Monday, 31 May 2010

Slow! Worm!

When working on the plot this week I stumbled upon quite a pleasing sight.  It appears that my plot is inhabited by slow worms.  I often write about beneficial garden insects and animals, including my tortoise and rabbit who act as weed disposal, but I never thought I would be writing about beneficial native reptiles in the garden.   I don't have anything against reptiles to be honest, hence my pet tortoise and years of keeping pet snakes, but I know that many people cannot bear to be near them and would find one in such close proximity quite off putting.  I guess that is where the term beneficial plays a part as they are actually quite invaluable in the garden.

These small lizards, yes lizards, eat slugs and many other garden pests or insects.  To help encourage slow worms on the plot or in the garden it is good practice to leave pieces of corrugated metal and black polythene on the ground under which they will shelter and absorb heat, which they need to function.  Slow worms are also a protected species and are included in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If you have these beautiful and helpful creatures in your garden or allotment please encourage them and afford them a little spot of shelter.  After all they will help control slugs and are completely harmless.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Friends, Food, Flowers and France

Last weekend brought a long spell of fantastic weather, excellent company, a touch of sunburn and oodles of good food.  I couldn’t have asked for more.

The colourful salad pictured above, made up of what was available in the garden and a few extras that had to be bought in, was so vibrant I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of it and it pretty much shouted out for attention.  I put the salad together to accompany a meal made for friends who stayed over on the weekend.  They very kindly donated lots of great plants to me for the allotment and fingers crossed they will help to contribute to a meal or two at some point in the very near future.  I was also given a homemade Plum and Apple chutney . . . heaven!

Another good friend of mine is planning to move to France shortly, of which I am immensely jealous, and for this reason she asked me to pop over and pick up a water butt which is soon to be surplus to requirements.  A few hours and several cups of tea later I left her house without the water butt.  My intentions were to drop off a few saplings and collect the aforementioned water butt, Instead I came home with a horticultural bounty.  A compost bin, Blueberries, Hostas, Aeonium, Salvias, Hemerocallis, Sedums, Begonia, Lathyrus, a Golden Hop and many other fabulous plants managed to sneak their way in to my small car, most of which are destined for life on the allotment.  

It was really quite humbling that she would trust me with her prized plants, many of which were grown from seed or handed down by friends and relatives.  I think, and most definitely in my case, that plants can hold many memories, have sentimental value and become treasured items in their own right. The feelings that came with taking these plants was bittersweet.  I know that I will offer these plants the love and care that they have become accustomed to and when the time is right I will be able to provide her with cuttings and seedlings from which she can start her garden all over again with the exact plants she cherished for many years (hopefully).  I hope I can do her proud.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Man attacked by nesting bird at leading garden centre

News has emerged that a customer at a leading garden centre in West Wales was attacked by a rather hormonal nesting blackbird this Sunday.  The customer, a young man with a floppy fringe, was perusing the shrub and bush fruit section of the centre when the surprise attack occurred.

Neither party was harmed and the mother of five or six settled down to care for her chicks while the innocent victim left with a new redcurrant bush for the allotment.  

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Buys, Buds and a Bold Move

Arisaema sikokianum
It is often said that "good things come to those who wait" and it seems as though that may actually be true.  On seeing the above Arisaema at RHS Cardiff 2009 I knew I had to have it.  As with most plants you covet at shows they are either not for sale or the nursery has sold out as everyone else wants them too.  These plants end up on my plant wish-list and then I wait for the next chance to buy them.  When it came time to visit RHS Malvern this year I was determined to find this particular plant and it just so happens that I managed to buy one.  I was absolutely thrilled as I needed a plant for a shady corner and I really did not want anything else.  The Arisaema is now in pride of place and as you can see it's in full flower.  

Another saying that has rung true this week is "good things come in threes".
Aloysia triphylla
Given the Winter that we have just endured I thought that my Lemon Verbena (Aloysia tryphylla) was for the compost heap.  Up until now it has looked absolutely lifeless and then suddenly buds formed and broke.  If you do not grow this plant for yourself then I would urge you to do so as it has to be one of the best, if not the best, garden plant to grow.  Okay, it's no show stopper and the flowers are fairly inconspicuous, however, the scent is absolutely astounding.  A scent similar to sherbert lemons this plant has many uses and is particularly good in the bath bouquet.  If I were to urge anyone to grow a single plant then this would be it.

Finally, the last piece of good news is pictured below.
My new allotment
I have finally joined the masses of allotmenteers around the country!  Since moving house a few years ago I have lacked adequate space to grow a decent crop of anything and so I put my name down on the local allotment waiting list.  Last night I 'phoned the allotment secretary, something that I have done religiously every few months in an attempt to grind them down and she informed me that she had been trying to call me on my landline all day as a space had become available.  I was thrilled with the news and arranged to meet her today at 11:00am.  Most of the day has been spent on the plot clearing the area and salvaging what there is left to salvage.  The good news is that the last plot holder has left a massive rhubarb plant, two berry bushes (yet to be identified), raspberries, chard, several rows of onions which must have been planted last autumn and a small cherry tree.  There is a lot of hard work needed to get the plot up to standard but it will be more of a pleasure than a chore.  All I need now is a decent shed, vegetable seeds or plants and a new bench.  

There is no doubt that the blog will evolve from here on in and combine the ornamental with the edible.  I will also post regular updates on how the plot is coming on and seek advice from other experienced allotmenteers.  Ryan's Garden has become a little bigger!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

RHS Malvern Spring Show 2010

Best in Show, The Youth of Old Age - Graduate Gardens
The annual RHS Malvern Spring Show 2010 has come and gone and I had the pleasure of attending on Friday.  A full write up of the show will be posted on the Dobbies website and you can see the full post by clicking on the image at the end of this post.

I had a pretty good time all in all and met some great people at the garden bloggers meet up 'Meet@Malvern'.  Two plants have come off the plant wish-list and I'm pleased to report that no impulse buys were made!  I'm as amazed as anyone else.

For those of you who could not attend I have added a few pictures below.
The Woodland Edge Garden - Mark Walker
The Nature of Nurture - Beholders Eye (Deb Bird)
Hansel and Gretel Fairy Tale Garden - Foliation Ltd
ReSource Garden - Alison Miles with Avenue Landscapes
The Owl and the Pussy Cat - Patrica Atkins Garden Designs

Gardeners Click Q&A session in association with Dobbies
James Alexander-Sinclair with Madonna Mic and lunch

Please click the below image for the full post.
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