Sunday, 20 November 2011


By now I will probably have a new knee - this is written in advance in case I am indisposed for a while.

This is the big sycamore - a "notable" tree according to the Woodland Trust - and would be splendid for a tree house.
A bridge could be built to it from the high ground by the compost heaps ending at the level of the main fork - but it is extremely unlikely to happen - but one can dream.

One snag of this tree is the mountain of leaves which rain down in autumn and sycamore are not the best for making leaf mould - not that that will stop me. Time can do many things given enough.

Why does everything occur at once - operations, leaking bath/shower and floor tiles being ripped up with underfloor heating and so on and so on.

It was foggy and dead calm this morning - mystical - even the birds seem to twitter quietly, the rooks mumble.

There is still leaf colour as the mild autumn weather finally looks to
turn colder and wilder.

It is so mild there are caterpillars chewing away at the brassicas and the grass is growing - unchecked, unmown. There are Small Tortoiseshell chrysalis under the eaves and some in the shed but I have not seen a butterfly for a week.

I am now going to lie on my front and peer under the bath with a torch.
Perhaps this is a new door into Narnia - push past the leaking pipes and . . . .

Update - new knee in place - home and asleep.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

B IS FOR - ?BRASS (copper and lead)

B is for Blog of course, and beech and for basil,and the
backside I ought to get off.

With the economy up the drainpipe is it time for the concept of growing your own to expand. Fallow land could be rented out much more widely for allotment plots - they do not have to be council owned - it could be yet another sideline for hard pressed farmers. Now, I know it is being done but, not yet, on a sufficiently grand scale.

The gov. seems to move EXCEEDING slow with so many things. Take all this metal theft - license the scrap merchants and take that license away if they do not behave.
When will it happen? Who knows. Probably when someone nicks the lead off the Houses of Parliament. Sooner or later people are going to die because of these pilferings - so the gov. needs to act NOW!

Enough - off my hobby horse.

Things that are dead and are attractive have been left as with the Wild Angelica heads here. (The green behind is watercress in the lower pond.)

The last picture is of our basil tree which is a year and a half old. It resides on our kitchen windowsill and has only been potted on twice. It is watered when it starts to flag and fed occasionally.

Tender herbs have been taken in - mint in a pot, parsley too though that looks rather sad.
I have also jarred mint with vinegar and put some in a freezer bag in the freezer - it then goes brittle and can be crushed.

Cuperttea time is here with piece of homemade shortbread - found the recipe in my mother's little book entitled Mrs Tyson's shortbread - which I have modified -
6oz plain flour, 3.5 - 4 oz butter - rub together, add 1.5 oz rice flour (ground rice), 0.5 oz ground almonds and 2 oz caster sugar, knead to a dough. Press into a tin - tin size will determine thickness. Cook at 180C until just turning slightly golden. (We have Aga - top of bottom oven.) The more butter the softer the shortbread.


Bulletin - R won first prize in the Mince Pie competition at the local Christmas Fair!
(And she said they were rubbish.)



Before the blog proper can I just mention that one of my readers and friend, Keith Fairbairn has died. He will be missed.

There are so few true blues in the garden - so many are shades of violet, purple and mauve. Blue roses are not blue, bluebells are not really blue but a bit of jiggery-pokery in photoshop can make them so. Harebells, the Scottish Bluebell fares better but what is a true blue?

Having said that my son went to a meeting in London two days ago and was Bluen away - Tories to the right of him and the left - reminded him of University he said.

So, to more important matters - I have planted two Amelanchier lamarckii and then trimmed them. Unable to resist, I trimmed the trimmings and stuck them in the cutting bed - I know not whether they will take but nothing lost . . .

If you look closely at this pretty poor image you can just see sticks protruding from the soil - these are the cuttings.

Other plants continue to flower as the November weather is so mild.
Marigolds are doing well.
The pink(ish) version of Hedge Parsley has come into flower and penstemons are blooming.

Every time I go into the garden - usually at the moment to rake up fallen leaves (must get a blower for next year) I see something new - geraniums, roses, catmint - let alone the usual nasturtiums and so on.

Then I looked out of my window yesterday and the oriental poppy is blasting us with its vivid colour.

I have postponed fixing the chicken wire to the posts around two of the veg beds.
It can wait until I have recovered from having my new knee.

I am now wondering what to do with the forty corks on my windowsill. There must be something creative I could do with them.
Perhaps I should have gone to the true blue meeting in London. I might have found somewhere to stick them?

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Yes, I have been washing trees - the white birches and the eucalyptus. Didn't seem to make much difference though. I read about it in a magazine - brightening up the winter garden.

Back to the mad garden again - it is November and brambles and woundwort are flowering in the hedgerows.
Though we have now had two frosts things are surviving and behaving irrationally? Despite the daylight hours get less the weather is still
unseasonably warm. Soon the southerly airstream will turn to the north and Brrrrr!

R weeded another bed and I have been muck-spreading again. I have put in posts in preparation for chicken wire netting - two beds are to be bunny free as I have said before. The posts lean out slightly to stop the cottontails climbing in - I mean it - climbing in. The guage on the netting is 25mm to stop the rabbit kittens (that is what they are called not babies) squeezing through. The bottom of the netting will have to be buried and turned outwards underground.

I have a very literary friend who is writing letters to dead (and some living) people as poems and I have just had the privilege to read one about Alexander Pope, a gardener as well as poet - brilliant.

Now, I am in a new knee situation so you may find there is a gap in this diatribe shortly.
Perhaps, whilst I am in hospital, I should write to
my garden and its inhabitants?

Dear grey squirrel,
Why don't you shove off and let my friends the Nutkins come back. I will be sending you a bill for all the feeders you have pulled apart and have asked the small birds to harry you.
It would not be so terrible if you did not eat their eggs and, when I catch you at the peanuts, you just hang there, challenging me. And then you have the audacity to scold me when I chase you off.

I shall set Doc on you, beware.

If only I could run up trees . . . .!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


What a weekend!

Weeding, wheelbarrowing muck to the veg beds and collecting every stick I could find for a bonfire.

Then it had to be built and the sticks were wet. Used dry logs, cardboard and newspaper, white spirit and even a couple of firelighters.
It worked, fortunately, and we had a great blaze.
Some quiet fireworks were lit but even so my Granddaughter W left in a hurry for the house (she is only 2).

Finally sparklers and sitting watching the sparks whirl into the cold, moonlit night.
After that it was Cumberland sausage and mash followed by Eve's Pudding and custard.

Next day was my daughter I's birthday - 21 of course - and we walked up to Beacon Tarn at Blawith and then onto the Beacon.

This is one of the great viewpoints in the Lake District and here is the drawing of Alfred Wainwright made at the summit looking to the Furness Fells. (Not copied from a book).
Left to right they are - a bit of White Maiden, Brown Pike, Buck Pike, Dow Crag, Goat's Hause, the mass of Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam.
However the view is 360 degrees from the mountains here to those above Ambleside, High Street and right round to Ingleborough in the Pennines. Below lies the length of Coniston Water and south Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary with a cluster of offshore windmills. Moving right is Black Combe and the fells beyond Dunnerdale, Caw, White Pike and back to White Maiden.

All this is just one enormous garden, albeit much of it wild.

So, weekend over, we scraped (R did) and treated the moss on the tarmac and the paths (I did).

Now I must buy some chicken wire to try and make some of the veg beds rabbit proof.
Frost yesterday but mild again today. The flowers have survived and one of the day lilies is coming into flower. I think it might find this is a mistake!

Autumn is hanging over the garden with a heavy hand, it is dull under the cloud cover, an occasional spit of rain falls, leaves hardly stir and it is very quiet.
The world is pulling up the duvet.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Let me start with the image of an orange Welsh Poppy which means it is not really a Welsh Poppy as they are yellow.
R likes orange.

There is still colour, not leaf colour, in the garden. Marigolds, nasturtiums and poppies, all yellow or orange, to brighten up the darkening days.

So what's up? R has been weeding the asparagus bed, I have been top dressing a veg bed with a good layer of well-rotted horse manure and tidying goes on.

I had forgotten that I had trialled growing potatoes in the side of the manure heap so every forkful produced a small potato I had missed.
The ones I dug up at the right time were not successful as the slugs and pals had had a field day. We were only able to eat parts of a few of them - not the slugs, of course, the potatoes. (I wonder what curried slugs are like?)

As well as the manure we have a small compost heap - bigger plans are a foot for next year - and leaves have been collected for leaf mould.

All this stuff is to improve the soil which is rather clayey and shallow.

Sticks have been collected - not for shredding as the shredder has gone to the tip - will need a new one - and heaped up but the continuing wet weather has soaked what could have been a bonfire. Anyway the heap would have to have been deconstructed and rebuilt to save any frogs, toads and hedgehogs overwintering in its depths.

To the perm -
this is the head of my youngest son who has gone one better than Movember (grow a moustache for November in aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity) and had decided to have a perm - done on November 1st - and keep it for a month.
He has already raised
over £600 through the following website -

On that haircurling note I sign off for today knowing I must ring Weasdale Nurseries so they deliver my two large amelanchiers in time for me to put them in (holes dug) - having a while off in aid of a new knee.