This week’s cut flowers suddenly appeared on the allotment in my square foot bed. I sowed the seeds mid-summer and luckily the faintest label was still visible and it’s Adonis annua syn. Adonis autumnalis. It’s one of 101 species deemed as a high priority for conservation in the UK by the wild flower charity PlantLife UK The feathery green leaf is lovely and offsets the striking orange-red flower which has a black centre very similar to an anemone.
In a two hour slot this week I rounded up garlic Solent White, shallots Jermor and onion sets Radar to plant in the bed recently cleared of sunflowers. The ground was manageable when I prepared it last week, relatively dry and weed-free, so prior to planting I simply raked across the surface and added my favourite fertiliser http://www.6-x.co.uk/ Standing on a floor board to protect the soil and to get straight lines I made two rows of each vegetable. I chose Radar because it’s an ultra-hardy onion and will cope if the winter is severe. Jermor is a true French longue shallot bred in the Rhone Valley and I love the size of it. Nigella used large shallots in a roast pork dish in Nigellissima, slicing across in rings including the copper coloured skin. Apparently this adds extra flavour and colour to the gravy which was made from the juices in the roasting tin. I chose Solent White garlic since it’s widely grown commercially in the UK and is one of the best keeping varieties. And although this year my garlic was poor I have in the past grown this particular bulb and stored and used it for almost a year.
I spotted Radicchio Palla Rossa for sale in the same garden centre and planted eight small plants in a row. It’s winter hardy but I’ll protect it with a cloche as the weather gets colder. It should be ready to pick from November through to March so I’ll round-up a couple more trays having failed to get winter lettuces in the ground.
Here’s the herbaceous border, well half of it, lining the 30 metre walk to the compost loo on the allotment. To the right of the loo and just visible is a hotel for bugs which sits in front of the boundary fence with Ashton Court deer park. Halfway along the walkway is the first fruit tree with more to follow this autumn. Next year we hope to repeat the flower border on the opposite side so that the path meanders through flowers, herbs and flowering shrubs.
When I cleared the sunflower bed I saved some short stems for the house and I’ve enjoyed them closed since I like green flowers. But today the yellow flowers are just emerging and these will be next week’s cut flower challenge since I am away and won’t be able to post. And for a touching and intelligent read I can highly recommend Patricia Ferguson’s latest novel The Midwife’s Daughter http://www.amazon.co.uk It’s to be read on Book At Bedtime on Radio 4 in a week or two.