Temporary Shade Sails (plant parasols) for my newly-planted squashes :)

What has changed in the garden since last week? Well, on Wednesday I got tired of waiting (for cold, windy days and then scorching hot days to pass) and planted out 3 of my squash plants. One Georgia Candy Rooster went out into the ‘allotment’ in the Sunset Strip, and two Rugosa fruilana courgettes went into a raised bed in the main garden. Each one was planted out into a mound of fresh compost, and protected with a plastic cloche and eco-friendly slug pellets. I replaced the black plastic mulch on the beds to give them extra warm and moist soil.

And then I panicked, because the sun came out and started blasting them. The cloches did their work and maintained a humid atmosphere, but it was hard on the plants. They wilted. I wasn’t sure if they would survive the night. Although I have more Georgia Candy Rooster, it’s the Rugosa Fruilana I really care about, because one ‘triffid’ fed us all summer last year, and kept us entertained with its roaming nature. There aren’t any more of those as a backup.

They survived the night. But then the sun came out again on Thursday, and I decided I had to do something – so I invented temporary ‘shade sails’ made from a compost bag and a garden cane. These plant parasols did their job, although I did have to move them a few hours later as the sun tracked around the garden.

On Saturday the plants were still alive, and had perked up. I won’t stop holding my breath until they’re obviously back in active growth, but for now at least it seems there will be squash this year! Sadly my Shark’s Fin Melon seedlings haven’t survived; I have sown some more, but may have to come up with a Plan B for their spot on the allotment.

You’re probably thinking, right about now, that this isn’t very exciting. That’s because this is the exciting bit:

Front garden development

Ryan hasn’t had much free time over the last month, and this was our first weekend at home together since April. It gave him the chance to rotovate the front garden, an area which I had roughly dug over by hand over the course of a few weeks. Suddenly it went from plant refugee camp to plantable space – a garden development so exciting it made me cry!

Front garden

This is Ryan raking it level – a job it turns out I suck at. He also put down some stepping stones and marked out some planting spaces according to the rough plan in my head:

Front garden

Ryan leaves the planting to me, which is my area of expertise 🙂

Front garden

We had time before we stopped for lunch to put the larger plants in place. That’s a feijoa (Acca sellowiana) in the centre. It has been in a container since at least 2012. It has had a hard life, looking half dead several times. It got moved to my parent’s garden in Malvern for a while, and they obviously looked after it better. It’s quite emotional getting to the point where I can give it a permanent home in the ground! It might even flower!

Either side of it are two Calycanthus floridusCarolina allspice. I was surprised to find one flowering last week, as they had a similarly peripatetic lifestyle. I’ve had them since 2011, and they went from being in a pot to being planted in a shady spot in Malven to being put back in a pot and brought there. They should also appreciate a permanent home.

They’re not the oldest plants in the front garden, though. That honour goes to two of the Chilean guavas, Ugni molinae, which form part of the low hedge along the picket fence. I bought the first two in 2008, and they have been in smallish pots ever since. The other 6 are younger – from 2014. All of them have survived abandonment on the allotment. They have survived drought in those pots, and neglect strong enough to kill off most of the weeds that might have tried to hitch a lift. I have lightly pruned out a small smount of dead wood, and am delighted to find that one or two of them are fruiting, which I haven’t seen before. Hopefully they’ll get a bit taller now that they have good soil to root into.

I was going to stop there, but during the planting session we were bugged by a bee that wouldn’t go away. We think that it was trying to find one of the flowering plants in pots that have been sitting in the front garden for weeks (and which we’d moved out of the way). There are flowering herbs in the front garden planters, but Ryan thought it would be nice to add something for the bees to the new planting, and so we added two Buddleja ‘Buzz’ – the Sky Blue and Indigo versions of this dwarf butterfly bush. It gives you all the beauty and wildlife value of a Buddleja without having to deal with the large size and self-seeding habit of the more common varieties. I have a third – the magenta variant – still in a pot in the back garden.

And that’s where we left it. There’s more to be done – smaller plants to be planted into the gaps. I’m thinking various alliums and strawberries. And then covering any remaining gaps with bark chips to give the spreading plants time to do their thing.

When it came time to do the planting, Ryan and I discovered a philosophical difference. When I said I wanted something ‘at the front’ I meant nearer the house. When he said it, he meant nearer the pavement – thinking the garden would most properly be viewed from there. It will be interesting to see, as the garden grows, the different views from those two aspects.

In the meantime, what do you think? I know it doesn’t look like much, yet, but it’s sooooooo exciting!