Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Second Flush (Orchid Flower )

   The Phalaenopsis I bought Cat to replace the one I killed has regrown a second flower spike.It has five flower buds on it,but it completely surprised me.I have been trying to nurse it back to health as the leaves had lost their glossy shine.It seems happy on the kitchen windowsill by the sink.
 It has had a little water on its bark/moss mix and not on the leaves or crown.I think I may have over watered the last one.I'm proud and amazed that we have induced it to flower for a second time.Mostly you buy Orchids that are in flower and that have masses of buds.The culturing of the plants has seen their price drop so supermarkets can sell them for £5 or £10.I enjoy the challenge of trying to get a plant to re bloom.
 The other plants that I have succeeded in flowering are the Xmas and Easter Cactus.I think they bloom down to the length of the day.The Xmas cactus seems to flower twice a year and is festooned in the pink flowers.
 I have had a weakness for houseplants since I lived in flats and houses with no garden.A little bit of greenery indoors can do wonderful things for the soul.Nurturing a living thing gives pleasure when you keep it alive,and it grows well.
  Outside the Betula Utlilis is starting to develop its lovely white bark.It has been pruned to make it a smaller vase shape rather than a very tall thin tree.The branches are all covered in leaf buds ready for new growth.Last year its leaves got savaged by a black and green caterpillar that had a taste for exotic Himalayan leaves.The circular area around the tree needs weeding,and new compost adding to the soil so it can get its nutrients for strong growth.The tree growing is much slower than my flowering plants,but rewards patience with a beautiful tree with tactile bark and leaves.
 We now have had three Chaffinches in the garden feeding on the patio.I think they are quite handsome birds with their black/white/grey/olive coloured feathers.They feed between warring blackbirds and fly up to the near by conifers for safety before flying back down again.I think they feed elsewhere in the summer as I don't remember seeing them.
 The Starlings have started to come down to raid the fat balls,and to eat the Fat snack with insects in it on the bird table.They have lovely spotted feathers,sharp beaks,and walk really funny across the garden.The John Cleese of the bird world?
The last picture shows the old foe again.I have squirrel proofed the peanuts,but he has a taste for sunflower hearts,fat balls,and ordinary bird seed.They are like the Marmite of the wild,you either love them or hate them in your garden.They are just extraordinarily well adapted to seeking out food resources and exploiting them.I think tests show they remember 80% of where they bury food.They have cute faces,and little paws for holding food delicately.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Good Life

   I was sad last week to hear about the death of Richard Briers (above with Felicity Kendall) the British actor most famous for being Tom Good, the man who leaves his well paid job to try and become self sufficient growing their own food.They turn their suburban home into a muddy allotment and have farm animals,much to their neighbours bemusement.
 It was broadcast over thirty years ago,buts it is still making an impact.There are Allotment waiting lists,seed companies and shops like wilkos selling lots of fruit,and vegetables seeds and plants for people to grow at home.Community groups have local people tending plots or bag gardens.Schools are teaching children gardening and how the fruit and veg in a supermarket comes to be there.There is a lot of grow bags,and raised bed systems for the plot holders or for people to grow on their patios.People dream about small holdings and having chickens,ducks,pigs,or sheep.The original good life.
  I have had an allotment for four or five years now.I remember watching the programs and must have been influenced.Once I got my green fingers growing spider plants and busy Lizzie's I moved onto Tomato's and Chili's.I have gone from small beginnings to quite ambitious.I still try to grow as much healthy fruit and vegetables as I can manage within the constrains of working full time.
   It is fun planting seeds,seeing them germinate and grow into healthy plants.Finally if they grow well enough you can eat your hard work and know what has gone into growing it.The satisfaction you get is amazing,and keeps me coming back every new growing season to try new things.
 The horse meat scandal here shows we are massively disconnected from how our food is produced,and even what ingredients are contained within them.
 Growing your own vegetables,and Fruit is one way of keeping it local.Grown in Yorkshire.
   I went to the muddy allotment today (like the photo above) and made up the tenth raised bed.I put down two black weed guards over the middle section.I want to eventually put another four raised beds in that space and have the paths covered in black tarp so only the beds and paths around the edge of the allotment will need weeding.A cheeky Blackbird followed me around and was diving into an excavated bit of soil.He liked me turning soil over to pull out creeping Buttercup,and grasses.
  I trimmed the deadwood from last years fruiting Raspberries.They were all volunteer plants saved from the grass and weeds.They are thriving,and hopefully will produce pounds of juicy pink Raspberries for eating,jam,and desserts.
  I have a mental checklist of all the jobs to do up at the plot.The soil was cold in my hands.I have a month to get the beds ready for sowing seeds and potatoes.The greenhouse will start off all the tender plants that need some TLC to get going before being moved to the allotment beds.
 There are two Rhubarb crowns growing well,that I have planted up there.They will stay,and the other two ancient crowns will be dug out to make room for the two crowns i have in the cold frame.
 The brambles are taller than my shed and were scratching my coat and arms today.That needs cutting back and the sage bed needs clearing.
 February is a funny month.Between winter and spring.It was cold,drizzly,and muddy but I enjoyed the quiet solitude,the low ambient light,the birds singing,and my Blackbird companion hopping up and down across all the link a board raised beds like a hurdler.The garden and the allotment are my version of the good life.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Frogs,Feet,and Food

 I went to the Wakefield rhubarb festival today and came back with some forced Rhubarb (grown in darkened sheds by candlelight to make it sweeter and less stringy than the outdoor crops),and some sausages from the Rhubarb triangle farm shop.The Sausages are pork,chili,and rhubarb, and full breakfast.I cant wait to try them out.
 There were lots of food and drink stalls,a cookery theatre,a pantomime dame called Ruby Rhubarb walking around the cathedral precinct.Some canny stall holders were selling hot drinks, mulled wine,and hot cider.It was cold and blowing snow flakes.There were Spanish Churros,Buffalo burgers,and sausages making my mouth water.It seemed fairly busy too.It runs until tomorrow.
 By the backdoor my Cloggies sit waiting for me to go out into the garden.They fit on my feet perfectly and the insoles have my feets imprints inside each shoe.Alas the left one has split at the back.I have had these for about five years.I went on to amazon and ordered a new blue pair.I will put the old comfy insoles into the new cloggies when they come.
 I looked into the pond today and thought is that a frozen dead frog?Then i realised it is actually two frogs, one on top of the other.They moved around in the deepest part of the pond.There maybe tadpoles soon?
 I'm a big frog fan.These two have been sat in the Braeburn apple pot keeping an eye on things.I do have lots of animal figurines.I love wildlife and all things animal.
The garden has a peacock, a cockerel,four Frogs,and a scarecrow.There is an England gnome in a hanging basket but the frost and cold has worn his paint off.The Frog on the right has also started to chip away.the lacquer has dropped off in two places.Yorkshire is quite cold sometimes and takes its toll on the garden statues.
I cleared around the Bramley Apple tree today and found this fern growing under the Strawberry bed.I have re potted it,to see if i can make it grow into a bigger specimen.I love the shiny fronds.
  It has been a cold weekend.I have tidied the garden up and am impatiently waiting for March to start sowing my Vegetable seeds.the greenhouse is cleared out and ready to start growing the plants from seeds.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rhubarb Festival Eve

   It is the start of Wakefield's Rhubarb festival tomorrow.It runs for three days in the centre of Wakefield with celebrity chefs cooking Rhubarb,and local food and drink suppliers opening stalls.It was well visited over the past two years, with Wakefield's connection to the Rhubarb triangle.There are warehouses full of groaning Rhubarb stalks growing by candlelight.It is a protected food item now.
 I will be going either tomorrow or on Saturday to buy some tender forced rhubarb,and to  enjoy the other stalls that will be there.Its going to be cold so I hope there is lots of hot food and drinks for sale.
 I bought two new lots of Rhubarb to grow up at the allotment.I will dig up the old crowns and replace them with these young plants once they have grown a bit.I have two younger crowns that are growing away now between the grasses and weeds!
  Cat put the new wheelbarrow together this morning.I used it to ferry five bags of horse manure up to the allotment.It was cold and muddy but not too bad for weeds.The raised beds will benefit from the organic material that I will dig in prior to the end of March.
 I bought two bunches of Daffodils from Asda.When i went to work on Wednesday morning they were all closed.When Cat got up two hours later they had all opened en Mass!Did they all release a chemical signal for every flower to open together?
 They have a fragrant musty scent that fills the conservatory.The gardens Daffodils are still growing and a few weeks away from flowering.Daffodils are the flower of Wales and my name sake Saint David.I love how they make me feel after long wet winter.
 Flowers in bloom always cheers me up.I bought these mixed Tulips from Asda a few days ago.I looked at photos of multicoloured fields of Tulips growing in Holland.
I wander if these flowers originated there before being sent to Britain.They are like a Rembrandt picture.
The last flowers I want to share are the Snowdrops that are growing in the front garden under the window.These were here when we moved in.I am always surprised that they bloom in February before disappearing underground for ten months.It was too cold for them to open today.The petals were held tightly shut.
 It has got cold again today.February always lulls us into thinking spring is near and then the artic winds and snow come back with a vengeance.At least I have some flowers to keep my spirits up.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Plants And Cover

 Today was a good gardening day.I went shopping again and came back with a new static bird feeder (to put in the granite parasol holder),Primulas,Aquilegias,and a patio table cover.I spent the afternoon clearing the greenhouse out, and replacing the ripped cover with a new one.It is now waterproof and snug.
  The Chinese Tree Peony has regrown from the soil with lots of energy.I hope it flowers this year.It has not bloomed since we bought it.
 The Dicentra is regrowing from the soil now.This dies back every year but regrows with extra vigour.I love the Bleeding Heart flowers hanging on the branches.It made its way between the Sambuca branches last year.It grows very quickly.
The Ceanothus has beautiful green and brown bark.It has thickened up nicely in the three years it has been growing.It been trimmed to keep its size small.I love the colour and the texture of the trunk.
  The  greenhouse was weighted down by almost 20litres of mud.Last years rain had caused the mud from next doors garden to slide onto the frame covering it totally.I found a baby frog too in the mud at the side of the greenhouse.The new cover makes it look like a new greenhouse!It has been swept out,and the pots put back inside it.
  I planted the Primulas in the sunken border.They have added some colour splashes in the garden.I planted a Morello Cherry tree into a pot.Until i can decide where to plant it..
 I also bought two Rhubarb crowns from Hampsons.These will be grown on and planted up at the allotment.The old crowns will be dug out and composted.
  I made a new frame for the Braeburn Apple tree to try and keep it upright once it has fruited.I tied some canes together to try to make a new frame.
 I want to see if the birds like the second feeder that is now in the garden.It means they can be rotated around the patio to stop the build up of seeds in one area.
  Lots of shopping,spending,and garden tidying.Its looking good.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Shopping

   It has been a busy few days for me in the garden.This was the Ceanothus and sunken border before the spring clean.It has grown over eight feet high and six feet wide.The improved soil must have improved the vigour of this plant.
 I cleared all the Teasel seedlings,and excess Creeping Buttercups from the sunken border.Light is free to reach all the plants and bulbs that are growing away as the day length increases,and the temperature creeps up.I love how the Ceanothus stem was bent then straightened up with a cane.It is now upright and you can see the thick stem after the prune back.
 Clearing the excess growth and leaves exposes the beautiful red stems of the Dogwood, with the Geum Mrs Bradshaw growing underneath it.A green carpet beneath the crimson branches.
 The sunlight can now reach the solar lights that are dotted around the border.The birds are getting used to the new trimmed bush.They can still fly into it,and wait to fly to the feeders.
The Pond is clear and has several Frogs in it.The wildflower area behind it is dormant at the moment.I only have the Strawberry bed to clear up and the greenhouse cover to replace.
  I went shopping today for lots of garden sundries.A large paraffin heater, a compost bin for the kitchen to store the vegetable waste(before going out to feed the worms),a Parisian style patio set of table and two chairs, a new parasol holder granite base to make the bird feeder mobile,a metal wheel barrow for the allotment,and a decorative Rose arch to grow two scented Roses up.
  I have bought Black Asiatic Lilly's,coloured Anemone De Caens,Cut flower Tulips,and Daffodils for the houses vases.
  Spring is nearly here.I'm getting excited.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Rain Delays

 I just finished four nights and wanted to finish the garden clean up.It has been very windy,and raining heavily so I'm sat indoors looking out.The Cobalt Blue winter Primulas have flowered again.They are normally buried under Lupins,Heucheras,and Creeping Buttercups.I love their cool blue flowers with the yellow eye.
The White Primulas are flowering away.I may try to split the clumps once they have stopped flowering.They are very hardy and come back year after year.I planted them two years ago and they are still blooming in January/February.
 I cut back the Butterfly bush but the Ceanothus is still massive,and untrimmed.Cutting it back small will let more light onto our solar panel butterfly lights.
 I hope tomorrow is drier so I can finish the garden tidy up.