Saturday, 24 January 2015

The resilience of plants

Earlier this month I cleaned out my greenhouse because I had found some fungus growing on old tomato plants, I cleared everything up and then I let off a sulpher bomb (which gets right up your nose if you don't leave the greenhouse quickly enough after letting it off) which effectively smoked everything in there and should have killed off all that fungus.

It was only as I was putting everything back in and sorting it all out that I discovered, hidden under a bench 4 pots of three hyacinths each. A year ago I forced these and they gave me a beautiful (and beautifully scented) display for a few weeks over winter. When they were finished I put them in the greenhouse under a bench and promptly forgot about them completely. So it came as a complete surprise to me to find that they were growing again considering that I had not given them a drop of water for a whole year (yes I am very ashamed) and they had been fumigated by sulpher.

I promptly gave them a bit of a drink and brought them inside. Two in one of the pots did succumb but all the others are still growing and one is, dare I say it, really thriving!

I have no doubt that the majority of the bulbs will actually flower as three of the pots are nearly as far along as this pot!

It just goes to show that a plant can thrive when all the odds are stacked against it and I can't help but be slightly proud of them.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

January 2015

Thank you to all of you who sent me get well messages. As you can tell, 2014 didn't exactly end well for me but now it is the New Year and I'm ready for the Spring to come and the gardening to start. My face is just about healed too now except a small scar.
I have already started buying some seeds - I'm going for less varieties this year as last year I was a bit overwhelmed by just how much I grew. Also I am not not not going to make the mistake of starting my seedlings too early, so tempting when the winter is seemingly endless and you are impatient for Spring.
I have been snowed in for a couple of days here but the garden always looks so pretty. The woods are covered in ice and snow and no photograph (especially one taken by me) can do it justice.

I have taken the decision to use my raised bed for flowers this year rather than veg, I am going to keep veg growing to pots and anything large I will squash into a flowerbed somewhere in true cottage garden style. As you know I like that messy style of planting (for want of a better word) and find it very attractive. 
Seeds bought so far:

Sweet peas - Alan Titchmarsh
Cosmos - mixed
Zinnias - purple prince - my first attempt at growing these
Panicum - frosted explosion - my first grass
Snap dragons mixed

Also I have some Dahlia White Onesta and Berger's Rekord tubors which I thought would look nice coming up amongst the grass, which is lovely clouds of white.

This is an exciting time of year for planning in the garden. I have cleaned my greenhouse thoroughly and let off a sulpher candle in there as I think I had some fungus growing so the sulpher should sort that out. I have mended my cold frames as a cat had jumped on to one of them from the fence and gone through (luckily for the cat it was perspex and not glass!) He made a right mess but I hope he learnt a lesson.

Thank you all again for your messages.


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Not looking my prettiest

Hello everyone,
So much for my vow to blog more, Since my last post things have not gone altogether to plan as I have been in hospital. I'm now recovering gently at home. It was nothing too major, just a small operation that made me look quite awful, don't worry, but I am certainly not at my prettiest best right now. Big aaaawwww

As I say, everything is fine although I did a concert looking like this last Friday (actually looking slightly worse) and horrified the audience I think - probably should have cancelled but I don't like to let people down if I can help it :-)

All that remains is for me to horrify my students this week with my frankenstein look.

Hopefully I can now continue my blogging as I vowed to.

See you all soon.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Steps part 2

I took advantage of the very sunny Sunday weather to do the next stage of my garden steps project.

I am very pleased with the result - it may not be pretty, nor as expert as a professional's would be, but the concrete (my first ever attempt at making it) has hardened well and I have been able to walk on it succesfully.

The path along the side of the greenhouse at the bottom of the steps is not finished yet as I ran out of concrete materials (it doesn't go nearly as far as I had hoped) but I have put the gravel base in, next just a fairly thin layer of concrete to stabilise it all and then I am done.

So here is how it looks.

No more scrambling, slipping and sliding down to the greenhouse. My plan at the moment is to plant a small lavender hedge along the side of the steps to soften the edges and then to put a trellis along the side of the decking and grow some small plants up there. I'm very pleased all in all.

I reckon the whole project has cost me £150 which is quite a lot, but I really couldn't have done it cheaper I don't think, the materials, quite simply, were expensive! Still I am sure a builder would have charged me at least £500 considering the amount of hours it has all taken, so I am very pleased to have only spent that much. I am quite keen to lay a path from the house to the top of the steps now and have plans brewing in my mind.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Autumn and Garden Steps

Hello all,
It is well and truly Autumn now but here in North England it is unbelievably warm so I am taking the opportunity to do some hard graft outside. I have been up on the roof and cleared the gutters and now I am getting on with the big job I started months ago - the garden steps and path down to the greenhouse. For those of you familiar with my garden layout you will know that I have a treacherous slope down to where my greenhouse is sitting and it makes trips to the greenhouse in Winter months or in the rain virtually impossible unless you are willing to risk a fall - I'm not.
So I have been slowly getting my act together to build some steps. At first this seems like an impossible feat for an amateur like me, but like everything else, having approached it logically and theoretically, and bit by bit, I am slowly getting there and I think I am getting it right.

First I excavated the site, then I built wooden things (I have no idea what the technical terms are but they will all eventually screw together and be filled with an amount of concrete - so far not screwed.

Here is how it is looking.

This will form the path alongside the greenhouse.

And the framework for the steps themselves - the posts will be concreted in and I will use a couple of small sleepers to form the three steps. Then fill with some concrete and maybe put some gravel on the top surface - not decided yet.

and this is the view down to the path - it all looks very wonky because the wood is just balanced here in this photo, I will screw it all together when everything is ready, sleepers etc. but it gives you the idea.

I am then going to put some stepping stones into the lawn from the house to the top of the steps so hopefully I will be able to get all the way to the greenhouse without having to put wellies on every time, even in the pouring rain.

Everything else is going well, I now have 16 students plus five whom I teach at a 6th form College and I am so enjoying teaching. Meanwhile I popped to London last month to do a performance of Don Giovanni, so I am keeping my hand in as it were. I am singing in a concert in Ely at the end of November too if any of you find yourselves in the area :-)
So considering this time last year I didn't have any students, I was totally unsure which direction to go in etc I am very pleased as to how all of it has turned out.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

June is busting out all over.

I have been so enjoying the weather. We have been very lucky over the last few weeks with weather here in East Lancashire, glorious day after glorious day with just enough occasional rain soakings to keep the garden very happy. My house is full of sweet peas which fill every room with their glorious scent and, as is the way with sweet peas, as soon as one batch is finished there is another huge crop ready to pick, they really are a wonderful Summer treat.

As you can see, the garden is at it's absolute best at the moment, with flowers galore, all spilling out on top of each other, with something to look at in each direction.

The hebe turned out to be a good choice to replace the blighted box, I just have to try and stop it from getting leggy as time goes on.

Finally I can safely say that the tomatoes are the best year ever. This is great news after 2 very poor years. I have 9 plants, all of which are doing well. Keeping them in the greenhouse for their whole life has definitely been the answer and the growbags have really come up trumps. I should have masses and masses before long.

Couldn't quite get a good enough angle on the photo to get them all in, but you get the idea.

I have been dieting and am only 4lbs off my target of 13 stone, (if you'd asked me last week I was 2lbs off target but something went wrong this week). Meals are so easy to plan at this time of year I find and it is also pretty easy to eat healthy food (as long as you like salad that is haha)

So life is ticking along well, my budgeting is going like a breeze right now, not much spare money but enough to be happy and certainly that is what counts :-)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

I had a job interview....

and I got it!

I am now the piano teacher at a 6th form college in the area. It is only one afternoon a week starting in September but that, combined with my private teaching will make all the difference financially (and I wouldn't want much more hours there than that anyhow. Things are going well and there are no regrets and a lot less worries now. I am embracing my new life and really enjoying it all.

The garden continues to thrive and being here to enjoy it and work in it makes all the difference to its progress. I haven't got any further with my steps and path project yet, but thank you all those who gave me advice, I have a lot of good ideas now.

Now I am thinking of putting a pond in too, in the future.................

And thinking of converting my garage into a music studio..................

Dreams are great.