regularity of all the other orchids, which to be honest is perhaps not as frequent as it should be, it has flowered a second time and although it has only just finished it appears that another new stem is budding up also.

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    1. Hi Rick, I am not surprised to hear about your Dendrobium, do you have a white nobile like mine or a different one? Many plants will toddle along fine with surprisingly different care to what the nurseries advice, indoors and outdoors – just look at my garden as an example!
      I water my orchids every 7-10 days and some of them are 10 years old. I think most orchids are being killed by overwatering, not under watering and I also think my orchids appreciate the fact that my heating is on a timer and is off at night so they get a distinct temperature drop at night, especially during the colder time of year.

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  28. I'm awfully glad to hear you were able to find a place with garden space. for a minute I thought you were going to say you would be in an apartment. That seems to be the case here in Canada. There are no small houses anymore, just apartments with zero green space.

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    1. I am still finalising details so it is not certain I will get the house but I am hoping! Bungalows are difficult to find here in London too and I was afraid to end up in a tower block with practical space indoors but no garden – that’s why I have been patiently searching for a long time. Hopefully this will work out :-)

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  29. Good luck with the move! You have a great photographic record of your time in this garden, and it will be exciting to develop a new one! I'll look forward to watching it develop on your blog. Hope you are finding some time to enjoy spring in your current garden!

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    1. Thanks Ruth, I have certainly learned a lot over the nearly 14 years I have been here, I will think of this garden as my apprenticeship period – now I can plan my new garden based on everything I have learned :-)

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  30. How exciting...a new home and bigger garden. You'll need a separate lorry just for your pots of plants. Exciting times ahead...looking forward to following your journey.

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    1. I have not yet decided how to move all the plants, I have a few quotes from removal companies but they are all standard ones based on how many bedrooms I have. I will have to call them and explain what I have outside in my garden….I am trying to find vented crates online to put all the plants in for easy lifting and storing, hopefully I will find second-hand or perhaps some I can rent so they won’t cost too much. I think I will end up with 6-700 pots all in all, I hope the removal men won’t faint when they see the job they are facing in the garden!

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