New plants for my birthday

Sorry it’s been a while.  We are on half term and yesterday was my birthday.

We did a few things yesterday and one of them was to go round a garden centre – I needed some more coriander and dill (both had bolted) and while I was there, I also picked up some hyssop, chervil and basil (Greek, Genovese and Black).

I also wanted to tackle the bed nearest the kitchen door, which has a hideous slug / creeping yellow buttercup problem.  I ended up getting another sea holly, six marigolds, two petunias (one black, one purple and white) and some thing I can’t remember the name of.  It is quite possible the slugs will eat the petunias but maybe they won’t.

Before I planted all that out, I sprayed the creeping yellow buttercup with some noxious weedkiller.  Then I had an attack of guilt and became I had killed the entire bed.  So I got the hose out and watered the whole bed down.  Then I did what I did last time and dug the yellow buttercup out with my hand fork.

Flowerbed with new plants and without the yellow buttercup (for now)

One thing I did notice when I was planting the new sea holly is that there seemed to be three little sea holly plants already in the bed.  I will be amazed if they are actually sea holly plants (because plants I like don’t tend to reproduce, only ones I hate – like the yellow buttercup).  However, I have moved them (one to the middle of this bed and two to another bed) and will see how they do.

I love marigolds but was always convinced that they would clash with all my other flowers.  However, I am past caring.  As long as the bastard slugs don’t eat them, I will be happy enough.  The pelargoniums have only just started to recover.

My kind husband also got me another cold frame (because, once I repotted my foxglove seedlings, I didn’t have room for them all.  Then the slugs ate most of the ones outside the cold frame).  I got some yellow foxglove seeds and sowed them in a tray with normal compost.  I’m not sure how they’ll do – there were only about 65 seeds in the packet (the packets of ordinary foxglove seeds have about 1,500 in there) but I hope that two or three will come through.  I’ve never seen a yellow foxglove.

Flowers from my husband’s mum

Time to get to work on the garden

We’re nearly in April so it is time to sort out my garden.  I didn’t have stacks of time last weekend (the clocks went forward and it was Mother’s Day) so we only sorted out the herb garden.  I had a few things that have died (a thyme and a basil from last year), a couple of things that just needed the dead wood cut back (the mace and, surprisingly, the tarragon) and a few things that needed to be planted.


I put in a fennel, a coriander and a lemon thyme (the last of these doesn’t do all that well in my garden – possibly it is too damp – but my husband often asks for it when he is cooking so I live in hope).  The coriander won’t outlive the summer but that is okay.

I am surprised that the parsley and the tarragon have survived.  I had thought that the tarragon had died but new shoots seem to be coming up from the ground (not weeds I think – I squished a couple of leaves and they did seem quite herb-y).  The parsley seems happy enough.

The rosemary is a bit pale – I hope that it will get darker over the summer.  Perhaps it is in slightly too shady a spot.

The chives that I moved over from the front have come up and are looking okay.  The oregano is big – my husband asked whether it needs cutting back (yes, probably).

When it becomes available, I could probably do with some chervil and angelica for the really shady bit.  The garden centre didn’t have any.

In another spot, I planted some more lemon thyme and some Greek oregano.  The lemon thyme may not survive but the oregano will grow to be a delicious giant.

Found a knife

We found that knife in the end – when we arrived in the IoW, it was sitting on the draining board, all washed up.  I suppose our builders must have borrowed it – I hope for food purposes rather than opening cans of paint.

Here is the knife
Here is the knife

It’s funny but no one seems to make this kind of knife – about a four inch long blade which is rounded at the end.  During our search, my husband bought a set of three Wusthof knifes (they were very reduced) and the middle one was about the same size but had a longer, pointier blade.

At least we'll be able to do some marvellous pumpkin carving this year
At least we’ll be able to do some marvellous pumpkin carving this year

Not a whole lot else to report really.  I’ve done as you suggested, Kal, and split those chives in the front garden – I put some in the herb garden, left some where they were and put some others in another bed.  I’d never realised that chives were separate bulb plants but I suppose it makes sense.

I didn’t take any photos of the garden because it was raining rather hard.

I’ve also done some pruning of my herbs (English mace, oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage) and have put the clippings in the compost bin.  I had a go at turning the compost but I don’t know how effective I was.  There seems to be quite a lot of compost from the middle downwards and I have loads of worms.

My Mum says that she is quite worried about the worms in her compost bin.  She has one of those black dalek bins and the worms keep going up into the ridges of the lid.  She thinks it’s because they want a rest but I think that they are too hot.  In summer, they cook and then stink the whole bin out.

Herbs in the compost bin

I’ve been doing a bit of pruning of the herbs – I did the rest of the lavender and then cut back my sage, margoram, oregano and nepeta.  My children helped, which is a good activity for them, even if it does make me slightly less efficient.

Compost bin is full
Compost bin is full

I can’t decide whether to turn over my compost.  Over the summer, I saw a slow worm in there so I don’t want to disturb it if it is still there.  However, I’m never going to get compost unless I mix it up a bit.

Perhaps I’ll have a go with the fork in a week or two.


The chives in the bed in the front garden have become rather rampant.  I ended up chopping them as they’d fallen over, crushing my new rosemary, and the flowers had gone over.  They have some new flowers on the way so I didn’t chop those stems.

Pruned chives
Pruned chives

I was thinking of getting some chives for my herb garden but wondered whether I can divide this bunch instead?  If this would work, how would I go about doing it?

I ended up putting the chopped chives in the compost bin.  They don’t keep and I still have loads in the rose garden.

Chives in the compost bin
Chives in the compost bin

Herb garden progress

There isn’t all that much to say about the herb garden.  It isn’t dead and it has grown a little bit.  The chervil is in flower so if I want to use that for anything, I’d better get a move on.

New herb garden
New herb garden

You won’t be able to see from the picture but our carrots have started germinating.  Perhaps we’ll be able to pull them up in August or September?

Herb haul

After a bit of umming and ahhing, I decided that, no, the rosemary was not going to survive.  Particularly as I am not in the IoW all the time and so don’t have time to tend it carefully.  I cut off what I could and put the springs in a freezer bag in the fridge.  I hope they don’t go mouldy.

An upside (as pointed out by Kal) is that I get to start again.  So here it is.

Herb haul
Herb haul

You are looking at:

  • Parsley (curly);
  • Garlic chives (sometimes called Chinese chives);
  • Coriander;
  • Rosemary;
  • Oregano (Aureum and Hot&Spicy);
  • Sage (Tricolor);
  • Thyme (Common – looks a bit messy – and Golden);
  • French tarragon;
  • Chervil;
  • English mace; and
  • Basil.

Some of these, I know what to do with.  Some I don’t.  I’ve never used chervil but it seems to be one of the few herbs that survives in shade.  And it has pretty leaves.  I’m a bit short of thyme generally so I really hope that the thyme survives in the herb garden.  English mace is a different thing from the outer husk of nutmeg – although the sign said it could be used instead of nutmeg – and is meant to be quite strong tasting.

New herb garden
New herb garden

At the same time, I bought some more rosemary to go in a sunny, dry bit at the back of the rose garden, hyssop to replace some that died in one of my flowerbeds and a lavender (Edelweiss) to go in the spot where the builders stood on my rosemary.