Saturday, 12 April 2014

Hotting up

As I write this a blackbird is endlessly singing just outside the window, he has been at it for about 3 days non stop it seems; it's a gorgeous song and every now and again I am sure he is singing selections from Die Fledermaus. It is a nice accompaniment to my day and my writing.

Plenty happening outside at the moment, the garden is really coming to life with something new appearing every day. being up in the hills I am usually slightly behind most people, even though only half a mile away in the valley things are further ahead. just that one degree colder in temperature seems to make all the difference, so where my mother's primroses have come and gone mine are just in flower now.

But my bath of tulips (of an unknown colour) are really getting ready to burst forth, can't wait, they will bring some much needed colour to the garden.

And my daffodils under the apple tree are in full flower. I like these very pale ones, sorry, no memory at all what sort they were.

A few plants in the cold frame but I have now put most into the greenhouse as my stock increased.

This year I am experimenting with growing my tomatoes in growbags in the greenhouse.
The last 2 years has been dismal for tomato growing here so a new approach is needed. I will still plant a couple outdoors, but I hope that the warmth of the greenhouse will make the difference that has been lacking in the past. So I will be setting that up over the next few days even though the tomatoes are a way way off being planted out yet.

Meanwhile my raised bed is slowly being revealed. For those who don't know, the local cats love my raised bed as a litter tray which is why it is covered over when not in use. As I plant rows of things I have to cover the gaps in stones and twigs to deter them, so far it's working. 2 rows of broad beans, one of carrots and one of beetroot for now.

The herb pot I planted up last month is thriving, but, as predicted by some of you, the lemon balm is already making a bid for World domination in there. oops.

 This is the rhubarb after I took the first crop yesterday, I've stewed it up and will have it for my tea over the next few days. It seems that my patience in only taking small amounts over the last couple of years has paid off and this year promises to be a really big crop. Lucky for me.

I will leave you with this photo of a lovely little saxifrage that I took this morning. It is small and perfect.  Sorry if my photo doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Blog Anniversary

Yes another year has come around and I have now been doing this blog for 3 years.
Thank you to all those who read, comment and keep in touch, I do enjoy writing (even though I sometimes leave you for days at a time) and I love hearing from you. Let's see what the next 12 months bring!
I have been photographing the garden today as things are really happening at last. Every day seems to bring growth, so over the next couple of days I will write a longer post with all the photos I took.
Until then, keep well and thanks again.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Wild Garlic

Today a friend and I had a trip to Bygone Times in Great Eccleston and stopped off to take a look at an interesting Church nearby. As it turned out the Church was not that interesting and was locked up, but growing by the roadside was an incredible patch of wild garlic. The wonderful tangy aroma hit us as soon as we stepped from the car, so grabbing a bag from the boot we filled it with as many leaves as we could get our greedy little hands on.

So tonight we have been cooking away. We had a stir-fry using some of the leaves to start with but then made a wonderful batch of wild garlic pesto. Such a simple process and having stolen a spoon of it I know just how powerful and tasty this is going to be.

Cheese, walnuts, wild garlic leaves, oil, a clove of garlic and a dash of seasoning and blend it all up.

 And finally one jar of wonderful wild garlic pesto.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Out with the box

In with the hebe.

Thank you for the suggestions for what I should replace my diseased box balls with (that sounds nasty) and I have decided on hebe, for now at least.
My second nearest choice was for yew, but I shelved it for now, simply because it was quite pricey. I think I will get one anyway when I can find a small, cheap plant or cutting, but this will be a long term project, for now, I wanted those bare empty pots filled with a nice replacement.

I went for hebe because it is very prunable (is that a word?) it has nice a long season of flowers, this one does anyway, and at the moment it is very cheap in my garden centre - always a good incentive. I know it can become a bit leggy and woody and I am going to learn about very careful pruning techniques to try and avoid that happening.

The variety I plumped for is Hebe Raspberry Ripple and here are the two plants

looking very smart in their pots (anything would look smart after the brown, dry dying box to be honest. They have interesting foliage too and mark the edge of the path near the less than interesting covered cat litter tray that is my raised bed (so far the covering has done the trick nicely, but the time is coming soon when it will need uncovering - how long before the word gets around in the cat community?)

Here is a picture of this variety of hebe in flower:

 I think it is rather lovely.

The wonderful early Spring weather has been a delight, long may it continue. It's tempting to start getting things in the ground, but don't worry, of course I won't, it could snow yet! The seedlings are all coming on really well on my window sills and I am about to put out washing onto the line for the first time this year, this sounds very dull, but believe me it still remains a treat after years of living in flats.

I built a rustic frame for the area I have marked out as a dahlia patch, after seeing something similar in the Sarah Raven flower catalogue. I liked the way it blended in and looked natural when surrounded with flowers, much more so than canes which can spoil the look if you ask me.

I hope it doesn't collapse like a deck of cards at the first tiny breeze, that WOULD be embarrassing. I will add more twigs as and when they become necessary but it is a good start. Lucky there were loads of nice rustic looking branches lying about after the gales of a few weeks ago.

Final photo of the day is of my rhubarb which has come on a treat thanks to all the rain. Won't be long before I am enjoying my first rhubarb crumble.

Monday, 3 March 2014

RIP box balls.

Yes indeed my two lovely box balls have succumbed to blight. I am very sad about this as I loved them but as also they are quite expensive to lose.
Box blight has no known cure, is caused by fungus and will have been brought on by the excessively damp Winter here, it spreads only to other box (buxus) so at least everything else in my garden is safe from it. Thank goodness I don't have a whole knot garden.

 You can see them here looking healthy and happy, but they became:

The two little ones seem safe for now, but I will keep an eye on them.

I liked them because they marked a good spot on either side of the grass path and it looks a little bare without them.

So no more box, I can't afford to lose expensive plants like that so I am now looking for alternatives.
I am told Hebe is a nice alternative with the advantage of lovely flowers once a year. It can also be shaped nicely to look like a ball too. I could try yew, but it, too is rather expensive and I don't want it to grow excessively large. I have sweet box (sarcococca confusa) already in the garden and don't want any more although the winter smell is wonderful. I did even wonder at a couple of hydrangeas as I could ditch them in a dark corner when they get to that stage that I dislike so much (yet others seem to love) but they too are rather expensive and I really want something that I can keep there year round. So hebe is at the top of the list, but I am more than prepared to think about any other suggestions. Something I could topiarize (is that even a word?) would be nice..

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Spring Time

Oh yes, we've made it to the official first day of Spring, and rather than the weekend of promised snow the papers have been over-emphasising, I have woken up to the most beautiful weather for a long, long time here in Lancashire. Sunny and bright, but there is a Spring change in the air too. I know we are expecting a cold spell next week, but nothing can dampen the spirits on a beautiful Spring day such as this

To begin with this photo will only make sense as being amusing to anyone who knows Victoria Wood:

A new shop has opened up near me, one wonders at their using this name.

(Sorry to those who don't get it, but Acorn Antiques was a fictitious shop used in a spoof soap opera in the 1980's, you'll understand why it so amused me if you remember it)

So I have been out gardening (of course), getting on top of any potential weeds before they get on top of me for starters.

But first let me show you my new toy:

A cold frame. I have wanted one of these for ages and was delighted to find one being sold off at a garden centre for a song (OK, not literally).

Protected from any frosts are my new project of a herb bowl which so far has in it sage, oregano, thyme and lemon balm. On the left are some campanula, hollyhocks and delphiniums.

On the subject of my electric propogator all I can say is WOW. These things really work. I have had trouble germinating seeds in the past because I keep a relatively cool house and sometimes they have taken weeks to germinate. Well these surpassed all expectations and had all germinated within a week. In fact they are well on their way.

The sweet peas are huge after just 2 weeks:

Way too big actually, the trick will be in slowing things down (yes, you don't need to say it, I know I was too early, I just couldn't help myself).

Other things are not quite so far on fortunately, but happy enough.

I have put up a trellis and hanging basket for use later in the season. The plan at the moment is to plant a pot of morning glory for the trellis and I haven't decided what will go in the hanging basket yet.

The photo highlights that I really need to get the jet wash to deal with the moss on the brickwork. I will borrow my brother's when I next see him.

My pot of iris are looking lovely.

Here is today's view of the garden:

The new bed is a bit bare, but you just wait. But the grass is in such a state!

Finally a photo of my self inflicted wound, done during the night - who knows what I was dreaming about but it wasn't fluffy bunnies:


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Signs of Spring in Photos.

There are signs all over the garden of Spring now (about time we had a break in this rainy, miserable weather) so I went out with my camera to capture a few moments.

 Snowdrops are in their full glory

a nicely weathered pot of dwarf iris and crocus, these literally appeared this morning. I don't like my pots to look pristine, much preferring the well used look. The moss that has gathered all over this pot is a pretty spectacle in itself I think.

Such a wonderful colour.

My daffodils at the base of the apple tree, just coming. 

 The beginning of this year's rhubarb crop.

My tulips, the bath is full of a now forgotten colour, looking forward to finding out what I chose, with three long tom pots crammed full with cream tulips all now poking their heads through.

Not all is good though, my lovely two box balls look very much to me like they might have box blight! I think there is little I can do if they have and I will just have to destroy them.

This is a good time of year and everything seems happy enough, box aside.