Friday, 27 June 2014


I have just been out a-mowing and have got clegged. At least I got the b*****. Great big weal on my right arm and boy does it itch.
(For those who do not know what a cleg is - it is another name for the horsefly.)

This is another one but does not bite as badly being a Liberal Democrat and Deputy Prime Minister of somewhere or other.

Other larger predators have been about in the garden notably a local cat - a headless bunny as evidence - and feathers that denote a sparrowhawk has caught a dove.

So here is - what? Oh! Yes, somewhere under there is the top settling pond - smothered in watercress, newt land - well where we introduced them though they will be off into undergrowth once they have spawned.

The tall bits are reed mace - you know the furry brown things. If that does not help put it into google and select images - it will look nothing like this but that is what it is.

 To the left we have yellow loosetrife - wild plant or garden escape - not sure. To the right primula vera a yellow candelabra type down by the pond, well both down there.

And both are spreading, the loosetrife by root runners and the other by seed - which reminds me to collect some to sow in the early spring and then plant out after the new pond is built.

And this is a clematis I put on a trellis at the back of the decked seating area by the Wendy House writing shed - what a colour.

And finally to one of my favourite plants - so tactile - feeling the hairy leaves one can understand why it is called lambs' lugs.

It loves its dry position in the bank bed below the house spreading out to make a big clump - and good ground cover suppressing weeds.


Myself as predator has just caught another squiggle and it is growling at me from inside the cage.

Time for a trip out - and today of all days.

Happy Birthday to me! (One of too many).

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


So I am going to start with white and two of R's favourites, the white campanula that seeds itself everywhere and the white rosebay introduced to the wild banking and also spreading but under the ground. Soon it will be her birthday and she will be 21 yet again!!! I suppose this could make me a dirty old man!

I am in cheerful mood as I have yet another 6 month reprieve from Christies in Manchester so roll on the summer. It is wet as it has rained - good for the garden but not for scything - what a shame. More good news is that England are out of the World Football cup and I can enjoy a few bits of the rest of the event without stress.

I am in a not so cheerful a mood as there were three squirrels on the shed roof this morning and one then went into the trap, took out the bait, left and ate it without it going off! And there were rabbits on the lawn. And, despite all my attempts to net the red currants something has got in and scoffed the lot - there is a bird dropping here and there so blackbirds or/and thrushes? Or am I dealing with devious woodmice?

These two images show after scything by the stream (pretty dry and feeble) and the grass on the banking in front of the house - Whurarwee tribe stuff. (Old joke - get their name from being short in stature and living in area of very tall grass so all you can hear is Whurarwee, whurarwee!)

There are some better pics to come but here is one of the oriental poppy bed after assassination. Everything cut back to the bottom - but it will regrow and we might even get some flowers in the autumn. The question is - do I leave it looking like this or bung in something to pretty it up? I have just bought two erigerons at half price from the supermarket but I am not sure this is the right place. I shall have to muse upon the subject.
Let us have some pics of flowers and things - this is the banking bed below and west of the house.

And these are some of the shrub roses in front of the crambe chucking scent in all directions.

Talking of scent, I went to the shed today and wondered what the heavenly pong was by the dustbins. The clematis montana is over so - ?
Then I saw the flowers of Lonicera halliana a yellow honeysuckle with an evocative aroma.
Many years ago when the children were children we used to go to Pembrokeshire on holiday and there is a pottery in Wolfscastle where, in those days, you could throw your own pot. (Mine were such that they definitely got thrown - away.) There was an enormous halliana both outside and inside the building. That scent and the plant has followed us from garden to garden and I had forgotten I had planted one thy the shed. There are a couple of others about the place.

Good news - the rhubarb is reviving.
Bad news - the asparagus is still poorly.
We have decided to give it a stay of execution for now.

The tree sparrows are on their second brood and depositing little messages all over our bedroom windowsill - and they make a din from sunrise on.

Oh! And finally I have had to close the wooden walkway around the pond as I have put my foot through it in a few places - a mite dangereuse - un petit bit.

So I have bought some Wainwright beer in bottles and the thought is tempting - perhaps a bit later - perhaps, perhaps . . . .

Friday, 20 June 2014


The gardener at Rosside Nook is me - I know it does not quite scan but what is a Womble between friends.

So let me start overground with this stunning flower arrangement by R - Geranium Johnson's blue, Alchemilla mollis and a pale yellow climbing rose - Golden something or other from David Austin Roses.

Down in the cutting garden the Sweet Williams are splendid (my mother used to say it was called Stunkin' Wullie over the border in Scotland after the Duke of Cumberland but she was wrong - it was Ragwort, a wild senecio). The rudbeckias are not yet out but last year's marigolds are thriving. The red alstromerias are being cut and in a vase in the kitchen - they last so well. In the next row the red currants are colouring up and so far the blackbirds and thrushes have not taken them - fingers crossed. I have been down there today checking on how many of the strawberries have been savaged by slugs. I cleared away the past-it aquilegias from the agapanthus to give them some air, and sun. Weather  is hot and fine - and it is some time since we had any rain so I have watered the rhubarb as it was looking so sad.

There are many plants with  lots of small flowers but I do like the ones with big 'uns. Roses - yes but here are two more - on the left a peony and on the right an oriental poppy - blast of exuberance and colour.

The philadephus we have is the single Belle etoile and it is loaded with heavily scented flowers of a pure white,

Earlier in the year we were given a fantastic display by our white lilac but now it has  gone over and the heads have turned a warm brown.
Question - does one dead head it?
The problem is that I cannot reach the top and there are so many flowers to remove.

Actually I think we have a novelty - there are not too many brown flowers in the garden - till now. There that sorts it - I will leave it alone and see how it does.
Yes, I have been out with the scythe but it was HARD work. The undergrowth is thick and lush (just right for a strimmer with the brushwood blade).

R has suggested that I get someone in a couple of hours a week to do the heavy stuff. This is because, like a Wally, I went out and played 18 holes of golf in 80 degree heat (26C) and high humidity the day after my scan at Christies for the big C follow up and wilted and felt waffy. She is probably (certainly I hear a cry) right but I am stubborn.

Lawns are mown, roses are dead-headed and William Shakespeare has got top heavy and needs a stake.

So, what about the underground?

On the left we have the mighty mole, pen upon his hill to show just how big it is, and on the right is the secret entrance to wood mouse house in the paving by the kitchen door.

And so to the World Football Cup - England are almost out and soon, I hope, we can relax and enjoy the play without stress. The simple fact is we are not good enough.

Now, if there were a World Cup of gardening - then we could give anyone a run for their money!

Monday, 16 June 2014


Yesterday I caught three grey squirrels, this morning another and as I drove in at 9 a.m. yet another was sitting on the shed!!!

The rose bed is in full flow so have to keep up the dead heading to ensure more flowers. All the roses are scented - Rhapsody in Blue, Gertrude Jekyll, Emma Hamilton, William Shakespeare, rosa mundi and another one of which I cannot remember the name. The forget-me-not edging has gone and has been mostly replaced by catmint. The two white flowers in the background are paeonies.

On to other things - this is the crambe by the roses. It produces a ball of wonder.

I have just been up into the wood and the paths are becoming obliterated with growth, a lot of red campion but also an amazing amount of cleavers (goosegrass) that sticks to my clothing. I will have to get out that scythe and stop putting it off.
Everything is so much lusher this year. Whether that is because of the mild winter - I do not know.
The pond, for what it is, is choked with watercress and mimulus.
Also the wooden walkway is collapsing as it rots.

My mother loved her crambe, my father loved red hot pokers as seen here.

They are such strange flowers.

Back to the wood where every time I take the top path the cock pheasant croaks at me from the undergrowth by the field fence.
We have two Rambling Rector roses up there, this one over the old well and through the flowering currant, the other up an ash tree and out over the banking. They do not flower for long but when they do - !!

The sun is shining and it is getting dry. I have watered the various pots and tubs to keep them going.

There is so much to do - so I am going to take a book and a cup of tea out into the jungle and read in the sunshine.

It is rapidly becoming need-a-little-man time, or as R says - just let it all flop everywhere. That reminds me I really do need to go on a diet, wobble, wobble.
I mean, I still have a lot of my life in front of me, on my backside, under my chin, hanging from the backs of my upper arms, under my eyes.

Oh! Just one more chocolate digestive biscuit.

Saturday, 14 June 2014


I know amaryllis and crocus, especially the autumn flowering variety, go by the alternative name of Naked Ladies. However I am thinking of dicentra spectabilis, bleeding hearts.

If you invert a flower and gently pull apart the sticking out petal extensions all is revealed and a naked lady emerges - always one to delight children.

The house is full of the scent of roses and Mrs Sinkins, a white pink (can you have a white pink?) that smells of cloves. The plant was names after a Mrs Catherine Sinkins who raised it. She died in 1917 so it has been around for almost a century.
It was always a favourite of my mother.

I have just evacuated another grey squirrel up onto Kirkby Moor but whilst it was complaining about being in the trap, before I moved it, two more appeared raiding the feeders!

R has been caking (fattening me up) and here is a Victoria sponge with cream and strawberries she made. I have to admit I did have a slice or three.

They are not, alas, our strawberries as this is their first year, and though we have a crop it is small. Roll on 2015.

The red currants are ripening and the battle is on to keep the blackbirds at bay.
Gooseberries (this one is Careless) will be ready soon and I have had to thin out the plums to stop the branches snapping with the weight of fruit.

We will gave damsons - they have set - and loads of blackcurrants. (Still have 25 pounds of them in the freezer from last year.)

Monty Don on the TV is digging up his asparagus bed and I will soon be following suit, relocating the rhubarb there and, maybe, making a well drained raised bed as another attempt at the asparagus.

Up in the wood the red campion goes on flowering and the bluebells will soon be giving me more seed to scatter.

It is very humid here today - such that I am sitting topless in front of the computer as I type. (Please no cries of horror nor vomiting.)

R and I are about to leave for my sister and brother-in-law's Ruby Wedding celebration about thirty miles away so any daft squirrel that gets itself in my trap will have to wait till we return.

Lawns are mown and, honest, I will get that scythe out soon. The crambe and roses are out and all is well with the world.

 Oh! Yes, I will be interested to see how many hits I get with the title, 'Naked Ladies', and from where.

(And I mentioned that I was topless - cannot lose!)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


First my Austrian scythe has arrived from Simon Fairlie ( I have put it together and will wait for the grass to be a bit drier before I get going. I may need lessons especially with regard to keeping it sharp but we will see.

Can the strimmer be dead and a thing of the past?

Sometimes a garden can be like life.
I see one's travel through time from birth to death rather like a thread or string running its course, touching, crossing, running parallel with other people's strings.

This string is our pathway though time.
In a garden we also have paths, linking different parts of the garden, crossing one another.
In the rough sketch - a two dimensional image - you can see a representation of both a three dimensional cube and a fourth dimension represented by the darker line. The box has height, breadth and depth, the contents are time.

I am not going to get into whether all this is predestined - I do not think this. I believe we are making our path (string) as we progress.

So, now I have bored you stiff, I am going gardening.

Here is where there is a parting of the ways, one path, to the right, going up into the wood, the other doing the same but at a gentler slope. The paths are of blue slate chippings.

Further up the righthand path it bends back to meet that of the left. Apart from the grass paths - see below - we do have two hoggin paths - crushed stone - one down to the Wendy House, the other around the southern aspect of the house.

With this more formal path the edges can be sharp and these are softened by planting that overlaps. The image below shows London Pride, a saxifrage, and a deep cerise rockrose under lavender. beyond is a light blue geranium.

Now here are four photos of the mown paths in the garden, three in the woodland and the fourth, to the right, heading out across the stream to the far dry stone wall where there is and old box for a seat.

I cut the short areas with a small mower, trim the longer grass with a sit-on one.

As far as I know we have discussed the situation around the new pond but have not yet finalised things.

Of course to have paths al over the garden is great for the grandchildren

Going around a garden via its paths is an exploration so it is important to have surprises, carefully positioned things to catch the imagination.

I am now going to give up this blog as the broadband has become excruciatingly slow. This is even more annoying as the local town is whizzing about with fibre optic cables and many many Mb of up down and even side load!

My piece of string is a bit frazzled and smoking.

Sunday, 8 June 2014


Well, not quite the world but every seed eating bird for miles around. Oh! And Scuirus carolinensis (grey squirrel). 
I did catch one and being a wimp transported it to a distant wood (not one with resident reds though.)
And then there are sluggus gert biggius, snails veri mennius, mousius woddius, aphids, beetles, cuckoo spit all over my trousers, enoughius I am going paranoid.

So let me start with the view from the veg beds back to the house. This is a composite panorama of three images ranging from the woodland edge on the top left to the soon-to-be removed willows on the right. The Wendy House is visible in the distant right over the soon-to-be relocated copper beech hedge. The banking in the centre foreground is to be filled with flowering shrubs when I have got rid of the long grass and weeds.

So to to whites and some examples of colour in the garden at the moment. Above left is a white geranium, above right a splendid white penstemon. White is so important in the garden as a foil for other colours. And white and green together can be so soothing and peaceful.

Above is an allium - this seeds itself and I love the strong structure of the balls of colour against the green of surrounding foliage.

Then there are the gaudy day lilies blasting their presence but beware they can get out of hand and need digging out and shoving in a remote corner. I wonder if that shrub banking could be full of such things - possibly but another flower bed - mm! Think R might have something to say about that.

Cascading down the banking at the front of the house is a lovely blue geranium where whether en masse or as a single delicate boom is a treat. With these hack them back when they have flowered and a second flush can arrive later in the year.

Another cascade is the shrub Kolkowitzia (think I spelled that correctly), the beauty bush, currently weighed down with blossom.

Raining at the moment - what a novelty! Actually more the usual up here - but I did nip out yesterday and get the paths mown - next blog a pathy (pathetic) one. I am cutting them close and cutting the rest longer - R likes the idea so who am I too argue - would I dare!

So Putin and Obama sort of met in France with the anniversary of D Day but neither seem interested in my teaching their armed forces the Hokey Cokey to cement better relations. Anyway the Queen was there to sort them out and see fair play.
You know I sometimes wonder, with all the DNA stuff going on as to whether there is a Russian gene - there cannot be an American one as they are such a hotch potch of races - actually in America they are jeans rather than  . . .  you get the drift.

So to finish with a blast of colour, a bit of rockrose - stunning!