Rachel xx
Single Mother Ahoy Wordless Wednesday

This is one of my azalea shrubs out in bud. It’s a gorgeous red colour and stands out well in my back garden against the barked area. My back garden is sloped into the hill, so I have found that azalea’s are perfect for bringing colour and interest to this drab area.
           
The azalea’s I have are very young plants, so I am looking forward over the coming years to see them grow and develop. This is my white azalea below, it’s very forward compared to the red one above. They have such beautiful spring blooms and bring joy to my garden. 

So as you enjoyed my other hints and tips post’s here is another 7 Hints and Tips to add to the series. This time on how to plant and care for azalea’s. 
  1. Appropriate Location – choose a location that is not in direct sunlight. Azalea’s prefer the morning sun and afternoon shade. My shrubs have the morning sun and are shaded by the house in the afternoon due to them being planted in the slope. Azalea’s grow well when planted under shady trees
  2. Soil Conditions – Azalea’s love well drained acidic soil. My garden has a very high clay component in the soil, so to get around the drainage problem, I loosened up the soil with lots of compost and other organic matter. Another way to get around bad draining soil is to plant the shrubs in pots or raised beds. 
  3. Watering – When newly planted, azalea’s need to be watered every 2-3 days until the roots are established. They need to be kept moist, not wet or dry. Too much water is just as bad as too little. 
  4. Mulching – Azalea shrubs like some sort of protection around their roots. This can be pine bark, pine needles, wood chips or something similar. This helps to keep the roots warm in winter, retain moisture around the roots and keep weeds away.
  5. Pruning – To keep the shrub full bodied, you can prune azalea’s after blooming. Prune no later than 3 weeks after the blooms have died down, otherwise you will be cutting off next years flower buds.
  6. Fertilising – I think the best time to feed your azalea is after blooming. Only use a little as they are light feeders and only require a small amount of feeding, otherwise you could burn your plants. Do not use any fresh manure on your azalea’s as it is too strong, and could kill your plant.
  7. Common Diseases and Pests – Insects that can affect azalea’s are lace bugs and spider mites. Lace bugs are more prone to attack your shrub if it is grown in full sunlight. They attack the underside of the leaf sucking out all the chlorophyll, leaving the leaf a grey-white colour. The azalea can be treated with sprays which you can buy from your local garden centres who can advise you on the best course of treatments. 

   

I hope you enjoyed this post and find it very useful. You can follow me here on Bloglovin Twitter and Facebook
Rachel xx

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Over the past few years orchids have become very popular for indoor plants. You can find them in almost every supermarket nowadays at various prices and in many different colours. The orchid below was given to me about 4 years ago when we just moved into our first house. It is still going strong by following a few a tips on how to care for your orchid.
Due to the popularity of my previous hints and tips posts (book reviewsphotography and caring for cacti) I have decided to continue the series, so here is another set of 7 hints and tips, this time on how to care for your orchids.
  1. Watering instructions – Water every 5-12 days depending on the temperature of the room, the type of orchid and the time of year. More frequent watering is required during summer months. Always check the watering instructions when you buy the orchid. Orchids prefer soft water.
  2. Support – When your orchid is in bloom support the stems with clips and sticks, which you can pick up from any good garden centres.
  3. Sunlight conditions – Orchids prefer bright indirect sunlight. North or east facing windows during summer and south facing in winter months.
  4. Trimming – Orchids have little nodes (triangular bumps) on the stem and each one is a potential flower bud. So when all the flowers die and fall off, trim the stem down to the lowest node and cut diagonally to stimulate new growth.
  5. Growing media – Orchids prefer moist well drained conditions. There are several types of growing media that can be used: fir bark, rocks, cork, sand and potting soil. Most of the orchids you buy at the supermarkets are grown on bark. Re potting should be done every other year to encourage growth. Remember to remove any dead roots and old compost.
  6. Leaf health – You can tell how healthy your orchid is by looking at the colour of the leaves and checking to see if they are getting enough light. They should be bright green rather than dark green, which tells you that the orchid is not getting enough sunlight if it’s too dark. Reddish green leaves is too much light. If the leaves develop black blotches it most likely has sunburn, through being in a hot sunny window. So move to a north facing window.
  7. Pests and disease – Orchids can be affected by mealybugs, scale and aphids. These can be washed off and treated with insecticidal soap, which again can be found at all good garden centres.

 

This stunning pink orchid I picked up at M&S at a reduced price.
I love how perfectly formed the flower heads are. The orchid is one of the most highly coveted ornamental plants, and in ancient Greece the orchid represents fertility, because in the ancient Greek language, orchid actually means testicles!
It’s also associated with beauty, love, luxury, strength and wisdom. They have very delicate and graceful flowers which shows perfect symmetry.
Different coloured orchids have different meanings:
  • Pink, like the one above represent happiness, innocence and joy.
  • Blue represents spirituality and meditation. They are also very rare.
  • White stand for beauty, elegance and innocence.
  • Yellow orchids represent friendship and new beginnings.
  • Purple symbolises royalty and respect.
  • Lavender coloured orchids represent grace and feminine beauty.
  • Green orchids represent health, nature, life and longevity.
  • Orange coloured orchids stand for boldness, pride and enthusiasm.
My favourite colour orchids are the pink ones and they represent happiness which is how I feel at the moment in my life. What would be your favourite colour orchid?
Rachel xx
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At the weekend we decided to go for a potter around our local garden centres, which are B&Q and Homebase looking for inspiration for the garden. I have read on Twitter this week that it’s National Gardening Week so that’s given me the push to get outside in the lovely Cornish sun during my week off work!
Anyway the lovely lady on the door in B&Q gave us this copy of their new Enjoy Spring/Summer magazine, and as you know me by now I love a good freebie! It contains everything, from all your inside home furnishings to garden furniture and lawnmowers.

As we were walking around I was flicking through the pages and came across a really handy cut out and keep guide as to when to plant your veg seeds. I love anything like this and think it’s a fab idea to get organised especially for novice gardeners.

It is very clear and easy to understand with different coloured stripes so you know what to plant where. For example the red stripes tell you when to sow the seeds inside and the light orange colour stripe tells you when to sow outside.
On the next page is a quick easy month by month guide on what you should be doing in your garden on any particular month. Another handy guide to cut out and keep. 
Here’s a little tip! I have a gardening journal where i keep little cutouts and jot down notes. It’s very similar to a recipe one but on gardening instead. It is very easy to set one up with any blank notebook you can find, then you can pop clippings and leaflets in alongside your notes. I normally staple my leaflets and cut out articles to the pages so they wont fall out.
A few years back B&Q were giving away these wall charts shown below, and Its one of the most useful guides I own. Always keep and eye out in your local garden centres for freebies like these, it’s surprising what you can find! 
On Bank Holiday Monday my local Homebase were giving away little polystyrene containers of nine plants for a donation to Macmillan Cancer charity. This was an amazing idea so I was more than happy to donate. The ones I chose are in the photo below.
These are the beautiful Viola flowers I chose and they are perfect for my patio tubs. Gorgeous colours, perfect all summer long!

This is my dads veg plot where he has just planted carrots, beetroots, parsnips and lettuce, to keep in with #NationalGardeningWeek! I don’t have the garden space at my house for a veg plot, so I grow my produce in tubs on my patio, along side my fruit bushes and flowers.
I would love to hear if you have any gardening plans this week.
Rachel xx

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On the 20th March the Spring equinox arrived! An equinox is when day and night are equal in length. So from Friday onwards the day is longer than the night! yippee! We will have much lighter evenings for those BBQ’s and drinks after work in the garden! The most important thing is that as Spring is here, Summer is just around the corner!
For a gardener like me this is a very exciting time of year, there is much to do in the garden to prepare for some wonderful growth, like making sure flowers are prepared to bloom to their maximum and fruit growing to their full potential. The first jobs to do are to tidy and weed the garden. Prepare any raised beds you may have by turning the soil and adding manure/rotted compost ready for planting.
Yesterday my husband and I spent a couple of hours weeding and tidying our 15m x 3m rectangular back garden. That might not sound too bad but I omitted the fact that its on a slope of approx. 45 degrees! I have lots of evergreens and shrubs planted on the slope but hope to eventually construct a rockery there also. There are 30 steps that lead down from the slope garden to our patio, this is where I have all my containers with various fruit bushes and flowers. Its a gorgeous sun trap in the afternoons.
The flowers below are some of my favourites. As you know from my previous gerberas in bloom post gerberas are my all time favourite flowers, primroses are next. They come in many different bright colours, blue being very striking. I had to post a photo of the beautiful daffodil as this time of year they are in abundance on hedges, roadsides and fields. I have no idea what the flower in the bottom right of the photo is called! Its very pretty and was taken by my good friend Caroline. If anyone knows what the flower is, please let us know in the comments!
I bought some little herb plants in Homebase to plant in a container I’ve had spare for a while. You can never have enough fresh herbs, perfect for cooking. I chose oregano because it’s smell reminds me of pizzas! chives and golden thyme, they will come in handy once they grow a bit more.
On my steps leading up to the top slope garden I have various tubs, a couple of these contain coloured heathers which brighten up the area. I bought these last summer as the top photo shows what they looked like then. As you can see now as we are in Spring they are beginning to bud into flowers as shown in the bottom photo. The colours on the heathers will eventually fade as they were dyed.
I would love to hear in the comments about any spring/summer plans you have for your gardens.
Rachel xx

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