In The beginning, Seed Sowing.

I guess, if you asked any gardener how to sow seeds, you would receive a different answer from each one.

 I recently gave a zoom presentation to the Worcestershire Careers Association gardening group on seed sowing.

These are my thoughts.

Containers.

There is a wide range of pots and containers for seed sowing, generally, I prefer to use small pots rather than seed trays because they provide a deeper root run until you get round to pricking out the seedlings.

Large seed trays also encourage the sowing of too much at a time.

 I also use root trainers. The large ones are useful for growing sweetpeas, beans and sweet corn, and they save pricking out. You can then plant them directly into the garden. You can buy smaller ones, ideal for starting vegetables such as lettuce or annual flowers.

 A free alternative is used toilet rolls centres which fit nicely into the plastic containers grapes are sold in.

Compost.

The choice of compost can be a controversial area. Legislation regarding the use of peat is driving the move to peat-free compost.

 I think you only need one type of compost, multipurpose. I use Melcourt ‘sylva grow’, a peat-free one recommended by the RHS. This year I am experimenting with using Fertile Fibre, a Coir product. This is dehydrated making it light to carry and is easily rehydrated for use.

This Coir brick is rehydrated with 3 litres of water.

There is no doubt peat-free compost requires more feed, which may explain why some comparisons show poor results.

I also use fine grade vermiculite for seed sowing, it is light to carry, helps prevent seedlings from damping off and benefits root development. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is heat-treated. Traditionally horticultural sand or grit would have been used and as a gardener with recurring back problems, reducing the weight of materials is an important consideration.

Sowing.

For small seeds, I sieve multipurpose compost, to remove the larger pieces, mixing it 50/50 with vermiculite. When planting small seeds, I water from above before sowing or from below afterwards.

After sowing I lightly cover with vermiculite and label. You can cover it with a polythene bag and place it on a well-lit window sill. I use a heated propagator which negates the need to cover individual pots. You will need to remove the individual cover when the seeds have germinated, keep warm with good light to prevent them from becoming leggy.    

Coir Jiffy pellets are useful for propagating seeds and cuttings, they require soaking before use.

Once germinated they can be planted out into pots to grow on, this also saves pricking out.

I use a mixture of compost with around 25% vermiculite for growing on. 

I grow larger seeds such as sweet peas, broad or runner beans in the same 50/50 mix without sieving, planting into root trainers or toilet roll centres.

I use grit when sowing alpine seeds.

What is your secret to successful seed sowing?

Rocket germinated.

Mind the Gap!

I have been thinking for some time that the wooden bridge crossing the dry river in the Japanese garden would soon need replacing. It had developed a certain amount of spring when crossing!

It gave way the other day as I was crossing to the shelter, so the decision was made for me as to when I would replace it!

The path leading to it contains slabs set at the diamond so it was an easy choice to add two more as stepping stones, through the dry river bed, along with some more small cobbles.

These should not rot!

I can now carry my coffee/wine to the shelter without fear of spilling anything!

Japanese Gardens.

Following my post ‘Peace and Tranquility’ I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures, as slide shows, of Japanese gardens we have visited here in the UK.

Tatton Park.

From their website:

“The Japanese Garden was almost certainly the result of Alan de Tatton’s visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910.

Inspired by what he saw there, Alan de Tatton decided to introduce a Japanese garden to Tatton.  A team of Japanese workmen arrived to put together what is now rated to be the “finest example of a Japanese Garden in Europe.”

The Shinto Shrine and artefacts contained within the garden are all reputed to have been brought from Japan especially for the construction of the garden.” More Tatton Japanese Garden.

Compton Acres.

From their website. “The Japanese Garden encompasses Thomas Simpson’s love for the unique elegance and incomparable beauty of Japanese horticulture. 

He imported genuine stone and bronze artefacts to enhance the garden. The Tea House is draped with Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and plants native to Japan have been used including the spectacular Kurume Hybrid azaleas, Japanese cherries and maples together with hostas, Hakon grass and a Ginkgo. The pool is home to large Koi carp best viewed when crossing the water on the stepping stones. The Japanese garden is still regarded as one of the finest in the country.” Website: Compton Acres Japanese Garden.

Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.

From their website: “It would be difficult to find a poet who hasn’t opined on the changing seasons, it is equally relevant for gardeners, be they amateur or professional, who wait with eager anticipation for the first signs that the earth is thawing.

Raymond Blanc OBE is no different and along with his garden team, waits patiently for spring to arrive, taking time to remember the different destinations he has visited and how these trips during different times of the year have coloured his visions.

When East and West meet

His visit to Japan in the early nineties was one such occasion, which ignited his imagination and inspired him to create a Japanese Garden in the environs of the 15th century Belmond Le Manoir. Captivated by the Japanese tradition of Hanami, a longstanding practice of welcoming spring (held between March and May), which is also known as the ‘cherry blossom festival’, Blanc wanted to bring part of his Japanese adventure back to the UK.

The Japanese Tea Garden at Belmond Le Manoir entices guests to become more mindful as they explore, crossing the oak bridge to find sanctuary and was influenced by Taoist, Buddhist and Shinto traditions.” More details of the Japanese Garden.

National Botanic Garden of Wales.

From their website: “This Japanese garden is called ‘Sui ou tei’, which refers to the national flowers of Japan and Wales, the cherry blossom and the daffodil.

It combines three different traditional Japanese garden styles: the pond-and-hill garden, the dry garden and the tea garden. Japanese garden styles have developed over a 1400-year history, each style celebrating the changing seasons in different ways.

Such changes illustrate the transience of life, and tiny details, such as leaf buds opening in springtime, play an important role by drawing attention to the passage of time.

In the last 150 years, Japanese gardens have been created all over the world, adapted to local conditions. They are appreciated for their tranquillity and sense of calm when visitors take the time to absorb the scenes presented by the garden.” Website.

Botanic Garden of Wales

Bridges Stone Mill.

Closer to home and on a more modest scale is Bridges Stone Mill, they open for the National Garden Scheme in Worcestershire.

“Once a cherry orchard adjoining the mainly C19 flour mill, this is now a 2½ acre year-round garden laid out with trees, shrubs, mixed beds and borders. The garden is bounded by a stretch of Leigh Brook (an SSSI), from which the mill’s own weir feeds a mill leat and small lake. A rose parterre and a traditional Japanese garden complete the scene.” Bridges Stone Mill NGS link

Then there is our garden with its small Japanese garden, open for the National Garden Scheme with five gardens in the village of Hanley Swan on the 4th and 5th of June. Details of all the gardens here: Hanley Swan NGS Open Gardens.

Japanese Garden
@ourgarden19

If you have the opportunity to visit a garden with a Japanese element, please do, I am sure you will find it relaxing and inspiring.

Becky’s Baking Adventures,

Ever since we have opened our garden for the National Garden Scheme our family has been part of the team. You can read about them and the part they play by clicking on ‘The Garden’ heading and then the ‘Garden Team’.

Our two granddaughters have always helped with the refreshments, when they were younger clearing the tables, then delivering orders to the tables, more recently baking cakes to sell to visitors on open days.

Rebecca the eldest granddaughter, who is now at university, has created a website where she will blog about her baking adventures. It is called Becky’s Baking Adventures. Why not go along and see her first post for Pancake day.

Rebecca ready for NGS open day.
Becky’s Baking Adventures.