Friday, 23 March 2018


The Siberian wind whips in wrenching twigs from the trees, whipping up leaf litter and heaping it into corners.  It seems we are all victims of stuff from Russia at the moment!? The cold is back and finishing off the destruction of any half hardy plants like the osteospermums, the aeoniums and so on. This begonia was left out and has not survived. Many plants have been burned by the cold wind, their leaves brown and brittle. 
So all the talk is of the Beast from the East but whether they are talking of weather or something more Putinesque - ?
Having lived through the Cold War I am not a fan of doing it all again - Brexit, Trump, Putin, Johnson - time to disappear into the garden.

Mind you, if you leave a marrow out over the winter it can end up looking like this - a shadow of its former self! The daffodils are struggling forth, though delayed, and the snowdrops are all but over - soon to be divided and replanted in any bare patches so we can have a greater carpet of white next year. It is best to do this when they are "in the green" after flowers.
To the left a hebe burned and blowing in the icy gale. To the right the fatsia near the back door, surviving but a bit scorched.

The flowering currant has gone into suspended growth, buds waiting to open, waiting for a little warmth.

There is some colour around though, some unexpected - I had forgotten I had planted tete-a-tete daffodils in this pot with the box ball and up they have come albeit struggling with the competition. The box will need transplanting when the daffs are done.

Other colour includes acer twigs, and hamamelis flowers plus the male skimmia well in bud. I shall have to check on its partner up by the gate but I think she will be all right through the wicked wintry weather. (Mm! A bit of alliteration going on there.)

So to thoughts of the new rose bed, of no dig gardening and out with Charles Dowding's book on Organic Gardening. 
I have been surprised at the depth of soil in the old bed but that will be useful, good soil is always useful. 

And so to a video of our wild wood pigeon with a bad leg - too many pigeons around - twenty in the field below the house this morning - but I feel somewhat sorry for this one.

Thursday, 15 March 2018


No chance? - the springs in the garden were frozen, the stream dry as all the water is locked in the earth.

Lost a few plants in the freeze, the half hardy ones like the osteospermums. The eucalyptus was almost bent double in the gale at the end of last week and I shall have to pick ups sticks again as the place is carpeted.

Before the freeze there was warm spring sun and I sat out with my coffee listening to the birds singing.

Then Russia sent us an east wind, straight from Siberia, with night frost and a bitter wind. It struggled to get above freezing even during the day. So fleece on and in the garden digging and shifting compost before it all went rock hard with the cold. I dug out a thug of a Day lily from the lower rose bed, it took almost an hour and I think I may not have got all of it.

Spring was here and flowers were appearing everywhere, not just snowdrops 

but small daffodils, winter flowering pansies, small irises and crocuses,

primulas and the wild primrose, primula vulgaris.

 The quince on the wall by the shed that D gave us has been flowering on and off all winter but is now doing really well.

The bird box (robin or wren) on the big sycamore had never had anyone living in it so I have moved it somewhere I hope will be more suitable - fingers crossed. Robins are in full voice declaring their territories.

The bottom hedge is now sporting hazel catkins - another portent of spring. - ha ha.

I have tidied out the main shed and taken an old Dimplex radiator and a decrepit lounger to the tip - spring cleaning?

The amaryllis, now over and in need of sustenance are repotted and on my windowsill. The bulbs are a bit small so may never do well but I will give it a try.

The garden has dried out with the frost and wind - feels like -10C - and I have done more buddleia pruning, strawberry bed clearing and even attacked the rosa rugosa by the washing line.

There is nothing much gardening wise to do so, some time ago, I set myself the challenge of writing poems with titles of veg or fruit.
Here is one -


A tight white perm in a green collar
turned up against the heat,
hair so brittle it might crumble 
under the drier if overdone.

Usually Edna emulates her friends -
planted in a Thursday row
in Ida’s steamy salon
reading Homes and Gardens,

slowly growing rigid curls,
good enough to win a prize -
crisp and curd white 
above their cheddar smiles.

But now she has cast aside
her pristine Calabrese,
defies her white roots
and sprouts a purple-tinted rinse.

And to finish - a few wintry shots of the garden left over.

And the weather forecasters say it its going too get cold again this weekend - 😞

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


All of us need to escape from time to time but the recent bad weather left me at a loose end - cannot garden, play golf - one can spend only so much time beside a fire reading or watching the bullfinches from the sofa in the kitchen.

The feeding through the cold weather has, I am sure, enabled many small birds to survive the winter like these blue tits. We must have upwards of twenty in the garden and probably the same number of chaffinches. 

One thing the snow did was to reveal which are the new molehills. I then shovelled up the soil, mixed it with wood ash and top dressed the fruit bushes.

Over by the hedge the problem with the new spring was revealed - where the grass had grown more - so I know I will have to extend the drain further than I thought when I put it in.

And I have not quite stopped rabbiting on about the recent snow so here is the house and garden - 

And ice on the pond gives me abstract images like these two, the left reflected light, the right at the outflow.

Enough snow stuff - time to move on, March on, as it is has been, according to the weather forecasters, spring since the start of the month 😕.

It must be tough being a heron and flying all the way to our pond to find the frogs below a thick layer of ice. The mallard, however, managed to discover a small area at the edge where there was open water and dabbled as best they could.

I have now finished the digging up of the strawberries, emptied the compost heap and started to move more plants to the holding bed - roses and perennials.

After the ice melted the ducks were back sitting in their favourite place by the pond outlet.

Now it is milder and wetter. The primroses are suddenly coming out in the woodland edge and we have daffodils. Now it is really starting to feel like spring and the seasons are marching on.

There are times, like at the moment, when I feel my body is incompatible with gardening - I hear a cry from the kitchen - 'Get a gardener to help,' - but I rather like to be in control, do it myself.

I know - then I cannot complain about the creaks and twinges.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


The bonfire is ready primed with buddleia prunings, scrumpled up Westmorland Gazette and a dash of white spirit. I check the breeze and it is from the east so smoke will go up the back field and not annoy any neighbours.
A match is applied and woof!
The wind immediately turns north east and thick white smoke heads next door. 😁

And whe the fire has burned down I gather the ash and scatter it on the black and red currants, a good dose of potash. I will also scatter it on the veg beds as a lime substitute and put some on the compost heap.

I pondered the burning of the bonfire and global warming etc but really my small bonfire's contribution to the problem is infinitesimal - and anyway the trees and other growing plants in the garden will more than take up the gases in the smoke.

So it burned all day and was still smoking at bedtime, just need to get out the wheelbarrow now. 

Which, next day, I have done, mixing the ash with soil from the mole hills in the far lawn and top dressing the raspberries.

Already I have begun a new bonfire heap next to the old one with pruning and stuff. In time another fire will be needed - before the blackbirds think of nesting in it.
The cold weather has meant the snowdrops have kept on and on flowering though one or two tender plants have succumbed and turned their roots up.

On plant that grows a lot in the garden is ivy, on walls on trees and on the ground. The berries though, at this time of year, provide feed for birds and the leaves give them cover.

Up in the wood the heap of sticks is getting too big even though it would provide cover for hedgehogs (if we had any) and birds. I think in the early autumn it might need to be reduced somewhat and added to the bonfire.

Then there is the other side of the weather - this is a dirty day over the bay to Heysham and its nuclear power station from our bedroom window.

The Beast from the East is here, a present from Siberia, temperatures sub zero and snow flurries at regular intervals.

I went out and braved the gale force wind to look for footprints in the snow - and found many birds, two squirrels and a cat, Oh! and my own.
Everything else was keeping as warm as possible.

I have put out footballs for the first time and note the goldfinches are at the Nyger seed.

When the sun comes out it is a pristine and beautiful sight.

Thursday, 22 February 2018


The pond is croaking creaking with frogspawn. So the mallard are back (and hungry) and the heron keeps a watching brief for the frogs.

There are the first celandines and one or two tete-a-tete daffodils glowing yellow in the sun which also means thew crosses are wide open.
Today has been mainly removing herbaceous plants from the rose bed and replanting in what was the strawberry bed, removing more of the strawberry plants to create space, weeding the asparagus and rhubarb beds (first shoots through) and picking up sticks.

One big branch down in the wood and a lot of smaller stuff - from the recent gale.

I also started to tine the grass and gave up quickly as I realised there was much too big an area to do with a fork.
Next day was raking off the primrose banking and taking the debris to the bonfire. Then I collected more sticks and did the same, though saving some for kindling for the wood burner.

My purchase of a bag of nyger seed seems a waste of time as the birds ignore them and continue to eat the sunflower seeds and peanuts - like this long tailed tit.

So to a bunch of snowy garden pics I have not yet shown - 

We do get other weather like this sunset -

and gloomy days -

but even in the darkest times the snowdrops light up the garden.

Last year was so wet the stream never stopped running like it often does in the summer and 2018 seems to be continuing in the same rain vein - ah! a rhyme - poet and don't know it.

I have found the hole in the bed of the top stream which leads to the new spring lower down so blocked it up - but water finds a way so I expect it will reappear soon.

I seem to be going through a lot of bird food though it is not just birds that are eating it. I watch the wood mice at the back of the house and the bank voles (shown here eating half an apple) outside the kitchen window.

Then there is the master peanut cruncher - 

I have been out pruning back the buddleias as it is a mild day (Siberian cold due at the end of the week). 

The spring is running again - sigh!

Tea and a biscuit - daren't get on the weighing scales.