Saturday, 29 December 2012


Ah! Here I am again, full of resolutions - to lose weight after the feasting and to do something in the garden every day I can no matter how small. Having said that I have been pinned to the computer, if not by the rain, by the fact that, in my wisdom (HA!) I upgraded to the Latest Mountain Lion system for the Mac. It was only £13 - was - but then Photoshop was incompatible, scanner was too, half the things did not work and I have had to sort it out - sigh!

This has nothing to with gardening - only blogging.

The sheep are in the field in front of the house and now we are in the dark mornings after Christmas everything seems rather monochrome.

However there is a big flower bud on the Fatsia, the last roses of summer are still flowering, grasses such as Miscanthus have taken on a warm brown colour and bulbs are beginning to push through the soil - daffodils and snowdrops, the latter especially. The image shows the first snowdrops flowering by the Wendy House path at the end of last January.

Now a new year is coming and surprises - 'I had forgotten I planted that!' - self-sown seedlings - especially aquilegias and opium poppies.
The birds are singing too - twittering long-tailed tits, a robin in the ash nearest the house, great tits and collared doves, the coo-ee of the goldfinches t They know something is afoot.

It is during these dark days between Christmas and my mother's birthday that motivation is hard but the birds must be fed, the blogger must begin to starve and plans developed.
The paths need re chipping, the compost turning, dead growth removing, overgrown plants thinning, cuttings tended, and the garden needs walking - each time new ideas, things to be done come forth, wood fallen of the trees collected and added to the bonfire that never burned - too sodden.
Can I face the disaster of the veg this year with the incessant rain - can I find a way round it - the beds to be raised more, domed to aid water run off, be more selective in choice of veg - and will the asparagus have survived all this water?

It is time to be positive!!

So I shall light the wood burner, get a mug of something hot and contemplate all that I have just said and bury myself for the last few moments of this year.

Then . . . . . 

Saturday, 22 December 2012


By popular request or something here is a bit about our drain/stream/torrent.

It rises from the back field and runs through the rough area in the top western corner before plunging down a banking into the garden area proper.

This banking is rough but has golden saxifrage, wild bluebells and daffodils in the spring, wild angelica and grasses later in the year.
We cut/strim/clear it once a year.

From there it runs beside the veg beds and the compost heaps (or through them at present with this appalling year) and on into the far lawn.
As time has gone by it has cut itself a deeper and deeper bed but this still cannot cope with the volume of water coming out of the field today.

In the picture you can see the white Birches in front of the far wall. There are clumps of daffodils either side of the stream by its bank and under the trees. Later in the year the underplanting of the trees is mostly Ox-eye Daisies.

I have just been up the garden and the water is flowing freely everywhere, the turf is sodden and still it rains.
You can understand that the soil (Lois backwards)(Happy Christmas) is unworkable - even some of the leeks seem to be floating. (I have a Krik in my neck and a plethora of Grandchildren hunting me.)

To continue - after the lawn the way is through a wild area with teasels, yellow rattle, ragged robin and bedstraw to the top settling pond. This is shown in the picture with the boardwalk wending its way to the Wendy House (R's writing shed). In the water are watercress and reedmace. The shrub to the left is my one surviving amelanchier - the other two have drowned. The hedge to the field below the garden is on the right.

In the far corner the water plunges down a ten foot fall into next door's field. When the stream is in spate you can hear the water roaring as it drops out of the garden.

With all the good food around it seems a pity that fat is not water soluble - I could just stand in the rain for a while rather than diet. Mind you, with this year's weather I would have dissolved and disappeared long ago.
Mmm! I have a feeling there are some people already doing a rain dance.

So this is Christmas,
and what have I done, (in the garden - not a lot),
rain isn't over
and it's not much fun.
Wishing you all - a wonderful Christmas time.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


The first picture is the view west from outside the kitchen.

I have just noticed a black bottomless flowerpot with a copper band halfway up the top banking. I have absolutely no idea how it got there but it has come from the veg beds (slug protection). There has been little wind in the last few days and that which there has been is in the opposite direction. I know squirrels can get up to all sorts of mischief but . . . ?

I seem to be feeding all the small birds in the area and the only time they seem scarce is when a neighbours black cat - called by their children Megatron - or the greater-spotted woodpecker comes calling.
The pheasants from last years brood forage under the feeders, seem very relaxed at home in the garden where they were born.

I have discovered solar powered fairy lights for the garden - well, the magnolia stellata by the back door and around the paved area outside the kitchen door. Then I obeyed instructions and left the batteries to charge for three days. Weather very overcast so after three hours one packed in - battery flat. However, once we get to summer and bright sunshine they will be great (except that they only come on when it is dark (and I am asleep)).

The first bulbs are pushing up - some daffs but no snowdrops yet and the yellow pansies in pots are flowering well.
The trellis for the yellow rose on the back wall is done - cost nothing - just some ash poles and string saved from an earlier tree delivery.

I have been trying to find a way to increase the area available for cuttings etc by the window in the shed. My son dumped and old glass-shelved television and video stand on me - just the job. It looks a bit peculiar but functions ok.

No garden work today - today is time for the Doc to be a patient - twice, morning and afternoon. The later one is for an appointment re failing hearing.
What did I say?
Or is that failing - er? - em - Ah! Yes, memory.

Nearly to the shortest day - the day the 'worshippers' at Stonehenge on Midsummer's Day should really be there, welcoming both the end of the old and the start of the new year. But that would be too cold and uncomfortable and so on? Midsummer's Day is when one thinks, "The days are getting shorter again already!'
Not a time of celebration, especially when you know it is going to rain for the next six months.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Yes - it snowed - but only one flake thick - on the a frozen garden.

In fact the ground is solid and essentially must stayoffable.

I have just begun a winter clean of the shed, clearing out the excess of plastic flower pots, bagging them and taking them to the tip. When I got there I thought, 'I can recycle these, they are plastic.' No such luck - big notice on the plastics place saying no flower pots so they went in with the unrecyclable waste.

The birds are getting michelin star nuts and we were rewarded two days ago with a flock of squeaking long-tail tits. Their call is so recognisable.

Our dog is being very courageous. He (?she) stands outside by the pansies in all weathers nodding gently away.

I am writing a family history - incredible boring except for odd snippets.
I found one quote which might even apply to myself though it was said by my Great Grandfather of his uncle who, when he retired, took up gardening.
The quote was - "He has taken up putting 13 geraniums into 12 pots!"

The rosa rugosas by the path into the garden were being rocked and blown by this northerly gale we had so I have pruned them now to prevent damage.

We have four sheds - an insulated borehole shed (we have our own water supply), a 'Wendy House' down then garden with insulation and elec., a shed with mowers and pots and stuff in it and another shed - I badly needed more space - which is full of my sons' stuff. One day I might get it back - one day?

Under the seeming permafrost the ground is still waterlogged and drains from the field down our track and through the gate. There is a steep drop below the gate and the tarmac there is now covered in ice.

We have eaten the last of the carrots, there are still a few beetroot and some leeks.

Fortunately, with the very cold weather we do have sunshine so I can tell the time in the garden - well, I could if my gnomon was not bent. As a consequence, the last time I looked at it I got the hour wrong (partly because I had not moved the shadow back 1 hour with the change from summer time).
Like me the dial is suffering from verdigris. It came, I think, from a Liverpool house belonging to my wife's Grandparents. We, also, used to have a big windmill man from there - he stands holding a handle and the blades of the windmill turn making it look like he is turning the windmill not the other way around if you know what I mean. Unfortunately it disintegrated in a gale some years ago. I tried to repair it but failed.

Now, there is an idea. If all these huge windmills they have put up for generating electricity had a giant man attached to them winding away like billy-o, that would be fantastic and spectacular, wouldn't it?