Magpie (c) Rianne Mason

July garden journal

July was a lot about observation for me as I caught up with my RHS course doing exams from home. I do have a new value on this time to appreciate what’s happening in the garden though, surely that’s one of the biggest rewards?

Meeting Mr Magpie

A magpie at my window (c) Rianne Mason

I’m not sure what was going on with this magpie but it was pretty funny. He knocked on my window many times after this and mainly at 6am. A small family of them have grown up on our garden as they had a nest in our tree, so we’ve seen the parents teach the young what to do with food. They’re pretty smart birds, if not a little destructive!

Taking our first trip out of the house since lockdown (of course to a garden centre)

Mum at the garden centre (c) Rianne Mason
Mum at the garden centre – looking pretty happy (c) Rianne Mason

It felt so good to get out of the house after the restrictions were lifted, and even better to be somewhere surrounded by plants.

Getting up close to earwigs

Earwig (c) Rianne Mason
Earwig amongst the redcurrants (c) Rianne Mason

We had a bit of a debate in the house about what damage earwigs do, because these are one of the few creatures I hadn’t been taught about in my course (which made me think they can’t be that bad). But it turns out, they are pretty bad. This one crawled out of the redcurrants I picked.

They may nibble on your plants and veg, but they also eat aphids and nematodes that you don’t want in your compost – so what are you gonna do? I would like to know about those pincers on the back… looks more like a scorpion!

Proving that I know what to do with a spade

Using a shovel (c) Rianne Mason
Using a spade! (c) Rianne Mason

This was one of the many bizarre shots that I had to take this month for my adapted RHS assessments. I’ve saved you from seeing them all – you’re welcome.

Disclaimer: I did NOT do all of the digging in this photo, my hard grafting dad needs credit for that.

Re-potting my String of Pearls plant

Re-potting string of pearls plant (c) Rianne Mason
Re-potting a Senecio rowleyanus (c) Rianne Mason

Another task for my RHS course – but a useful one. It’s pretty obvious this Senecio rowleyanus needed a bigger boat. So – key things to remember – mix your compost with grit for drainage, use a pot that’s roughly 1.5 times bigger than the previous one and keep it at the same level as before.

Planting a shrub

Planting a shrub (c) Rianne Mason
Planting a Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’, or Senecio greyi (c) Rianne Mason

First time I’ve planted a shrub! I was tasked with this as one of my RHS exams (I had 23 in total!). I’ve read mixed advice about the size of your planting hole and it varies for potted or bare-root shrubs, but I went for a square hole around 1.5 x the depth and twice the width of the root ball. Also don’t forget to mulch – very important!

I got a bit confused looking up the official name for this shrub, as there seems to be two. I’d like to know if it is a Senecio as that makes it the same species as my String of Pearls plant – which is pretty freaky and seems wrong.

Learning all about leaf cuttings

Leaf cuttings (c) Rianne Mason
All the leaf cuttings! (c) Rianne Mason

This was my final lesson of my RHS practical 😦 but I enjoyed seeing all the different ways to take a leaf cutting. Leaf lamina, leaf petiole, or simply using the whole leaf (and cutting the veins). Plants are pretty clever like that.

It only works well on some species though, such as Begonia, Peperomia and Saintpaulia. The benefits are that it takes less time to mature and it will be identical to it’s parent. The drawbacks are that any diseases will have passed down and they do need a regular eye for mold developing.

Accidentally discovering an ants nest

Ants nest (c) Rianne Mason

Okay, so it was actually my mum who un-earthed this colony when moving bricks around, but I managed to capture it and think it’s pretty awesome. They’re main priority was to move the eggs – even insects are all heart.

Pressing flowers

Pressed flowers (c) Rianne Mason
Pressed flowers (c) Rianne Mason

I don’t know if this really counts as gardening but I do think pressed flowers are one of the many benefits of having access to plants. These turned out well but I have no idea what I’m going to do with them. I just find all of the different shapes and colours so interesting.

Does anyone have any ideas what I can do with them now?

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