Plant of the Month 8/12 – Viola

Now when I started out on this plant adventure I was a bit snobby about bedding plants. I’m not really sure why, but I suppose the bedding plants I always had in mind where plants I remember grandparents having in hanging baskets and I guess they feel a bit old fashioned to me. I don’t know, maybe I thought I was too trendy for bedding plants.

Turns out, I’m not. When the summer is ending and you walk around the garden centre with less and less colour jumping out at you, you realise that most of the remaining colour you can see is in the bedding plant section.

I filled my lovely new flower beds with annuals which are now either dead or dying back and I was craving some colour in there still. So I went for it… I bought some bedding plants. Viola to be exact, and boy, do I love them!

I bought these purple & white guys and then some striking black ones. I am entertained by the fact they look like tiny angry faces and y’know, it was Viola’s in Alice in Wonderland wasn’t it? The scene where Alice is small and all the flowers sing to her, I’m sure I remember little Viola’s in that.

Aside from their funny little face-like petals, they are cheap and cheerful too. I think I only paid a few quid for a tray of 6 plants and there were loads of colours to choose from! A bargain really if you ask me! I think you could find any colour you would wish for.

I don’t really have much else to say on these, I mean bedding plants are bedding plants. There are lots of different types, and they really help to inject a bit of colour to your outdoor patch. Also I guess I have to also say that I am no longer a bedding snob… I will actively seek it out in the future!

 

Amy x

My Plant of the Month 4/12 – Allium

Ooh yes, one of my absolute favourites! The Allium, specifically the purple variety.

The Allium was one of the first flowers I really noticed when I was working on BBC’s Gardeners’ World last year. It caught my attention in a big way!

I was lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time in Monty’s garden, where I watched these beauties bloom. I just love them!

They are really striking when planted amongst low growing plants, I particularly like their pairing with grasses, as the foliage at the base of the Alliums dies back quite quickly. So if they are surrounded by low level plants like grasses then they disguise the dying foliage. Smart!

I am growing a few in my tatty flower bed at the moment, which I planted out as bulbs in the autumn. They have started to flower now and by the end of the month they will form their striking purple ball of individual flowers! 


Even when the flower wither away, they leave a ghostly skeleton behind which is also beautiful.

They are fairly hardy, good for pots and flower beds, make wonderful cut flower displays and pretty easy to grow! What’s not to like?!

There you have it – my plant of the month! Happy May!

 

Amy x

Miniature Greenhouse

It seems I am still just about young enough to wangle a gift for Easter, and my lovely mum & dad bought me a mini greenhouse this year! I know it isn’t quite Easter yet, but I have seedlings in need.

This 4 tiered mini greenhouse is from Argos and cost only £24.99 – so far, so good. I have fastened it to the fence at the top and bottom so that it doesn’t fall over in the wind, and put a couple of rocks on the bottom shelf for good measure.

I will be putting my little seedlings in there in a couple of weeks time when the risk of frost has passed, but I may still tuck them up with some fleece at night.

This little greenhouse is a great addition to my gardening supplies, plus I’ve now got somewhere dry to keep my trowel and gloves!

 

The Propagator

One of my Christmas presents last year was this little beauty!

Today, my ‘Garland Fab 4 Electric Propagator’ has had its first use. I have planted up two packets of Dahlia seeds. We have Dwarf Double Mixed and Pompon Mixed.  Which were super cheap from Wilko, as you can see! 

Once they have started to sprout in the Propagator, I will prick them out and keep them in a larger tray or pot until they are strong enough to brave the outside, probably around May. When I will keep them in their trays/pots in the garden for a couple of weeks before moving them to the allotment.

After working on Gardeners’ World last year, I was inspired to use some of the space at the allotment as a cut flower border. This way throughout the summer months, I can bring fresh flowers into the house which I have grown myself – rather than forking out for a bouquet in store.

Plus, what a thoughtful gift for friends and family, a bouquet of flowers from our own allotment!?

Keep an eye on my blog for updates on my newest gadget – and the little seeds I have planted in there!

You could get the same propagator as me from Garland Products – they also do larger versions if you have more seeds to plant than I do!

Amy x

The Cactus

I have always had an interest in cacti, my grandparents used to have a corridor leading to a music/play room in their house, it was like a conservatory as it was mostly made from glass. Along the corridor were shelves with cacti all along them.

I remember when I was little I used to run down the corridor to the play room as fast as I could so that the prickles couldn’t get me on the way past. Fond memories, I have always found cacti fascinating!

This cute little cactus has been with us in two homes now, and it’s so very easy to look after! In our old flat we had it in the bathroom and the steam seemed to be enough moisture for it, so I never had to water it! Now we keep it on the windowsill in the kitchen, right near the sink, and it’s happy as Larry there too!

If you have shortage of outdoor space, why don’t you look at getting a little cactus or even a few to put around your home.

You can get them from most garden centres, or if you want something more specialised you can find a range of specialist growers online. My local chap is called Tony Irons, which is who I bought my succulents from. You can see his website here.

Obviously, make sure you keep them out of the reach of children and pets to avoid a prickly surprise!

 

My Plant of the Month 1/12 – Snowdrops

Ok… so I missed the first month of this year, that means I can double up when there are too many beautiful plants to choose from.

My chosen favourite plant for February HAS to be the Snowdrop (Galanthus). Its one of the first signs that Spring may be on it’s way soon.

They are so dainty and look stunning in patches of dewy grass when the winter sunlight catches them.

They flower January to March and are quite hardy little plants.

If you want some of these gorgeous little flowers in your garden next year, plant them up in the late Spring, (April/May) and have a look on the RHS website for all the info you will need.

Also, the National Trust have a fantastic list of the ‘Top Spots for Snowdrops’ in the UK. Perfect for a wintery weekend walk!

Image credit – National Trust / Marina Rule