early July 2016

my 7 cat wonders of the world: 1. Socks' purr, 2. his tuxedo bits, 3. Victor's huge lion paws, 4. Victor's soft fur (5, 6 and 7 and more pics, recording to follow)

Socks with a purchased nepeta. Still trying to grow from seed/grow on self-seeded seedlings.


Maybe I'm being too pessimistic about my nepeta. Now that I have removed the sea holly seedlings (see below) from the pots I have the nepeta with plenty of room and after a feed I hope they will bloom. Polly Pocket certainly enjoyed sniffing it today. I also had a pot beautifully in bloom a few weeks ago. Not sure I took a pic but will look. I found a few seedlings when I was replanting it and they are around the edge of the pot on the left.


This self-seeded pot also has a decently sized nepeta with buds. I can either start a new large pot of nepeta with it or add it to one of those above. The tall plant on the right looks like honeysuckle, small plant bottom left looks like sea holly, underneath centre a viola and top edge verbascum? maybe the same on the left edge.

Sea hollies were one of the "4 perennials for £12" from Meadow Farm Nursery on Hayling Island (just a day trip this time). I bought 3 and when I got home I thought, right, now is the time I MUST research how to get better results. They need a deep tap root so I figure in the ground is essential rather than in a pot. All those small self-seeders are in pots - maybe that's why they aren't blooming, although this one is blooming and it's in a pot but I am going to find room to put it in the ground now. One of the things that sold me on these is how large and established they are - really thick tough stem which I think slugs will find challenging to affect so another reason I am happy to put them in the ground.

sea holly

the stems have this brilliant purple/blue from certain angles

sea holly

I'm feeling very brave. I put all the sea hollies from the pots in the ground. One that bloomed last year, on the far left I managed to break off the tap root by accident when I removed it from it's pot. I hope it will recover. I figure the slugs can't destroy the established plants although they did attack the seedlings/small plants but I hope those will grow into larger plants before much more destruction. I did cut back the blooming stems last year but I'm thinking that was wrong. How can the stems get so tough and thick in only one season? I figure the ones I just bought are older than this year. Looking online for definitive advice but can't find it. Will keep looking. The 2 sea holly small plants on the right are amongst the globe thistle seedlings. I hope they all have room here. A different paint colour for the fence is now required!

sea holly

my problem above is the sea holly recovering from a broken taproot, my problem below is the recovered leaves being eaten by slugs, I want to cry

sea holly eaten by slug

they've also eaten some of those nepeta seedlings - and leave that distinctive slug trail

the pot of nasturtiums is looking better and better, I see slug trails and damage on the leaves but the flowers don't seem to be seriously affected


3 water lilies this year, I don't think I had any last year, this one in bloom and 2 buds

water lily bud

water lily bud

my one delphinium this year but what a delphinium


a week later the cornflowers are looking magnificent, my developing auricula theatre (it's a work in progress) in the background - with a surprise auricula in bloom

I am heart-broken by this poppy (Pink Fizz). I have struggled to get the poppies to this point: sowing the seeds, repotting twice, getting them away from the slugs, only to see this one with numerous buds whither and die! Why?

dying poppy

it's most frustrating that the flower actually developed, I pulled it open to see it, it sure wasn't going to open on its own

wilted pink fizz poppy flower

other poppies in the pot still look good although only a few, fast diminishing, plants from 2 packets of seeds (Seriously Scarlet and Pink Fizz both Papaver somniferum varieties from Thomson and Morgan)


then a few days later some proper flowers appeared

pink fizz poppies

This pot of nasturtiums has been amazing. I was going to move it but it had wrapped a tendril around a honeysuckle branch on the right near the shelves so it was determined to stay right there. It must be happy because it has been blooming like mad. This pic is from a week ago but it has even more flowers now I think.

nasturtiums and borage

one of my few slug-surviving cornflowers, how do wildflowers (in the wild) survive if the slugs love them?


A lone viola flower this year. I haven't planted any seeds for a while and I haven't been nurturing any self-seeders so this has done it all my itself. (small foxglove plants behind and a deadnettle with a pink flower)


setting the froglets and toadlets free

with the froglets hopping around and desperate to get out of their bowl on the table I had to put them free by the pond

I was wondering if some might be toadlets rather than froglets

I put them by this corner of the pond

one on the above left looks very froglike, the one clinging to the plant basket covered with mug looks less identifiable as frog or toad

there's one in the water at the bottom that looks less developed

they're a lot smaller than I thought they'd be when I let them loose

In a pot, off the ground on a table on the patio, the delphinium is blooming and doing great. I never thought I'd have a delphinium again. Last year's seeds did not yield a single surviving plant and the self-seeded small plant from this year is below amongst my rants about slug damage. With a £2.50 small plant impulse purchase from B+Q and a spare pot from freecycle I decided to give it a go. Glad I did. The bees are loving it. Hard to see but there's a bee on a flower below.

delphinium with bee

A view of the entire plant. I didn't even notice Victor on the stairs next door in the background when I took the pic, only when I was putting it on my computer.


Just on the other side of that fence/wall, the patio next door has a self-seeded passionflower in the gaps between the slabs (just out of view). It's been there for a year or two. I finally thought it might be nice growing up to and along the top of the fence. I cobbled together a simple piece of twine for it to climb up, tied to a brick at the bottom, up to the pipe and over to the first fence post. It will rot in no time so I hope by then the vine will be up to the fence and I'll sort something else out (Monty Don would be appalled).  

update on the poppies, some are still alive and have buds


some are slug-damaged and as good as dead

one that was slug-damaged before did not get planted in there with the others as it seemed to be dead as that one above but it's revived being away from the slugs

one of the poppies in that pot isn't a poppy at all but a scabious I mistook for one


mid-June 2016

Slugs and Their Destruction

I have had enough and my method of coping with these situations is to do research and document so I will try to do both related to slugs. My plants have suffered relentless destruction this year and I have had enough. This lupin was looking beautiful June 11th - multiple flower spikes, 2 pink flowers visible and numerous green ones before they changed colour.

lupin BEFORE destruction


lupin AFTER destruction

this is on the patio next door and I hadn't gone over there for a few days but looked over the wall by chance (June 21st) and I could see, even without my glasses, how severely damaged it was

lupin after slug destruction

I found various slugs and snails under it and around it:

Spanish slug

spanish slug

the underside of those Spanish slugs

spanish slug underside

out-stretched spanish slug

spanish slug

grey field slug

leopard slug on the right (grey slug from above on the left), I'm not sure how damaging the leopard slugs are, apparently they eat other slugs, as well as our young plants

leopard slug

yellow slug


I have used slug pellets in the past but I hate seeing that massive gooey mess of dying slugs afterwards and apparently not all the slugs that are attracted are damaging, some of the slugs eat decaying material (will research which ones), aside from the fact I don't want to poison my froglets, birds or any other animals in my garden. Bob Flowerdew cuts his slugs in half - I tried it recently - not for the faint-hearted, but he also feeds them to his chickens so not sure when the cutting is required.

I pruned some ivy yesterday and it was full of snails (Cornu aspersum). I realised I didn't have a decent pic of the snails I see in the garden as I usually stamp on them (an easier disposal than slugs) as soon as I find them so I threw a few from the ladder into this container that happened to be on the patio table. They're trying to make their escape but I was off the ladder with the camera before they disappeared.

I found these eggs on the top of the compost in a pot. I don't know if they are slug or snail eggs. This group of eggs is bout 2 x 3 cm.

slug eggs

I've had cirsiums before and the slugs had not destroyed them like this (those are untouched globe thistles in the background).

I have managed to save some plants by keeping them in pots and off the ground. There's been some slug damage but not catastrophic for some plants that have managed to get large enough before the slugs attacked.


but I am running out of tables, shelves and places to put plants off the ground away from the slugs so I'm trying putting the sea holly on this upturned pot

some plants are fighting back hard when they can

this sea holly is growing new leaves after being slug-damaged and then moved off the ground to a table on the patio

sea holly

The sea holly have self-seeded a lot over the last few years but - getting them to bloom is a mystery to me and - the slugs are eating them, a lot. This pot has a number of sea hollies, only 1 flower stalk (brown stem, middle top edge of the pot).

sea holly

some extensive slug munching

sea holly

sea holly self-seeds so much and so easily, there are 2 plants self-seeded between the slabs of the patio next door

sea holly

I just noticed another seedling

sea holly seedling

2 stalks, left and right, show where leaves were eaten off this delphinium small plant but more are growing in the center now

even one of that lupin's surviving flowers is growing after the slugs were removed


one plant that does not seem to be bothered much by slugs, verbena bonariensis, close-up of the flower

verbena bonariensis

white foxglove and fox and cubs

The verbena bonariensis I bought a few years ago were slow to self-seed but last year (or the year before) they started to. I had these 3 seedlings which were getting large enough and ready to be planted in the flowerbed. On the left is a woody remnant of one of last year's plants which has fresh growth. That tall plant in the middle is shown to its full height in the next pic.

verbena bonariensis

The stem is quite long (62 cm). That slanted stem in the background is 125 cm and has buds at the top just beginning to open (pic to follow).

verbena bonariensis

I had 2 more large-ish verbena bonariensis seedlings to put in the front garden which I did yesterday. The slugs don't seem to trouble them much but they didn't tale long to start on these. I think they're getting desperate.

verbena bonariensis

I had a verbena bonariensis self-seed in this pot. It is now too large and too well-established to move it without damaging it or the lupin - and I daren't put it in the ground or the slugs will destroy the lupin, as they did with one of the flower spikes, on the left.

purple lupin

to show the entire height (92 cm) of the verbena bonariensis

verbena bonariensis

I put those 5 scabious ("Ebony and Ivory" and "House's Novelty Mix" but not sure how many of each) small plants in a pot together. I hope the flowers will be indicative of which variety. That unknown plant in the black pot on the left (number 19 of the unknowns in the Plant Identification) I thought looked similar but on careful examination I can see it is similar but not a scabious or not one of these.

scabious ebony and ivory house novelty

I also put all the poppies together in their own pot, not a lot from 2 packets of seeds.


the first borage flower bud is open

borage flower

update on the chinese lanterns in the front garden

1. on the far right of the flower bed

chinese lanterns

2. going left

chinese lanterns

3. next view going left, blank spot in the middle

chinese lanterns

4. far left

chinese lanterns

Some flower buds (such as these knautia) will open even after the stems are cut, but some like hollyhocks don't like being cut at all, this hollyhock stem was broken that's why it ended up in a vase, I would never cut a hollyhock - they don't like it!

cut hollyhock

In rearranging some pots I inadvertently created a slug stairway to the plants on this table. I lost the seedlings on the left. The foxgloves survive the slugs, as do the globe thistles in the pic below.

These globe thistle seedlings have been just fine on the ground - at slug level.

globe thistle seedlings

hurry up tadpoles and turn into frogs and eat all the slugs and snails eating my plants!

I wanted a pic of the tadpole with front legs. I had to scoop him out of his bowl to show the 4 legs clearly.

tadpole with front legs

not a great pic but I wanted to show how long his tail still is

tadpole with front legs

a few days before I was excited about the hind legs developing


Until recently this hosta had escaped much damage but it has been discovered! I think the slugs have climbed up the Japanese anemone behind it.

hosta with slug damage

hosta with slug damage

this doesn't look like a hosta as the slugs have eaten all of the leaves, leaving the spines

hosta with slug damage

they were eating the dahlia's leaves as soon as they appeared until I picked the pot up off the ground and put it on this table, it's given the leaves a chance to grow


The poppy on the left (probably too far gone to recover now) has been stripped by the slugs, it had been large and full like the one on the right which just started to be eaten by the slugs and I hope I've rescued it in time. The one in the middle has 2 leaves, one on either side, eaten. I hope it will fully recover.

slug-damaged poppies

the 2 borage at the back have not been eaten by the slugs but I guess they got desperate and ate the one at the bottom

slug-damaged borage

they also ate this sea holly but the foxglove, forget-me-nots and verbena bonariensis have escaped with their lives

slug-damaged sea holly

tall sea holly and small one without a flower spike, both undamaged by the slugs

sea holly

2 packets of scabious seeds (Ebony and Ivory and House Novelty) and I have 5 plants, I don't think that's a very good result but at least I have some plants. I've planted packets of seeds where I got NO plants. I need to give up on certain things (in addition to what I already have on that list) and accept I cannot grow them from seed: monkshood and dierama, both languishing in seed trays, as are the polyanthus seeds but I shouldn't pronounce on those quite yet.

scabious Ebony and Ivory House Novelty

getting the moisture balance right for the seeds trays is challenging in the mini greenhouse (in the background of the delphinium pic below) but I see it's made those sprouting broccoli seeds germinate

seedlings with mushroom

I have more flowers on this B+Q Johnson's Blue hardy geranium than I ever had (in total) from the "plant of the century" Rozanne - what a misnomer! give me this classic anyday

johnson's blue hardy gernanium

This delphium from B+Q (also £2.50 for a small plant) is looking quite promising as well with buds that look like they will be blooming soon.


an orange ranunculus (I think)

orange ranunculus

I think I take this rose (Young Lycidas) for granted sometimes but this year, after a prune last year, it is looking magnificent and covered with flowers. It was one of 3 I bought when I first started working on this garden 10+ years ago. Another of the roses is quite small but still alive, see pic below. The third one (Brother Cadfael I think) is dead and gone.

young lycidas rose

a close-up of the view above with that small rose in the centre at the bottom

experiments with seeds

Better results with seeds is and always has been a major goal for me with gardening. Some have worked brilliantly and I have the resulting plants blooming in my garden, others have sunk into oblivion. I planted some sprouting broccoli seeds yesterday in different media to evaluate which is the best.

seeds sown in: on the left vermiculite, middle all-purpose compost, right perlite, all 3 say on the packages that they can be used on their own for sowing seeds

all 3 mixed together which I guess is the usual way to use them

the grown-from-seed lupins have been hit and miss, lupins are relatively easy to grow from seed but keeping them away from the slugs and snails is difficult, I put this one on this plant stand off the ground but the snails have still gotten to it, I removed 2 from the pot yesterday and the damage is visible


another lupin from one side, there are 3 flower spikes but the 2 on the right one is in front of another and make it look like only 2, the slugs and snails do not seem to have gotten to this one, which like the one above, is in a pot


those lupins from the other side


6 zantedeschia flowers and buds, it loves this hot weather


not a bad buy from B+Q (small plant for £2.50), Johnson's Blue hardy geranium, first 2 flowers and I see buds!

hardy geranium




I think this soft rush is fully in bloom now. This self-seeded in a (dry) pot last year. When I found out it was a water plant I put it in the water in this container (tin bath which I've used as a water feature).

soft rush flowers

pond update

ten days later and I DO see legs at last

tadpole with legs

be careful what you wish for

I wanted frogs and therefore frogspawn and tadpoles but now that I have them, I worry about them! am I feeding them the right thing? in the right environment? are they developing as they should? can my garden support a dozen frogs (I have about 15 tadpoles)? should I leave them in this bowl or put them in the pond? They seem to be growing quite slowly but it has been quite cold and I've read that can affect their growth. They do *seem* to be developing legs but I can't see them that clearly.


a week or so later (after the pic below) and both zantedeschia buds in bloom and another iris in bloom after the first one wilted


I do love irises. Two buds have appeared in the clump to the right of the pond. I can't remember if these were "marginals" when I bought them. They are *near* the pond but not in any kind of dampness from the pond (which is a preformed plastic one).

iris bud

iris bud

I've started to tidy up the pond. I thinned the zantedeschia (leaving the 2 flower buds) and put the recent plant purchases (cat-tail and iris) in the pond. The previous cat-tail seems to have died but I put the new one in the same basket as the old one in case the old one decides to start growing again.

I love anemones and ranunculus, I'm still not sure of the difference between them and got confused which one this was as it was growing.


a day later and fully open, I was going to say anemone but the next one in bloom below in orange makes me thinkg that's anemone - so I guess this is ranunculus?


another anemone in bloom



another anemone/ranunculus bud

anemone in bud

the back of the garden is covered with green alkanet - I love it! I also see comfrey, aquilegia, raspberries and hydrangea petiolaris

green alkanet

a close-up of the hydrangea petiolaris, just visible on the right above

hyadrangea petiolaris

a wider view of the shrub

hydrangea petiolaris

the first artichoke flower


In addition to the centaurea montana self-seeding in this large pot (which has a large lupin), a lesser knapweed (notched leaves) has self-seeded there. I've never seen the lesser knapweed self-seed before even though I've had it in the garden for at least a few years.

lesser knapweed

common vetch in the front garden next door where I did plant some "green manure" seeds (vetch and phacelia), a few years ago,   I haven't seen any phacelia for a while and the vetch has suddenly started self-seeding extensively


my over-zealous removal of the bluebells in the front garden seems to have damaged some of the chinese lanterns, I was relieved to see I still have some growing this summer, I think they spread via the roots under the ground

chinese lantern

a patch of the chinese lanterns on one side of the flowerbed (above) and the other side (below), in the middle not many

chinese lantern

I wanted to plant some nasturtium seeds. A pot makes them easy to move around and enjoy those vibrant orange flowers. This pot has a head start with various self-seeders (totally unplanned): honesty, forget-me-not, deadnettle, nigella and aquilegia.

I planted some polyanthus seeds and this is the only seedling that looks like it might be a polyanthus, as I don't recognise it. That leaf at the bottom is accordioned. I don't recall seeing a leaf like that before.

I decided I had to do a bit of weeding next door. Although I love thistles, they get out of control in a small garden. I also thought I should tackle the creeping buttercup which I did at the front end of the garden but this clump, below right, seemed to be somewhat limited so I left them.

The main goal is the hollyhocks which have always been the star of this garden.

the foxglove in the back garden continues to look fabulous as more buds open

still lots of buds and flowers on the fox and cubs

fox and cubs

fat buds ready to burst open

the centaurea montana has taken a few years but it has self-seeded magnificently, even in that pot on the right at the back, those red anemone buds on the right look like they will open soon 

centaurea montana

first fox and cubs flower and some wonderful fat buds underneath, forget-me-nots behind

fox and cubs flower

foxglove in bloom a few days after the pic below


foxglove still in bud a few days before

foxglove buds

iris foetidissima tightly furled bud

iris foetidissima bud

another iris nearby which is in bloom

iris foetidissima

lupin bud

lupin bud

raindrops on the lupin leaves

lupin with raindrops

this is in the pond, in the ranunculus family, will need to check the name

this fern was in the back garden when I moved in but only recently I tried to tidy up around it and remove the dried brown spent stems, I love those round sprouts which I will take another photo of today


perfect garden views

Black Parrot tulips, just by the front door

black parrot tulips

in one of the other tulip pots are these poppies (?), we threw in seeds on the top after planting the bulbs, of course, I lost track of what seeds were in each pot

further down the front path with Victor, the honesty on the left is showing those round seed "coins", on the right a brilliant purple aquilegia

and a little bit further back up the path there's a pink aquilegia, I never know which aquilegia are coming up where, they just appear

pink aquilegia

the iris foetidissima has masses of flowers

iris foetidissima

moving to the back garden, I can just see the buds in the fox and cubs

fox and cubs buds

centaurea montana - first blooms

centaurea montana

one of my favourite garden views: some of my favourite plants (centaurea montana), one of my favourite self-seeding plants (forget-me-nots), experiments with weeds (teasels), experiments with seeds (globe thistles) and a cat!

I have realised something that's shown in the pic above. That large pot near Victor is mostly bare. There's one ranunculus and one anemone whereas the smaller terracotta pots that have the overflow ranunculus are full with them. The pots (including that one) which I got from freecycle need a good clean and disinfecting. I knocked out some of that compost and found some unpleasant stuff. I've been too lazy (and cheap) about clearing out a pot if it has some compost. Jeyes Fluid and fresh compost are now on my shopping list. 

Grandpa Otts Morning Glory seedlings

Now these are the seeds I like - super fast germination, sowed on the 9th, pictured here on the 11th.

morning glory

and 3 days later on the 14th they have beautiful purple stems and leaves

Grandpa Otts

At first glance the large-leaved seedlings on the left are foxgloves but I thought they aren't quite right so put a foxglove next to them (terracotta pot on the right) for comparison. I suspect those large seedlings on the left are scrophularia grandiflora.

scrophulra grandiflora

the wild buckwheat is back and it's early in the season so hope to have some distinguishing flowers this summer

wild buckwheat

as I was trying to tidy up the seedlings I discovered this little clump directly on the table, not sure what they are yet, put them in another pot and watered them as a priority

The builders have struck! They put some new bricks on the top of that wall, knocking quite a lot of mortar into my garden (well they didn't want it in their garden as they just landscaped it - much easier to push the crap into my garden). The honesty have been pounded to the ground. When I tried to discuss with them, I was told my garden was a "f**cking mess", as if it didn't matter. I cleared up the mortar myself as I didn't trust them and I didn't want them in my garden. They might not appreciate it but this area is where I have a lot of wildflowers: aquilegia, green alkanet, comfrey, foxgloves and ferns, framed by this wall on one side and a hydragea petiolaris and pyracantha on the other and ivy and campanula at the back. London, like everywhere else, has its pros and cons.


I am trying to rejuvenate this scabiosa Barocca, the green growth is all at the ends of woody branches, maybe it would benefit from cutting back to ground level?

scabiosa Barocca

as I tried to cut the dry wood, a lot of the green branches broke off, I will try to get them to root in water

scabiosa Barocca

scabiosa Barocca

update on some of the weedlings

first colour on the knautia buds

knautia melton pastels buds

comfrey flowers

comfrey flowers

comfrey buds

comfrey buds

lily of the valley

The idea was to honour the memory of my grandmother with one of her favourite flowers around this tree, marked by bricks (now sunken into the ground). Their growth is inconsistent - great bare patches and extending - but outside the bricks! Very uncooperative of them. I have to clear out other plants periodically, even if I love green alkanet I want a small patch of the lily of the valley.

lily of the valley

late bergenia flower


I pulled this pot of cerinthe out of the flowerbed. The mild winter has been great for cerinthe - too great - I will allow these flowers to develop seeds and then plant out somewhere or cut back.


the only surviving (from the slug attack) milk thistle, hidden by the green alkanet or I would have snapped sooner, I hope I can get some seeds from these to grow more - maybe with slug pellets??

milk thistle

tulips still looking great, some on the left have lost their petals and pot at the back is still in bud


the iris in this pot are looking good, along with foxglove and ornamental artichoke which have self-seeded, not sure how they'll all cope in this pot but I don't have any room for it in the front garden to put it in the ground


not sure what these are or where they came from (freecycle pot?) but look a little iris-like, will try to grow them on to flower and therefore identification - and flowers to enjoy

moving teasels - and other plants with strong taproots

In the past when I've tried to move teasels, green alkanet and hollyhocks which have strong taproots,  they've proved impossible to keep alive, the latest try being the potted teasel in the pot on the right. I like teasels and want to grow them but they are aggressive self-seeders so sometimes they end up in the wrong place. I wanted to try again to move one and had a spare pot handy so popped it in. Result: unhappiness. I had another teasel I really wanted to move so dug it up but didn't have a spare pot but did have that trug with wet strulch handy so just put it in temporarily. Result: happiness.


various things have self-seeded around the tulips, I wonder if those thin seedlings are muscari, they look similar, only thinner, than the muscari following

weedlings in the pots of Little Princess tulips

I had excellent muscari flowers in recent years, on the shelves near these pots. The wooden trough many were in literally fell apart so I re-potted them, about 2 single flowers only this year. I don't know what's happened with them all. I guess they don't like being disturbed. I took all the bulblets I had from various sources and potted them up. No idea how long until they flower, if ever.

muscari bulblets

muscari bulblets

I was sweeping up the patio and noticed some seedlings (below), I rescued them and put them in a pot, I *think* that lesser knapweed dried seedhead has a lesser knapweed seedling growing from it, I'm just surprised as I've never seen one self-seeding before

lesser knapweed weedling

Scabious seedlings, very disappointing, from an end of March sowing: on the left only 3 seedlings from a packet of Scabiosa House's Novelty Mix of 35 seeds for £2.99 from T+M, on the right only 6 seedlings from a packet of Scabiosa Ebony & Ivory of 100 seeds for 99p also from T+M. At this point it's not just the cost but the waste of time at this crucial time when I've lost the chance for more flowers this year. 

scabious seedlings

not sure of these, maybe honesty? will confirm

I've put markers by the cornflower seedlings

a close-up of those cornflower seedlings

cornflower seedlings

large seedling is foxglove, on the right is a cornflower as above

the tiniest agastache seedlings (I think, will watch as they develop)

agastache seedlings

I trimmed back the cat grass in this tray which has been on the windowsill inside. How did all these plants self-seed when it wasn't even outside? Large middle left (and smaller below it and middle right) verbena bonariensis, largest globe thistle, under globe thistle nigella, top towards the left oxalis, bottom towards the left and middle foxglove, top edge cornflower?

dahlia tuber or so I've discovered, I've not grown dahlias before but had a pot from a neighbour and when I was cleaning it out found this, those are tiny white sprouts in the middle

dahlia tuber

when digging weeds up with a spade just cannot be avoided

When confronted by a monster like this dockweed, one can easily see the advantage of identifying weed seedlings when they are small and easy to pull up rather than when they have grown into an enormous multi-stemmed shrub that requires digging out with a full-size spade and wrestling with tenacious taproots. This weekend, so far, I have tackled this and 1 small dockweed in this back garden next door, about half a dozen in the front garden next door and at least a dozen in the next garden along. I know how difficult this task is to get round to doing so am happy to do it for neighbours who are working full-time while I'm not working.


some of the Little Princess tulips - open in the sun and I was warm enough to be outside to take a pic

Little Princess tulips


The borage seedlings are looking great. I started separating the compartments of the egg carton, the roots are growing right through the cardboard - which is the idea - then the roots do not get so disturbed.


I don't think the slugs eat them so I'm able to keep the small pots on the ground, in the tray just to make them easier to carry.

borage seedlings

I love lupins and, aside from the slugs, seem easy enough to grow. The seeds germinate well. Unfortunately I managed to drop this tray with the seedlings. 

lupin seedlings

I picked them up from the ground and in spite of the breakages planted them in these 5 pots, 3 to a pot. I put them on the patio next door which is drier than mine and I think the slugs will struggle to get to them. After these pots I plan to put them in larger pots, keeping them on the patio. After recent disasters I never plan on putting lupins in the ground again.

lupin seedlings

from an entire packet of delphinium seeds sown last summer I have one seedling, I had about 4 at one time but this is the only one around and it hasn't really grown or it's a new seedling from a seed that did not germinate last year, it's in the pot with that unknown small plant which I thought had died but it's back!

delphinium seedling

I have two lupins from last year which I grew from seed. Getting them to this point is not difficult in a pot - as long as the slugs cannot get to them. This first pot is huge. The lupin I transplanted here had self-seeders around it, eg centaurea montana and foxgloves and then I added more foxgloves as the pot had room, not that the foxgloves need slug protection, they seem to cope okay. Victor there on the path above it.


This pot also has a verbena bonariensis and I had put some crocus bulbs around it. That plant stand has 3 shelves and the lupin is in the middle. When it was on top the pigeons landed on it numerous times and I see the leaves still have not fully recovered.


I have quite variable success with seeds. These globe thistle seedlings, from seed I collected from my own plants are looking great, germination has been great - too great - I have way too many seedlings.

globe thistle seedlings

I started potting up 1 to a pot, then made it 2 and I have lots of seedlings left.

globe thistles

these are some globe thistles from last summer, they are great for bees, there are 3 bees on that one flower alone

globe thistles

centaurea montana

This is what I dreamt of when I planned and executed the rearranging of this flowerbed, moving the globe thistles to the back along the fence (left) and removing any remaining bluebell clumps: room for the centaurea montana (right front) to expand and hopefully self-seed. They seem to have self-seeded but I haven't seen those small plants bloom yet. I look forward to those flowers soon. Close-up of buds in the next pic and subsequent pic the knautia from the centre. Self-seeded forget-me-nots back right, lesser knapweed front left.

I see buds! they look like black balls

centaurea montana

and there are also buds on the self-seeded ones in the lupin pot

self-seeded centaurea montana

knautia with those pincushion buds on the taller stems on the left, times like this I wish I knew more about plants, why do the knautia have those pincushion buds and flowers but are completely different from scabious? to an amateur gardener (like me) they seem closely related, 3 important things I do know: I love them, the bees love them, the slugs don't love them - the essential criteria for any garden plant! (and I grew these from seed so cannot be very difficult)


One thing I'm not seeing in that flowerbed is any trace of the veronicas I've bought from the garden centre as plants. Like the centaurea montana I've had difficulty growing them from seed so thought I'd treat myself with one full-size plant at the garden centre. As far as I know they're perennials so an investment (yea, right). I have bought so many veronicas now in the past 10 years because they don't come back. I guess I'm doing something wrong but don't know what or maybe, what the British horticultural industry is doing is wrong.

close-up of those Comfrey buds from a week or so ago which I forgot to post, will post an update on progress this week

comfrey buds

I heard about the plant sale at B+Q and couldn't resist going but wish I hadn't bothered. The quality was quite poor but I managed to impulse buy 4 plants (which I didn't need) for £10. This lupin (back left) actually looks pretty good and for only £2.50 I thought it was worth it for a plant to flower this summer whereas my new seedlings probably won't flower until next year. The delphiniums look ok but when I potted them up they hardly had any roots so will need to wait and see if they establish themselves. The Johnsons Blue hardy geranium (front right) I will put in the back garden. I have some in the front but none in the back. I have a Rozanne hardy geranium but it's been totally pathetic and I'm not sure it's still alive so would prefer a known variety.

potted up that lupin is looking pretty good I must admit

lupin from B+Q

end of April and I am cold!

It seems I've been cold for weeks but it's probably not been that long. When the sun is shining, you want to go outside and do some gardening or walking to look at gardens and plants but it's too cold! unless you steel yourself.

polly pocket under artichoke

I have no idea what kind of tulip the red and yellow one is as I did not actually choose it and think it was included in a pack by mistake. It's bloomed well both last year (the first I recall it being in the front garden) and this year. Looks like there's a small snail or something inside it at the top which I did not notice when I took the pic.


these Little Princess tulips have been very confused, sun comes out and they open then next day cold and they close up

Little Princess tulip

the Honesty is fab this year, I've had some very very small plants that are blooming before they go through the usual stages with the large leaves, etc so wanted to have some better pics of the flowers so I can identify the plants earlier

honesty plant

honesty plant

here is that very small honesty, about 12 cm tall

honesty plant with flower

same small honesty showing a large honesty in the background

honesty size comparison

a view of that large honesty from the other side, about 60 cm tall

large honesty plant with flowers

the large honestys above and below, they developed large heart-shaped leaves on the bottom half of the plant before flowers were even considered, unlike that small one above with very few leaves and certainly no heart-shaped ones, about 80 cm tall

honesty plant with flowers

I ordered 5 bulbs of tulipa whittallii, but I only have 4 that have grown, to me they are indistinguishable from the Little Princess tulips

whittlalii and Little Princess tulips

a close-up of those 2 on the left

whittallii tulips

some of the Little Princess tulips in bloom, that pot on the right still has one in bud

Little Princess tulips

will add a pic of the remaining 5 flowers today (bought a pack of 10, half in bloom above)

new Taylors Narcissus Green Eyes - how very unimpressive! from a pack of 10, 5 have grown, 2 buds visible, it's almost May, shouldn't narcissus be in bloom by now??

narcissus green eyes

a tiny, tiny chinese lantern sprout which I didn't notice until I stepped on while pruning, still growing - I think - will try to look out for them better

chinese lantern tiny sprout

update on the hostas, still amazed I have some, in spite of the slugs

as it's so cold, everything is late this year, including the hostas, they are the spikey purple sprouts, the small green plants are green alkanet

hosta 1 think it might be Sum and Substance

hosta sprouts

hosta 2

hosta sprout

hosta 3, seems to be doing the best of the ones I have


hosta 4 is the one sharing a pot with a large foxglove, which unfortunately provides shelter for the slugs, last I checked the slugs had eaten the tops of the sprouts, will take another pic and add it here

hosta 5 still in a small plastic pot but doing well, will repot it this summer


hosta 6 was in a small plastic pot last summer and I don't see it right now, I must have planted it in the garden or in another pot, not sure where right now but I'll find it and add a pic


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