Sunday, 24 June 2012

Ryan's Garden Competition: Win a £50 gift voucher

As summer is still considering whether or not to make an appearance, I thought I’d try to cheer everyone up a bit by posting a picture of the Asiatic Lilies in my front garden, I believe the cultivar is ‘Blackout’, and announcing a brand new Ryan's Garden competition.

The good people at Creative Garden Ideas, who sell some great products, including garden compost, are offering the chance for one lucky reader to win a £50 voucher to spend on their site.  Nothing quite hits the spot like a good dose of retail therapy.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the question below:

Question: How many times has London hosted the Olympic Games?

When you think you know the answer to the above question, leave a comment in the comments box at the bottom of this post.  You can gain a possible two additional entries to the competition by retweeting @ryansgarden promoting the offer on twitter or by sharing a link from the Ryan’s Garden Facebook page (you must like the page to share the link).  The number of entries will not increase if you retweet or share links more than once each.

Good luck and don’t forget to subscribe to the Ryan’s Garden blog to ensure you don’t miss out on future competitions and posts.

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 22.07.2012. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. If for any reason the particular prize is out of stock then an appropriate alternative will be sought. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter.  By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and by taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner stating the correct answer will be selected at random and will be announced here on the blog.  

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Bringing the garden indoors

Anyone who read my last whinge blog post will know that I've been suffering somewhat from the effects of the weather and so too has my garden and allotment plots.  As a result, I grabbed the opportunity today to bring a little of what's flourishing in to the home and I quite like the results.  It certainly brightens the place up.
A nice naturalistic display of Linaria purpurea, Astrantia bavarica, Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', and Jasminum officinale 'Clotted Cream'.  These are all really good doers in the garden and firm favourites of mine.  The Linaria alone must measure 4ft from the base of the vase to its tip and somewhat larger in the garden.
The Astrantia always photographs well and is a massive magnet to bees and other pollinating insects.  You can read more in an old post I wrote here.  Since I bought the tiny plant it's really bulked up and is top of the list to be divided this coming Autumn or next Spring.
I've also placed a bunch of Elephant Garlic scapes in a vase on a shelf, as after eating the vast majority, I had just left these lingering in the kitchen.  The light from the fishtank belowgives them a rather menacing look - the complete opposite of how they actually appear.

If the weather is as bad with you as it is here then a little dash in to the garden can certainly be worth it!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Rip it out and start again

Snails enjoying my Bronze Fennel

If a man could live on Alliums alone then this man would be very happy and particularly well nourished.  I say this with a dash of sarcasm and a whole dollop of frustration, as apart from onions, shallots, garlic, a bit of salad and promising courgettes the vegetable plot isn’t looking all too great at the moment.

There are several conspiring factors that have contributed to this: horrific weather, hungry pests and, more so than any of the others, a serious lack of time.  Only a week ago things were looking much more promising.  The vegetable beds were significantly healthier, plants were growing well and weeds were fairly inconspicuous.  I had several types of beans and peas ready to be planted along with peppers, chillies and tomatoes.  The potatoes were growing strong and looking good and a new polytunnel was waiting to be constructed – happy days!  Suffice to say, this happiness was very short lived.

In a rare change from, my now-usual schedule of working from home, managing Doolittle's Dispensary and ensuring the animals are all okay, I had a good few hours to dedicate to the allotment.  It was decided that the polytunnel, which was half-constructed, would be secured and have its cover put on.  Easier said than done. Several hours passed and after innumerable arguments, strange looks and offers of help from fellow plot holders, we discovered that we weren’t completely incompetent polytunnel novices but instead the cover was far too small for the frame.  This realisation came after a very fraught 4-5 hours and was the final straw that prompted us to give up with a plan to write to the online retailer we bought it from. Polytunnel was left in situ half completed ... still.

Shortly after semi-constructing the polytunnel, we were blessed with gale force winds and extremely heavy rainfall for three days straight.  This ensured that said polytunnel remained unfinsished and anything growing above 2-3 feet was raised to the ground.  My beautiful 7-8ft Angelica, given to me by the lovely Sharon Hockenhull a couple of years ago, was now laying prone on the ground, my broad beans were either snapped or laying drunkenly in a semi-upright position and what wasn’t windswept had been munched by the hoards of slugs, snails, mice and pigeons that appeared to have joined forces and amassed a shock and awe style offensive.  The once beautiful potatoes were now suffering from some sort of die-off or wilt and the weeds, delighted with the wet and warm(ish) conditions, had taken over.  You can imagine my delight.

In the garden, things were a little bit more promising.  A new slate path had been installed and planting is looking lush if not rather overgrown and chaotic.  Again, a lack of time and bad weather has limited what I’ve done here but this can wait for now.

All things considered I’m now itching to rip everything out and start again, either that or drink heavily.  I just wish I had the time to do it.

On a lighter note, the winner of the Sarah Raven Kitchen Garden Competition is: @ericahughes  Congratulations!
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