Thursday, 28 April 2011


Drought is upon us, the stream is but a distant memory with its tumbling plashing (poetic word!) waters.

Tonight I water the garden - good thing we have our own borehole.

We have an area of rough grass near the pond which needed the hated strimmer - so I had a wheeze! I set the mower on its highest level and voila! With a bit of effort it worked. The mower is, however not so good on the steep bank - I set off gingerly and then run after it.

R has been weedding - now there is a Freudian slip - what a misspelling the day before the you-know-what.

I have prepared the veg beds and started the first sowings of beetroot, turnip, lettuce, spring onion and pardonsnips (as R's father always said). Lawns are mown to the summer setting now.

We are very excited as last night the house was being investigated as a nestbuilding site by, not just swallows, but also house martins.

The other birds are frantic with one (or two) coal tits flying back and forth between the feeders and the hedge in the far corner of the garden. This is near where the bonfire was and I have started to make a firepit with a log seat surround - potatoes and sausages in the ashes later in the year?

Then to the tragedy of a small blue tit found
by the side of the road at Newland. It had obviously been hit by a car.

This brings me to windfarms - tortuously - and the damage they are doing to bird populations - especially big birds. This brings me to the fact that the world plague - humans - and population - something politicians never mention - is out of control - hobby horse - we cannot live in harmony with each other let alone the rest of the species on the planet.

I remember seeing somewhere - cannot recall where - that the ideal population for the British Isles was about 25 million, maximum. Then we could be relatively self sufficient and live in balance with our ecology. There are those who think the perfect human population of these islands - for all other species - is zero.

They may have a point there.

Now, where did I put that weedkiller.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


At this time the garden is overflowing with later spring flowers - the Lithospermum Heavenly Blue is especially fine but the backdrop of the foliage is also very important. We have deliberately planted grey leaved plants - Poplar and Wayfaring Tree and so on.

So all the images today are of garden foliage.

C is home from London and has gone into the wood with a groundsheet, a rug and a book.
It is a beautiful, sunny April day.

Two swallows have just passed the window and, I hope, are looking for a nest site - and there is a woodpecker giving itself a headache somewhere.

Some weeds drive one to distraction - nettles and brambles especially. I was clearing grass from around the shrubs and trees on the big banking when I grasped a tuft and YAROO! it was a nettle.

But the most pernicious weeds are creeping buttercup, ground elder, horsetails (though these so far have limited themselves to the pond area) and BINDWEED.

Monty Don - I quote the most professional amateur gardener in the country - got rid of his in a bed by completely removing
everything and then putting it back!

That strength eludes me.

Must nip for a mo'.
R has gone to church and the pork is done.
Spuds are in the bottom oven with a fresh sprig of apple mint.

Now, I had a can of Heineken
somewhere - even the worst
bloggers need refreshing.

So, what else - the saga over
the thousands of tree seedlings
goes on - and on - and on.
If we wanted we could have a forest.

Mr and Mrs Pheasant are up in
the Rhododendrons - she has a
nest there every year. he, poor old bloke,
has a bad leg and hops and limps around
guarding her.

I have rescued the prostrate
ceanothus which has just
survived the winter, pruned off the dead twigs and replanted it, watered it and fed it.

And we have finally buried Tilly. Her ashes have been in the bathroom cupboard for a long time and yesterday R decided it was time so I dug a hole by the Wendy House
and in went the small wooden casket. Today I painted a headstone with her name and have put that by the small grave.

At this juncture, in case anyone was thinking we have secretly disposed of a Grandma or Uncle that Tilly was our dog. She died about 8 years ago in Pembrokeshire and we had not, until now, found the perfect spot for her ashes.

You might ask what sort of a dog was she - well she was a sort of a dog - a bit of this and a bit of that.

She did once win a blue rosette at Roche Show for second prize as the dog the judge would most like to take home!

Friday, 22 April 2011


This is the view up the top path from the paved area. The wooden structure to the right is for an everlasting sweet pea to clamber upon. Just to the right
of that grows a Rosa rubifolia.
My Uncle David and Aunt Phebe used to live at Wormleighton Manor, the ancestral home of the
Earls of Spencer, and when Uncle David died Aunt Phebe took me into the garden and gave me a seedling of this plant which, according to the tradition of the house, was the original red rose of Lancashire. I have taken this plant with me as we changed house and it now grows in a place which, till 1974 was Lancashire (now Cumbria).

Now one rabbit in the garden is worrying but two, seen two days ago, spells danger! This will have to be watched.

The asparagus is being picked and eaten with relish.

By the back door pink tulips are growing with yellow daffodils. This is a colour combination which, in my opinion, does not work - yellow and pink, ugh!

To weeding matters - this has been a wonderful year for tree seedlings and I am about to go into the garden on a sycamore cull.
Anyone want a few hundred sycamores 4 inches high let me know.

To end this is something completely different - a picture of a vase of tulips - Oh! Yes, and my grandson J with strange attire.
Having been asked to go to his school in fancy dress or something for a charity raising day he decided to go as Underpantman - hence the original hat!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


I was sitting in the seat, as one does, by the bay window, and looking up the garden as I wrestled with a sudoku - I have this thing now - trying to do them without writing in lots of alternative numbers - and I had to go and get the camera. This is the result.


The tulips are/have been magnificent this year.

The daffs are over, more or less, except the new ones we put in by the gate - see below.
We have left the seed heads on them this year as Monty Don instructs. We used to dead head but did refrain from tying the leaves in neat knots.

Been to the Pewl (Liverpool) to visit relative and went to national Wildflower Centre for lunch. Okay for the school children but looks underfunded - a bit tired.
On the way home we stopped at the refurbished Halecat Nursery at Witherslack - fantastic and bought 4 plants - Campanula trachelium 'Alba', Potentilla megalantha, Phlox paniculata 'Tiara' and Verbascum ch. f. alb. 'Wedding Candles'.
Bit concerned re mullein as last one was chomped to death by mullein moth caterpillar. Put them in and sowed some field poppies and Cornflower seed on scruffy piece of ground.

Now to the final picture - the daffs by the gate. There are even lambs in the field beyond. Sometimes they gang together and charge about like a load of hooligans - the lambs, not the daffs.

We came home up the steep and winding Cartmel Fell road to High Newton. R reminded me that on the first occasion I brought her to The Lake District (1968) I roared up this difficult road - showing off she said.
Unfortunately she did not notice I was showing off so we could have gone via Lindale - though, in those days, there was no bypass and the hill through the village was a nightmare of crawling lorries.

Ah! Those days of lost youth!

ps. Just gone upstairs to find R putting away her winter clothes and getting out her summer ones.

"Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!"

Sunday, 17 April 2011


A swallow here now, and a wren nesting on the banking. I was concerned that the wrens might not have survived the winter.

The picture of the robin is a bit of a cheat - story later.

The primroses on the banking are wonderful but the red campion and other growth is starting to smother them. We must remember to divide and replant to increase the number of plants.

I have moved plants, planted three Euphorbia wulfenii characias by the Wendy House and, in the supermarket today, bought a pot of culinary thyme for £2.

Tale 1 - I bought a thyme plant at a nursery not long ago for £6.99 - what a fool. The pot from the supermarket has at least 20 plants in it - 10p each - just pot up and voila!

Tale 2 and the robin - I took this at Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire - last outing whilst in Manchester - R had always wanted to go.
There was no big sell, good tour, fascinating house with no "collections" or even furniture. The Hall was the star. The cafe was small with good food and all the staff were wonderful. I wrote in the Visitors book something like - Eat your heart out Dunham Massey, this is what the National Trust should be about, what Beatrix Potter and Canon Rawnsley wanted it be about, good tour, great cafe etc.

Then R at church was told by someone that their daughter had been there and the person at the hall had proudly read out what I had said!

I meant every word - wonderful place. (Not a lot for small children though.)

Saturday, 16 April 2011


So I left Manchester with the wise advice to take it easy for a few weeks.

So I mowed all the lawns today.
'Stuff this,' I thought, (pardon my language), and did the lot. It ain't gonna get me and I'm going to get fit. Of course I tweaked my left shoulder shifting some logs but that is another problem.

R weeded womanfully and has now retired to the seclusion of the Wendy House, laptop in hand.

Some gardening chat - we have two types of Skimmia in the garden -
male and female. You don't get berries on one without the other - though I have yet to see any berries at all.
I think the top one is the male.

They are planted under the bird feeders outside the kitchen doors and seem happy and survive the thousands of tiny birdfeet - and big birdfeet - pigeons and pheasants traipsing around hoping for a seedfall.

It is easy to forget that you have planted some things and get a surprise when they appear. This is a lovely small creamy-white anemone which I discovered near the sundial. (Yes, I have changed the dial for summer time.)

I have a pint glass beside me filled with what looks like vodka.

But it is only water - fortunately!

ps. Gillie, R obtained a large bag of hair from her hairdresser so we can get to grips with the moles. (see Blog Sunday 20th March.)

And finally, yesterday saw our first swallow, today our first honey bee.
The winter is over.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


So much going on so some pictures - from the wood, the primrose banking and blossom and flowers.

Quince blossom, The Great White Cherry,
something blue and golden
alyssum, Conference pear, a
view of the spring garden and the house and Wendy House from the far wood where the bluebells are beginning and the Primrose banking.
R divides them every year and replants so it gets more and more spectacular.

The quince was given to us by Dorothy R when we first came and has never failed to flower.
One pear last year so we want no frost now to stop fruit forming.

Wallflowers are self-sown in various places and some are three to four years old - I know they get woody but still bloom and smell as good.

The blue thing, I think, is Veronica prostrata - prostrata!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Here is proof of the asparagus - more spears every day.
The paper says that dandelions are 3 weeks early - also the asparagus.

A neighbour says that the swallows always arrive here on the 12th of April - but nothing yet so they are late.

Now home from Manchester for good, (I hope), and blossom everywhere.

Some daffodils are over and some not yet, notably the narcissi - this one, I think is Narcissus Jetfire.

The long trumpets and recurved petals put it in Class VI - yes they have classes as I have just discovered in my huge RHS garden flower guide.

On the way back from Manchester we just manage to get to the Carnforth turn off before deciding that quiet roads are of the essence and then a little something (as Pooh would say) as, whatever time it is, it is elevenses time by Beetham Garden Centre.
But, though the quality of the plants is high, so are the prices.

All we leave with is a comfortable feeling in the tum.

Now to more important matters - rhubarb -
which is growing well and I have had to deflower it severely!?

Rosey had picked some for her pud tonight though I will have to wait - diet stuff and all that.

The lawns need mowing, amongst another 1000 jobs, and it is due to rain tomorrow.

I will just have to resign myself to not doing it - how sad!! -
(:-))= - this is me lying on my side in bed, asleep, smiling, for I do not have to go down that Motorway again for a while.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


The weather is warm and the garden is bursting forth. Chiffchaffs are exhausting themselves, the tits are in the nest boxes and a blackbird is throwing liquid notes from a tree.

Up in the ash wood there is a clump of hawthorn, (May), and one or two young hazels. I have been clearing the lower branches away to above head height.
The photos show before and after.
Now we can see a scattering of dog violets amongst the ground growth which were hidden before.
We have both the common and the pale version.
Welcome to the land of the human pincushion - I know, I should wear tough gloves.

The cherry blossom is wonderful - this is the Prunus Shirotae.

We also have a Prunus Taihaku - the Great White Cherry of Japan.

R. has been labouring under a rhododendron bush removing brambles and willowherb.

Off to Manchester tomorrow again but only two 'phaser' doses to go - no, Dr Spock was a paediatrician and he had normal eyebrows.

I seem to have lost my way, where was I?

Right - so much to do and not enough time - such is the way of the gardener. Do I envy those with three square metres of lawn, (note the use of metric measurement - now the modern man), - no.

And the title of this blog - Browning, (not gravy), Home thoughts from abroad -
'Oh! to be in England now that April's there,
April is a sultry girl with lots of sun blonde hair - and so on.'

Back soon.

I hope!

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Back from Manchester - for those not in the know have been having a frazzling lying prostate in the radiotherapy department of Christies for prostrate C. - or the other way round. 2 frazzlings to go. This explains the intermittent nature of the blog.

Funny word blog - you know those puzzles where you have to make as many words as you can with the letters given - well, for blog all you can get is GO LOB LOG, GOB, BOG and B.O. - I am not sure the last counts.

To more serious matters -
the tulips are in fine fettle and the recent spell of warm weather has brought everything on.
Yesterday brought a variegated Brunnera for down near the pond, a white everlasting sweet pea and a dropmore scarlet honeysuckle for the willow arch. My aim is to cover it in climbing, flowering plants.

The Victoria Plum is in blossom as shown here.

By the look of it there will be a lot of thinning out of fruit to do later in the year.
It is only early April but the first asparagus is through and I have been removing flowering stems from the rhubarb. R is weeding with vigour.
Bought ten purple sprouting broccoli (now planted), a culinary thyme and a pot of bay on the market in Ulverston for about £3:50.
The pot of bay had 27 individual plants in it!
I have put them in the cutting bed but what do I do with 27 bay trees? I couldn't resist the bargain.

Up in the woodland area, amongst the primroses, wood anemones and first wild bluebells, I have been pruning branches lower than 6 feet from the ground on the hawthorns. I found two of the trees were dead. I took some cuttings and shoved them in the top corner - they may root - nothing to lose. Hawthorns would be useful in improving the field hedges.

So much needs doing and so many ideas and so little stamina.

I think I need a chocolate biscuit.

Saturday, 2 April 2011


Sun is out, lawns mown against wifely advice as not physically 100%, so time for a tour?

First an important piece of information - my sister I. has the same birthday, July 8th, as Monty Don!

This is a view from the house looking up the path to the vegetable and fruit garden. First broad beans sown.
Cherry not yet out to the right - the one whose branches grow horizontally - I could look it up but cannot be bothered.
Loads coming up in bed in front but the rosemary there has not survived the winter cold - will leave for a bit and hope but . . .

I think the ceanothus will survive though battered, one sage and a thyme gone and an Ole.. something or other we got from Muncaster.

The second picture is looking
down the garden to the left of the previous one to the willow tunnel. The stream winds through the upper part of the image and the line of small shrubs on the left is a copper beech hedge.

The shrubs on the right include sambucus nigra, a berberis and a cotoneaster.

There is a lot of moss in the lawn after the winter - and a lot of thistles.

The next shot is of the house from the far end where the young white birch are planted. Last autumn we under planted them with some daffodils.

The red in the distance are Madame Lefevre tulips - brilliant red with a black heart. My mother used to grow them when we lived at Little Arrow in Coniston.

You can just see the end of the willow tunnel on the right.

Finally a view from the
birches up the slope to the wood with the stream on the right and white daffodils under the trees.
Soon this area will be a sea of native bluebells.

When the evening sun slants through the wood and back lights the flowers this is a small corner of heaven.

Friday, 1 April 2011


Why this title - it may have something to do with being in Manchester all week, it may be that I have just read a biography of John Denver.
This is an image of a rhubarb forcing pot from the Lost Gardens at Heligan.
Reason for placing it here - no idea - just liked the sculptural shape - Oh! And the
rhubarb is up and running and R has picked some so, so will she soon - I am now on a low residue diet so cannot have any - too dangerous?

On Wednesday went to Tatton Park in light rain - the place was empty but there were loads of good forcing pots so beware - more photos to come. The asparagus was coming through in their vegetable garden - no sign here - very early.

Came back this lunchtime and regretted not buying some large box plants at Ikea - special offer last week - £5 each.

Everything is coming up - even the roses - and this plant which I think is - no am not sure - it is where the variegated loosetrife was last year but I do not remember it being pink - watch this space for further developments.

Pheasants are lovely to see in the garden but they produce enormous - you know - just waiting for an unwary foot.

That will stop me traipsing around the paving in socks!

So - the title - well it is just that despite all the attractions of big smokes (not a la Withnail) (though . . . ) I would much rather be in the country, in my garden, sitting in April in a shower of birdsong.

So Poetic!