Sunday, 19 July 2015


Enjoying the summer sun: refreshing drinks with a good book then eating outside.  Lovely!


Saturday, 18 April 2015


With the weather being so kind I have spent hours in the garden.  I tidied up the front garden and moved a couple of plants - a clump of grass from the back of a border which is now next to the small pond and a Thalictrum which surprised me after I planted it in the front of a border by growing to be four feet tall. 

I moved a couple of stone pots from the front door to sit beside the rose arch then dug up the turf in front of the two small walls.  I'm picturing Aubrietia or London Pride growing over the walls and Livingston Daisies smothering the ground. 

This little friend and his partner have followed me every where, even into the greenhouse.  They are so confident .... just about taking bugs from my trowel.  He is constantly busy finding food or shouting abuse at my cat from dawn until dusk.


The greenhouse is full of seedlings and geraniums waiting to get outside next month.  I had a bit of a disaster with some of the vegetable seeds though. I was given a bag of compost.  It looked very dark and dry but I used it anyway.  Mistake! None of the cabbages or cauliflowers I sowed in it have germinated; the tomato, cucumber and onion  trays remain devoid of life only a few lettuce leaves have actually survived.  I had to throw everything away and start again so the allotment planting will be a few weeks behind.  The potatoes are in and an onion set, beetroot, peas and runner beans, carrots, spring onions and radishes are in the ground.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Work Horses

My niece is having her front garden bulldozed this weekend.  The lawn is raised higher than the concrete drive which is quite dangerous for small children so the drive is going.  It means she has the opportunity to completely start again with her flower borders.  Many of the plants in my borders came with the house or are cuttings from friends and family: the rest I have bought or grown from seed. It hasn't been designed in any way! It is a complete mix of colour and height but I love it that way! Talking to my niece though made me think if I was starting again which plants would I use? Which are my Top Ten Perennials for my garden.  Difficult!

1.  Honeysuckle, clematis, ivy and roses climb the fences and form a backdrop for our garden. If I had to choose it would be the honeysuckle. I love the smell, especially on a warm summer evening.  Oh, I would miss the clematis .... our neighbour's house is smothered in pink flowers every May and some has escaped over the fence to our side ... lovely!  But the honeysuckle beats it in my book.  The ivy is not a contender but my second choice is .....

 2.  Rose.  I don't know the names of most of the roses in our garden because they came with the house.  If I was starting from scratch I would choose a David Austin climber ... Falstaff.  Beautiful colour and a strong old rose scent.  It can climb to 6 feet but branches out too.  The closest to this I have at the moment is Jazz. A deep colour, lovely perfume and quick growing.

3.  Sweet peas. So easy to grow, provide cut flowers for the whole summer, smell and look gorgeous and add height to the garden when grown over willow sticks in the middle of the border. What's not to like!

 4.  Lupins.  An absolute must in my garden.  Very easy to grow from seed and they come in so many colours.  They quickly bulk up and spread nicely.  I have half an allotment bed taken up with lupins.  This might seem a waste of good growing space but I use them as cut flowers in large vases all summer.

5. Delphiniums.  Half way through the list and nothing small so far.  I have three groups of delphiniums and two trays of seeds in the greenhouse.  I added some white ones last year: the dark blues are lovely but my favourite is pale blue with a lilac hue to it.  I don't know what I am growing because the seed is from my flowers so it won't come true.

6.  Peony roses.  It doesn't matter what kind I love them all.  This one is Sarah Bernhardt: it needs staking as it grows up to three feet tall.  The smaller ones look great poking through other plants in the border.

7.  Snow in Summer is great ground cover.  I had to choose between this and London Pride to keep to my list to ten.  The silver leaves of Snow in Summer gave it the edge although it was close! They are both great plants, spread easily and grow anywhere.

8.  Crocosmia.  Lucifer arching over a border or a small variety arching over a path?  I don't mind I like them all.  Start with five bulbs and a few years later you have five clumps.  I keep having to divide them and give them away.  It looks great next to .....

9. Fuchsia.  So versatile ... I have one that grows like a shrub, one that spreads over the ground, upright ones and smaller ones in my hanging baskets.  Don't make me decide in one!!

10.  So my last choice so soon!  it will have to be a shrub or a bush.  I think I will go with hydrangea, although Mock Orange is another firm favourite.

Well, that is my "Work Horse" list.  I didn't have room for sedum which is great for autumn colour or primulas for spring or red hot pokers or aquilegia or carnations  ...... thank goodness I'm not the one starting with a blank garden.  I would need a lottery win to buy my wish list! 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Fruit and Veg

Our side of the allotment is weeded and the veg beds dug over waiting for us to get planting. The onions and potatoes will be in tomorrow. Then I can sow the carrot, radish and beetroot seeds.

I have planted cabbage, cauliflower, celery, tomatoes, peas and beans in the greenhouse but only the peas are showing signs of life.  There are small green specks appearing in the guttering I strung up under the greenhouse shelf so we should have home grown lettuce leaves soon if nothing else.

The strawberries are loving the warm greenhouse .... they are looking much happier than the ones at the allotment.  I was very pleased to see new leaves appearing on the raspberry cane cuttings from last year. I plan to grow these on the lane.  The raspberries and gooseberries at the allotment are also coming into leaf.  The rhubarb is coming through.  I put a pot over it last year to force it but I left it this year.  One of the plants bolted last year and I collected seeds which have now grown into seedlings.

I have moved some of the flower plants back to the house to go in the garden or on the lane.

Andy spent a few minutes photographing the flowers while we were up there:


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

End of Month: March 2015

I love this time of change!
The view from the kitchen door improves daily as the bulbs come into flower and the perennials come to life. 
I have tidied this bed but obviously the sun improves the view too!!
We have blackbirds nesting in the laurel, robins in the hedge and collard doves, wood pigeons, goldfinches, great tits, blue tits, chaffinches, green finches and dunnocks visit the feeders daily ..... and the squirrels!
The daffodils and primulas have added cheer to the back of the garden.  I had a bit of a problem with the large honeysuckle growing over the far fence today.  We have had 60 mph winds and it came away from the fence and trellis.  It was really heavy and fighting me as I tried to tie it up again.  A neighbour's fence blew down last month ... it cost £500 to repair so I was conscious of not putting too much strain on the panels.  Fingers crossed it survives the next few days of strong winds.
The front of the garden has taken up quite a lot of my time and attention this week.  It began as an unsightly mess!
Just removing the dead leaves helped but I added some primulas to the half barrel, moved some of the larger aquilegia from the allotment to improve the display in June and scattered last year's poppy seeds.
The lane itself is now in my sights.  I have a couple of neighbours prepared to help dig up the bindweed and I have 30 packets of wild flower seeds to sow.  I began the transformation by tidying up the bit outside my house.
Here is a half and half photo showing a bit I have done and a bit to do.
The lane belongs to all the residents Derry Lane.  The original hand written house deeds of 1865 explain that the land belonged to John Derry and on his death the plot was divided into four areas with seven houses built: one for his daughter and six for tenants.  The lane gives access for "horse carriages, visitors and servants" and residents share the cost of its upkeep. 
Everything planted under the hedge has grown from cuttings from my garden.  Aquilegia, sedum, corn flowers, blue geranium, snow in the summer, oriental poppy, achillea and daffodils are all doing well.  Can't wait to get the wild flowers growing.
Visit Patient Gardener for more End of the Month views.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

GBBD: March 2015

Well, here we have all the usual suspects.  Only a few of the large daffodils have bloomed so far but the miniature ones are nodding away in the cold wind and bringing a smile to my face.

Now I am particularly pleased with the Primulas this year.  In 2013 I collected lots of seeds, threw them in a few pots and left them .... suddenly I had so many seedlings I had no idea where to put them!  They are all bulking up nicely now so I will have another dilemma in a couple of years when they will need dividing (dreaming of a full lane lined with primulas).  They really are a delightful plant ... I have a garden full but I BOUGHT another one this week .... it is a double called Amethyst Ice.  Hoping for more seeds!!

The front garden is dominated by the green Hellebores (I refuse to call them Stinking!).  They self seed all over the place so I have to keep an eye on them.  They have such a lovely flower .... I have used the larger ones as cut flowers and they lasted ever such a long time. 

Some of the Wallflowers are beginning to bloom too.  The fruit trees have small buds, the Japonica and Forsythia are thinking about appearing while the Snowdrops are bowing out. 

We have a Robin bringing nesting material into the holly tree and a Song Thrush singing away calling a mate.  Lots of bird activity as you would expect and frog spawn floating in the pond ... although strangely, I haven't seen or heard any frogs yet.
The greenhouse is filling up nicely. Trays of Asters, Delphiniums, Hollyhocks, Rudbeckia, Phlox, Dahlias and Aubretia on the go. I can't wait to plant the Sweet peas out. I have potatoes chitting and trays of cauliflowers, cabbages, peas and beans, beetroot and cucumber seeds planted. I say trays - I actually saved space and money this year by cutting up plastic milk bottles and punching drainage holes in the bottom.   
We visited the allotment this week - bit of hoeing, bit of digging (although I began to feel quite ill after half an hour ... so unfit!), bit of tidying up.  The Strawberries have spread out, the Raspberries have lots of buds and the cutting patch is coming along nicely.  I picked up a copy of Grow Your Own magazine this week: it is their 10th anniversary so they are giving away six packets of seeds (carrots, lettuce, basil, celeriac, kale, courgettes) on the front and offering 6 tomato plug plants, a pk of tomato feed and five packets of T&M herb/veg seeds for £5.65 postage .... and the magazine is pretty interesting too .... more than enough to keep me going for a week!
I am linking to May Dreams Garden Blog for GBBD.