Friday, 30 October 2009

Is It Or Isn't It And Other IDs



A quick trip to the allotment this afternoon to drop some stuff off. The site was looking rather melancholy and was quiet. A couple of other plot holders were at work but other than that the place was deserted. Whilst there I noticed this wee beastie on a cosmos flower that is now going over. I read Ryan's post at Ryan's Garden earlier this week and wondered whether the invasion has spread to the north west. Could this be a harlequin ladybird ? I am hoping not. There are certainly numerous aphids about for ladybirds nice or nasty to feast upon. Himself took the car through a car wash a couple of days ago and was not a happy bunny to find the car covered with aphids this morning. After the curses out came the bucket and soapy water. The car has now been parked in a different spot so it will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.





Now a couple of of plants ids. The first is a lovely day lily which I have been lucky enough to have been given a division of by a dear gardening friend. She swears that the squirrels steal her plant labels and the one that identified this plant has gone missing ~




Finally a tree growing in a Liverpool park, photographed in June this year and then September ~



Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Doing It in Style

O IS FOR?


















OUTDOORS WEDDING!
This was the glorious setting in Lancashire, where our niece and new husband chose to tie the knot. Afterwards the wedding party traipsed merrily around the reservoir on this memorable July day. Luckily despite the clouds, we did not need the plastic rain ponchos which each guest had been most thoughtfully provided with. Ours are now on standby should the heavens ever pour and catch me unawares at the allotment.

Over to ABC Wednesday for more on the letter O.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Meet The Family!



They are sociable, are not fussy eaters, do not play loud music at night and only speak when they are spoken to !

They came home with us after we visited the Malvern Spring Gardening Show earlier this year. Himself having not only talked me into buying a new greenhouse but also into purchasing a Can -O- Worms from Wiggly Wrigglers who were exhibiting at the show. We shared our campervan with a thousands worms for a night or two - well I am exaggerating somewhat - they were in a sealed bag in a storage box, fixed to the back of the van. There was definitely no danger of any of them worming their way into our bed.

I must admit that I had hankered after a wormery for several years and just like the greenhouse they were on sale at a special show price. They are a source of constant amusement - I disappear into the shed at least once a day to check on their well being and to talk to them. However I do not think I will have any usable compost until the spring and I do not think that there will be vast amounts in the future to bulk up my allotment beds. My thoughts were confirmed by a recent visit to the library where I read a report on wormeries in "Which ? Gardening". Although Can- O -Worms emerged as the best buy the report advised that this product will not meet all the average gardener's compost needs. I am not complaining though as I think that I am getting my moneys worth in enjoyment, as well as having another place to dispose of kitchen waste. The question of the moment is whether they will be warm and cosy enough in the shed overwinter or should I bring them inside? Himself is not enthusiastic about the latter option.

Their very first meal ~



Whilst on the subject of beneficial gardening creatures did you know that this is Bee Aware Week? I found out about this accidentally when I was on one of those magical mystery trips that the internet sometimes takes you on. Bee Aware Week is part of an ongoing campaign by the Women's Institute to raise awareness of the decline of honey bees. They are asking all WI members to spend a whole day eating only foods that have been pollinated by honeybees. You'll find an action pack about the issues and recipes and ideas for what to eat on that day here. After discovering some tasty sounding recipes, I will certainly be planning a bee friendly menu at some stage this week. There may be honey cake for afternoon tea but I am not telling the family just yet!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

"Feed The Birds"



I read in my newspaper on Thursday with some concern that the dry September we have experienced many parts of the U.K., may cause problems for garden birds this winter, according to the Royal Society For The Protection of Birds.

On the plus side the dry weather has produced a bumper crop of berries which will provide the birds with a great food source. However on the negative side the hard earth has sent the worms and other delicacies (slugs and snails) deep underground, making them hard for many of our garden birds to catch. Apparently blackbirds and song thrushes are already suffering. On "Feed The Birds Day" over this weekend the RSPB is asking gardeners to to feed the birds, as well as consider getting engaged in other activities that will provide sources of food for birds. This could be creating a water feature such as a pond, planting berry producing native plants, building insect boxes and setting up bird boxes. All sound advice wherever you are on the planet. For details of "Feed The Birds" events taking place this weekend throughout the country have a peek here.

Information and frequently asked questions about feeding birds can be found here and ideas to encourage birds and wildlife into your garden can be found here. I am hoping to build an insect hotel/wildlife raft at the allotment. The foundations will soon be in situ with some muscle from himself - a couple of wooden pallets, which were wrapped round my new greenhouse when it was delivered, so watch this space.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

What's Afoot ?

N IS FOR ?



NOW!
~ is the time for my natty Crocs to go into hibernation until next spring. Having larger than average feet (size 7) and wide ones at that, I often wish that I could be shod like a horse. Shopping for shoes is no fun - dainty shoes and perilously high heels are out for me so I have spent my life in flatties. When I discovered Crocs my feet purred, but is getting too cool and damp for wearing them outdoors now. I must put them aside for the time being and seek alternative footwear :( What type of shoes are your feet most comfortable in ?

P.S. Note all those naughty weeds, self seeders and nasties in my lawn - I need to be nifty and nullify them soon.

Nip over to ABC Wednesday for more on the letter N.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A Quintessentially English Garden



Mill Dene Garden in the Cotswolds village of Blockley, in Gloucestershire was our destination one afternoon in late September. I had read about this garden more than once in gardening magazines and realising that we were staying nearby, prevailed upon himself to whizz me there to see it for myself. I promised that the afternoon tea and cake would be on me.

I liked this atmospheric and shady nook which we came across soon after entering the garden ~





A hole in the hedge can certainly open up the view ~



Oh what's going on here ? Are we about to aboard a train and if so in which direction shall we head ?



Opting for Stoke and Derby on the premise that Crewe and Manchester are almost home territory, we find ourselves not on platform 7, but in the herb garden complete with this summer house ~


I would have been happy to take it home with me. Down some steps and onto the cricket lawn with its herbaceous borders ~



with original benches from Lord's cricket ground and its very own pavilllion. Oh to be able to have an 11th century church peering down on your garden ! ~






Then it was time for tea and homemade cake for himself and glass of lemonade for me as we sat by the pond basking in some warm autumn sunshine ~







In conclusion I liked the quirkiness and individual touches that were apparent throughout the garden which was developed from scratch by its owners. Maybe late September was not the best time to visit in terms of the number of plants out in flower, but then I now have the perfect excuse for a return visit in mid summer when this garden would probably be at its best. Have not informed himself yet !

Friday, 16 October 2009

An Autumn Garden



"With daffodils mad footnotes for the spring,
And asters
purple asterisks for autumn"


~ Conrad Aiken, 1889 - 1973.

A couple of days after the Malvern Autumn Show we visited a jewel of an autumn garden. We have visited this garden before but I could go back again and again. It is the The Picton Garden in Colwall near Malvern and it is home to a National Plant Collection. The plants in question are asters also known as Michaelmas Daisies. Obviously asters are very much the stars of this garden with more than 400 varieties but there are also many other late flowering perennials as well as shrubs and trees. After paying a modest entry fee of £2.50, visitors are handed a leaflet with a map and a planting plan of the individual garden areas. All the asters are labeled individually. Before leaving visitors have the opportunity to purchase plants at from the adjacent nursery which also supplies plants by mail order in spring. Here are few glimpses of the visual show that awaited us ~










Nurseryman Paul Picton has written a book ''The Gardener's Guide To Growing Asters" . I have not read this title but other books in the series are well written with plant information, ideas for planting combinations, advice on care and propagation plus excellent photographic illustrations.







I took the final photo at the allotment a week or so before visiting the Picton Garden. This aster is aster 'Little Carlow' and the butterfly is a comma. It is still flowering now and earlier this week a huge bee was having great fun tiptoeing over its flower heads gathering nectar.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A Grand Day Out

M IS FOR?



THE MAGIC OF THE MALVERN AUTUMN SHOW!

~ where a couple of weeks or so ago I had the pleasure of meeting up with Patient Gardener again. Himself sends his thanks to you Helen for sparing him the ordeal of looking at all those flowers and plants :) On arrival we made a beeline for the RHS Flower Show where we gazed and gawped at the impressive displays and plants ~





On to the Harvest Pavillion and its seasonal celebration of all sorts of vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers all grown by amateur gardeners. Here we came across the weird and wonderful ~





the bright and cheerful ~





and the most artistic displays of perfect home grown vegetables - not a blemish or slug nibble on them. How do they do it ? ~



Later in the day I met up with himself and we spent the afternoon strolling about the showground in glorious autumn sunshine. There were all sorts of stalls, activities and displays - something for everyone ~

For the romantic soul ~



For the little people - a bijou caravan with lift up roof ~



For those who like their machines ~



and yet more marvellous veg ~




To round up the day an ice cream and a quick final whizz round the flower show, where I made one or two more purchases to add to the ones made earlier. Will 'fess up soon. A grand day out - my feet have more or less recovered and I hope to return for the spring show in 2010.

Move over to ABC Wednesday for more marvellous missives on the letter M.

Monday, 12 October 2009

A Walled Garden



I have always fantasized about having a walled garden. During the last week of September I was able to live the dream briefly, when we had a holiday in a dinky little cottage in the village of Hanley Swan, near Malvern. The cottage was the annex of a larger house complete with its own walled garden which visitors were able to sit out in, wonder round and enjoy.

The vase of garden flowers was on the living room window sill when we arrived. Its contents looked just as fresh a week later. I was most taken with the flower with refluxed petals. Initially I thought this might be a rudbeckia but was not sure which one. I asked the owner during the week to be told it was in fact helenium "Sahin's Early Flowerer". I was delighted to be offered a plant of this to take home with me.

Directly underneath the living room window a most softly sounding water feature ~



Just round the corner on the left a sitting out area for visitors - the feet belong to himself ~




More views down the garden ~











Now dropping hints of a return visit in spring but not getting far - it's back to the campervan methinks for the Malvern Spring Show. The walled garden remains top of the wish list should we ever win the lottery.