Batten Down The Hatches

The really fun gardening period has come to an end for us now. More than anything, we are enjoying the last of our crops and getting everything ready for what may well be another hard winter. All of our rescue tomatoes have been doing well, considering we didn’t plant any on purpose we have a great selection of cherry, plum and beef and the recent spells of autumnal fine weather have really been encouraging them to their best.
We still have a lot of salad and root crops, mainly the stuff that we planted in August just so that we could get something in the raised beds this year. Sadly, all of the cacti and chilli plants have now been pulled back into the house as the temperature starts to get too chilly for them overnight. Already the dandelions are coming up through the gravel with a vengeance, so the continuous battle of pulling them up and pouring boiling water on them continues!
This week was an exciting one for the garden, as the nice people at Gardening Express sent us a bundle of plants to try out and blog about. We’ve spent the last couple of days reading up on our new acquisitions and trying to decide what best to do with them with winter coming. There are a nice mixture of tropicals in there and, on the whole, they are all suitable for container gardening, so essentially we’ve decided not to plant any of them out in the borders yet, but to over winter them in the mini-greenhouse, so that they hopefully survive to make a great show in the garden next year.
The plants came really well wrapped and protected, although that did mean we had to cut them out of the box!! We have a lovely Skimmia ‘Magic Marlot’ which has already deepened in colour in the time that we’ve had it! It is quite a compact plant with tight bunches of colourful flowers and pretty multi-toned leaves. This one has a good winter hardiness and is apparently suits container gardening well so this will be left out as a nice addition to the raised beds through the winter.

The next plant is a really super Brazilian Dipladenia. It has gorgeous fat, juicy leaves with a great shine and some deep pink buds that look ready to burst into flower any time soon. This is also an excellent climber in pots, and given that the label states that it is hardy down to 6’C, we have decided to bring this one in as a houseplant for the winter. It’s such a beautiful plant we don’t want to take any chances with it. I shall have to identify a nice decorative pot to put it in. More on that as it happens!
The Boy was quite excited that we received a new Salvia in the mix. Although unlabelled, we think that is the Salvia Patens that you can find on the website. It has beautiful rich blue flowers, and a very distinctive arrowhead shaped leaf. This Mexican ornamental can apparently be quite hardy, but many of the sites we’ve looked at has gardeners recommending lifting them and over wintering in the greenhouse, so this one will be out for another month or so in its pot before it goes into protection in the greenhouse for the winter period. It’s a shame really that we’ve received these plants at a time of year when most of them will need to be hidden away!
The final plant is a fine Gaura Lindheimari, ‘My Melody’. This has a heady sweep of cloudlike white flowers which are reminiscient of small butterflies and gives a real light touch of pale colour. I think this one might also make it if left in its pot in the garden over the winter.
Progress reports on how these little guys are doing will follow up mid-winter and then no doubt in Spring when we start finding them more permanent homes in the garden! Many thanks to Gardening Express for sending them over to us. Gardening Express are really active on Twitter, which I always appreciate about a company. 
Earlier in the year I won a £10 voucher with them, but we wanted to save it until the raised borders were in and by the time I went to retrieve it, Twitter had made it disappear into the ether – boo to Twitter! But do check out their website, they have some fab fruit and veg selections, and their mushroom kits look great also!

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