The Outdoor En-Suite

Over the past few years we’ve had some building work done on our house. Unfortunately it took longer than expected, so in the thousand years that the builder was with us I built up quite a stock of expectation about what I could do when the world righted itself. I also built up a stock of surplus household fittings for one reason or another. One of those was a large bath that had been relegated to the back garden due to it having a chip out of the side. A new one was delivered but we kept hold of the old one as I figured it would make a pretty good plant pot.
Plants under netting
Then a little while ago one of my neighbours very kindly popped over with a load of strawberry plants. She’d planted them out and they’d run wild so she was trying to get rid of a few. I was over the moon and decided to plant them in the bath. I put the bath on a few bricks to raise it for drainage and then started to fill it with bits of masonry and bricks, polystyrene and compost, anything really that I could hide in the bottom of the bath rather than taking to the tip.
Outdoor En-Suite
I planted the strawberry plants in the bath and covered it over with netting so the birds couldn’t get to it and I’m pleased to say that, despite all the rain we’ve been having, the strawberries are thriving. We’ve been picking quite a few of them and we even made ice-cream with them. The raspberries are all starting to ripen too so it’s mixed berries for pudding.
Delicious homegrown strawberries
I also found a butler sink going cheap that I’ve put to good use as an outside sink underneath the outside tap. It’s perfect for sitting pots in when they need a good soaking and for filling up so the children can do some of the watering for me, though they seem to prefer using the hose so they can soak each other.
Sink and rockery garden
To finish off the set I somehow ended up with not one but two toilets that weren’t needed. One of them had a crack in it but the other was just surplus. Now I know builders, friends and loved ones all think I’m nuts but I quite fancy using these unusual porcelain pots in the garden. I’ve been trying to decide what to put in them and where to put them in the garden. I did consider planting my Jerusalem artichokes in them but didn’t think it would be palatable to eat a tuber that was wrested from a u-bend so now I’m thinking maybe alpines might work but if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

Thanks,
Lisa

A Gardener’s 2nd Anniversary

Flower patch

Continue reading

Poppies from the Malvern Spring Show

Student's Garden at Malvern Spring ShowIn May I went to the Malvern Spring Show along with my lovely husband and his parents. There was so much to see at the show, I’m not sure I managed to get round to everything. The show gardens were lovely and they gave you a real sense of what can be created with a great deal of knowledge and in some cases thousands of pounds worth of olive trees! I have to say though that of all the gardens, my favourites were the ones created by schools. Local schools had got pupils together to have a go at making their own creations and they were stunning. The main show gardens were clever and classic but the children’s ones outshone them with their sheer inventiveness. They used popular children’s books to help them plan what should go in the garden. They were really beautiful and a real credit to the pupils and the teachers involved (in case you’re wondering, no, my children don’t go to any of the schools).
Painted Tyres in Malvern Student Garden

A lot of the stalls at the show had similar plants to each other – there must be some flower fashion show somewhere that sets the trends for the season! I bought a few things while I was there, some very pretty alpines including a few beautiful blue gentians. I’m going to plant them all together so I can make sure the drainage is right for all of them. I also bought some blackcurrants and a redcurrant, so I’ve popped them in the front garden, always hoping for more fruit. I’m just not sure you can have too much! I also bought a few grasses to help soften an area at the bottom of the garden that I’m intending to sort out soon.

I found a lovely ladybird poppy whose flower is bright red with black spots. I love poppies; I find their tenacity really encouraging, it makes me feel like no matter how many plants I manage to kill there’s always hope for me with poppies. I just bought one of the ladybird poppies thinking that I could harvest the seed myself. It had 2 plump heads on it, getting ready to open out. At home I planted it in the front garden right where the children would see it every morning on their way out but the next morning I came out to find the birds had eaten both heads straight off!
Lisa's Poppy Plant
I was gutted. The birds are having a go at everything at the moment – some fennel plants that were just poking through the earth have been taken completely out! I think I’m turning into Father Jack (from Father Ted) muttering about the birds and being forever persecuted by them.
Poor ravaged poppy.
Lisa's Ladybird Poppies
I’m quite pleased the birds made a snack of it as the plant responded by producing lots more flowers and they’re all opening out beautifully. The children love this plant and keep counting the spots on each flower to see how old they are!

All in all though it was a lovely show at Malvern particularly as it didn’t rain a drop and we actually saw sunshine. For some of the day I was just in a T-shirt! It’s spurred me on and I’m looking forward to putting a few plans I have for the garden into practice, such as planting a bathful of strawberries, getting a greenhouse to replace my very small very ‘make do’ plastic zip-up one.

Blue PoppiesI’ve also planted out a blue poppy this year. I’ve had it in a pot for the past 2 years and it stayed alive but wouldn’t flower at all. So I decided to take a risk and planted it in the front garden. It’s now producing lots of lovely blue poppies and I’m over the moon.
Beautiful blue poppy heads
In January I was out for a walk with a friend and found a load of poppy seed heads so I took one to sprinkle around the place and they’re all starting to come out now. I’m looking forward to finding out what they look like. With all these different poppies I’m going to have to be organised about harvesting the seeds but then again, maybe I’ll just throw them all over the place and be happily surprised when they come up next year.

Lisa