Footprints In The Snow

Snow in Kitchen Garden

Hopefully all the plants are tucked up safely and enjoying a nice sleep. I’m trying to enjoy the snow whilst it lasts… people grumble about the snow (I realise it makes life more difficult, travelling is a big worry and it will ultimately turn to a brown, messy slush….) but there’s really magic in each snow flake, you can see it sparkle, so I enjoy it while it’s here.

Garden Snow Collage

I love to see different footprints in the snow and I try to follow where the rabbits and foxes have been. It’s interesting to try and work out  who the little footprints belong too… although with my over active imagination I imagine following prints around the back of the shed and unexpectedly coming face to face with a Yeti!

Winter views

There’s not too many outside jobs to be done at the moment so I started to put together a wish list of  plants for the kitchen garden this year. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Raven so I’m starting with her catalogues as she has a great range of products and her customer service is brilliant. After what seemed an endless task of chores today I finally sat down with a cup of apple & ginger tea and started to paw over the catalogues… but more of that next time!

seed catalogues

This weekend is the RSPB Big Birdwatch so I’ll be spending an hour tomorrow counting our feathered friends (chickens not included) to see how they’re fending. I’ve never done this in the snow before and I’m hoping it will make the process easier! The results are sent into the RSPB and the information gained throughout the UK provides a useful snapshot of which species are in decline or booming!

SnowChicks

I’m sure Bella and Milo will want to join us in the garden room for a spot of birdwatching too but I somehow think that their furry minds may not be on conservation!

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Baby, it’s cold out there!

Well, it’s finally starting to feel like January around here and after a very wet and mild December we have snow forecast for overnight. It somehow feels wrong not to have frost and chilly winds this time of year and I do like the excuse to wear thick woolly tights and scarves! I’ve recently moved the plant pots to a more sheltered area and the bay tree and fig have been protected as much as I can. There are loads of cobwebs everywhere and even Cedric looks like he’s got whiskers (it makes him look a bit friendlier!). I’ve tried not to be too tidy so that the wildlife can benefit… but it’s messing with my mojo a bit.

Frosty Garden

The chickens are always cause me extra concern this time of year – trust me, if I could scoop them all up and build a giant nest in the house for them I would. My husband constantly reminds me that they have their own little quilts made from feathers but I still fret. We’ve now insulated the hen house and added extra bedding – it doesn’t look pretty but it will hopefully do the job. Goosey, one of the old girls, has slowed down and looks tired so we’ve given her some extra vitamins and do an additional check each night to make sure she’s okay. The other chickens are being really good with her – they’re probably scared that she’ll get better and back to business of being the boss!

Frosty Doodles

I usually like to try something new each year with hope that it will turn into a hobby and so in November I enrolled onto a watercolour lettering class with Val Webb. If you haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing any of Val’s artwork then I strongly recommend her website especially if you like faeries, nature and all things whimsical (Alys – you’ll just love it!).
My paintings still need a lot of work but I really don’t mind as I’ve found the whole process of water colouring SOOOooo relaxing that the end result of a more chilled out me is always worth while. Her instructions are clear and practical and I’m really looking forward to practicing some more.
I helped my sister and family move house last weekend and I gave her the painting below in place of a New Home card.

Home watercolour

Must go – although I have so much to write since I last blogged. Work and homelife have been really busy since new year so this is the first time I’ve had chance to post in 2013 and I’ve missed it! I’ve also missed following my favourite blogs so I’ll make sure to spend a little time each night after work in Blogland catching up with them all. I hope to include the kittens in a post very soon X

The Eve of Christmas Eve

I have always loved the magic of Christmas and look forward to the traditions that we undertake each year such as choosing and collecting the tree, untangling the fairy lights and making the cake. Each year also brings the opportunity to start new traditions such as making gingerbread houses and producing homemade gifts such as candles or soap but I always seem to have more pressing things to do…. so I’ve asked Father Christmas for a little more free time in 2013 🙂

Source - Pinterest

Source – Pinterest

Isn’t it funny, I realised that I had finally grown up one Christmas when the things I wished for were not things at all… I wished for good health, peace of mind, happiness, security and a loving family and friends. A cliche it may be but it’s oh so true. I used to have a job that required me to work all sorts of shifts including on Christmas Day and I used to be so envious of people who could be at home. I am really lucky that my work is now Monday to Friday  and I don’t have to work main holidays so I can be at home – I will never take this for granted.

Garlic Planted

I really wanted to plant the garlic on Friday but due to the persistent rain (and the fact that the end of the world was predicted so it would have been a waste of time) the planting was postponed until today. It was soooo good to get back into the garden! I feel like I’ve been very neglectful of it lately as the rain has stopped play for weeks. As the gate creaked closed behind me I could almost hear it squeak “there you are”.

Source - pinterest

Source – pinterest

So as the final ribbon is carefully wrapped around the presents and the stockings are waiting to be filled I’m going to put on my christmas pyjamas and get the party started! Christmas Eve is so exciting around here that we even have an Eve of Christmas Eve celebration! I’ve always loved the anticipation of Christmas as much as the day itself (if not more) and I still go to bed hoping to hear sleigh bells overhead….

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas – let’s share a virtual glass of cold champagne and toast the spirit of Christmas! x x x

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 😉

Insect Hotel

Although the mornings are frosty and the puddles are frozen there are still some amazingly hardy flowers that refuse to die back. The snapdragons are particularly colourful and it makes me think that there is a little area of Summer just behind the Nectar Bar where the frost daren’t go. The lavender is still looking good and the scabiosa has been a garden star! Even the little sunflowers are still trying to produce new heads but the bees and butterflies are no longer around to appreciate this effort.

A start has been made to the Insect Hotel – it needs a lot more packing material and the roof is just propped on at the moment but I’ve opened the doors as a little haven to anything with more that four legs!

I’ve already seen some spiders and earwigs (eeek!!) so I hope business will be brisk this Winter. As long as the clients don’t mind some construction work over the next couple of weekends I’m sure they’ll enjoy their stay!

Catching Mist…

There is something comforting about misty mornings. I have a lots of fond childhood memories that involve me trying to catch the mist and take it indoors…. unsurprisingly, I never managed to do this but I always admired the spiders who could catch mist and frost  in their webs.
You may have noticed Cedric in the photo (above right). I’ve put him to work in the Kitchen Garden after he’s now spent a good period of time in the shed. I’ll be letting you know a little more about him soon….

Misty Cobwebs

I love to see the garden when it’s all wrapped up with silvery threads and a sense of inevitability, in fact, Miss Haversham would feel very much at home. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have tea with a famous literary character? I’d have to get the best china out for Miss Haversham, and although she would probably not be polite company, I would have to try and stop myself discussing our mutual  aversion to dusting!

When the mist clears

All of this is soon forgotten, as the mist clears, the cobwebs seemingly vanish and I turn my thoughts to the glamorous task of cleaning out the chicken house!

Pumpkin Display

 ….well, “pumpkin display” may be a little far fetched  as I  just plonked them on a table! I hang my head in shame in front of all the fabulous bloggers out there who have actually created displays. I will simply call this Phase One….

Autumn display in Garden Room

 I’ve always wanted to have a go at growing pumpkins but, unfortunately, this year there wasn’t enough room, time or knowledge! There hasn’t been very much sunshine either so I’ll put these on my gardening wishlist for next year and ask for more sunbeams.
I have an oak cabinet in the Garden Room that is used for storing gift bags, wrapping paper and ribbons – obviously everything that is needed in the event of an emergency:-)

Pumpkins

 I’m not sure how these will be carved yet but just having them around has made me happier. The honour of  carving goes to my long suffering husband who thinks that pumpkin innards are the design of the devil. I usually draw the spooky face and he spends an hour patirntly carving (and retching)… true love comes in many forms! And if it all goes horribly wrong it will be soup again for tea 🙂
For some proper pumpkin inspiration head over to Gardening Nirvana  where Alys has some fun ideas and is on official countdown to Halloween x

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 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