Thursday, 23 March 2017


40 Cosmos pretty and 40 Ammi majus plugs arrive and need potting on and putting somewhere bright and warm - but where. We have no greenhouse so a spare bedroom will have to do for now.

I now have gardeners' nails - ingrained with the darkness of compost no matter how I scrub.

Actually 60 of each and more than one seedling in many plugs so good value for money from Crocus but what I am going to do with them all - ? Perhaps give some away?

The feeders are full of goldfinches, well half a dozen - a small charm. Collective nouns are strange sometimes - I can see an exultation of larks but a parliament of owls? Then there are a pair of bullfinches outside the kitchen window - they are a bellowing of bullfinches! Also we have a bouquet of pheasants, a sute or sord of mallard.

Talking of collections - here are a fall of lambs - actually a gang would be better?

Wikipedia has a sprinkling of gardeners! Not sure about that one.

We have our sweet violets in an egg cup on the kitchen windowsill - they smell wonderful but only once as the scent medium is a local anaesthetic so you smell them, lovely, then try again and nothing for a while.

I was mentioning compost a blog or so ago and here is some dark rich lumpy stuff by one of the euphorbias. It may not be quite up to Monty Don's standard but smells ok and looks good. I son't think the plants bare too bothered what it looks like.

And the rain it raineth, and the gardener stays in and does crosswords, reads, watches tele, paints the bath side with a second coat of Farrer and Ball's All White, writes blogs etc.

Then cometh the next day and it is fine - I empty the compost heap and spread on the garden, plant a clematis montana that has been in a pot for three years under an ash tree by the old log pile, drag some excess weed from the pond and ache all over!

A grey squirrel is back as is the greater spotted woodpecker. I bring in the video camera from the wood - and find it is full of myself picking up sticks, not an animal or bird in sight, not even a cat. Mute swans fly over, their wings whooshing through the evening air. Spring is everywhere.

That was yesterday - this morning - 

Oh! The British weather! The garden is a world of flattened daffodils.

Monday, 20 March 2017


I have just baked a new spelt flour loaf and, whilst still warm, cut off the end, spread the slice with butter and am now eating it - aaah!

You know there is one side of ageing that surprises me every time I have my hair cut - the fact that the ears (and nose) continue to grow! It is the cartilage. Soon I will need a nose and ear trim?

So many flowers coming out and not just garden plants - one small delightful shy plant is the golden saxifrage by the stream.

And only a few paces away, where the stream plunges out of the wood, daffodils and primroses bloom.

In the fringes of the woodland flowering currant casts its familiar scent - I always thing a bit like cat pee!
We have several bushes that were here before we came.
It is quite easy to propagate - simply take a young, preferably non flowering stem, about ten inches long (25 cm), trim at the bottom with  slanting cut just below a bid and shove into the soil. They should root after a few months and can then be transplanted.

Around by the back door the daffodils are doing well under the magnolia stellata.

In the back bed the pulmonaria is spreading (keeps the weeds down) and on the end of the big shed where I keep the mowers the Clematis armandii is better than it has ever been. 

Of course there are other signs of spring - the back field is now full of lambs. And as usual they are drawing under the gate into the lane and mucking about in a unruly gang.

Now, as part from flowers, there are also other colours  in the garden, more subtle like the cardoon foliage.

Then here is the spot where we stuck new plants last year also showing foliage hues. That bed is still a problem as it was where the pink Japanese anemone grew - and still comes up from every small rootlet I failed to remove.

Above I showed you some of the stream - here lower down where it was redirected across the lawn you can see the curves I wanted - rather than a straight line to the hedge.

 And from the other side of the white birches - the view back to the house. The newer trees have not yet got their white bark - hopes for this year.

 And behind them the copper beech has grown a lot considering how small it was when planted. The intention is to have the white trunks standing out in front of its dark leaves.

 I had forgotten this hellebore near the wall. Unfortunately it is low down and hangs its head so you have to crouch to see up into the flower.

The first rhubarb is in the bottom oven. I have been spreading compost on the raspberries etc - better late than never. 
R is down in her writing shed for the first time this year, the sun is out and all is well with the world except rain is forecast for the next four days!

Enough, enough, the blog is becoming an encyclopaedia, time for a cup of tea.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Very glad winter's over, bumble bees on the shrubs, just pruned the buddleia hedge on the banking, rhubarb coming on - eating it next week I think. Celandines appearing in the flowerbeds - do I remove or not? Think I will wait a bit and see.

Only snag is I have to garden with a peg on my nose as the blower has gone kaput in the septic tank - I know, just the lovely sort of news you wanted to hear. Anyway rescue (and a new blower) on the way - I hope.

The light is so much better up in the wood making the daffodils glow, the grass seem that bit greener. We sat out this afternoon with a cup of tea for the first time - R in her anorak, me just a shirt and rolled up sleeves.

In this pic you can see the chimes  - and - if you look closely a wood pigeon in the tree on the right. I did not notice that when I took the photo.
R arrived back from town with three hyacinths in little pots - she wants them put in the famille vert bowl (chipped and cracked so probably only worth a fortune). She did let me line the bowl with a plastic bag. Then I potted them up and covered the surface with lush moss from the stone wall at the far end of the garden.

Went to a physio for bad back and now have 30 min of exercises a day - so back really bad now! She agreed with me that it is shot at! I seem to have lost an inch in height - nothing to do with stopping wearing high heels either.

And two days later - ok digging in garden but washing the kitchen floor and yow! Limping and sore.

The Acer sango kaku's red stems are in fine fettle, especially after the rain.

Birds are thriving (not so the frogs) as the grey heron is by the pond, and the cock pheasant has taken to sitting on the fence by the feeders - presumably hoping the hen pheasant will pass by?

I haven't seen any rats recently which will please R but the little vole keeps nipping out from under the shed for any seeds dropped by the birds from one of the feeders. There are a lot of bank voles in the garden but they are not seen often.

I had set myself the discipline of a once a week blog but at this time of year, with so much happening, it is very difficult - so beware.

Thursday, 9 March 2017


Back from a break in Herefordshire R has attacked the buddleia around the septic tank, finished trimming the grasses and cut down the dead cardoons.
In between baking bread - it stuck again! - I finished the drain by the apple tree and hoed the asparagus bed - mostly goosegrass it seems.
The hen pheasant, looking splendid, if not as gaudy as her mate, is under the feeder.

Monday morning dawns with bright sunshine, the moorhen and three ducks on the pond - well two, the regulars, sitting at the side together, and another drake displaying on the water. Ten minutes later the drake has gone, the pair are on the writing shed roof, and so is the moorhen - a strange threesome.
The garden is creeping out of winter. Daffodils and primroses, crocus and flowering currant coming on quickly. Even one of the big cherries has fattening buds preparing to release their blossom in a white cloud. 

  Snowdrops are starting to fade forming seed heads. Once the seed is scattered the dividing and replanting can begin. Everywhere the first leaves of later plants - bluebells, hedge parsley, foxgloves - are growing.

    I have repotted the house plants and made a good start on the outside pots. The osteospermums have overwintered successfully like this blue specimen already covered in buds and the odd flower.

We continue to have a large flock of starlings rising from the field into out trees - a good double clap and they are off in a whirl hearing gunfire? The occasional cheeky bird comes to the peanut feeder.

So onward with the bird feeding, bed weeding, rhododendron slaying, pot topping, compost moving, pruning etc etc etc but not mowing (a bit early but thought I would give it a try - mower phut!! So service arranged - R had this idea that we could get away without it this year - won't listen next year.)

It is great to hear from readers that they do not want me to stop. Of course it will happen one day when I am too decrepit to garden (or write)(or both).

This is a scuba diving mallard drake showing off to his other half - who steadfastly ignores him. He throws water about, splashes, completely submerges and all she does is preen a bit.

Finally one of the thousands of starlings rooting in nearby trees has deigned to come in camera range. They have to eat and eat to maintain body temperature and they are also great mimics of other birds - apart from their incessant chattering. We have our own murmuration!

Waiting for the mowers to be collected so cleared and cleaned shed - an annual event. 

Finally the sun is out, spring is springing and the world is waking up - there is warmth in the sun -

Friday, 3 March 2017


So having been blown away by Doris we have returned to rain and more rain but not the extreme gales. I have been out picking up, not just sticks but small branches from the ash trees.

The snowdrops bent before the gale as did many other plants. R has been in the garden cutting back the dead grasses whilst I was in the cutting bed, putting in gladioli and 5 different alstroemerias. I moved the white phlox and two clumps of rudbeckia to the main part of the garden  and forked over between the strawberry rows before feeding them and the rhubarb. 

And the next day is wet and dark. R wonders what it would be like after one of us has gone, sitting in the kitchen on a day like this - would be time for a dog? (Or another husband?)(Perhaps one will have been enough.) Then of course it might be the other way around. Time to think of sunshine and summer. (Of course one could just get drunk?) (If I/she/we/they drank.)

Move on - we have many hazel catkins in the hedge but as yet no frogspawn in the pond - blame the heron and the ducks?  

 The birds continue to thrive - and it is a pleasure to see goldfinches and the bright cock bullfinch outside the kitchen window. The next few days will involve nipping out between showers and longer spells of rain - the buddleias and the elder need cutting back.

We have early crocuses, primroses and daffodils as well as a few anemones and of course snowdrops in abundance.

The witch hazel, hamamelis, is in full flower casting its scent by the path down to the pond and Wendy House where the mallard are displaying.


They will not nest here though as the pond is too small and not safe enough for that.

And then at the pond the Moorhen has returned, and now a little later we do have frogspawn, and the daffodils are beginning to lower their buds, ready for flowering.