The annual invasion

It’s that time of year again when the impatience to get growing forces us to cram windowsills with those sissy species that insist on home comforts.

My home was clearly not designed by horticultural enthusiasts. It has a woeful lack of windowsills, so I am mostly trying to sit on my hands until we’re risk-of-frost-free and I can sow outside.

But I wouldn’t want to avoid the annual(s) invasion altogether, so IN MY NEW POTTING SHED (!!!) I sowed a tray of modules with zinnias and cosmos. All of these seeds were free; mixed zinnias and cosmos from Gardeners World magazine this year and last, and white cosmos purity collected from my garden (in 2014 – time will tell if they’ll still be viable).

I really must clean those windows…

That tray of annuals is balanced – half on the windowsill and half on ‘The Idiots Guide to the Internet’ (circa late-1990s) – in my office.

The zinnias shot up in days, and are now squishing themselves leggily against the polythene cover, waiting for the cosmos to catch up!

Next to them is a lasagne dish of plug plants, which are balanced on the Good Beer Guide 2012. It sure is a professional horticultural outfit here!

These are my money-saving windowbox solutions. With a lack of space and time for bringing on loads of annuals from seeds, I buy the early annual plugs from the garden centre (£1.49 each, and less if you multibuy) and grow them on inside and then in our unheated greenhouse.

I’ve chosen trailing fuschias once again for our tricky north-facing window boxes. I dislike the other obvious choice for shade – begonias – and fuscias did pretty well last summer.

For the sunny side of the house, I’ve gone with bright red trailing geraniums. It’s a real sun trap and I think it deserves a hot colour. Petunias have done brilliantly in the past, but the process of dead-heading them is such a horribly sticky job that I’m changing my allegiance.

Despite my dislike for begonias I’ve bought a few apricot-coloured ones to go in hanging planters at Miss MBaF’s Preschool. It’s a semi-shaded spot, and I needed something that would flower before the children break up for summer hols.

To tide us over until the begonias go in I’ve chosen some pretty nemesia. It’s too cold for them outside now, but they’re already flowering away happily on the windowsill.

Next up I’ll have to clear the kitchen windowsill and get the tomatoes started!


Guerrilla gardening

Picture my defiant hip-hop stance as I write this, struggling with keyboard strokes due to the crossed-arms-across-chest and Beastie Boys finger pose. 

This week I took my trowel and went under cover, in an act of pleasant rebellion…to green-up the local playground.

Awww, how sweet! (Hip-hop stance now dissolving).


newly planted border in the playground, it doesnt look like much…yet

OK so it wasn’t entirely guerrilla; I knew the preschool staff were keen to get some plants in newly refurbished (dug-over) border. And the staff and kids caught me in the act of planting, and were very encouraging. 

Today I finished off by making some big bright labels for the plants (all spare seedlings and a geranium moved out of my border). 


We visit the playground A LOT with Miss MBaF, so I will be able to keep an eye and do some deadheading as needed. 

Maybe I’ll even become Head Gardener. Even if only of a 10ft x2ft plot!!

How did we ever manage?

Suddenly our little greenhouse is full of seedlings cowering from the cold (including my tomatoes that are looking rather sad, the poor loves).  


In the little greenhouse: tomatoes, french beans, sunflowers, cosmos purity

We don’t have any shelves in there yet, so there’s plenty of room to expand. And I’m wondering how on earth we managed without it before…maybe we just took a tough-love approach and left it to survival of the fittest.