• The Blooming Old Gardener

Don't knock the weather

"Don't knock the weather: nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while." - Kin Hubbard

Quite right too. The weather is often a good conversation starter when meeting new people in the garden. And it has been very changeable too, so there’s lots to talk about.

May is known as Parne-kareskero by the Romani. Meaning month of the hawthorn, as it's full of blossom this month. Something they would see as they travelled. It’s not something we have in the garden, but we have plenty of other blossom. The apple trees are especially pretty now. Hopefully, that will mean more apples.

Last month our first rockery was built. It’s mainly sandstone, with soil and small stones filling the gaps. Pebbles fall down one side, with a couple of broken flowerpots part buried in them. Slabs surround the rockery to make it easier to mow round. Volunteers Chris and Phoebe have now planted it up with a variety of small rockery and alpine plants. Most were propagated or split from plants I grew last year. Now we have to wait and see which grow well there. It takes a while for the plants to settle in, but some are flowering already, so fingers crossed.

The rockery is one of our ideas to reduce the amount of watering needed in the garden. You may have noticed I mention watering a lot. In fact, I am like a broken record on the subject, so people groan when I mention it. It’s just that I find it so sad when I see the efforts of volunteers wasted through lack of water. We can’t have a water butt in the garden, so we have to use tap water. Getting it to the garden used to be quite an operation. It was a real sight watching volunteers pushing wheelbarrows of water containers down the road. Now we have a nearby source of water it is easier, as long as you have a good throwing arm. You have to toss a hose over a high wall.

I used to say that the garden needed watering every day, but I have been persuaded that more water, less frequently, is better. You could water every day, but if it’s only a little in each container, the water stays in the top inch of the soil and ends up being lost through evaporation. So, it can be a waste of time. Also, roots don’t need to grow down if the water is at the top. However, if you saturate the soil it stays wetter longer. The roots grow down, making the plant more likely to get to moisture that’s retained lower down. And this way you only need to water two or three times a week. It just takes longer each time. And if you cover the soil in mulch, or grow something leafy it reduces evaporation. And of course, water the soil, not the leaves. Water just gets lost and it encourages blight in some plants. That’s enough about water for now!


I’ve been gradually going round the garden, trying to tidy up containers. It’s a long job as there’s a lot of weeding to do. Containers need feeding and mixing with new soil. As you go round you see all the changes to the plants. Buds, flowers, changes in leaf colours, growing larger.

The pots of grasses were looking very sad. They had become pot bound and the roots were breaking the pots, trying to get out. So, I’ve split each clump of grasses and re-potted them into bigger containers, fed them and given them a haircut. They look much smarter and hopefully they will be happier too. It’s not just us humans who need a good cut.

The Blooming Old Gardener

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