Mar. 24th, 2012

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Thanks to my esteemed colleague The Classicist, who trailed into the office feeling under par last week, I am now loaded with the cold.  I should be spending today working on my WIP, but since I feel like my head's stuffed with aerated cotton wool, and since the sun has been shining (shock horror!!!) I've been pootling around the garden instead.

J took me to his favourite nursery this morning, at Uplawmoor.  Since he retired, he's transformed himself into a gardener, and his task today was to buy 15 privet plants for a client.  At this time of the month, I'm skint, so I was most dismayed to see a lovely variegated brunnera (Brunnera Dawson's White) and the most gorgeous salmon pink polyanthus on sale.  I was, however, able to persuade my Best Beloved to spend a few pennies on these plants in exchange for helping select and shift his privet plants and a bag of compost (and I wonder why I'm feeling awful???). 

Castle spotters will also be interested to know that we took a drive past Caldwell Tower (star of 'Restoration Man') to admire the new addition.  From one approach, the structure looks great - it's been nicely consolidated, and looks set fair for the foreseeable future.  From the other, well...  It looks like someone's tacked either a dodgy grain silo or a missile silo onto the side.  Not the world's most attractive feature, I fear...

After lunch, I went out into the garden to make the most of the weather.  I planted the brunnera (with a slug pub nearby), weeded some more of the front bed, then took the enormous step of taking away the fleece from the half-hardy plants and potting on one of the begonias that I've been hardening off.  I'm pretty confident now that we'll only have a few isolated frost pockets in exposed parts of the garden, and I'm so pushed for space indoors that I'm having to move things along. 

I'm disappointed in the over-wintering exercise: I put the plants out (under fleece) a few weeks back, and the chrysanthemum, the ageranthymum and most of the osteospermum have failed to put out any new growth.  This is surprising, as the chrysanthemum in particular were showing some shoots, and one of them was actually in its third winter, having been left outside all winter two years ago, where the temperature dipped to -6 a few times.  I suspect slugs or even vine weevil grubs may be to blame...  Never mind, I'll leave them a little longer and see if they pick up.  My half-hardy fuschia have, however, all survived...

I seperated a few of my sweet pea, which arrived from T & M yesterday. I really dislike the way most sellers send 70 sweet pea plants in the form of 10 plugs containing 7 plants each - I need more than 10 plants for my garden, thank you, so I wind up dividing them, even though T & M says not to.  If it's done very carefully, they recover, though they don't like it when I do the equivalent of open heart surgery on them...   With the arrival of the sweet peas, the snapdragons are being shuffled out to the porch, along with some of the bedding begonias, for a couple of days' hot house treatment before being hardened off next week.  I'm hoping I can put a few of the snapdragons in the ground before we go off to France: if we have the misfortune of a blocking high in the jetstream while we're away, I'm really likely to lose all my plants if they're left in peat pots and we end up with a dry spell.  There's also a higher chance of frosts in that scenario, too, so here's hoping the atlantic rains aren't altogether absent - sorry, if you're sitting here thinking 'woo hoo!  Dry weather is GOOD!!  But hey, I've got to think of my plants...)

It's always a gamble, I suppose, when you go on your hols at this time of year...

Oh, and I forgot to mention.  I sowed my cornflower and nigella today, too.  So I've been busy...

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