Tuesday, 28 June 2011


Let us start with bad news - R does not really like the meadowsweet which grows inabundance in the wilder parts of the bottom garden.
I quite like it but it does have one failing - it is very susceptible to mildew (a bit like me).

For now it stays but . . .

The yellow rose here was a freebie from David Austin Roses with an order.

It looks wonderful, especially cut with alchemilla, smells great and loves its wall tucked at the back of the house - a little feeding and pruning and it seems happy.

A little horse muck, well rotted, a boost of pelleted hen manure, a judicious prune at the right time seems to do the trick.

The frame to which it is fixed is just a load of old hedge thinnings tied together with wire and then, again, tied over the top of the wall to a few large stones.
A bit scruffy but it works.

The next pic shows the oriental poppy bed in full flood. I hope to expand this so have not dead headed the plants and will take root cuttings.

They are now over but the self sown opium poppies are coming into flower all over the garden.

Finally there are the strangely coloured
sycamore leaves coming out of this old stump left behind by the hedge layers.

Sycamore can have wonderful red young stems and cascades of yellow/green flowers.

If only it had a good autumn colour and did not seed itself everywhere.

Poppies I can take but the sycamore (and ash) trees are a pest.


As you can see we are into the picking season - raspberries, goosegogs and the blackcurrants.

I inadvertantly got my hand in this shot revealing a sticky plaster over the injury from the hand fork into the pulp - you cannot see the gooseberry thorns and nettle stings. I have studiously avoided the rue and hogweed - a blister too far.

Friends have given us plants - my ex partner PJR gave us many when we first moved in - some are wonderful and some are frankly invasive - but they did a good job when the soil was bare.

My late partner IFS's wife S gave us
trees - beech, copper beech, an oak and a horse chestnut (indica I think) shown here.

The copper beech is at the far end and will, I hope grow as a good back colour for the six white birches.
The oak in in the lawn below the house and now six feet tall.

She also gave us a red strawberry which was planted as shown here beside the path to the Wendy House, a barren bank of hardcore.

Though the soil is very poor it has thrived though the euphorbia shown is pushing hard.

It has fruit but I have not yet tasted them. I suspect they will be small and woody.

I am looking out of my window at the big ash tree with the rose Rambling Rector tumbling through it and have noticed a pretty white flower at the foot of the tree.

(Nipped out)

Mmm! - pretty flower turns out to be Ground Elder.

B***** Romans, why bring it here?


Well, it is monkey flower time.

Down by the pond plants are flowering - mimulus (monkey flower) has spread to good effect as have both of the primulas - the earlier flowering pulvulurenta (I hope that is spelled correctly, I certainly cannot pronounce it), and the soft yellow of the slightly later veris.

Both seed and I will save seed to, I intend, end up with a river of candelabra primulas by the stream and pond much like the RHS has at Harlow Car.

There are, of course other flowers - the astilbe that R does not like, (there is a national collection at Holehird, the Lake District Horticultural Society's garden) loosetrife, both pink and red, yellow irises, both
plain and variegated and so on.

As to the inhabitants of the pond the tadpoles seem almost reluctant to turn into frogs, the whirligigs whirl and the pond skaters skate. Water Beetle larvae eat everything moving and caddisfly larvae hide in their little houses. The stream has freshwater shrimps and other crawlies.

Now, we have at least 6 compost heaps around the garden, most just mowings, and you would think this would be ideal for grass snakes and slow worms but not a one has been seen.

I have heard that the blackbirds in the south are having a tough time.
I can lend you a few - we have plenty.

I can especially lend you Blackbird the Barmy who is still waking me as dawn comes - and dawn comes really early here - sort of just after sleep comes!

Monday, 27 June 2011


So much happening.
My couture mentor has died aged 83 - at least that is the impression the family give me - Peter Falk in a Mac rather like the tattered Burberry my father would wear on the Fells.

The willow tunnel is exploding in growth and I am wondering how wise it was to create it.
I am also concerned that if I get a tractor mower the tunnel may be too narrow and I will have to use the old mower.

And we have had an explosion of feathers outside the kitchen. A sparrowhawk, I think, has got one of the collared doves. The doves will perch on the edge of the roof like sitting ducks - if doves can be ducks? They are too tame - I found one in the shed yesterday perched on the edge of the sunflower seed sack helping itself.

One of my birdbaths is going
rusty though the colour contrasts well with the catmint.

Birds - fledglings everywhere - some hyperactive like the bluetits, some mentally deficient like the robins and the blackbirds, some just pushy and greedy like the greenfinches.

Things are very picky at the moment - 5 pounds of gooseberries, six pounds of blackcurrants and a couple of pounds of raspberries.
We also had some spinach and the rabbits had some spinach and now we do not have some spinach. The bed with broccoli is like Fort Knox - chickenwire, netting etc and they still got in!

This is a beautiful white geranium.
I am still waiting for the beautiful white cosmos to flower but will not be long.
Put in some back up plants today and some verbena bonariensis I have grown from seed.

We went to one or two gardens in Ulverston on the open day on Saturday. They are so neat compared with our jungle. The weather was hot yesterday and today and very humid. The soil was warm to the touch and you could almost hear the plants growing. (Weeds and lawns especially.)

Having talked about summer weather - I think we have just had the summer - the temperature has dropped 7C in the last hour.

PS. I am now an old age pensioner - Happy Birthday to Me!
R asked me what I would like to eat for dinner tonight so we are having a Full English!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Let me start with what R likes.
R like Alchemilla Mollis, Lady's Mantle.

Now we have three types in the garden - the
alpine - small and neat, the wild - very green and the garden variety - yellow flowers and slightly hirsute leaves to hold those crystals of water after rain.

She also likes valerian, another wild(ish) plant - well there are two wild varieties - the red and the pink marsh valerian.

She likes the three colours grown in gardens (and on the walls of St David's Cathedral) - red pink and white.
Here at the first two, the latter has not yet flowered and is in a bed by the Wendy House.

To move on to rabbity talk and bare veg beds - chomped and munched to death. This autumn, if not sooner, a stout wire netting enclosure will be put around at least two of the raised beds to keep the b*****s out.
(It is all in your mind - bunnies!)

And then there is the idiot who was vigorously weeding with a hand fork and rammed a tine into his left ring finger palp. (That is the soft bit on the end).

I yelped and howled worse than a professional woman tennis player. I could see the fat from the inside oozing o.. - sorry - shut up - OK I will.

Of course I was not wearing gloves, do you think I am stupid?

R does.

Have to go, the barmy blackbird is attacking its reflection in the back window again!

That makes two of us! Barmy I mean.

Friday, 17 June 2011


In between the rain showers (and longer spells) tidying is in order.

The log pile up the garden gets smaller and the leg shed gets more full. The willow logs, no roots, sprout away - there is one in the centre of the picture.
Now, come the winter, we will have to light the woodburner and then retire to the kitchen as the living room gets too hot.

Willow is not an ideal wood for the burner - the ash burns slower and better - but it is better than nowt! (Local dialect for nothing, not a new type of tree.)

Just near the woodshed is a cylindrical pot with a fig growing in it - to restrict the roots and get more fruit. This has not worked this year and we have only two figs and a runt - the picture shows one and a runt.

I do care two figs, wait - I do care, two figs are/is? disappointing.

Though not alarming - this morning R looked out the window and TWO rabbits - very worrying. Where there are two there are twenty. It seems that despite the very cold winter most people locally are crawling around their gardens in desperation as their prize plants are nibbled. (I have just changed a mistyped 'o' to an 'i' in the last word but nobbled is as good.) Some gardeners are crawling with shotguns at the ready. PB, a friend, bagged three the other day.
Am I in favour of shooting the bunnies? This is difficult when a baby bunny looks up at you with big innocent eyes - "What me sir? As if I would." But then they do.
Somewhere in the garden lurketh the makings of a warren - but bunny warren/barren garden.

This brings me, somehow, to tadpoles, note the legs. We saw frogs in the pond last week - very yellow and green - and there are a plethora of tiny toads wandering around.

To serious matters and the severe drought in the east and south of the country.
Well, they need worry no longer.
Wimbledon fortnight is here so they will now get plenty of precipitation.
I seem to remember using an old tennis racket as a crude sieve but for what? I cannot recall.

I do recollect making cottage cheese at University from unused milk, letting it go off and then draining it through and old pair of tights, one leg inside the other.
The smell pervaded the whole wing of the Hall of Residence.

Where I got the tights from I cannot recall.
(It was before I met R.)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


At the moment most of the garden is pink and red and blue and other similar shades.
Yellow is a problem and things will have to be moved.
I can manage the broom
as it is down on the banking but the perennial wallflower is stuck in completely the wrong place.
It is surrounded by pinks and lillies and roses and penstemons and so on - yellow especially seems to clash with white.
Daffs and dandelions are spring flowers when we need cheering up but now the year is more mature it lapses into subtler shades - reds blues and pinks - all of which are satisfactory with whites.

Later in the year the yellows will be back with sunflowers and rudbeckias (black-eyed Susan), dahlias and so on.

Down by the pond the yellows are flourishing without clashing - iris and mimulus and particularly the soft yellow candelabra primulas which always seem to come out just as the red ones are fading.
As before I will save seed from these and keep them in the shed by the window as seedlings over winter - then plant out.

The blackcurrants are now getting their act together - as are the gooseberries.
These are thinned and now ripening.

I have just mowed the lawns but - went to Armers to get blurb on sit-on mowers - with a trailer to cart muck from the horse-ladies field to the garden.

I will look for a second hand machine but it will fill the shed. When it was ordered I made sure it had double doors - the shed not the mower.

Nearly trod on a small rabbit by the back door last night and TWO squirrels hoicking (I think that is how it is spelled - the computer spellchecker does not recognise the word) bits of peanuts out of the feeders by the shed with their fingers.

Eating spinach, rhubarb recovering, asparagus left to its own devices, parsley planted, sweet pea sticks strung to aid the plants climb, bottle of J2O opened, crisps about to be crunched - Bye!

Friday, 10 June 2011


I think it is time for a garden plan.

To start here is a Google image - the one you can see if you look at The Nook now.
This is at least six years old - before we built the house and started on the garden.
You can see TJ's old prefab and his garage, now, of course, gone.

The plan - at the bottom of the blog - is very confusing as so much is in it but the lawns are light green and the wilder areas darker.
Zooming in on the blog may help.
The house is top right, the Wendy House bottom right by the ponds.

This brings me to tales of animals.

Last night we were standing by the Aga (yes, we have one and I know all the arguments) when I looked out of the glass doors to see a grey squirrel just sitting there. We stared at it, it stared at us and then put its head to one side as if assessing the situation.
It shifted when I got the camera but not before this snap.

Then R was down at the Wendy House and as she came out she found a baby rabbit sitting on the grass. They stared at each other until R moved forward and the rabbit shot into the pond and made its escape.

The worry is that where there is one rabbit more cannot be far behind.

The next picture is a view up the garden from one of our bedroom windows.

It shows the hoggin path to the left leading to the veg and fruit area and the gravel path on the right which heads for the woodland. In the distant left there are the small stand of white birches. The mass of white in the foreground is the crambe behind the roses and catmint in the foreground.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Though colour is very important in the garden as relief from the predominant one of GREEN, white is also essential.

This can take the form of variegation in foliage, flower colour or even white stones, painted walls and other painted items.

The first plant shown here is a white Iris rescued from the rubble of the building of the house. This was one of TJ's plants - he also had a blue which I also saved.
This Iris is one of R's favourite plants in the garden and lights up the area by the slate path from the paved area to the hoggin path.

Though there are wild flowers
of white such as daisies - both Ox-eye and common, foxgloves now interbred with the wild ones and pignut they pale into insignificance with the explosion of the crambe or the penstemon - right. (Took cuttings of this and catmint).

One recent introduction is the white form of the biennial honesty. It is important to keep the rotation going by sowing seed for two years and then letting them get on with it. At out previous house I did not do this and we had alternate years of white and pink.

So, what have we been doing - eating the thinnings off the gooseberries and freezing some for later. Leaving one berry every couple of centimetres (gosh metric!) will give us a fine crop in a few weeks.
Broad beans have been sown for a second crop and pumpkin and squashes are in. The turnips and rocket are through but some of the rhubarb still looks sickly - did it get a side swipe from the weedkiller used on the paths?

Yesterday I picked an enormous vase of roses and their scent now fills the hall - Emma Hamilton, Gertrude Jekyll, William Shakespeare, Jude the Obscure.

It sounds like we are having a celeb. party though I am not sure how they would mingle? Plenty of Burnet wine and some Bombay mix should do it.

Monday, 6 June 2011


After a weekend in London - sadness at leaving family there - but joy at returning to a place where there is no drone of traffic, no people pressure, no feeling of being in the bottom of a claustrophobic canyon. Having said that, Primrose Hill is probably a good place to be if you like open spaces though, having been taken to Camden Market on Saturday, some of the people pressure is overwhelming.

Back to mowing lawns - after golf.
Then looking out over Morecambe Bay to distant Ingleborough and the Forest of Bowland - do I prefer that to sitting on Primrose Hill and looking at The Gherkin, The Shard and the BT Tower - ?! No contest.
So here a few pictures taken today at The Nook -
from top to bottom - An explosion of crambe, roses and catmint, foxgloves and red, pink and white campion in the wood and roses with the poppy bed in the background.

When we came back he bird feeders were empty - their contents inside chaffinches, greenfinches and coal tits amongst other birds. Now they are filled again.

The small rabbit seems to have taken up residence and all I can do at the moment is pray it has enough grass to keep it off other things - like the last of the asparagus we had at lunch.

The garden is now growing and in places getting out of hand - grass exploding next to the paths and I will have to get out the dreaded strimmer and cut it back.

Many of the tadpoles have legs. Soon we will have frogs - with legs - no, sorry - Non!
I would rather they ate pests than we ate them.
Now snails in garlic butter - Mmmm!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Just had an irate phone call, "Why is there no blog?"
Pure idleness is the answer.

Pic - Nook from below, over copper beech hedge and broom, in foreground light coloured leaves of Horse chestnut but the variety indica.

Have been emptying large pot and replanting variegated holly, R weeding and wheedling that she weeds and I blog.

I have planted nicotiana for their evening scent, more white cosmos, some verbena bonariensis and sown all sorts of veg and such in the veg beds. Broccoli is weeded, paths are weedkillered (sorry organic bods) and logs barrowed up to the logshed.
Even took a log (ish) from the hedge laying and planted it as a sculpture - well, sort of. It is lurking behind the blue seat at the end of the willow tunnel.

Then there is the new idea of sound in the garden. This weekend there is an Aeolian display on Birkrigg top. Went up last night and it will be spectacular if a bit teeth grating. Unfortunately no good for our garden as too sheltered. So I will have to enjoy the dulcet tones of R.
"Why do you never do any weeding?" etc etc.
Not true but she has been doing a lot recently.
Perhaps I should give her another job. Shifting manure would be a great help but making tea and getting flowers for the house?
Actually I could not manage it all without her. She is fantastic - goes out in most weathers when I am muttering that it might rain and so on.

So I leave you with a view of the distant Coniston Fells over Ulverston through a very few of the wind instruments on Birkrigg.
It is amazing the sounds that wind can produce!