Friday, 20 October 2017

MICE, MUCK AND A MICHAELMAS DAISY

Came home, the big pots by the door with tulips and yellow winter pansies on top had a hole in the compost - mice! What a place to chose. I wonder if they eat tulip bulbs? So off to my wife's cast off iPad and sure enough they do. I have put a layer of pebbles on the surface and perhaps that will put them off?
More woodmice up in the wood at night, 


video

and then a big one!


video

Actually it is a rat! Cheers R up immensely!

Last month I was asked what mature manure looks like so -



however once it has been spread on a bed and raked it does look somewhat better.



Just found half a dozen apples I had missed, late treat.

R had ordered some physalis (Chinese lanterns) and a campanula plus free dahlia - Bishop of Llandaff (the red one). Now I will have to think where to put them.

The willows are pruned and several branches made into cuttings for P and his pond (more like a small lake). The bonfire grows - and will in all probability never burn it is so wet. There are areas of the garden I have not been in for a month it is so sodden. All I can do is hope, no mowing possible, and in places moss is infiltrating the grass.
I have had a modicum of fun with the electric blower - sending leaves off the paths then realising I wanted to collect them and make leaf mould.

To the story of the wet postman and the Michaelmas Daisy by the way to the front door. It is rampant and a couple of metres high (two and a bit yards for my generation). I put in two stakes and tried to heave it up but it still flops.

R and I have begun the great autumn clear up, she assassinating the hostas which have turned yellow and I have removed some of the cardoon stems that have fallen over. One is nine feet tall (nearly three metres 😊).

There are two plants that seem to go on flowering week after week. On the right a mallow given to me some years ago by my sister which self seeds and on the left Erysimum Bowles Mauve. The latter has flowered all summer and only needs little dead heading now and again.

So Ophelia has blasted past giving us a blustery time but mostly missed us, worst problem is the number of ash twigs littering the place.

It got very Dark as the storm approached. more like January than October - this is the living room window in the middle of the day.
One cause was said to be due to Saharan dust blowing north but it might also be related to the terrible fires in Portugal.


All the rain has made the bird feeders be clogged with wet gooey seed so I have cleaned them out etc.
Picking up sticks, pruned hydrangeas etc etc.
I had this idea and took the rotten peanuts up the garden, scattered them and then put the video camera nearby.
Then I went back after 48 hours, had a chat with one of the cock pheasants who seems totally unafraid of me (R says thick in the head), pruned a rhododendron and brought in the camera. I had 211 videos off grey squirrels!

video

So, sitting by my window going through them I had a menagerie outside, usual small birds, pheasants sitting on the shed roof, greater spotted woodpeckers and finally I looked up and there was a squirrel sitting on the window ledge three feet away peering in at me!
Time to get the trap out again?

And finally - my lantern is so tired waiting for Halloween it will need a new set of teeth.



Saturday, 14 October 2017

MATURE MANURE AND OTHER WEATHER


A surprising burst of warmth, but only for today, went out and picked apple mint, wuzzed it in the processor and stuffed it into a jar with pickling vinegar. Thus we will have mint sauce for the winter to go with the lamb - well. I will. R does not like it and son R does not like lamb so it is all for me! The red currant jelly has already been made. Mind you a dollop of the jelly in any gravy is great.

Then, of course, back comes the rain, ten inches (22cm) in September, about a quarter of a years fall. It seems to rain every night, if not every day as well. Ten lilium regale have arrived. I will have to take the old ones out of their container and plant them in the garden before setting up the new pot. They are the best of lilies - white, large and heavily scented.
 

We have birds skulking and feeding - the pheasants will almost eat out of my hand, just stand there waiting for seed - well, I suppose they are a bit like fancy hens really.

Thought's are turning to manure, to bringing it up from down the lane and putting some on the compost heap and forking it in. The rest will have to be set aside to mature - there you have it, the ideal garden mulch - mature manure.

I must walk the garden to see where I can put a new flower bed. Once the upsizing is underway I will have a load of good plants with nowhere to go.

Today it is Wednesday and the light is beginning to fail. We have had 20 cm (4 inches) of rain in the last 17 hours and a gale has blown through. Surprisingly enough I have not been gardening. If this autumn weather carries on I shall dissolve! Looking up at the clouds I can see why in Trumpica this season is called the fall.

There are puddles by the rhubarb full of dead damson leaves, and it is so dark and gloomy. This is the view of the garden from the living room window at midday!

I shall have to get out my boards and wander the streets proclaiming The End of The World - nigh and so on.

This October and at the end of the month is our nice All Saints Night, now usurped by profiteers as Halloween and ruined. So to be prepared - I have done my reluctant bit. There is one good thing about being out of town up a dead end lane in that we do not get trick-a-whatsits.

The garden is still sporting some colour albeit autumnal.



The grasses, miscanthus and stipa, have not flowered this year, just grown and grown,
           

 One plant that has gone bananas is the Fatsia by the oil tank - it is October and it has decided that this might be good time to burst into flower. Mind you the whole weather thing is just crazy, a bit like politics both sides of the Atlantic. Everyone really knows in their heart of heart that mistakes have been made - Brexit and Trump to name but two - but it would be to lose face to admit it. Time for an alien race to arrive and quietly remove everyone with aggressive tendencies? They leaves a world full of poets and women - not bad - I must write something that rhymes.

Now to an admission - my pumpkin is actually a tiny butternut squash, the only on that ripened this year, too sweet to eat! (That rhymes.)


Saturday, 7 October 2017

WINDING DOWN


To start here is an example of negative phototropism! The orchid roots are growing away from the light - not important just a curiosity?

The swallows and martins are gone.

I have trimmed various shrubs like sarcococcus and rosemary into neat balls. And a box in a pot. I was surprised to see how much box balls were in the garden centres - perhaps a little earner there for someone?

It seems to rain every night and sometimes every day, pools on paths and it is imperative to stay off the grass. Two new areas have appeared where there is standing water and I wonder if old underground pipes or sumps have blocked. More digging ahead.

Some of the sycamores have grey rather than black spots on the leaves. I think this is due to Cristulariella depraedans, a fungal growth.


We are into our first autumn sunsets and the light is definitely less bright. I heard today that the last five years have been some of the wettest on record - I can well believe that - global whatting?

 The stream is full and we have new springs all over the place.

There is still colour in the garden, here the blue salvia Sue gave us before she died and the white cosmos that has turned out to be pink!
The orange oriental poppy is also flowering again.






 We have Bramley apples to our eyeballs - well you know what I mean - a bumper crop. People keep asking me if I want some apples and I have to keep politely declining their offer. However S did take me up on two rhubarb crowns, now delivered.

I have underplanted the big magnolia with crocus shown here. (The little house was made for us by my late brother-in-law Roy.)
I am hoping that they will spread naturally and form a colourful swathe in the spring.

As you can see we are losing the leaves off the ash trees - and we are losing dead twigs and branches in recent gales - it is stick picking up time again.

Flowers are not the only colour in the garden as some of the shrubs are beginning to turn.



R has suggested I get in the pond and trim the water lily back as it is getting too large, however, as I do not have waders and the water will be very COLD I am hesitating!

I have begun to clear and dig over the veg bed, just removing weeds and forking the top surface before a dressing of compost. Then it will be ready for the plants I have to move from by the house for the new extension - whenever that happens. I have not yet worked out where I am going to put all these plants - a new flowerbed - there might be some opposition to that!



And finally we went to Ford Park Apple Day in Ulverston today and took our remaining apples - shown here after washing. They juiced them and now we have some juice in the freezer and some in jars with the lids loose to ferment to cider. 
The tops were not screwed on tightly - I remember as a boy my brother making marigold champagne and the bottles exploding.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

LAST SIPS OF NECTAR


To begin here are some of the butterflies busy stocking up on nectar for the winter. Small tortoiseshell to the left, peacock to the right.

Red admirals below.


I have just just read that there are 350,699 known species of plant in the world at present. Botanic gardens across the world grow 105,634 of these. 
I wonder if they include bindweed, couch grass and so on. If not I have a ready supply of such.

The weather seems continually overcast, grey, and damp. Mowing is on hold as is my enthusiasm. I have brought in the pelargonium with the scented leaves and the epiphyllums. Yesterday I planted crocus under the canopy raised magnolia grandiflora but have more to go - somewhere. The orange tulips ordered have arrived - for the pots by the main door.

R has been a tidying and so on and I brought in the rest of the partly munched beetroot, boiled it and packed it in jars with pickling vinegar.
The clematis armandii on the shed has got out of hand so has been cut back. This should have been done after it flowered in the spring but . . . . .

Just back from a break in Kelso in Scotland where we went to Floors Castle, the home of the Duke of Roxburgh, and walked around the walled garden. The "hot" borders shown here were tremendous. There was some interesting September planting and I likes the use of Perovskia blue spire with the yellows and reds.

Just had to extract the sit-on mower from a foot deep sump of mud when trying to mow the grass - never know the garden to be so wet.

When the sun does come out the light is so good with all the rain washing the air clean.



 Early morning light is especially fine when the dew is on the grass.


One plant that is doing well is the Anemone japonica alba on the other side of the path from the roses. Unfortunately it is starting to invade the path let alone the neighbouring plants. Strict measures will be needed to control it. Some time ago I dug up the pink version and removed it - but every small rootlet has sprouted and is becoming a nuisance - a weed!

Another plant that has flowered all summer is the perennial wallflower Erysimum 'Bowle's Mauve' here on the left. It goes on and on as long as flowering shoots that are over are removed. 

The architects have been round measuring up and making notes - I cannot quite believe we are upsizing!

The lawns are eternally wet thwarting mowing and the hours of daylight are getting shorter.


THE SHORTENING OF THE DAYS


As dark weaves dusk,
soft moths rise,
last martins leave 
through sombre skies,
garden plots are silent, 
graphite grey, wait -
come redwings - portents
for the shortening of the days.

Stark trees are still,
twigs, branches bare,
keen autumn chill
sucks at ageing air,
late mist, condensed,
drenches reeds, fescue, 
bends withered bent
with cold leaden dew.

Through gloom
October warmlight
from a harvest moon
butts back the night,
bans black, blue;
it fails to stay
the maudlin mood:

the shortening of the the days.


Saturday, 23 September 2017

GOLDEN AUTUMN, CLAGGY GRASS



This morning I was wakened at 6.30 am by a pair of tawny owls hooting from the tree outside our window. As the sun came up it lit the now yellowing ash leaves with golden light.

Bramleys weighing down the tree - the apple picker came - a mesh thing on the end of a long wooden handle - and it works. Three boxes of paper wrapped apples in the shed. 
Then I picked the sparse damsons - many had split with the rain but got 5 pounds in the freezer and one for Sammy for his gin. The dodgy ones are cooking in the bottom oven of the Aga range. The over ripe ones on the tree covered in butterflies.
Of course I ended up on my backside in the herbaceous border picking them due to a change of pills for my little bit of blood pressure making me airy headed.

In the main lawn the eucryphia has been in full flower but is now going over and the leaves on some of the trees, especially the birches, are definitely autumnal. 
Having cleared under the magnolia I now am thinking what bulbs to plant there - or even cyclamen?

There is an abundance of yellow in the garden giving a bright blast to September.
 



 As I drove in late this morning a sparrow hawk led me up the track like a guided missile, small birds scattering in alarm. The pheasants have bred well - this night time video showing not one nor two nor three but four young pheasants.


video

Just been to Abi and Tom's amazing nursery at Halecat in Witherslack (there is a link to their site on the left of the page) and we bought a variegated euphorbia. He took us on a tour and it was very interesting. Also met Fiona Clucas again, she was doing a painting in the garden with wonderful Chrome yellow rudbeckias.

One thing he said was how it is wet that does for plants in this area, not cold - how right!
Here is part of our lawn (R calls it the mown field) where I have replaced the washed away planks over the stream but then, in mowing - with the little mower - have gouged wheel tracks in the grass.

And so to autumn and the changing of the colour already coming -





Geranium, euonymus and acer.

Just been to Scotland for 3 nights, the land of John Muir - by that I mean went to Dunbar. Thought R would not want to go to his birthplace but she enjoyed it. Took them ancestry of his maternal grandmother though they probably know all that. (JM was my grandfather's cousin.) That is probably why I like a wild garden. R has just had her DNA results back (birthday present from the offspring) and she is almost two thirds Sami or Lapp! And most of the rest is Scandinavian so, as she says, Abba eat your heart out.