Friday, 28 June 2013


. . . if I know why I am blogging away about an unruly jungle turned into a monster by the manure I covered it with. And then the bits that escaped have gone barmy too - except the asparagus.
There are times I long for three plant pots containing shrivelled remnants of some plant or other and a paved yard. Then I would just visit other gardens - go out to Holker Hall and break their rules eating a surreptitious lunch on the big seat, back to the wall, soaking sun and scent . . .

Anyway it is raining, it is dull and dreary and who wants to wander through a wood dripping water down one's neck. This is not good news for the sun dial but as it is in the shade it does not matter. It will need moving from its overgrown location.

The roses are out at last but William Shakespeare has put on so much growth that his branches are bent to the ground. The oriental poppies are a sad collapsed mess except where supported by the tangle of grass on the upper banking and the crambe had gone askew despite staking.

The thoughts of strimmers hang over me, cutting back the grass beside the paths and the stream. R has trimmed the upper beech hedge and cleared some of the mess from underneath, I have tidied the paths, mown the lawns and emptied the two big containers that had been planted with tulips and pansies. The tulips have been popped in spaces in the cutting garden and the pansies in any spare bits of bed such as at the back of the house.

Granny's Bonnets are going over but I will not cut them back yet - want the seeds both to store and allow to scatter for next year. Other self sowers like foxgloves and poppies are now coming out and livening up the garden.

Growth has been so great this year that paths are becoming impassable especially if it has been raining (or is like now). The alchemilla, particularly, holds water to its hairy leaves and decants it on the unwary passer-by.

Elderflower is with us promising another crop for the cordial. We still have some left from last year but, as the summer was so dreadful, we did not have the hot weather it deserved.

I forgot to net the broccoli so it is broccoli and caterpillars for supper! The little wrigglers get everywhere.

I look out of my window and it is so dark, wet and forbidding up in the wood I think I will put Wimbledon on the television, but then they are playing with the roof closed. Of course, silly me, it is Wimbledon Fortnight - that is why it is raining.

Then I look at this blog and all the pictures are of sunshine and colour!
I am blogged if I know why I am blogging away about one (2,3,4,5 . . . ) bad day.

There are things to do - in the word of that star of the television, Bill and Ben's friend, 'Weeeeeed'.

Friday, 21 June 2013


Another bird has died - flew into the kitchen window - a female blackbird. So sad but happens every year despite moving some feeders further away and so on. They just do not see the glass when in a panic.

The first two pics are looking both ways along the hoggin path that runs around the house and up to the veg beds.
You can see that summer has a-come in and all the herbaceous plants seem twice as tall as last year. All down to horse muck. And the weeds are three times as large.

The bed that I am filling with oriental poppies looks a bit sad - rain has flattened many of them - and, of course I forgot to give them some support. A horizontal mesh might be best but make weeding very difficult. Perhaps a deep mulch first would be the answer.

We have had visitors, friends, and they did a garden tour. I noticed all the weeds, poor plant specimens, weeds, scruffy corners, weeds and so on. I wonder, did they?

Other news - I have had to move the seed feeders as they have been emptied by hanging squirrels, the other house martin nest (not the one taken over by tree sparrows) is full of blue tits! No swallows either this year.

We are featured in the Westmorland Gazette, Me and My Garden, in a well written article. You can guess who wrote it then?

We do not have one of these insect house things as such - you know, sawn off bamboos and so on - but we do have a very decrepit log pile, the wood too rotten to burn now. It is ideal and crawling with creepies.
The tadpoles have legs and so are froglets now and the mysterious plant that has erupted around the bottom pond is clearly Mimulus (Monkey Flower).

It is forecast that we are in for a wild weekend (weather not social) so that will get me out of mowing. Just as the fruit is ripening the upright freezer is looking a bit dicky. I may have to get jam making to clear room in the top-loading one.

So there it is - and I have another 6 month reprieve from the giant polo in Manchester (scanner) so no excuses for sloppy gardening.
Time for a nap.

Sunday, 16 June 2013


Sometimes words are not enough. The garden is bursting with colour whichever way I look. Nuff said.

Thursday, 13 June 2013


R was up about 5 with going around and around in her cranium. She made tea. I woke and, as usual, went to the window - rabbit on lawn ten feet from Mrs Pheasant and her last chick. It is a poor brood this year but she always seem to lose a few.
Bed, book, tea then R calls to me. She is at the window and now two grey squirrels are inch-worming their way along the path, synchronised moving, wooing I suppose.

The sky is all Turkey Lurkey and wet. Then the sun comes out down the valley and all is golden fields. I have never seen buttercups as good as they are this year. They are everywhere in abundance (including the flower beds). I wonder, is it the long cold spring or the long wet autumn and winter that has produced this show.

We have had two to three weeks of lovely weather (about time too) and then light in the garden, especially the woodland has been amazing. The first picture is the lower garden between the stream and the willow avenue.

In the upper garden the azaleas have been spreading their wonderful scent making it a pleasure to walk there, though, not now as the rain has caused then lush growth to flop over the paths causing wet trouser bottom moments.

The forget-me-nots are all but over and will need removing. They will not be composted but chucked up in the wood to seed themselves.
There have been white fly on the roses but the change in the weather to wet will deal with that.

Down in the veg beds we have lost all the squashes - slugs, mice perhaps.
However the variegated horse radish is splendid.
We have a few spears of asparagus but it looks like another disappointing season. Perhaps the soil in the bed is not light enough - some sand is called for?

I should have supported the oriental poppies as they are prone with the weight of rain - some rescue stuff needed.

Every year, at this time, I look at the garden and am flabbergasted (good word) by the change. Only a few months ago there was some scruffy grass and the odd spring bulb yet now the flower beds are waist deep in vegetation, plants fighting for the light.

Now I am going to town for a coffee with friends and then to lunch with N, another good friend.
I have earned it. The Family History I have been writing for six months is done, Dropboxed and distributed.

I gaze in an abstracted manner from my study window and see two squirrels eating the bird food, one hanging by its back legs from the roof of the shed, the other on the ground catching the shower of seed dislodged by its partner.
I open the window and shout, 'Aaaaargh! I'm going to get you!' They ignore me, well look up as if to say who is that old fogey and what is he blithering (good word) about now.
So I have just got up, gone outside and moved the seed feeder to a place of more difficult access, not that that will deter the furry acrobats. It is time to get some so-called squirrel proof feeders.

Time to think of names for them - how about Hou and Dini!
That is not really apt for they do not have to escape as they do not get caught - and if they do get into my squirrel trap they definitely cannot get out.

Back to the weather. It will have to be Chicken and Licken.

Thursday, 6 June 2013


The gooseberry bushes are laden with fruit but today the sawfly has made its appearance and just to make things worse, here comes the mildew.
The squashes I planted have suffered - only two surviving, but the tomatoes are ok.

Germination has been sporadic with beetroot and carrots and I have made the old memory gone faux pas - the squashes were planted where I had sown other things. I thought - oh yes I will remember where I sowed the stuff - and forgot. It will be most interesting to see what comes up where.

Just been to SRs to see her garden and have come away with a car boot full of stuff including a Viburnum plic. mariesii - the one with horizontal branches of white flowers. She has given us two of the smaller comfreys - bright blue and white - and lots of lovely Cosmos.
I need a greenhouse. That does not necessarily mean I want a greenhouse, can think where to put a greenhouse, can afford a greenhouse. (Glasshouse in US)

Down the garden we have been trying to create contrasting tree colour - six white birches against a backdrop of mature trees including a copper beech.
For our ruby wedding R gave me the tree shown, its purple leaves showing up well in front of the far path up to the wood.

The house martins and swallows are here, not here, nesting, not so doing - the bird world is crazy. We know the pheasants have at least one chick but they are elusive in the long grass.

We have now had a warm dry spell for the first time this year - had to use sun cream and an awful floppy hat - the sort of object the Nesbit children would have worn when confronting  It.
Watering is becoming an increasing necessity which is ok for us as we have a borehole. I did make the mistake of not having a tap put down by the veg beds when we built the house but, as I did not then know where they were going to be . . . !
A shower would not go unwelcome but at night please.

Surely it is time we did something about the weather - summers where it is sunny in the day (not too hot for me please) and then a few gentle showers of rain at night?
Then that would be a fictitious place a bit like Cawthwaite or Shangri-la - Ah! Remember, walking in the sand . . . . . .

I am a non glove wearer - you cannot feel the weeds with them on. Oh Yes I will wear them when dealing with brambles, roses and nettles - well, most of the time.
But I have them black 'uns, grubby and tatty ( and bitten).
Of course bitten - I mean finding the gooseberry bushes covered in mildew and sawfly is enough to maker anyone chew their nails. (Not R as she nips into town and has them done!)

And all them little old creases in the hands and fingers get black - Swarfega I hear a cry - you can use washing-up liquid and white spirit - similar thing - but it don't half dry out the skin.
R, I cry, where's the hand cream?
Not the smelly one.

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Well, 4 actually.
Went to S and had a tour of her garden. She netted the newts for us, popped them in water in a soup container and we brought them home and released them into the top pond. No taddies in the top pond.

I am pooped - just trying to eradicate the lovely (ha ha) Carex pendula from the bottom pond side. Could not dig it up - it is a thug and seeds all over the place. So this is where I have to humbly bow my head and concede that I used a little Round Up. Otherwise we would have had to get a JCB in.
I have weeded the nearby bed and removed two wheelbarrows full of horrible buttercups - they have roots that grasp the soil like talons.
R weeded the small bed beside the Wendy House, muttered something and declared she does not like gardening.

I have also weeded the seed bed but germination has been disappointing. The wallflowers and sweet williams are ok but the calendulas and other things are few.

On Thursday I bought some new Wellies at West Cumberland Farmers to replace the ones lingering in Herefordshire, 3 tomato plants on the market and some sequestrene and tomato feed at the local garden centre. One of the Fatsias and one of the Skimmias are struggling - too much lime in the soil from the hard core put down when the house was built. I use diluted tomato feed everywhere - house plants, garden, everywhere.

Another 5 lbs of rhubarb is in the freezer
and the plants have had a good feed and a soak. The hose pipe is out as there does not seem to be any rain in the offing.

The new fence I put in earlier in the year to hide the veg beds and cold frame from the house is too garish - new wood - so I have bought, risky as hardiness up here questionable, a passion flower and pink clematis armandii. They are probably ok down to about -5C but . . .  They are evergreen and, hopefully, will hide the fence along with the climbing rose already there.

This morning I looked out of the bedroom window on to the roof below and there were 4 tree sparrow fledglings, a tree sparrow feeding them and one cock house sparrow looking a bit confused.

The Cow parsley, Queen Anne's Lace, Adder's Meat, Bad Man's Oatmeal, Eldrot, Keeshion, Gypsy's Umbrella, Kelk . . . many names in many places . . . is filling the road sides, spreading into our garden - we do not mind - and R has a vase of it in front of the wood burner (not on). The flowers do shed all over the floor though.
It surrounds the post with our gate button and a tiny sign to the house. It is part of our countryside though, it was, at one time, connected with the Devil.

The important thing with the garden at the moment is to keep on top of it - of course failed - or at least try to. I suggested to R that there should be a gardener in the Cawthwaite Project,, especially as one of the writers is a gardener. Perhaps I could get the writing team to do some work experience at The Nook - weeding and bramble clearing?
I have a feeling that will be greeted with scorn.

So to a cup of green tea - R has us on some sort of diet where we do not eat for 24 hours - I think it is called starvation or something.