Sunday, 30 October 2011


So, it is still growing a bit but I have decided to leave it till the spring now. I wonder if this is the right decision though that choice has been made for me by the rain and wet ground.

As I ramble on I have posted three flower pictures - those that continue to bloom as the garden goes to sleep.
I have pruned the pear tree to remove crossing and damaged branches and to open up the centre to let light and air in. Whilst so doing I found a pear I had missed - with only minor wasp damage.

The flowers are, in order, Astrantia, one of the geraniums and Rose 'Rhapsody in Blue'.

I think that I got the geranium from Elizabeth MacGregor's wonderful nursery in Kirkcudbright - web site at the bottom of this page. I have just received their latest catalogue by email.

R has been clearing the remains of the meadow sweet that grows by the ditch, drain, stream - take your pick (open the box). I moved the yellow tree peony from a flower bed to the banking as a continuation of the great shrub transfer.

Had to chase the squirrel from the feeders again this morning - (:-(}=

We are now in a rush to get the garden as far as we can before I get a new left knee at the end of November or thereabouts - Oh! The joys of old age.

So, what else, must get the last of the beetroot up, the pumpkin has gone to Grandchildren in Manchester in time for halloween, the marrow is now marrow and mint soup and in the freezer with a load of mint leaves. The latter are freezing so I can crush them and bottle (or jar) them with vinegar for mint sauce.

My earlobes get longer, my ears and nose bigger and here is that website -

The plants come individually wrapped with love. The violas are very special.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Not so much late in the year
as the weather cools but regarding the ex leader of Libya.
I invited Gadaffi, via this blog, to tea in the garden so I could chat to him about his troubles in a relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately he was too busy to come so I was thwarted from changing his mind.

Anyway - to gardens - the cotoneaster is loaded with berries, best it has been.

Now berries makes me think of a strange thing - we usually have half a dozen blackbirds rooting in the garden but I have not seen one for a while. I expect they will come back but . . . ?

Still we have second flush
flowering as here with the Ceratostigma wilmottianum - what a mouthful. It nearly died last winter in the intense cold but has recovered somewhat to flower a second time.

R has been clearing out the marrow/pumpkin bed yesterday and I have dug two big holes for two Amelanchiers due to arrive next month. I also transferred a Guelder Rose and a Hydrangea paniculata to the banking in front of the house.
As the shrubs in the herbaceous borders get bigger I am moving them to permanent sites.
More to go yet.
This frees up room elsewhere.
I have also planted an Aruncus dioicus (Goat's Beard) down in the boggy bit where, I hope, it will thrive.
We bought it at Eggleston Hall Gardens on wednesday.

So what is this you may ask?

It is actually the heart of a flower of the orchid in the kitchen - an extraordinary mechanism (aren't we all).

The orchid family have such a varied complicated reproductive organisation.

Though, in the end, as with everything, A + B = C (or sometimes Z), or in the case of a clone A = A .

This makes on wonder, looking around, how many of us are Zs.
Time for a mug of chocolate and a few Zzzzzzzs.

ps - it is raining this morning.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


So, here we are again, autumn with a vengeance, only one ash tree left with leaves and Moi full of 'Can't be bothered.'

It is just that wrong end of the year mood as one watches the plants disappear into the ground again.

The rhubarb is on its last legs. The sweet peas have all but stopped flowering. The need is now to tidy, tidy, move things like shrubs, wonder of the lawns need another mow - and then be grateful for rain so they have to stay as they are.

Suddenly the sun is out.
Suddenly the skies are black and a squall drives rain into the window glass.

The figs never ripened.
We are quite far north but with the awful weather since July they never had a hope.
The larger ones will have to removed, next years fruitlets will be left to the vagaries of next summer.

There are bulbs to go in. You plant them and then cover them - they disappear.
Of course they will give a boost to the emotions in six month's time or so - SIX MONTHS!

For the last two years we have had a vicious month or so of cold weather and things in sheds and cold frames that are the slightest bit tender have died.

You would think this picture of veg (fruit really) would cheer me but no one in the family likes Marrow other than myself, no one likes the yellow courgettes much (they are small and weedy anyway) and the pumpkin is struggling to ripen. The pumpkin is much smaller than last year because of the weather - which I am under?

So, off to something exciting like leaf gathering, twig collecting (the gales have brought down another load - it is amazing how much dead wood there is on an ash tree and we have several).

Just read 'The Finkler Question' by Howard Jacobson, listened to a blues CD of Big Bill Broonzy and weighed myself - all very depressing.
My knees ache, the builder's insurance will not pay for the bathroom floor tiles which are coming up, the parsnip and carrot crisps I made are chewy, I cannot play the piano and it is raining again - good! I can stay in with a mug of hot chocolate and be old.

What to do?

I know - 2 days in a nice hotel with roaring fires and good food.

Son will have to manage on his own for a couple of days.

Off to Romaldkirk.

Friday, 14 October 2011


I was seriously getting worried that, if I went into the garden, my feet might dissolve.

It has RAINED!
All we hear on the radio and television is that farmers and gardeners in the South East (you know - where London is) (I have to explain for those of us who live North of Luton who think of London as something thought up just so Eastenders can exist) (imagine living north of Manchester! No we are not in Scotland) and East Anglia are worried because of drought. We have lots of the wet stuff - surely we, in the north, could sell it to them?

So the first picture is of our teeny stream with water in it - a lot - and the second picture shows where I had dug it out so that it did not overflow everywhere.

Back to rain - have to keep off most of the garden. We had floods (for those in the south that is water running down roads and in pools all over the place).

I did, of course attack the
willow tunnel and here you can see it undressed to five feet in height.

So, have cleared the old growth from the bed between the shed and the cattle grid, dug up beetroot and made borscht for the freezer, planted bulbs in pots and topped them with yellow pansies and planted a bought Dianthus Mrs Sinkins - white and heavily clove scented.

It is so autumnal - hardly a breath of wind -most of the leaves are off the oldest ash tree, it is not sunny but not cold - and quiet but for an occasional buzzard call.
I wish the buzzard would have a go at the squirrel though - it (they maybe) destroyed another feeder, and the barmy blackbird is back flying into its own reflection in the porch window.

This, of course, is not quite the wildlife of Soho, but look for a while at the countryside and there it is - greed, sex, murder - which reminds me I have not seen the rabbits for a while.

The year is definitely winding down.
Why do we not go into hibernation?

It might be a good idea but then we would wake to a jungly garden.
We need the winter to get ready for next year, more rain - and drought in the sunny South East - poor things.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


What is there to do when waves of mizzle sweep across the garden?
You say - what is mizzle?
Mizzle is misty drizzle and the most wetting form of rain I know (short of a tropical downpour). It is a feature of the western part of the British Isles. The rain comes in fine droplets and soaks everything.

Back to the blog.

What is there to do?

Well, how about write the blog?

So to cheer you up before the quiz here is a picture of marigolds - they have been splendid this year,
flowering and flowering.
As has the cardoon - it started a bit later but, not only will it go on flowering for a while yet, its statuesque shape will last through the winter and keep interest in the flower beds along with the teasels and grasses.

New bulbs come every day - have planted the orange 'Prinses Irene' in a pot and the 'Rococo' are waiting for their tub. Rococo are an early parrot tulip, deep deep red.
I have, of course, forgotten what I have ordered now, except for the two tall amelanchiers from Weasdale Nurseries.

So - surprises to come!

To the quiz -

Here are two egg-shaped, black things, each about three inches long.

But what are they?

Answer below.

My son has just come in from mountain cycling in the rain - got lost, chain broke, soaked and fell off.
Sounds like such fun!

As soon as the rain stops will go in search of the disappearing stream and try to block up the hole in the stream bed.

All right - here is the answer -

The one on the left is a fungus known as King Alfred's Cakes which grows on ash wood.
The one on the right is a carbonised potato left for two days in the Aga range.

I do not fancy eating either.

Now that is something you can do when outside is nothing but mizzle - eat, guzzle!
Off to the kitchen.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Here I sit at my Apple Mac and learn Steve Jobs has died. Then I learn that Bert Jansch has died - memories of magical guitar playing - Jansch and John Renbourn in the 1960s when I was at University in Liverpool. (Which makes me 27 years old!)

All this has nothing at all to do with gardens but makes me realise I am getting older. So does mowing the lawn - blades up and box off, (the mover not me) - mower set on mulch. The grass is growing more slowly as winter approaches.

Small cyclamen are flowering under the cherry tree and sending out their seeds on spiral stems.

Weeding goes on, lilies are removed from their brown ceramic sink and put into the flower bed where the helianthemums were - they are now around the back in the bed by the front door - which is at the back.
The small hole drilled in the sink as a drain is unblocked and covered with stones. Then the sink is filled with compost and R plants rancunculus for next year, their little clawed roots downwards.
A large pot has new lilies planted in it for next year.

Then there is the "cloud" tree in
the woodland edge - a hawthorn that has been mutilated. It now needs trimming, despite the berries, to keep the shape I want. It is in a position that makes it very hard to photograph so this one which shows it in silhouette will have to do.

Jobs remain unfinished - chipping willow sticks, completing the power washing of the paving - I have moved the table into shelter from the paving and put the summer chairs away in the shed. From heat and humidity we have moved to gales and rain and 12C and rain.
I have started to collect leaves to be bagged so that we have some leaf mould next year.

Picking flowers for the house continues but choice is becoming more limited.

The nasturtiums will go on until the frost but many other things are getting tired (like me.)

The stream in the lower part of the garden has suddenly decided to disappear. It runs down its bed until about ten feet from the top pond and then vanishes into the shingle bottom. This is not good news for the ponds. There is a stony layer about three feet down under the turf and the water must have found an alternative route through this.

What a garden - streams disappear when you do not want them to, springs appear when you do not want them to - so dry ponds and soggy lawn.

Now Bert Jansch was in the group Pentangle - this gives me an idea - if I draw a pentagram on the paving and dance around nude can I cast a spell on the garden and solve all my problems?

I think the sight of a fat aged nude warlock (wizard) (whatever) would bewitch nothing, just give watchers a good laugh.

So I think I will have a cup of tea.

Just checked and have used the cloud tree photo a week or two ago - apologies to all cloud tree enthusiasts.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


I am sitting in my room at the computer looking out of my window at the rainwave. Not the heatwave - that left us yesterday after a short two day visit.
I feel so sorry for all the people in the south east sweating and labouring in the heat, 29.9C in Gravesend - perhaps that is why it got it's name?

I was going to mow the lawn but now watch wet leaves fall from the ash trees and carpet the grass.

So, on this grey day I give you three pictures of bright cheerful colour - Guelder Rose berries, red nasturtiums and a peacock butterfly.

I have, though, been in the garden and pruned the willow tunnel, removing all the lower branches up to about shoulder height from the ground. This has opened up that part of the garden as you can now get glimpses of the lawn beyond.

There is a large heap of willow
outside my window on the paving either waiting for the chipper to make path surface material for the wood or, if I can be bothered, make wattle fencing.

Some plants never give up - some of the oriental poppies are in flower again and, at last, the magnolia grandiflora (no it has not yet flowered), which looks moth eaten in May, has healthy, shiny foliage.

R took one of the big marrows to church this morning for Harvest Festival but what they will do with it after I do not know. Often the produce goes to an old people's home or something - I am sure the kitchen staff will be delighted with a large marrow!

How sad to be lying in a bikini on Primrose Hill when you could enjoy the cool, soft, October rain up north.

Calm down - I did not mean me in a bikini - it would frighten the caterpillars off the broccoli!

Now there is an idea!