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Louise's Gardening Notes for..................

t has been a busy time generally but finally I have got in the greenhouse, almost thrown away the plants that didnít survive over winter.  I am still willing my echiums - 12 ft tall spirals of tiny purple flowers which grow abundantly down in Devon and Cornwall - back to life, but I fear they are most definitely dead.  I shall just have to hope that my sisterís plants survived better.

It has been so hot, that actually my delay in sowing seeds is probably good, the compost dries out so quickly in a small hot greenhouse, despite a few missing panes of glass.  I have been sowing tithonia, a velvety stemmed late annual flower, fairly tall with bright orange simple flowers, and lots of sunflowers - especially for the mice. Despite 3 cats I shall be placing the newly planted seeds in an old gerbil cage to protect them. If there is room the peas will be in there too.  I am trying to sow sparingly, not too many, as I can never bear to thin them out ruthlessly when they all sprout.

My latest idea is not to buy any more plants until the ones I currently have are all out of their pots and safely in the ground.  Almost managing so far.  It really helps to plant if possible on a dull day, or at least to provide some shading to newly planted plants with some thin fleece, just to let the roots settle before the full heat of the sun wilts them.

I have been digging up some of my perennial flowers that have become entangled with couch grass. I find it very satisfying teasing out the fat white roots of the couch grass and replanting the weed free divided version.  Of course I am potting up some surplus plants for the revels stall too.

Sadly my veg patch is looking a little bare as I write.  My over exuberant willow has been harshly trimmed back and once I feel the off-cuts will not be re-rooting I will be using them to make supports for sweet peas as well as peas and beans to scramble through.  I am off on a willow weaving course at the end of April so hopefully I will be making some arty looking ones soon.  I may cheat and buy some ready grown veg seedlings this year, although peas and French beans I will be growing myself. I have put plenty of manure down over the winter so hopefully they will all grow well.

Enjoy your gardening.