Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winters Tale

It was foul outside today. Pouring rain, hailstones, and snow driven downwards and sidewards by the wind. I watched the hailstones ping off the fence and soil like pinball machines! The gusting Westerly wind blew upto 70 miles per hour. It is forecast for snow tomorrow when im at work and minus six degrees at night.
The diurnal mouse has removed all the seeds around the rose when i worked the two long days, and today was at the far end of the garden hiding behind the compost bin.
My biggest mystery is the Birds waterbowl under the Viburnum keeps getting emptied out. I fill it up to the brim, and when I check it is nearly empty and drained of water. There are no holes in the green bowl but something is either drinking it, or bathing in it!
The birds came back today despite the weather.
I hope at the weekend I can revamp the right border with a log roll. The new plan is to keep the pavers as they are, and used raised bag beds to grow the veg and potatoes.
The cabbage seeds are germinating in the cold frame despite the weather. The alpine strawberrys are growing slowly in the cold frame also.
I need the new borders ready by March. Most of my seeds are to be sown in March. I need to organise them into piles. Directly into the ground, and into seed trays. I have to stock up with three inch pots ready for my masses of plants to grow on.
Im writing brief notes in a Garden Journal to try and keep track of whats being planted when and where. I am in heaven with the amount of space in the kitchen to grow seeds in.
When the Weather drives you back into the house you begin to plan and dream of warmer days, and sunshine.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

World within my garden

Another flowering Hellebore, and a world within a world. The close up of the centre reveals finer details of the Hellebore.
Golden oval shapes, floating pollen grains like satelites orbiting the centre, A pink central spire arising from the golden centre, and neatly folded green tubes. A bug sits at the base of the the pink Cathedral feasting on the sugary nectar.
I did not even see him as I had to kneel down, lean sideways, and look up balancing on the raised slabs, through the camera electronic view finder. Life through a lens reveals small mysterys and beauty.
The more we look at the natural beauty of apparently simple things (like flowers) the more we realise how complex they are.
The delicate petals bely how tough these plants are as its been freezing,soaking wet, and freezing cold winds. The white sails remain aloft, unphased by the inclement weather of December and January.
One more long day to go tomorrow at work, before a garden day on Thursday..Hurray!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday Mouse

This is a house mouse I think. He had light brown fur, little pink ears and feet, and had a penchant for the cereal seeds left for the abscent birds.
He started darting out between the paver by the water bowl and the seeds that i pu out around the rose bush.
I did not know mousey was active during the day but he scampered back and fourth about fourty times. If I lifted the Paver there would be a stockpile of seed secreted by the scampering mouse.
An opportunist mouse, the second one after the field mouse in the amazon boxes.I love photographing wild Britain, when you get unexpected garden guests.
There is more than enough seed to feed the birds and a stray mouse.


The birds sat in the denuded Fir tree with blue skys above them. They have cute red and black faces with dark wings, with yellow wing bars.
It was a quiet day in the garden due to building work being directly behind the wild strip. I did however see a mouse stashing the ground feeders bird seed.
He was hiding beneath the pavers where the vegetable bag gardens are going to be.The mouse was busy carrying bird seed away.
I am going back to Harlow Carr after Paris in Febuary. I hope that the Harlow Carr gardens are bursting with Spring colour at the end of Febuary. They have four resident pigs now, after the Emmerdale pigs went back to TV work.
I will try not to take 300 photos like I have done every previous visit (three times last year).I get tempted when there is so many plants, tree's, flowers, sculptures, and water to look at.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

National Treasures

I have not taken part in the RSPB's gardenwatch day yet, due to working on the weekend it was held the 26th-27th January.
I might sit tomorrow for an hour how many garden birds visit my garden. Then use the internet to send my data to the Rspb.
They use it every year as an impromptu snapshot of how the native birds of Britain are doing. Every persons postcode is used to log the sightings on one hour of watching. It can be done in gardens or parks, and the time length is short enough that most people can manage it.
From all the data the RSPB can calculate bird populations and abundance (or scarcity) in any given area or the UK as a whole. This can reflect their future policies and which birds need protecting if they are to remain as a distinct species within the UK.
I think the BBC will publish a news story soon about the Top Ten British garden birds sighted over this weekend, in March.
It was originally used to get children into looking at birds in natural environments back in 1979. Over 400,000 people took part last year spotting some 6 millions birds in 235,000 gardens. Somebody realised you could get adults involved whether bird experts or amateurs.
The awareness of the environment and climate change has made a whole new generation of green gardeners and nature lovers. Who appreciate the Flora and Fauna of Britain as a national treasure.
All we need now is Nicholas Cage with some binoculars and a British Garden Birds book.I have worked all weekend. From dark in the morning at 530am to finishing at 810pm when its dark again. Two Dark days but am off tomorrow. The garden is calling me.....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Seed Sowing, On A Friday Night

The Wind was blowing hard again today. My fence rattled like it was going to blow down. My running repairs to the hole were blown into next doors garden.
I have just spent an hour turning the kitchen into a mini greenhouse. Seed trays and pots now fill the side by the window.
Evening Primrose, Poppy Bracteatum, Alternathera Purple Knight, Viola Midnight Runner, Agastache Lavender Haze, Heliotrope Marine Cherry Pie, and more pots of Genovese Basil, and Parsley were sown.
I need to invest in a couple of Grow Houses to house my many plants if they germinate and develop.
The Walton plant stall will get my excess so I have a reason (if i needed any) to grow millions of plants. It helps the community groups who benefit from the plant sales. It will be Hil's Tenth year running doing it. She liked the extra help me and Fran gave her last year.
I am working all weekend.
The pretty Hellebore Niger is photographed. I love the starry pollen grains. What a flower.It was worth waiting for!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rainbow Colours

I found my Seeds box, and pulled out the many packets...There are aproximately fifty packets of seeds on the technicoloured throw covered sofa. The African bag gardens came with six more packets of seeds. Cat has given me some Calendulas and Cats Snaps...Thats about Fifty Eight packets.
Now I have to choose which seeds to plant. It will be a challenge trying to raise as many plants as possible for the garden, so I only have to buy a few filler plants from the local plant nurserys.
There are lots more flowers than Vegetables. The Vegetable seeds I bought are mini or dwarf versions to fit into the Square foot garden approach.
The Bag Gardens will hopefully supply a good quantity of Salad and Veg. The only thing I cant plant is the Chillis. The Yorkshire weather will not let them grow outside in a shaded north facing garden. The instructions read grow in a greenhouse!
I hope the garden will be as colourful as the Sofa's cover.Like a Rainbow cover...

Wednesday Recap

Someone forgot to tell the Blackbird he is a ground feeder. He has his orange beak full of fatball. He sat on the fence and jumped up a few times and managed too secure a grip on the cage!
The birds were not as nervous yesterday, as I was stood by the plant pots at the kitchen door they flew into the garden for a snack. Bluetits, coal tits, and the blackbirds of xourse. The robin was on the fence watching it all.
I planted yesterday Carrots, Cabbages, Schizostylis, and Cerinthe in various seed trays with propogator lids. The new growing year is close. All these can be started in January!
I have work early this morning, then I want to come back and spend a few hours in the garden.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Asia and Alabama

The Camellia Japonica yesterday teasingly showing its furled pink petals.
I love the glossy leaves and the flowers are so delicate when they are finally open.
The genus was named by Linnaeus after a Jesuit Missionary, pharmacist, and botanist called Georg Joseph Kamel.
He wrote about the native plants of the
Philippine Island of Luzon. Even though he may never have seen a Camellia Linnaeus thought enough of him to rename a Genus in his honour.
Camellias are native through out South and East Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia.
The most grown commercially Camellia is Camellia Sinensis, whos leaves are used to make Tea.
The Staple drink of the British, which has been drank for hundreds of years. From dried Camellia leaves..

The Garden one photographed is a Camellia Japonica. The plant label says Camellia Bonomiana on it.
There are about 3000 cultivars.
They are slow growing shrubs or tree's averaging 30cm new growth a year. The leaves are evergreen, and the flowers Dahlia like.
They need acidic or neutral soil to grow, and a sheltered position. They can thrive in dappled shade below tree's and by west facing walls. The buds are delicate to frosts and too much sun.
The Camellia is also the State Flower of Alabama (My Favourite American State that I visited). I liked the Yellowhammer bird too on these American Stamps.
My plant has a lot of Flower buds around the Stems nestling below the green shiny leaves.
When I was dreaming about a garden there was always space for at least one Camellia. When it flowers I can blog the beautiful pink blooms that have captivated people from all Continents, and times from Ancient to Victorian, to the Present day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rain And Reflections

I am off finally after four night shifts. The photo is of the Hellebore after the torrential rain that fell last night and this morning. The local rivers of the Calder and Aire are near to bursting their banks in places.
The soil is waterlogged in places. No early veg seed sowing for a while yet. Its made me think I want to raise the right border by a foot. If it does rain then it will drain away easier.
You can see the White flowered Heather, and the house warming Cyclamen behind the Birds sunken water dish.
I want a bigger water dish I think as the reflective element of still water is good. Its very calming the water reflecting plants and flowers below the real ones. The earthly ones above, and the magical shimmering reflected plants below. Very Heaven and Earth like.
Bird seed that has been left on the soil has germinated. I have a pot full of germinated bird seeds growing into some kind of grass.
I can see daffodils, tulips, and crocus pushing their way up out of the soil and windowbox. The big blue pot with the mystery bulbs has a baby Muscari. The small grape like flower bud is visible now after the rain battered the strappy leaves, exposing it at the base.
I saw my Robin today, but otherwise the birds have been hiding in the trees. I saw three Chaffinches fly to the fir tree and sit, but they moved away before my camera came out.
I have two days off to reacquaint myself with the garden and the birds. There is weeding to be done, and plans made to raise the borders. The African bag gardens are here and need some things buying so I can construct them for the pavers.
I will sort out my seed packets and photograph how many I actually have. I might even suprise myself with how many I actually have. Bought seed packets, and other seeds loose in envelopes and pharmacy brown bottles... like Calendula, Aquilegia's, Poppies, and Snapdragons I remember...
Thats my reflections after work and rain :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Winter Blue...

... Flowers. Some Sunday Hyacinth flowers. The Spring bulbs seem to be popping up all around the garden. There is bird seed germinating in the red nets on the fence too!
The Hellebores have opened fully and are white as pure driven snow. My slow flowering blue shades Polyanthus have flower buds on two of the four plants.
It has just rained incessantly for days. The soil is waterlogged on the right side. It needs a lot of organic material added to help the drainage.
I have two days off soon to get back into the garden.. a few weeds have sprung up too with the wet conditions.
Back to work tonight for me :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hellebore Huddle

Guess what flowered on my second night of four? The Christmas rose has flowered, on three out of six plants. Do they talk to each other in a Hellebore huddle? Ok today we three will flower at the same time.
I was outside checking the garden with bleary eyes. The white cup flower glows ghostlike in the morning light, with golden centres.
I will photograph them after nights in good light.I hope all your gardening weekends are good. I am waiting for the African Bag Gardens to be delivered hopefully today.
Good things come (Or Three flowering Hellebores) to those who wait :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Morning

Am back on those dreaded nights again. This is the quick morning post. Yesterday I saw two robins in the garden. My usual one and a skinnier raggedy Robin. The healthy one (fat from all the bird food he has eaten) chased off the ragedy one.
I will have to see if the second robin comes back again... He will keep an eye on the garden for me as I sleep.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Creative Fire In The Rain

I got a book yesterday called Digging Deep by Fran Sorin. The rest of the title is "Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening".
One exercise in her books opening chapters is to remember the gardens or plants of your past. These are actually your gardening roots, sometimes buried in the layers of life that have happened since then.
I did not think I had any, and then a few surfaced up into my minds eye.
I can remember playing with Daisys and Dandelions with my sister Jawsy (Not her real name, its actually Georgina, but Jaws is my nickname for her). We made necklaces and bracelets of daisys, linking the flowers through little nicks in the stems. Daisy Chains.
The Dandelions we turned into Soft, staining pillows on fresh cut grass. Placing the flower heads with great care close together. All the combined flower heads formed a soft pillow!
Another memory it sparked was having to clean up after the Dog (A gorgeous Greyhound called Lizzie) who used the backgarden to do what dogs need to do when they get let outside...
I was armed with a shovel, which was used to move dog poop from the garden to under the Rosebushes. They were the best looking Rosebushes in the area, thanks to Lizzie and my shovel. That is my first gardening job memory when I was about 6 or 7....

I wrote an email to a Journalist called Leah Garchik who writes for the San Fransisco Chronicle. She wrote a funny/sad piece after she won through a garden consultantation through a charity auction.
I felt sorry for her after the consultant was horrid to her about her house, but more painfully about her garden. I wrote to Leah that the best gardens are made over time, as an expression of yourself. Each gardener wants their own unique garden, not gardening by numbers or a copy cat garden replica of another one.
Time, and the Environment cause gardens to develop their own uniqueness. What grows well stays, what struggles or dies leave the fold. Garden ornaments, decorative pots, fountains or water features. We buy them a few at a time and add it to our own eden.
Gardens can be as filled with as much stuff as you like. Leah had a mannequin with ivy growing on it...Viva la Differance.
If you are happy with a Pink plastic Lawn Flamingo, and Ten garden gnomes then go with it.
Maybe you're into a Zen garden with single plants, raked gravel, and space. Maybe you long for the wild beauty of a Cottage garden, plants spilling over the edges of the garden. The creativity in a Gardener needs to be released not crushed by Gardening gurus saying you cant grow that here etc!
The Home and Gardens Sub Editor says they want to print that email, and it cheered Leah up after she read it. Its funny how I was writing to Leah about an individuals creativity is the best driving force to make a garden your own. Then I came across the book that taps into some of my own ideas!

Another section of the book was Observing. Going outside for ten minutes and just looking at the Garden or sidewalk or park, Seeing whats there and writing short pieces about what you see. From flowers to individual leaves to weeds growing through cracks in the sidewalk.I think this is a process to involve you in Nature. You look at the small things, and realise your connectedness to the Earth. All things from food to Clothes come from plants. The whole world relys on growing from the earth.
I looked at the rain drops hanging on the washing line in next doors garden, the colour of the pegs at the near side of the line.
Bird seed which has started to germinate under the Viburnum. Seeing little single stems of grass with translucent roots. All I thought was how small must the seed be? The wet weather has inspired the photos today.
Life can be increasingly fast. Sometimes its good to observe nature around us. From weeds to wildflowers to bees to birds to trees, leaves and bark. Winston Churchill was famous for spending time in his garden to recharge his batterys when the rigours of public office were getting to him. I have a lot more book to go. I reccomend it highly if you have a creative gardener dying to get out from inside you. It may light your creative fire.
The photo from Wikipedia is Prometheus who stole Fire from Zeus to give to Mankind.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I am wandering what this is? It is suspended under the top of the fence held on by fine threads and alien looking gloop!
I thought it might be a Chrysalis.. If anyone can recognise what it is please comment :)
The seeds arrived today from Mr Fothergills. Peas, baby carrots, cabbages, Spring onions, tumbling tomatos, Baby leeks, and Dwarf beans. Roll on March which is the sowing dates for most of these.
I have been visualising how to alter the right border to accomodate my Vegetable patch, the butterfly garden, and keep room for a table and chairs.
The mystery Chrysalis will not be the only thing being transformed this year. I will wait to see what might hatch from the suspended sac!
I checked my old photos and I can only see it from the 8th January onwards. I knew it was good to take so many photos almost daily! For doing Sherlock Holmes of working out how long the chrysalis has been under the top of the fence without me seeing it.
Chrysalis is an interesting word, It's old root word is Greek for for Gold, Krysos. They observed Butterflys coming from gold coloured sacs...
I hope its a Butterfly and not something like a wasp or a moth that is wrapped in its own shroud. Developing under the webs and glue...It is growing right above a butterfly bush too.
I think the transformation of a Caterpillar, into a Pupa within a Chrysalis, then lastly into a Butterfly is a miracle of Nature. Beauty coming from two suprising life forms (The plant maiming Caterpillar, and the Inert but sticky looking Pupa).
Sometimes you can find Gold without mining for it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Montage of Garden Birds

Hopefully this will work. The full thirty two photo moviing slideshow.......

Raining Birds and Christmas Roses

The Rain came again today, pouring down for a few hours. I ventured outside to see if the Hellebores had flowered yet. Not yet, but pretty close. They have either pink ish or white flower buds. Five plants have developed flower buds which are now growing upwards, as they started off in the soil close to the base of the plants.
The Raindrops are photogenic on the blue berrys of the Viburnum.I actually saw a blackbird eating one yesterday.
You can see the Sunken Bird waterbowl with surrounding stones..
I wandered if the Rain would dampen the garden birds spirits. It was like wacky races today with numerous birds flying in and out. I counted up to twelve at the most. Five Blackbirds, and seven Blue tits. They are actually quite hard to count because they are all moving about rapidly.
Some bird photos to come today..

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Britt -Arnhild Flower :)

A Blue Hyacinth flower to go with Britt Arnhilds Blue blogs.
I have just been reading her many blogs about food, opera, and the garden. They are full of lovely warm storys. The house in the woods has 800 posts with lovely photos to illustrate the prose. Not bad for someone whos first language is Norwegion.

The Blue Cafe is here:

And finally the Blue Garden with some dreamy winter pictures of snow and tree branches:

Someone who blogs almost as much as me. Hope you all check her lovely blogs out :)

Golden Cup

I have been chilling out today watching the birds feed almost all day. As one bird flys off another two, three, or four fly in.
Like Avian wrestling tagteams, hand slapping at the corner.
The Hellebores are reluctant to flower, and I check them everyday. The Primulas and the Heathers are the only plants in flower.
When the flowers are thin on the ground you start to look for other things. For me its the garden birds that have found their way into my small garden..
The Blue Tits have been feeding on the ground seeds. I saw a Wren hopping around my left hand border, ducking between the plants that are spread around.
A family of Blackbirds have moved in as well. Three males, and two females have been in and out of the garden, sitting on the fence.
The Great Tits, and blue tits have started flying into the cover of the Viburnum Tinus, using it as a base to dart out to feed.
The Blackbirds, robin, wren, blue tits, coal tits, and great tits all feed amicably, only sometimes scaring each other off.
The Golden flowered Primula had water in it. It made me think of a Golden cup, overflowing...
Bulbs are poking up slowly around the garden. I cant imagine what it will look like in full Spring Flower.
The Garden is a joy, even when not much is flowering. Winter days are short, and the nights long. I hope my seeds and bag gardens come soon so I can start the next phases of the garden creation.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cakes,Birds,And Gremlins

Sunday morning still. A few bird photos from during the week of the gardens own aerial acrobats (The Blue Arrows?).
Pictures of the Fairy Cakes (I call them angel cakes with wings), and a basket of plants I rescued from work.
The house smells of roast Chicken now... A night of Gremlins with the Oven cremating the second lot of cakes a la King Alfred, and the Internet went off untill this morning.
After a phone call to BT I went through it step by step and it is now restored :)
Have a good weekend wherever you are!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Angelic Robin And Angel Cakes

There must be Spring in the Air.I have been shopping today and started to clean the kitchen and Oven ready for baking Angel cakes, and a roast dinner tomorrow. The oven was probably last cleaned when the original ghostly gardener layed out the slabs and raised border!
My photogenic Robin was one of a few visitors today. The builders across the buffer zone started to tear up the earth with an excavator.I assume my garden spirits moved away from the hullabaloo and men in flourescent waistcoats.
This cheeky bird wanted soime fatball, but could not cling on to the wire frame, like the Blue Tits. He looked up, and then flew up at it for a quick nibble before flying off.
He looks Angelic in the top photo spreading his wings, and reaching for the Sky (or fatball). A true Garden spirit...
More posts tomorrow.There are some Angel cakes to cook once the oven is cleaned!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Honeysuckle and A New 2008 Challenge

It was a grey overcast day today, with wind and rain. I was out in the dark again, planting the Honeysuckle behind the Camelia. The Lonicera has its own wig wam of canes now to grow up before leaping across to the trellis I want to put up.
The Top photo shows the left border as it is. The lower photo shows the Carex grasses and the Dogwood nestling with the solar lights.
A post thatI read last night before bed was the Hundred Foot Diet blogged on an Alameda Garden.
The premise is simple. Try to prepare one meal a week with ingredients grown in your garden or community garden (Allotment here). I did a post before about the Dig for Victory campaign in the Second World War when the British public started to cultivate land en masse to grow fruit and vegetables.
The hundred foot is the average distance from your house! You can source locally grown Organic food if your plot is bare. Thats good because I only have Parsley and Rosemary growing that is edible at the moment.

I did a google search and found this video embedded on an eco website.The garden featured belongs to Jules Dervaes , the man behind the path to freedom journal along with his family.
The idea to me thats the most radical is its in an urban area. They did not move into the country, but altered their own environment. I love their Hellstrip with the Wild flowers, and the fact he dropped six inches of mulch on the lawn. Freedom from mowing and watering. This is their gardeners challenge posted on the sixth of January:
I am waiting for my vegetable seeds to come from Robinsons and the African bag gardens from Send A Cow.
The right hand side of the garden will be split between a Butterfly garden, and a Kitchen Garden. The raised Pavers will hold the Bag Gardens and hopefully a Grow house too.
In my year without a garden I dreamt of the ideal garden. The plan for 2008 will be trying to grow a four pronged garden:
1) An organic garden that attracts wildlife, birds, animals, and insects. Natural pest control will be used, and picking them off at night.
2) A productive garden growing as much home grown food as is possible on a North east facing site.
3) A beautiful Flower garden that has interest throughout the year.
4) A place to relax, and entertain when it warms up. A people friendly garden to chill out in after the stresses of work.
I have started some of the above especially attracting garden birds, lots more work to be done before it is completed. My garden measures aproximately twenty foot by fourteen foot, faces north east and is shaded by houses and trees.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wedneday Photos

Hils brought the new Bird bath in on Monday. I hope they use it to drink and bath...

A new Bird for the Garden.I dont know what it is yet. I need to read my Bird books and try to identify him. He picked up the seeds that have dropped from the red net bag that is on the fence post...

The Blue Tit stretching his neck to admire the new bell shaped seed feeder!

Another Unknown bird.I thought it was a Blackbird but it is not I dont think. He fed off the ground near the Bird table..

Ding Dong. Bird seed in a Bell shape. Fran brought it this morning along with the Dogwood, and a DVD player. The fruit cane is now holding it aloft.I love the acrobatic birds balancing on it as it swayed in the wind. They found it within five minutes off me placing it outside.

The Solar Light, one of four outside now in the Left hand Border.They must have charged the battery before they packed them. I just removed a red tag and it came on.I think night lights add magic to a garden, and mean you can see it differently at night, compared to the Daytime.
A day of gifts, shopping, and birds...