Heavenly Sweet Peas and suffering French Beans

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Despite the complete lack of sunshine in Wiltshire, things are beginning to look happier in my garden. I’m looking forward to a lovely flowery summer, with my first sweet peas coming up two weeks ago, they’re doing well and here’s my third little vase of them. The scent is fantastic...

I’ve also got a big tub of lilies outside my front door, which come up beautifully every year. We had to pick a lot of flea beetles off them, but they’ve survived and they’re now a cheery sight when I get home from work.

Quite excited too about the spectacular artichokes, which seem to be better than ever this year. I planted them from seed three years ago, and they have spread brilliantly, and have amazing huge (7ft tall), architectural foliage. They are in a rather dodgy part of the garden by the oil tank, but the spiky towering leaves do a great job of concealing it.

Sarah has a brilliant recipe to go with artichokes in her Garden Cookbook, which I’ll do this weekend - it's Globe Artichokes with Angelica's Sauce. We’re lucky that Kathryn, in the Buying team at the Sarah Raven offices, brings in her own hens’ eggs to sell – to raise money for her village church roof. They are fresh and delicious with dark yellow eggs, so they’re perfect for this dish.

I love the smell in the greenhouse when the tomatoes begin to grow, but we’re not quite there yet.  They really need more heat from the sun, although at least they are beginning to get going. My husband Jake is in charge of tomatoes, and he’s dug in some old plastic water bottles and chopped off the ends.

This is a good system (not so beautiful to look at – must take the labels off!), you water into the bottle and that takes the water right down to the roots which the tomatoes really like. It’s supposed to help keep them hydrated, so we’ll see if they get challenged later in the year.

Something pretty dire has happened to the French beans. Hoping they will recover, but they’ve gone a funny brown colour. Anyone know what this is? I must remember to ask Steph in Customer Services, who is the fount of all horticultural knowledge.  The top leaves look ok, but the lower ones are suffering from something.

So that's it from my little patch for now...

Thanks for reading!