Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Fancy A Cuppa?

K IS FOR?



THE KETTLE SINGS!



........... but sadly not on a Monday. After a stroll in the surroundings of the beautiful Malvern Hills yesterday, our hopes of downing a most welcome cuppa were to be dashed.

There is a kaleidoscope of Ks waiting to be discovered over at ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Feeling Sheepish

J IS FOR ?



JUST SUPERLAMBANAS!

These appealing creatures were much in evidence locally during 2008, when the city of Liverpool held the title of Liverpool Capital of Culture. I was annoyed with myself for never having my camera with me to photograph the pair that graced our local railway station. However luck was on my side and I was delighted to see them return this summer. The goofy looking one makes me smile and its friend has a particularly local touch. The bridge you can see painted on its flanks is a representation of our local landmark - a bridge that crosses the river Mersey.

Just jump over to ABC Wednesday, hosted by Denise Nesbitt for more jollies on the letter J.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

"Parklife"



Within five minutes of leaving home last Saturday morning, I was dismayed to find myself enveloped and shivering in thick fog. Although major shopping was on the agenda, fog per se would not be an obstacle even to a reluctant shopper like myself. However before battling out with the best of them in Liverpool's new shopping precinct, I planned to return to Chavasse Park for my September Out On The Streets contribution over at Veg Plotting. I posted about my June visit to the park here. Fortunately by the time I got to town the fog had lifted, descended and then lifted again- all down to the meandering of the river Mersey methinks. So fortunately by the time I reached my destination it was a sparkling September morning.

This is a small park with none of the usual facilities for children that you usually associate with a park. Having said that it is a pleasant area to sit in, relax, chat, perhaps picnic and generally enjoy some welcome green right in the centre of a bustling city. There were distinct early autumnal hues.

More or less from the same spot, firstly in June ~



and now September ~



However there was still much colour in evidence. Reds, yellows and oranges here ~



Various late flowering perennials used in combination with grasses ~











I detected spaces for further planting - more echinaceas and asters would fit in well.

This time the water feature was working- hurrah ! ~






As it was still before 9.00am there were very few folk about. I imagine though that kids would enjoy weaving through these water spurts and getting drenched. Whilst making sure that my camera was not getting splashed, I was asked a question by another early morning photographer. This chap had the works strapped round his neck - a most expensive looking camera and accessories. He was over here from Venezuela and said that he was enjoying taking photos. He told me that it was too dangerous for him to take photos at home for fear of being mugged. He said that he felt quite safe in Liverpool, which was a refreshing comment, as the city often attracts unfair comments both in the national press and from so called comedians about its crime rate.

On a final note I will leave you with a glimpse of this building which you can see from the park ~




This is part of the new Liverpool ferry terminal which recently had the very dubious honour of winning the 2009 Carbuncle Cup - this is an award bestowed by architects on the country's most ugly newly completed building. The ferry terminal building is in the proximity of Liverpool's iconic 'Three Graces' so there has been much controversy about this new addition to the waterfront. I have not seen the entire building in close up yet from all angles so will not pass my final verdict but ..... !

P.S. With thanks to Blur for the post title. I will be singing this song for the rest of the day !

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

'Singing The Blues'

I IS FOR ?



INSPIRATION AND IDEAS!

~ which is what I have got today from wondering round other folk's September gardens over at Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by May Dreams Gardens. This is where garden bloggers post about the blooms in their garden on the 15th of each month. My garden seems to be very heavy on the old green tinged with brown at the moment. I have very few September stars - most of what is in flower was out in August or before and is still hanging on. I do have one dramatic new performer though - an unlabeled aconitum, which I bought at our garden club plant sale in May with autumn colour in mind. I am quite smitten already.

If you would like to see more inside information on the letter I you can do so over at ABC Wednesday.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Absolute Musts!


All this rare sunshine is going to my head. I have had a surfeit of fresh air this week and as I have toiled at the allotment the grey matter has been in overdrive. I have come to the conclusion that I must :
  • Do some serious research into chemical toilets or porta potties (to use a quainter phrase). Perched over the bucket in the shed this morning, I had an alarming moment when I heard loud buzzing, which I think was in the vicinity of a certain very exposed part of my anatomy ! I did not dare to turn my head to look in case I toppled over.
  • Treat myself to Anna Pavord's new book 'Bulb' which I flicked through in Waterstones yesterday. Already laden down with shopping I could not manage to carry this heavy tome as well. First impressions were of excellence - masses of information and beautiful photography. I would like to have lingered it over it longer but I always feel guilty if I leave without making a purchase. I know it's slightly early to mention the dreaded C word but this could be my yearly gift to myself book. However Waterstones have got a special offer on the book at the moment. Should I return later in the week and then ask himself to hide the book until the appointed time? Decisions, decisions. Also on my book wish list are 'Veg Patch : River Cottage Handbook 4' by Mark Diacono and 'Garden Wisdom' by Leslie Geddes-Brown'.
  • Find out whether there is such an item as a waterproof, smudge-proof notebook. I have given up taken a notebook to the allotment as they invariably get dirty and/or damp. However I find that I do not always remember what I want to do or need to do. It would also be useful to be jot down notes and thoughts for future reference.
  • Take a tape measure with me to the allotment to measure the raised beds. I need to get some porous membrane to cover the beds over before the cold weather sets in. Now if I had the aforesaid notebook I would remember to put the tape measure into my allotment bag.
  • Plant onion sets and garlic next month. Before I can do that I need to order them but that's the easy bit. I also need to get my head round my hit and miss rotation system and work out where I can plant them. That should take some time says she scratching her head.
  • I must plant my bulbs before the end of November and not half way through January when in previous years I have risked severe frostbite to accomplish this task. As I have only bought a bag of sixteen tulip bulbs up to now this should not be beyond the realms of possibility. I shall just have to stay clear of bulb websites, catalogues and garden centres for the foreseeable future. Sounds easy.
Well I think that's enough musts for me to be getting on with for the time being. Time now to seek inspiration for what I can do with a mound of damsons.


Friday, 11 September 2009

Running


I have been enjoying a horticultural fest this week. A long overdue spell of settled sunny weather has provided me with the perfect excuse to potter in the garden and at the allotment. Amongst other jobs at the allotment, I have been tidying up the strawberry beds and cutting off the surplus runners to pot up. Now exactly what I am going to do with possibly 70 odd new strawberry plants, I am not quite sure but I am planning to have a new strip of land to fill at the allotment. When I took over the plot a good part of one length of it consisted of a sparsely planted border, a ramshackle cold frame and a huge patch of comfrey. The border will remain but the comfrey and the cold frame are coming out. The cold frame is falling apart and has always been too heavy for me to open and close with ease. The comfrey is not the much desired Bocking 14 variety but alas the sort that seeds itself everywhere. I suppose I should not let it flower but it is a veritable bee magnet and I do not want to deprive the bees. I will leave one plant tucked in the corner at the far end. So what is going to fill this new patch? The plan is to fit in three apples trees and a pear tree this autumn. These will be small trees on M27 or M9 rootstock. Monty Don explains the different rootstocks here. Allotment rules forbid planting trees that might cast shadows on neighbouring plots but I think that I will get by with planting small trees. My allotment neighbours did this about three years ago and have not yet fallen foul of the allotment inspector. We are hoping to go Ornamental Tree Nurseries near Leominster in the next month,where at this time of year you are able to not only see the trees in growth but also taste the fruits. 'Katja' or 'Katy' is the only variety that I have more or less decided on so there is more research to be done. Any recommendations would be welcome. As for the strawberry runners those that take can fill in any space that is left. You can never have too many strawberries !

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Incey Wincey

H IS FOR ?



HAIRY SPIDERS!

"Incey Wincey spider
Climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed poor Incey out
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And Incey Wincey spider
Climbed up the spout again!"


It seems that at this time of year spiders and their cobwebs are everywhere. Now I know that they are a gardener's friend but I usually give them a very wide berth. However this was the one exception when I went out of my way to meet a spider. Last September, almost a year to the day, we went to Liverpool to see "La Princesse". This royal lady was a huge mechanical spider who came to town as part of the Liverpool Capital of Culture year long programme of events. You can see out her for an evening stroll here.

Hurry now hop along without hesitation to ABC Wednesday, where there more posts on the letter H.

Friday, 4 September 2009

OOTS - French Style

Not exactly on my doorstep but a bit further afield, here are a few images from out on the streets in France this summer. Once again I was taken with both the imaginative planting we came across and its quality too. We encountered more marvellous roundabouts. The one that really stuck in my mind consisted of what looked like the stainless steel dolphins leaping out of a sea of grasses and blue agapanthus. Unfortunately short of causing an accident there was no opportunity to take a photo.

Firstly from the small town of Lessay in Normandy,this planting not only looked good but was scented too :







Binic, in Normandy was very much in the pink. Sunglasses were the order of the day but there were also some also some appealing plant combinations amongst the bog standard petunias and busy lizzies.









Going out to sea there was evidence of a plant that is currently causing concern in Brittany. This is ulva lactuca - more commonly known as sea lettuce - is harmless while living, but when it decays on land it forms a crust under which hydrogen sulphate occurs. You may have read or watched on the news that this seaweed is choking some of the beaches on Brittany's coastline. There has been an explosion in the growth of the algae caused by the high percentage of nitrate used in fertilisers. Although my schoolgirl French was luckily up to reading the notices advising you to steer well clear of the seaweed as it could cause health problems, I did not realise what a serious problem it was until we got home.



I will have to add to this post when I get home or do a postcript, as I have just accidentally deleted the remaining photos I wanted to include. Drat! One of the perils of using an unfamiliar keyboard and computer. I know that we are now into October but I hope that I am not too late for VP's "September Out On The Streets" . I am looking forward to reading some other of the other contributions over there at leisure when I get home.

Heucheraholics Beware - The Conclusion!



Earlier this week I wrote about our last garden club meeting,when Vicky and Richard Fox from Jubilee Cottage Nursery kept us enthralled with news and views on the subject of heucheras. Now where was I ? About to describe the new heucheras coming to a nursery near you soon! Depending on your whereabouts in the universe, some of these heucheras may have already landed. Vicky and Richard do quite a bit of trialling plants in the UK for Dan Heims, the well known plantsman and breeder. I must admit that my notes became more sparse as the evening went on because the room we were in became overwhelmingly hot. More information including photos of these new heucheras can be seen at www.plantagogo.uk or at www.terranovanurseries.com

These new plants include :

'Berry Smoothie' - a shade lover
'Fire Chief' - fantastic red foliage. The bicoloured pink and white flowers start coming in spring and keep on right till autumn.
'Electra' -more veining as she matures. An improvement on 'Tiramisu' Compared to ‘Tiramisu' and more vigorous.
'Miracle' - new in 2009. Starts with green leaves but the foliage completely changes as the year progresses.
'Lime Marmalade' - a limey coloured sport of ‘Marmalade'. A bigger, chunkier and more vigorous version of ‘Lime Rickey'. Frilly foliage opening limey green which retains its colour as the foliage matures, eventually taking on yellow tones. Will cope with summer heat.
'Autumn Leaves' - nice big white flowers with a pink flush. Likes full sun.
'Havana' - grown for its flowers. Will flower all summer long and can take some sun. Vicky advised that all the Dan Heims heucheras which are named after cities are bred specifically for their flowers. They are also usually long flowering.
'Midas Touch'- a shade loving stunner. This has gone down on my wish list.
'Mint Julep' - Vicky's favourite newcomer.
'Milan' - will take full sun. Flowers set on unusually short stems.

Vicky intimated that there is some exciting breeding work taking place, especially with regard to heucherellas and tiarellas but she is sworn to secrecy. What a shame. For anybody who might like to visit the nursery it opens by appointment only - the phone number is on the website. The nursery currently holds a national collection of heucherellas. They have applied for national collection status of heucheras - they currently have about 230 varieties. Vicky mentioned that they also hope to have a national tiarella collection in the future.


The final part of the evening's proceedings was the opportunity to buy from a well stocked and groaning sales table. For once I dazzled myself with my organisation by ordering plants online to be bought to the meeting. Sadly the first batch of 'Berry Smoothie' had been all snaffled up but my name is down for one of the next batch. I did go home though with heucherella 'Sweet Tea' (above photos) and heuchera 'Venus'. I also came home with a catalogue. Web browsing is satisfactory but nothing beats a good catalogue for bedtime reading ! A catalogue is also useful in the self restraint department as you can't add to that virtual shopping basket there and then.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

September

G IS FOR ?


GARDEN BLOGGERS MUSE DAY !

The first day of each month is Garden Bloggers Muse Day. This is hosted by Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago. Here fellow garden bloggers post seasonal poems,photos, pictures, musings and songs. After many years of working in schools (unfortunately not with school holidays) my summers were invariably spent planning for the new school year in September. So here is my September offering for GBMD :

'September'

"The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze'

~ John Updike, 1932 - 2009





A second G for today is Shirl's Gardenwatch blog where Shirl is posing the question of how do folk re-use and recycle their surplus plastic pots ? Invariably these build up and before you know it you can end up with a veritable pot mountain ! Have a look at Shirl's blog to find out more about some of the excellent schemes and uses that have been posted about today. No innovative or exciting ideas here I am afraid. I grow plants for our garden club plant sale each year, so am always in need of spare pots or know other folk who will appreciate them. In the past I have also grown plants to sell at our local Country Market and I know that the producers there would appreciate empty pots. Your local allotment site might also be grateful of a donation.

Finally himself has come up with a use for some of my empty pots whilst starting work on erecting a new greenhouse this weekend. These are florist's buckets from Wilkos, which are lot cheaper than buying the equivalent sized pot from a garden centre. Apparently using the bucket overcame the problem of low ground when it came to pouring the concrete - himself would be more technical in his explanation. Not a pretty picture but you will get the gist ~



Go over to ABC Wednesday to have a gander at more posts on the letter G.