Saturday, 16 September 2017


I was woken early by the sound of torrential rain battering the garden. Later the sun came out and the land shone with that brightness you only get after a downpour has washed the dust and fumes out of the air. Water was crossing the garden in silvery sheets, erupting from previously unknown springs, even out of mole hills - the runs acting as underground pipes.

This is the mower crossing of the stream, old scaffolding planks that had been lifted and thrown around by the water.

And the breakfast table is  covered in water - too wet for cornflakes. (I have the WHOLE EARTH gluten free ones.)

As we may be having changes in the spring - perhaps the extension (reduced in dimensions by the cost of VAT) I decided to photograph the beds that will be changed to paving.

The tree on the left will go and the plants we want to keep be dug up and replanted in the veg beds.

Sometimes walking around the garden it is the small things that catch the eye - 

 A new bud on the Magnolia grandiflora,

Cardoon buds so heavy they need support,

 Or just a small rose.

The first apples (Bramleys)(cookers) have been picked, wrapped in paper and put in old photographic developing trays in the shed.

This is the big ash tree at the top of the garden. It has ivy climbing it - a hideaway for small birds - and a Rambling Rector climbing rose. There is some die back on the branches - not the dreaded ash dieback present in young trees but just old age - I suppose a bit like myself as the years pass.

The small  trees at the bottom - left the big magnolia, right the handkerchief tree.

Some plants just love the autumn like these Anemone japonica alba but one has to be careful as they tend to spread and invade others nearby. 

 And, is autumn coming through the endless rain - every day - well the roses think so - the rubifolia is heavy with hips.

Grandchildren joke - Why did Captain Hook cross the road? - 
To get to the second-hand shop.

(NB. And the Heavens Cried - 1961 Anthony Newley written by Glynn Elias and Irving Reid) (Bit sad knowing that!)

Sunday, 10 September 2017


Nothing to do with music - just made 6 jars of rhubarb and ginger jam for R (she'e the one who eats it) and have four pounds (about 2 Kg) of red currants defrosting for jelly. (Can't eat lamb without red currant jelly and mint sauce.)

Plums are almost over so waiting for the damsons and apples to ripen. Beetroot a bit chewed by slugs but rescued enough to pickle some.

And then made redcurrant jelly with the last of last year's crop.

Autumn is definitely in the air and the garden seems to be waiting for the go ahead to sleep. The jays are burying nuts so they feel the change and the martins are gathering before leaving us until April. Looking out of my study window the big old ash has a few dead branches and I wonder if I should get in the tree surgeon to lop them off before they fall?

These are the chairs and table R got from John Lewis - for breakfast? Sadly it seems to be mostly wet or cold at the present.

Then there is the wind spinner I bought at a garden centre at Hadnall near Whitchurch on the way back from Herefordshire. I have moved it about a bit trying to find the best place to get the two wheels turning in opposite directions - and has ended up amongst the agapanthus.

The feeder area outside my window has been inundated by goldfinches, one even perched on the top of Doc's head.

The Hydrangea Annabelle has enormous heads - much bigger than I have seen elsewhere. The trouble is when it rains they are so weighed down they lie on the ground.

And still the roses bloom - Emma Hamilton in full show.

R wants me to try and freeze chives for the winter so has had a go. I do not know whether to freeze them dry or in water - we will see.

I blog on even though it seems so trivial compared to N Korea and the USA sliding slowly over the precipice. It needs a strong woman 
to take Don Trump and Kim Jong-un (Wrong-un), put them over her knee and give them a good spanking - trouble is they might like it? Things get dangerous when the boys' toys are missiles and H Bombs.

And then as R says, "I haven't seen a grey squirrel for ages, do you think they've gone?" This appears on the shed roof outside my window.

Tree rats!

Sunday, 3 September 2017


Having rabbited on about Nostoc Commune the other blog, R produced an article about slime moulds in a magazine called Aquila.
Is its plant?
Is it an animal?
Is it a fungus?
No a slime mould is a plasmodium - a single called thingy that can move and keeps its memory outside of it.
It does sound like an alien - the blob from outer space, something Professor Quatermass would have faced. (Now that is dating myself!)
But what we have is not a slime mould but a cyanobacterium (but looks equally revolting!)
  Anyway enough blob blogging - got desperate to mow the lawn as the grass grew and grew. So cut it a bit wet - endless mower clogging and tyre tread marks but got it done.
Eating our own carrots again tonight, chard last night, with some chicken sausages from Crakeside.

The seeds R sowed on the bare banking where the brachyglottis had been savagely pruned by yours truly have flourished - nasturtiums and eschscholzias.

But there are a plethora of yellows and oranges now, even the butterflies.

Weeding continues and now the damson trees are showing a good crop - so when to pick them - most suggestions are just when slightly soft as with other plums, so a few days yet. Then out with the sacking, tie it to the trunk, spread the tarpaulin (or equivalent) under the tree and wallop the trunk with a sledge hammer (or in my case a 14lb marl.) The fruit fall in droves.

The pond, after a hunk of plant extraction, is looking good.

  The pointing we had done on the paving is already showing us that it was done poorly so I am patching it best I can. R has been on to the man who did it so he is ringing Monday - in fact everyone is ringing Monday - the wall charger for the hybrid car is not working so they are calling too.
  R had some cream over from a do so we have dug out old rhubarb and gooseberries and made fools. (Something I seem to find easy to do!)

Now you might expect colour with the roses - however, now September is upon us leaves are colouring as well.

It is cold - only 13.5C yesterday at teatime - and August! In the south that are basking in 25C. 😕
  The house martins have been gathering and flying en masse up to the western gable nest, hanging on the wall etc. They did this once before and I wonder if they are casing the joint for next year?

Mystery plant? Flowering everywhere and really a bit out of control -
Nothing outrageous - just apple mint, the best of the mints if a bit hairy. It needs to be grown in a container or a pot sunk in the soil but, of course I have ignored my advice and it is now well spread by the cattle grid and on the banking near the veg beds. Mind you, where it hangs over the grass it gets mown and releases its aroma.

R got roses for her birthday, a climber, a hybrid tea and a smaller one so I have taken them with the Rosa mundi cuttings I struck and put them by the path to the writing shed with the addition of a load of old compost, trimmed overhanging trees and other roses.
I have also cleared under the red currants by the veg beds.

The nice man from the planning department came today and we have provisional go ahead for an extension (if we can afford it) so now to contact an architect (and have some fun.)
R wants a study and another bedroom. I thought we could just have a big greenhouse/orangery but . .  (joke).

Sunday, 27 August 2017


To start with - a word of warning - beside the black currant bushes is growing a pretty umbellifer looking much like parsley or coriander. But it is not!!! It does not smell of a herb. It is a stunted plant of Hemlock Water Dropwort.
And poisonous.

Still alive I move on - this is an infra red video taken in the early morning of what I think is a young roe deer - and today I watched a mouse creep into the shed under the door. On closer inspection a sack in which I keep straw has been chewed and is clearly a nest site.


Everywhere is sodden so a peremptory mow and then a clip of the beech hedge. And now a hover mow of the big banking and a clean out of the pond - weed and flowering rush which has got out of control. Roses are flowering again but not the Rosa mundi which only does once. It is very easy to strike cuttings from this rose but where am I going to put the new plants.

We have eaten our first Victoria plums - well R scoffed most of them - such a treat.

Flowers - perhaps what a garden can be about (and veg and fruit too) so here are some flowers - 

Rose Emma Hamilton,

and two of the blooms on the Eucryphia tree - despite it looking a bit sickly it has flowered abundantly.

The buddleias are going over and should be dead headed so we can get more butterflies like these - small tortoiseshell.

and red admiral.

We have had an attack of the dreaded molluscs in the veg beds - snails and slugs - whilst we were away with the persistently wet weather. Carrots, beetroot and chard leaves chewed but rescued three carrots to go with tonight's Waberthwaite sausages.

The broad beans have set sporadically yet the sweet peas are flowering - better than last year's disaster.
There are wasps on the plums, and rot, and even snails on those on the ground where the broken branch as bowed so low it touches the grass.
There is no doubt, up here it has been a cool wet summer and all we can do is pray for a good September. 
I have had to put wooden barriers across some of the soggiest paths having fallen flat yesterday on the mud. The far garden in the wood is like a quagmire.
So much for global w..

It makes the labour all worthwhile when guests say how good the garden looks, fail to see the weeds and chaos. Had a big dose of that yesterday.

And yes we have "The return of the cyanobacteria" The Nostoc Commune is back on the main path through the garden - ?not an animal, not a fungus, not a plant! More soon . . .

Sunday, 20 August 2017


It is Sunday and so appropriate that the sun is shining, yet, as I look up the garden from our bedroom window, there is a half moon white in the blue morning sky. I missed looking for the Perseid meteor shower - went to bed. Wood pigeons, farmers' bane, strut about under the feeders and fly off in a cacophony of wings at the slightest disturbance. The sunflower seeds have been eaten again - we must have fat tits in the garden whether blue, great, coal or long-tailed.

I have finally repaired the broken extended pond rake - well, a lawn rake with a broom handle gaffer taped to it to make it longer. Then I drag a lot of the crowfoot from the water and either dump it in the ditch or by the side of the pond so creepy crawlies can survive.


We finally have butterflies in the garden other than the whites - red admiral, peacock, small tortoiseshell, gatekeeper etc. I have decided not to deadhead the buddleia - there is just too much of it.

My sister H and her other half N have been here on their way to other relatives and a birthday party involving the Settle to Carlisle railway. Walking around then garden and looking through someone else's eyes I see so many things I ought to do.

I did manage to knock off the last two greengages from the top of the tree. R said they were good and juicy. The ones you buy in the shops are very green but ours were left until slightly yellowish and much riper (and sweeter).

Autumn is threatening to arrive albeit in mid August. There are hips on the roses and berries on the rowan, roses are into their second flush, damsons have darkened and harvesting is approaching.

Even the hypericum is in berry under the big sycamore - a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - though the mist is mainly drizzle.

The house can be full of flowers at this time of year, even a small vase has a rose, pinks, sweet peas, ammi, cosmos and so on.

Some years ago we bought a shrubby clematis from the now defunct garden centre at Muncaster castle - I think this is Clematis heracleifolia davidiana or Tube Clematis - I think. It is fairly rampant on the dry banking.

And the rain is doing the Hydrangea Annabel no favours as it huge flowerhead bend to the ground under the weight of water.

Finally home from the new wonderful grandchild via Herefordshire.  Back to the garden.
But the leaves on some of the chestnuts are turning - already!

Friday, 11 August 2017


It is so wet the grass on the lower lawn is becoming scarce. I have a window of two days (it is Wednesday) to try and cut what grass there is (and chew up the turf). And it is not warm - 20C seems like something from long ago.
So Global Warming is a joke here - milder, cooler and wetter. At least the rhubarb likes it.

R heard a thud and I went out to find a stunned wren that had flown into a window. I placed it on the log pile to recover and it soon flew off. Such a tiny bird weighing nothing and sitting in the cup of my palm. It does have disproportionally big feet though.

Nothing to do with gardening but how strange dreams can be - from where do some of them come? (Well, I know, inside my cranium but . . . ) Last night I dreamed that I was in Tashkent on a small farm (no I've never been there) researching a link in ancestry between my ex senior partner's wife and Salman Rushdie! I know I had read about him in a Simon Armitage book two night's earlier - the bit about Margaret Drabble giving him sanctuary when the Fatwa was after him but why the connection to S?

Keeping up the wildlife theme R and I were trudging across the soggy lawn by the bottom hedge when she stopped and pointed. Only ten feet away was a young rabbit munching away totally unconcerned that we we there - cheek!

To move on - we have courgettes - which seem to suddenly become small marrows before I harvest them - and the Bramley apple tree is laden with fruit. We do have damsons but not a bumper crop.

They say there can be much in a name but this rose - Rhapsody in Blue - is now in its second flush - yet blue? Wishful thinking there? No doubt some bright spark will insert a gene into a rose and create all sorts of strange colours.

Other garden news - the agapanthus is doing well and the new white one thriving.

 The opium poppies are now starting to cast seed but I leave them to do just that, and I like the dried heads as an extra feature of the garden.

 I have dragged a lot of weed and algae and crowfoot out of the pond to give some open water but. of course, got spattered with mud much to R's tut-tutting. Soon it will be wading time to reduce the water lily somewhat.

Occasionally a little magic creeps into one's life. I have been standing outside the house with my brother-in-law N watching 15 or so house martins whirling about above our heads repeatedly visiting one of the nests and chattering loudly.

Time for coffee.