Monday, 27 July 2015


We go away and come back and the rose garden is nothing like it was - a lot of dead heading needed. This is how it was before we left after R had dead-headed them. Mind you the assassin had also been at the alchemilla chopping them back so they would not seed whilst we were away. You can see the damage on the right in the foreground.

Fruit - redcurrant - I have saved enough from the blackbirds to make a few small jars of jelly - nothing quite like roast lamb gravy, mint sauce and redcurrant jelly with  a slab of bread.
Blackcurrants in full flood - we have too many bushes so I think a cull is in order.
Raspberries doing well again - we have some golden ones but R will not eat them as they are not red.
Strawberries - going over a bit now - the bed needs reorganising with the plants more on ridges and further apart.
Courgettes (they are a fruit) at last under way.
Plums need thinning, damsons disappointing, apples and pears - we will see though the pear has blister mite - and we do have about six greengages.

Bird bits - the ducks return from time to time - she likes to sit at the exit to the pond. The pond is full of spirogyra - I lift it out by the rakeful.
Despite the rain the ground has absorbed it all and the stream hardly runs. The pond, however seems to manage to be full so something is coming in from somewhere.

This is a scraggy young female pheasant under the feeders. I see the birds regularly in the garden and in the field at the back. Every so often the cock's squawk shatters the peace.

This pic shows the house from the far end of the garden with the, as yet, not really tamed bank below the fruit beds. I used to call them veg beds but as we mainly grow fruit there now . . .

I have begun to cut the top banking which is a slog. 

Between that and the field is a hedge of Rosa rugosa. The soil is poor there but it is getting taller and thicker. Originally it was supposed to be a mixture of red and white but most of the bushes seem to be red.
Anyway it is a refreshing change from a conventional hedge.

We have two colours of anthemis and they are both flowering prolifically. The deeper yellow went on into the late autumn last year - great value for money and effort - well not much effort - shove it in, leave it.

The brachyglottis (senecio) that we did not prune is also in full flush. Some people do not like these but their grey foliage and abundant yellow flowers give a good reward. They are also tough and withstand much maltreatment.

So the hack back has begun, cutting the long grass and carting it to the far heap. Having moaned a bit about it - I have to say it does look better afterwards.

Just done one of those quiz things on Facebook to ascertain my political inclinations.
I came out rather similar to Bill Clinton, a bit left and a bit liberal, so I hope my political position is not compromising.

'Nough said, lots to do, like having cups of tea and biscuits. (Biscuits are my downfall.)
(There speaks a grazer.)

Actually just back from nine days in deepest Wales internet free and it is cold, and it is raining and there is a woodpecker on the nuts.
More when I have regained my sanity.

Friday, 17 July 2015


Why start with a photo of a multicoloured umbrella?

Because of this -

Speaking of water the pond looked like beaten metal or mercury today with its reflection. The way it can act like a mirror is one of the joys of having it in the garden.

The tree rats are still everywhere, eating and driving me nuts.
The trap - ignored here - is on top of a shed by feeders and tied up in a plastic sack. This is not to give the squirrels shelter but  to stop the nuts falling out through the wire mesh of the trap.
Talking of rats but the feathered variety - picked the first gooseberries and then went to the redcurrants - they are heavily netted. However there were not one but three blackbirds within the netting, one trapped. Managed to salvage half a pound and put them in the freezer for now.

This morning I woke at 6:10 am to the sound of R operating her sewing machine - anoraks we call it - when the children were little she made them orange waterproofs and was doing it right up to the last minute before a holiday. There was also a din from the squirrel trap but it was not a squirrel, not a jay but a wood pigeon!

To move on -
This is Osmunda regalis, the royal fern growing by the stream. Having this is a memory of the one that grew by the wall opposite the front door of the old white farmhouse where I spent my childhood.

On to white stuff - perhaps the most important colour (if it is a colour) in the garden.

Mallow left, crambe right.

White pink right, deutzia left.

Philadelphus belle etoile left achillea right.

White campanula

The feverfew has seeded itself in many places in the garden and is flowering well.
It is an interesting plant used to treat headaches and migraine.

Up on the top banking the white rosebay willow herb is splendid, has spread and this could become a problem so I will watch this plant with care.

The lawn, which is just mown field really and full of weeds - not a bowling green - and tired, could do with a feed and seed. Scratch the surface and cast seed to the ground - but which seed? I shall probably use a hardwearing mixture with rye grass.
Perhaps I should ask the wild rabbits what they would like?

Now sex in the garden?
This image of the rose Emma Hamilton in a vase shows what a blowsy lady she is.

The flower is about 4 inches (10 cm ) across and the scent is supremely heady. I got this from David Austin Roses.

Still falls the rain so time to make some jam with old fruit from last year - to make room for this year's crop - blackcurrant, I think.

R is out and I am sitting in the kitchen, a dark day and rain has flattened the long banking grass so it will be a nightmare to cut. The Aga is hissing softly and the fridge burbling by the door. The sink tap has a drop hanging from the end, never falling, time is suspended. Yet both the clocks are chiming twelve at the same time and as I look out of the window at a pair of bedraggled pigeons I think of summer holidays in Pembrokeshire, the wide expanse of Druidston Haven and sunshine.

Mind you, the way this year's weather has been so far we will be sitting on the shingle in anoraks drinking hot coffee poured from a vacuum flask and wondering why on earth we live in this cold wet country.

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Let me not mess - there are some stunning flowers in the garden at the moment besides the roses. So here are a few - poppy, iris, peony and another poppy. The blue meconopsis is a challenge - if I can find the right balance of shade and humidity it will thrive but so far I have failed. I think I will try down by the pond - prepare a small area with some old compost and leaf mould - and hope. Sue gave me two pots of seedings yesterday so here goes.

The last one is a surprise - I suppose I must have scattered some wild poppy seed on the banking by the veg beds at some time and voila!

Talking, well writing, about poppies I have cut back those in the oriental poppy bed, lightly forked the soil, weeded and added a bit of hen manure as a boost. The plants will regrow and hopefully we will have a second if smaller flowering later in the year.

Weeding carries on as it always does with three items this year being a pain - bindweed - less than last year, goosegrass more so and the ever spreading creeping buttercup.

The Rambling Rector roses are just getting going whereas the clematis montana is now over. Here is a beautiful example seen recently in Kelton near Castle Douglas.

This is the path leading down to the cutting bed and veg and fruit garden. The pink geranium on the right makes a good edging and geraniums are another plant that needs shearing back after flowering for a second blooming in the autumn.

These Sweet Williams in the cutting bed are biennial so they are flowering in their third year here! so something-ennial!

I have tried to net some of the red currants but every time I go down there blackbirds are hopping about in the bushes.

The rain has refreshed the pond and the white waterlilies are flowering. 

It is so good to see all the young greenfinches on the feeder as they almost disappeared for a few years due to Trichomonosis.
The chaffinch numbers seems to remain steady and, of course we have been blessed by a pair of bullfinches this year.

A young tree sparrow just tried to head the window to my study but seems all right as it has flown straight back to the peanut feeder.

Now I might like to think that my garden has some good points but Sue's cottage garden is fantastic - as is her pond (much bigger)(though she does have resident greylag geese and as they youknowhat all over the lawn in large quantities one has to watch one's step).

She also has island beds (something R is not keen on) and this mixture of violas and Sweet Williams works so well.

And to finish - some more single flowers or flower heads - Allium (I think Christophii), Philadelphus Belle Etoile and the main alstroemeria from the cutting garden - a punchy red.

Enough for now.
My golf is suffering (and so am I). And if I am suffering on the course so are everyone around as I mutter loudly to myself. 
I have not mentioned compost or Putin . .  yes I have - Ah! Well.

I shall sign off with the Mamas and the Papas singing 'It's Getting Better' then 'Dream a Little Dream of Me.'
So I'll say nighty-night . . .

Actually it is only ten to five in the afternoon.

But it is raining so . . . 

Sunday, 5 July 2015


This is the view out of the door in the living room across the paving to the rose bed.
The bed is edged by forget-me-nots in early spring before the catmint takes over. The colour of the nepeta compliments the roses brilliantly.
Most of these roses came from David Austin Roses - Gertrude Jekyll, William Shakespeare, Emma Hamilton (as you can see 'names') and Rhapsody in Blue.

Of course there are other roses like this one which was given to us by our son-in-law's parents. This is a colour that really stands out.

Down by the cold frame is Golden Showers - a blast of yellow on a fence. 
It looks like it is just growing in a pot but the bottom of the pot was removed so its roots could spread. 
It is certainly drawing on energy from somewhere. (Actually the gooseberry bed.)

Rosa glauca (or rosa rubifolia) grows at the northern end of the bed and is an arching shrub 
two metres high. It came as a seedling from Wormleighton Hall.
It was not commonly grown until the late 1800s. It is a wild plant from Southern Europe. My aunt thought it was the original red rose of Lancashire but this is not the case - sadly.

I shall finish for now, regarding the roses - here is a view from the south showing massed achemilla mollis in the foreground. If R had her way it and catmint would be 90% of the flowers grown here.

Most of the paving by the house is edged by it and it freely self-seeds everywhere. (A bit too much for me.) (Watch this space in the autumn.)

We were out this morning with friends (the composty ones) looking at roses and stuff when there came a chattering and house martins emerged from the nest we believed was moribund - not so - we are surrounded by whirling birds. What a delight but it does not mean the grey squirrels get a reprieve - we know only too well how much of a pest they are.
Two squirrels deported today in honour of my wife's birthday (Wednesday).

Behind the big damson tree, where the drain was put in, red campion has self seeded but not as much as up in the wood where R cleared the brambles. We have a seedling carpet.

The pond is looking much more mature but a lack of rain means it is not as clear as I would like. We have had some hot weather, two days up here unlike the record temperatures in London where they have had a heat wave. All we get is a hot humid ripple.
We have our damselflies but today we had a male broad-bodied chaser in his bright blue colour.

We are well strawberried, soon to be gooseberried and curranted, not to mention plummed and a little bit greengaged - but the damsons on the big tree have Pocket plums - a fungal disease that distrorts the fruit and makes them inedible. The pear also has some die back but the Bramley Apple looks promising.

The kitchen is full of Mrs Sinkins pinks which are white and smell intensely of cloves - magic - my mother's favourite flower. We also have Dianthus Doris - a pink pink with a deeper coloured central eye - and that also smells heavenly.

We are in a spell of hot weather with thunder and rain in the evenings and nights so I shot out yesterday and mowed the lawn whilst it was almost dry.

Sometimes as I write this blog I think of how remote it seems from the real world and its inhumanity, how badly men and women not only treat each other but do the same to those creatures and plants with which we share this amazing planet.
David Attenborough has it right when he says that the continued population growth is unsustainable. (Optimum Population Trust)
If there is a God or Gods then he/she (neither is right - it?)(or both?) is in the eye of the pink flower above, the scent of the white pink, the glory of a rose, the gift of life, rain in the desert, not in some manmade temple and creed.

Now I am in trouble!