Wednesday, 29 August 2018


Well, the second potato dug up did better than the first. I had forgotten they were redskins - a bit floury but good for roasties. 

I have finally struggled out between showers and with the temperature only 13C (it feels like autumn already) to mow some of the lawn with the little mower. Even so there was a lot of clogging.

The air outside is full of birds from herons (pterodactyls) and buzzards to bluetits and a horde of goldfinches. (That should be a charm really.)
The pheasants are skulking in the undergrowth

and there is a mess under the feeders (especially from the goldfinches and their Nyger seed) that I need to clear up. The chaffinches seem to like ground feeding though not exclusively and here is a dunnock that had crept out of the bushes. Who would think that this little brown bird is one of the most promiscuous.

After R trimmed back the big buddleia outside the kitchen window to let in some light I decided more radical action was needed so it is now a stump. Whether it regrows - ? - we will see. There is plenty of buddleia elsewhere. On Saturday I counted 14 small tortoiseshell butterflies on the big one by the septic tank.

Now the scythe has been out, only a smaller Austrian one not the big English blade, and part of the wood is done. Of course it is the raking off and carting away that is hard work. I do not want to leave the cut stuff on the ground as it feeds the soil and changes the wood. Wild flowers in woodland tend to like a poor earth.
R has pulled up all the opium poppies and borage from the new bed.

 On the right is our pear - not a good crop this year - and we have only  a handful; of Victoria plums - left.

 On the other hand the Bramley apples and damsons are looking good for a bumper crop. They must have missed the frost on the blossom.

By the back door (the front door but it is at the back) the michaelmas daisies are out of control flopping over the paving - they will have to come out later. Meanwhile I have used two old tree stakes to hold them back so the postman does not get sodden trousers.

And finally the warm muggy wet weather has brought out the cluster flies, here on a storage box by the veg beds - do not mind them - not like the clegs, that bite, their pincer-like mouth parts slicing through the skin.

Thursday, 23 August 2018


Two examples of a colour blast, zinnia and a crocosmia. There is nothing subtle about these flowers. As there is nothing subtle about the Black-eyed Susan or rudbeckia growing in the cutting bed.

It was with colour in mind the waste bit of ground was sown with poppies and so on.
And flowers are not the only hit of colour in the garden. The rose hips are with us - early because of the hot summer (now gone)(it is raining again) much like other fruit - there are ripe blackberries in the hedgerows, not as sweet as they might be but certainly edible. The Victoria plum is having a year off so only half a dozen which we will eat straight off the tree.

The cutting garden is full of gladioli and the red alstroemerias go on and on. The white phlox is just coming out. Ignore the buddleia seedling in the foreground - it will have to be shifted.

The courgette plants are bursting out of their bed and most of the veg is thriving - with the aid of some dilute Maxicrop - a seaweed concentrate.
One problem I have is with suckers put up by the big damson tree - they are all over the place. I dig them up, cut them off but they keep coming. On the other hand this tree is loaded with damsons so I can forgive (a bit).
In the distance you can see how well the rhubarb and asparagus is doing.

I have still not extracted the water lily from the pond - the one in the foreground above. It is our version of a Kraken - keeps on waking and will not go to sleep - well it will in the autumn when the leaves die back.
One day the teeth will have to be gritted and I shall step into the hidden depths (less than a metre).

 Two views up the path in front of the house from by the new rose bed. One plant that struggled before has loved its move - this sedum is a revitalised plant now. I think it is Sedum telphinium atropurpureum - I think.

The rain is raining,
The grass is growing,
I can't cut the lawn,
What do I care 
I've got my love to keep me  . . . .
er, well with her cold feet the answer cannot be warm.

Of course I have the answer - wilding - just let everything go but a small bed by the house. The trouble is I have an inbuilt tendency to like a cut lawn, a weed free bed and so on.

Answers on how to rid myself of this tendency please (without using drugs)(and that includes alcohol).

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


Dug up the first potato - not many but plenty of weight - remember how they were before I planted them - a little long in the radicle - extreme chitting?
I once did a surreal doodle called Under the Big Potato -

Enough spudfoolery, to more important things.

When we moved the rose bed I found the white agapanthus was more or less dead. I bunged it in anyway and forgot it. After all these months there are small shoots breaking the surface of the soil.

Not all the damaged and possibly dead plants are gone. It reminds one of the urge to live, to survive.
That is not something much of the human population of the world seems to have. As the earth heats up we seem to have a death wish. I apologise to generations to come for the mess my generation has made of this planet.
If we do not do anything then one day we will be gone, wiped out with much of the world's flora and fauna. The world will go on - it will not be the end of the world - just a different world.

Let me talk pond - we are putting off going in and removing the biggest water lily, a wet muddy and unpleasant thing to do - the lily is so big it will take a lot of shifting.

A female Aeshna cyanea, the Common Hawker is laying eggs on the wood at the outlet of the pond carefully placing each one.
She is difficult to photograph until she settles, moving like a miniature helicopter above the water.

Morning, and from out bedroom window R sees two mallard duck and a heron by the pond sharing the lower end with the three iron birds by Adam Booth of Piper's Forge at Kirkpatrick Durham.

Now to unwelcome visitors. On the right bark chewed from one of the white birches - grey squirrel most likely but could be roe deer.
The tree may survive albeit scarred. Do I put a guard back on it - I do not know.

Eating our carrots - so sweet straight out of the ground. The greengages are picked - also sweet straight off the tree. 

Here is Hydrangea Annabelle at it again by the utility door. The blooms are so big that, when it rains, they bow down to the ground with the weight.

And now for two beauties - a Red Admiral butterfly and a lovely yellow rose revived by the recent rain.

I have finished doing the raspberries, tidied the willow around the compost heaps and fed this and that with seaweed concentrate. 

Now I am sitting here bleeding having been attacked by a Rambling Rector! A rose with vicious thorns that needed, needs, severe pruning. In doing so a found a mahonia I had forgotten we had buried in the growth. Then I stuck the pruning on the bonfire and lit it - always a satisfying action - but I forgot to put the big potato in the hot ashes to bake.

Talking about being under things - thunder and rain today, Sunday, and big clouds over the bay.

And so to finish this blog with a panorama of the poppy bed - it is amazing what will grow on rubbish subsoil!

And what messing about with Photoshop and a photo whilst the rain falls can produce.
Rainbow over Coniston.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018


Just a little shout about glorious ragwort, national flower of Ellan Vannin, the yellow cushag. This much maligned flower is, alas, toxic to animals - but only in large quantities. Wild animals seem to avoid it - its smell and bitter taste a deterrent. It does get eaten if pasture is over grazed and the animals are hungry. Then it is toxic.
However it is not illegal to let it grow in all its glory, covered in small tigers - the caterpillars of the cinnabar moth.
So I will not be pulling it up in the garden but loving it like John Clare - "Ragwort thou humble flower with tattered leaves, I love to see thee come and litter gold."

When we moved the rose bed for our upsizing the remaining subsoil was lightly forked and any old seeds I had scattered there plus some bought escholzias and poppies.

What is surprising is that other things have appeared (apart from the weeds). Ammi, a verbena bonariensis (where did that come from?), calendulas, borage and so on.

The fruit is coming - well some of it, less said about raspberries and gooseberries the better.

Apples to the left, plums to the right.
Greengages to the left and damsons to the right.
One thing that is doing well, or are doing well are the buddleias. They have even self sown into the hoggin path.
This one is the only original from the previous owner Tom J and I have steadfastly refused to prune it back in February. It seems to thrive. Odd branches have snapped off in a gale but it is happy up on the top banking under the old ash tree.

I have given up on the raspberries and removed the old canes already and tied in some of the new ones for next year (unless I dig them all up and burn them). I have removed any dead wood from the transplanted roses and found one or two plants that might be dead and one I thought was dead is sprouting - I hope not from the rootstock.

Found a strange caterpillar and after much searching we decided it was a knot grass moth. Not a great photo but enough  for identification.

Then I was looking at the bushnell camera of the pond and our mallard duck when I saw something swim across the water in the background. Look carefully - it is early on. Is it a water rat? Well, no, I think it is not - rather a common brown rat sadly - but swimming well.

Have done another butterfly count and this included our first Comma this year.

Don't touch!! Just found this pretty flower in the poppy bed. A Datura, Thorn Apple, Jimsonweed, Devil's Snare and poisonous. In fact one of the top ten most poisonous plants and fruits.
Datura belongs to the classic “witches’ weeds”, along with deadly nightshade, henbane, and mandrake. Most parts of the plants contain toxic hallucinogens, and datura has a long history of use for causing delirious states and death.

I think I will wash my hands.