rusty duck’s First Law of Plastic Pots


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The number you have is inversely proportional to the number you actually need.




I’ve always stashed plastic pots. While we were living in a rented house with no garden I had boxes full of the things, brought with us from the previous abode. Mike was forever either falling over them or having to move them from one place to another. In his mind their only rightful resting place would have been at the dump.

These days they find a safer refuge in my greenhouse. In winter the mice get their daily exercise by using the staging as a climbing frame. The serried stacks of pots are inevitably knocked over, leaving me with the job of picking them all up.

But now? In April the greenhouse is a hive of activity. Sowing, potting up and potting on. Endless watering. The production line, mostly of vegetables, is in full swing. And here I am staring into the abyss of yet another pot crisis. However many I have, even with all the plants (or more to the point their pots) that I have subsequently bought I never seem to have enough.

Especially the three and a half inch ones. The ones that are the perfect size for a single bean. These are the ones that always run out first.


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With greenhouse space at a premium, the larger plants get shifted out to the cold frames and I can begin the process of hardening them off. Lids raised by day and closed at night.

The trouble is, as it stands today, the cold frames are also now full. Mostly with peas using each other for twining support.


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On milder nights some get to stay out in the open air. With the appropriate protection.

The ‘nursery’ is in a sunken area, bordered by retaining walls and one side of the house. It is a proper little sun trap and holds on to that heat well into the night. Needless to say, it’s one of Ptolemy’s favourite places too. He has discovered that when the cold frame lids are closed he can leap on top of them and, almost, peer in at us through the kitchen window.


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At the end of the production line comes the prize for getting this far. For the plants, and for me. Automatic irrigation.

Perhaps I have taken a risk, putting the peas out quite so early. But it is relatively mild in the south west and I have fleece. And besides, I need the pots. So the whole bloomin’ cycle can begin again.




Linking up with Helen’s Greenhouse Year at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Click through to find out what other gardeners are growing this month.



Blooming April


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Erythronium revolutum ‘Knightshayes’


Fleeting, but enchanting.

And regrettably just the one. I hope this Erythronium will spread itself around.

Seeds sown from it last August have not germinated yet but then they didn’t really get the prerequisite winter chill.


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Hacquetia epipactis


When it comes to subtlety, not many blooms can beat this.

At first I thought I had lost it amongst the mass of vegetation on the woodland floor. You can understand why. Another one that needs to rapidly form a clump.


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Primula vulgaris


From the unusual to the commonplace. The wild primrose is everywhere right now.

In drifts all around the garden..


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.. and on the Devon banks which line the country lanes.

Alongside the drive it rubs shoulders with other wildflowers, like these violets.


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Camellia (inherited, variety unknown)


Last month I included a shot of a single bloom. Here is the whole shrub, still going strong.

It is a ‘rescue’ Camellia. When we arrived here we found it languishing in a tiny pot, a spindly little thing with chlorotic leaves. It has thrived planted out in our slightly acidic soil.


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Chaenomeles (inherited, variety unknown)


…coming to an end


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Azalea (inherited, variety unknown)


… coming next.


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Geum ‘Flames of Passion’


The Geums are just starting out too. I do love these plants. Mounds of foliage provide excellent ground cover and they flower on and off for months.


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Geum ‘Lemon Drops’


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Tulip (inherited, variety unknown)


I have been bemoaning, to the point of boredom I know, my lack of Spring bulbs.

Well look what I found.

The photo shows off their good side.. there are beak marks on the back of one. I caught Mr P in the act.


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Tulip (inherited, variety unknown)


And it gets even better.. this looks like a species to me but I have no idea which one.

Delicate white tips and a flash of blue at the base. It has appeared in a clump of transplanted grape hyacinths.


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Erysimum Bowles Mauve


Three purchases this month. They’ve gone into gaps in the newly renovated terraces for, I hope, a more cottage garden feel.


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Armeria maritima Armada Rose



Lithodora diffusa Heavenly Blue 001 Wm[1]

Lithodora diffusa Heavenly Blue


Spring has sprung!




Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens, where you will find other April bloomers from around the world.



The Leaning Tower Of Peas


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Hairy bittercress*



It’s been a busy old week and I am cream crackered. Still, it’s Friday. Wine night. It could be worse.

We have been trying to get the veggie garden ready for planting. I don’t know how the weeds manage it but some, like the Hairy bittercress* above, are flowering already and getting ready to seed. This is bad news. The lightest touch or gentle breeze is enough to propel their progeny up to a metre from the parent plant. Once you have it you will never be without it. The bloomin’ stuff is everywhere.


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But we have made progress.

I’d better admit it’s the royal ‘we’ with respect to the new raised beds. I love to see them looking like this, so full of promise for the season ahead. The only thing better is to have them groaning with delicious things to eat.


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The nematodes are out of the fridge. And not before time. Veggie patch preparation got completed just two days ahead of their use-by date.

Whilst Mike may be breathing a big sigh of relief he has clearly forgotten that I actually signed up for a two part programme.. in three weeks’ time a further batch will arrive. Trouble is, as I was late applying the first lot, the second will need temporary storage facilities too.

They look like fine, if slightly damp, wholemeal breadcrumbs. I simply carved up the mixture and sprayed it on to each bed in turn. 30 million nematodes unleashed on a seek and destroy mission for slugs, not that I was counting.




But what of the peas?

Last year I used bamboo canes tied into wigwams as the method of support. And it was a nightmare. The plants grow wider as they get taller, the conical structure operates in reverse. After several weeks of flopping about in the wind the whole thing collapsed.

It needs a Plan B.

There are plenty of neat solutions available to buy, with a pretty price tag too. I thought we could construct something and drew out a rough plan. Mike used poles left over from the gabion and some old stock fencing we also had spare.


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So should I have drawn attention to the fact that the nearest support was leaning over to one side?

Apparently not. Toys were seen to depart the pram and there was talk of dismantling and rebuilding from scratch. Thankfully Mike is never in a huff for long and over lunch a compromise was found. I would bring to bear my not inconsiderable weight, now enhanced by half a pizza and a banana, and he would hammer in a wedge.





*EDIT: As it turns out, it’s actually the very similar Wavy bittercress. It’s all in the number of stamens. Under a magnifying glass the plants also have hairs on the lower stems whereas Hairy bittercress, ironically, does not.



Stand By Your Beds..


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Now, my experience of lady pheasants is neither long nor exhaustive. But I had thought they tend to be shrinking violets, preferring to stay within the shrubby undergrowth, rarely seen.

Isn’t it the males who do noise and all the prancing about?

Possibly not.

First spotted having a good old scout around at Ptolemy’s favourite Flappy Place, our latest arrival then came strutting along the garden path, up the steps and across to the bird table.

She paused only briefly in her journey to glare at us through the kitchen window before marching on straight through the previously floriferous Geum ‘Leonard’s Variety’ and off down the terrace wall.




The boys have gone into hiding.

The new Mrs P has all the demureness of Nora Batty. All she needs now is a broom.



Where Moor Meets The Sea


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Porlock Weir


For a number of reasons things have been getting on top of us at chez rusty duck.

So, earlier on this week, we abandoned all else and headed off to the Coast. The weather forecast was awful. Persistent rain. But such was the need for a clearing of heads we chose to ignore it.

Neither of us had ever been to Exmoor.

We drove across the centre of the moor and stopped for a leisurely pub lunch along the way.


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Dunster Castle


And then on to Dunster. I wish we’d had time to spend at the castle, but the streets of the old town are picturesque.


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The Yarn Market


Dunster had become a centre for woollen and clothing production by the 13th century, with a market dating back to at least 1222, and a particular kind of kersey or broadcloth became known as ‘Dunsters’. The market as it stands today was constructed around 1590 to shelter traders and their wares from the rain.

One of the roof beams has a hole in it, a result of cannon fire in the Civil War, when Dunster Castle was a besieged Royalist stronghold for five months. Following the damage, it was restored in 1647 to its present condition (via Wikipedia).


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 Porlock Weir can be found a little further west along the coast.


It was certainly overcast, but the rain held off.

And warm enough, just, for me to forget that I’d left my coat in the car.


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I’m not sure we’d have found the way to the beach were it not for this little sign…


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It felt more like walking through somebody’s garden.


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The pill box has partially collapsed into the shifting shingle


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Looking back at Porlock Bay from a turn off on the coast road to the west

A rare patch of sunlight before the mist closed in.


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Lynmouth beach and cliff top Lynton


Only a short drive, but it has whetted our appetite for more.

Just beyond Lynton lies the Valley of Rocks.

According to our guidebook it’s a “valley remarkable for eroded limestone pinnacles with such names as the Devil’s Cheesewring, Ragged Jack and Castle Rock. Drop of 800ft from Castle Rock to Bristol Channel is one of Britain’s highest sea cliffs.”

That sounds like the makings of a pretty fine walk.



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