Wednesday, 30 May 2012


The heat has gone but it is still pleasantly warm.
I have just spent an hour or so sitting in the garden listening to the birds singing and watching the swallows and house martins - yes, both are nesting under the eaves.

A cup of tea, a piece of date slice (recipe at the end)(not mine), a Kakuro completed, a few pages out of Prehistoric Cumbria by David Barrowclough (he gets the middle name of my Great Great Uncle, the one who excavated Ehenside Tarn, wrong - should have been Dukinfield not Durkin), and finally Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre.
The name Le Carre reminds me of the story of one of our children - I will let them be anonymous - who when asked to name a disciple of Jesus said Judas the Carrot!

To the garden, mowing, STRIMMING!!!!!, yes, I have taken it out after 18 months and it started first time, done around shrubs on banking and the sides of the stream. A big toad and a small frog escaped my threat.

The asparagus struggles on - a disappointing year - but the rhubarb has recovered with a good feed and loads of water. We are getting desperate for rain or it will be watering, watering, watering. Three cheers for a bore-hole.

Aquilegia are everywhere - wonderful chaos.

The Oriental poppies the previous owner, TJ, had have come out in the long grass on the top banking. I rather like the shock of colour in the long grass.

The streams from the field (drains) have dried up but the one from under next doors wall and the drainage from the septic tank overflow have kept the pond, just, topped up (ish).
The wood is full of red campion and pignut but the bluebells are over.

It must be time for the recipe -
Date slice -
Ingredients - 12 oz dates chopped and stoned
6 tbsp water
grated rind 1/2 lemon
8oz wholemeal flour
4 oz porridge oats
dark brown sugar 3 oz
butter melted 5oz

Heat dates, lemon rind and water gently till dates soft.
Mix rest of stuff and press half into bottom of shallow square cake tin.
Spread date goo n the top and then the rest of the stuff on top of that. Press down.
About 20 min in 200C - Aga, bottom top oven with cold shelf in.
Allow to cool, cut into squares and eat!

Friday, 25 May 2012


I should explain - we took friends to Muncaster Castle Gardens yesterday to see the azaleas and rhododendrons, the owls fly and the herons being fed and had a wonderful time.
It made me realise what a contrast the Lake District can offer as we had had a picnic by Wast Water earlier.
Today I have put in some calendulas and it is hot - as it was yesterday - 25.5C.
Of course last year's marigolds are still flowering!

This is an honesty given to us by S and the colour is fairly accurate - perhaps a bit pink. I have the white but this is intense, not like the usual rather pale version.
I rather like having unusual colour varieties of plants - still looking for a true blue rose. Our friends brought us a super floribunda called Supertrooper which I have now planted near the other roses.

There was always a problem with the rose bed in that it was bordered by a large area of paving but the difficulty was resolved when we were given some forgetmenots
by another friend of R. They are wonderful at the moment but they do go a bit scraggy later in the year and have to be pulled up. Then there is an interval whilst we await the growth of self sown seedlings. One snag is that the forgetmenots sow themselves in the other beds, in the wood, everywhere.
One of the weeding jobs is pull up errant plants.

The last picture is of a flower
arrangement R has done from the garden, sitting on the woodburner which I hope is redundant for the summer.

The grass on the banking and in the wood is knee high but I cannot cut (or strim - hooray!) it because of the daffodils still in leaf - they need to build up their bulbs for next year.

Our friends have just prized themselves away from the view from the house over Morecambe Bay and headed home. He is a magician but not all magic is sleight of hand?

The house martins are building, no they are not, yes they are, no they are not but the swallows, which were not, possible are, I think?

If you are now confused then you seem to share this with the birds. Perhaps this is where the phrase - away with the birds - comes from?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


We have our first rose and first oriental poppy.
Sudden rise in temperature means all is go at last
- for the weeds too.

Spent two days weeding, ripping up the clawed roots of creeping buttercup, pulling out the thousands of broad-leaved willowherbs and cursing at the newest pest - we have vetch!

Common vetch has started to appear in dense clumps of campanula and saxifrage and it is a terror - compatible with horsetails and bindweed. I cannot be bothered to dig the whole bed up so pull and pester the pest and hope it will give up.

Our back windows are netted and criss-crossed with trellis and this seems to have stopped the mad blackbird that was attacking its reflection. Now it sings gloriously from the ash tree above the shed. One blackbird has built a nest in the bonfire! So we have abandoned that one and started anew.

Then R was debrambling by the wood and uncovered another nest. We can only hope that the bird will go back to sitting on the eggs but . .

Many flowers self seed in the garden.
Some I am happy to let do their own thing such as Aquilegias - nothing fancy, just good old Granny's Bonnets, pinks and blues mainly. R likes the blues best though I think they are almost violet.

The asparagus is just starting to recover from the cold and I have had to net the turnip seedlings to keep off the pigeons. Goosegogs are doing fine and we have blossom and leaves on the Bramley - I had given up hope.
Sadly the swallows have not returned to nest on the house but we are being investigated by House Martins as last year - fingers crossed.

Have just Skyped family in Herefordshire - now exhausted so need a cuppa or a pinta (not milk).

Friday, 18 May 2012


The poor old Davidia (hankie tree ) has had its leaves crisped by
a surprise frost.
This also means the sweet peas I am growing for my son's wedding and the asparagus are not progressing. This must have happened whilst we were away enjoying the beauty of Arisaig. We went to a garden near Port Appin called Druimneil House which is recovering from, what the owner described as, three disastrous winter storms with much damage. The house is in a lovely position and the garden interesting. The storm also brought down some old pines by castle Tioram changing the landscape dramatically.
We visited Drummond Castle near Lough Earn on the way up - an amazing example of control freakiness with parterre and topiary all laid out with mathematical precision.

Nevertheless worth visiting.

In Arisaig the oaks were just coming into leaf and astonishingly yellow, bluebells and primroses carpeted the woods and banks - as here with this view over to Rum and Eigg.

Earlier in the year we had been top Herefordshire and found this flowering cherry
- could have dug it up and taken it home.

The garden at home is filled with birdsong (and bunnies) (and Squirrels) (and woodmice) and so on.

R and I discussed what we will do when I can no longer manage the garden in its present size and came to the conclusion that we could separate off a lot of it with a fence and then just mow paths through it. In late August we could pay some one to strim and clear it - and, perhaps again in early spring?

Must go, sister and b-in-l here having breakfast and the wild birds need feeding.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


Swallows are here but not the rain. They keep promising it and then three spots and that is all - so watering going on. It has been a very dry April/early May.

The pond is low with a few surviving tadpoles clinging on. Down there the first candelabra primulas are out - white with a yellow eye and deep red. The yellow and orange ones come later.

The Kingcups/marsh marigiolds
are splendid but this has nothing to do with the title.
I have been putting out handfuls of sweet peas all tied in and surrounded by netting to keep the bunnies at bay - two fat ones who come in and out of the garden by the oak tree in the hedge. I suggested to R that I made a wire loop trap but she pointed out that I would botch the job, and that I wouldn't kill them anyway as I do not like killing things.
I am rather fond of the rabbits - perhaps I should personalise the relationship by giving them names - something from the past - ?Uncle Bun and Aunt Bill?

Herbs have been put in near the coldframe - thyme, marjoram and lemon balm. There is also a rosemary bush there.

Tulips have moved on to later flowering ones - a black one given to me some years ago by Puck which keeps going on and on and these red ones by the Wendy House which are almost overpowering.
Ate a little rhubarb yesterday so my tongue is not the only thing I am running away with now! Amazing how a little radiotherapy can change ones habits! This makes me remember to tell you that I have planted some buddleia cuttings around the septic tank to try and hide it.

Also had a smidgeon of asparagus but had to supplement with some shop bought stuff. It has not yet really got going.

Now I have to go up into the wood and do a rain dance - well actually the weather forecast is poor for the coming week - hooray! for the garden, boo! for those going on holiday.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Where are the swallows?
Now May and only seen one passing over.
However we have had a cuckoo in the garden for the first time.

Some shrubs are flowering and flowering - the Magnolia stellata and the flowering currant have been at it for weeks. I think the cold weather may be the reason.
And the rhubarb is thriving - I have frozen 6 lbs already - and we are eating asparagus.
R bought an ice cream maker at Lakeland in Windermere so we have had our first sally into such with a mixed fruit sorbet - very rich.

Of course Windermere is the name of the lake (not Windermere Lake - tautology) and the town called Windermere is actually Applethwaite and the bit by the lake Bowness. I think the name changed when they opened the station in Applethwaite and called it Windermere Station.
This has nothing to do with the garden so onward.

During the few showers I have potted on the Begonia rex and 4 amaryllis which live in the house.

Talking of weather we are cool and dry!
Whereas the south now is flooded our stream is almost dry.
We had a shower yesterday but the sun is now out.
Also yesterday I carefully removed new growth below desired height from trees in the garden, especially the willows and have pruned the twisted willow and the weeping willow which has never wept - I live in hope.
More veg in - have sown turnips (not the big things we call swedes up here but the small white turnips) and french beans. It may be too early but I might get away with it. The sweet peas are also in after hardening off. Tied in loose raspberry canes and mucked them up - I mean mulched them with muck.

The bonfire grows with old wood from the bramble patch as we clear it (well, R does).

The cherries are now looking
more like trees - as with the Prunus shirotae here - and one day will be spectacular.
Where the blue seat is in this picture in front of the cold frame I have made a small bed and planted it with 3 choisya ternata sundance given to me by A. my son-in-law.
More weeding, I hear the cry.

At least the cool weather has slowed grass growth which reminds me I need more petrol for the mowers.

In the autumn I rashly splashed out a few pennines in the market and bought some wallflowers - worth every penny and the scent. . . !

I am short of Thyme as we seem to use a lot - must get another plant or two.