Wednesday, 1 April 2020

BORED WITH SELF ISOLATION? 😣😣😣😣😣

Looking back from Monday - 
Thursday - R has been weeding, I mowed a bit, then picked up sticks fallen from the trees until my back ached (about 5 minutes), sat in the sun and drank tea, watered a few pots, wrote this bit of blog etc.
Friday - pruned endless  Buddleia. After seeing the quality of next door's tilth in his veg beds spent time getting mine up to scratch and making a barrier against the carrot fly. The bonfire gets bigger and bigger again.
Here are some photos from today, before the wind bends to the north and it gets cold. Watering pots nowadays, getting dry (except in the boggy bits of lawn). Shirotae cherry nearly out.












Saturday and a cold biting wind. Sowed first broad beans, carrots and perpetual spinach.

Sunday scraped the path below the house. 
Walked earlier and found this - 

Everyone is walking the lanes, walking their dogs, taking their pooh bags - SO WHY having picked up the pooh, leave it by our gate or hang it in a tree?
In the countryside, a wood or wherever, find/take a stick and flick it into the undergrowth, in a field where there are animals all poohing like mad what difference does it make, if it is on a pavement pick it up and TAKE IT HOME and/or put it in a bin.
We do not mind dog pooh in the undergrowth, we do not like the place littered with plastic bags whatever they contain.

On a lighter note, in the village, children off school had been drawing the road.



I am having to water the pot plants with the continuing dry weather. After the deluge in February this is such a contrast.

Hooray, gardener S here  and strimming banking but had to stop as mallard nesting there with load of eggs! He has used all the chippings I got, need 2 sacks more, place now shut for virus. Garden Centre now shut. At least got shopping done for the week.
Weeding a bit but a cold northeasterly.

More red tulip pics -
















but there are other things in the garden







The camellias are finally coming out.

Monday and evening, here, my cousin A from Nelson NZ rings to check on how we all are. He is an expert on organic gardening and has written a book called Organic Futures. In comparison I could write my knowledge of gardening on the back of a postage stamp. 
It is so different talking to someone on the other side of the world nowadays, virtually no delay between talking to one another.

Tuesday and the bank has frozen my debit card - had to drive to nearest bank 6 miles away to use atm to unfreeze it. The card reader is kaput!

Duck is back sitting on eggs, have set up video camera on nest.
As I checked this morning a heron lifted from the pond - bad news for frogs.

R is weeding main bed, I have made lunch.
The Cosmos purity and Ammi majus plugs have come from Sarah Raven and I have potted them up - last of potting compost gone.
Rhubarb tonight, last of the sweet forced stems.

Wednesday and the routine walk around the lanes followed by a little weeding. Weather going off, actually thought it might rain this afternoon but just a few spots - not enough. 
The first cherry is out, Great White yet to come.


Thursday, 26 March 2020

A SURREAL WORLD

I am reading Neil Curry's new book, William Shenstone, Landscape Gardener and Poet, a copy of which he has kindly given me.
Shenstone was a poet, gardener and tended to indolence - sounds familiar. But the thing that really seized me was when I read the quote from Horace on page 150 -

This was what I had prayed for: a small piece of land
With a garden, a fresh flowing spring of water at hand
Near the house, and, above and behind a small forest stand,
But the gods have done much better for me, and more -
It's perfect. I ask nothing else.

Well, knowing me, and my indolence, I could add a few other things like chocolate, family and friends ...

But this morning, despite the virus, the sun shines, lambs are calling in the fields, the fields are greening, both song and mistle thrushes sing, a yellowhammer is calling from a tall ash tree, the first cherry is about to explode with blossom . . .
With the virus we are walking, fields and empty lanes, enjoying the wild flowers - lesser celandine, dandelion, barren strawberry, dog's mercury, wood anemone and blackthorn.





















Yesterday I mowed much of the lawns with the sit on, managed to bog it down in a compost heap and had to dig it out, then lift it out! Not good for old backs. We went to the garden centre and I bought potatoes for chitting and some veg seed. Oh! and some nasturtium seed for R.
   After raising the leaf canopy on the big magnolia it became clear that the small portion of beech hedge beyond blocked the view further on, so that has gone too. The first flowering heads removed from the rhubarb. 

Forced rhubarb is such a wonderful colour.



This is a surreal world we now inhabit, the local hospital ICU beds full and more, and I find myself sleeping too much - well it is something to do. I have volunteered to help out but being elderly they may say no - we will see.
I have ordered 2 huge bags of slate chippings for the paths and Sam, the gardener, says he will come next Monday (if he can) to do the repairs.

These leaves are called Easter-ledges (or bistort) and are used to make a traditional Cumbrian pudding - 

Ingredients: Easter-ledges about 4 inches high; half as many young nettles; 1 large onion; tea-cup of barley; 1/2 teaspoon salt; teaspoon pepper; 1 egg; some butter (or bacon dripping).

Method: Remove stems of Easter-ledges and chop well together with young nettles and onion, wash the barley and sprinkle this in among the greens adding salt. Put all together and tie up in a muslin bag and boil for one and a half to two hours. Before serving beat it up in a dish with one egg and some butter (or bacon dripping is excellent) flavour well with salt and pepper.

Wednesday morning, sunshine and warmth on my back, birds singing, flowers everywhere - a God wot day. (Thos. Brown). Picked a camellia for the house, noted the fritillaries are almost out, and there are blue tits everywhere - no wonder, they have been fed like kings all winter.

The view out of the new extension to the garden -




And a panoramic video - 


Come the afternoon, a walk to Knotallow Tarn, Horace and back, views up the Lakes, (very hazy), lapwings and skylarks calling and I found a rook skull in the roadside.

After we had a cup of tea with the doors wide open. Mr and Mrs Pheasant ambling by -




Spring is sprung. Madame Le Fevre is blasting out from her two pots -



Friday, 20 March 2020

GARDENING ON

  It its dark outside and dark across the world. One small organism has stopped the world.
  But here in my garden on the hill plants still grow, flowers bloom. The first sweet violets are picked and in an egg cup in the kitchen, the first bumble bee is about.
It its clear that we should have planted the wild daffodils under the white birches in clumps or drifts rather than singly, but over the next few years they will multiply. We will just have to wait. 
  On Friday I mowed some of the lawns, those that were dry enough yet there are areas where the turf is so sodden no mower can go.
 
  There is panic buying of lavatory paper in the supermarkets - what is wrong with a piece of string, knotted at one end, onto which squares of newspaper are threaded? 
  Having cancelled our holiday to the Outer Hebrides, hotels, b&bs, ferries etc - at least got our money back.
  Spring is here despite everything conspiring to cancel it. The first red tulip is out in the blue pot.
 

Sweet violets with their anaesthetic properties - smell them then try again, nothing the second time. Pulmonaria with its spotted leaves - this spotting is the same as TB infected lungs! Hence the name, also of a similar colour are the first forget-me-nots.
 










The quince just gets better and better.




And white comfrey is early, euphorbias coming on fast.

Apart from that I have raised the canopy a lot on the magnolia grandiflora as R says she cannot see past it up the garden - and the daffs are splendid.




Which leaves another load of rhubarb, nothing in the asparagus bed beyond yet as it is too early.


The birds are singing, the drakes are fighting over the duck on the pond, the virus goes on . .








A poem -

AFTER THE VIRUS


Gorse, birch, bracken 
block the eye, 
sky touches land.

Views are gone -
no lake, no mountain,
no tarn, no crag.

The tree line risen,
fell now a forest,
meadow a quag.

They took the sheep, 
they did, farming ceased.
wilding the word.

One small bat,
one mutation,
a pandemic.

So we went,
never to return,
the world recovered.

Boar, lynx and wildcat
roam, eagles hunt,
beavers build dams.

Weeds crack concrete,
crumble tar.
damp corrodes steel.

Wilding is the word,
self-inflicted
is the way.

No one says the virus,
Coronid 19
is the cause?

It does not matter -
on man free Earth
none say anything.


Mm, bit depressing? Actually, if you think about it, 60,000 deaths in the UK would only mean about 10 in our small town. Sixty thousand sounds awful and is, but every year 600 - 10,000 die from 'flu'.

Better news is that I have finally lit the bonfire, Sam the gardener came and will come again.
Also, I layered into pots two small branches of our lovely scented rhododendron - the one we bought near Matlock. They are now separate plants and one has a bud.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

ANOTHER LOAD OF RHUBARB

The joy of the first forced rhubarb, pale pink and delicious.
First crop of the year as usual, forced on the right with the pot removed (and the longer stems). The pot has been replaced for now to exclude the light.


I love surprises - forgetting where I have put things - and not remembering connections - considering there are 85 billion in my brain (well, perhaps fewer now I am a touch older) I had put the, now over, snowdrops in the same place in the wood as the wild daffodils, let alone the bluebells whose leaves are now showing through.

On the way to Herefordshire at the weekend to stay with daughter and family we stopped at Black Birches Garden Centre and Tearoom in Hadnall for lunch. (Bacon Bun) It has oodles of roses but this hellebore caught R's eye and since we have com home I have ordered 3 plants. Now waiting for the postman to deliver them. I shall have to think where to put them - there is still a good amount of leaf mould down by the veg beds.

Last year I put in some yellow crocus supposedly good for naturalising but they have been a big disappointment. The purple ones have done well but not the yellow. That virus is here - well in the local hospital - so actually if we had to self isolate for two weeks it would be a great opportunity to get on top of the garden. We usually have enough supplies in the freezers (let alone two years frozen fruit) and should get by if the need arises.
The paving has been cleaned by Dawid the do-anything man and he has repaired the Wendy House roof. 

The stream is still running well - not surprising after all the rain - with daffs, primroses and now golden saxifrage on its banks.


Off to the shed by the pond to tine the grass where the drain seems to be blocked - a muddy mess.
I thought about picking up windfall sticks but a gale is blowing again so  might as well wait.

The clivia is looking good - 



The hyacinths now well past flowering have been put into the bed at the rear of the house.

And we have a pair of moorhen on the pond - 



Thursday, 5 March 2020

INVASION OF THE BUNNY BREEDERS




Just finished breakfast (2 Weetabix) and looked out of the kitchen window to find this fat, healthy animal eating the honesty leaves. We have rabbits in the field below the house, in the horse paddock next door and in the garden - I am always searching for new burrows.
Cuddly little things are they not?! 😩

To move on - I have just moved the rampant Green Alkanet brought back from Plockton in Scotland as it was taking over the cutting bed. R loves the flowers but it can be an aggressive pest. The plants have been put in behind the fence down to the Wendy House where the soil is almost non existent - it is mainly hardcore. I have picked the first camellia for R and it is now opening. It is such a shame they are not scented - so there is a challenge to plant breeders.
The quince has really got going now as have other shrubs. When I was digging up the alkanet I found four cuttings and it took a while (as I had not labelled them) to realise they were hydrangea Annabelle. So two were moved to the banking below the house and two left in situ.


Daffodils are coming on well and wild primroses all over the top bank.








It is a time of lush new growth especially the roses.

The sit on mower inertia has been solved by attaching the battery to a trickle charger overnight but we will see if that finally solves the matter. I have had both mowers serviced and received the bill - they seem to have replaced everything!

Go on - talk about coronavirus - surely there is more than enough on the tv and radio. Masks are of use where someone has the virus to stop them passing it on but not much good to stop you getting it.    Having had 'flu' in 1957, remembering 2 weeks off school and being a bit decrepit it is likely we will all get it and the odds on survival are pretty good so we watch this space. Perhaps I should buy shares in funeral directors? Perhaps turn the top lawn into a plant your loved one here? At a price of course.

The world really needs a virus to get rid of half the people in the world, or more, but that is not going to happen. 
It is a great diverter from other political issues - Boris must be loving this let alone Don and Vlad.

So what I want to know is will our holidays in Wales and Scotland be at risk? Do I need insurance?

My DW has her own blog at https://roseydarbishire.com. The last one was about Ben Fogle which has prompted me to add a new word to the English language - to fogle, v, to go to faraway places.