Wednesday, 11 July 2018

BLOGGY BITS AND A BIRD WITH A WRY EYE

I love sitting outside our kitchen and watching the birds at this time of year, the Robin or chaffinch on the round three feet from my chair, bluetit fledglings by the handful above my head, the sudden flash of red as the bullfinch zooms in and feeds, keeping a wry eye on me only a few feet away.

The garden is so dry despite watering that I despair going away and leaving it to fend for itself. We are in the grip of a major drought now. The various pots need regular water - cannot see such as these lilies suffer, anyway I want the bulbs to build up for next year not wither away. I have done a little scything on the upper banking but it is hard work in this heat.

We have turned the Aga range off and will rely on a old electric kettle and the microwave. The kitchen was getting just too warm.

Of course it is cooler up in the wood where our nature ash trees have so far not shown any sign of dieback. In front of the old ash in the photo is the white lilac which, unfortunately, now had brown dead flowers instead of the glorious white. The magnolia grandifolia has had a few flowers but only after R threatened it with assassination if it did not - seemed to work.
Down to the shed and the Albertine rose is almost done and no longer pumping out scent. Around the corner by the decking the pink clematis is doing well.

That area of the garden seems to be inundated by white honesty plants now full of their characteristic seedlings.

I have moved the three butternut squash plants to another bed as the courgettes have grown so big they were swamping them.

We are likely to have no raspberries this year despite watering. The drought has resulted in small fruit and the blackbirds are picking off anything half ripe - we really must get a fruit cage this winter.

R found these two snails firmly stuck together on the path. I suspect they have been found by a thrush and placed there before being bashed on the stone so the bird can get to the inside. Sadly I had to tell her they weren't mating.

One of the things I love in the wood is the millet, millium effusum, with its small flowers that shimmer when backlit by the sun. R does not like it, in fact is not a fan of grass in the garden, unless mown.

Next door has just told me she noticed a squirrel with a bundle of moss and then found it was thinking of building a drey in the holly right next to her door - dilemma - chase it off or don't use that door for a while. (Chase it off - we have enough squirrels around.)

The water lily in the pond is taking over the world, too big and thuggish. I am putting off wading in there (probably falling in) and hacking it to bits. Perhaps it would be better in the winter (but it its so cold then).

The book beside me is Wilding by Isabella Tree and I am looking forward to an interesting read.

And finally three veggie shots to show some things are still alive and growing in the garden - 



Asparagus fern


Carrots



And courgettes.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

FRAZZLED


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Now, I have not mentioned football (or tennis) for a long time - so now I have said all I wish to say.

More, Monty Don's Gardeners' World is being moved for Don Trump's visit - heresy!

Thought for the day - (for Scottie) - would Ral Donner have been more successful if he had not sounded like an Elvis impersonator?

The heat goes on and on.
Mallard duck brought her brood to see the pond, then left them for a long time. They were gone again next morning so we expect they are OK and she came back.


Sometimes writing this blog, hidden away on a hillside above Morecambe Bay, I think of our scattered family, of aspirations for children when they are born and feel surprised that they are their own person and what they do is nothing like I expected. Mind you, whatever it is it does not stop one loving them, you cannot help that but there is always a bit of sadness that they and their children are not next door.
That is one thing the garden lacks - the sound of children laughing and playing.

Enough navel gazing -

With the Pennine moor fire, which we could see from here (47 miles) across the bay and, I think, occasionally smell (Always remember the peat fire smell in Donegal (Doonan)(that for Gillie)). It also turns the moon ruddy like this. The bird is one of the many currant eating blackbirds we have.

Watering garden ++ - borehole ok for now.

I found a hole in the floor of the mower shed and several holes in the sunflower seed sack! In the end, reluctantly resorted to old fashioned mouse traps and immediately caught two.

The rattrap is useless as the great tits wander in and pilfer the bait.

The lawns hardly need mowing as the grass is not growing much.

Two yellow flowering plants - the brachyglottis - grey leaves shrub used to be called senecio,



and good old creeping Jenny, well not always so good - like to spread everywhere but can be ripped up.


Just got the Bushnell video camera from by the lawn and got this -



 As we are by the pond here are a few plants from there - the white water lily on the left - a self sown plant off the main one which is really far too big now.
On the right is then flowering rush.


The trollius chinensis Golden Queen is startling though strange for a globe flower - no globe.
There is a lot of Stachys palustris now, marsh woundwort, on the lower side of the pond and that may need radical culling later in the year.

 Then to this - I am using the i newspaper as lavatory paper for the house martins. Unfortunately they are not very good shots and often miss.
In the end it will go on the compost heap and be recycled.

It is still HOT and no rain forecast for two or more weeks. As we have the borehole I shall put up a sign at the gate - Showers £5, Baths £20 (free if you empty the contents on the garden with a bucket.)


Rambling Rector climbing rose just goes on and on.




Monday, 2 July 2018

WIN SOME, LOSE SOME, VANDELLA WEATHER


Last week topped 30C, the veg are cooked before we pick them.

So we had caught a jay and a blackbird in the rat trap - now I found a grey squirrel squashed into the narrow space. Obviously the rats are too clever.


Rhubarb good, asparagus good, we have apples and damsons but few plums and greengages, the blackbirds have eaten ALL the red currants and the gooseberries are a disaster with the sawfly and mildew, black currants look hopefull as do the raspberries. 
Have done the Popeye bit (though some would look at me and think of Bluto)(or Wimpey) and the spinach despite some bolting is delicious. 
R wanted some cuttings of the Hydrangea Annabelle so it's done.

One more pic of the rambling rector as they are so stunning. Oh! And the sun keeps shining (Vandella Weather). 29C is hot for us.




Now to move on - have put together the netting protection for the veg R gave me for my birthday and it is now in place. On the left are the rather cultural poles waiting for the sweet peas to grow. All this within the rabbit proof fencing.
Oh! and the cuttings went kaput very quickly in the heat.

This is the royal fern by the stream, not that there is any water in it. 
And on the left is a surprise wild flower in the lawn - lesser spearwort - shows how wet the earlier part of the year was.


Veg wise the potatoes look good, as do these courgette plants, helped by water water water. Hooray for a borehole. I have been busy with the blackcurrants - picking faster than the blackbirds eat them is the aim.

On the left is the dreaded alchemilla, self seeder supreme - but R loves them so . . .  (A poem later)
On the right a blue delphinium, that survived the slugs, blasting the garden with colour.
Below the imprint of a pigeon wing left on the garden door window after a collision.



OK Poem now -

ALCHEMILLA

i

Copan an druichd in the Highlands - a dew cup; 
an Irish cure for elf-shotten animals. In France -
herbe รก la vache, an aphrodisiac for cows.
Gerard says they keepeth down a maiden paps
and when they be too great and flaggie,
it make them lesser, harder - Oh, and it is good on wounds.
Culpepper advised that to conceive,
women should sit in a bath of its green decoction.

ii

But enough of all this. Its flowers are yellow, 
or green, or both, minute and magical 
and fructiferous. There are a thousand stars 
in every cluster. Each leaf is a dew-laden chalice
and at night they draw together like a fist. 
Then, of a morning, after a shower, 
each palm reveals a pearl that shines in early sun,
a small gem of mystery, of alchemy.

iii

And the garden of your love is here again
and the sun shines; the alchemillas sparkle in the sun.
There are tears in every hand in every palm;
and through a thought pipette you draw a jewel from a leaf
and sorrow turns to hope. My tears shine, 
fallen from tomorrow's smile, and the garden of your love 
is beautiful, even though it rains,
for it rains for you, the jewel of the dew.


Pollution does produce some stunning dusk colours like this -


And the red variegated alstroemerias are in fine fettle.


The garden is blessed with fragrance as the lilium regale are coming out and the philadelphus has never been so good.

Finally I got some Maxicrop seaweed concentrate as I heard that Bodnant Garden in North Wales uses it - and then Monty Don recommended it on his tv programme - we have used it and will see.

No rain forecast for ages, and again - thank DD for our borehole. (Cumbrian Water Services).

Off to read John Lewis-Stemple's The Wood.

(Vandella weather - Heat Wave)(Scottie will get this one.)


Thursday, 28 June 2018

OUT AND ABOUT AND BACK AGAIN



It is always interesting when other people go around the garden to see what they like. When S and K came K loved the tall osiers in the top garden, the patch of yellow mimulus in the lawn and the selective mowing with different heights for grass and paths.

Going out and about, the honeysuckle in the hedgerows is stunning at the moment as are the wild roses - yet not as abundant as our Rambling Rector roses which are out of control and a devil to prune even with thick gloves.
 

We went for a walk in Eggerslack Woods the other day and the weathered limestone in there is fascinating. We have very little exposed rock in the garden and anyway R does not much like rockeries - a bit too fiddly and artificial? 
Then when we were down on the shore the wallpepper, sedum acre, was bringing a golden glow to the shingle. Wild plants can be as dramatic and stunning as cultivated ones. Someone on Flickr suggested I paint a face on the stone under the plant.


The house martins have occupied a third nest, there are fledglings everywhere, the spinach has bolted and the horse flies are rampant so I mow with long trousers and long sleeves.

One of R's favourite plants is this white campanula or bellflower. It seeds itself around and produces a blast of white when the garden is in the June hiatus - after the May flowers and before the summer ones really get going. 

Another self seeder is the Sweet William (Stunkin' Wullie, or Stinking Billy in Scotland)(After Butcher Cumberland (William Duke of Cumberland) and the Battle of Culloden). Each year I sow a little of the seed and as it is a biennial get flowers the next year. For some reason we are now down to only two varieties and it may be time to increase the choice.

You have not mentioned squirrels I hear the cry - well the trap is out again, and one for the rat. 



This is a view of a squirrel on the hanging feeder outside the kitchen - cheek!

All the rat trap has caught is a blackbird and a jay - both released, ruffled but not harmed. I just wish the greedy pigeons would stop setting the trap off by landing on it.

Cannot catch the rat though - it has bolted like the spinach. I have sown some more parsnips and hope the odd one will germinate. K brought me some exotic seeds so we will see what I can do with them - Alliums and Cardiocrinum cordatum.

Weather set dry again so watering with new hose attachment as I broke the old one.
R has a cold and I have been to the dentist for an hour in the chair on my birthday - what a present!!

Sunday, 24 June 2018

FAUNA EVERYWHERE (WHAT FOOTBALL?)


No time for the football in Russia, too busy in garden, anyway not too bothered to watch a bunch of multi-millionaires chase a bag of wind and fall down stricken at the slightest hint of a touch.



Not all things in the garden are welcome - yes, weeds and honey fungus - but R's favourite - brown rat. Just seen one coming out from under the shed by the feeders.

Having said that the cock pheasant almost takes seed from my hand (birdbrain)(the bird I mean), the goldfinches are ploughing through the nyger seed, the jay is whizzing about, I have heard a yellowhammer singing in the top of an oak tree along the lane. and there are pigeons fighting under the window.

This is Chicken of the Woods (I think) just down the lane. Clean well, 3 minutes in boiling water then use as a risotto or curry.

Welcome to fledgling world - chaffinches, assorted tits, woodpeckers, blackbirds, dunnocks, goldfinches, tree sparrows and house martins to name but a few.


 








Then there are the multiplying squirrels and even they are fighting over peanut rights. I do not know whether this is a pair - which I suspect is the truth - or separate individuals. They are stroppy at the best of times.



And now the rat is chasing the larger squirrel away. When we are extinct will rats inherit the earth - they would need much smaller cars.

The poppies are over - how they were on the right with a visitor at the bottom and a hosepipe - left there lazily after all the watering in the hot weather.

And so to cutting back - Sweet Cicely, aquilegias, oriental poppies - and taking it all to the compost heap. They will come again with a second flush in the autumn.
The white willowherb is spreading on the top banking but we do not mind as we like it - not quite the thug the pink one is.
The hesperus matronalis 'alba' is also over and n needs trimming for more flowers later.

Finally we do have a few beetroot seedlings, the severely pulled part of the rhubarb patch is thriving and the asparagus has been fed and left to build up its strength for next year - oh yes, and the crambe keeps delivering despite trying to fall over in the gale we have just had.

And finally, finally, one of the rambling rector roses is thirty feet up the big ash tree outside my window - pictures next blog.

Oh! The squirrel is trying to prize open the top of the sunflower seed feeder and failing resulting in much tail twitching and thrashing with frustration.

Having, oh sorry, finally, finally, finally, after watching a program on David Hockney I have downloaded the brushes redux app. No promises of a masterpiece but I will have a go. Mind you if it is a disaster this is the last mention you will get.

Later -

Mmm! done with the finger on the iPad from memory - could do better.