Saturday, 26 March 2011


In the last blog I referred to myself as Uncle Blog but my sister has reminded me that I am actually known to one of my nephews as Uncle Maniac.
I have no idea why!

First butterfly and bumble bee today and the treecreeper was in the big sycamore, flying down then moving up the tree searching for food in cracks and crevices, often upside down under a branch.

The primroses on the banking are bursting forth and, when the sun shines upon them, the yellow crocus by the Wendy House are magnificent.

My gardener R weeded the asparagus bed and then moved to undergrowth clearance in the wood. (As a show of gratitude, at 4 pm, I brought her a cup of tea and a biscuit to her writing shed.)

I mowed the lawn - in two sittings (except I did it standing as a sit on mower would not manage our terrain.) Many gardeners do it standing - mow I mean.

Then I spot weeded the thousands of thistles in the lawn so soon we will have thousands of brown spots - but little feet, come summer, will not have thousands of prickles. The lawns are not pristine so the daisies and plantain can stay for now.

I am not a bowling green man - far too lazy.

Note:- gardeners with hormone implants just mow.

Friday, 25 March 2011


Yes, the old blogger is back - you cannot get rid of me so easily. Microwaved I may be but not cooked yet.

First job, walk around the garden.
Second job, pick daffodils for the house. (R did that).
Third job, nap for 15 minutes as exhausted.
Fourth job, drink cup of coffee.
Fifth job - "Hello bloggers everywhere, your Uncle Blog is back". (Ref. Uncle Mac and Swedish Rhapsody, Nellie the Elephant etc.)

The fine warm week has meant that flowers and leaves are sprouting throughout the garden. Unfortunately the offspring of the big sycamore have taken the advent of spring as a signal to germinate as well - seedlings in every cranny and Nook.

Down in the depths of the
pond something has stirred -
actually thousands and thousands of taddies, tadpoles to the literary minded, have left their eggs and are waiting to be eaten by the ducks and Heron.
This is just a fraction of the puddle of slimy black stuff!

If birds can eat them then why - no, I do not think I will go there, even fried.

Though I have eaten frogs legs (cooked of course), and snails, and . . .

Ah! Yes, the first rhubarb from the forcing pot is being cooked this moment.


And I know the joke and I am having mine with custard.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Coming home from the supermarket in the rain we met a car - R said it's the man from - ?
We came up with Uncle, Laramie and the Pru' in quick succession. Now, doesn't that date us?
Enough - it is raining - soft Cumbrian rain - mizzle. (A cross between mist and drizzle and extremely wetting.)

The other night I went out of the back door
to put the kitchen scraps on the compost heap and saw this - vapour trails and Jupiter below and right of the moon. You can just see the gable end of the roof at the bottom and there has been a bit of fun with the sky - it is only black and white. This is the nearest I have got to being able to see the moon at its largest for many years - as it is close to the earth - too much cloud.

Still mizzling so here is a picture
of a frosted beech leaf on chicken wire.

Finally to moles - I have had an American idea from an Irish cousin of R in Belgium for getting rid of moles -
put a piece of human hair down each mole hole and the moles will retreat.

The snag is I have just been sent to the barber for a number 2 all over and I do not think R would like me snipping off a lock or two of her hair.

Blogging off for a day or two now as busy in Manchester.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Sitting up in bed this morning, drinking the cup of tea R had brought me, I stared out of the window and up the garden. It was misty and the trees were slightly insubstantial. Having just been away and going away I realised what a haven this place is - an escape from Japan and Libya and Budgets and so on. A day's weeding the woodland area would do Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi a world of good, then we could have a bonfire and sit on a bench in the sun with a nice cup of tea, and have a chat. He could forget all the troubles back home and consider retiring to nice oasis in the desert.

Back to sanity - as I could not get Gaddafi I settled for R who went a-weeding in the woods without so much as a small rant.

I, own up lad, used some long lasting weedkiller on the chipping paths - I know, not organic, but, when one may not be able to do so much gardening, it helps.

I put small sticks by the wild daffodils so that I can identify them later in the year - I want to divide the clumps and move them to the hedge banking now it has been laid.

I am about to pop out and tidy the willow arch - the England/Ireland Rugby match is too strenuous emotionally for this fragile chap. Perhaps I will nip in and watch the end. The result could affect my mood for the rest of the day.

The forecast is rain tomorrow.

I have sown some Verbena bonariensis in a seed tray but the marigolds (Calendulas) R chose in the garden centre can wait a week or two more. They will be sown straight into the ground outside and then thinned. A further sowing every two weeks or so will give flowers through the summer.
They are not my favourite plant but R had a thing about orange.

I suspect she would be delighted if she woke one morning and found me jaundiced - then I would fit the decor!

I might not be so happy.

Friday, 18 March 2011


There is a lot coming into flower but I have just been to Manchester and there the blossom is now really getting going, as are the hawthorn leaves.

In the garden daffs, primroses, quince, primulas, anemone blanda, crocus and even the wild golden saxifrage out - as shown here.

Other things are staring to break - leaves on the wild rose, buds on the flowering currant and so on and so on . . .

The furry buds on the Magnolia stellata are filling (second image) as are the camellia.

Just back from Manchester - 2 down, 17 to go (family know what I am rabbiting on about) - and will only be doing weekend blogs for the next few weeks.

Today went to Beetham Garden Centre for lunch but failed to find what was looking for - bought new gloves for R and myself with Gardener's World vouchers.

Then stopped at the delightful Kath's Garden Plants behind the Heaves Hotel near Levens but they had just sold all their plants of euphorbia characias wulfenii.

Came home and ordered three from the Crocus site with G. World discount. They are to go at the bottom corner of the garden, opposite the Wendy House, across the stream - they will fill the space quite quickly.

We also have an invasion or two. Mowing the banking has revealed a plethora of holes - presumably vole-holes as they are too small for rats.
And then there are the moles up in the top corner where it is wild - it/they must be coming in from the field. What keeps a sheep out is no good for moles.

It is all 'oles at the moment!

R has gone out for a biryani - can only have this on Fridays due to unfortunate side effects which will cause problems on Monday.

Now, how to get rid of the moles - if I am to avoid traps, heavy metal music played into the runs and poison - I wonder of a vindaloo in each run would do it?

Probably the moles will just shout where is the naan bread and pickle!

Monday, 14 March 2011


Loved the film but this is for real - yes, I have done it, started the mowing. It needed doing before the grass got too long or I got ambushed by rain.

There was a frost this morning which went quite quickly so by this afternoon the grass had dried out enough, just, so . . .

Really I have a stupid garden for mowing - more like a field on a hillside with bog at the bottom - sit-on mower out so plug away on foot.

This morning, whilst I was knocking a little white ball over grass much better maintained than at home, R laboured with the brambles and undergrowth. She is very good at it. Perhaps I could loan her to others? I wonder how much I could charge?

The daffs are now flowering and we have had our first vase of wild ones - Narcissus pseudonarcissus. I always knew my Latin would come in useful even if I could not pass it at O level.

Down in the pond the frogspawn is maturing and teeny taddies can be seen inside the eggs.

The crocus we have in the garden are mainly the yellow, purple and light purple common ones but we do have one little gem - a pale yellow one flowering unobtrusively in the rose bed.

Despite trying to remember where new plants were put and so on there are always surprises from loss of memory and plants that self sow - primroses in the lawn, a geranium in the fig pot.

Snowdrops are being divided now they are going over and replanted, a few bulbs at a time in each new place.

I did not think there was much new could be done with the wood chippings I put on the woodland path but an enterprising Great Tit is using it for nesting material in on of the nest boxes.

There is a rabbit hole in the brambles under the old dead tree.
This means we have RABBITS living in the garden!!!!!!

How much are foxes?

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Let us start with the gloom - keep popping into garden and then it rains - we both struggled on manfully (and womanfully)(well, personfully), she at the brambles - which drive us mad - and me a bit of planting and stream digging.

I put in a pulmonaria and a purple sage, both bought on the market in Ulverston this morning.

R had an avid discussion with the stallholder over orange Cosmos - did they exist, were they the same as white Cosmos but orange - she had seen them on the internet.

I also put in six red Geum Mrs Bradshaw in a clump with another we already possessed - should make a blazing show in the summer.
Then out with the spade and fork and wheelbarrow digging out the overgrown banks of the stream - heavy stuff.
I cleared the dead grass from the bottom of the willow which make up the tunnel and managed not to chop away the Lonicera haliana and Clematis montana planted to eventually clamber all over the framework.

Thursday the pond sprung a leak and the frogspawn was high and dry - quick rake of mud and plug of hole and it filled up again - spawn happy.

In our kitchen R put a cutting off our
basil into an old ink bottle. After a while I noticed that the water it was rooting in had turned pink!
The new plant seems healthy and contented - though probably ready to be potted on - and there was no residual ink in the bottle. It was not a pinkwell! (Sorry!)

Explanations in an email to

Sorry - no prize.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Yesterday I put in a wooden edging to the divide between the flowerbeds and the lawn (or somewhat rough grass area).

It makes it look a bit tidier and, I hope, will make mowing easier.

You can see in the picture a line of grassy tufts to the right of the wooden edging - these are Miscanthus and Stipa gigantea and will form a natural wall of vegetation between the house and the lovely septic tank on the left. There is a small bed in front of the tank edged by stones and we have put buddleias from cuttings in here.

The second image shows other types of edging I have employed - stones from the garden and old wooden poles garnered from the hedge. The latter are now going a bit rotten (aren't we all?) (speak for yourself, she says) and will need replacing in due course.

The third picture is of the professional
edging done to the professional path around the front of the house - one of the few things we contracted out when we started the garden - really to get it done and done properly. Incidentally it also shows the colour we managed to get into the banking though this photo was taken in November last year. Of course the nasty December sorted out the greenery.

I am sitting here writing this blog and R has just finished washing the kitchen floor - such is life.

Later I am to have my portrait painted by DC - how he is going to turn 2 piggy eyes in a blob of lard into something presentable is beyond me.

Perhaps his isn't!

Saturday, 5 March 2011


Sitting inside the house, on a day when we went to the funeral of a good friend who died too young, I thought I would show some colour photographs.

The red monster on the right is an old amaryllis that my son C abandoned when he moved to London. We rescued it and watered it and fed it and this is one of five flowers on the first stem - there is a second stem not yet out.

The second picture is of a
single crocus that has appeared outside the kitchen doors in the bed by the paving. I did not plant it so the garden is moving in a mysterious way - or I did plant it and have forgotten - much more likely.

But not all the colour in the
garden is flowers - here are some wonderful red rhubarb leaves just emerging. The strange thing is that the same under the forcing pot is no bigger - so we will have to wait.

I was asked the other day if I talked to the plants in my garden.

Well I do - though it usually consists of "Bug*** that nettle, da** that bramble, come out you ******* sod."

The sod is a sod of earth of course!?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Now there is a title to conjure with.

Yesterday it was a beautiful day and we decided to leave the garden in the morning and walk down the Canal to the Bay Horse Inn and have a coffee, return and do some shopping.

As we passed under the railway bridge we saw a cormorant sitting in the top of a fifty foot tree - very odd, R had to skip to avoid a mute swan who had decided that the middle of the footpath was a good place to sit, and then we met a friend who was taking photographs. He said that he had passed some walkers who had said that further down the canal were lots of ducky birds.
Did they mean geese, moorhens, coots or even ducks? The expression just stuck in my head - so now I have let it escape.

When we got home I started doing a bit in the garden including dismantling a decrepit rustic fence which I had put up to hide the septic tank.
The wood from it was dry and, I thought would burn well - little light above head moment.
Remember this heap of brushwood from the hedge-laying?

Well, I started a fire beside it with some newspaper and a wigwam of the dry sticks. Gradually I added brushwood from the enormous mound - it had taken several days to stack it, ten feet high and fifteen feet across.

Two and a half hours later with the sun going down this is what was left - I was too tired to put sausages on sticks and potatoes into the hot ashes.

This afternoon I tidied up - the fire was still well alight, and I added a collection if fallen twigs and wood from up on the hill. It is smoking still.

So to why the bottom in the title - to a tale of a prat fall.

I went out for lunch with a friend NC as we are wont to do once a month or so, and we decided to be a pair of schoolboys and climb a craggy hill. Now as one gets a little older that faculty called balance becomes less effective, so, coming down I did a whoosher onto my backside on wet grass - wet shirt, wet jacket and more especially wet trousers and underpants.

I drove home sitting on a piece of groundsheet to protect me from the leather seat.
Yeah!, yeah! Go on have a good laugh.