Sunday, 24 February 2013


It has not rained for a week and looks set fair!
Here I am talking about lack of rain - for once.
Having said that, the lawn in the lower garden is still sodden and a no go area.
R and I out pruning some of the buddleias yesterday - yes, I know it may be a mite early but the sun was out and so were we.

We have our first wild primroses and the stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) has been in flower for a week or more.
The Witch Hazel is in full flower (and scent), roses are beginning growth and the aquilegias are uncurling their leaves from the compost and manure.

The buddleias are all over the garden - outside the kitchen window where they give cover to the birds at the feeders, around the septic tank and as a hedge on the banking. On the banking they are pruned very short at the banking top and then longer as one descends the slope, so that the top is level. For several months the birds do lose their queuing bush by the kitchen and the septic tank becomes rather visible.

There are snowdrops everywhere and the first crocus, planted on the top banking, are appearing. Locally there is an area known as the purple pasture for its carpet of spring crocus. I know I might need thousands of crocus or a hundred years to emulate that - and I am a bit fogeyed - but one has to start somewhere.

Last autumn the grass on some of the banks was too wet to strim and had to be left.
So now I have decided to burn some of it off and this proved successful but a bit scary when a breeze blew up - had to dash around with a shovel bashing out the burn to protect shrubs about which I had forgotten.

I have repaired the steps up into the wood - nothing sophisticated, just some pressure treated planks sawn up and held in place with two or three stakes.

The manure man keeps traipsing, keeps mulching. I have transplanted errant white campanulas that seem to have spread over a large area of one of the flower beds. There was so much that, in the end, I dumped some of it by the far wall - where it will survive (or not).

Ah! Goldfinches outside my window - a little heaven, as is the garden when it is still, breathless and basking in early spring (late winter) sun. I can almost hear the grass growing, the buds unfurling in joy after the long wet, cold, dark months.

The winter is coming to an end, though we did have snow flurries yesterday, and I am waiting for the final sign that winter is over - only about six weeks to go - then the chatter will begin again and the sky will fill with swallows.

As I said, a little heaven.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Spawn to Pond 2 en passant!

We have our first frogspawn. R was in her shed (The Wendy House) and heard strange noises coming from the pond. It was all of a commotion. She crept nearer and the frogs disappeared into the mud - but - left behind our first spawn. No doubt the mallard and herons will be here soon - for a snack.

And now I realise I have put off the refurbishment of the ponds too long. I will have to isolate the area with the spawn before draining the rest or move the spawn from one pond to the other.

Last night the song thrush was trebling from the big sycamore - it has returned again from its winter holiday abroad.
And this morning, early, a blackbird was fluting from the old ash.
This warm snap has brought everything on.
Before that there was snow and dark evenings.
The snowdrops seem to have loved the weather last year. We did divide and replant in the green and they have thrived.
The pulmonaria is out as is the mahonia. We have a small scraggy plant at the woodland edge but have been given a beautiful specimen by our son-in-law's parents. The spot is picked but I will delay planting it until the ground is softer - hard frost last night.
Panic - birds scattering, one into the study window - sparrowhawk on a hedge-skimming attack but all have escaped.

The mist has risen and gardening deferred - too nice not to walk - perhaps to town and back separated by a coffee.

We have been given some purple tulips by I and A - to pot or not to pot? I will have to think about what to plant with them and what colour.

I have decided to convert one of the veg beds to a cut flower one - this will mean lots of preparation - shifting more manure. Mind you, those who have read my previous blogs will realise I can shift plenty, even if only in writing.

The manure heap from which I barrow is enormous - see image.

Now, I mentioned how some plants have done well from the weird weather last year - well, moles! They are everywhere casting up their mounds of soil. I do not think I have seen such a proliferation.

Perhaps I could borrow my friend's dog to have a go at them, but not yet, it is only a puppy - a cockerpoo!

Ah! Yes - another way of getting rid of moles has come my way - sticking a stem of rhubarb down the holes in the hills. That would be fine but the rhubarb is only three inches tall even in the big forcing pot.

Another friend just said to get some traps.
Perhaps he needs a new waistcoat?

Friday, 8 February 2013


So, there we were, staring out of the bathroom window at the banking under the flowering currant (still dormant) and gazing at an earthwork, an adit to somewhere newly dug.
We had wondered where the rabbits had got to - even in winter, if the weather is mild, they come out to feed. Now we know.
So up in the bushes and block up the nascent warren. It was not nearly deep enough for there to be anyone down there. The bunny will try again, and again and get hot and cross hence the title.

The snowdrops are in full flower now and replanting them in the green last year to extend the spread has worked.

R is looking at catalogues, I am looking at the old bank balance - no seriously a packet of seed is so much better value than a few seedlings.
We have been invaded by the twitterers agin - long-tailed tits - clustered on the feeders.

I am still barrowing manure up from the horses - if the amount of this I have put on the garden is anything to go by we should buried in vegetation come July.
At the end of the big shed I have fixed a large square of concrete reinforcing mesh as trellis, dug over the soil - and manured it - and planted a Clematis armandii  with a red honeysuckle on each side.
This we can see from the kitchen.

I wish to mention our forlorn lawns. The appalling weather this year has resulted in the death of grass. There are bare patches, areas of moss and creeping buttercup. Reeds are growing in the lower garden where it is still wet. The extent of the damage is beyond me spiking and topdressing such a large area. In the end there may have to be some scarifying and reseeding - and some praying for dryer weather. Mowing will have to start with the light machine to avoid too much damage.

The photo shows the stream and ponds 7 years ago before we had created the garden, house just built. Now they are overgrown. The ponds need restructuring or even turning into a stream! With so much water coming down the stream from the back field silt has made the water too shallow. The water lily is sitting on a muddy bank.
Now, I could dig them out, reline them and wait for them to fill up with silt again but is that the best solution? It is so much simpler with a pond not on a source of running water.
Mmm! I seem to have water on the brain!

Saturday, 2 February 2013


And I am going cu-cu?
Can't shift manure at the moment - just tweaked my back pushing human hair down mole holes. (Trying to turn the compost did not help much either.)

Why the title - don't know really - time for a pome reflecting on the glorious summer of 2012 :-


Summer is a-going out,
loud sang no cuckoo,
strewn - no seed, no sweet
mead brewed, leaves fall,
water springs anew
through our sodden wood.

It rains, it rains 
again, rindle drips collide,
pipes gather shadows,
throw down torrents,
besprent the yard. 
The garden weeps for the sun.

Three amelanchiers are dead
drenched by the flooding rill,
mildew’s white hyphae 
blight the meadowsweet.
We dream of drought
now summer is a-going out.

This has so much internal rhyme it would make the compost heap turn itself.
Actually line two is a lie - I did hear a cuckoo here once last spring.

The garden does have colour in early February - apart from snowdrops and so on - is white a colour?
Most of it is in leaves but the hamamelis (we have an orange one) is flowering and spreading scent, shoots are appearing everywhere and the grass is greening.
At this rate, ground permitting, I will be mowing by March and the beds will not all be manured (because of my back).
I am now finding out where I planted daffodils in the autumn for, as usual, I have neither kept a record nor labelled them.
There are lots coming up by the far dry-stone wall and along the willow tunnel - shown above.
Unfortunately the sides of the tunnel have also sprouted a plethora of mole mountains - hair to the rescue.

The ranunculus in the old earthenware sink is sprouting and tulips are pushing up through the yellow pansies in the pots.
I do not think I have seen so many tiny figs on the bush as this spring - we need a good summer up here though to stand any change of figs stuffed with cream cheese and cooked - Yum!

Until today I had not seen Mr Phez (cock pheasant) around but he is back - the ladies must be looking attractive again. He is prowling by the rough shrubbery at the top of the garden where they nest every year.

So, I will have to keep a watch on the moles and hope that 'hair today, gone tomorrow' actually happens.

Hot bath or watch the Rugby.
Could I record the Rugby and have an early bath?
Why not!