Green Is The Colour

If months were colours then May would definitely be green. There are little shoots and leaves appearing everywhere and I’m sure if you could stand still for long enough you would be able to see things growing. The hanging baskets have been planted ready for Summer and they’ve been left in a sheltered place until the risk of frost has passed.
I’ve had a bag of dahlias tubers from Sarah Raven sitting on my kitchen table for ages – I’m convinced that I get more excited with the contents of this package than those contained within a Tiffany’s box. The ridiculously dull little tubers have finally been planted and I’m already excited about them popping up next to the salad and vegetables and adding a burst of colour. I could easily turn into a dahlia addict……

May Planting

The pansies are still flowering well so I haven’t replaced them yet and I’m pleased to say that the Mr Fokker anemones are finally in bloom!

Unfortunately, the war on slugs and snails has begun (well in truth it’s more like a little scuffle at the moment). The hosta pots have now got a band of copper tape around the rim which will hopefully deter the slimy molluscs  from crossing it and helping themselves to an all day breakfast. I’ve also surrounded the chrysanthemums with crushed egg shells but this appears less successful as there are already holes in the tender leaves. I want to try the slug pubs and up turned grapefruits but in the meantime I would love to hear if you have any favourite natural solutions that would help? The chickens would have a feast but would probably do more damage than the slugs!

Slugs & Snails

The cats are also doing their best to help me with the gardening jobs. They love a spot of weeding (digging for no reason) and pest control (pouncing on anything that moves). It is lovely to have them outside in the garden with me and they love to show off, climb trees and race around the paddocks. They have been particularly entertained by the baby rabbits who are thankfully faster than they are! In the photo below Bella & Milo are absolutely transfixed on a rabbit on the other side of the window.
Isn’t it funny how the small things in life can make us happy? I’m so pleased that the French Tarragon has started to come through again this year – I expected the snow and frosts to have killed it so I’m really chuffed to see it again :-)

Stripey Cats & fields

The weather forecast remains poor – wind and rain for most of the weekend so garden plans are put on hold for now. Enjoy your weekend!

Spring Brights

Spring FlowersMy poor little plastic greenhouse didn’t survive the high winds and neither did the pots and trays of seedlings. I’m not too disheartened though as the remains of the greenhouse was found next to my car and luckily there was no damage to the paint work! I’ve scooped up the soil and battered seedlings (RIP) and decided to wait a couple of weeks and plant directly as I can’t risk growing more seeds indoors (crious cats) and the greenhouse is now modern art.

Forced Rhubarb

I uncovered the rhubarb that has been forced (don’t think me too cruel) and was amazed at the beautiful colours of the leaves and stems. The rhubarb plant to the rear in the photo above is the same variety – this has been left to grow normally so I’m going to do a taste test at the weekend to see if the forced rhubarb is really sweeter… or just grateful to see daylight at long last!

Craft It Forward

We all have different talents and it’s good to acknowledge these special attributes so they don’t become forgotten. My husband, for example, is an extremely practical and tenacious man which means that he can turn his hand to almost anything (…except the ironing which persistently confounds him for some reason). He also entertains me by turning his socks the right way around whilst putting his feet in them – although this has to be seen to be believed!
My talent is usually knowing what the time is (with an accuracy of less than 15 mins). I never wear a watch although I own several as many people feel sorry for me and buy them as gifts.  I’m also pretty good at matching colours without a swatch which means that I can walk into a fabric shops and just know what the perfect shade would be (this also makes it a nightmare for those who are with me- “it’s near enough” they say. “It’s nothing like” say I).
The kittens have a talent for being  effortlessly cute and cuddly as well as growing at least a centimetre a day! However, the chickens surely must have the most delicious talent  of consistently providing us with the tastiest eggs.

IMG_4538

So, you can imagine that I also have a very good idea of where my weaknesses lie. The top one (of a verrrry long list) is impatience. I have no patience for fiddling around with things like embroidery, sugar craft, jigsaws, sudoku, untangling christmas tree lights etc. It’s not that I can’t do them it’s more like I can’t be bothered to spend time doing them and there always seems to be more intresting and/or pressing to do.  So,  as much as I thoroughly enjoy reading all of the wonderful craft posts,  I know that deep down my talents lie elsewhere.

One of the blogs that I love is Gardening Nirvana and last week dear Alys was thrilled to be involved with a “Craft it Forward” project. She explained that the first five people who left a comment on her blog would receive a hand crafted gift and the only condition was the lucky five have to pay the  craft favour forward. Once the five bloggers had safely added their comments to Alys’ blog I contacted her to say what a great idea it was and then THIS happened! (the link can be found in the word THIS!). Thanks Alys x

Oh well, I like a challenge and it may just lead to a new hobby. If you would like to be involved then please hurry and comment – the rules are very simple:

  1. The first five people to comment here will receive a handmade gift from me at some point during 2013…. I apologise in advance for what the postman brings.
  2. You won’t know when, and you won’t know what, but I can assure you that it will happen…. heck, even I don’t know when or what!
  3. I will email you for your snail mail address so it will be private
  4. As one of the famous five you have to agree to do the same for five other people

There’s no time like the present – I’ve already thought about embroidery, crazy patchwork, stump work, decoupage and water colours. My Mum’s really good at crafts so I’m sure she’ll help me out and try not to laugh too much at my attempts.
Last night we went to a family dinner party and took along some champagne, a dozen organic eggs and a potted cyclamen. There’s no time like the present so I had a little go at glamming things up …. starting with the tatty recycled egg box.

IMG_4540I was pleased with how much improvement a simple decoration of flowery tissue paper, buttons and raffia made…

IMG_4535 … so the cyclamen plant was attacked next with some old brown tissue paper and more raffia…

IMG_4546… these gifts were gratefully received and it was nice to know that I had spent some extra time and thought on them. Don’t worry – you won’t get eggs or a plant in the post!!

So my main questions are

  • who wants to enter the Craft It Forward challenge?  
  • what on earth can I make???        :-)

The Hungry Slug

As the garden is slowly being put to bed for the Winter, like a naughty child it’s decided that it’s not quite bedtime yet! There are new flowers appearing on the hydrangeas, green buds in the hedgerow and even asparagus spears are too impatient to wait for Spring! The sunshine has been lovely today, and although it’s been frosty, there was much activity. However everything stopped, albeit briefly, at 11 o’clock for Remembrance Day.

I don’t think there will be many flowers left next weekend as the mornings are really frosty now. That’s probably why a mouse has decided to come indoors and leave presents everywhere…. but more of that later ;-)

Delayed Autumn Chores

It’s hard to believe that it’s the middle of October already! The Summer seemed to last for ages, probably due to the constant rain, and now we’re having some sunny days it’s difficult to find time to squash all the chores in. I’m resisting the urge to tidy the garden up too much as there are still quite a few butterflies and bees relying on the nectar. The bumble bees are looking a little tired now and it’s taking them longer to warm up – maybe I should suggest that they do some extra star jumps before starting work for the day?

Agastache

The Agastache is still performing really well and has even started to send up new shoots with the recent sunshine.

Even the Lavender is looking happier – it’s hated the wet soil beneath it’s feet this year…

Beds To Clear

… although, judging by how much the herbs have grown you wouldn’t know this. If you look at the photo above you will notice that I have cleared one bed already. This had the sad remains of the sweet peas and courgette plant. There are also some asparagus crowns that did spectacularly poorly so I’m hoping that next year they will show a little more appreciation in the spears department! I gave them a good stern talking to whilst tucking them up in a duvet of mulch. There’s a ground frost in the mornings now so it won’t be long before all these flowers are gone.

Still going strong

October Bouquets

Once the mists cleared the sun actually shined through and the flowers looked so bright. There are quite a few seed heads now, which have a beauty only suited to Autumn, and the bees are making the most of these rare sunny days.

When I first planted the kitchen Garden in Spring I never imagined that I would still be picking flowers in October… Dahlias, Scabious, Lavender, Cosmos, Rudbekia and Burpleum. I confess that I have probably had more enjoyment from the flowers than the vegetables so I’ll have to rethink the way I use the space next year.

September Glow

The days are now much colder, so much so that the log burner is already earning it’s keep and the woolly jumpers are back out! The garden is looking battered due to the high winds and persistent rain but I must say that there are a few flowers that remain resilient. The Agastache (above left) is a firm favourite already and the bees can’t leave it alone. Despite being a fairly tall plant it hasn’t required staking and it will be planted again next year. The Black-eyed Susan (above photos, bottom right) was very slow to take off this year but seems to making up for lost time now. I’m not sure about the name of the orange flower (top right) so help is needed please! It’s been flowering prolifically for a couple of months now but requires regular dead heading.

I’ve confessed previously that I have an unfathomable attraction to dahlias. These have been grown for cutting and are looking beautiful (and the slugs think that they taste pretty scrummy too…). The varieties above are all from the Venetian Collection from Sarah Raven (a Gardening Goddess!) and I’ll definitely be ordering more tubers from her again next year.

I love these words from Susan Branch!
There is a wonderful website that I have recently found that has the most delightful artwork and posts. There is an example (left) of Susan Branch’s work and I love it! I’ve always been interested in decorative words and I’ve toyed with calligraphy and watercolour paints in the past but Susan’s work really speaks to me. Her words dance and her art is simply beautiful.

It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly October and thoughts are turning to the Autumn and the cooler weather.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be putting the garden to bed and tucking it up nice and tight ready for winter. I love this time of year as it holds great anticipation for the  next growing season and allows me time to reflect on the work already done… it’s been a great year so far despite the horrendous weather in the UK. I just hope that we have a few fairly dry weekends so that I can get some jobs done as it’s no fun digging in mud with my wellies filled with rain water!!

September Song

Red Admiral Butterfly

One of the best decisions I made with the garden was to plant a Nectar Bar to attract the pollinators and beneficial insects. It has surpassed my expectations and it’s an absolute must for my future planting schemes.
Today was a good day as I even managed to photograph one of the butterflies that have eluded me over the last few weeks. A longer lens on my camera and a tripod were key – but balancing on one leg whilst the tripod was in mid air probably wasn’t that helpful!

Bees on Agastache

There were a huge variety of bees out today and I noticed that each species seemed to have their favourite flowers. The Agastache, Scabious and Coreopsis were the favourites today and I noticed that whilst most bees were methodically working the blooms others zoomed around them as if the Bar was about to close!!

The Nectar Bar

The Bar is open as usual my little buzzy friends… and hopefully will be for a few weeks more! Come on in, have a good time and bring a friend too x

Garden Surprises

The decidedly damp weather here hasn’t stopped the flowers being spectacular and, whilst the giant sunflowers have not fared well, the lemon “Vanilla Ice” sunflowers from Sarah Raven have been delightful. They haven’t needed to be staked and the wildlife love them too. There are lots more butterflies around now and the bumble bees and honey bees are having a party in the nectar bar! I love to listen to them as I dead head the flowers.

Aren’t nice garden surprises great? It made me smile to see this little primrose flowering underneath the Coreopsis. Maybe it thinks this milder weather is the end of Winter!! It was quite a timely discovery as I’d not long visited wonderful blog of Gardening Nirvana where Alys has found a few surprises of her own. It seems many of us experience the unexpected flowers that have seemingly been planted by birds… or fairies!!

Autumn is coming…. and I’m so excited as this is my favourite time of the year. There’s something in the air now, the garden has a slightly different feel and when I came back from shopping yesterday I saw my first glimpse of blackberries!

All is calm

The garden feels calm and quiet at the moment… it’s as if the plants know they’re at their best, and rather than shouting about it, they’ve decided to take a bow. If this was the Gardening Olympics my plants wouldn’t have a chance at a medal… but I’m sure they’d have the best fun taking part and partying with the big guys!

The applause would be coming from the bees – deafening at times but certainly most encouraging. My biggest joy is seeing the huge variety, as well as large numbers, of bees and other wildlife in the garden.

In the quietness I think about how my home has continually had cut flowers since February when the Hellebores were abundant and how I’ve been eating, and enjoying, broad beans! My garden is my meditation and it’s whilst I’m in this chilled out mood that something hisses and spits at me – I nearly jump out of my skin….

It’s a Farm Kitten. He’s adorable, so fluffy with the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen but when you get too close he’s a little firework! This is a bit of a problem as he’s taken to hiding behind plant pots and under the hedges. He’s definitely feral and not to be trifled with… he’s also a ninja in training. His mum must have jumped over the fence with him and she keeps popping back to make sure he’s alright – we’re hoping that he’ll jump back out when he’s old enough!

I’ve named him Womble :-)

There are scarier things to worry about though – the thistles were left to flower as the birds (especially Goldfinches, Linnets, Bullfinches and Siskins) love them so much.

Look at all the thistle down! If Womble is as hard as he looks I’m sure that he will eat thistles for breakfast :-) Otherwise my weeding regime may have to triple next year.