Sunday, 28 August 2016


This is the full moon, a good time for planting root crops, perennials, bulbs and transplanting. And do I believe in this - I am not sure but the hint of Astrology does make me uncomfortable. As a man of science, somewhat, it does smack a bit of hocus locus.

The seasons are, of course, relevant but gardening by an orbiting satellite? - in 2003 Which Gardening magazine investigated this and found no scientific evidence to support the claims made.

To move on - the roses are coming again in all their glory - here is a heady Emma Hamilton.

and two others.

 The door is open and R is working in her shed down by the pond.

She is not the only thing down there - the grey heron is back and looking for a bite to eat (or rather a swallow).

The pond is looking good at the moment - especially after the heavy rain of the last two days. However there is some bubbling algae at the margins - not so attractive. I am sure this is a good home to many creatures but it is a bit manky.

I have mown a rough track down the banking to give some idea of the route the steps might take from the house. Since I began keeping the grass there a little more under control the main weed is the ribwort plantain.

And then it is Monday and the stream is across the lawn, the pond overflowing and we are back to soaking weather. It has rained all night so we need a dry day or ten. My mower crossing is washed away, branches block the road to Pennington, the golf course is shut and the village is a waterfall. S is away with his family in Corfu - 34C - he is missing all the fun!

The rain is stopped and we have one sunny warm day so I weed, avoid the wasps picking plums and collect first windfall apples. R murders the buddleia outside the kitchen window - well amputates its limbs - but it will survive. (I hope.)

And after the rain the bird feeders are full of gooey peanuts - so a scrape out, was, dry and restock.

And then there are  microbeads of plastic - in fact there seems to be plastic in everything and everything is in plastic - is this the cause of "modern diseases" like dementia, cancers etc?

Out with the small mower - grass still to sodden to use sit on mower. I had to remove many stones from the grass so the blades would not get ruined. R dead heading.

C coming to stay - hooray!

I pray for a few dry days to get the garden back on track.

And then as I come out of the back door this, on the left, is crawling on the tarmac, heading from its feed plant rosebay willow herb to ? forming a chrysalis. It is an elephant hawkmoth. It turns into the pink beauty on the right.

Sunday, 21 August 2016


Actually had a couple of sunny days! Weeded the courgette bed and found some carrots and basil I had forgotten. We have a lot of courgettes this year but there is only so much you can do with them. (Make vegetable animals?)

The year's moving on - the heron is back at the pond.

Eating the first Victoria Plums - there is something special after a hard slog in the garden, walking up to the tree and picking off a ripe plum, then sinking teeth into it. (Beware gorging wasps tho')

The garden is finally home to butterflies - apart from the whites others include Painted Ladies, Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshells.

On the left a gingko. Just found this primitive tree can live to 3500 years so we might not make its final year! On the right the eucryphia in all its splendour. I know - they can grow to eighty feet but it is still early days. The scent is a bonus. It its good to have a flowering tree this late in the summer - an added asset to the garden but perhaps it would have been easier if I had not planted it in the lawn.

The rose Golden Showers is also flowering abundantly again down on the fence by the veg beds.

And here are some weeded beds looking rather empty at the present.

We have just had a lovely afternoon drinking tea and eating biscuits and visiting a lovely garden at Lowick - but they have the same problem we have - some plants just do too well and go rampant.

Now, no wonder we have no rabbits any more - fox in the night again exit stage left - but why always from the backside?

Pondering the world as I shaved this morning (I still need to shave) I noticed that the beard (if that's what you can call it) on the right side of my chin grows faster then elsewhere. It is funny how the inconsequential can seem relevant - the comment is not, has nothing to with gardening except when I notice that the weeds in one party of a flower bed thrive whereas elsewhere are wispy and scraggy like much of my beard.

Friday - it rained until evening. Saturday and it is raining in through the open window, gales - not going to Rutland Show - field will be a bog? Anyway sunshine in the garden if not literally. The crocosmias and nasturtiums by the path are an explosion of hot colour. As you can see there are also some "lamb's lugs" (stachys) there to give a little relief and a different texture plus the shrubby blue clematis at the top. I am not sure the white double achillea goes so may need to move that for next year.

So the storm passes, the wood is full of fallen sticks and the Bramley apple is leaning precariously over the black currants weighed down by fruit. I have put two props in to try and hold it up. I think the soil has become so wet that the roots are losing their purchase.

Tomorrow will tell.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


Have an upstairs, my first name is William but only banks use it - I use Duncan - all my parents' fault. And the Beatles play continuously in the car since my son C gave me the lot.

I am going to say a bit about the pond. We have had CR here to give us a quote for steps from the house straight (more or less) down to the pond - one of R's ideas.

 The pond has, of course, plants like the eater lilies that we put in but also arrivals from ?
Left is water mint and right Marsh woundwort. 

The flowering rush on the right here is one of the prettier plants we have put into the water. On the left is wild angelica which flourishes in the garden.

I think, probably the ducks but it might have been the herons have brought in pondweed.

 Then there are the creepy crawlies or, in this case the water boatmen with their legs propelling themselves through the water just like miniature rowing boats.

In the far lower corner, over the fence is a large wild cherry tree and this has been looking more and more sickly over the last few years - now a large piece has fallen down by the shed so I have sawn off what I can a taken it up to the bonfire.

A good day Thursday with old friends and their family despite the wet weather. Walking around with others makes me looks at the garden through other eyes - they were very polite and did not see the weeds, jungle, mess etc.

It is Friday and a man is here to fix a fast charger for the car. I have emptied the last of the potato sacks and frankly they are a bit of a disappointment in the the weight of tubers produced. The courgettes are almost out of hand and threatening to be marrows.

A-p-a-t-h-yitis has struck (with a bit of a cold, rain, miserable summer up here, a sea of weeds, fast growing grass, waterlogged lawn areas, a dose of Black Dog and an attack of white fly) so I curl up in the house with Bill Bryson's new book, The Road to Little Dribbling. 
Then the sun came out.

In the end had to mow, R scattered bluebell seed here there and everywhere.

The agapanthus are thriving - reminding me of Auckland in NZ where they grow wild.

And I have sent in a report on the Tree Bumblebee - took this photo - this species is gradually spreading north - more warming of the globe!

 When one has a garden who has time for the Olympics. I shall go in search of some garden performance enhancing drugs like Growmore and horse manure. Actually - fancy being accused of testing positive for horse dung!

No, I don't fancy it really.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016


I had hoped to put Rat - The Movie here but the video seems to not want to play. The Cam has now captured more than yours truly - birds including a Jay and, of course, Megatron the neighbour's black cat but the star so far is Brown Ratty.

It's all go outside my window - a greater spotted woodpecker flew in and hit the shed wall - I have moved the big peanut feeder along a bit. It landed where it used to be and found it was not there! Then a squirrel on the feeder was attacked and chased off by another in a whirl of fur.

To some bits and bobs - the Magnolia grandiflora is flowering - huge blooms - I have put my pen in one so you can see how big they are. Down by the pond the reed mace are coming along nicely - the heads are the nearest thing I know to plant fur when you touch it.

We have lots of plums, some pears and damsons and this load of cooking apples coming along. This is the first time we have had a sizeable crop from this tree. As I forgot to put a grease band on the trunk I hope the codlin moth caterpillars stay away. Mind you, knowing our luck, we will have the infestation to end all infestations.

On the left the buddleia is huge. I cut this back to the level of the white line every February so you can see how much growth we have - so far. On the right the big brachyglottis (senecio) by the path has flowered poorly this year and will soon be cut hard back.

One of the best bits of the garden is the wood, especially when the late light shines through the grasses and seed heads.
The hydrangea on the right was given to us by my ex partner Pam R and is thriving at the margin of the trees despite the shade.

Ah! Success - B Rat rides at last. And now I have an night video of Reynard the Fox on the path up from the pond. A rear view it must be admitted but this snapshot from the video means - yes, we do have wild life in the garden - and not just the grand children.
But can we get more - watch this space. Of course all this videoing means the weeds grow apace and the grass is long and lanky. I did dead head the white willow herb - but too late - the feathery seeds scattered far and wide.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016


Out scything under the Bramley apple to get rid of the long grass so I can see fallen apples. Also cut the sides of the paths in the wood, fed the plants in pots and the roses to give them a boost.

Just mown most of lawn and the bottom area by the hedge is very boggy. I think the ditch/stream by the hedge is blocked so lots of muddy fun coming up. In fact have scythed most of the hedge ditch side now and cleared the stream - water coming up from under the lawn, not from the ditch.

So I put the Bushnell Camera near the rat trap and this morning, when I looked out of the window, the trap was shut. There was nothing in it and it was upside down. So to download the videos - 156 of them! There were lots of pigeons and chaffinches and A CAT in the night. It tried to get to the bait but the trap shut on its neck and it had trouble getting free. Nothing else - and then I accidentally deleted the lot so here we go again.

My sis in law gave me a thermometer for my birthday but it is useless - keeps showing low temperatures when I want it to be hot. Talking of hot I do like the pelargoniums in the pot on the paving and the "hot" red of their flowers. This contrasts with the cool blue of the agapanthus.

Contrasts are always good in the garden - like the Crocosmia lucifer planted by the wall beyond the white birches.

At the moment P and C are here. Today I took C around the garden and he was surprised by the size of everything - especially the eucalyptus. It is great to have them stay - always a delight.

 On the left is the rhubarb bed in front of the asparagus bed, both thriving. The blue bag has the last of the Monty Don potatoes. On the right are red currants and raspberries, now pruned and tied in for next year.

I have also trimmed the magnolia grandiflora as it was encroaching on the upper path and cut back the Rambling Rector Rose as it is getting out of hand - again.

 Not all colour is in flowers - these are the young shoots and leaves of copper beech in the mixed beech hedge.

The main path has a moss problem - probably because of poor drainage and the wet cool climate. More work needed I think.

This afternoon R and I sat outside the kitchen in the sun and soaked in the view, mug of tea in hand and crossword on knee.

That was yesterday - raining now, washing out getting wet, cock pheasant set off rat trap, C and P going - we will miss them.
We have had a book title for the blog so now a song title - Every time you go away etc etc. Children - you rear them, they leave you, come back from time to time, but, you know, every time they go again it's a bit like a new bereavement!

Obviously time to go out and wield the scythe with vicious abandon (except it is raining, soft soaking Cumbria mizzle)(so I think I will stay in.)
Cup of tea?

And for the next three weeks virtually the whole of the three BBC channels is Olympics! A change from football and tennis and golf I suppose. Please can I have some of my licence fee back?