Well hasn’t it been a minute! About a year to be exact. It’s safe to say as soon as we got the keys to our renovation project house, the blog went on the back burner. But after 6 months of renovations we are in! We still have miles to go yet, years for sure, but we are in and are slowly finding spare time that doesn’t include sanding floors or digging up tree stumps – so the blog is back! Almost a year without any allotment diaries seems a very long time, and what a year it’s been for growing! My sustainable floristry business is one year old and has also been keeping very busy, I’m delighted and grateful to say! In the past year I’ve learned so much more about growing from seed, propogating, designing and gardening in general and I can’t wait to share it all with you over the course of the year.
But firstly, you may have noticed a name change! Introducing, Garden Diaries. What were allotment diaries before have had a more appropriate name change which feels more fitting for the next chapter. Garden Dairies will still cover the allotment and growing flowers and veggies, but with such a huge garden project ahead at our cottage it feels like a good place to share all of the gardening here too! Plans for the year include renovating the old allotment in the garden, creating a potager, garden design in various different areas, and overall restoring and creating a whole cottage garden! As well as all the usual growing fun. As you can see it is mostly weedy and blank, so we have a lot of work ahead of us indeed. But the potential is huge, so I am excited!!
But back to now, and what we’ve been up to throughout March! Seed sowing has begun on an epic scale, and with many trials of flower variates last year this year I have really ramped up the volume. The quantities of my firm favourites like cosmos, snapdragons, scabious and achillea have been tripled, with new colours and varieties added to the list in the same big numbers. Last season was a really good year for figuring out what thrives in my climate, and when you have some things that you love and work well, you have to run with them and add them to your yearly catalogue.
In the Autumn I done a good bit of sowing for overwintering too, which has worked really well and will give me a good crop of annuals much earlier this summer, hopefully along with last years sown biennials. Lupins, ornamental grasses, sweet rocket and snapdragons are amongst them, and are the ones that seem to have overwintered the best, along with a huge lot of Autumn started ranunculus and anemones. As for the biennials, I have lunaria, hollyhocks, foxgloves and a huge crop of sweet williams all looking very happy and almost ready for planting out!
We’ve had the first daffodils already, much earlier than last year due to an unusually warm start to the year. It was a lovely sight to see and came right on time for my Mother’s Day bouquets! But we’ve returned to a deep winter cold snap which looks set to stay for a good couple of weeks so hopefully that doesn’t slow things down again too much. There’s a lot more seeds to be sown so I’m going to make do with the big windowsills in the house again, as it’s just too cold again for any successful germination in the greenhouse. To give them half a chance they need steady heat, and the temperate in the greenhouse is still fluctuating too low overnight. So tucked inside where even small windows of sunshine can just be enough to start them off, then they can be moved out to the greenhouse to continue growing. I’ve promised Mr Berries that next year I’ll invest in a greenhouse heater, as I won’t have the ‘dusty reno house anyway what’s a bit of dirt’ excuse!
April will be filled with seed sowing, and as soon as we get a sunny spell I’m going to get my dahlias started. I’ve not long received a delivery of one hundred new tubers, so come September the bounty should be amazing!! With a whole garden to restore, when you look at the whole picture it can most certainly seem overwhelming, so breaking it up into little manageable sections is key! The first task we are going to get started on is creating a Potager in this weedy, muddy, no mans landy square – photo below! A Potager is a lovely french concept, a kitchen garden of sorts BUT also filled with flowers and most importantly – ornamental and beautifully designed!! Here I’m going to grow all of our veg and selection of edible flowers, in four raised beds with a lovely focal pot in the middle. It’s going to be such a great use of this space, which was shoulder height with weeds when we got the keys last summer, and was previously used to grow tatties in before that! Restoring this garden to it’s former glory is just as important as the house renovations to me, and I cannot wait to really get started!