Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Xmas 2011

I have enjoyed this Christmas.A mixture of presents,television,and eating well.The build up always makes you enjoy it more,but it passes too quickly!I have been out in the garden today tidying the greenhouse out.I removed the dying back Tomato plants and chucked out rubbish.I re potted my Climbing Fuchsia from Cromer,and replaced all the shelving ready for spring flower and vegetable seed trays.I got a White Indoor Rose plant from Mum.Cat bought me this Elvis Teddy bear with peacock embroidered jump suit with gold edging, and a microphone.He will decorate the sidebar next year.
I bought an Oyster Mushroom growing kit.I read the wrong instructions (there were two different types on the back too),and then took the bag off.I have now replaced the bag back on my Mushroom kit.It was sat next to the Elvis bear.The first pins are already growing up through the straw.I cannot wait to photograph my Oyster Mushrooms but also cook them.
The garden winter clean up will take place in stages after my night shifts.I need to get to the Allotment too to start clearing the beds ready for next years growing season.
Xmas is a good time to relax and remember what went well and what did not.I have found my two tins of Seeds ready for my inspection.Im thinking about next years growing season already.
I hope you all had very merry Christmases.The New Year is only five days away..

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Xmas Eve

Its Christmas Eve and I am excited about tomorrow.We have had our Christmas dinner early as it was the only night we both have off.We ate roast Turkey and all the trimmings.Cats Mum made a Scottish Clootie dumpling.These flowers are decorating the front room to brighten up the dark nights.I bought this Swedish Angel Chime in Scotland,in a Highland Xmas shop.When you light the candles the angels turn,and the metal rods hit the bells.I lit the candles this afternoon and watched it turn around.
I hope that every one has a wonderful Xmas Day tomorrow.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wild Friends

There are only three nights until Christmas Day.I cannot wait..the longer nights and colder days have drawn the local wildlife back into the garden.Watching and photographing them is quite therapeutic.I love the Robin.He is very cute,but extremely territorial.I have seen two in the garden but luckily on opposite sides of the garden.For me the Robin is always symbolic of Xmas.The furry raider that is the Squirrel has been in the garden.I watched as he nicked the peanuts I just put out.He grabbed them then tried burying them in our long grass!He is a natural born acrobat and peanut pirate!His tail is like some mad flag waving and quivering.The Blackbirds have made a welcome return to our garden.I love their songs,and their chattering alarm calls if you disturb them in the garden.These are probably Russian migrants who fly here for the winter.Olaf we called him last year.The Goldfinches are back with their beautiful colours,and amazing aerial acrobatics.I love how they can fly at each other in aggressive displays but not actually touch each other.They repel each other by invading their personal space.Their songs are quite sweet,and you can tell if they are hanging around in the trees before you see them.The local House Sparrows continue to amuse me as they line up on the fence.Waiting for the chance to fly down for some sunflower hearts or fat balls.They are gregarious,very noisy,and quite fun to watch.They have had lots of juvenile Sparrows this year,so they benefit from the all year round food supply.The Collared Doves are in the garden almost every day eating the seed in the tray feeders,and drinking from the bird bath.
For a bird that came from the Balkans it is very well adapted.It looks like it has a dog collar around its neck.They coo coo quite a lot on the fence and on the neighbours roofs watching the garden from high above.
The garden has about eight hours of daylight and it is noticeably more frenetic with the wildlife feeding.Its good to see all the winged friends come back for the Winter.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Xmas Spirit

There is only a week until Xmas.The tree is up,the decorations are hung up,and the presents have been bought and wrapped up underneath.I had to order this Harrods bear to sit on the fireplace.We were not able to get to London.The bear has become an Xmas tradition.

Certain plants have been associated with Christmas like Fir Trees,Wreaths,Holly with red Berry's, and Mistletoe.Asda have been selling the Poinsettias with their red and green.These are the colours of Christmas.We have the wreath on the front door,and the decorated Xmas Tree.
I have been baking and cooking when the weather has been cold.Butterfly Buns,Millionaires shortbread,and choc chip n pecan cookies.Comfort food is good,along with good gardening books or magazines.The short days mean the end of the year and reflections.
The new year will see the decking ripped out,and a new conservatory put up.The garden will be revamped.The sunken border will be even deeper than it is now.I have to decide to which plants to save.They will be dug up and potted up for saving.
I ordered a Mushroom growing kit from Suttons which is now sat on the dining room table.I hope it grows some edible mushrooms for me to cook with.
The new year means new resolutions,and plans.I need to dig over the allotment and plan next years growing season.I want to try more plants in the garden,and to continue to attract wildlife.
I love Xmas as much as gardening.

Friday, December 16, 2011


My baby sister Jawsy and her partner Scott have had a baby boy called Marshall Rex Cullen on Friday the 16th of December in Auckland, New Zealand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pansys And New Years Plans

There are only twelve days until Xmas.The weather outside has turned decidedly wintry, with rain and freezing cold winds.The bleak days have finished off most of the late flowering plants.These Pansy's are due to go into the hanging baskets for Winter colour.These delicate flowers are as tough as old nails.Freezing temperatures and torrential downpours has not dampened their flowering spirit.The cold weather has meant I have been indoors lots cooking and baking.The garden looks green but without much vibrant colour.The decking will be removed in January when we have a new Conservatory built.I will be able to move the dining room table outside closer to the birds.The sunken border will probably be replanted after all the building work has finished.We will have an outdoor plug too for putting more lights outside.
I have had emails about garden projects for next years Olympic Games.Green fingered community leaders will be celebrating the games for local communities.2012 will be a great gardening year.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Waterford Colours

When it is December the gardens flowers have mostly died away.Any colour you can find helps you through the gloomy dark days.In Scotland I bought a lovely waterford crystal vase and have bought some flowers to illuminate the front room.The most brightly coloured Peruvian Lilys with pink,white,and yellow spashes of colour.The light illuminates them.

To accompany the Peruvian Lilys I bought some White Carnations.These smell faintly of cloves and contrast to the Pinks,and reds of the Alstromeria.
Cut flowers can give you winter colour.The wind is blowing outside today.The Mole has been back digging in his favourite holes along the path.
I still have two nights to go before I can get back to gardening.The Xmas Tree will be put up on Monday after a sleep.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Foxglove Friday

Its the second of December already.Only twenty three days to go until Xmas!
Amazingly the Foxglove has put on an extra show of its purple spotty flowers.The Autumn has been quite mild, and the usual freezing temperatures have not arrived yet.
There is little other colour in the garden in December.It is mottled greens and drying seedheads.
I'm back on nights again.The garden looks green and lush after lots of rainfall.
The birds are coming back slowly to feed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Time And Teasel

I cant believe it is nearly the end of November.The wind and rain have been battering the garden again overnight.Lots of rain has fallen,and the wind has knocked over the bird feeding station.The plastic catcher under the Nijer seed has smashed again.This was the second one that the wind has destroyed!
I have been enjoying the warmth of the indoors and reading my emails.The photo was taken from the backdoor.
The Teasels have finished flowering and now the seed heads are browning away nicely.The birds quite like them to launch themselves onto the bird feeders amongst the Teasel thistles.
The great garden clean up needs to continue.The baskets are waiting to be filled with the winter bedding plants.I will try to do it tomorrow.Short days and colder nights make the warmth and light of indoors quite tempting.Reading gardening books or perusing seed catalogues ready for next year.
I ate my one Scotch Bonnet Chili yesterday raw,sliced onto some cheddar cheese.It was delicious!Next year I will try to grow Jalapenos,and Scotch Bonnet Chili peppers.Again the greenhouse needs the Tomato grow bags clearing away and the years debris cleaned up in preparation for over wintering the tender plants.Cat wants me to move the Dahlias out of the shed into the greenhouse!
We are thinking about a new conservatory,and all I can think about is how much light will flood in,and how much windowsill space there will be for plants!
The December issue of the RHS magazine came talking about Phalaenopsis plants,and gardeners who brought their plants indoors.
I also got a list of next years Flower Shows run by the RHS.There are loads starting with the Spring flowers shows,to Chelsea,to Tatton Park..
Yesterday at Earls Court six colleges came to enter the Young Gardener Of The Year.They will display their sustainable gardens at the Ideal Home Exhibition next March in Earls Court from March 16th to April 1st.
The show Gardens will be five and a half metres by four metres wide, with the theme "Land craft Techniques within an Urban Setting".David Domoney (from Garden E.R) will be on the judging panel.Hundreds of thousands of people will see these budding garden designers!Last year over 250,000 people saw the show.
This was all the students entered into the competition from the six colleges.I hope to go along in March to see what each College has done.
Even though the year is drawing to a close there is always reminders of the next year.More things to look forward to.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunflower And Sparrow

I'm back after a little break from blogging.The cooler days and darker nights seem to make it harder to go into the garden.The summer glorys are over, and now the seedheads are forming.The garden looks more scruffy as it edges into Winter.The birds seemed to have dissapeared for a while.Today I saw Collared Doves,a Robin,and some House Sparrows.These little garden spirits cheer you up on gloomy days.
Between working and sleeping I have not been as active as I would have liked.I need to do the winter baskets and replant the pots and sunken border with the winter bedding plants.The mole has been back damaging our grass again with his digging!
I will be back to regular blogging now to keep people going through the gloomy Autumn days..

Friday, November 04, 2011

November Rain

After a weeks holiday in the Scottish Highlands and one day back at work i finally went back into the garden with a camera.The rain days and early darkness keep you indoors more watching TV.I emptied out all the hanging baskets ready for the winter bedding plants.Cats parents gave us three varieties of plants to grow over the winter.After my nights I will plant up the baskets and the pots around the garden.Violas,Pansy's,and Sweet Williams.I have some Blue Tulips to plant to.The Arthur Bell Rose has managed a late flush of colour.Beautiful lemon yellow with a lovely old rose fragrance.It glows after the rain has fallen.Gertrude Jekyll looked sickly and I did not expect her to re bloom but she has.The pink Roses are amazingly fragrant and the colour glows in the dying autumn garden.She needs training up the supports we bought so the flowers can be supported next year.
When we were away in Scotland Cats Dad and John helped put our bird box up above the backdoor.The birds have all winter to find it and suss it out.I topped up the birds food today.They will start coming into the garden soon with the colder days ahead.
I have lots more tidying to do in the garden.There are spring bulbs already planted so they need clear soil to grow up through the earth.I cleared one Teasel away from the pond area.I snipped some dead flower heads back so you can see the pond outline again.I think I will leave the pond clearing until spring.The frogs should be able to chill in the deep water without freezing.
I will keep going out and clearing the garden debris a bit at a time.When spring comes it will be ready for another growing season.
The mole that visits us seems to have moved away.There have been no more mole hills yet.I saw a small brown mouse the other day running along the fence.
The garden birds and the wildlife like the garden as much as me.I will do more blog posts too now after my little break..

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scottish Autumn Break

After finishing my four nights we are now off to Scotland for a week.This is a weeks holiday with Cat and Tom.We are going to the Highlands of Scotland, near to a Loch.
The birds food is topped up and the garden can be left for a week.By the time we come back the Pumpkins will need harvesting for Halloween.
The Roses are still blooming despite the October weather,and darker nights.
The camera batteries have been charged.I hope the weather is not too bad for our week.I have packed a hat,gloves,and scarf.
I hope that we can see lots of flora and fauna in the wilds of Scotland.
See you all in a weeks time!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Garden Update

Autumn has arrived in Yorkshire.The trees are gradually shedding their leaves.It has been wet and windy for a few days.The plants are getting blown around outside now.It needs tidying up and the new winter bedding plants need planting in the pots,baskets,and sunken border.This was the view from the backdoor a few days ago.The Toad Lilys have begun to bloom in earnest.They have such beautiful colouration on their petals.The stamen seem to float over the plant like something from a sci-fi movie.The combination of warm sunshine,and wild weather has caused the Lady Emma Hamilton to put on a second flush.This year has been a bad year for the amount of these Roses.I think the plant needs trimming back in the Spring to reinvigorate the plant.The Roses she produces are gorgeous to look at,and heavenly to smell.The Apricot coloured blooms seem to sing out during grey days.The soft light seems to make them glow like copper coloured candles.Another job to do is to try to cut back some of the pond plants.They have exploded in growth and totally covered the pond.There are now baby Newts in the pond.The summer newts laid eggs and left in August.The Lily pads and pond weed provide perfect cover for the nifty one inch mini newts.There are a lot of Frogs in the pond though who eat small Newts.Hopefully some Newts will survive the winter and go on to lead productive lives.The Flag Iris pot is the favoured home for the Newts with its coloured stones.They wedge themselves between the stones.The Norfolk reed needs splitting and potting into an aquatic basket.It is vigorous!the Wildflowers around the pond will be left to set seed and will only be cut down in the Spring to clear some soil ready for the new plants to germinate.the only thing I want to move is the eight feet Teasel.They have made giant seed heads,like architectural sculptural pieces.I will leave one lot for the birds.I will spend the next year digging up Teasel plants from all over the garden!The Frog here was chilling in the water balanced on the pond plants.I love Frogs.I hope that the water is deep enough not to freeze solid..The Seed heads of flowering plants can be quite decorative.As the flowers start to fade they add some magic to the Autumn garden.Once the first frosts hit they will look magical with hoar frost on them.I will try to leave as many as possible for the birds to eat,and for the decorative effect until spring.It takes training to leave a garden a little wild after the beautiful flowers of summer.This years Apples are still growing on the Tree.One is almost Apple sized,the other two are catching up.The Tree has grown six Apples in 3 years.I am planning on planting it in the winter with lots of compost and manure into the ground.I need to buy a tree stake to keep it growing upright.Once it is bedded in the fruits should grow more plentifully.I love the idea of growing fruit in the garden.The Strawberries have been a great success.The raised sleeper bed has provided us with pounds of fresh juicy Strawberries.They need more compost digging into the bed and the weeds removed.I will pin down any Runners and maybe buy more new plants for the last section that is not full of plants.The netting has kept bird damage down to a minimum.the bruised ones get put on the grass for them.The Verbena Bonarensis have flowered quite well in their first year.These will grow better next year as they find their feet.The birds loved landing on the tall stems.these plants look great en Mass so the purple flowers can shimmer in the air.The Gladiolus have flowered secretly in the sunken border.They have been blown over and hidden amongst the debris of other plants.The pink and white blooms look lovely when they first bloom.I always forget to stake them and they always fall over.Next year i will remember.
The birds have started to visit the garden again.The spring garden was full of hundreds of birds.As the natural food becomes more available they come less.Winter will drive them back into my garden bird buffet.I have mixed seeds,fat balls,Sunflower hearts,and Nijer seed.I am looking for a new peanut holder as mine keeps getting wet then going mouldy.I need one that keeps the peanuts dry.Most seem to be open cages.The Yorkshire garden is quite exposed to the elements.
I have some new Tulip Bulbs to plant.These are called Tulip Purple Prince.They came as part of the offer with the winter bedding plug plants.Violas,Pansy's,and Sweet Williams.These will provide the bridging colour between Autumn and Spring.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumn Signs

I finally have a weekend off and I'm going to enjoy it.The Autumn weather means it has fluctuated between sunny days to wet rainy days.The damp days have inspired these Mushrooms to start growing in the grass.They are like fairy castles appearing overnight and then disappearing a few days after.The underside of the mushroom is amazingly intricate.Fungi's are strange things,a cross between a plant and an animal.These little grey caps look like a miniature village.Like the Gauls village in the Asterix comic books.they are hidden under our back gardens grass.The appearance of long hidden mushrooms is a sign of Autumn.Usually woodland floors sprout lots of Mushrooms in the autumn.The Spring Primulas have grown quietly over the summer and have begun to flower in earnest under the bird feeder.The white Flowers have a radiant yellow centre like a spun egg yolk.These are very hardy plants and should survive the winter.The Echinops flower heads have turned into seed heads.They still have an architectural form to them.Seed heads forming is another sign that the seasons have changed.
In the pots on the decking this lone Petunia flowers away.I love the vibrancy of the red with the patterned veins.The October skys illuminate reds,oranges,yellows,and browns more clearly.These colours seem to glow.
The Snapdragons by the pond are still flowering.I enjoy the candy stick smell that these flowers have.There are pink and these white Snapdragons growing still.These self seeded from the first year we planted around the pond.The wildflower area should grow anew each year with different varieties of flowers.The soil has been left poor with no compost added.
I topped up the birds food and water after we went shopping.As the weather gets colder they will come to the garden more frequently.I think that the Trees and shrubs provide plenty of natural food for the garden birds.Winter will draw them into our garden to feed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Harvest Reflections

Its the eleventh of October already.The crops that I have grown are almost ready to harvest.The old men have started to clear their plots and the air can be quite smoky at the allotment from bin fires.I am resisting still and compost all my green waste.I have started to clear the beds that have gone over.The peas,the onions,the garlic,and the sweetcorn.The Courgettes have died back and are covered with a white sooty mould.It has rained quite a lot over the past few days so I hope my five Pumpkins are increasing in size.I want to use one as a Jack O Lantern,and the rest will be turned into soup.As the harvest kicks in I find you need inspiration to deal with the glut of Vegetables.I will try to cook my Runner Beans into a Lebanese Tomato and Garlic dish.What do you do with eight Cabbages that are all ready to pick?I guess I could blanch them and freeze them.The freezer already has Tomato Soup,and Carrot Soup frozen in small portions.These can be used on cold wintry days after a long walk,with a crusty bread roll.The summer harvest can be carried over through the dark days of winter.
Its not all gone smoothly this year.White Rot has decimated my Onions and Garlic.The Sweetcorn keeled over as soon as it was planted out.The Cauliflower plants died after strong winds and slug damage.The Broccoli has not grown any florets yet!
Despite all this we have had sixty pounds of Potatoes from the Plot,Carrots,a few peas,Rhubarb,Runner Beans,and a beautiful Cabbage.
Still growing in the ground is winter Vegetables.Parsnips,Swedes,Carrots,and Brussels Sprouts.I am planning next years crops already.
The garden has grown Strawberry's in the sleeper bed.Potatoes in grow bags which were not as productive due to the dry early summer.Tomatoes and Chilli's have been a great success.I will definitely grow these again.I will look for new Varieties to try and grow.The Red Cherry's were lovely,juicy,and strong tasting.The Outdoor girl were big but not as tasty.There are hundreds of varieties of Toms to try,and more Chilli's.
As the growing season ends it is a good time to reflect on what has gone right,what was a disaster,and what could be done next year.
I will try to grow Sweetcorn in large grow bags in the garden so they can be tended and watered all year around.Working full time and not being able to go every day made the crop fail.They need the tender loving care for them to reach their potential.
I think the sleeper bed in the garden needs more Strawberry plants.Last year i increased my stock by pinning down the runners from the parent plants.Strawberry plants can be propagated easily every year.The thrill of picking bowls of fresh Strawberries was amazing.
All this harvested crops need storing,freezing,or used in cooking.The whole point of growing Vegetables is to eat them freshly cooked.I enjoy finding new recipes to cook and taste.Growing and cooking are two of my passions.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

October Garden

I have been working lots so the blog has been slightly neglected.I have been enjoying the last blasts of colour and flowers in the Autumn garden.A few days of sunshine has inspired flowers to bloom for a second flush of colour this year.The Mexican Orange Blossom suprised with me with its almond scented flowers above glossy green leaves.Arthur Bell flowered for a second time.The plant has such a lovely deep yellow colour with a slight fragrance.The roses have all grown on beautifully.The Roses Wisley,Lady Emma Hamilton,
and Gertrude Jekyll have all got rose buds on them now.The Abysinnain Gladiolus have been flowering away in a pot by the backdoor.They look lovely with the white and plum flower,with the scent of Lilac.They have been damaged by the wind and rain that has ravaged the garden.The leaves have started to change colour,and some have dropped off.Walking along the street can involve kicking through piles of leaves.The Lilac Tree leaves look autumnal now.
Today has been a lovely sunday.Roast Lamb Dinner,watching Countryfile,and the Antiques Roadshow.Im working tomorrow.
The garden needs tidying up.I have new plants growing for the baskets and the sunken border for the winter period.At some point I will remove the debris from the summer party.I am enjoying the last bursts of colour.
I know its late in the season because Autumn Watch started on Friday night..