Sunday, 23 June 2019


Saturday and we have had our first lunch out on the new whatever - hate the word patio but then what - terrace?

There garden is looking good - as long as you do not look too hard.

The grass is dry, the grass is wet, the mower's clogged, I need to scythe etc etc. But though it is June it is still cold. 
On Friday, the longest day, and it was 12C at 9 am but by the next day the temperatures were 18.5C.

The lawns are finally mown and things are looking a bit tidier. 

Some plants are thriving like the redcurrants - unfortunately this means the blackbirds are too. I have managed to salvage 2 pounds of fruit so far - need 4 for jelly.

5 goldfinches on the feeders, they have fledged as have the magpies next door - 7 of them - 'for a story that's never been told'.
And squirrels come and go, and rabbits come - have netted some of the veg beds to keep them, and the pigeons, off. 
The young rabbits are too tame for their own good. When confronted they just sit and look at you with a puzzled air - what is this creature?

The heads on the peonies are so big they need staking or they end up on the ground. Paeony Shirley Temple, amazing and faintly scented.

Last night as I sat at my window the Phebe rose (Rosa rubifolia from Wormleighton Manor where she lived) slowly fell over. It is now staked and manured. We hope it will survive.

 Elsewhere there is colour in the oriental poppies, the alstroemerias and the so useful geraniums - because the slugs and snails leave them alone. I have ordered 3 deep maroon geraniums for R - she saw them at Swarthmoor Hall when we visited the gardens.

And roses, ramblers and climbers - the Albertine has decided to go fifteen feet up an ash tree - and roses in the rose beds. 
The pots by the back door are settled in and the white rosebay is rampant on the upper banking - which is alright - I knew it would do that so had to put it somewhere safe. The Philadelphus Belle Etoile in is flower as is the white deutzia. I do not from where the red poppy  in the midst of the rosebay came from, perhaps self seeded but unlikely as I dead head assiduously.

Trees - the mighty ash above the house is full of bird (and squirrel) life, the eucalyptus continues to grow and grow and the lower hedge is clearly in need of being laid again. 

At one of the ways down from the middle garden the the lower lawns I planted two thornless crataegus, onion either side. That on the left is thriving and three times the size of that on the right. The soil is the same, they were the same size when bought - a mystery.

I have been weeding, trimming the willow around the compost heaps, R has cleared the old heads from the aquilegias, but the one thing that I think of when I look at the garden is - where has all this come from? In winter there is bare soil, now a jungle.

Still some of it is looking really good.

We sat down by the pond last night, in the evening sun, in our little paradise, and thought how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.

Saturday, 15 June 2019


There are places in the garden that cry out for a focal point or for light in a dark corner. This does not have to be an expensive piece of sculpture - a plants will do.
The one that stands out in our garden is, perhaps surprisingly, a variegated horseradish. Of course this will not do much in the winter when the foliage dies down - but for the rest of the year - it is wonderful.

There are others - the glory of a crambe, here not yet in full flow next to an enormous cardoon. The crambe can be left as it has such an interesting seed head, the cardoon will need staking because the flowerhead become so heavy the stems fall over.

At the end of the long path is a scruffy fence behind which is hidden a cold frame and plastic storage box. This fence is now festooned with yellow roses and in from there is a golden choisya, Mexican orange, which compliments the rose.

Other plants that are stunners are the red alstromeria, here in a vase, and oriental poppies, especially the bright red ones.

We have also used the white birches to catch the eye and I intend to underplant them with ox-eye daisies for a summer show.

R made me get a daisy bush which is now in flower and she says they smell of honey.

So, what have we been up to in the garden - I have trimmed the beech hedge. The copper leaves are special when back-lit. We also have a copper beech behind the white birches to make them stand out even more.

The two Rambling Rector climbing roses are really getting going - one twenty-five feet up the old ash which is just as well because J and D, two Church of England ministers, are coming for lunch next week. 
R has been clearing out old aquilegias but leaving those of which she likes the colour most to set seed. 
I have cut down the Rhus typhina and now have the job of dealing with its many and far flung suckers. It just fell out of favour.
I went down to the shed by the pond and staked H's dark rose which had flopped over the bench, turned round and the wild duck was watching me from a few feet away, apparently unconcerned by my presence.

We have been given some sunflowers, thanks J, and I have put them in by the back wall.

To lowlife - and we are besieged by grey squirrels, taking apart the squirrel proof feeders and being brazen just outside the kitchen door. Here is one sitting in the entrance to the trap eating peanuts. I went out and to escape it bolted into the trap which snapped shut - big mistake!

There is a constant visitor on the peanuts - a female greater spotted woodpecker.

She or her other half more likely has been busy on the
old ash tree. It has several dead branches and a bit fell off one - peppered with woodpecker holes.

And a glory in the garden - the first Rose Emma Hamilton, blowsy and heavily scented. I just wish the flowers would open more. If they get wet they are too heavy and can get sodden and rot.

And it rains.

And we still have flowering camellias.

Apart from that it is all go - first opium poppy 😇, here with the Stachys (lamb's lugs).
The white campanulas - that spread themselves, are coming out as are the herder and the various geraniums - always good value.

Finally the petunias we bought at Melkinthorpe and were put in the pots by the door are doing well.

Finally, finally, this is the dining area under the feeders - wood pigeon, collared dove, grey squirrel and a small (?) brown rat.

Saturday, 8 June 2019


We have roses, summer is a coming in even if it is not very warm. - but we have had rain and the garden is bursting with growth. R's favourite rose is the Albertine - wonderful scent but just one flush of flowers. The other roses are a bit hidden in the new rose bed by all sorts of other stuff - aquilegias, hesperis, foxgloves etc etc.

We still have the odd camellia flower too - yes, odd.

Down at the pond I think the ducks may have consumed all the tadpoles but plant-wise the water crowfoot is doing well - a white aquatic buttercup - and we have our usual damselflies and chasers, whirligigs and water boatmen.

The golden sedge lights up a dark corner.

We went out to Langholme Mill at Lowick, a garden in a small valley around a stream - an interesting microclimate where the azaleas and rhododendrons thrive.

It was the garden of Dr Walter Gill who succeeded my father a GP in Penny Bridge in, I think, about 1950.

We have tree bumblebees nesting in the roof of the borehole shed. They are not inside the shed and not a problem. They first arrived in the UK in 2001 in Wiltshire and have rapidly spread north. We have several species of bumblebee in the garden which is good for pollination. Unfortunately we are plagued again by grey squirrels who are demolishing the squirrel proof bird feeders. One has even learned how to lift the lid and get at the seed.

In the house the canna lily is flowering again - dramatic.

Back to the garden - I have reduced the fence at the end of the long path by a third (wide) and dug up the three gooseberry bushes and dumped them on the bonfire heap. They are heavy with mildew again and also have sawfly. I give up - anyway we do not eat large quantities.

The rest of the fence has been left as it supports a wonderful yellow rose.

Three white lavender and two osteospermums have been put in, what I call, the builders rubble bed. I have dug in two trailer loads of horse manure but it still looks impoverished.

The ex gooseberry bed has been dug over lightly and sown with carrots and parsnips (the third attempt at germination this year) and dill.
In the veg beds I have put three butternut squash and a marrow. The asparagus bed has been weeded and R is busy deadheading and pulling up forgetmenots that are over. The chard is trying to flower. We can still eat the leaves and are using chopped stems in stir fries.

That leaves trouble at t' blog - Blogger changing font sizes and it takes two tries to see a preview. Took their online advice and lost the whole of this blog which I have had to rewrite.

Saturday, 1 June 2019


Now back from Scotland and still 
remembering the sheer scale of the redwoods in Drumlanrig Castle gardens, the strangeness of the formations at the Crawick Multiverse including these rocks from the bed of the river Nith - from the Permian period - a bit before my time I think.

Sunday and I change the sunflower seed feeder to try and reduce the seed on the ground underneath - the great tits are the worst casting aside one after another until it gets the one it likes best. So I wire a plastic plant dish underneath - an old one with a hole in so it will drain - and the bullfinches come back!
Unfortunately the grey squirrel returns also.
I move the feeder until it hangs from a wire but this does not deter the tree rat.
Time for a squirrel trap baited with peanuts.
First arrival a jay which does not set the trap off - then the tree rat and voila!
  Now we wait to see if there are more greys around - there are - I am at my desk watching two cavorting in the old ash tree outside my window.
  Out to Langholm Mill at Lowick and the garden open under the National Gardens Scheme for charities. A stream lined with azaleas and rhododendrons. It was created by Dr Walter Gill who succeeded my father as GP in Penny Bridge. (Many years ago).
  Home, plug in charger cable to car. Fall over cable and land on right shoulder. No break but it is seizing up already - ten minutes later. The older I get the more adept I have become at falling.😕  
 Monday to Abi and Tom's at Halecat, Witherslack, and bought 4 perennial plants for new bed - a garden centre well worth visiting.
  Back home the garden is looking not bad. 

The asparagus is almost over and the May blossom is starting to recede. The trees turning one green instead of all shades. 

The weeping silver pear I assassinated - raising its canopy, is looking a bit sad - but will recover. And it rains a lot, I grasp handsful (or is it handfuls?) (probably) of goosegrass and bindweed from the big scabious, cut the very last of the asparagus, watch yet more grey squirrels arrive on the feeders, expand the list of must dos and plod on, shoulder a nuisance.

Quick stroll around the garden and find we have been attacked by pocket plum disease - all the damsons are affected, about 70% of the fruit - distorted, no stone in the middle - struck down by Taphrina pruni, and they say it will always affect our trees. 😧
Advice uselesss - like removing and burning all affected fruit - up a twenty foot tree (and we have eight trees)(and I have a dodgy shoulder)(and I would probably fall out of the tree).