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We have a small to medium-sized back garden where I have 2 apple trees (braeburn and russet), a medlar Nottingham, a cherry Stella and a crab apple (an improved variety with very small, hard red berries and red foliage)...all in large pots! And one quince in the ground. There are a few roses (Winchester, Blue Moon and two B&Q ones that were nothing like the picture on the plant pot!! This was a valuable lesson and a mistake that I have never repeated), two Japanese flowering quince, a red currant, two peonies (Sarah Bernhardt), hanging strawberries and a black-currant that only grows vegetatively...it has a ultimatum this year or it's finding itself in a new home! I've pretty much crammed the garden and created a labyrinthine structure to the plants to have a winding path through them. I have recently acquired a trachelospermum jasminodes to put over a simple metal arch that I'm making.

Then there is the allotment...where do I begin??? WEEDS!! I've been laying siege to it since last summer when I acquired it....nettles, bramble, grass, sow milk thistle, dandelions, and the list goes on.... All on the most compact, unyielding clay and stones. I have had a full-sized garden fork fall casualty to the clay and stone, the metal torn and the whole thing twisted thither and yon. And that was when I got serious- the PICK AXE was a game changer! NOTHING can withstand it! It is back-breaking work but I have brought that unyielding plot to heel and am working my way through it. Last year yielded a few decent sized squash and one MONSTER Musquee de Provence pumpkin (I have just had the first bit of it for lunch, as I type!), runner beans and some amazing courgettes from a plant that I was given, stuck in and had all but forgotten among the pumpkins.

Last autumn, I dug a garlic bed and have incorporated lots of organic matter (rotted wood chips, coconut-fibre compost and chicken manure). I put down Red Duke, Carcasonne Wight, Vallelado and Red Donetsk. They are up and running, with variable enthusiasm but the most vigorous seem to be the one that I sourced and spent a fortune acquiring: Bogatyr! The extremely rare (in the UK), elusive Slavic powerhouse (considered by many to be the spiciest garlic) has responded well so far, both in the ground and in pots (not taking any chances!)...fingers crossed. I have since sorted out the berry patch: I have a few gooseberry roots that were rehoused in improved soil, lots of raspberries, one black currant and two honey berry bushes (Lonicera caerulea)...I like unusual plants. I've put in some rosa Rugosa Hansa (the double-flower hedge rose) for the hips to make rose-hip jam and jelly, and a couple of Scotch roses for the thorns....I mean, for the interesting, small black hips and the lovely aroma of the simple, single flowers. :) This year, I shall be using chicken manure a-plenty as the stuff is GOLD!! I mean WOW!!! I shall also be using the ground cover fabric and copious amounts of wood-chip covering from the free pile to keep the weed resistance in check. This year, I will be trying to improve my pumpkin performance and I have put in some peonies: 2 herbaceous peonies: Gardenia and Sorbet; and one tree peony: Kinkaku...

I can go on forever! I love plants and growing things. I rush home every evening from work to see how much my artichoke seedlings have progressed: I sowed some Gros Vert de Laon seeds that I got from a French supplier, hearing how the flavour is superb but how variable and risky heirloom species are to grow from seed: of 32 seeds, 22 have sprouted!! I lay awake planning at night. When I lived in London, I was a social animal...people are now shocked that they hardly see me: I'd much rather be digging, snipping, watering and fertilizing away, or trying to get the next interesting plant (Chilean guava next!). From orchids to one day raising chickens, I adore growing things.

Swap interests

I may have a few spare green globe artichoke plants (Gros Vert de Laon), as well as celery and celeriac. I will up date this as go.

I am interested in Rosa Ispahan, if anyone has cuttings/suckers?

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