Plans for the summer-Hoorah!

My goodness! The last couple of weeks have been so very cold but we have managed to miss the snow in our little part of Devon. Yesterday, saw the return of the familiar rain, so I am once again, wallowing in mud. The signs of spring are everywhere in the garden and remind me that I must get the cottage garden borders mulched. The daylight hours are increasing which the thousands of seedlings will love. All is going in the right direction.

February is always a month of hope and activity. It is sometimes daunting but exciting as I look at the list of jobs to do for the year ahead. All of the easy stuff, like ordering seeds, dahlia tubers and bulbs was done in January and the postman brings little packages of what will turn into summer posies and bouquets on a daily basis. The addiction problem has not decreased!

I don't know about you, but it is the infrastructure tasks that leave me feeling I am racing against time. This year I am planning the next stage of the development of the prairie garden which will rely on the weather gods looking favourably on me to get the digger in to move the tons of excavated shillit that will form it...and then the plants grown from seed need to perform so they can move in to their new home. Add to this the rest of the tasks from dry stone walling to pond clearing.... Breathe-It will happen.

In the meantime, I took the opportunity to skid around in the mud and add in some additional beds to the cutting garden. I have long been a fan of no dig. To be honest, part of the reason for this was discovering that our two acres was shillit and granite, below a very thin layer of soil. I originally 'dug' all the borders using a pick axe as it is the only tool that cuts through. It was like a day in a hard labour camp! How I envy people like Monty Don as he digs into lovely soil on Gardeners World. So now, I dig only when absolutely necessary and otherwise make all the beds in the cutting garden from a layer of cardboard covered in sheep wool. This mulches well, stops weeds, keeps in moisture and is so much better for the soil and biodiversity. A good layer of compost goes on top and Ta have a new bed-which Ellie thinks is for her!

At this time of year my head is also full of seed growing. I collect as much seed from perennials as possible. All our plants are originally grown in the cottage garden to make sure they withstand the free draining shillit in the summer and cope with the huge amount of rain we seem to get in Devon in the winter. A must is that they stand up to the wind- all in all-they are pretty hardy plants. The vast majority of seeds are started in an unheated polytunnel and I love seeing them emerge and unfold into little plants.

Successes so far this year are Ammi Majus and Visgna, Achillea (Summer Pastels, Millefolium, Ageratum and Terracotta). A huge win has been Echinacea which point blank refused to germinate last year. I guess this is one of the delights of gardening-same recipe-different results! A quantity of these annuals and perennials always go into the cottage and cutting gardens and the rest are sold. There are hundreds more coming through which will appear in our Plants for sale list and will also go into our bouquets but here are some pictures so far.

The rest of this month will be more of the same-seeds, seeds and more seeds. I would love to hear what challenges and successes you are facing with your gardens-together we can keep sane! Until next month.

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