Thursday, 29 June 2017


Came back from Herefordshire (5 1/2 hour drive) and had to nip out and mow the lawn before rain after the brief sunshine that was probably our summer.

So another year under my belt (at least not hanging over it!)

R has just watched the mallard duck walk down the garden from the back field to the pond with two ducklings, both quite big. We think they have been reared on the old mill pond about four hundred yards away and she has brought them to us for breakfast. 

The pheasants, as usual started the year with more than one chick - two this year, but now none - could be fox but more likely a cat - number one predator in the garden.

I have been scything the path sides as the grass was leaning over and after rain making walking very unpleasant.

We have picked our first gooseberries but the damsons look disappointing and the strawberries very poor. As far as the currants and raspberries go it is the usual battle with the blackbirds and thrushes.

The squirrel trap continues to work but only to catch yet another angry jay. I watch the birds come and go, mainly tits, sparrows and finches like these goldfinches.

I have given PB yet more stuff from our pond (and covered myself in mud collecting it.)
The rambling rector rose is stunning but now the main colour in the garden comes from the alchemilla (Lady's Mantle).

The wild dog roses are flourishing, not as dramatic as the garden varieties but lovely nevertheless.

 Down by the pond the earlier red candelabra primulas have given way to Primula vera - the yellow one. This also is self seeding by the stream.

All in all the garden is looking good - the house full of flowers - alstroemerias, pinks and so on.

 The new delphiniums have survived slugs and snails and the dry banking is a mass of germaniums and grey foliage - interspersed with self sown foxgloves.

It is a bit late but I have ordered some netting in a last attempt to at least have a few currants for the freezer. 

The top wood is looking good - here a bit earlier in the year with the Hawthorn in flower.

And who says we do not grow some exciting plants in the garden - like these poppies!

It was too cold last night I put on the bed socks M gave me for Christmas! It is June, nearly July and the temperature yesterday struggled to 13C though was only 11.5C most of the day. At least the new netting came - just have to go out in the steady rain now to cover the soggy fruit.

Friday, 23 June 2017


Is the latest fragrance after I got covered in mud moving arrowhead and flowering rush. R decided the could not see enough clear water from her shed.
This is the rush on the right.
In the garden there are many white flowers, so important - the deutzia and philadelphus are in full bloom and here are some others beginning with the water lily.

Others include the rather invasive but beautiful white willow herb in the upper banking jungle, a white campanula much loved by R,

the pink Mrs Sinkins and the Rambling Rector rose cascading out of the great ash tree.

There is also the shrub rose William Shakespeare on the left and the crambe on the right by the back path.

So who else has been to the garden - how about Reynard the fox. (Might be Mrs Reynard though.)

Back to Eau de Pond - here is a puddle in a mass of mud - a sort of pond, the digging out not complete. I have now chucked in some plants from the bottom pond.
You can see the move pond on the right in this shot of the far top garden, dark in the wood and damp. The gap straight ahead between the trees was made when I removed the shrubs referred to in a previous blog.

The lower far garden shows the birches, a compost heap on the left and the line of the stream - must scythe the sides soon.

One flower R loves is the Rosa Mundi, When I pruned it in the autumn I stuck three bits in a corner of the cutting bed and voila - they have all rooted.

I must now go the the plumbing merchant as I have broken the en suite lavatory seat! Ah! Back to the fundamentals of life.

Saturday, 17 June 2017


I have decided to prune the lower branches off the white lilac as they are shading out surrounding plants. Then R and I walk to the top clearing in the wood and I realise, if I removed a hazel and an elderberry there would be a fine view across the bay - cue for a seat even though a lot of the time the big trees next door would leave it out of the sun - would be good on hot summer days though - if we get any.
Just as I am about to go out (R has gone off to church to wield the chalice) I receive a happy Father's Day text (except it is next week.)

The trees are duly cut down and heaped in a bonfire (not lit). I walk up to the top grassy area and look at the new view - of a large pylon - now, where did that come from?

The weight of pigeons has demolished the hanging bird table and I have had to restring it.

I am reading Alan Bennett's Keeping On, Keeping On, R lent it to me. The trouble is I keep seeing the world now in anecdotes and observations. 

Back to the computer and there is a grey squirrel in the trap on top of the shed outside - three in four days - they are breeding like rabbits (well, squirrels).
Loaded the car with pondweed and the willow canes for P, then added the squirrel - till cannot kill them so will relocate it (I know, illegal!) Squirrels are vermin and eat birds' eggs and so on.

And just when I think I can put the trap away it goes off again - look what I caught.

Come the next morning, 6.45 am and I wake to the sound of a voice in the garden. It turns out it is R talking to a Jay trapped again - perhaps not the same one? She cannot open the thing and release it so I wander out into early morning mizzle in pyjama bottoms undo the catch and lift the flap. The jay shoots off like a guided missile

Shortly after I see the woodpecker is feeding its young, taking peanut from the feeder - lazy young bird could do that for itself?

A note for Pam who gave me a little Phormium when we moved house - we may have to move again if it gets any bigger!

But all is not delight - we still have tragedy when the small birds hit a window and die.

Come on, I hear a cry - If it's June it's Roses - so here is some of the rose bed -

and some of the roses - on the left Emma Hamilton and William Shakespeare, on the right Gertrude Jekyll and I cannot remember.

Up in the wood the Rambling Rectors are just getting going whilst on the way to the pond the Albertine is flowering. This is a beautiful old rose, if a fleeting one with a heavenly scent. All in all, apart for the one I cannot remember the name of that was given to us, the rest are from David Austin Roses. We went to their Shropshire nursery and garden once - amazing.

Of course there are other plants flowering in the garden - like this black iris - Iris chrysographes black form. And colour is s strange thing - Oh! for a blue rose but the best they can do, like Rhapsody in Blue which is purple, fall a long way short. Some clever person will move a gene from a blue delphinium no doubt - but I feel that is cheating a bit?

R has been given and early birthday present of a white Ragged Robin, something the has wanted, and it has now been put in the edge of the pond just outside her Writing shed window.

Bang! A juvenile greater spotted woodpecker has hit my window. It was stunned and breathing heavily with beak wide but finally flew up to the trellis and then away.


Monday, 12 June 2017


Do not let this photo fool you - this is a surprise burst of sunshine. The dried up stream is chunnering again, full of water and more rain expected.

Found some old seeds so just nipped out before it starts again and sowed them - broad beans, french beans and rocket. Nothing may come up but we will see. I have also pruned back the willow surround own the compost heaps - a pretty daft idea as they grow like stink and probably take a lot of goodness away.

R has been dead heading the roses and such between sending her book to agents and so on. The petals from the roses I picked for the vase in the hall have been dried as a pot pourri. Put them on the Aga and got told off as I did not put a towel underneath to stop the lids being scratched.

The feeders have been inundated by small birds - mainly house and tree sparrow fledglings. The tits and finches have had to go around to the kitchen feeder. Mind you they scatter when the squirrel and woodpecker arrive.

The blue tit on the right cannot get a chance - outnumbered.

Here on the kitchen feeder the bullfinch and greenfinch (good to see as less frequent this year) are tucking in without being molested, though you cannot keep the sparrows away completely.
I disturb a very young robin in the primulas by the pond and then a large frog. The latter leaps into the water and submerges. The ducks have stopped coming, perhaps young on a nest elsewhere, so the water is clear and I can see the liner, bulging here and there with water that has got under neath. Time too heave in a mother rock or two to weigh it down?

 Now foxgloves - I know - a wild flower but it outdoes so many so called garden flowers. It self sows as a biennial so if in the wrong place pull them up. But I love them, in the wood, on the banking, even in the flowerbeds.

There are a few good yellows at the moment - day lilies and calendulas though my favourite is the rose Golden Showers. We have two, this one was a free plant, the other came from David Austin Roses. Hello - woodpecker is back, fledglings scatter. Then there is a crash and a wood pigeon thumps into my window. No wonder they are a favourite food for Peregrines.

And so to this photo of red hot pokers and the crambe. The former my father's choice, the latter my mother's.
This blog has got long enough so off for a cup of tea and watch for the rain as the washing is on the line.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017


So it is the beginning of rose time - glorious.

What did I do today?

The beech hedges needed a trim - they are growing so fast there was almost no way up into the wood. I have found a free packet of cornflowers that came with the Gardeners' World magazine so have sown them here and there own sunny positions. The forgetmenots have been uprooted and chucked around at the top of the wood where they will self seed (as they will do in the rose bed and elsewhere.)

The columbines continue to flower as do the hesperis and oriental poppies. In fact one wonders, when the beds are bare in the winter, where it all comes from. Butterflies still scarce - only the odd red admiral and painted lady, plus the usual whites. 

Talking of whites the white comfrey is a delight, less vigorous than the wild form and containable - I hope. The variegated horseradish has been putting on its crambe like show for weeks.

We have two nests of house martins but R caught a young squirrel on our bedroom windowsill so hope it has not taken the eggs. 
The woodpeckers continue to come and the pheasants are getting a bit blasé, we can see paths through the long banking grass and a place where she sits with the fledglings. He still struts his arrogant stuff.

The grass is growing fast and though I only cut it four days ago it needs another trim - a bit like losing a cricket test match - praying for rain.

Two gardens we visited when we were in Scotland were Dunrobin Castle and Inverewe.

This is part of the formal garden at the castle near the fountains. The smaller building on the right is the Duke of Sutherland's summer house!

The whole garden is only separated from the sea by a short distance but well sheltered.

Inverewe is also well sheltered - when it was first started a large plantation was put between it and the westerlies off the Atlantic. Then the owner imposted shiploads of soil from Ireland. On the left is one of the big echiums, on the right a path by a pond in the woods.

On the tv last night M Don told us about the new RHS show at Chatsworth - we went there some years ago and despite the great gardens the two things that impressed us most were Elizabeth Frink's Walking Madonna and War Horse.

R has finished all the rhubarb and ginger jam I made so another batch has been done - needs a lot of stirring when it is boiling as sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Time to mow but it keeps right on a-raining, every minute of every day - well not quite but you get the gist - and re grass - it keeps right on a-growing . . . 
And next day I wake to the squirrel trap skittering across the shed roof blown by a gust of wind. It is pouring down. Glad I mowed last night.

This pic has nothing to do with gardening, just loved its famous red roof (near Shieldaig in Scotland).

So tomorrow is election day. Today is good news - CT scan ok and appointment for next one in a year's time.
Bad news is that we have such an uninspiring crowd of politicians here - we need someone to liven us up - but, no thanks, not Don T.