The reason lupins won’t grow in my garden

I’ve found the reason that lupins won’t grow in my garden – slugs.  I had bought a white lupin from the garden centre to see whether it was just that it is difficult to get them to grow from seed.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The head of the lupin flower has been snapped over
The head of the lupin flower has been snapped over

All the leaves on this plant have been eaten, at least a bit.  I have sort of a fear of slugs but I don’t know why – I’m okay with snails.  I think it’s just that I hate anything slimy and oozy.  I’ve noticed that more and more of the slugs in my garden have orange bottoms – supposedly these are Spanish and more evil than ordinary English slugs.  Anyway, if you want to look at something horrible, check these out.

This slug has an orange bottom
This slug has an orange bottom

I need a toad.  The lady in the post office told me that she has a toad and it eats all the slugs.

Plant haul

On Tuesday, my husband and I dropped the kids at the nursery in the IoW and drove to a garden centre called Thompson’s, which is near Amazon World.  I had a few things I wanted to get – some of my plants hadn’t survived from last year (perhaps I am overzealous with the pruning) and I wanted replacements.

Replacing plants tends to make me feel guilty.  I think it’s the act of digging up the rootball and bunging it on the compost heap.  I was a bit irritated that my pink lavender had died (except for a few green bits at the side) as all the others were looking super and it had been quite hard to find a Loddon Pink.

Plant haul!
Plant haul!

I found a white lupin, some sea holly, a globe thistle, some Miss Katherine lavender (pink flowers – replacement for the Loddon Pink), rosemary and a plant I can’t remember the name of (but is meant to be okay with some shade).

I do like garden centres.  Perhaps I am getting old.  A well stocked garden centre is a beautiful thing.  This one even had all the types of mint I’ve been eyeing up – chocolate, Apple, ginger.  Unfortunately, I haven’t convinced my husband that planting mint won’t colonise the lawn.

We had lunch there and I saw this handsome beast.

I gave him some of my tuna.  He was grateful
I gave him some of my tuna. He was grateful

My husband bought a dalek compost bin (he is unsatisfied with my compost bin’s slow progress), some compost accelerater, a hedge trimmer, some plant food and some extra parts for the garden hose.

My daughter helped me plant my plants and she was actually helpful.  I dug the hole, she put compost in, I put the plant in and we both filled the hole in with soil and compost.  It took about seven years but that is okay.

While I was about it, I watered a load of my plants, including the wildflower patch.  One of the foxgloves has a spire that is bending over sideways, making me thing it may lack water.  Of course, it may just not be that great a plant.

The wildflower patch is starting to get going

I am pleased about this.  Only a couple of plants have flowered so far but the longer days and warmer weather have made all the plants (weeds?) stronger and more vigorous.  It’s rather got to the point where I don’t know exactly which are plants I’ve put in myself and which have “self seeded”.  The foxgloves, on the whole, I put in (either as fully grown plants or as seedlings I grew myself).

Wildflower patch in April
Wildflower patch in April

Some wildflowers have come up in different spots.  I found a cowslip next to my lavender at the front and some wild garlic in the front lawn.  Both can stay as far as I am concerned.

Cowslip
Cowslip
Wild garlic (I think)
Wild garlic (I think)

I also have a patch of primroses in the shady bit of the front lawn.  These are doing awfully well, despite the scarifying last autumn.

Primroses - there's a pink one at the back
Primroses – there’s a pink one at the back

I know that you can get green primroses, which I find an interesting idea.  I love green flowers but am not sure whether cultivated wildflowers are still wildflowers.  Does it matter?

Speaking of seedlings, I realised this weekend that a couple of the lupins I shoved in the ground are still going.  This is a very exciting development – I had assumed that they all hated the Isle of Wight and died just to disoblige me but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The foxgloves are growing fast but the lupins look TERRIBLE

Yesterday, before we left, I went out and watered the foxgloves and lupins in my cold frame.  The foxgloves are HUGE – and the lupins are puny.

The foxgloves
The foxgloves
The lupins
The lupins

I also have some foxgloves that I didn’t have room for in the cold frame.  I ended up switching the two sets of foxgloves – the ones that have been in the cold frame are so ENORMOUS, they really don’t need the extra protection while the others could perhaps use some beefing up.

Plants outside the cold frame
Plants outside the cold frame

I figure that keeping the plants nice and near the wall should give them some frost protection, especially if the temperatures stay as mild as they have been.

The enormous foxgloves
The enormous foxgloves

Having said that, I had a few really small foxgloves that I ended up planting out in the shady garden (as I didn’t have room for them in my seed trays) and they are still going strong.  I’m thinking that, provided that it isn’t utterly freezing, I may plant out my larger foxgloves in the wildflower meadow and shady garden over Christmas.

The shady garden
The shady garden
The wildflower meadow - the foxgloves can do battle with the buttercups
The wildflower meadow – the foxgloves can do battle with the buttercups

Speaking of the wildflower meadow, my mother in law has told me that what I thought were geraniums are actually a type of creeping buttercup.  They are a bit wilted after my spraying but are still there – I hope the foxgloves will be able to fight them off.

Foxgloves are really beautiful – I absolutely love the flowers (so do bees) but even the plants themselves are velvety and soft.  I know this is completely obvious but both lupins and foxgloves are REALLY poisonous – if you touch them, please wash your hands.

Autumn colours and next year’s seedlings

This afternoon, I watched Gardener’s World.  I love Gardener’s World but it always makes me feel guilty about the things I should be doing in the garden.  This week Monty Don cleaned his greenhouse with a stiff bristled brush and very dilute washing up liquid.  I don’t have a greenhouse but I do have a cold frame.  As I still have seedlings in there (due to be planted out next Spring), I made the executive decision to leave the cleaning of the cold frame until then.  I DID go out and water them though.

My cold frame
My cold frame

So far, I have tried growing lupins and foxgloves from seed.  My foxgloves are doing really well but the lupins look a bit crappy.  I’ve never seen lupins growing in the IoW so it may be that they just plain don’t like it here.  They DO grow in Newcastle, where I went to university, so it isn’t as though they don’t like cold drizzle.  If you manage to grow lupins and can see where I am going wrong, please could you let me know in the comments box?  Thanks!

Foxgloves on the right, crappy lupins on the left
Foxgloves on the right, crappy lupins on the left

I KNOW it is probably obvious but both foxgloves and lupins are really poisonous.  Wash your hands after touching either.

I also went and had a look at my lower garden – this is almost always in the shade, except for  in the height of summer, so I grow heucheras, tiarellas and acers.  I love their colours at this time of year.  Sorry, I know that my pictures aren’t brilliant – they were taken on my phone.  It’s much more impressive in person.

Lower garden
Lower garden

I know it’s full of weeds but I can’t face disturbing all the spiders.  I’m not afraid of them, I think spiders are awesome and don’t like upsetting them.  Next time I’m down, I’ll do some proper weeding.  My local garden centre is Honnor & Jeffrey, who have loads of great things, especially herbs and heathers.  If I want something really specific, I’ll often order from Crocus – they ARE expensive and I pay an extra tenner on top of the five pound delivery charge for IoW delivery but they have a great website and a lot of choice.

The heucheras, tiarellas and heucherellas (a cross between the first two), I order from Plantagogo, who are based somewhere up north.  I first met the owners at the RHS Autumn Show in 2014 and they were super helpful.  Their couriers do charge LOADS for delivery to the IoW though so I have them deliver to London and then drive the plants down in the car.

Beautiful heuchera
Beautiful heuchera