I thought it was about time I shared a little more of my outdoor plants + gave a bit of a container garden update. As you will know if you read my blog regularly, houseplants are my thing + outdoor gardening is very much a hobby that I see quite differently to my indoor plants in some ways… I’m learning as I grow outside. I’ve had a balcony garden for the last few years, had access to my grandparents greenhouse + planted at an allotment patch when I was younger but I’ve never had an actual garden! I’m in a temporary place so this years’ growing experiments feel transient + somewhat more experimental. I’m getting used to growing in a new part of the country — away from the coast, with colder temperatures + a flatter landscape that can make things pretty windy.
I have too many photos to fit in one post so I will do another update at the end of July to share progress on some plants I haven’t got the space to mention here! I hope you enjoy a little look around my garden with me…
As we are still in lockdown in the UK my growing choices very much reflect the time because the majority of my plants come from community gardens, roadside stalls with honesty boxes, new neighbours sharing plants — only a couple were bought at nurseries or supermarkets. In the same way that I share cuttings of my houseplants with friends, shared garden plants also feel special, with the added bonus that they are either free or very affordable. There can be a bit of a misconception that gardening is an expensive hobby — it is partly true of course but there are lots of ways to garden on a budget + to just enjoy the experience of just ‘growing something‘ in general.
These two lovely plants above came from a community garden for £1 each + I just popped out to take a photo as it started to get dark of them this evening (see below, excuse the messy background… I need to get some hedge trimmers!) — around 6 weeks after planting. Pansies are a lovely pop of colour + the plant to the right is a shasta daisy which I’ll dig up when I move as they are a cheerful addition to any space. In the other photo above, the pots are some geraniums (bullseye salmon), variegated thyme + a couple of sunflowers from seed that are now at the front of the house.
Here are some blooms… a single rose that came from a plant already here + stocks I planted along with some dahlias:
This cheerful strawberry plant hangs next to my back door… it’s my first time growing these so I’m enjoying the anticipation of seeing how the plant matures over Summer:
The plant below on the left is a pot of marjoram that I also got at the community garden in a local village, I like to cook with this herb so that was a welcome find. The tumbling tomatoes I got at a roadside stall + the doorstep herb pot came entirely from those little supermarket plants! It’s really flourished + is providing me with a steady supply of herbs to use in the kitchen — I’ve got a blogpost how I made this planter here.
One plant I can’t live without is lavender! I picked one plant up from Lidl + another at a nursery — they were both in great need of a re-pot:
My rocket seeds were doing really well but I had to pot them on a bit as they were getting really pot-bound — ideally it’s best to use either a larger pot or less seeds but I was working with what I had:
The other element to my garden comes from seeds I had in my stash or bulbs I ordered online earlier in the year. The appeal of growing from seeds is one I am drawn to every year + am so pleased I experimented with this; growing little trays on my windowsills during Spring was really enjoyable + you definitely get more plants for your money! I did find it a bit more challenging than starting things off in the greenhouse as I’m used to, but that was a space/light issue. I’ll go more into a seed sowing update in my next garden post.
Here’s a glimpse of my oxalis progress I grow from my tubers every season — I’ve been growing them on for a few years so they are maturing nicely now. I’ve got an oxalis post coming up next week so I won’t go into these now, but they such a welcome patch of purple on my patio.
The progress of my ranunculus bulbs over the last few weeks — it’s my first time growing these so I’m hoping these will do ok…
These anemone mistral tigre are the other bulbs I’ve been growing, there are some blooms on the way! I love the painterly splash of colour on these petals.
Spinach above + coriander progress too in mid June— the little leaves were just beginning to take shape! Cut + come again lettuce below is doing so well but they are needing to be thinned out some more.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the outdoor space during lockdown, keeping a garden takes work! I will admit that at times I do miss my balcony space up on the second floor, away from slugs + blustery weather…! I am definitely finding gardening in an actual garden a learning curve + I enjoy sharing my progress here on my blog + instagram stories.
I think the main difference in my gardening experience this year relates to weather + being exposed to a variety of conditions without the protection of walls or another floor above to buffer the winds. My garden faces north-west + I really didn’t realise how brutal the conditions can be in an exposed spot! As it is only a temporary space I can’t dig much in other than what’s in the small border + a petite rectangular patch where I’ve planted some sunflower seeds (more on this in the next post). So getting containers to withstand the weather + also suit the plants I’ve potted up is a bit of a process too. I have a bit of a pot collection + where possible always try to re-use them to help keep costs down. During lockdown I didn’t want to spend on planters, despite ideally needing larger containers for my lettuce + some of my bulbs. Like I said, I’ve always felt that you can garden on a budget + even though I’ve struggled a bit with some aspects, I do think this is still true. I am (now) very aware that I should not have been so liberal when scattering my lettuce seeds! Salad anyone?
Back to that point on slugs… wow I had not realised how privileged I was up high with my balcony garden to not really see any slugs over the last 5 years! There is a small patch of nothing behind the railings at the front of the house where I scattered some wildflowers earlier this season + things are starting to appear here — if they can avoid being munched of course.
Perhaps my favourite newfound hobby in all this has been the emergence of evening watering routines coupled with general garden pottering — checking for new growth, buds, blooms (+ bugs but let’s ignore that for now) in that golden hour light. The sun creeps up to the back door of the house before setting which creates a magical warm hue over the old brick wall covered in ivy. On warm nights, I will take my cup of tea/beer/glass of wine out with me to tend to the pots here before closing up for the night.
I hope some of you can relate to my realistic reflections on how I’ve been feeling about outdoor gardening, especially if you are getting used to a new space, or you are just starting out. Try not to get too intimidated + start with a few pots of herbs, some geraniums/pelargoniums, grasses, lavender — easy going fuss-free plants that will add some viridescent vibrancy to your patio, garden or doorstep. The easiest way for plant care to not feel like a struggle is to take notice of the type of space you have + choose plants that suit it! If you feel overwhelmed with choice, grow what you enjoy + in time you’ll develop more of a preference for plants that create a certain style or aesthetic. In the same way I now know what houseplants I’m happy to nurture (+ what works in my conditions) I’m noticing my taste developing in garden plants too.
I hope you enjoyed this post + thank you for your lovely messages on instagram recently — I really appreciate them.