More work in progress

Four more rows of seed potatoes go in

I’m getting quite a kick out of my decision to grow everything in rows this season. For some reason it’s ridiculously satisfying to look back at a perfect line of transplanted seedlings, or seed potatoes in a straight trench, and think… job well done! I might come to regret it later on, when there’s a neat row of weeds between every row of veges and flowers, but for now I’m feeling very industrious. And let’s face it, it’s much more fun having a tidy garden than a tidy house (which, for the record, I don’t).

The weather was a game of two halves this weekend: picture perfect on Saturday and wild, wet and windy today. On Saturday I was a bit late opening the flaps on my seed raising house. It felt like a furnace when I unzipped it; I’d fried my honeywort seedlings, the rocket had collapsed and the pot of crocus bulbs I’d popped in there earlier in the week to speed up their growth had sped up so much that all the flowers had opened up and promptly shrivelled up. Oops.

Vege seedlings transplanted: 1 tray of swedes (Lucas better like mashed swedes because I’ve sown dozens of them), 4 parsnip seedlings (not a great germination success), 24 ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuces, 18 ‘Cheddar’ cauliflowers (impulse shopping), 18 red cabbages (I’ll end up giving most of them away, but I just love the look of big purple cabbages in vege gardens) and 2 rows of ‘Pearl Drop’ onions (never again: separating and spacing out the little seedlings is such a boring job that next time I’ll just sow them direct)

Flower seedlings planted: 3 punnets of delphiniums, 2 punnets of dwarf marigolds, 2 bundles of pink honesty, 2 bundles of red stock, 2 bundles of bupleurum (I don’t even know what this is, apart from the fact that it looks like a euphorbia and is apparently good for picking, but Awapuni Nurseries now does home delivery so I went a bit mad ordering from their website), 1 bundle of giant pansies (I hate pansies but they came free with my order and I didn’t have the heart not to plant them!)

Seeds sown: 2 packets of ‘Dwarf Early Green’ broad beans and 1 packet of ‘Dwarf Massey’ peas (frozen peas are the only frozen veges I buy, so I’ve set myself the challenge of growing all my own this year); plus 2 packets of Made for Shade wildflowers

Seed potatoes planted: 2 bags of ‘Cliff’s Kidney’, 1 bag of ‘Ilam Hardy’ and 1 bag of Tui’s new ‘Summer Delight’

Bulbs planted: 15 dark purple ‘Flevo Waris’ and 15 white ‘Flevo Dancer’ gladioli

Mystery disappearances: 1 x row of dwarf marigolds and at least 30 of the Russell lupin seedlings I finished transplanting last week. They’ve been eaten by something. My bet is slugs and snails. Rotten sods! (Although our two Pekin ducks appear to be taking a suspicious interest in my new garden too. Does anyone know if they wrap their sticky beaks around vege seedlings?)

Good things in small packages

Saxifraga 'Star Blush'

Here’s a wee plant that I just adore: Saxifraga ‘Star Blush’. It’s a little cold-hardy perennial that forms a charming mound of succulent green foliage. It has that same cushion shape and form as our native scleranthus, but it’s topped with beautiful, star-like pink flowers that start out as hot pink buds and, once open, fade to pale pink. It’s absolutely gorgeous in a hypertufa pot, or between rocks in a rockery, or snuggling up to the edge of a stone wall.

In my city garden, I planted it in little groups in the gravel path at the front of my section. I thought it would look cute – like something out of an Enid Blyton storybook – and it did. Until I opened my garden the public. Turns out that garden visitors tend to look up instead of at their feet: my plants all got stood on and squashed. So this time around, I’ve planted them at the edges of the low stone walls at the end of our lawn. The dog might bound over the top of them, but they’ll soon bounce back.

Saxifraga ‘Star Blush’ is available from garden centres, though you might need them to order it for you. (My plants came from the Waikato wholesale nursery Growing Spectrum).