Sunday, 31 October 2010


The little grey tree rat is back, burying peanuts on the banking, or digging up peanuts it has buried, or digging up peanuts the jays have buried.

It seems fearless.

We have planted some crocuses for naturalising in grass by the cattle grid and around the gooseberry bushes. They were a gift from K and S.

I have been having bonfires - but not of wood and so on - of old bank statements and receipts. The ash can go on the blackcurrants as they like potash.

The hour change has passed and afternoons
end too early now.
Yesterday we had several really heavy downpours in the morning and much of the grassy areas are sodden. The stream was blocked by leaves in the wood and overflowing but this has been dug out.

The leaves on the Rosa rugosa have surprised me by being intensely yellow. I suppose they have been before but have not caught my eye.

Virtually no wind today - one good gale will strip the last trees.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


This is the gate to our "drive". The inverted commas are intentional as we do not own the drive, it belongs to a local Trust who would not sell it to us.

They also turned down a cattle grid to improve access so we replaced a small stile on the left with a gate and removable post. Not brilliant but does make it wider.

The signpost indicates that this is a bridle way and we do get the odd mountain cyclist and horse rider along it.
The little sign is on the post for the electric gate button and was done by yours truly. Damian Hurst eat your heart out.

Please excuse blogs if infrequent but have to travel up and down to Manchester a lot in next few weeks - to Christie's for tests and then, I presume, a blast of the old radioactivity.

Funny, but R's mother's maiden name was Christie!
Not that there is any connection, of course - just a pretty remote coincidence.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


So autumn is here - even to sycamore leaves.

This blog may stutter for a while as I have blackspot on that organ which which males have much trouble as they get older and I am off to Christie's in Manchester today.

Unfortunately my problem will not just drop off like a leaf and then wait for the spring to start again.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


There is a deep frost forecast for tonight, many flowers will soon be gone. The valerian by the gate is blooming again lavishly and the Kaffir lilies still have a good show.

R weeded whilst I removed the last broad beans, chilli and squash plants - now badly frost damaged and dug up the sweet peas as they have stopped producing flowers. They all went onto the rubbish mountain by the veg beds.

New plan - the compost heaps by the shed are to go and be moved down to the vegetable area where they will be rebuilt. This will mean we can plant more shrubs and flowering plants near the car parking area and remove the unsightly heap of old veg and eggshells.

I have dug over those areas where there are no overwintering plants - leeks, broccoli etc - so that the frost can get in and break up the soil.

I have noticed that some of the wooden bed surrounds are rotting despite them being old scaffolding planks. They will need replacing.

We continue to collect sticks and twigs that fall off the trees and the heap is now 6 feet high. Time for a bonfire but before we light anything will have to move it sideways to let any creatures escape - e.g. hedgehogs. Having said that have not seen a hedgehog in our garden but we did see a fox cross the road in front of us last night not far away.

Chickens and ducks beware.
Story - when we lived at Torver in the Lakes my father had ducks and each night he would put them securely in a duck house (nothing to do with MPs). OPne night they just would not go in and every time they approached the entrance they would all suddenly slip by on one aside or another. After two hours and in darkness he gave up telling them they would have to fend for themselves.

In the morning the fox had been - carried away one and bitten off the heads of all the rest. It is this mass slaughter which is so upsetting - okay Mr. Fox, you are hungry - take one but why kill the lot?

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Nothing to do with aeroplanes so will not interest Ni.!

With the growth of the plants, especially the grey foliage ones that survived last winter, the dry banking bed in front of the house is becoming more mature.

The soil tends to wash down onto the path - you can see the resulting moss - so it does not get much of a fork over - more a weed and some really old horse muck. (Which reminds me not to put muck on the grasses - they like the soil poor like many wild plants).

I have to admit to a bit of weedkiller to the path.

I have just removed many of the stakes placed to support young trees - several were rubbing despite fancy ties and the garden looks much better without them.

Back to the banking - Lamb's Lugs and lavender, sage and senecio (except they now call it brach - something or other now), pittosporum and and nasturtiums (some going gooey with the frost), and red berries on the contoneaster.

This is the flat one -horizontalis - which was given to us when we moved in and is getting too big - needs moving but as the berries are so bright will get a reprieve - for now. We have the other one on the grass bank.
The variegated plant on the left is mint and perfectly usable though I prefer the softer apple mint.

Before it is too late I have harvested the mint and, after chopping it, rammed it into an old Hellman's mayonnaise jar, then topped this up with vinegar.

TIP - if you like mint sauce sweet then add 1/3 raspberry vinegar to wine vinegar for the preservative - you can do this for other pickles, especially beetroot.

Nao. could this be a sales ploy?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Last night was the first frost. This affects the lower part of the garden and the far end which is shaded by trees. The upper slopes are frost free as the cold air runs downhill into the bottom and they get the first sun.

This will spell the death knell for the nasturtiums which will go all slimy. The sweet peas will also fade away - in fact they have almost stopped flowering now.

Sixty per cent of the ash leaves are off the trees and gathering in corners.

The pumpkins and so on are dead (or nearly so) and the last fruit is stored on the table outside the kitchen doors.

The marrow in the picture went to the Harvest Festival at the church on last Sunday. The small butternut squashes are awaiting some sort of decision on their future. The small pumpkin is for us, the large one for J and W, our grandchildren, for halloween.

So how do you transport a pumpkin.
The one in the car seat was the largest and went for Offstedding at a local school which, I hope, it passed.

Then it returns to the grandchildren of a friend - S - where a local talented craftsman and street performer will have his his wicked way with it - all carving and candles.

Half the leeks have bolted and their cores will be hard but I hope we can salvage something - more soup on the way?

I have filled in or repaired the bullock prints in the lawns. Repairing is a bit like doing the same for a huge pitch mark in a golf course green - but not with a tee peg but a gurt fork!

Monday, 18 October 2010


I heard R stirring and turned over.
She brought me a cup of tea but I wanted to stay asleep.

Then I heard a cry of anguish.

She was by the bedroom window.
"Bullocks!," she said more loudly.

I struggled from my bed and there in the garden were two bullocks.
(For information one was a Friesian, the other a Hereford.)

The first image shows the way they came and a deposit they left.

And they leave tracks in the lawn - a huge repair job.

They broke the barbed wire in the field and scaled the meagre hedge, (which is being laid later in the autumn when the trees are dormant).

We rang the farmer and B and M came out.
A simple shake of a sack of feed from the field and both were back over the hedge.
Heads were shaken.

When the hedge is laid a netting fence and barbed wire will be incorporated in it.

This is not the first bovine invasion, it has happened before - so that is why we are having the hedge relaid.

Comes of living in the country, I suppose.

So out with the bucket of soil and seed, the spade and fork, and try to repair the damage.

At least they did not eat the leeks and last of the sweet peas.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


Apart from leaves going red, yellow and brown there is still quite a lot still in bloom -

So here are some -

Nasturtiums not yet hit by the frost and gone all gooey are on the bank bed in front of the house giving a bright splash of colour.

Kaffir Lillies in a large clump in red, pink and in between colours.

Not forgetting the wonderful Cosmos still shining in the sun.

Geraniums flowering for a second time having been clipped after first flowering.

And so on.
Frost due tomorrow night?
As we are on a hill I just hope it will run off and we can have flowers for a bit longer.

Friday, 15 October 2010


I do not like Gladioli like this - can just about deal with the odd colour but a couple of years back got a free bag of glads with an order.
The pale lilacky, mauvey ones were awful.
They got deposited down the banking under the sycamore in the nettles and never appeared again.

There are still one or two that appear like this one - the colour clashes with everything.

Then there other dislikes - I can just about tolerate dahlias if they look a bit like daisies but the pompoms and cactus sort are a travesty of a flower.

R dislikes begonias - the bedding sort - they do not go in a garden with a wildish feel. You can get away with wallflowers and sweet williams - do not plant in regimented rows and blocks but municipal park planting - no thank you.

Some plants look like artificial versions of the real thing - too in and cross bred.

Mind you if a true blue rose came along - well .....

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Some practical, some not.

The willow tunnel in the garden - see previous blogs - was inspired by a strange mixture of ideas.
I had seen willow, both alive and dead, woven together in Scotland at the Spring Fling.
I had walked through the famous laburnum tunnel at Bodnant.
And I had been to Aberglasney in the early days - see above.

We had, in the days before digital TV, watched Welsh television on the analog channels and seen the restoration of Aberglasney from the start. Of course, with the better service we have now, we can't get Welsh TV any more.

Then we went - in fact we have been at least twice - on our way to Pembrokeshire in the summer.

Then there is the pond.

I would love to have a pond like the Pin Mill one at Bodnant but I have not the manpower nor the space. In fact we only have one man and one woman power.
I suppose I could ask them to lend it to me as they are third cousins, (Bright), but it might be a little difficult to transport.

Mm! I don't think we could get it through the gate.

Sunday, 10 October 2010


I wrote this post some time ago - about a month - and forgot to post it so here it is

Today we are going to plant daffodils.

Got a cheap sack and they may not flower
brilliantly the first year but after that will improve.

The first image is of the garden before we came showing daffodils on the banking to the right of the house. Most of these were untouched by the build and still flower every spring.

These can be seen in the second picture just after the build and in the month or so after we moved in.

T. the previous owner, planted a variety of
bulbs which flower in succession throughout
the spring.
This gives us flowers for the house for almost two months.

Today we intend to plant under the white birches, by the entrance gate and on the banking near the Wendy House.

They need to be planted quite deep - maybe 8" - but as the soil is not that deep everywhere we may have to compromise.

Oh! Yes - the sun is out, it is dry and not RAINING!!

Friday, 8 October 2010


Other things have arrived to drag me away from the garden - health!

Managed to mow some of the lawn today. Also have weed killed the paths - I know not organic but sometimes needs must. At least it will keep things in some sort of control for a while.
The willow trimmings will just have to wait for the chipper and become woodland path.

Still have a sack of daffs to go in - job for the weekend before the hospital beckons on

This sign was painted for us by my brother-in-law Roy Brown. He exhibited a a painting this year at the Royal. Not many people can say they have their house sign painted by a famous artist!

The photo does not do the colours justice.

So, the blog may be a little intermittent in the near future - partly because I may not be doing a lot in the garden.

The mowing will have to be done somehow as the grass is still growing though some areas are now out of bounds as so boggy. The weather is supposed to get to nearly 70F this weekend!
Wait till the low pressure which has given us the southerly air flow passes and the wind switches to the North.

ps Pumpkins picked and on the table outside the kitchen for final ripening and hardening.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


As it is raining again I though I would talk about water!

Not the supply from out borehole, not the pond but the "stream" which is really a drainage channel from a ditch in the field above the house.

The first picture is of the area at the top of the garden. The stream runs across from right to left halfway up the image.
Beyond that is a small channel to collect the water that comes under the wall from next door.
In the foreground is another channel taken to divert water from a spring in the field into the stream rather than let it soak down into the garden and make paths and grass boggy.

When the stream leaves this top area it tumbles down a fifteen foot slope over and under tree roots.

This shows it with water - we have had a roaring flood as last year when the floods inundated the Lake District and nothing at all in the late spring this year after the lack of rain.

Areas of the garden are still boggy after rain and I have another drainage channel behind the copper beech hedge.

Yesterday I mowed most of the lawn but some was wet underfoot. Actually the grass was still too wet and clogged the mower so now I have green finger nails.

Perhaps I am going mouldy with the rain?

Monday, 4 October 2010


So the garden is bare and let's put in a few creeping ground cover plants.

One of the best is Creeping Jenny though R complained that it had taken over the end of one of the paths and it has to be trodden upon. That is OK - tread on it.

The red flowered strawberry here was given
to us by Sylvia and has taken over a soilless bank where nothing will grow - even weeds struggle. It has flowered continuously from the spring but does need a bit of runner pruning to keep it within bounds.

On another bank I put in 5 ground cover roses which are now becoming a nuisance. Unfortunately weeds do grow through them and they are a PAIN! to remove as the rose is particularly thorny.

Of course the nasturtiums creep everywhere.
This one has insinuated itself through a variegated Pittosporum but the effect is quite pleasing.

And then there is Geranium Johnson's Blue which is not a creeper but great for ground cover spreading wildly and suppressing all weeds.

After three and a half years the flower beds are getting rather overcrowded - time for a sort out - but where to put all the discarded, thinned plants. I do not have the heart to throw them away.

I feel another bed coming on. This beditis has ramifications- weeding, dead heading, muck spreading. Soon I will need some treatment.

Ps. The sun is out.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


There are weeds growing in my hair and toadstools under my fingernails. My skin is going wrinkly - I know it is aged decrepitude - by it is soggy too.

Having said that did manage to dash out
yesterday and prune the growth off the top
of the willow arch -a killing job with arms
above the head - like painting a ceiling. I meant to use the wands and twigs and so on but they lie on the lawn (uncut because too wet) in the rain.

This is nothing to do with the garden but have been doing a bit of my sister-in-law's family tree - yes K the one who suggested this Blog to me - and found that her ten greats uncle knew my nine greats grandfather!

I know - nothing to do with gardening but as her ten greats uncle was Oliver Cromwell . . .

This picture shows one of the few redeeming
pictures of rain in the garden - alchemilla leaves spattered with jewels.

Back to the nitty gritty and do we have a bonfire or do I chip the smaller sticks and use them on the woodland path?
Or do I chip the willow?

Sounds like a cue for a barn dance.