Tuesday, 26 May 2020


Sunday - 
Saturday's gale blew many of the shingles off the Wendy House roof so will need to get it repaired - with felt I think.
We have great tits in a nesting box, moles in the lawn (actually the moleman has caught four and we wait and see if there are any more), hair that needs cutting, paths that need chippings, a spring that needs a drain, paths need hoeing . . . and I sleep, eat and dream - ennui!

From the house -

To the pond

 and up to the wood where the red campion, and the odd white is in full flower, where the butterflies are flittering in the sun.


This is the view from my seat at the far end, back to the moss clad dry stone wall, over the moley lawn, past the white birches and across the veg beds to the house

And flowers come and go (so do my seedlings - mice, pigeons, rabbits, slugs - if I grew them think how successful I could be.)

White camassias I love, here with an oriental poppy. The camellia in the wood is still flowering and the may blossom (hawthorn) is like heavy snowfall on the trees.

The azalea (luteum) is throwing drift of scent into the edges of the woodland and glowing in the sunlight. and the knapweed thriving in the shade under the big sycamore.

Elsewhere flowers are filling the beds - the closer together they are the less chance weeds have to grow - or, at least, the less chance I have of spotting them. Anyway, what gardening have I been doing?

Just sown more carrots, again, earthed up potatoes, put out cosmos and courgette plants, the latter with bottomless flower pots with a copper strip around to deter snails and slugs.

And now back to drought - local farmers worried, little rain for more than 2 months, winter barley failed with February rain so sowed wheat - not germinated with drought.

R is busy dead heading the poppies to keep them flowering and I have noticed the other poppies sown last year, especially the Californian ones, are now flowering having survived the winter.

The rhubarb experiment is coming on Okay with new growth so I might pull the rest of the old stems soon.

The house is now full of flowers - the first roses and especially heaps of the beauty bush - kolkwitzia amabilis.
It has grown enormously since last year and we have branches in vases all over the place.

And here is the remains of a mole hill in the long grass with one weed growing from it - 

Even weeds can be attractive.
Back to mundane matters the chipping for the paths and slotted piping for the drain have arrived. It is going to be busy early next week with the gardener, the roof repairer and the boiler man all coming.

Finally the house martins are building under the eaves on three sides of the house -  a joy to watch - I know, they make a mess - so put newspaper under the nest and put that on the compost heap.

Friday, 22 May 2020


First of all, on request, R's recipe for flapjack/nutty flip.

Recipe for flapjack/nutty flip
(one ounce is about 30G)

Butter 6oz
Golden syrup 6oz, more if you like it sweeter,
Muscovado sugar 4oz
14oz porridge oats
Optional zest half lemon
Pinch ground ginger

Preheat oven 150C
Melt sugar, syrup, butter, add oats, lemon, ginger, mix, put in 8" square tin lined with grease proof paper, bake 40 min. Cool 15 min before cutting.

Right - 

Gardener S came and removed the water lily, well most of it from the pond, then dug a ditch for the new spring and had a go at the brambles. Next day I trudged 5 barrows full of the lily up the garden to be disposed of. Since two requests for a chunk, both collected.

The fence is done and I have patched over a few gaps low down as the lambs had got into the garden - no damage done.

The house martins are messing about as usual, shall we build here, no there, no somewhere else. There are now swallows about but not at the house.

Sunday - the mole man is booked for tomorrow afternoon. Normally I am anti catching anything (especially Corvid) but the molehills are becoming mountains. In the end he caught three but says they do not make waistcoats from the skins any more.

Yesterday we walked to Ford Park to buy some herbs and stuff but all we came home with were 5 1/2 parsnip seedlings and an iris. R hopes it is their spectacular white one but it might be purple.
Today we went to a garden centre outside Dalton but bought nothing. We are not really pro bedding plants (apart from the odd cosmos and ammi.)

One feature of our garden are the wildflowers - 

red (and white) campion and ragged robin,
 Sweet woodruff, forget-me-nots and buttercups,

Watercress and even the dandelion.

This, of course is but a few and most are ok but some have to be controlled - wild garlic, bramble, ivy, bindweed, the creeping buttercup, and even the campion has decided to appear in the flower beds now.

I have just sown some more cauliflower as nil came up, we do have broccoli seedlings and broad beans. Half the lettuce seedlings G and L gave us are out, the rest in the shed as back up when the pests devour them.

Let us have some colour - euphorbia, an ornamental strawberry and good old, in-your-face, oriental poppy. 

It is funny how I forget what I put where. In one of the beds I thought I did not plant red hot pokers there and then realised I had planted eremurus, fox-tail lily. The danger is, of course, one sticks in a new plant and digs up a treasure. 

One good thing about the blog is other bloggers, Chelsea Flower Show standard unlike like me, a gardener fighting nature, pests and the sheer cussedness of plants to not do what you want.
Try https://verbalcompost.blogspot.com/?m=1 .

So, back to a revitalised pond - and some primulas nearby -

with a final flourish - Hilary's rose (I know that is not really its name but as Hilary gave it to us . . . .

Thursday, 14 May 2020


And I am not referring to my writing (though others might be).

First RIP Nigel and condolences to Monty Don.

I have pulled half the rhubarb patch, kept the best for eating and freezing and then removed all the straggly bits and put them with the leaves on the compost heap. Chopped and packed we get four pounds of stems for freezing and some over for tonight with custard.

Then the bare part of the bed is fed with liquid seaweed  and the whole bed well watered. We are hoping for a fresh flush of luscious rhubarb. 
 It is Saturday and 25C though the BBC says 16 to 18C today. Tomorrow is supposed to be cold -  about 9 or 10C.

I have baked our bread and R is making flapjack/nutty flip.
This morning we went for a walk and saw A and P. He showed me a copper beech hedge I gave him some years ago - thriving. His garden looked wonderful - the only  bonus was his rather weedy asparagus but my bed does have several years head start. There is enough for lunch tomorrow, again.

Another experiment involved deadheading one of our three yellow azaleas to see how it would flower this year compared with undeadheaded ones. You can see the difference - the one on the left was done, the one on the right left alone. Another autumn chore added to the list.

This is the wood and at present it just gets better and better with all the wild flowers. That is one reason we have been having the new fence put in between us and the field at the back - full of sheep and lambs - and later cattle.

This is yet another molehill and the mole lady cannot come as she has to stay home. I scatter the soil or take it to the compost heap but this mole (or moles) is/are small black JCB diggers.

Up on the banking the blue camassias have self sown and are spreading, good to have now the daffodils and fritillaries are done. R has been dead-heading the daffs. I want the fritillaries to self sow.

The beds are full of self-sown aquilegias, the old fashioned ones not the Mckana hybrids which I find are a bit brash with their bright colours. These are good old Granny's Bonnets, columbines and in a range of pinks, blues and purples, all self crossed.

 I have planted out the first ammi and two of the cosmos - probably a bit early but we should be all right (I hope).

 It looks like the tree bumble bees have taken over our kitchen vent. Must be careful as they can sting and unlike honey bees have no barb so can sting and sting again. The only arrived in the UK in about 2001.

The rats are gone for now - but sadly so are the bird feeders and so the birds. We have seen the odd swallow and house martin but our nesting birds are not here, have not returned, in fact there seem to be very few swallows and martins this year.

Poems about rats - 


I am watched.

A big brown rat,
sits complacent 
and fat by the bucket
of compost waste,
waits for droppings
from the feeders.

I am sure it is smiling.
Come a pheasant
the rat meanders 
to the shadows,
squats, regards
the bird with disdain.

A she or he? 
Probably female,
possibly pregnant, 
lives downstream
where horses are,
where there is food.

One autumn day
I watched it
paddle across the pond,
chin up,
not in a hurry,
just out for a swim.

Come the day 
we are gone
they may inherit the world.
For now, they wait. 

and -


They are ready.

With opposing thumbs,
they could manipulate
knit fine clothes,
paint miniatures, 
grow micro-veg.

Their cars
would be small,
low pollution, 
their streets narrow,
houses squat,
that is what.

It would take little
to fire a rat
into earth orbit,
a one stage rocket
ten feet tall
would do.

Perhaps they have
a lab’ in China,
near Wuhan,
have already begun
the take-over?

Once we are gone
the cats and dogs 
had better beware,
they could be next.

Thursday, 7 May 2020


Which I suppose is star.
One of the problems with bird feeders is that they attract other, perhaps less welcome visitors. Pheasants are ok, grey squirrels are a nuisance but then there are rats, a whole family, R's least favourite creatures.

So, I put out the rat trap - with the virus the ratman said to take down the feeders and he would, reluctantly, come out if the family rattus did not go away. And I caught - a stroppy blackbird!
What day is it? . . . . Ah! Yes, it is Wednesday, (I think).
Lawns mown, sown nigella (Love-in-a-mist) where the snowdrops are fading outside the kitchen, eaten asparagus again, we now have a mole invasion beyond the veg beds. Rang the mole lady but she is self isolating as she has asthma. Moles will be happy anyway.

Down at the pond no sign of the ducklings. The nest is empty and the mallard pair are still around. I wonder where she is hiding them?

Bogbean and water lilies doing well and saw my first dragonfly today. 

The stream under the hedge is remarkably clear and not overgrown. I do like the variegated yellow flag iris which is thriving.

The overflow from the new spring seems to run for about ten metres and then the ground dries up. Either there is an old drain or it is the old course of the stream which is taking the water. At least we will not need a drain all the way to the hedge ditch.

The Bramley apple blossom is in full gorgeous bloom. 
Disasters aside, we may get a good crop this year.

On the other hand the seedings in the veg beds are struggling - is it mice, is it pigeons? The ground is so dry it cannot be slugs and snails.
I have one carrot seed germinated so have sown a new row and netted them against the birds. 

I have also netted the red currants (right) against blackbirds (black currants to the left) - I know - put the rat trap down there.

And we walk the lanes - this is the view across Morecambe Bay from just along and south from the house - much like the view from the house.

The fence men are here and replacing the 100 metres between us and the back field - stock proof fencing, 6 stretchers, posts every 2 metres (safe distancing) and a double strand of barbed wire to stop cattle leaning on it.

In the garden we have a very deep yellow berberis - almost Gamboge tint - and in the hedge at the back there grows the wild berberis, now a bit hacked and pruned by the fence men.

Not so many yellow Welsh poppies this year but the orange version is doing well, a plant I like seeding itself (unlike the wild garlic which is getting out of hand.)

All in all then garden is a delight and it is such a pity we cannot share it with friends and family.