Thursday, 31 May 2018


It is Sunday 27th May, 26C, a bit humid and the garden is bone dry. We had a little rain on Friday but none is forecast for a fortnight.
Thank heavens for a borehole - I am out reviving collapsed rhubarb and lovage, watering the transplanted roses and seed beds.

Sitting outside on the bench in a cloud of self sown aquilegia, under a whirl of house martins wings, is bliss. I am with a beer (R glass of wine) and some black pepper crisps looking across Morecambe Bay to the Ashton Memorial at Lancaster, at least eighteen miles away as the crow flies (40 miles by road).

The watering is done for the day (we had a shower of rain two hours later)(of course) and I did a bit of grass cutting (to reveal the glory of the Viburnum plicatum Mariesii) and trimming of the beech hedge so we can walk through to the top garden (wood)   now a carpet of campion and pignut.

Asparagus continues and the new plants thrive, germination of seeds is slow except for the courgettes and butternut squash in the shed. I have bought six new plants to fill in gaps.
The boggy bit of lawn has been tined with a fork and a small trench dug to the ditch from the new spring by the eucalyptus. 
This tree does not look too happy and I wonder if it is the very cold winter or the ground in which it stands becoming soggy.

Come Monday and by midday it is 27C here in cold damp Cumbria. Five pounds of rhubarb put in the freezer and asparagus for lunch again.

Everything is growing so much in the warm weather - the sweet cicely is 5 feet tall! Must buy some fish - hake great covered in chopped lovage and sweet cicely in melted butter.

Found an old wren's nest in a honeysuckle by the wood shed, a ball of moss with a narrow entrance hole.

Down by the pond the candelabra primulas are fine - I decided not to weed this bed this year and see how they went - and they are okay though the thug pendulous sedge is making a comeback.

There are poppies everywhere.

And a lot of white - the lilac is so white, and scented

and the two viburnum on the banking splendid, Mariesii left, wild Guelder Rose right.
Some people suggest I talk a lot of rhubarb so here it is. 

Having called this blog drought it has just started raining (Wednesday evening).

My good friend Neil Curry has just presented me with his latest collection of poetry - On Keeping Company With Mrs Woolf published by Shoestring Press - I cannot compete with that.

Thursday, 24 May 2018


168 little hours.

Watering as the soil is dry, carrots through, tree peony and lilacs in flower and got up today (Sunday) to a cuckoo calling and house martins whizzing past the window. Having said that there are very few martins and swallows around. The may blossom is just coming out (late), there are blue camasses in the grass on the top banking and the first oriental poppy.

However the hebe looks moribund and the eucryphia is very tattered and its leaves browned and sparse. We have lost all the rosemarys except the one big one outside the kitchen.

We are enjoying the asparagus and R has hand weeded the bed - the only way. The new plants are alive and sending up their first thin shoots.

The forget me nots are everywhere, in between the paving slabs, in the flowerbeds and up in the wood - lovely, mm, not sure about between the slabs.

And then there is a lot of yellow after the daffodils - 

the genista,

the azalea - on the left the one I deadheaded last year full of scented flowers and on the right the one I did not. So guess what I will be doing later this year.
The tree peony on the banking is flowering as is the Viburnum plicatum "Mariesii". The two do not really go together. The peony is a cutting from a plant my mother had and this has been passed around the family. Even though she died nearly eighteen years ago we take a bit of her memory with us when we move house.

There are some oranges too like Welsh poppies - the orange seems to be out-breeding and -seeding the yellow, the Euphorbia by the shed and even orange tip butterflies on the Garlic Mustard (Jack-by-the-hedge) in the wood.

 It is always satisfying when something tried comes off - planting the copper beech behind the white birches accentuates the whiteness of their trunks.
The younger trees are just beginning to turn white.

And by Thursday the hawthorn trees are laden with blossom like snow carpeting their branches.

When we were up in Scotland the gorse was magnificent in blasts of yellow with its heavy honey scent.

 The trouble with this time of year is that there is so much to say - I have not mentioned taking out the tulips from the pots now that they are done and laying them in trays in the shed to dry off for next year. We are hoping to replace them with Erysimum Bowles Mauve but I have chanced my arm and stuck some rather small white agapanthus in for now.

The weather continues dry and hot - not like north west England at all.

Saturday, 19 May 2018


The garden is exploding with growth - grasses, masses of ribwort plantain on the bankings, trees coming into leaf and weeds in abundance.

There is a lot of creature bonding going on - pheasants together, two blue tits in the seed feeder and every so often one passes a bit to the other.

 Thinking of winter days one wonders where it all comes from. However the inhabitants have to be fed like this Benjamin Bunny come in from the bottom field.

I have not been to see the desecration of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit by Columbia Pictures. It was bad enough when they assassinated Winnie the Pooh but . . .

The cherries are done along with primroses and cowslips, the bluebells beginning to develop seed and scatter their beauty around - lovely plant in wood, weed in veg bed.
Forgetmenots are everywhere.

Up in the wood there are the usuals - pignut, bluebells, red campion and so on. 
One of my favourites is the delicate wood sorrel, a plant of shady and secret niches.
An oxalis its leaves are edible and go well with fish with a flavour that is a bit citrussy (is there such a word as citrussy?)(there is now.)

This clump is the regrowing stumps of the cut-leaved elder bursting with new growth.

I have hacked back the clematis armandii now it has ceased flowering and in the one by the shed was an old blackbird's nest. (The nest was old, I do not know the age of the bird.) Several of the rosemary bushes on the lower banking succumbed the vicious cold and have been removed.

And then we went to Scotland for a sunny week by the sea.

And when we get back the pond is full of algae, the weeds have grown, the rhubarb has collapsed (as there has been no rain) and so on and so on.

A summary of where we are next blog.

Thursday, 10 May 2018


It is all happening - suddenly it is warm, swallows and martins have arrived, the rhododendron we got from near Matlock is flowering and its scent carried right across the garden. What a difference a bit of sunshine makes (and a bit of warmth). Coffee outside swathed in birdsong.

There is an endless removal of algae from the pond - surely there cannot be enough nutrient for it all?
A snow of petals under the cherries on the path denotes how short the blossom season has been with the late spring and sudden heat.

And all through the garden the season moves on, tulips beginning to pass, rhododendrons beginning to flower. In the late autumn I conducted an experiment with the azaleas - deadheading one bush and leaving the other alone. The one I deadheaded is covered in buds, the other not much. So I know what I have to do come later in the year.

 Up by the woodland edge the pieris BC gave us is in fine colour with the scattered forgetmenots in the background. 
Our bluebells are splendid and spreading (too much in some places) and there is the occasional white version as you can see in the middle here in the far woodland shade. Yet, even here weeding needs to be done - brambles and ivy, tree seedlings everywhere.

 The fruit tree blossom is partly over though the apple is not yet out. On the left is the greengage I and A gave us - fingers crossed it escaped the frost last week.

On the right are the croziers of the royal fern unfurling by the stream.

 The older white birch look good and now the copper beech behind is getting bigger it sets them off well.

Other news - back from San Gimignano in Italy I have been messing with the plethora of photos I took like this one of buttercups in a meadow. Even the humble buttercup can be dramatic.

There was wisteria in abundance too. I especially like this one trained over a doorway in the Rocca inviting one through.

Twice we have tried to grow a wisteria only for them to die without flowering. Perhaps when we have upsized and we have vacant wall space we can try again.

Last Saturday was the Print Festival in Ulverston and R bought a screen print by Gail Mason. Each on is unique. This one is called Learning to Love Yellow.

And then to make everything perfect we heard our first cuckoo, though it was in Dunnerdale.

Friday, 4 May 2018


Before I get to sowing spinach and other less important stuff I am going to have a little rant.
All the ecological and similar degradation going on with our planet comes down to one thing - too many human beings. 
As we have only one place to live (at present) we should be existing in harmony with it. BUT we do not, we pollute, destroy, manipulate the earth for greed, for economic growth. 
As an elderly fogey I watch the manipulation of dna with alarm, it can eradicate disease, enable us to live longer, create new forms of life (blue roses?), genetically modify everything.
And so the world becomes infested with humans.
Enough, but lastly I apologise to subsequent generations for the mess we have left.

Back to humble blogging -
And I am raking out algae from the pond and seeing no tadpoles - perhaps the ducks ate the lot? BUT I have just seen a newt whizzing off into the depths. No house martins yet and only a couple of swallows passing through. The cold winter and early spring has put everything back.

And I am dead heading rhubarb, raking over veg beds, tidying the asparagus bed as the spears come up.

We have glorious damson blossom but, alas, have also had a couple of frosts so we may get no fruit, only time will tell.

R has been sowing parsnips, land cress, coriander and chard whilst I have sown our first carrots and spinach.

On Tuesday we had a power cut and realised that no internet, no tv, no radio etc etc is a bit of a shock. We were out for 15 hours. R said never mind I'll microwave something as the Aga temperature fell due to its thermostat. 😁
In the end we went into town for supper.
The main problem is the borehole pump did not function so we had no water. Down to the pond with a bucket for the WC.

There is some good news though, via Facebook, found out that we are entitled to £75 compensation as electricity off for more than 12 hours.

We are out to builders for the extension and await tenders.

I am pulling out sycamore seedlings by the bucketful which is doing my dodgy back no good at all.

The garden is bright with tulips - pots by the door, one on the table outside the kitchen and mainly old ones in the flower beds.

The white honesty has sown itself, not just in the garden but all along the hedge line in the horse paddock next door and the clematis armandii by the veg beds is flowering well. The one on the mower shed is not so happy and will need a good prune.
Of course the cherries are magnificent but already petals are falling onto the ground like snow.

There are many primroses in the wood and on the upper bankings but we also have a few plants of the cowslip. If these cross with the primroses will we get oxlips? I will let them self seed and we will see.

There seems to be plenty of yellow now with the daffs and so on but also reds - flowering currant, the quince

but most splendidly of all the camellia by the shed which even sports a white flower or two on one stem.