Thursday 3 August 2017

August 2017

I should be outside painting the window frames but the rain arrived.  The wooden frames were my idea ... people kept telling me to go for plastic ones but I held out!  I got my way on the firm understanding that I wanted them, so I paint them! Now I wish I had listened to advice! Every year I hope the varnish will keep them protected and every year I have to get the ladders out! The varnish layers turned the wood from a lovely glowing golden shade to a dull dark brown.

I never imagined I would actually decide to cover the wood with paint but that is exactly what I am doing ... to be honest I think the lighter look has cheered the place up.  Plus, I MIGHT get away with not painting next year!  If not I am buying plastic!

I have not blogged since the beginning of April.  What have I been doing!! Well, lots of things but not a lot of gardening so the place bloomed without me.  Here are a few highlights from June/July:

I have been collecting seeds from the aquilegia, delphiniums and poppies.  New lupin and wallflower seedlings are coming through and I have a few cuttings in the greenhouse ... there will be more once this painting is out the way!!

 Visiting the B and Q isn't all bad ... they have a plant clearance section.  The large geraniums are half price so I picked out a few bushy ones to propagate for next year.

Thursday 6 April 2017

Spring Garden

 I was quite pleased with the back of the garden three weeks ago .....

..... but it looks much better now.

 The warm days have really brought the place to life.  It is not just the plants either: the birds are chasing each other about, butterflies have appeared and I have spotted hedgehog poo (but not the actual hedgehog yet!).

I have just started reading a book called 'Daffodil: a Biography of a Flower' by Helen O'Neil.  I am enjoying it so far not just for the informative content but because of the beautiful illustrations.  Apparently there are over 30,000 different cultivars of daffodils so I started to count the ones in my garden ... only forty two .... and that's just the ones I recognised as being different.  Some of the differences are quite small but very significant to collectors who pay small fortunes for a single bulb.
Here are a few favourites from my garden:

Belton House in Lincolnshire has better collection ....

Sunday 5 March 2017

Early March

 The purple and yellow crocus look lovely poking their heads through the lawn but I have to remember not to tread on them.  I have been moving pots onto the grass while we pressure wash the paths.  We have never done it before so you can imagine the dramatic colour change when 24 years of grime is removed ... what a difference!  So that's something else I have to avoid treading on with my mud caked wellies!

More and more primulas  are coming into flower and the tete-a-tete daffodils.  The bigger daffs are not far behind now.  Snowdrops are just starting to go over.  We moved into this house 5th March 1993 and I remember thinking how wonderful the Forsythia looked as it bloomed behind the Japanese Quince ... both are a bit later this year.  Next week perhaps.

The Helebores are making up for it...

I divided my seed stash into veg and flowers then divided the flowers into ones to propagate in seed trays, ones for pots and others that can be scattered outside. So the greenhouse is now filled with seedtrays and pots that I hope will be covered with shoots in next to no time. 

Outside is taking a bit longer.  One veg bed still needs emptying of flowers but the back border is covered with compost just waiting for seeds.  Lettuce, cabbage and a few potatoes are already in.  I can't decide where to plant the peas and beans! I have a trellis I could plant them against but it is West facing: I think they would produce more on the South facing fence.  Decisions!!

On my way to visit my mum for her 95th birthday I called into a local garden centre and found two lovely planters reduced from £26 to £9!  Could not believe my luck.  I had to go back outside to get a trolley to transport them to the till and actually got slightly panicked at the thought of someone else grabbing them before I got back!! Here is one with the Tudor Rose on the side.  The other has a lily pattern.  Really pleased with them.

I was even happier when I saw the trays of Bellis and Pansies reduced to 50p. Little wonder this garden centre is so popular!

Monday 20 February 2017

20th February 2017

The phone woke me up with a start at one o'clock in the morning on Saturday.  My first thought was, "This must be bad news."  As I picked up I imagined my younger sister telling me my 94 year old mother had passed.  We are preparing a birthday party for her 95th this weekend but she hasn't been well recently. I steeled myself for the news.  My youngst son was on the other end ... a moment of relief then the panic of  'Why is he phoning so late then? What has happened?'
"Are you alright?" I ask.
"Oh, " he says, "I've got the wrong number.  Sorry mum did I wake you?"

First daffodil
This lovely hellebore was one of those monthly offers from Gardens' World Magazine three years ago
.... six free plants for the cost of postage.  I received Helleborus purpurascens; Helleborus niger and Helleborous Double Ellen.  They were all tiny and needed time to bulk up before planting out but they are all showing off today.

The good thing about a blog is the ability to look back to previous years.  Looking at an area of primroses I was struck by how few there appeared to be compared with my memory of 2015.  Sure enough photographic proof shows a full line under a large laurel.  That line now has gaps in it.  We had the laurel chopped back last year so that area was badly disturbed and it maybe the plants were killed.  Easy to put right though ... plenty of primroses elsewhere that can be divided to fill the gaps.  I have a seed tray full of seedlings I could use anyway but I really want to plant those at the top of the lane in the road verge.  I know that is not my land but it could look so good with a little effort!

Crocus in the lawn

I am filling the bird feeders up there every two days now and the bird numbers seem to have increased ... but I have no idea what it was like in previous years as the place was too overgrown to see any birds! I do know a couple of magpies have started to build a large nest there using my wood pile for supplies.  They are pretty close to one of my nest boxes! Not good news! The sparrows and chaffinches are not impressed either!

I was right about the frog a couple of days ago ... it found its way to the pond where a mate was waiting and the two are now making lots of froggy noises.

The clear out has continued.  The seed trays are washed and ready for planting; storage boxes in the greenhouses have been emptied ... that was so hard to do! ... I am a terrible hoarder and look to find a use for all sorts of old rubbish knowing full well I will never do anything with it in reality ... this time I closed my eyes as the bin filled up!  Years worth of saved plastic pots gone ... not all of them mind! 


I love this time of year ... everything waking up and the knowledge that this will soon be this ....

Last April

Saturday 18 February 2017

Messing About

I got up this morning intent on spending the day tidying up the garden then did exactly the opposite!

I began well by sprucing up a small bed outside the back door.  It doesn't look great just now but it is no longer covered in dead leaves and the old stems have gone.  The patch in the middle will be filled with a tower of sweetpeas in a few weeks I hope.  Haven't got round to actually planting any yet ... that's a job for tomorrow.

The composters looked ok next to the shed but I decided to move them to behind the greenhouse.  Stupid idea! My back is now killing me!  The reward is loads of lovely compost and plenty of empty space in the bins.  The down side is the mess I made!  I piled loads into the back borders where the veg will be and filled some large pots but had to leave this pile when I ran out of energy to move anymore!  The robin was pleased.

I moved a table to behind the greenhouse too.

Now I know this looks a mess at the moment but I have a plan!  It involves a saw, a screwdriver and a pot of paint ... could be very messy!  I have been on Pinterest .... I LOVE Pinterest! .... and spotted a lot of quaint potting benches made from old tables and pallets so how difficult can it be??

This is the look I am going for:

I have the green paint, some planks of wood and a couple of metal shelf brackets.  I want some sort of pretty sign, a twig heart and a few painted pots.  If you don't see a photo in the next few weeks you will know it went horribly wrong and ended in a trip to the tip .... and we won't need to mention it again!!

Next I started to shift the dead leaves from the herb patch when this young lady jumped out and I decided to stop.  She is massive ... obviously about to pop if she doesn't down load all that frog spawn soon.  I think our pond will be seeing some action tomorrow.

Friday 17 February 2017

February 2017

I have been shopping!

I made the most of the Lidl special offer .... 5 pks for £1 for the veg seeds and 5 pks for £2 for flowers.  Unfortunately I then chose to go through the self service till and somehow managed to over charge myself by £1.60!

My Garden Club always offers half price Thompson & Morgan seeds but this year the lady who organises this decided to quit ... no one was stepping up so I volunteered to take over.  It took some persuading to get to the minimum order level of £100 but we made it on time for the seeds to arrive for the February meeting. I was giving out the seeds when two more orders were handed in .... just when I thought I had finished!

Looking at details of another garden club in a neighbouring village I noticed they had a talk about barn owls.  Now my husband is a keen birder so he agreed to accompany me.  The owners of Tean Valley Meadow, Alan and Sylvia Williams, retired in 2002 and bought 11 acres of meadow and set about creating a nature reserve.  Thirty three young owls have been fledged from their owl boxes over the years.  It sounded idyllic.  What a great thing to do in your retirement. 
As a visitor I felt quite cheeky when my number came out first in the club raffle ....  but I desperatly needed a new pair of work gloves and there was a leather pair on the table ... serendipity!

So here is how I wore out my old gloves .... before Christmas I began to tidy up a small area near my house.  I was happy with what I had accomplished and had plans to finish the job when I came back from a three week holiday to India.  Imagine my surprise on our return to find the council had decided to do something about the overgrown mess and had visited with their chainsaws: they destroyed the shrubs and left the mess!

A week later my gloves were in tatters ....

but the ground space was clear.

I have already planted some spring bulbs in there ... obviously not enough .... but they are coming through now.

Before Christmas I had visions of a bluebell wood .... today I visited Hodsocks Priory so I now want a snowdrop wood!

I had a lovely day spotting the different species.  It made me look more carefully at my own snowdrops some of which were in the garden when we moved in twenty four years ago and sure enough I found a small clump with lots of green on the inner petals ... no idea what it is but 'Dragonfly' looks quite similar or it may be Merlin.  I have no plans to start collecting snowdrops.  The cost of some of the bulbs is frightening.

The Hodsock shop was a treat ... lots of bulbs and hellebores and bees all over the place!

 Lots to do in the garden this weekend ... LOVE this time of year!!

A little treat!

 Finally, here's one of the tigers we saw on our birding holiday in India.