This Ceanothus (it may be 'Cambridge Blue') is flowering well in the Friary garden and once it's over we'll trim it back fairly hard to keep its tight dome shape.
It gives a nice splash of colour and we are trying to think what else we can put in to liven up the bed - it's the first thing visitors see when they drive in. We've introduced some yellow with the Phlomis Fruticosa and we're thinking of planting bulbs and tulips to provide early season colour. But what about summer?
Saturday we were busy planting up the border we'd cleared last weekend. In went : Phlomis Fruticosa (four), Phormium 'Gold Sword (one), Euphorbia Wulfenii (six), Euonymus Fortunei 'Sunshine' (two), Berberis Thunbergii Aurea (two), Callistemon Citrinus (one) and Lonicera Nitida 'Baggesens Gold' (two). All was well watered in and then covered with eight 80 litre bags of bark mulch to try retain the moisture.
Coming home to your own bed and your own food are some of the great things about travelling.
After our diet busting weekend in Brussels (I know, we weren't forced but we felt like a couple of lardies) the first thing I did when we got back was to harvest our first salad of the year.
There's Lettuce Tom Thumbgrown in wine boxes . They were planted up on March 14th and covered with a single layer of horticultural fleece which I removed on April 12th just before the hot spell when I knew I'd be away and didn't want them to fry.
The young leaves of perpetual spinach leaves came through the winter (I'll let it run to seed in the summer and try and save some seed). And the chives were a division of an older clump which I split in three and planted up in pots. The red lettuce Lollo Rosso adds a some colour and the flat leaf parsley adds a herby element.
Cutting the heads of both lettuces about a half inch stub above the ground, I'm hoping they'll come back again, producing another crop on a 'cut and come again' basis. I've done it before with Lollo Rosso but I'm wondering will it work with Tom Thumb?
We were in Brussels over the weekend with my niece who is studying there and in between copious amounts of moules, steak frites and Leffe, we took a train (well four as it turned out) across the border into Holland to visit the Keukenhof Gardens near Leiden.
What should have been a two and half hour trip took us six hours thanks to a one day strike on the Belgian rail network. But we got there and enjoyed it hugely.
It's got to be said that the Keukenhof is not a place of understatement but if you want bulb displays this is the place to go to. We had hoped to bicylce by some of the bulb fields in the area around Lisse but because of the delays getting there we could only photograph those neighbouring the gardens.
And here are some of the displays in the Keukenhof itself - not just tulips. Don't go there if you're looking for subtle play of design and delicate colours - this is a Disney of the plant world and enjoyable for that.
To everything there is a season and this time of year it's sowing, planting out and more sowing. The time to reap will come.
So much for my promise to myself of a little and often but at least I've not been digging, much.
Here's what's gone in on the allotment, the garden and the Friary border over last week:
A seedbed row of Kale, Nero di Toscana, Leek, Musselburgh and St Victor, Radish French Breakfast, Cabbage January King, Red Cabbage Marner Lagerrot, Brussels Sprouts Seven Hills and Red Bull, Parsley Italian Flat Leaf and Parsnip Tender & True and Hollow Crown. Celeriac sown in plugs.
More rows of Pea Norli and Alderman direct sown in the ground.
And another 5 metres or so of the Friary south border has been cleared and a second Photinia planted. Getting the right plants for the dry, poor soil conditions will be key and we are raiding Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden and Nicola Ferguson's Right Plant, Right Place (North American readers may know it by its previous title Ferguson's Garden Plant Directory) for ideas.
I thought that I'd finished sowing potatoes until a package arrived from Norway today with four 'Lumper' seed potatoes. Popular around the time of the Irish famine, I'm hoping for high yields and more importantly finding out what it tastes like.
So for this year my heritage/heirloom potato varieties are Forty Fold, Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsy, Edzell Blue and Lumper.