Thursday, 31 March 2016

A slow approach - March -16, EOMV

We have just had another storm here, it’s become much easier to keep track of the storms since they started giving Atlantic storms names too, and with storm Katie just passed the total are now 11 this season. That’s more storms than usual - and Katie hit us hard here in the south-east, we are not used to proper storms. I am amazed though how sheltered my new garden is compared to just the front side of the house, and thanks to this I had no serious damage after storm Katie. But there were plenty of minor damage, and most of the daffodils that were in flower are now broken and I have taken those that could be rescued inside in vases so I at least get to enjoy them for a few days before they go off. There were camellia flowers ripped off in the high winds too and there were lots of overturned pots, but no serious damage. Next storm on the list is Lawrence and there are another 9 names after that again, ending with Wendy. Plenty of scope for more storms before the season is finished – I sincerely hope we won’t have to use the whole list this year!

For this End of Month View I am going to start indoors for a change. When I moved to this house in May 2015, one of the things I looked forward to was the fact that the living room is facing the garden and has big windows and no radiators under – all things I missed in my previous house. I use the space in front of the windows to grow my indoor plants, but for the first time in many, many years I thought I would try sowing indoors – that was not possible in my previous house with nowhere to keep seedlings.

Unfortunately my first attempt hasn’t turned out so successful. I bought some simple propagators with Jiffy Pellets, and I will NEVER EVER use them again! It is completely impossible to water those pellets properly, now that the seeds have sprouted – I have to carefully pour the water from each corner, but the pellets on the sides suck up too much water and the ones in the middle gets nothing.

The result is that the pellets go mouldy. And the seedlings are very thin and straggly, probably because even though they are right next to the window, they still don’t get enough light.

Some of the seedlings are completely covered in mould!

I have seedlings in the kitchen too, on the only table I have in the house, but no Jiffy Pellets here, just pots with seed compost. Same problem here with not enough light - and in an ideal world I would have a room full with grow lights everywhere and seedlings getting the best treatment – but I haven’t got a spare room anymore and setting up grow lights for 3 months every year in the middle of my tiny living room is not really to my liking. Perhaps I will just stick to buying plug plants for the future!

Outdoors the garden is slowly turning green, I think by the time I am taking photos for GBBD in April, the trees will have tiny leaves.

The beds are filling up and things I planted last autumn and during the winter are now starting to emerge. It’s all so exciting!

I am still working in the Wall Bed and I am trying to plant at least one plant here whenever I am having a day out in the garden. I know I am not exactly Speedy Gonzales around the garden – but I’ll get there in the end! This Wall Bed will be a mix of roses, lilies, hemerocallis’, clematis’ and dahlias, mixed with one Lonicera. In addition there is the hardy Hibiscus cyriacus that was here already and also the Jasmine I inherited that I didn’t even know was here until I started taking down the Virginia Creeper that filled this wall originally.

Last time I posted I showed you this photo from last summer to illustrate what a transformation my garden has gone through lately.

This time I am going back even more – I took this photo on a visit to the house on the 13th April last year, before I had signed the contract and before I knew for sure whether I would get the house or not. Here you can clearly see how the whole fenced area is just filled with old shrubs, weeds, acanthus leaves and rubbish. It was not even possible to walk inside the fence.

And look at the same area now, without the old fence and with everything tidied up. Once I get all the plants in the ground it will look even better :-)

The Woodland Bed is almost finished, now I just have to wait for everything to emerge and fill in. I recon it will take at least 2 years before this bed looks good, and the pots are here to help fill in the gaps while some of the plants fatten up a bit.

I have been digging out more acanthus roots since my last post. Nope, it is not the same pile of roots, this is another pile!

Someone got the brilliant idea of planting an acanthus in this bed – not sure when but perhaps 5,6 or maybe 8 or 10 years ago. Who knows, it’s been here for a LONG time. And the acanthus has done what acanthus do – made an extensive root system. When I started digging out the roots I realised why the edge on this part of the bed was loose; because the roots had simply pushed it out. I have therefore emptied the bed and sifted through all the soil and got as many of the roots out as possible. 

And now I am working on sorting this area out. I have a new arch here and a clematis on either side, for now they are growing in containers and if they are happy in this rather shady space they might get to grow in the ground eventually. The clematis’ are ‘Mon Amour’, which I had with me from my previous garden and ‘Piilu’, which is new, both are rather small. It is always difficult to compose colour blends when buying plants online – what one person call red, another call pink or purple, and just try to Google any plant and you will see what a frustrating range of colours that comes up with what’s supposed to be the identical plant. Even so, I hope Piilu’s dark and light pink shades and Mon Amour’s blue with pink tint will be a good mix.

Speaking of colours, I still haven’t got my fence painted – still a bit apprehensive about the colour. I wanted a dark plum colour and there is only one fence paint fitting this description. And it looks like a dark, rich, gorgeous plum colour on the test strips I made when it is in the shade. However, in the sun the dark plum colour turns more....ehmmm....muddy pink. Now, imagine the WHOLE fence in that colour. It is a huge job painting it, twice. I have to get the colour right. I absolutely love that dark plum colour, but I will have to like it when the sun is shining too!

Speaking of sunshine, the weather has been good to us lately, and apart from some nigh time showers there will be really nice weather the next 10 days. About time! The plumtree is about to burst into flowers, a couple more days of sunshine and warmth and I think the first flowers will be here.

And in the plumtree I found this pile of wadding, carefully laid here by a bird. I thought it looked rather opportunistic right here, next to the feeder, but it seems the bird has come to its senses after all – perhaps it would be better to make a nest a bit out of the way for everyone coming here to have their 3 square meals a day and more!

I have one more tree to report about today, my Magnolia soulangeana ‘Heaven Scent’ came with me from my previous garden, still in a large container – and after having had a rather stressful last summer being largely neglected I had no hope of getting any flowers this spring. The magnolia is now planted in the ground so I had just settled for a year without flowers and hope for lots next year. But now it turns out there are a few after all – 7 in fact, and they are just about to open. Give this magnolia a couple of years from now and I think it will look really good.

I posted this photo on my Facebook page during Easter, I thought I would put it here too as it came out quite nice. It shows the full moon, and as this is London there are no escaping street lights so it looks like we have 2 moons around here. The photo is taken after it has gone fully dark, and just shows that in London it’s never completely dark.

I know the Easter holiday is over, but these mini daffodils have been a cheerful addition to my garden during Easter and they will continue for a while. They are called ‘Hawera’.

Final photo is my Easter vase, and it is actually still standing in my living room. It is a mix of forsythia and some branches from the apple tree, the ceanothus and the Salix integra. I have decorated the branches with miniature Easter chickens.

As always I got a movie for you for my End of Month View. I am enjoying filming the birds in my garden and I notice more and more birds arriving lately. I use either the kitchen door window or the living room window to film them as they usually fly away if I go outside. Filming birds was something I just could not do in my previous garden as I couldn’t see my garden from any window in the house. Another thing I appreciate with this house!

I hope you enjoy the movie, it is absolutely best viewed in full screen, in HD.





The music was Fantasia on Greensleeves, by Vaughan Williams.
I am linking today’s post to Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog.

Next post will be Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th April, and I hope my garden has turned much greener during those 2 weeks; it’s been going painfully slow while the weather was so cold, but from now on it should speed up. That means I have to speed up with planting too – to get as much as possible in the ground before the summer heat sets in drying up the soil!
Until next time, take care.

42 comments:

  1. Gosh, I feel like you are very speedy! I'm so impressed with how great your garden looks after only recently moving in! I've had some issues with some mold on seed-starting kits, too. I've been taking off the top as soon as the seeds sprout and then spritzing the lot with mist instead of using a watering can. The mist is very fine and helps me control the flow. But the problem comes when not all the seedlings sprout at the same time. ;-) It looks like your garden is at the same stage as my friends' gardens in Chicago this year. Their Magnolias are starting to bloom. Ours are holding tight, which is a good thing because we have several days/nights of winter weather ahead. :(

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    1. Thanks Beth, next week it is 11 months since I moved – time is flying! Two days ago I made short process with all my seeds – I re-potted the whole lot and they are now all outside. Much more light and much colder, I hope they will be OK! As long as they are not getting damaged by the night temperatures I am fine with a slower growth, I think they are happier with much more light during the day. Time will tell if it was the right choice!

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  2. Your garden is so lovely and I very much enjoyed the video, especially all your animal visitors. Interestingly, I had that very same solar fountain in my garden until a few years ago when I replaced it with something else.

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    1. Thanks Dorothy, fun to hear you had the same fountain! I saw it in blue and terracotta too, but with the colour I am having in mind for the fence I think grey will look best. I love that fountain, just wish it had battery back-up so it worked also when the sun is not shining.

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  3. What a change in those two pictures! And nice job digging out all those roots. Sometimes slow is the way to go!

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    1. Thanks Renee, yes, I am getting there eventually, my aim is just to get outside in the garden every day, that’s enough goal for me. If I manage to do some gardening then that’s a bonus :-)

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  4. I once used jiffy pots a long time ago and was not satisfied either, so the best thing is to sow seeds in pots as on your next photo. The seedlings look promising you have so many. The bathing blackbird made me smile, love that. In my imagination I see your garden in a few years: a lovely jungle of beautiful and healthy plants.

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    1. Janneke, I can see my garden in a few years’ time too! It will be filled with flowers 52 weeks a year, just like my previous garden. The seedlings have now been put outside – a bit risky but they seem fine after nearly 3 days, much more light for them so I will keep them outside and hope for the best!

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  5. Ergerlig med dine mugne Jiffi potter da! Jeg bruker ikke de heller, da jeg har erfart noe lignende som deg. Jeg sår rett i potter med jord, og det fungerer veldig bra. Nydelig den Magnolia du viser! Jeg ønsker meg flere av de.

    God helg, og nyt våren!

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    1. Jeg har gjort kort prosess og pottet om alle Jiffy pottene, nå er de alle ute i hagen hvor det er mye kaldere enn inne men mye mere lys. Tiden vil vise om det var riktig eller ikke! Jeg har en magnolia til, en som heter Luky Red, men den er bare en baby og vil ikke blomstre på noen år til. Magnoliaer tar mye plass når de blir noen år – og alle vokser opp før eller siden!

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  6. I enjoy your videos and the description of your garden so much. You have achieved so much in a short space of time. I do appreciate it that you name everything. I am off out in the garden now. As I have said before your blog is inspirational!

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    1. Thank you Carole, it is nice of you to mention that you appreciate that I name all the plants, I do that deliberately as I always appreciate this when other bloggers do it. I have many plants in my garden that I have seen for the first time on other people’s blogs :-)

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  7. What a glorious garden and I am glad you didn't have much damage. So many lovely vases now because of it although not what you had wanted. Seed starting can be difficult even with grow lights so I give you so much credit as many look like they are doing OK.

    I couldn't get over the change from last year to this year...how gorgeous. You really inspire me to continue to go slow like a tortoise and just keep moving through each project...mine is multiple years too in the projects....right now we are flooded again and it will get cold with unseasonable snow...so no gardening projects for at least a week or 2...this is getting discouraging.

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    1. Oh Donna, I don’t envy you the flooding and late winter weather, I know so well how it is to have long winters and I am so happy to be able to garden 52 weeks a year here in London. I have not had much choice in terms of the speed of everything, I just go out in my garden and do a little bit every day I am able to – and that’s how the work gets done. But I also think that by doing it this way I get to keep an eye on how the garden works during the different seasons and that’s pretty important for the future. If I had planted all the plants I brought with me the first month I moved in (as if I was able to do that!) – then I would have had no idea of how the sun falls through the year and where it is wet during the winter and where it is bone dry despite raining …and all these things one learn after a while. Yes, sometimes a slow approach wins in the end, but only as long as you eventually get the work done :-)

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  8. Your photos Helene, taken when you going to move and last summer illustrate the job you have done, big changes! Love your video especially Starling bathing and big thick squirrel. What a treat to see those green leaves and flowers in your garden!

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    1. Hello Nadezda, I am glad you liked the video. The squirrels here are all, big and fat – the grey squirrels are much bigger than the red squirrels you and I are used to seeing. I had never seen a grey squirrel until I came to London and sadly there are hardly any red squirrels left here.

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  9. Sorry about the problems you are having trying to raise seedlings in the house Helene, I gave up growing half-hardy plants from seed when it became too expensive to heat my tunnel which at the time was insulated with bubble wrap. I have mentioned previously that this year I am having major problems with even cold-sown seed germinating early and am really struggling to keep these alive in a west facing unheated porch, the lack of light and the low temperature mean that the seedlings have gone in to stasis which is where I need them to be but unfortunately not only are they leggy but susceptible to rot, I am sure that that you need the ideal conditions of a heated glasshouse or even a conservatory you are prepared to use as a glasshouse to achieve success. I could well be wrong on this but it looks to me that those Jiffy pellets have not been sterilised properly, either way I would not be happy to see that amount of mould materializing. Enjoyed the vid.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the video Rick, I like making them.
      I did short process with my seedlings last week-end, I re-potted all of them and they have been outside in the garden the last 5 days. It is much colder out there than in my living room, but much better light. Time will tell if that was a wise decision! A conservatory or greenhouse would have been ideal yes, unfortunately none of them are standard on Council rental properties and I won’t be able to buy either. I am planning to make some cold frames though, but it won’t be this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a sterilising issue with the Jiffy pellets, but the mould could also come from the seeds I guess, and it was typically not mould on all of them, and not the same amount. Never mind, I am not using them again!

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  10. I've never been totally convinced that windowsill sowing is very successful unless there is somewhere to quickly move them on.

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    1. No, I agree. And at my house the option to move plants is…the garden and the garden....oh, and the garden. That’s it.

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  11. The before and after photos show just how much work you've done. And how much bigger the garden looks! I nearly bought an acanthus today. They are beautifully architectural plants, but perhaps it is as well I refrained!

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    1. If you are definitely sure you really, really, really want an acanthus for the rest of the time you live in your house, then by all means – get one, I agree they are quite architectural, but I wouldn’t go as far as call them beautiful, more in the category ‘interesting’. If you however are still digging up plants and moving things around then it was probably just as well you skipped this one!

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  12. Both the flowers in pots and those you've planted in the ground sing of spring, Helene! Progress may be slower than you'd like but I see a steady change with each post. I loved the video - you did a great job capturing the birds (and the greedy squirrel) on camera. I also enjoyed your shot of the 2 moons. Except for the rare occasions in which fog blankets the area below us, it's never dark here at night either as we can see the harbor and city lights, which never go out - the view is not unlike looking out the window of a plane as you approach a major metropolitan airport.

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    1. Thanks Kris, glad you liked the video, I enjoy all the wildlife I have here in my new garden – fun to be able to film like this as I never could that in my previous house where I had no windows facing the garden.

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  13. Seedlings are always the litmus test of how much light we truly have indoors. I don't use those jiffy pellets anymore, either. I just sow the seeds directly into a cup of soil. It reduces transplanting and the seeds love it. I love the way you pruned your ceanothus. It showcases the curves of the trunk.

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    1. I have now re-potted all my Jiffy pellets and the seedlings are outside. Tough life for them! But what survives will be better in the end as the light level indoors just made them very straggly. There is no danger of frost anymore so the cold nights just means slower growth – I hope. Time will tell!

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  14. Alltid lika intressant att följa din trädgård. Hoppas ni slipper fler stormar, som förstör. Det är en otrolig utveckling från dina första bilder. Magnolian är så vacker,hoppas få se den i blom nästa gång.
    Ha det fint!
    Marika

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    1. Hei Marika, magnoliaen min er i full blomst nå og jeg har tatt bilder til neste ukes post, men du kan se bildene på min Facebook side for jeg poster bilder innimellom der. Link til å signe opp til min Facebook side finner du oppe på venstre side, under Blog Archive.
      Ha en fin dag!

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  15. It's lovely to see the garden before you exchanged contracts. What a year it has been! You have achieved so much. I don't have a greenhouse - and although I sow indoors, I keep my plants next to glazed doors, which seems to work OK. I do have a cold frame too - it has been a sound investment. The other thing I use - and you may have a couple of these after your move - are lidded crates. I keep borderline plants in a sheltered spot in them and flip the lids closed if the night temps look as if they will drop too low. So far, I haven't lost any plants in them and the crates have lasted 3 or 4 years.

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    1. I am planning to make some cold frames too, it just hasn’t got high enough up on my to-do list yet! Maybe for next spring. I don’t have any lidded crates, I have open crates though, like those Tesco use for home delivery. I got 100 (yes one hundred!) for free second hand a year ago and that’s what I used to move my plants in. They were all in use, all 100 crates. It seems like a distant nightmare now after 11 months, those 100 crates spread all over the garden filled with 700 pots constantly demanding water…..yes, I have done a lot since then :-)
      I gave away the crates on Freecycle but kept a few as they are quite handy. But the plants are going in and out of my shed when the night temp threatens to go down to zero, so that’s been fine, haven’t lost anything this winter. And now all the seedlings are out in the garden, even the tender ones. Hard life around here!

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  16. Having nowhere suitable to sow seeds is the primary reason I don't do seeds here. Its just a shame everything didn't go as smoothly as you would want Helene. Often once we have shamed plants they go on to prove us liars and thrive. Here's hoping yours do exactly that.
    Loving how the garden is looking and the video is smashing. Loved Mr and Mrs Blackbird - birds here never use the bird baths either for drinking or bathing. Odd! Looking forward to seeing your blooms this month.

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    1. Thanks Angie, I hope my seedlings thrive too, because I have thrown all of them out in the garden in the cold! I decided it was better for them to get proper light than 24degrees warmth so out they went, all of them – after they all got re-potted. I hope that was a wise decision, but after 5 days they all look fine :-)
      Are you sure the birds don’t use your bird bath? They might come very early in the morning. The position of a bird bath is apparently important for whether the birds will use it or not, in my previous garden the birds never used it where I had it first, then I moved it and they all started using it. The bird bath needs to be close to trees or tall shrubs so the birds can fly only a short stretch from the bush to the bath and feel sheltered. If it is out in the open it is less likely they will use the birdbath – except the pigeons, they seem to be happy with whatever!

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  17. Dear Helene, I am always looking forward seeing the development in
    your garden! Your are one of the best examples in blogland that a good garden is not about size. I think, it is much more about the love, care and creativity that someone puts in. And your garden certainly radiates all three of these qualities.
    I think your new arbor looks great and I like the location where you placed it. Growing clematis on the arbor is a good idea, I believe, but I am wondering if the clematis will really grow in these containers. They look rather small to me.
    Your woodland border is coming together nicely. I guess, planting things there slowly but continuously really pays off.
    Just love your magnolia trees! They got me thinking if I should plant a flowering tree in my garden as well.
    I also like the soft yellow color of your mini daffodils very much.
    Wishing you Happy Gardening, until GBBD take care!
    Christina

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Christina!
      The 2 clematis I have chosen are quite small, final height are 1.5 - 2m tall and they are both suitable for growing permanently in containers. They will need bigger containers as they get mature, but that’s a good few years till and if they are happy and flowers well in this position I might just plant them in the ground. But it’s quite shady where I have put the arch so I want to see how they do a couple of years first before planting.

      Flowering trees are really lovely, especially if they flower early in the spring so they don’t just drop all the flowers straight away because it’s too hot already. I would have loved to have a jacaranda, but it is just a bit too cold in the winter for them here in London. You can probably grow them with no problem as my mother has a jacaranda in Southern Spain. It is absolutely beautiful grown as a tree if you have space enough, but you can also prune it heavily and grow it on a pergola or up a wall. If you want to see many jacarandas you can Google: ‘Pretoria jacaranda city’ and then click on the images tab. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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  18. Why can't I make my garden look like yours? I guess I have to move to the UK to learn the finer art of gardening :-). That music is one of my favorites. Regarding the jiffy-pellets, the suggestion here (in the US) is that it should be put in a container of its size (so that it's fully inside the container). And accordingly jiffy sells some big black tray to go with them. Do you eat the plums? Beautiful video and pictures, as usual :-).

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    1. I bought the trays and Jiffy pellets together, they came as a set – you can’t really see them that well on my photo but they have like a grid system where the pellets are standing in. There were also clear plastic lids too, but they had to come off as soon as the seedlings started to get too tall. I am not sure what the trays look like that you are describing, if the edges were much higher, the seedlings wouldn’t get much light. But in any case, the issue with watering and the mould has put me off using them again, even though I have more left of the batch I bought. But I won’t use them for seedlings ever again. As for the plums, yes, I ate most of them and gave away the rest. They are Victoria plums and taste beautiful straight from the tree :-)

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  19. I marvel every time I see your garden, Helene, at how much you have accomplished in such a short time! You may not think you're very speedy, but I think you've made an amazing transformation in your garden already. My friend usually uses the Jiffy pellets to start her seedlings and has good luck with them, but I've had the same problems as you. I prefer to use pots I've made out of newspaper which are bigger and give the seedlings more room to grow.

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    1. Thanks Rose, I have made a promise to myself never use those Jiffy pellets ever again, I have never used them before and this was way too fiddly. The seedlings are rescued and re-potted – all of them are outside now.

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  20. I don't have a greenhouse either Helene and raising plants from seed is challenging. It takes me all my time getting the begonia tubers started into growth. Not so bad this year as the shelving in the new conservatory is coming in very useful.
    Looking at the early pictures taken of your garden its great to see the difference in such a short time.

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    1. Today it’s exactly 11 months since I moved, I don’t know where all the months have gone, but I know a lot of the time has been spent doing up the garden! I did short process with the Jiffy pellets. All the seedlings are now outside, enjoying lots of light, but much cooler temperatures than my living room. It will be OK in the end. She said!

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  21. Hi Helene, I enjoyed the photos and video of your garden. It was a real treat watching the bird take his bath! Your garden has undergone so much change in the past year. I am looking forward to your April post!

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    1. Hi Debbie, there are lots more changes for April’s post – things are taking off now that I have started planting :-)

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