Tuesday, 29 March 2016


That's the name of the game. (I find it hard nowadays to remember that the BBC banned Bobby Darin's record.)

Whilst we wait for Storm Katie (Monday) it is Saturday and rain. So out with the old house plants - one Canna lily becomes four, one streptocarpus becomes three and the poinsettia is cut back so it will resprout (and it is repotted).

One of the old amaryllis is in bud, the other following. I had forgotten how fast they grow. Half of the lawns have had a light mow and look a lot better.

Two very different gardening images, the first from my daughter and son-in-law's place on top of Orlop Hill looking south, the second in the gardens at Worcester College, Oxford.

 Up in the wood the primroses are in full flower and I do not remember so many wild daffodils.
Lesser celandines - R regards these as a weed but I rather like them as long as they do not get out of hand.
The flowering currant is heavy with flowers by the path as well as behind the house.
The snakes head fritillaries on the banking are in bus but as they arte favoured by rabbits and squirrels I wonder if they will survive to flower.

It is Monday, Easter Monday and I am struggling with a bad back so I cannot wheel muck around etc - whoopee! It is hard enough bending down to pick daffodils for the house. And I have this sense that the garden is ready to explode with new growth, buds fattening, weeds spreading, grass growing.

So April is almost upon us - what else is in the garden - fruit? veg? Ah! flowers and a duck let lone a fine fat female pheasant patrolling by the pond.

So two types of euphorbia, Madame Lefevre tulips in all their brilliant red glory, flowering currant and anemones, let alone the rhubarb - at last - are thriving. Everything is multiplying - the daffodils, the anemones and by the look of her the hen pheasant (Not to mention the rabbits in the field.)

Then up on my Facebook pops the information that Easter is named after Ishtar, goddess of fertility and sex - hence eggs and especially bunnies! Thanks Becky.

Friday, 25 March 2016


The white birches would be washed in some gardens but I feel that is a bit too much! The old bark is peeling to reveal new white stuff. The originals are beautiful and we wait for the 15 new ones to turn white and light up the far corner of the garden.

All sorts of leaves are pushing through the leaf litter - wild garlic (ramsons) to the left and bluebells to the right.

By the stream the golden saxifrage is coming into flower creating carpets of yellowish green.
It is a wild flower and very welcome, non invasive and easy to weed if I have to do that.

The Clematis armandii is flowering well as are the crocuses. R likes these darker ones but is not so keen on the pale lavender coloured petals.

Also shrubs are putting out flowers - the quince on the left and flowering currant on the right.

Have prepared area of bed with old horse manure and planted six hollyhocks - three 'Halo white' and three rosea 'Nigra'. As they will be tall I have put in canes for support later on.

Talking of daffodils here are some of our primroses.

Daffs are coming out all over the place. I like particularly these wild ones. No matter how many crosses and hybrids and whatever the truly wild British daffodil is the best of the lot.
On the left tete-a-tetes and others outside the door, on the right forgotten bulbs overtaken by other plants - in this case a cistus planted much later and when the leaves of the daffs have died away.

I have just been out in the garden - mid afternoon - and a tawny owl is hooting from the trees next door.

Admission time - have been away for 5 days visiting family - wonderful time - and have returned to a garden full of daffodils and narcissi so I picked an armful for the house.

It is time to start sowing seeds, well a bit late by the moon's cycle, and some of the house plants need potting on. The amaryllis, in their fourth year, I think, are at it again and will be fed.

Anyone like rabbit pie?

Thursday, 17 March 2016


From our bedroom window, this morning, the light and reflected sky in the pond was like a cross between burnished metal and an oil slick, shimmering colours.
So, later, out by the pond extending the drain near the shed, collecting mole hills and putting the soil on the garden, picking up the interminable sticks and pruning the autumn fruiting raspberries that R does not like as they are golden and so have been banished to the far corner amongst the wild garlic.

The gang of new lambs is here, scrabbling under the field gate onto the track then not being able to work out how to get back into the field. At least they have not learned how to cross our cattle grid. 

R has begun to divide the snowdrops and replant in the green to spread them. I have been clearing more mole hills, trying again and failing to light the bonfire for more than a few minutes and begun to clear the overgrown rhododendrons and brambles from the top of the garden. I pruned the lace cap  hydrangea and found one low branch had rooted itself so a free shrub. As I cut back the growth it revealed daffodils underneath that had been hidden for years. 
I have taken new ivy off three of the big trees - there is some on three others to give cover and nesting places for the birds.

Sunday morning and the rain of yesterday has gone, the birds are singing and there is a mildness in the air - spring.
Mucking about again - don't tell R. Grandchildren pushed in the willow sticks for this thing so feel obliged to give it a go.

All sorts of shrubs and clematis are stirring.
I have assassinated the lemon scented geranium that comes into the kitchen through the winter - it gets too big. It has been in the family for years. My mother had it, I had it and lost it but had given my daughter a cutting so she gave it back to us. Each time we brush past it the leaves give us a strong waft of lemon.

Up at the top of the top banking the rhododendrons and ivy have encroached. So I began to hack back and increased the garden by a ten foot swathe!

The bonfire is now ten feet high and twelve feet across but as to whether it will light - read on. Add to that the discovery of a huge rabbit hole under a fallen elder, fallen from the weight of ivy growing on it, and daffodils hidden from view - well?
Meanwhile R was steadily lifting, dividing and replanting snowdrops all over the place.

Monday and I have cleared the whole banking, raked it off and had a bonfire what caught fire this time - and it is still burning and will be tomorrow. Lots of good ash to put on the blackcurrants (potash).

Tuesday is a day of rest, lunch out with two dogs and my sister-in-law (and R) and a rest.
Well I did stir up the fire again and burn a bit more leaf litter, some more sticks.
Hollyhocks have come from Sarah Raven and will need planting, a packet of Ammi seed as well - R says good for flower arranging but does create a mist of small white flowers in the garden.

I think that spring is not the only thing that has sprung - my back for one.
And over the pond the march hare is strutting his stuff - sigh!

Thursday, 10 March 2016


So spring has arrived and again, this morning, we was to snow - admittedly slushy but a couple of inches. It did not stop the goldfinches coming to the new squirrel proof feeder.

The ducks are on the pond most days now, dabbling away bottom feeding. I suppose there must be something to eat or they would not come.

The fat rabbit sits by the flowering currant most days if there is sun.

One regret is that I have still to see a hedgehog in the garden - have seen one three hundred yards away but not here. That does not mean they are not around though. I have created heaps of sticks in the wood in the hope they will use them to hibernate. One day it is cloudy and the next it is cold. A little hail overnight. 

When we get the paving repointed I wonder where the voles and mice will go. Currently, those that are not living in the bankings are under the slabs. Anyway we cannot repoint the lot as I have plonked a shed on part of it. We do have other transients - badger I am sure occasionally and once a fox. As yet I have not seen a deer but they are nearby. And I haven't mentioned grey squirrels!

Time to think on - snakes and slow worms? Definitely frogs and toads and perhaps newts, certainly moles.

That only leaves grandchildren I think.

Monday and gloriously sunny. Frost and the Northern Lights last night but sitting in sun this afternoon and warm.  R weeded and tidied her euphorbia bed and I topped it with compost as the soil is so poor. I weeded down by the stream and shed - all the while the  wild ducks waited patiently at the other end of the pond not alarmed at all.
The lamb gang is back in the field and will be out through the gate soon.

Yesterday pruned the willow and collected more fallen sticks. Then I explored the rhododendron and bramble jungle by the top fence looking for rabbit holes and found one. Don't know if it was deep enough but I put a light stick in the entrance to block it. Tomorrow we will see if it has been moved.

The pots outside the kitchen are looking good and the dog has recovered from losing its head. 

The euphorbias are coming into flower but we will have to wait and see whether the alliums have seeded.

The small blue iris that were a bit of a disappointment last year and I forgot were in the pots are splendid! 

All in all spring is afoot, even the orchid from Ikea is coming into flower yet again after a rest.

Mowed the banking and trimmed the lavender a bit to tidy it.
And now the forecast is for a week of dry weather - astonishing but badly needed.

Thursday, 3 March 2016


First primroses put in an eggcup in the kitchen. Crocuses are out in the wood.
Watched the rabbits scoot over the wall from next door and go back.
Squirrel on the shed thwarted by the new feeders - hope?
More path scraping, veg bed raking, R weeding and I found the anthemis had not been tidied so that was done.
The old bird feeder post has been taken away from outside the kitchen.
So as R nips off to church I am going to nip down the garden and try and light the recalcitrant bonfire - after a lot of noise and shifting and stuff to make sure all the potential inhabitants have left.

Put in some early potatoes and started to rebuild path over the dug out drain from the pond shown here before. The drain pipe and alkathene pipes are inserted between the liner and the underlay.

It is Tuesday - just when I had some vague sense of things drying out it has poured all night and the fields are awash, the stream is thundering out of the back meadow into the garden.

Moles are making mountains in the lawn which, I suppose, may be aiding drainage?
The soil is good to use - scraped up and put onto flower beds.

 It is time to prune back hard the golden willow at the bottom of the garden and one or two others have had unwanted and crossing branches, dead and diseased wood trimmed. 

The banking looks better after a whizz with the hover mower on the right hand side. Now I need to do the rest when it dries.

This is the view up the garden from the pond - R's little eucalyptus has grown a bit!

We went for a walk behind next door and there the snowdrops have had over a hundred years to establish. This is what we are aiming for in or wood - aiming for as we will not last another hundred years (I hope).
In Dutch they are called naakte wiifjes, in German Nackte Jungfrau - naked maidens but the best is from Gloucestershire where they are called Eve's Tears.

When Wednesday dawns it is snowing - for the second time this winter - but we are on the snow line and it is slushy.

Then R sees that the mallard are back, a pair on the pond for breakfast. I was going to hit a little white ball around a golf course but it is closed. R is off to Lancaster to see an old friend - not OLD just of long standing. Whilst she is away I cook (yes, really!) some stewy things for the freezer and make some plum jam.

Some pics of the usual birds in the garden - robin left, bluetit right.

Even the rabbits here have bad habits - not that I could bite my toenails any more - not that ever could!

The paper has just arrived through the letter box, it is sunny now and I am going to have my breakfast.