Wednesday, 18 April 2018


The big mower has been out (with me on it) and most of the lawns are cut with the setting fairly high. The grass and moss is surprisingly dry. Things look much neater after the grass is cut.

I have put the Euphorbia characias Wulfenii in the new rose bed with one of the sages. We refer to this plant as 'The Alien' and at this time of year it looks very strange with its tentacle like stems. Actually should have pruned it in the autumn but didn't so will wait and see how things go.

I have been wandering around the garden doing the fingernail test - shrub looks dead, scrape on of the stems and if it is green then it lives. One of the osteospermums and a hebe came up positive. Battered but alive.

Picking daffodils for the house - it is so nice to have the place full of flowers. The pots outside the kitchen have been tidied and the bigger planter restocked with herbs - thyme, sage (two kinds), rosemary and marjoram. Blackbird singing, kestrel overhead, ducks on the shed roof by the pond, rolled up shirt sleeves - spring finally here.

Here is the mouse bit - a wood mouse has climbed the side of the shed and is feeding on the sunflower seeds for the birds. It lives under the shed and can be seen nipping out and back for discarded seeds. They also live in the shed, in a sack of straw, and I sometimes worry about the magazines belonging to my son stored in there. 

And the
The rhubarb forcing pot was applied as usual and light excluded but as you can see the rhubarb in the pot did nothing whilst the rest is thriving. It should recover.

The daffodils and primroses at the edge of the wood and by the stream are doing well. We seem to have many more daffs than last year and the clumps of primroses are much bigger.

We do have a nibbler at large - probably snails or slugs - as the fritillaries are a bit chewed. Mind you rabbits are notorious for eating them though they tend to just nip the whole bud off.
They have multiplied too - probably by self seeding. So there you are, whilst Russia and the west do what they always seem to do, most of the time, I talk of nibblers. At least I am too old to be called up. However it would be a shame if the garden was frazzled by some despot with an H bomb.
Back to more important matters - Moss is a nuisance in the lawn and, of course due to the poor level of cultivation etc etc but it can be beautiful on walls and here on a banking of tree roots.

Spring is here so some spring pics of the garden in sunlight.


Wednesday, 11 April 2018


Just a smidgeon - actually Monday was pleasant and I began to fill the new rose bed. but then its has gone all murky again. The outlook is hopeful with some dry weather. I have given the grass nearest the house a light cut - here we go, mowing is here.

The soil where the bed was is pretty poor and if our upsizing is delayed (as seems likely) then something will have to be done albeit on a temporary basis - perhaps rake it over and sow a few packets of poppies and other annuals for a big splash of colour. This will, probably, be an access for the builders when they come, if they come. It will be awkward to get around the house but not impossible.
The turf has been heaped near the compost bins to rot down - it will make fine loam for use elsewhere. The gardener who did all this will be asked back, he worked hard and knew what he was doing.

On the left is the new bed just dug and three big roses planted. On the right is the bed with the contents of the veg bed put in. I found I had four day lilies so rather than put the four together I planted three at one and and one at the other, then reversed this with the purple perennial wallflower Bowles Mauve. Odd numbers seem to go better than even.

The bed that has been left alone under the cherry tree is looking good with the Cardoon and Crambe showing signs of life and three self sown seedlings of the teasel coming through.

R had left some potatoes in the bottom of the veg cupboard and they have chitted! It might be about time to put them in - very gently to try and not break the shoots - worth a try anyway.

Gooseberries are leafing, even the ones in the hedgerows along the road, soon the splendid red bark of the acer will disappear into foliage and the sticky buds of the horse chestnut are expanding. It takes me back to early schooldays with the palmate leaves and horseshoe marks left when they fall - let alone the conkers and conquering in the yard.

Thursday, 5 April 2018


Easter Day. April 1st. All Fools Day. Sunny but cool. Transplanted more snowdrops, removed last of bulbs from rose bed and now just three massive shrub roses to move with roots like steel hawsers. Tidied around the pond and raked out debris. Despite all attempts at eradication the pendulous sedge is spreading and thriving - a real thug.

The path up from the pond looking good with the daffodils.

As are the daffs on the top banking

and the primroses.
These are wild but nurtured. I do not like the gaudy garden ones as much - and the same goes for the wild daffodils further along.

Shrubs are stirring - the flowering currant with its fragrance of cat pee. Mmm perhaps fragrance is not the right word?

and the hazel catkins are casting clouds of dust over the lawn.

These are the stems of the Stipa and I have still not decided what to do with them. I must be able to use them constructively, not just shred or burn them.
  I have just watched a wood mouse six feet up the side of a shed on a sunflower seed feeder - agile animal!
  Am in the doghouse as I did not shut the freezer door properly, it caught on the ice shelf. So the dustbin is full of homemade soup and veg and stuff. 😬
  And now we have been attacked by insects - well, not us but my wooden jumpers munched by moths - to the bin. 💀

And birds - the hen pheasant is getting tame and full of eggs. I went out to feed the birds and she came running.

Not all of the birds have done so well - not much left of this pigeon - I think pigeon. The sparrow hawk has been in the garden. Down by the compost heaps are scattered white feathers. I am not heartbroken - we are plagued by wood pigeons this year driving the small birds from the feeders and generally being a nuisance.

So now I await the arrival of my gardening help. The perennials are in the veg bed and waiting - for better weather. The turf will be removed from part of the lawn and the soil lightly forked as there are cherry tree roots below. Then the soil from the existing bed will be plonked on the top and firmed down before introducing the plants. After that it will be a case of top dressing with compost or well rotted horse manure.

Friday, 30 March 2018


R has been transplanting the snowdrops whilst I clear more from the rosebed and put the plants in one of the veg beds. The raspberries have been retied where they have come loose but they are ageing and will need replacing. I have pruned some low new growth off the gooseberries so they are 'on a leg'.

The primroses and wild daffs are a treat and other daffodils are coming on well. The little burst of finer warmer weather has brought the rhubarb forward. (see below)

I have stripped the ivy that was trying to climb the big sycamore but, no doubt, it will be back.
I considered treating the lawns for moss but then there would be nothing but bare earth so have left it alone.

The stipa gigantea has been cut back and the stems are like bamboo canes - now I have to think what to do with them.

So the signs of spring are here - lamb gangs mucking about in the lane having crawled under the gate, golden saxifrage by the stream and contrails in the sky.

I think I prefer the black and white version.

And Mr Pheas. is strutting his stuff - there are at least four hen pheasants in the garden, a veritable harem.

Water is an important part of the garden (which makes it so boggy) whether tumbling though tree roots, disappearing into the bed of the stream and emerging either in the ditch or as a new spring in the lawn, or at the pond.

I have taken the step of giving my strimmer away to my son-in-law who needs it more which means I shall have to rely on the more old fashioned scythe - much quieter.
The rose bed is almost empty and waiting to be moved further down the garden. One pleasing thing is the depth of soil, both here and in the veg beds - a good spade and a half to two spades - so loads of preparation and top dressing has been successful.

And then there is the promise of things to come like the unfurling rhubarb leaves, so long delayed by the cold weather.

Finally I have succumbed to badgering from R and the other R to do a bit of painting - something I find hard work and do every ten years or so - so here it is - last spring under the cherries.

Friday, 23 March 2018


The Siberian wind whips in wrenching twigs from the trees, whipping up leaf litter and heaping it into corners.  It seems we are all victims of stuff from Russia at the moment!? The cold is back and finishing off the destruction of any half hardy plants like the osteospermums, the aeoniums and so on. This begonia was left out and has not survived. Many plants have been burned by the cold wind, their leaves brown and brittle. 
So all the talk is of the Beast from the East but whether they are talking of weather or something more Putinesque - ?
Having lived through the Cold War I am not a fan of doing it all again - Brexit, Trump, Putin, Johnson - time to disappear into the garden.

Mind you, if you leave a marrow out over the winter it can end up looking like this - a shadow of its former self! The daffodils are struggling forth, though delayed, and the snowdrops are all but over - soon to be divided and replanted in any bare patches so we can have a greater carpet of white next year. It is best to do this when they are "in the green" after flowers.
To the left a hebe burned and blowing in the icy gale. To the right the fatsia near the back door, surviving but a bit scorched.

The flowering currant has gone into suspended growth, buds waiting to open, waiting for a little warmth.

There is some colour around though, some unexpected - I had forgotten I had planted tete-a-tete daffodils in this pot with the box ball and up they have come albeit struggling with the competition. The box will need transplanting when the daffs are done.

Other colour includes acer twigs, and hamamelis flowers plus the male skimmia well in bud. I shall have to check on its partner up by the gate but I think she will be all right through the wicked wintry weather. (Mm! A bit of alliteration going on there.)

So to thoughts of the new rose bed, of no dig gardening and out with Charles Dowding's book on Organic Gardening. 
I have been surprised at the depth of soil in the old bed but that will be useful, good soil is always useful. 

And so to a video of our wild wood pigeon with a bad leg - too many pigeons around - twenty in the field below the house this morning - but I feel somewhat sorry for this one.