Thursday, 29 December 2011

The In Between Time


This time of year is one to savour - the gap between all that frantic rushing around, cleaning, cooking and never ending shopping and before the arrival of an unchartered year, full of hope and promise. Hibernation is the order of the day with studying seed catalogues and reading high on the agenda along with other gentle seasonal pursuits such as playing Scrabble.

The weather here over the Christmas weekend was extraordinarily warm - on Boxing Day we sat with the window open and no heating on until darkness fell.  A complete contrast to the sub zero temperatures of the 2010 festive season when snow lay on the ground. The following day saw me more than ready to venture out and about -  to be doing rather than sitting. Top of the list on the jobs to be done was to remove the old foliage from the hellebores. This is one of those tasks where there seems to be much debate as to the whether to and if so when to do it. The leaves are evergreen so you could leave them on  but can they become rather tatty. They are also rather large and floppy and can obscure the flowers. There is also the risk if you leave them on, of them carrying leaf spot disease throughout the winter, which could affect the flowers when they open. As to when some books recommend autumn and others early winter. It is one of those jobs best done though before the flowers buds start to open so you limit the risk of cutting them off, which if ever done brings out loud shrieks from both flower and pruner. I think that I would not have liked to do this job any later this year. Now all that remains to do is a bit of tidying up as well as give the plants a mulch. I have been saving a bag of worm compost in readiness for this but yesterday was too windy and cold to venture out whilst today is not looking any more promising so far. Oh well back to having my head stuck in a book until conditions are more favourable.
P.S. We made a last trip of the year to the garden centre yesterday morning and what should come home with me but another hellebore.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Voice Of An Angel



It will only be later on today when I sit down in front of the television, glass of sherry in one hand, mince pie in t'other that I will realise Christmas is really here. The candlelit carol service from Kings College, Cambridge is broadcast every year always starting with 'Once In Royal David's City'. The opening lines sung by a boy soloist invariably send a magical tingle of anticipation and excitement down my spine.

Wishing you all peace and joy at Christmas dear friends!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

"Raise Your Candles High"

'The Shortest Day'
~ "So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!" 
- Susan Cooper b.1935.


At 5.30am this morning well before dawn, when I was still asleep, the winter solstice occured, bringing with it the official onset of winter and the beginning of the end of those long, dark nights in the northern hemisphere. A time to rejoice and sing as we walk towards the light! My early flowering snowdrop - galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara' is nodding her head in full agreement. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wet,Wet,Wet!

W IS FOR?

WATERING CANS! ~ along with old clay pots I am quite partial to the odd watering can, as seen here earlier this year in Le Jardin de Marie - Ange. So much more welcoming than modern plastic versions.


Wander over to ABC Wednesday for more on the wondrous letter W!

Monday, 19 December 2011

"DiSAHster Dahlings!"

Just over a year ago I posted here about my attempt to embrace new technology by taking out a digital subscription to 'The English Garden' magazine. This came about from an urge to declutter as well as save some pennies.  Now a good year into this experiment I would like to say that it has been a great success, but this is not the case.  In the words of my favourite 'Strictly Come Dancing' judge, my verdict has to be it's been "a diSAHster dahlings!". What happens is that when the monthly email arrives to advise that the new edition is available online, I click and have a quick flick through of the contents but that is usually it. This happens even though there is always plenty that attracts my eye during that initial flick. I am ashamed to say that I have not read one single issue from virtual cover to virtual cover.

1 was always behind with hard copies of the magazine but only maybe by a couple of months or so never by a whole year! I think that the physical presence of a pile of unread magazines acted as a permanent reminder to make time to read them. Whilst they are floating about somewhere in cyber space it's not just the same! Sitting in front of a computer screen is just not as relaxing or as easy on the aging eyes as curling up on the settee with a favourite magazine. 'The English Garden' can be downloaded onto tablets which would go someway to perhaps making it more of a leisurely reading experience.  It is a shame that it is not working out as it's the cheapest way of reading the magazine. There are some minor minus points eg there are no free gifts with your virtual mag but the cost of subscribing this way is a big plus. I am going to make a determined effort to catch up with the backlog over the festive season and start afresh come the new year but I am not convinced. I have a feeling that come 2013 I will return to the traditional magazine format. Has anybody else taken out a digital magazine subscription? If so I would be interested to know whether you have fared better than me. Later this week more about my other venture into the realms of new technology which has left me with a big smile on my face.

P.S. I should say that you can browse in either single or double page mode and zoom in or out.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

'Dig For Victory'

V IS FOR?
VINTAGE! ~ which was the theme underlying The Southport Flower Show this summer. There were many valiant attempts at interpreting the theme but this was the victor as far as I was concerned ~



Vamoosh over to ABC Wednesday now for more on the vivacious letter V!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

'The Story Behind The Name'


Over at 'Garden Faerie's Musings' the lovely Monica has issued an invitation to gardening bloggers share the story behind the name and to reveal how you came up with your online identity. I must admit that when entered the world of blogging I was fascinated by the names of the company I was keeping.  I wondered whether there was a patient soul writing 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' as the name suggests, who was 'Veg Plotting', and was there a real artist behind 'An Artists Garden'? I have since learned the answer to those questions but there are always others taking their place. Amongst many other mysteries I am intrigued to know ~
  • Whether 'Wellywoman' has a pair of the aforesaid footwear permanently welded to her feet? 
  • Does 'Blue Shed Thinking' actually have a blue shed?
  • Has 'Beangenie' got a magical touch with beans or is she partial to the taste of legumes?

As for my online identity the story behind the name is is short and sweet and has absolutely nothing to do with my prowess as an expert with the needle. When I was in the initial throes of creating my blog I was really struggling to come up with a name. I looked round the study (where the computer resides) for inspiration and my eyes quickly scanned there bookshelf. There staring me in the face was the answer ~ one of my favourite gardening books, none other than Beth Chatto's 'The Green Tapestry'. I was doing a calligraphy course at the time and for some reason was taken with the the idea of merging the last two words of the title together ~ hence the name 'greentapestry' ~ as simple as that. The photo at the top of my post is what was was the header of my original blog design chosen to reflect the title.  It may well return one of these days.

Do join in and share the story behind your name over at 'Garden Faerie's Musings' as we would all like to know!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The First 'Drop


To quote from that well known seasonal refrain ~ 'The weather outside is frightful', but  I still have managed to nip out between the frequent hailstone showers, to take a photo of my first snowdrop of the new season. To give her her full title she is galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara'. She originated from the garden of Mrs Macnamara who happened to be the mother - in - law of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.  She is an early flowerer but seems to have arrived ahead of time this year. I think that she may well have opened fully by the end of the week if the forecast was not as dire as it is.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I have a small collection of named snowdrops which I first wrote about here back in February 2009. I keep my bulbs in pots mainly because it enables me to enjoy them at close quarters near to the house. They brave the world when most other plants are hibernating  - their frail and dainty appearance belies the fact that they are tough customers. Another appealing feature is that snowdrops have a subtle almost honey like scent, which you do not fully appreciate when they are in the ground. As getting my nose to the ground is not as easy as it once was I appreciate having the pots  nearer to my olfactory organ.

Sadly the very fact that I keep them in pots has been a source of much woe as the past couple of winters has decimated my collection. I always knew that I was taking a risk but the winter weather had not been an issue in ten years or more or so of growing this way. If we have a protracted cold spell this winter they will be moved rapidly to warmer climes and if these cold winters persist I will have to plant them into the ground. Alternatively when they start to clump up I might split them between pots and the ground. 'Mrs Macnamara' is being most obliging in this department - there are some littlies coming through. Sadly I will not be able to replace all those that perished as I do not have the spare pennies to spend on plants that I had a few years ago. However I hope to slowly add to their numbers again. Having a winter birthday is quite handy as it when most of the specialist growers produce their catalogues! I do not think though that I could ever become a full blown 'galanthophile' as the really serious collectors are called. Apart from the rising cost, there seems to be very little discernible difference in the markings of some snowdrops, yet if there was a risk of me becoming addicted to one particular plant snowdrops would be in the lead. More to come on the subject as the winter unfolds.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Garden Blogger's Muse Day ~ December 2011

To celebrate the first day of the meteorological winter and our wedding anniversary ~ a poem by Jenny Joseph ~

'The unlooked - for season'

"Love, the sun lies warm across the wall.
The wide windows and the smell of the road 
Do not say Winter. Ladybirds are crawling 
Out on ledges. Midday full on the land
Slows down the progress of the afternoon
Promising evening, like a Summer Sunday.


But look where the sun is. Never high in the sky it crept round the horizon. Ask anyone,
Look at the trees and the calendar - all declare
It should be winter. Within two hours
The Winter night will come up with the fog.


Since you have come and gone in the dreaded season
And left so much sunlight, I cannot think
Of now as dead time, only gentle,
With nothing to be feared, if this is winter"


The rose is 'The Fairy', which like us is a little bit ragged around the edges, is still holding on to a few flowers today.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shear Perfection

T IS FOR?
TOPIARY!
Trimmed to a tee, some tantalising topiary that we were fortunate to be treated to on our travels in September. Firstly above and below in the gardens at Great Dixter, Kent ~


and then this tailored allée in Les Jardins de Séricourt, France ~


where we were also treated to this tableux ~


Not quite tea for two but terribly civilised nevertheless.

Tango over to ABC Wednesday for more on the terrific letter T.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Spring in November


My sister is away travelling in South America where it is spring. She has been taunting me with regular texts to the effect that the temperature is seriously warm, that she is on Copacabana Beach, then that she is in Buenos Aires where there is a haze of purple blossom etc, etc. On a decidedly grim and grey November day earlier this week, came an email with the photo that you can see above of jacaranda trees in Buenos Aires. "Too much information sis :) " was my rather short reply.

Yet here in the north west of England there are definite signs of blossom and spring out there. Perhaps not quite as striking as the jacaranda are the subtle flowers of Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis' or the autumn flowering cherry. Little sprigs of blossom have been breaking throughout this week which made my heart skip a beat. Providing there are no severe frosts this will flower for a good while here before having a kip and then a second flowering come spring. I first saw mention of it in Vita Sackville - West's 'Garden Book' and decided that I would like to plant this tree one day. She used to cut branches to open up in the warmth of the house "where the green buds surprisingly expand into the white, faintly - scented blossom suggestive of spring." There is both a pure white flowering version and a white tinged with pink, which is the one I grow. I have been trying to photograph my tree for the last couple of days but it has been blowing a hooley. You can see it here photographed in December 2009 but for a clearer idea of what the flowers are like Liz, over at Gwirrel's Garden has recently posted about the same tree. Liz has a superb talent for photography and if you have not visited her blog before you are really in for a visual treat.

Other signs of spring are a hellebore in flower, despite me protesting to the contrary when I read Rosie's post over at LeavesnBloom. That was before I did a spot of tidying up and spotted a flash of white from Mrs Betty Ranicar'. Then my sadly reduced collection of named snowdrops (which have been decimated by the last two winters) is showing activity. Galanthus 'Mrs McNamara' who usually appears in January is already showing white whilst the noses of other 'drops are already breaking through!

My sister returns this coming week but I now feel that I cope with those warm weather texts and emails should more land on my phone.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

"Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree"

S IS FOR?
SIESTA!
If you screw up your eyes and squint you will see the silhouettes of several sheep snoozing their way through a sunny September afternoon, under the shade of a spreading sweet chestnut tree. How many Ss in that?

Slip over to ABC Wednesday to be serenaded by the scintillating letter S!

P.S. This sweet chestnut is one of many fine trees in Fredville Park, just outside the village of Nonington in Kent. The most famous specimen there is 'Majesty' one of the largest common oaks in Europe. This tree features in Thomas Pakenham's book 'Meetings With Remarkable Trees'.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Plants That Die Disgracefully

Some plants simply have the knack of bowing out gracefully whilst others it seems seem to attract attention to themselves for all the wrong reasons.  We read in gardening books and magazines about the glowing colours of autumn foliage but are rarely made aware of plants that are grim at this time of year. I have wondered round the garden this morning where my eyes have been assailed by some unpleasant sights which I am going to share a couple with you.

I will start though with a pleasant passing before revealing the unseemly -  that of a hardy geranium (wracking my brain in vain to think which one it is but not succeeding at the moment - maybe sanguineum) which you can see at the top of the page. Almost as pleasing as when it is smothered with flowers. Would that all specimens in my garden follow in its wake.

Gently leading up to the real bleugh - below is the foliage of polygonum or 'Solomon's Seal' ~
Now this seems decidedly dreary to my eyes yet I have read suggestions that you should grow this plant for its autumn foliage. I also read about it producing attractive small black berries in autumn but they remain elsusive.  I am unable to understand why it should be recommended for autumn but perhaps it behaves differently in other peoples garden. Maybe somebody reading this has evidence to the contrary

As for my finale this really should carry a government health warning as I do not prune it until spring. It is clematis x jouiniana 'Praecox'. This is a late to flower scrambler which is covered with flowers from July to October. It is great to pick for small vases and it attracts bees and butterflies. The Royal Horticultural Society has bestowed an Award of Garden Merit upon it but surely not for its grim departure. Please avert your eyes if you are of a sensitive disposition ~
It look even more unpleasant on wet days and as autumn proceeds. Perhaps you have some autumn ugliness that you would like to nominate for a plant that dies disgracefully.

All photos were taken this morning on what could only be a November day.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

'Mother And Child Reunion'

R IS FOR?
REUNION!
In raptures at being reacquainted mother and child roaming in the gardens of Powis Castle, North Wales one afternoon last autumn.

If you are about to pause for refreshment and a relaxing rest, may I suggest that you might really enjoy this rather heartwarming rendition of 'Mother And Child Reunion'. It is sung by an artist held in high regard ~ Mr. Paul Simon.



Now why not race over to ABC Wednesday for more on the rather rumbustious letter R!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

'Double Dipping'


This 'double dip' autumn continues broken only briefly by the first frost last Sunday. Any thoughts of lifting the dahlias had to be put on hold as I was heading south for a few days. I have come back to find frazzled leaves but still need to lift them and find them a des res for the winter. Other than that most other things escaped damage and it has turned mild again. Before I went there was time to sow a few pots of sweet peas. The sowing I made in October was most disappointing as only seven seeds germinated out of fifteen. I am not sure how old the seed was but I picked up a packet of a new introduction 'Prima Ballerina' and hope that they fare better. I have never sown sweet peas so late in the year so yesterday I switched the heated sand bench on in the greenhouse. Maybe some bottom heat will encourage them to get going. I must order some more sweet pea seeds for spring sowing - definitely 'Matucana' but also want to try some different varieties. The catalogues have been arriving in dribs and drabs including the arrival this week of Elizabeth MacGregor's new catalogue which I am really looking forward to browsing through. Somehow online catalogues are never quite as satisfying. I have had a quick flick and am tempted by a few plants.

Himself has been busy this weekend relocating the bird box that we fitted with a camera earlier this year. We were hoping to be able to watch 24/7 live action from the nest but it was not to be. We were initially encouraged to see leaves and twiggy bits arrive and held our breath in vain for some time. Our most exciting moment was when we saw a wood louse scuttle across the floor of the box. So we have decided to try another venue next year and have finally decided on its location. The box will be spring cleaned next spring and a few starter leaves added for encouragement. Maybe there will be fledgelings to report on then.

Meanwhile the leaf sweeping goes on and on. I have been wondering when the leaves in the photo are going to relinquish their hold and where they will land. The tree - a cherry blossom belongs to our next door neighbour - it had lost all its foliage on the same date in 2009. So for all the talk of a premature start autumn is still going strong.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Just Chilling

Q IS FOR?
QUIET! 
There is nothing quite like getting your quota of quality afternoon kip. Spring 2011 ~ a pair of ducks on our lawn and a quirky gnome nodding off in a Shropshire garden ~


Quickly over to ABC Wednesday now for more on that letter Q!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

'A Day In Autumn'


"It will not always be like this,
The air windless, a few last
Leaves adding their decoration
To the trees’ shoulders, braiding the cuffs
Of the boughs with gold; a bird preening
In the lawn’s mirror. Having looked up
From the day’s chores, pause a minute.
Let the mind take its photograph
Of the bright scene, something to wear
Against the heart in the long cold."

~ R.S. Thomas , 1913 - 2000

Slightly late in the day but continuing in the tradition established by Carolyn from 'Sweet Home and Garden Chicago' here is my November muse. There is a feel in the air today that the "long cold" is not so off. Yet earlier in the week it was hard to believe that we had entered November. It was sunny and warm enough to put washing out to dry, whilst at the allotment I picked the last courgettes and a bowlful of most delicious autumn fruiting 'Polka' raspberries.

It is dry for Bonfire Night celebrations - I will not be putting my head out of the door as I am an absolute wimp when it comes to loud noises. Luckily though we can catch glimpses of the local public display. I hope that all the children enjoy thmeselves, that both folk and creatures stay safe and that the crew on duty at our local fire station just down the road are not busy tonight.

P.S. It is not yet completely dark here so the photo was taken last year. I was brave enough to stand in the porch for a few minutes.
P.P.S. The 'long cold' may well have arrived - woke up to the first frost of the year the morning after the fireworks.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Le Jardin de Marie Ange

P IS FOR?
POTAGER! ~ we visited this oh so pretty potager in the Pas - de - Calais region of France in September, himself having persuaded me that as we had travelled as far south as Kent for a holiday, that it made perfect sense to go on to France for a few days afterwards. The weather was the pits but we still managed to fit in a couple of garden visits. This potager with its pear tree and pumpkins is just one part of 'Le Jardin de Marie Ange', a member of L'association des Parcs et Jardins du Nord/ Pas - de - Calais. The association promotes and publicises some 37 parks and gardens in the area that open their portals to the public. We bumped into the owner of this garden as we arrived - she was heading out for a painting class. Madame spoke a little English and "Je parle un petite peu de francais" but the language of plants is international. We chatted for ten minutes or so about her garden and other gardens to visit in the region. When we parted I felt that I had made a new pal. I plan to return to show you more of this this picturesque and most pleasing to the eye garden in future posts.

Please promenade over to ABC Wedneday for more on the letter P!

Monday, 31 October 2011

End of Month View ~ October 2011

It seems as if somebody has pressed the pause button on my EOMV border as it does not seem to look that much different to what it did one month ago. Ok the dahlias are now only sending forth the odd flower but other occupants are still going strong. Geranium 'Bob's Blunder' is still flowering his little socks off along with the chocolate cosmos and verbena bonariensis whilst one of the penstemons is getting its second wind. I have transplanted the thyme division that was waiting in the wings last month but I am afraid the bulbs have still to go in. I also now have some sturdy little dianthus plants to add to the border. These have grown from slips that I took from my parent's garden earlier this year - I don't know their name but they have the most wonderful fragrance. I am not sure whether to plant them out now or leave until spring - decisions, decisions.

It is still good gardening weather. We still have to have our first frost and October 2011 apparently is going to be one of the warmest on record in the U.K. since such recordings began. On the excellent BBC2 'Autumnwatch'  programme last week, one of the presenters said that this autumn has been dubbed a 'double dip' autumn which seems a most apt description. It did indeed start early but the end of September heatwave slowed its progress somewhat dramatically. However the last week or so has seen significant changes. I am now enjoying watching the leaves turning on the autumn flowering cherry which you can see in the above photo. The end of British Summer Time means that it will be soon be serious catalogue browsing and making plans for next year time so more of that soon no doubt.

With special thanks to Helen who blogs over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' and who came up with the idea of an end of month view. It is a great wait of stopping still and taking stock.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

My Guilty Pleasure

O IS FOR?
OLD CROCKS ! ~ this pile made me go oh so positively weak at the knees when opportunely observed on a garden outing this spring. Oh to have been able to take them home with me.

Over to ABC Wednesday where there's an ovation for the letter O!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Why Willows Weep and Other Stories

"How did the oak tree come to life? Why does the chestnut tree have white candles? Why does nothing grow under the beech tree (or does it?)? Why crab apples are sour? Why birches have silver bark? Why the ash has black buds?" 

We are on the cusp here between some lingering remnants of colour in the garden and the changes that the first frost of autumn will no doubt bring about. We were teased by a forecast of frost earlier in the week but it did not materialise, rain pushing it considerately away in the night. So the dahlias still sparkle  and I was saved the job of lifting them to morph into that sad state of tuberous limbo. I am debating whether to leave the 'Bishop's Children' in the ground during the winter and let them take their chances. They were so easy to grow from seed. Meanwhile work continues trying to clear some of the beds at the allotment. The last few beans have been picked and although they diminished quality wise they have have been good enough to lob into soup along with the never ending courgettes. One plant is still producing so I am going to leave it until we get that first touch of white. My order of garlic has arrived in the post - nice plump bulbs from Otter Farm.

Another time consuming task is sweeping up leaves which at this moment in time is one of those thankless ones as more leaves fall as soon as one lot is swept and bagged up. The main culprit in the back garden is a huge ash tree which we inherited when we moved here. I have never held it in much affection until earlier this week, when I came across mention of a book entitled 'Why Willows Weep' on the Woodland Trust website. The book is a collection of short stories by contemporary authors who have donated their stories enabling the Woodland Trust to plant five native trees for every book sold.

After listening to one of the stories 'Why The Ash Has Black Buds?' read here by its author William Fiennes, I will be treating myself and maybe a good friend to this tome by way of a soon on the horizon seasonal gift. I will also look at our ash in a more loving manner in the future and the curses will cease. Do have a listen to this story if you can as I think that like me you will be absolutely entranced! 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

"Not Just A Pretty Face"

N IS FOR?
NASTURTIUMS! (tropaeolum majus) ~ a real no nonsense plant, which once introduced to allotment or garden, will be an almost never - ending source of not only attractive and long lasting colour but also of nourishment too. The name 'nasturtium' derives from the Latin words for nose - nas and twist - tortum, which is what some noses might well do in response to niffing them ~ not that they emit a nasty odour but they can be noticeably pungent. Nasturtiums are half hardy annuals which self seed themselves vigorously about once you have them, although after a few years mine are now diminishing in numbers. Now for a note to self - remember to include some on next year's seed list. Not only can the flowers be included in a nifty nosegay you can also nibble them too along with the leaves and pickled seed pods.

Now nip over to ABC Wednesday, the creation of one Denise Nesbitt and where the rather neat letter N is making a lot of noise this week!

P.S. I have to confess that the above nasturtiums are not grown in my patch - I nabbed a photo when we were visiting a garden earlier this year.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

In The Footsteps of Miss Jane Austen

M IS FOR?
MAGICAL MORNINGS ! ~ one of which we enjoyed recently as we meandered and mooched round the beautiful gardens of Goodnestone Park, Kent during our recent holiday. The author Jane Austen's brother Edward lived in a house on the estate for some time and Jane was a regular visitor to Goodnestone. It was almost possible to imagine her strolling about the grounds as we more or less had the place to ourselves. Our visit was made towards the middle of the month and just after the start of a new school new year.

Maybe some of my gardening mates might be able to help me identify a mystery plant that I marveled at - flowers and foliage below ~


It's one for my must have list when I can find out what it is. More musings on the marvellous and magnificent letter M over at ABC Wednesday and more to follow here on Goodnestone Park soon.

Monday, 10 October 2011

"Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes"


The end of September heatwave has long since evaporated giving way to what has been now been more than a week of wind, rain and even some hail thrown in for good measure. There has been little sunshine, everywhere is soggy, uninvited leaves cartwheel in whenever the door is opened and the last of my courgettes was eaten before I got to it. Not sure what it was but it must have been a big hungry creature!

Meanwhile before the sunshine left us there was much loud noise, extremely unsociable bonfires and various goings on next door, resulting in a blot on the landscape. Our neighbours are making changes to their garden. I am not sure yet what the outcome will be but the proceedings up to now have not been encouraging. They have consisted of much pruning, some of it rather drastic including the removal of a large tree. Not a special tree by any account - just a bog standard conifer but it provided both them and us with cover and a degree of privacy. Now it has gone we can see much more of neighbouring houses and gardens, including a view of a very uneven and bedraggled boundary hedge, ugly fencing as well as next door's shed and washing line. We are now very much in public view when we nip out to the bins, garage and to the cold frame which are all at at the back of the house. Finding a solution to this is going to be problematic as our garage is too near the boundary for us to plant something on our side. Himself does not understand why I am so miffed but living as we do down in a hollow, I feel that we have lost one area where we were not overlooked in the summer months.

I know nothing stands still yet I always find it disconcerting and somewhat upsetting when views unexpectedly change overnight. Still this weekend I gained some comfort from sowing sweet peas - one of the many forward looking and optimistic constants in the gardening year. I am slightly less grumpy and out of sorts than I was a few days ago!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

"There'll Be Bluebirds Over"

L IS FOR?
LAKE!
Late last month himself and I enjoyed a leisurely loiter round The Pines Garden, at St. Margaret's Bay in Kent where we lingered lazily by the lake. If you look long and hard into the background you can glimpse the landmark legendary white cliffs of Dover.

A more lucid view was to be had by taking a little walk from the garden down to the beach below ~

Lots more on the letter L over at ABC Wednesday!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

End Of Month View ~ September 2011

Slowly but inveitably the colour is ebbing away now in the EOMV as the dahlias and penstemons wind down, although I have been pleased to note that other plants have come to the fore. What is still going strong and has made amazing growth from the little plant purchased earlier this year is geranium 'Bob's Blunder'. This plant originates from Cotswold Garden Flowers and is named after owner and plantsman Bob Brown. I have tried to photograph this plant several times but it is most difficult to capture the flower colour. Flecks of white appear which are not visible to the naked eye. I have tried in different light and this is the best photo so far. The foliage of this plant is very attractive - in fact I like it more than the flower. I am not sure what will happen to the foliage as the days get colder so it will be interesting to observe. Another occupant of the border which is still flourishing is the chocolate cosmos which still has a myriad of unopened buds. I am debating whether to leave it in the ground with some added protection for winter or whether to dig the tuber up and overwinter along with the dahlias.

Waiting in the wings to go in the border are some miniature daffs for spring colour, a little clump of thyme (offshoot of one already growing elsewhere in the garden) and the one and only plant that I bought on holiday. A reality check in the shape of himself reared its ugly head in the oh most so tempting nursery at Great Dixter. I was pointedly reminded in no uncertain terms that it would be nearly a fortnight before any plants hit base. I restrained myself made do with a pennisetum alopecuroides 'Little Bunny' which I bought in the last couple of days of our holiday. As it name indicates this is a minature grass and not surprisingly is the sort of plant that makes you want to reach out and stroke it. 

With thanks to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' who came up with the idea of the end of month view.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Garden Bloggers Muse Day ~ October 2011

 "You ought to know that October is the first spring month"
~ Karel Capek - 1890 -1938, an extract from 'The Gardener's Year'.

This muse post has been inspired by Carolyn Choi who previously blogged over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

'Watch The Birdie'

K IS FOR?

KOOKY! ~ as was this garden ornament which kept its beady eye on us as we crept past it one day last week.

There are many more keynotes on the letter K over at ABC Wednesday.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Brushing Away The Cobwebs


Back home after a fortnight's holiday to find a cobweb festooned greenhouse, cuttings that have got on with their business silently sending out roots, the first piles of discarded leaves and gleaming red berries which have appeared out of nowhere. The allotment remains undiscovered terrain until tomorrow and goodness knows what has been going on there whilst my back has been turned. New seed catalogues have landed on the doormat along with some gardening magazines. There seems to be a myriad of jobs to catch up on but for once the weather looks as if it is going to oblige with predictions of the warmest spell of early autumn weather for some twenty five years! What an unexpected surprise.  So this week feeling reinvigorated after breathing in both sea and country air I am going to :
  • sort out the cold frame and make sure that all pots are labeled before the onset of winter. No more guessing games next spring. 
  • make sure that I sort out and send off my spring bulb orders. This year I am going to be restrained and not bite off more than I can chew.
  • get my order off for some garlic cloves.
  • start making some inroad into eating some of the potatoes which I harvested from the allotment before we went away. 
  • make a list of what will need sheltering in the greenhouse 'ere the winter storms begin.'
  • start making inroads into clearing one of the raised beds at the allotment which has had permanent planting in up to now.
  • check to see whether there are any seeds that can be saved.
  • gently brush away those cobwebs as they can prevent overwintering butterfly chrysalis from emerging in the spring.
Think that's enough for one week. What are your plans for early autumn?

Monday, 19 September 2011

'The Garden Of England'

I have been spending a few days in the fair county of Kent (often known as
'The Garden of England' because of its abundance of orchards and hops), hence my recent silence both here and commenting on other blogs. Just happened to stray over the border into East Sussex to visit Great Dixter, which after many years of wanting to visit more than lived up to all expectations! A sneak preview above and more to follow when normal service is resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Has Anybody Seen My Secateurs?

H IS FOR?


HEDGES!
Last September himself and I holidayed in North Wales. I hurt my knee not long before we went and was in horrible pain. As the week went on I had to use a stick to hurtle myself about. However we still managed to visit the highest garden open to the public in North Wales, which I wrote about here and homeward bound we made haste for Powis Castle and its gardens. Here I hopped about and imagined the work involved in maintaining these hedges to the highest standard!

Hurry over to ABC Wednesday now for more on the letter H!

Monday, 5 September 2011

With Thanks To The Patient Gardener And Monty Don

Fashionably late as usual here is my 'End of Month View' post - in real life I am one of those people who is completely neurotic about timekeeping. Despite not wearing a watch for the last quarter of a century or so, I arrive early for appointments and am terribly impatient of those who do not arrive on time. I am working at being more tolerant.

Well here we are at the end of another month and as you can see the border is shrieking out colour wise. My senses are offended and the occupants are going, going, gone! I have realised that apart from the colour combinations that most of the plants are too tall for where they have been planted. The chocolate cosmos, day lilies and osteospernum and geraniums are staying put but the penstemons and dahlias are headed elsewhere. The dwarf French beans are just a one season wonder - surplus to room at the allotment I was reluctant to consign them to the compost heap so stuck them in the border. I have some thyme and a white parahebe to plant as well as the purple campanula in a pot which has crept into the above photo. I am looking for not too tall grasses and as yet other unidentified companions to fill in the gaps.

What may not be obvious from these photos is that there is a four foot or so drop to the lawn below, where there is another border, so the dahlias and penstemons are either headed for the lower deck and/or to grace the allotment.
With a special thanks to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener' who came up with the idea of a critical monthly review and also this month to Monty Don, who imparted some succinct but most useful advice on 'Gardeners' World' last Friday. Deadheading dahlias has always been a bit of a mystery to me but Monty has shed light on the matter. If the bud is round it is still to flower, if pointed time for the snip. I finally now know what I am doing and am pleased to report that I am no longer feeling spent, squelchy flowers.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Garden Bloggers Muse Day - September 2011

"Now thin mists temper the slow-ripening beams
Of the September sun: his golden gleams
On gaudy flowers shine, that prank the rows
Of high-grown hollyhocks, and all tall show
That Autumn flaunteth in his bushy bowers;
Where tomtits, hanging from the drooping heads
Of giant sunflowers, peck the nutty seeds;
An in the feathery aster bees on wing
Seize and set free the honied flowers,
Till thousand stars leap with their visiting:
While ever across the path mazily flit,
Unpiloted in the sun,
The dreamy butterflies
With dazzling colours powdered and soft glooms,
White, black and crimson stripes, and peacock eyes,
Or on change flowers sit,
With idle effort plundering one by one
The nectaries of deepest-throated blooms."
~ 'The Garden in September ' - Robert Bridges 

This post has been inspired by Carolyn Choi over at Sweet Home And Garden Chicago. Carolyn's blog is presently closed, as she has moved from Chicago to be nearer loved family members in Carolina. I hope that the move goes well for her and hope that we hear about her new garden in the future. In the meantime as I have derived so much pleasure from Garden Bloggers Muse Day I will be continuing with a monthly muse.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sign Of The Times

G IS FOR?
ST. GREGORY THE GREAT!  ~ this sign grabbed my attention this spring whilst out on a glorious day garden visiting. Why? Firstly because himself is a Gregory. Secondly because of the wording when I took a closer gander. I gazed then gasped before wondering what signs had previously greeted church goers of the parish in times gone by.

Gracefully gallop over to ABC Wednesday now for more on the letter G.

Monday, 29 August 2011

'Out On The Streets' ~ At the Fire Station


Our local fire station is just down the road from us ~ near enough when we first moved here for me to jump out of my skin every time a fire engine sped by with sirens shrieking. I have become immune over the years and now take the noise in my stride. Although I have walked past the station many times, en route to the allotment, I had never visited it until last month. I had read about a project to establish a community and biodiversity garden there some time ago and an open afternoon at the fire station proved the ideal time to find out more.

The project was the concept of one of the fire fighters based at the station and was formally opened last year. On what was previously an uncultivated grassed over  area at the back of the fire station, there are now raised beds, a greenhouse, a wooden shed, a 'bug hotel' type bird feeder, wildflower garden area, compost heaps as well as decked seating and a meeting area. There is an interconnecting network of fully accessible pathways.

"The aim of the garden is twofold, to provide an access project for the general community and to act as an access and diversionary project for young people at risk of becoming involved with arson or anti -social behavior." The garden was constructed in partnership with a number of different community groups working alongside fire fighters. We have recently been overwhelmed with images and reports of young people caught up in the riots but here I saw a positive measurement of what young people can achieve given encouragement, support and the wherewithal. Having worked with disaffected young people for a long time, I know that sadly many of them, especially young men, leave our secondary school system with low self esteem and low expectations. Projects such as this are great ways of harnessing energy, providing invaluable work experience, developing team building and communication skills and in some cases completely transforming young lives.

Once the hard build was finished eight of the raised beds are now being cultivated by local primary schools. Each school has grown exactly the same crops in their beds so there is a element of healthy competition. When I visited the beds were filling out with their crops of runner beans, peas, carrots, beetroots, onions and spring onions. Regularly on hand to assist the project has the assistance of an experienced local allotmenteer as a 'Garden Manager'. Other groups including a local Mencap youth club are involved in the garden. After a good wander round and chat with those behind the concept, I left feeling really excited about this project and hope to pop down in the spring with spare seeds etc.

'Out on The Streets' is a regular feature over at 'Vegplotting', where if you would like to particpate Michelle advises that "All you need to do is post on your blog an example of public planting or use of outdoor public space which has taken your notice this month. It may be good or bad ; old or new, in your neighbourhood or something you've seen on your travels." Do make your way over there and join in the street party too!