Sunday, 30 November 2014


I love the garden when it is still, not a whisper of breeze, like it is this morning, It is as if the garden is waiting for something.

The dog does not even nod its head and the pansies are unruffled. The pathway to the lower garden is filled with leaf litter from the big sycamore.

Then I realise everything is waiting for me with rake, secateurs, fork, manure and sweat. That seems to dampen the spirits a modicum.

The sun is shining and I have swept the drive/car park/whatever of old leaves and twigs. There is no excuse so out I go this afternoon even if it is only to pick up fallen twigs.
When we were in Scotland the other week we had a wonderful day that included a walk in Cally Woods at Gatehouse of Fleet. The autumn colours and branch filtered light were fantastic.

And now we are at the November/December watershed (or weathershed)(or whatever) yet there are flowers still in the garden - other than roses.

Here are some of the alstroemerias from the garden in a vase.
Today I have finished the bed by the back wall - weeded, deleaved (put in a big sack to make leaf mould) and too dressed with some go the old manure from down the garden.
R finished tidying the bed by the shed and planted some bulbs under the magnolia stellata.

I have built this structure to keep the willow poles, cut when the willow tunnel was demolished, (for supports next year), off the ground - Damian Hirst et your heart out - so they do not rot.

This is the cut leaved elder, hacked back to ground level in the early spring and now 12 feet high (about 4 metres for those who have gone metric).

It has been the Dick Fest, the weather has 
been good, and last night we were treated to a glorious sunset - unusual for us as we are south east facing - we tend to get sunrises.

Happy Birthday Gillie.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


3 mm of frost have attacked the Nook and I am off to check if the sweet peas have survived let alone nasturtiums - the latter notoriously affected by cold - and turned into slimy yuk!

However we still have roses like this Emma Hamilton - mm! looking at the photo I should have dead headed this one. (This is a plant from David Austin Roses and blowsy, and heavily scented.)

Yet more leaves removed from paths, weeds dealt with and some areas about 1 metre round prepared on the banking for moving shrubs - I know it is a bit late but once the frost has gone it should be okay if I am careful.

Leaves are everywhere - these are rosemary cuttings interspersed with self sown foxglove seedlings (and some weeds)
The leaves are off the nearby beech hedge and need to be removed.

Gary, Monday pm to see pond and multiple drainage channels, to expound further ideas with regard to stoney beaches and steps and stuff. I have saved the unused pond liners - both underlay and butyl - as these may be of use when putting in the drains. Placing the underlay over the drain will stop loose soil etc getting in and blocking the pipe.

I have just rubbed my forehead and I am bleeding. in fact I am full of holes! Whilst R was clearing the bed by the shed I was pruning the damsons and they have SPINES!!! - And now I have spines and holes and scratches. Used the tractor and trailer to cart the prunings down the garden and they all fell off under the plum tree which is very low - so I pruned that too. All the stuff is now on the bonfire or the COMPOST (mentioned it again L) heap.

I selected some areas, about a metre in diameter, on the banking below the house to where I can move shrubs blocking R's view if the pond from the bedroom.

I am listening to Eva Cassidy singing Songbird, have just listened to some Nick Drake, most relaxing.

My sister-in-law K has had her poems published - you can see it at -
Brilliant stuff - worth every penny - well it might cost a bit more than that.

Now have David Gray's Birds of the High Arctic on my Itunes.

Oh! Yes, Gary did not come - postponed until Thursday but that is fine - nothing will change dramatically before then. (I hope.)

Here is a bird feeder drying on the Aga range, mentioned about hygiene and bird death before.

The paperwhites are
tied around a stake as they have flopped -so much for Christmas bulbs

 And then there are more coming - daft bulbs - they have been in the cool and dark and should not be bursting forth like this. I have forgotten quite what I stuffed in here but it looks like everything. It seems there is not much room for compost!

Signing off for now - sister and cousin on way for tea. (Have just made some of Mrs Tyson's shortbread from my mothers recipe book - that is three things I can cook now!)

It is recycling time again - plastics and cardboard to the tip. We seem to have a drawer full of plastic bags. In Scotland now you have to pay 5 pence for a bag in a shop. I wonder, could we sell our bags there for 4 pence?

Gary has been - as charming as ever (I know he sometimes reads the blog so . . ) - and plans are afoot for drains and stones and possibly steps and extraction of hedges.

So this will probably be the last longblog of November, and yes, I have a cuppa tea beside me in this dark dank weather.

Saturday is the Ulverston Dickensian Festival (known locally as the Dick Fest) when tens of thousands descend on a small town stuffed with street stalls - crafts, food, people dressed up, street entertainers, a helter-skelter, small fair things, roasting chestnuts and mulled wine - you name it.
We will walk in and back as parking is impossible, anyway it is not good to drive after a few mulled wines.

All welcome.

Sunday, 23 November 2014


Gary is coming back - hooray! (GP is nothing to do with what I used to be.)
The garden is awash - boo! The paper says it is likely that 2014 will be the wettest year on record - and after a good summer and a very dry September.

One of the most important things about a garden is how it uses light and how the house interacts with the garden. How the garden looks framed by windows, how doors lead out into the garden, how the two interconnect.

This is the view 8 years ago from a bedroom window after the timber frame had gone up - R looking out,

and this is the view now with the frame in this week.

Not all windows have to be standard and this Westmorland window lighting the stairs and both halls, I have to admit, was the idea of the architect. It is at the back of the house and has north light and not much view - but we like it.

Took the grandchildren new spring viewing yesterday. There is something magical about cool fresh uncontaminated water welling up from the seemingly solid ground. I am not surprised that ancient man found these places special.

So we have been in Scotland for a few great days with B (finally got her to come) and returned to find our white birches were not delivered as the big lorry could not get to the house - coming tomorrow in a Transit van so lots of digging and stuff ahead.

This morning the trees have arrived, my back is off again (our bed is too soft)(or I am) but must dig on despite orders from R to the contrary - she is going out to Yoga so . . . .

Here they are, five to a bundle, packed with straw, with stakes and ties and guards.
One big bonus is the three sacks, lots of straw (to be used on the strawberries next year) and bits of string (for tying up things).

It took nearly two and a half hours to get them in and I had to move one as I dug the hole into the soakaway from the septic tank.
The holes do not need to be deeper than the trees were at the nursery and Weasdale said that as they were raised in poor soil they do not need lots of feeding.
So now we have the original six white birches and fifteen more.
The leaves have come off the great white cherry this week and are creating their own golden carpet. Not all the colour is yet gone.

I had to get the trees in this morning as I knew it was going to rain from lunchtime on - and it has.

(I have just found a packet of scilla bulbs I had forgotten - they will need to go in pronto.)
The new spring has dried up.


I understand that it is snowing in Buffalo, USA. Please keep it - I want my sweet peas to last until next year. Here they are in collapsed state behind pot on pole.

It is raining - my perennial excuse for not gardening.
It is Saturday.
The peanuts are going mouldy in the feeders.
Last night went to see the film Mr Turner - some great acting and cinematography, compost of a story line - all bits - not 5* - slow at start - thought about going to sleep or leaving for a drink but stayed for a Fry's chocolate cream at the interval - reward for putting in the birches.

And then it became showery in the afternoon. R tied up the bed by the back door (the one at the side) and I took that rake up to clear leaves of the paths and unblock the streams. In many places water was disappearing into the beds of the rivulets.
It was moles wot done it.
When we had our very dry September they dug runs into the side and bottoms so water suddenly disappears into a mole run to reappear - somewhere. The spring is running again after this morning's rain and I have found a new stream near the rhubarb patch.
Speaking of that on the soil nearby was a Fox Pooh!! You can always tell it is a fox by the aroma.

Ah! The joy of gardening and nature.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Here we go, well not really, it is raining so go nowhere. Swept a few leaves and cleaned the AGA.
Potted up two old amaryllis and potted on some pinks - all in all a potty day.

And the squirrel is back (or squirrels?)(I hope not)(but . . . )

So to cheer myself up here is a pic of sunbeams on sheep in the field in front of the house, albeit monochrome and a view also to Heysham Nuclear Power Station on the other side of the bay.

Sometimes one notices things that should have been done long ago (like all the garden) and today I saw that I had not cut back the lavender. So now it is done - important not to cut back into the old wood but take off the flowering stems and trim the new growth to give a reasonably pleasing shape.

Grey days and lowering clouds, spitting rain and sodden leaves - an English autumn in full flow. The lawns are best left well alone at this time. So go out and have a coffee by the estuary - it is raining there too but then the sun came out for a short burst and we had a rainbow.
This afternoon, if I can steel myself into some Wellies I will do some flowerbed tidying, just something to spruce the place up a bit. Not all the leaves have gone - not off the fig, roses, buddleias and for some reason the apple tree. We have been to the gym (:-(}= (that is an inverse smiley) (a groanie) and now I am going to prepare some Michelin starred lunch - boil 2 eggs, chop with mayonnaise and bung in a sandwich. (And take the shells off.)

It rained all afternoon so I did not go in the garden, in fact the weather is so awful and grey here is a sunny pic to cheer me up.

My thoughts on bees and such have been challenged by R and G in Dublin and I rather agree with them but it was an interesting headline. As I have said to them I suspect bee problems may be related to what the beekeepers (apiarists for the literati) are spraying them with for Varoa mites etc?
Time to make a beeline for lunch.

We had such a wonderful September and now we pay for it. Just cleaned out some of the bird feeders - important as the birds can catch nasties from them - especially greenfinches I think. They are drying on the Aga before being refilled.

To a path problem - the one below the house and top bit of banking that sweeps round to the lawns - as the banking is steep, applied manure, dislodged soil when weeding (and when the pheasants scramble up towards the feeders) rolls down onto the hoggin. Moss grows as do weeds and seedlings. I do not want to use a total path clear type stuff but hand weeding etc is not on. So I have to admit to using a bit of Round Up.

(I hear the organic brigade yelling at me but a mossy path is dangerously slippery for old fogeys).

Then there is the moss that has insinuated itself in the cracks in the paving - well, that stays as R has said she rather likes it. The blue stuff in the pic is self-sown borage, still flowering in November and useful to decorate a gin and tonic - bit late in the year for a Pimms.

So this is Friday,
and what have I done?
Gardening is off
Without any sun!


Then sun but am off to get family from Oxenholme station.

So gardening now? - Well, I have developed a bad back - hunchback of Rosside Nook - just managed my socks and shoes - do not know why but very stiff despite Ibuprofen.
I know, excuses, excuses.

So her is a pic of our cherry - our ballerina tree with three branches, two like outstretched arms leaning into the garden on points.
This morning should be digging and such but - coffee in town is all I can manage I think.

Just been up the garden to the wood - loads of sticks down, paths need raking and two new springs pouring water into places I would rather they avoided. One of the pots of paperweight daffs I potted up for Christmas are in bud and about to come out, the rest show no sign of life - have they an aversion to the festive season?

Bad back - praying the 15 white birches do not come now for planting.

Time for linament (and a cuppa).

Sunday, 9 November 2014


Is this a new way of doing things? Yes, well a bit - longer blogs less often.

Sunday 2nd - Out with trailer and mower first time but garden very boggy after the rain. We will need a new bridge over the stream higher up where it is drier.

R chopping back old montbretia, I pruned back the rosa rugosa by the car park and cut back the perovskia and blue shrubby clematis. The latter is getting big, the former suckering which is ok because it will give me some new plants for the banking.

I write as Mrs Mills (R) hammers out Go down Moses on the piano in the hall.

Tuesday 4th - It poured in the night and water is flooding into the pond. The lawns are sodden so it is keep of 'em time. The miscanthus, weighed down by water, is hanging over the top path so I have fixed it back with a willow bean pole.

It is chilly this morning but the sun has come out and the air is washed so clean it is crystal bright.
We were just saying yesterday that we had not seen a grey squirrel for ages an I have just looked out at the bird feeders and Voila!
Will not be much gardening today then - anyway I am being dragged out to the gym and then joining good friends for the rest of the day. I hope they have some rubbing alcohol for my aches and pains (post gym).

I am being haunted by a friendly robin. He/she, cannot tell) (hope they can) was even with me in the shed the other day, just sitting proud as punch on the edge of a cupboard. Of course it is waiting for me to garden and turn over soil/disturb undergrowth. Gutsy little bird in more ways than one.

Just got back and it is dark - what a shame!

Wednesday 5th - Bonfires and stuff - beautiful if cold morning, good for gardening so I am playing golf!

The brain amazes me - last night had a surreal dream. It was the World Cup Final. I was on the right wing and I had to make the winning score against Germany by slotting a piece of sausage roll into a corner by the post of a goal full of German sausages. I ran to the by line and crept up unseen by the goalie. Sneakily I pushed my bit of sausage roll in a small space beside the near post and we had won! Then I woke and went to the bathroom.

Gardening - I have unpotted all the garden pots and then repotted with fresh compost and a mixture of tulips, iris reticulata, paperweight daffs and tete-a-tetes. Contents like old lilies and so on have been put around the garden wherever I can almost find a space. I had a lot of small tulips I saved from last year and as they are unlikely to flower I have bunged them in the old sink.
The garden is sodden with the rain so though I have made a rough new crossing of the stream above the heaps it is still too wet to go there. Water seems to be coming up all over the place - sort of spring in autumn.

To the left is the strawberry bed. to the right the cleared rhubarb patch with the asparagus bed in the distance.

Fireworks are a-going off now as dark falls.

The good news is that I have washed the kitchen floor. The bad news - I have bust the Dyson cleaner - it no longer goes.

The weather forecast for the next two days is wet again. I expect the whole garden to become liquid and slide away down the stream bed towards the sea. Time for a (not a cuppa) - a shower.

So this is Thursday, and what have I one, lunch is over etc etc.

This morning was -

But I went to town as is my wont and bought a dozen winter pansies and a bag of wallflowers off the market.

This afternoon is dark and windy but the rain has eased. So I put them In. And this is what I did.

Each planter had a few inches of compost in the bottom (drainage hole covered by crocks or polystyrene) and then bulbs placed in a layer spaced evenly. more compost and repeat layer pf bulbs. It does not matter too much if one bulb is on top of another as the shoots will find a way past. Then the pots are topped off with final compost and pansies.
For L and G - I have just mentioned compost three times.

Today is Friday and very wet weather is coming. Went weeding in the bottom corner below the pond trying to eradicate the pendulous sedge. Not finished - yet more to do.

The garden has developed new springs all along the banking line. One was bubbling raucously in the grass and when I cleared it the water was churning forth like boiling water.

Talking of squirrels - here we are again.

Just noticed that we have berries on the holly in the bottom hedge - the first time to have many. So, nearer Christmas, if they have not been eaten, it will be a ladder and prickle job.

Winifred Atwell is playing Greensleeves now. Henry VIII would be pleased.

It is Saturday and on my Facebook is the following - Millions of bees dropped dead after GMO corn was planted few weeks ago in Ontario, Canada. The local bee keeper, Dave Schuit who produces honey in Elmwood lost about 37 million bees which are about 600 hives.

It does make me wonder if the large numbers of men with prostate cancer, women with breast cancer,  might have something to do with the use pesticides like DDT when were young. One looks at what might have changed over the last 60 years - Mmm - the use of plastic also springs to mind?

So to Sunday and here is the first longblog.

I need a coffee as I have just got knotted up over the Dyson vacuum cleaner. I ordered a new one when we can get the old one serviced and repaired much cheaper so I can afford a biscuit now as well - if it wasn't for THE DIET!

Sunday, 2 November 2014


Out of the murk comes November, winding the garden down etc etc.

Actually now begins one of the busiest times of the year - need (unfortunately) does not equal desire as far as moi, diggings and stuff goes. 

The bulbs are still waiting. 

Today I must fix the windmill - the metal pole it is on is too flimsy and I will need to attach it to a good stout fence post. 
Today I must replace the broken tie on the left-hand hawthorn as it is leaning towards the small oak (that R wants removed elsewhere so the view up the garden from the pond is uninterrupted). (I have just chopped the glace cherries for the Christmas cake and popped them in the bowl with the dried fruit and sherry.)(Well I ate only one.)(R has gone to church and left me this huge task.)

Yesterday I emerged from the house to find A and J examining then pond and outflow. They obviously feel some responsibility for their handiwork which is good, some pride in it. When Gary returns so will they - I have found more for them to do.

The garden proceeds on into winter - the leaves are all off the ash trees now though there is still colour with such as the liquidambar. Yesterday leaves were swept and R cleaned the slippery paving by the front door (which is still at the back) in the rain with the Karcher. Logs were taken in for the woodburner and this was lit in the evening. Some of the fallen twigs - we get a lot off the ash - have been stacked up in the wood as places for wildlife like hedgehogs and small rodents to find winter sanctuary.
There is still a lot of colour in the garden though the nasturtiums have been removed from the compost heap in preparation for its use. They have been plonked on the other heap to make more compost. Hostas and other perennials going over are being tidied and consigned to the heap.
The leaves above are one of he azaleas in the woodland edge.

Then there are more exotic, less hardy plants that are still flowering like this Passion Flower.

I still feed the birds (and the rabbits though the latter not willingly).

Oh! And I found a clump of HONEY FUNGUS near the beech hedge. I fear it is endemic and all we can do is pray. If the dreaded ash killing disease reaches us the struggling trees will be easy prey for this fungus. 
Still, we would have a lot of logs for the burner then and ash is a good fuel.

So, as the finger of the hour drags ever remorselessly towards the top of the clock and the rumble under my belt signifies I am getting dehydrated, it must be time for a little fuel for my soul.

What I mean is I am going to have a cup of tea.