Monday, 26 October 2015


Here we go into British Winter Time and the clocks go back and hour. It is lighter in the mornings but darker in the afternoon.

The aunties are cycling in from the Atlantic again and low pressure dominates driven on westerlies. This means leaf stripping winds and rain.

This means collecting the stuff and ramming it into builders' sacks to rot down to leaf mould. In the barrow you can see two planks of plywood.

M. Don, he of gardening advice, suggested this a while back as a good way to pick up leaves and it works. Sandwich the leaves between them and carry them to the barrow.

And the heron has returned to the pond.

And we are at 23 grey squirrels caught this year.

The attempt to use a central stake and ties to support the Sedum spectabile failed miserably and it is suffering from a bad dose of sprawl.
I will try something else next year.

When the sun shines the garden does look good.

I have checked all the ties on the new white birches but the list of things to do grows ever longer. Knee may have to wait for garden - at least for a bit.

R has been at the asparagus bed and cut back the dying stems and then weeding. I have put a 4 inch (10 cm) layer of very well rotted horse manure all over it. I have also turned the more mature compost heap.

The remaining rhubarb leaves and stems have been removed and I think I will need to divide one or two of the older plants - replant them after division - and then leave for a year to get settled before harvesting.

Now for some more autumn leaf colour from the garden. In the outer world the woods are really getting hued up now. 

The azaleas - rhododendron lutea - is especially good as you can see with these red tints.

So today R and I went to the Wool Gathering at Kendal where all sorts of spinning and weaving and things were happening. Some fantastically coloured dyed skeins - but many a bit pricey.
Our local sheep - the Herdwick - native to the Lake District have a rather rough wool. Mind you they need it, wintering in the mountains.
When I was a boy I lived on a hill farm and we had a hefted flock of almost 1000. (Hefted not hefty - means they will return to their home patch etc  etc.)
We once sent our pet lamb (reared by hand and bottle) to market 14 miles away when it got too big, but it escaped from the Auction Mart and, in due time, turned up back on the farm! It did not escape the next time.

Actually I like to come home - suppose I am a bit hefted too (and hefty I hear the cry!)

Thursday, 22 October 2015


The autumn leaves drift past my window . . .

Autumn is with us. Leaf colour is intense but many trees are still green. However some shrubs are in fine red and yellow fettle.

(S says it is snowing in London, Ontario and who wants to be in the Philippines with their typhoon!). 

We have just walked in Sea Wood and the fungi are having a great time digesting dead trees and stuff. I am sitting at the computer watching a grey squirrel going into the trap without setting it off - some adjustment needed there. Hang on - gotcha! Time for another relocation job.

The broccoli has been caterpillared, thoroughly. We have given up eating it as the steamer reveals the cooked insects. It has been netted and picked over but to no avail.

Disaster - I have left the big marrow far too long and it has gone rotten, is full of gorging woodlice and other slimy munchers.

I have started then autumn clear away cutting back the shrubby clematis and Marguerites. 
In the garden we have a lovely white Michaelmas daisy, almost six feet tall, and now it dresses the house in various vases.

And leaf colour is not all - the berries on the cotoneaster are splendid - does this mean there is a hard winter coming?

The maple has been pruned to five feet from the ground to encourage it to take the form of a tree rather than a shrub.

There is one apple still up the tree, a big fat one and I cannot reach it and it will not fall when I shake the branch.


His first flowering came in the spring.
He missed the late cold
that affected so many.
It was a pleasure to watch him

that summer, his skin filled,
his progress was remarked upon.
The fall came in the autumn
when he ended on the grass

a little bruised but not broken.
His companions went off to market
but he was bundled 
with other damaged souls

and sent scrumpy making.
That Christmas he was remembered fondly
and his health was drunk
throughout the orchards of Herefordshire.

So fare thee well from the garden for another day. It is Wednesday and finally we have rain after a long dry month - or more.

Saturday, 17 October 2015


Some of you know I do a bit of photography and sometimes I take an image that, unlike my miserable pessimistic self, exhibits pure joy,

(or manic craziness). This has nothing to do with the garden, just loved the photo.

Anyway, so we go away for a few days and all is calm and dry and on return a lot of leaves now fallen. Funnily we are not further on here in the north than Oxford or Herefordshire (where we have been).
The courgettes are still churning out produce and the marrow is still getting bigger.
This might be a good time to take acanthus and cardoon stems to hang up to dry for winter flower arranging plus anything else good. The Stipa gigantea (a big grass) has lots of leaf but no seed heads this year.
R has been dead heading and dead other things as well.
Some of you may know that I have a tin left knee and the right one is disintegrating. In Oxford and Herefordshire I limped painfully around on hard pavements. Today I have played 18 holes of golf (no I did not win) and mown all the lawns, hoed the veg beds and cleared away the final beans (leaving the roots behind for all their nitrogen fixing bacteria).
So do I need a new knee now?

Taking of beans how about this for supper. It took me a lot of time in Photoshop removing the mud from my wonderful grandson's face!

To move on - No rain for some time and all is getting dry - it is October! 
I remember that the third week in October used to be the best for autumn leaf colour but that has now moved on to early November.
With the weather cooling snails are going into hiding and sealing themselves off - here in a crack in the paving by the house.

To move on - 

The roses in the garden are having a splendid second flush -

So how doers one collect leaves - with a blower blasting its noise across then garden or with a rake? Barrow them and place in a big builders sack to rot into leaf mould - not much nutritional value but a good soil improver. Actually on the lawns, if they are not too wet, using the mower will pick up most of the leaf fall.

My sister and her husband come on Monday so not another blog for a week or so. It will be good to see them.

The tulips have come from Sarah Raven - late purchase discount plus another discount from a magazine. Among other things have got a scented tulip collection for the pots outside the kitchen door.

R is in therapy (that means she is ironing clothes and sheets). She actually enjoys doing it. If it were me I should have wrinkled clothes to go with my wrinkled skin!

Ironing - what a thought - need a cup of tea (and a biscuit).

Friday, 9 October 2015


Out scything part of the lower wood and I uncovered many - 40+ - mole hills and holes. We are a waistcoat! Sunday is the last day of sun for tomorrow it rains. The warm dry spell is about to cease. We have been offered a few trailer loads of horse manure - hooray.
This will need to be carted around the garden - Mmmm!
Wallflowers are planted and the tops pinched out to make them bushier.
The summer seats are away in the shed and wooden stuff brought under cover. Fog is with us.

I have picked the last of the diminutive Conference pears (not a success) and last Bramley apple. We have spinach for supper tonight from the garden and a few runty broad and french beans are left. The courgettes still produce - in fact they have really only just got going. 

So much is late this year because of the cold summer - cardoons and Michaelmas daisies only just flowering.
Sunday sun, Monday Rain, Tuesday rain and grey - SAD time is here for some of us. 

So time for some colour!

 The first two from Holehird Gardens in Windermere.

The rest from The Nook -  late roses,
Nasturtiums - these are allowed to self seed, Helianthus,

and two red admiral butterflies on the yellow buddleia.

You will notice that these shots were taken in the now missing sunshine.

So this is Wednesday, and what have we got, summer is over, so not a lot.

I have finished cutting the lower banking and only fell over twice - this means I have to be very careful with the scythe! R has been out dead heading and has brought flowers into the house - it is always good to have flowers around inside.

R was told that blackberries, elderberries and apples make a good jam so I nipped out and picked some of both berries. We still had the last apple off our Bramley so they were prepared and cooked with a little sugar.
It was delicious.
I had mine with creme fraiche, R had hers with some luxury vanilla custard from the supermarket!

The rosehips are splendid on the Rosa rubifolia - but we do not make rosehip syrup any more.

Last evening (Tuesday) it was 19C here, this morning it is 11.5C. Time for wooly combinations?

Sunday, 4 October 2015


So, after a good lunch out I was off to Holehird with N. It has a splendid view to the Lake District Mountains

This hillside garden is the home of the Lake District Horticultural Society and a must visit for any garden lover coming to Cumbria. It has the National collections of Astilbes, Meconopsis, Daboecia and Polystichum. The Society lease the gardens and all the work is done by volunteers. They have a library and run courses and lectures.

Three pics of birds now - Adam Booth's metal ones by the pond,
the cock pheasant on the banking creating a fuss with his raucous call - the birds may be beginning to sing again but he hardly sings.

And the nuthatch at the feeders on the shed with a goldfinch. The reason there is not much sunflower seed there is because the grey squirrels are eating it. I can hear them when I wake in the morning clattering the shed.

And this morning two delightful? bunnies on the top banking.

Yesterday I took out the little mower and set it on mulch, raised the blades a bit and did the whole garden. As rain is forecast this may be the last big mow.

The butterflies are having a late fling especially the red admirals.

Elsewhere the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia goldsturm I think) goes on and on flowering imparting a blaze of yellow as the nights close in.

I have some plans afoot for the winter but body and pocket may determine as to whether they get done - and if R agrees. As she says - "It is my garden too!"
(By that she means it is her garden too.)

Non garden bit -

So England are out of the Rugby Union World Cup at the first stage - not surprising after they lost to Wales - and we have some men in armour running about in London - Jets and Dolphins.

Putin has put his oar in and when all is done and Assad is his buddy he will have access to the Syrian Mediterranean coast. He can strut more (is that possible) and say what a big boy am I.
Until Sunni and Shia shake hands and give each other a hug nothing will be settled.

Just seen pic on Facebook showing US has 3.7 murders a year for each 100,000 thousand population - UK has 0.07. Just wondered if gun possession has anything to do with that?

Back to gardening - 
I have decided, no R has decided, that the pink Japanese anemone will have to be moved. If so perhaps I (we) will replace it with some agapanthus and/or hollyhocks.

It is time to sit back and think of (no, not England), to think of changes too be made over the winter. Can I face having the drain men back for the boggy bits of lawn, should we have a large ash tree near the house cut down, will I have my right knee replaced?

Nearly time to put the central heating on.