Friday, 30 July 2010

Week 20

It's eerily quiet in the Shooter's Grove gardens. School's out but there is still so much happening in the garden. Watering of course is a must, but since we've broken up blackflies have moved into one of the pumpkin patches. These were rubbed off between finger and thumb, not a pleasant task, but a necessary one to help keep the numbers down on the forming flowers, behind each a bulbous swelling is forming which will hopefully bring fruit large enough to carve for Hallowe'en.

We shall only allow two or three pumkins to form in each patch. This should allow the plants concentrate their energy into creating larger pumpkins.

The heady scent of these lillies fills the air. Perhaps in subsequent years, they will open before the school break for Summer to be fully appreciated.

The fuschia's are at full pelt, with clusters of tiny ballerina flowers dangling gracefully from each stem.

Our Beans are close to begin the harvest.

And the tomatoes are swelling nicely. There are peppers in this container too, showing off their small white flowers.

A small courgette is beginning to form behind this flower.

And finally, the Junior bed is taking on a fiery glow as the Crocosmia's begin to unfurl their molten orange petals.

Sunshine and showers. Perfect for the gardens, not so perfect for Summer Holidays!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Week 19

Shooters Grove is saying a fond farewell to Mrs Shaw at the end of this week, after an amazing 38 years with our school.  Mrs Shaw is leaving us with a most generous gift of plants to re-stock our carpark bed.

Our final Busy Beez Gardening Club session was brought forward a day as heavy rain is forecast for our usual Tuesday, and we are eager to get these lovely beauties into the ground before we break for the Summer Holidays.  However, before we can plant we must clear the ground.

The bed, which overlooks the courtyard was full of weeds, particularly thistles.  Fortunately we have a light sandy soil, which makes weeding easier.  The whole area was then forked over, and some good quality top soil added.  An over grown hebe with a huge clump of dandelions was dug up, trimmed, separated from the weed and replanted, as was a leggy evergreen, possibly a 'Birds Nest Spruce'.

Time for the new plants.  First up a trio of sugar-candy-pink Hydrangeas.  Also known as Hortensia, these mopheads come in colours ranging from white, red, pink, purple or even blue if your soil is acid enough. They begin flowering in the late Spring and Summer, and continue right through to the Autumn, often with changing colours in the blooms.  The dried flower heads will be kept on the plant over the winter months to help protect the emerging young buds from frosts, and provide a little interest in the border over the quieter seasons.

Next are two Gaura's, or Bee Blossoms.  This variety is called 'Tutti Frutti' with shocking pink flowers.  These plants should spread readily creating a thick carpet from their rhyzomes underground, and filling in bare spaces to help prevent weeds setting in.

And finally to the elegant white fragrant blooms of Phlox Carolina 'Miss Lingard'.  With it's shiny foliage and pure white flowers, this perennial is often called the 'Wedding Phlox' and is a magnet to butterflies.

Once bedded into their new homes, the plants were given a thorough watering by our Busy Beez, and a thick layer of bark mulch added to help keep the moisture in and the weeds out.

A quick inspection of the Enviromental Garden before we break reveals a massive shrub alive with the buzzing and fluttering of a great many insects.  Commonly known as The Butterfly Bush, this huge Buddleia is awash with panicles of purple flowers each visted by bees and butterflies, of course.

The size of this plant is perfect for our large Enviromental Garden, but in the Spring we shall cut this magnificent monster by two thirds.  It might seem quite a dramatic prune, but it will pay us back with even more blooms next Summer while encouraging a strong healthy framework.  In smaller gardens, the same can be achieved from a smaller plant and kept to a managable size by cutting the shrub back to around 60cm from ground level each Spring.

Nestled among the tall white Asters, this vibrant rambling Rose winds it's way through the boundary of the Enviromental Garden.  Once the clusters of  intense pink blossoms have passed, the Rose will carry on it's show well into the Autumn with hips.

During the holidays, the gardens will continue to be cared for and the Busy Beez Gardening Blog will be updated from time to time, so be sure to stop by and see how things are progressing.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Week 18

The Busy Beez' attention was focused on the Junior flowerbeds this week.
Jostling for position among the Hardy Geranium foliage and the Potentilla shrub with it's acid yellow blooms, the swelling orange buds of the Crocosmias have begun to appear.

The recent rainfall has been a welcome treat for all of the plants, which have in turn responded by putting on a bit of a growth spurt. There is a downside to the warm and wet weather though, being favourable conditions of weeds too. Weeds that need removing before flowering, setting seed and taking over the flowerbeds.

Each morning while waiting for the day to begin, there have been a group of Y2 boys eagerly investigating the large hummocks of foliage in the Veg-e-tables for signs of flowers. Whilst there is still no sign on the pumpkin plants, there have been a number of yellow blooms on the courgette plants. Unfortunately so far these flowers have all been male, and need removing as it is the female flowers that have the courgettes forming behind each bloom. Once the female flowers begin to arrive then we shall leave a couple of the male flowers on to pollinate them. It's not a necessity to remove them, but I find it speeds up the production a little.

The next job for the Busy Beez was to plant the tomatoes donated by our Crossing Warden. An old wooden sandpit filled with compost provided the perfect home for these cordon varieties, which as they grow will need supporting with canes.

After the rains, lets hope for some more sunshine now to ripen our crops before the end of term.  We're never satisfied with our weather are we?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Week 17

Another very dry week. We have had a spot of rain or two, but not enough to sustain life in the Shooter's Grove Garden. Our Y2's have been watering our pots each morning, and the pumpkins have reacted accordingly, throwing up plenty of foliage, and a couple of tiny flowerbuds

Our first job of the day was to give all the garden a really thorough soak. Not just a little shower, but at least a full watering can for each plant. This will encourage the roots to push deeper into the soil, making the plants a little more drought resistant in the long run, which is particularly important as the Summer Holidays are approaching. Fortunately this is one of the favourite jobs for the Busy Beez, and there are never any shortages of volunteers for this.

More pumpkins here, along with yet more salad leaves.

Our main job today was to put the finishing touches to the new flowerbed. The weeds cleared, and the whole bed given a very thorough watering, the Beez set to work arranging a mulch of bark over all the bare earth.

This will help to suppress weeds, and being an effective mulch to prevent much needed water evaporating too quickly on our sandy soil. It also gives a good decorative finish to the flowerbed.

Our vegetables are flourishing, and so far, our companion plants of Nasturtiums and Calendula (Marigolds) are doing us proud by keeping the bugs away from our crops.

One pot of Nasturtiums is actually quite infested with blackfly, but our beans are pest free thus far. We do have a little assistance though from our little friend the Ladybird.

This little fella is of course a '2-Spot Ladybird' It is a variety often seen in our country, and it helps us by eating it's favourite food - aphids, also known as black/greenfly. An adult ladybird can eat around 1000 aphids each day, and their larvae (below) will eat almost as many!

Our carrots are looking healthy, but they will soon need thinning out.

It's not all about crops though in the Shooter's Grove garden. This beautiful petunia is nestled in one of our hanging baskets.

And these little beauties have decided to join in again after their main flush of flowers in the Spring

What a welcome sight.