Monday, 21 February 2011

Competition: Parasol Heater Lights

This competition is now closed.  Congratulations to Yvonne (@MySonsSpongeMad) who is the lucky winner of the parasol heater lights!

Spring is in the air and we’re looking towards warming weather and evenings spent in the garden.  Spring is all about planning and it is on this note that we are offering one lucky reader the chance to win another fantastic prize worth worth £99.99!

Parasol Heater lights (pictured above) from really help to reduce the chill on Summer nights and allow for more time spent in the garden, something that I know I’ll be doing as often as possible.

To enter the competition and for your chance to win this great prize simply leave the answer the question below in the comments section of this post.

Question: What is the heat output of the parasol heater on offer?

To gain additional entries to the competition simply mention the competition on twitter, facebook or on your personal blog, coupled with a link to:

Entries will be counted as follows:

  Comment on Ryan's Garden - 1 entry
  Retweet, tweet or facebook mention of competition link -  2 entries
  Blog post with competition link - 3 entriesGood luck to all who enter!

Terms and conditions: Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter. The winner will be chosen at random and you agree that by entering your name may be published. Prizes will be delivered by courier within 28 days. The competition is not open to employees or affiliates of The Garden Furniture Centre Ltd. Entries for this competition will close at midnight on 21st March 2011.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

How much is too much?

Galanthus nivalis in my  garden 2011

This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot of late especially when considering buying new plants and bulbs.

I’ve been through many an expensive plant buying spree and following on from my terrestrial orchid phase and my Arisaema obsession it now appears that I’m in the market for a particular snowdrop.  In fact, this is not a new “want”.  I’ve actually been looking for this particular snowdrop cultivar for over two years now and despite a few near misses I am yet to actually purchase it.   This is partly down to a possible novelty appeal and, of course, the main problem of price.  As you may already know snowdrops are well known for their collectible status and often fetch extortionate amounts of money when pursued by hardcore galanthophiles.  The case in point being illustrated beautifully with the recent sale of a single bulb of Galanthus ‘Green Tear’.  This bulb sold on Ebay for the grand sum of £320.  Could you justify this?  I know that at this point in time I couldn’t.  It seems like such a high price for such a small and fleeting plant.  After all, for £320 I would want it to hold year round interest and have the ability to make me breakfast in bed!

The bulb I’m searching for is Galanthus ‘Grumpy’.  It’s a lot less expensive than ‘Green Tear’ but can sell for anywhere between £30 - £70 for a single bulb.  The unique markings of this snowdrop flower gave rise to its more than appropriate name and sparked my initial interest, albeit a rather novelty appeal as opposed to a serious interest.   I’m waiting for this novelty to wear off but each time I see the flower my interest grows and once again I’m on the hunt.  I just love the idea of having a clump of grumpy little snowdrops in a corner of my garden, something to cheer me up on a cold winter’s day.

The price still sparks the question – how much is too much?  Such a sum of money could go a long way in the garden, helping to plant a herbaceous border for example, buy a large tree or even have potential to pay for a years worth of seed for the allotment.

For now, I guess I will just ponder for another year, unless of course someone out there has a bulb for me?  Hmmm . . .

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Change: Excitement is Brewing

In my last post I discussed how difficult it is to remain restrained when literally aching to get going in the garden.  That was not much over a week ago and despite this so much has changed already.  The start of the growing season is always a fraught time as starting things off too early may mean that your timings produce less than desirable outcomes with aetiolated seedlings on windowsills and plenty of frost damage on outdoor crops to boot, too late and you lose any advantage you once had over Mother Nature.

In little over a week I no longer have that immediate urge to get going, well, not as much anyway.   This is partly due to the fact that I am no longer revising.  I will do anything other than revise when it is needed, which includes fantasising about what to grow this year, browsing the internet for iphone covers, and finding amazement in anything relatively pedestrian.  It’s also partly influenced by this ever-present flu I can’t seem to get rid of and yes, the headache still lingers on, making me increasingly irritable and causing me to loose all grip of the English language mid-sentence (apologies if you’ve already heard this but in true style I am using my prerogative as a man to whinge about being ill). 

But I don’t think it was any of the above that truly stemmed by impatience.  The true change occurred following a few simple events that presented themselves over the past day or so.  Yesterday, whilst at the allotment feeding the chickens and just before my exam (I needed to go somewhere to prepare and where could be better than my allotment oasis?) I spotted my first Peacock butterfly sunning itself on a fence post.   I watched it for a moment or two and as I was angling myself to get a great photograph it flew off in to the dappled sunlight.   After the harsh Winter and relatively poor weather thus far I was quite surprised to see one so early in the season.  After all, I saw hardly any butterflies last year.  The sun also added to the feeling that the world was now a much better place to be.  Then I made the drive to my impending doom – my exam.

Whilst waiting for the exam to start, which was an experience in itself as it was held in a large dining room in a Grade II Victorian house with the two of us sitting at what can only be described as a 14ft antique dining table with matching chairs (?), I spotted my first Spring lambs of the year.  Five of these beautiful creatures took full advantage of the sunshine and played without a care in the world as their mothers looked on. 

After my exam I returned home and as I had time to spare I popped up to the garden, not something I’ve done a lot of lately.  Up the limestone steps I went and I was greeted by a much-needed lift of Anemones, Iris, Hamamelis, Snowdrops and Hellebores. 

These three events really did go a long way to say that I had not much longer to wait now.  It’s amazing that in only a matter of days nature can signal Spring in such an assertive way.

Taking note of these hints I began my preparation for the year to come, starting with chitting the potatoes and readying the propagator.  I also plan to start on the chicken run extension this coming weekend, after all, I have another six on the way!
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