Thursday, 29 March 2012


Yes, it is true. The bluebells are coming into flower in the wood six weeks early.

We have the usual primroses and snowflakes and so on but bluebells!

Now, you may notice that something has been having a good nibble at the primrose petals in this picture, well the daffs have suffered also and I have not yet found the beetle or bug causing it - yet!

It has to be said that the weather, 23C, is unseasonably warm and because of that I worry for the fruit. One cherry is already out and the buds on the plum, damsons and pear are bursting. Will we get a frost and no crop?

I love sitting here looking out of the window where I have placed 2 feeders and to one side a nest box. Last year spotted flycatchers investigated but decided against. I have improved the shelter for the box this year - fingers crossed.
And now 2 goldfinches have landed on the feeders - what birds.

Talking of birds we had
another tragedy, I think caused by a passing sparrowhawk. One greenfinch panicked and flew into the study window and breaking its neck.

Work goes on in the garden, the usual mower needs an overhaul badly - I have rather neglected it - and tomorrow Harry A arrives with a sit on mower for me to try in my senility. (Might be fun though and I am sure younger members of the family might actually do some mowing?)

I have been repairing
the woodland steps which are ageing and have begun to construct 2 large compost bays beyond the veg beds. This will enable me to get rid of those by the back door.

Our basil in the kitchen which we bought from a supermarket 18 months ago has succumbed to overwatering - we both watered it by mistake. I managed to take three cuttings so we have three young plants. You just bung them in a jam jar of water and they root. Then they can be potted up.

Oh! What wonderful weather. The garden is Eden. Sitting with the Kakuro and a cuppa in a riot of birdsong and scent (from the Skimmias) looking out over Low Furness and Morecambe Bay is heaven.

But Bluebells in march?

Sunday, 25 March 2012


It is all happening - mowing, mulching, pruning (gooseberries), weeding - it is all happening.
This is the view from the wood.

So what do I put on the blog?

There is so much to do.

So I have decided to put up a lot of photographs of colour, of flowers and shrubs.

And the sun is shining and shining. It is 19C and the outdoor table and bench have
been moved onto the paved area.

R has weeded the primula bed by the stream (candelabra primulas.)

And I made a spur-of-the-moment purchase on the market which you can see below. This had to be planted and mulched.

The garden feels timeless yet hurrying on towards summer - actually it is a bit timeless as the watch I bought in Argos in Haverfordwest in about 1990 has given up the ghost. (Mm! However there is a rather nice Armani watch in a shop in Kendal . . . .)

So here is the Magnolia
I bought for £25 on spec.

Ah! The 'phone rings - R wants a lift back from church - back in a mo'.

I am back to be greeted by a jay squawking at me and the thundering song of a wren. How does such a tiny bird make such a loud noise?

The protectors on the magnolia stems are to keep rabbits from stripping the bark. Apparently rabbits love magnolia bark.

And, finally, here is an image
just to show that they have flowered all summer last year, all autumn, all winter and are now still at it this spring.

No time to waste (unfortunately) so lunch, watching the news (this is what I say after lunch which means I might just nod off for a few minutes) and then back to the fray.
Should I have lunch outside?
Al fresco?
Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, 23 March 2012


I will explain the title later but it is low 60s F and I have been MOWING the lawn - and finding out that it is time to change strategy.

While I am rambling on here is a picture of two big pots from above with a tip - they can be very heavy when full especially if crocks or stones are put in the bottom for drainage, so, use old plastic bottles and such - very lightweight.

Now back to mowing and the limitations of limping man.
Harry from the farm machinery people has been round and is coming next week to demonstrate a sit-on mower, one to which I can attach a trailer to go and fetch manure. Part two consists of selective mowing - close cut paths and sitting areas where the grass cuttings are removed and rougher areas mown orchard style with mulching or just leaving the mowings on the surface.

There are daffs everywhere but, for all the hybridising and cross breeding and so on the little wild daff shown here is the best, (mind you tete-a-tete flowers for ages.)

The pond is teeming with taddies, thousands of them and tulips are coming out. The Memsahib is brambling away and I have removed the posts and barbed wire from the far end to reveal a dry-stone wall carpeted with moss - beautiful but the wall looks a bit unstable.

Son R in India (hence Mysore) where it is 34C and he has Dehli belly (hence the title of the blog). I sit in the sun here and sip Indian tea and think of him. Funnily enough it sounds like his problems were not caused by Curry but a pizza!

So, to end with a poem - not mine - but from Gael Turnbull who used to live and work near here for a while.

While working in the garden recently, I dug
a small fragment of truth.

It was adherent all over with clay, and must have been
buried for many years, but I recognised what it was almost at once.

At first we kept it on the mantlepiece in the living room,
but it was often embarrassing to visitors and I eventually
put it on my desk in the study, for a paper-weight.

I asked several close friends what they thought I ought to do
with it, but no one was sure. 'Keep it for your children,'
some said, 'It is a great curiosity.' Others suggested
the local museum.

It was too heavy to take with us when we went on out holidays.
While we were gone, someone broke into the house and stole it.
The police said they would make investigations,
and asked me, 'Could you identify it agin as yours, if you
saw it?'

Perhaps. But I am not sure I do want it back. After all,
if whoever it was should have found some use for it ...

Monday, 12 March 2012


It is overcast, chilly and very still in the garden this morning - nothing is moving apart from birds - Mrs Pheas. is ambling up into the daffodils on the high banking. She nests every year in the rhododendrons at the top.

The big bud is Madame Lefevre
- first tulip and a glory when open in the sun, scarlet and black centre - what sun? My daughter tells me they are basking in Herefordshire.

Last night we had a lot of tuwhitting but not much tuwhooing so the tawny owls are just starting to get their act together.

I have made a gate (of sorts) for the rabbit proof pen - a bit of a cobbled job but it works. and R has been weeding and brambling like a trooper, plugging away and her only pay was a cup of tea.

Every day, if possible, I trundle down to the horse manure mountain in the field below the house and load up. It is a long slog back up the hill but the stuff is magnificent and have now done the rhubarb as well as the roses.

I have put out the last of the small oriental poppies and nearly forgot to water them, blocked another leak from the pond before the frog spawn dried and tinkered.

After a Witherslack walk in birdsong we were out buying again - cannot resist sometimes - to wonderful Halecat Nurseries - bought Mrs Bradshaw again (the
geum), a blue blue sea holly,
an even bluer delphinium (now with bottomless flowerpot over it - with a band of copper to try and keep away the molluscs) and, for R, the brief but abundant flowering Rose Albertine to go up the hedge by her writing shed.

I stand in the garden and all I can hear are the birds, the lambs and water tumbling in our stream.

It is time to shift manure again.

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Yes, it is true, there I was looking at the garden from the bedroom window when consternation erupted in the rookery next door and gliding over the garden went a red kite - presumably one of those released last year at Grisedale Forest. It makes a change from tits and finches though I did see a blue tit
chase off an aggressive greenfinch on the peanut feeder which surprised me, and the greenfinch.

So to a discovery - a Chinese Proverb - "Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come." I like that.

Just dug up all the leeks left and made some leek and potato soup for the freezer (or Vichyssoise if you like things cold.) The bed they were in will now become a cutting bed as it is outside Stalag Rabbit 1 shown here.

So sing -
things can only get better - some finches are FINCHES - but there are goldfinches on the feeder outside my study window!

And a treecreeper in the ash behind.

And Mr Pheas wandering by.

So here it is -
Recipe -

A load of leeks at least 6 large - get the bits of soil out of the top,
four medium potatoes,
one big onion,
3 pints chicken stock,
1 pint milk,
salt and pepper,
1/2 pound butter.

Chop leeks, onion and potato, melt butter in big pan, soften veg in butter, season, bring to boil (watch milk does not boil over) and put in simmering oven of Aga for 1 hour.
Allow to cool and liquidise.
Pop in freezer or reheat and serve with chopped chive and cream or creme fraiche.

In summer eat cold (if you want).
Actually it rarely gets hot enough here to want to do that!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


Still there are wintry showers yet the birds visit my new peanut feeder in abundance - see photo to right - feeder on shed, snow on path.

R has been at the brambles and I went down the road to the horse ladies who have a gigantic heap of the best vintage and brought back a barrowful for the roses.

Yesterday I put up the chicken wire fencing around two of the raised veg beds and then buried the bottom nine inches of the wire angled out from the bottom. This stops the lovely little bunnies from digging under the netting. All I need to do now is make a gate and net that.

I have noticed that nesting and mating behaviour is winding up with the increased daylight, especially in the pond, though two mallard were feeding hard this morning. In the hedgerows and fields the gorse is, as ever, blooming.

(cyssan - O.E. - a kiss)

Gold gorse
the kiss thorn,
with soft keels
and knives drawn,
spikes doused
in flaxen fire,
branches bound
in barbed wire,

Gold gorse
the wild whin,
one flower
and kissing's in,
but no bloom
kissing's out
and love drowns
- a kiss drought -

but kiss of life,
kiss of death,
saw, saying,
Kiss the rod?
Scourge the punner?
Kiss the daughter
of the gunner?

Gold gorse
the crackling shrub
with brittle pods
and bodkin scrub,
with linnet nests
of woven grass
wrapped in shards
of broken glass.

Gold gorse -
paper of pins,
that's the way
it all begins,
that's the way
to love and bliss,
one flower -
one kiss.

Saturday, 3 March 2012


Buddleias and roses pruned, snowdrops fading, daffs arriving, celandines out as are the first clump of primroses.
A mistle thrush sings in the big tree and a song thrush sings at the other end of the garden.
I have dug lucifer up as he was getting unruly and pushed his corms into a hole by the far wall and onto a bank near the veg beds. Jeanie got some.
The choysia which was blown over by the winter gales, and half out of the ground, has been moved to the big banking along with a red tree paeony. As I was moving the latter a bit fell off with root so now I have two.
Today a Rosa mundi arrived by post - at the request of R - and this has been put at the south end of the rose bed.
We have leaves on the flowering currant and bucket loads of frogspawn in the pond.

The whole place is going Billy Cotton. (Wakey! Wakey!)

To the picture of our 'Notable" Sycamore (c/o Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Search) and a desire to consider ladders and tree houses. The tree is very climbable as my son-in-law once demonstrated.
However, I do not wish to damage its grandeur so - ?

Just had walkabout with my brother and noticed the pulmonaria in flower, came in house and mud on shoes - not a good idea.

This is when one finds out what bulb is where and when surprises spring forth, when one mutters under one's breath having just put in a new plant only to find that in doing do I have dug up something.

The enemy has been seen but not using its retreat under the well.
I have not yet put the chicken wire fencing around the veg beds which I must do.
I hear a cry of shotgun again from the other room at which the scut vanishes.

Son R saw a green woodpecker nearby two days ago - we are used to the greater spotted variety - and the tawny owls are in cahoots all night long. Birds everywhere stuffing their beaks with my sunflower seed and peanuts - even a robin pecking the peanuts. The blackbirds are not too keen on melon but half an apple and they are anyone's bird.

So to this sign found on the top of Hampsfell near Grange-over-Sands.

I can understand left and right but straight up?

Is this the footpath to heaven?