Tuesday, 29 July 2014


So, here is the view up the garden without the willows - the remains on the right, bean poles and logs on the left banking. 
I have sorted a lot but there is still much to do.

Now you can see from the far wall to the Wendy House right down the garden. The stream will also be moved to wind through the white birches in the foreground and another 15 are to be planted in this area, carefully spaced to allow the mower between - if I want to do that.

When demolishing the willow tunnel I found the old chimes, all entangled and some had fallen off. These I have crudely restored and they now hang outside the kitchen.
They join the flying duck C gave me.

This duck has become a sitting place for the swallow fledglings though this photo has a surreal quality to it with the bodiless duck's head on the bottom left.
The duck is also now covered in swallow droppings.
I put a newspaper under the nest in the corner so it will be easier to clear away the mess in the autumn. The birds carefully keep their nest clean by sticking their posteriors over the edge and depositing their offerings below.

There has been a colourful visitor to the peanut in the person of a juvenile greater spotted woodpecker.

There is an enormous workload for the garden and I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I have been seriously thinking about a fruit cage and have got a catalogue from Knowle Nets. The question is whether I get the net and raise the beds with sleepers or just the nests. Planning is great fun and not too exhausting.

The trees and shrubs at the back of the house by the field fence will need serious trimming later in the year. The privet their has been full of flower and its scent fills the air.

My sister I has given me a book about the garden at Brantwood above Coniston Water for my birthday. John Ruskin, Jean Severn and Sally Beamish since 1988 are the main people who tended this garden. The book is by David Ingram.

When I was nobbut a lad I lived on the other side of the lake and if I sat on my bedroom windowsill I could look across the lake to Ruskin's house. I had no worries about the fifteen feet below me as I dangled one leg in the Lakeland air.
A big difference between Brantwood and here (wot, only 1?) is that no one in their right mind ventures out at dusk at Brantwood in the summer unless they wish to be devoured by midges.

You can visit the website at www.brantwood.co.uk.

Friday, 18 July 2014


As the mizzle sweeps across the garden, something between drizzle and mist, it has driven me indoors, driven me from sorting the remnants of the willow tunnel, cutting logs, dragging branches to the bonfire.
I had considered chip[ping the twigs but am leery of the fragments rooting and then having to deal with that.

As you can see in the photograph it has opened up the far garden and when the copper beech hedge has been transplanted it will be even more spacious.

We have had produce from the gooseberries and black currants - the gooseberries are bagged ready for the freezer.

There is still much colour in the garden and this orange rose given to us by our son-in-law's parents, L and I, is thriving. The mullein beside it is seeding itself here and there and welcome. The orange day lilies are not yet fully out.

I am typing fast to the beat of Fallen Angel by Elbow. R is in the kitchen listening to the radio - something more gentle.

To the left the lavender and brachyglottis colour the banking. To the right is the white valerian - now pruned so it will flower again later in the year. I have also pruned the pink and red valerian near the cattle grid.

Of all the flowers in the garden roses have to be near favourites.
This is Rose Emma Hamilton and full blowsy bloom, scent overpowering.

We have had house martins inspecting the gable ends again and the swallow nest is becoming overcrowded - four in a bed!

 There is a lot to do and not much enthusiasm for doing it but one must plod on submitting to junglification and so on.

I did not realise how much work there was in clearing the willows cut down by the men - so I am going to have a break from this blog - BUT I WILL BE BACK! The wood is either bonfire, logs for the wood burner, poles for use in the kitchen garden and gert chunks of irregular stuff. I feel a modern art thing coming on which R will, no doubt, hate.

She has been deadheading and a shearing the grass around the small shrubs but it hot.
I have been making enquiries regarding a fruit cager and a brochure is on its way. A 7x6 metre cage should do it.

More info to come.
I am not abandoning you just taking a breather.
Does abandoning have two ns? The spellchecker says no but it looks wrong the right way (unless the US spelling has invaded my computer again.)

This is Armeria maritime, Sea Thrift - now thrift is not one of my exceptional attributes but I do like to be beside the seaside - I do like to be . . . . etc.

Monday, 14 July 2014


Baby, it's gone, gone gone as the Ripchords would have had it.

I mean the willow tunnel, avenue, what you will.

This is the heap of brushwood and so on left.
(:-(=. This is an unsmiley.
And the next photo shows the assassins near the end of their labours - it was hot day, well hot for here - mid 70s F.

So now I have to build a bonfire and cut logs and stuff, level the ground and mow. It is possible that shoots will appear and these will have to be dealt with as it happens. Mowing will weaken any remnants.

Actually, having surrendered to R's whims - GARDEN ONES - the space created is good and with the fifteen white birches to come late autumn, early winter I can now see the possibilities. Time for Humble Pie - not the rock group with Natural Born Boogie. Anyone less able to do a Natural Born Boogie than me you have never met!

Let me talk swallows - they sit on our open door and chatter as I have said. Here are Mr and Mrs Swallow on the left and one of the young. The fledglings are fearless and I can walk gently out until my face is only six inches from the bird and talk to it - I know - he is now away with the birds!

Talking of birds we were sitting in bed the other night reading when we heard a strange bird call. R peeped out of the window and there, just beyond the window, sitting on the edge of the roof, was a young Tawny Owl.

I have gone and bought some more sweet peas on the market as the ones I grew are feckless, straggly things. Here is hoping for better.

I weeded all the veg and fruit beds and transplanted strawberry runners that had rooted. A friend, thank you G, has sent me details of fruit cages so will now have to go a-measuring.

The garden continues to push out flowers and now the buddleias are in fine fettle meaning butterflies!

To the left, my sister's white mallow, to the right the rudbeckia in the cutting garden, now flopping over the Sweet Williams. The latter are going to seed so time to resow for next year. They have a nice scent but it cannot compare with the pinks and lilies.

My daughter in Herefordshire has a dilemma as a field by the house may be for sale.
They are contemplating yurts/sheds and/or glamping but I have a better idea - it is a sloping field high on a hill facing south and the word VINEYARD came to mind. It would be a while before they get a return but what a return!

Two squirrels are on the peanut feeders. (:-(=. This is an unsmiley.

At the weekend I went a golfing at a course called Silloth. Never before in the history of human endeavour have so many trampled the gorse and heather in search of then little white ball.
However the mood of the day was lifted when we were searching a deep grass bunker and found - not the errant ball - but three juvenile hedgehogs - a delight.

Thursday, 10 July 2014


Just back from Suffolk and a farewell to my Aunt Peggy, the last of her generation - it's us now. For your info Scott she was your grandfather Jack's second cousin. (That makes me your Dad's third cousin!) (It is a generation thing.)

The gooseberries are enormous, half the black currants have been scoffed by the blackbirds and the raspberries are a disaster. (The new canes for next year look strong and healthy though so here is hoping.)

I have had to tie up the Lilium regale in the pot as they had flopped - beware the stamens as they dye your clothing. The lovage has also developed a many direction lean and may have to be trimmed.

The swallows under the roof outside the kitchen have fledged and sit on the top of the open door and chatter. They do not seem to mind us too much.

The banking bed by the path to the lawns has thrown up some surprises - how well the stachys (lambs' lugs) goes with nasturtiums.

The garden is full of strident colour - not just Crocosmia lucifer in its ultimate redness - but the blue of borage, a self seeding herb excellent to adorn a Pimms or gin and tonic.

The brachyglottis (see I remembered the new name) or senecio as it was, is clothed in golden flowers. I know this shrub is not to everyone's taste but the boss likes it so it joins alchemillas in being everywhere.
We have a small sculpture of a falcon given to us by L and this nestles in the alchemilla by the decking.

I would have more sculpture in the garden but it would have to meet two criteria (at least) - go where it is put and be liked by both  of us.

 When we were recently down in Herefordshire we went out for an excellent lunch at the Kilpeck Inn and then wandered up to the church only to find a sculpture of R and I as a gargoyle at the eaves. Actually that would make us rather old in a Wandering Jew sort of way as the gargoyles date from about 1140 A.D..

 A wood pigeon has just hit the window with a great thump leaving white feather dust behind. It was such a large bang I thought it must be dead but it flew away.

Today has been mainly mowing paths, watering gardens, deadheading roses and the crambe, tying up droopy tomatoes, picking a few weedy raspberries and generally mucking about. I have picked a big bunch of flowers for the house - crocosmia lucifer, a rudbeckia, buddleia, anthemis, a lily an so on. I stuffed these into a vase in true flower arranger fashion (you must be joking)(yes I am).

I also picked a small bunch of pinks and the kitchen smells of nothing else.

Here's to a small can of Heineken (it is empty - I must have already drunk it).

Here's to a cuppa tea.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Let me start on a fruity note - successful goosegogs - no sawfly (YET!) and no mildew (YET!)

Then I shall move on to new plants - here are some of the strawberry runners pegged down into pots.

Then I shall move on to b***** blackbirds and b***** thrushes. Not satisfied with eating ALL our red currants they are now devouring the black currants and raspberries. I feel a fruit cage coming on.

As I may have mentioned I have been scything (have signed up for a course in September at Sprint Mill, Burneside with Steve Tomlin) and this is the stream in the ditch after cutting the grass and raking it off. The right hand side is hedge bottom and this has been left for now but it will need tidying, debrambling etc.

Talikng of de-things - I am still trying to desquirrel the garden but failing - they are breeding faster than I can catch them. Rabbits seem to have nothing on squirrels.

Down by the Wendy House are a couple of self sown hypericums (thank you G and L) and some of the leaves are very vivid in colour.
This pic also shows goosegrass and vetch so weeding to be done.

Perhaps I should just grow vetch, goosegrass, ground elder, horsetails and bindweed with extra room for creeping buttercup, broad-leaved willow herb, dandelions, nettles and brambles.
Now there would be a wild garden!

This is the front of the house looking north from the kitchen door at the philadelphus and a double feverfew in the foreground - lots of white and scent ++ from the shrub.

One of R's favourite plants is rue. I am not so certain having been the victim of its nasty sap some years ago resulting in a load of blisters on my arms.

We have tried several forms but this is the most successful and, I think, the one growing in the garden at the Druidstone Hotel in Pembrokeshire.

The wind outside is restless - A Wayward Wind? (Sorry old song from the 50s/60s written by Stanley Lebowsky and Herb Newman and sung by Gogi Grant, Tex Ritter and Frank Ifield amongst others.)(Stop rambling, I hear a cry.)

I had a bonfire and burned a load of old twigs and stuff and the bank statements.

The ashes will be good for the currants and berries - potash.

So, in the week I am more ancient and R is still 21 here is a Rose - most appropriate.

I have just found a box full of old seeds - forgot I had them.
I am so disorganised sometimes I forget where I left myself.

Anyway - time to leave the blog for today.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Sunday -
So she has turned to her dependable last resort - she is doing the ironing - this works for her as a sort of relaxation therapy unlike myself. I end up with more creases than my skin - well perhaps not!

This afternoon she helped a lot in the garden. I had been at it most of the morning dragging watercress from the ponds, scything the ditch bank and raking off the grass, planted half a dozen brachyglottis on the banking near the asparagus, manured the rhubarb, pegged sone strawberry runners into little pots of earth for new plants. The cycle goes on - deadheading, weeding and so on.
It is cold today when the sun goes - mid 50s only. I suppose now we are past the longest day at midsummer we are now on the downhill run to winter so the nights will draw in and a chill arrive in the air.
Despite the drought - everywhere is very dry (I watered the garden last night in the hope it would bring on the rain, but no luck) yet there is still a trickle in the stream.
This morning I sat outside the kitchen door with a mug of coffee and the swallows went on feeding their young - completely ignoring me.
Now I know what it is to be just another garden fixture.

This is a mallow - comes in white and pink - and was given to us some years ago by my sister H. It freely self seeds and this year has even done so in the long banking grass.

(Break to get out camera as female greater spotted woodpecker on peanuts outside window. Line it up and she flies away - D***.)

One of the best dark foliage plants in the garden is this shrub -

It is at this point that I set you a competition, no prize, just the satisfaction of being right - what is it?
(Actually I cannot remember so this is a way out of my embarrassment.)

My father liked red hot pokers so here are some under the cherry tree, paeonies behind (Shirley Temple I think)(yes, over here it has an aeo not just an eo)(perhaps it had a diphthong originally?)(what is a diphthong - no, not a minimal bathing costume - look it up - Google will solve all.)

Off to have a cuppa as Quo's Pictures of Matchstick Men squeals from the radio in the kitchen.

This keyboard is mucky - gardener's fingers - so turn computer of and clean it - okay I will.

Monday was hot and some golf, a bargain afternoon tea out at the Linthwaite House Hotel - sat on the patio - and a walk around their small tarn - so no gardening.

Tuesday has begun with a bad back (gets me out of a lot except R's birthday)(she now has an iPhone) and we are celebrating by going to hospital for them to look at a bump on my head (just a cyst not spare brain).

The sun is shining, the garden is very dry, the gooseberries and blackcurrants need picking and all is rosey.