Monday, September 28, 2009

Changing Season

The leaves on the WitchHazel were turning fiery colours a few days ago. I knew that the seasons were changing from summer to autumn.
The Pyrocanthus berries are now big and orange, ready for the hungry birds to eat.
The days are getting shorter, and cooler at night. Its dark earlier, and the sun is rising later.
The first frosts are forecast to hit next week in higher parts of the UK.
The only flowers that are still blooming well are the Geraniums. Floral guests who like to arrive fashionably late. The deep reds, pinks, and magenta blooms flower in colourful balls over the compact leaves.
I harvested almost ten pounds worth of Carrots yesterday. Autumn King, Chantonay, and Suga Snax.
Once I finish work I will turn them into soup, and freeze the rest. We shall have carrots all winter, good for seeing in the dark Autumnal days.
When I spent a year in Australia the two things I missed were the football season (i listened to second half commentary on the BBC World Service), and the seasons. The Southern Hemisphere does not have neat seasons like the UK.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. I appreciate them more now, and enjoy each passing season and the changes in the plants and flowers between them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Under The Narnia Lights

This nocturnal visitor was back in the garden last night. I went outside and found her snuffling under the narnia lights.
I wander when Hedgehogs hibernate? She is building up her strength by crunching all the slugs, snails, and insects that she can find.The winter slumber will drain her energy reserves, and she will wake up ravenous in the spring.
I saw a bat the other evening too flying eratically around, like a super charged rubber ball, using its sonar to locate flying insects.
We have the garden during the day with the garden birds and the neighbourhood Cats and the Squirrel. At night the garden becomes a wild place when people sleep. The native wildlife comes out. I wish I could see what roams around at night.
I am going to harvest my carrots today, and start to clear the borders. The sun is shining, and it feels quite warm. I will go to the allotment tomorrow to continue the clearing.
My week is always split up between the necessity of working and then days off to garden or to tend the plot...
The seasons and wildlife are always around me, and end up being written about in here, or photographed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Autumn Changes

The Autumn equinox has passed since I was working the nights. The Trees have begun to change their leave colour and drop them off the branches onto the ground. Reds, Oranges, Yellow, and Browns. An Arboreal technicolour dreamcoat.
The days are getting shorter and there is a chill in the air at night.
I have begun my own retreat from Moscow, with my tender plants going back into the greenhouse before the first frosts in October.
The birds have begun to flock into the garden in the morning. Twenty plus Goldfinches descend onto the feeders and the birdbath. Also I saw today House Sparrows, Blue tits, Blackbirds, and today a skinny Robin..
The Pyrocanthus in the garden has its crimson berrys on it, a feast for the blackbirds.
I need to clear the summer borders. The partys over and the garden needs tidying up and the soil altered ready for next year. I will add my old compost, and the newly rotted compost from my black bin. The Roses will get extra organic matter so they hold onto moisture better.
This is the time to plant the Daffodil and Narcissus Bulbs ready for Spring. The Tulips I bought from the Autumn flower show will go into the ground in October.
I will order some Seed Catalogues ready for perusing during chilly dark nights, flowers and vegetables for next years growing season.
My raised beds need clearing too. It is the season now for Harvest Festivals. I will celebrate mine by making a Carrot and Coriander soup.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flower Show Colours

The Autumn flower show was a riot of colours, an unbelievable selection of colourful blooms displayed in the nurserys stands. This selection of Clematis caught our eyes first.

The Orchid growers have expanded to include strange new Orchids with colourful blooms..I love how they induce the whole display to flower in time for the show.

The Hostas were there with this small tree growing over them.

I liked these Chrysanthenums and Sea Hollys displayed together. The blue and the white contrasted perfectly.

The Robinsons Vegetable stand was a picture. It reminded me of a veg shop in Paris displaying the produce like a Rembrandt life painting. The shapes and colours were expertly picked..

My favourite Orchids are these Ladys Slipper types. It looks like an extra from the little shop of horrors.

Dahlias and Chrysanthenums were displayed together in technicolour.

All grown to perfection..

The Gladiolus spikes showed how many colours you can grow, from the humble plant..

This pink leaved shrub was a Euonymus. Beautiful colours from the Autumn Flower show.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The Peruvian Lily photo was taken at the Harrogate Autumn Flower show today. We left at just after eight a.m to drive to the Yorkshire showground.
This is the last big flower show of the year, where you can buy your spring bulbs and plants for the garden.
I bought a lot of the Sundrys today. A bottle of Ginger wine, Yorkshire made Pork Sausages, some wooden carvings, Home made Treacle Toffee and Vanilla fudge, lots of Spring Bulbs, an Amaryllis multiflora, a new Streptocarpus plug plant called Pink Souffle, a Campanula Pink Octopus, and a large Fuschia called Royal Velvet.
The colours of the show were amazing. I will blog the majority of the photos tomorrow. The sun was shining, and we listened to the bands playing music at the entrance, and on the main Bandstand.
Music, Sun, Flowers, Veg, and shopping...a perfect flower show to end the year. The next Flower show is in April 2010. We will be there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day Of Rest

I spent five hours on the allotment yesterday continuing the clearing. There are about seven more days left before it will have been totally cleared.
I have spent today watching films with Cat, and drinking Coffee. My blisters needed a day to rest and recover.
The bird drop Sunflowers continue to attract Bee's and Hoverflys. The flowers are the last ones blooming from the summer.
The leaves are starting to change colour, and dropping from the Trees. I picked up two conkers yesterday when I walked back.
The Autumn Flower show is on Sunday at Harrogate. I will bring my camera to the last flower show of the year.
I'm back to work for the next two days so the allotment clearing will start again next week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Starfish And French Cooking

The Eucomis or Pineapple Lily is in flower now. Beautiful little white/pink flowers with a red and yellow starfish centre. They smell slightly fragrant, and are opening from the bottom of the red stem upwards.
The leaves have been decimated by the strong Yorkshire winds and rain though. They are glossy, red strappy leaves but are not tough..
We went to the Cinema yesterday to see Julie and Julia, a film with a blog in it.
The character Julie wants to cook all 53o recipies in Julia Childs The Art Of French Cooking, in one year. She blogged the 365 days of cooking, and eating.
Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are brilliant together again, and have some of the funniest parts of the film.
I dont know what blog challenge I can set myself for a whole year?Take 365 photos? What have other people done for a years challenge and used the blog as a vehicle to document their challenges?
I'm sat writing this and watching the garden birds fly in and out of the garden. Goldfinches, Blue Tits, House Sparrows, and a Robin.
More allotment clearing today...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flowers And Wine

The Verbena Bonarensis is in flower now. These first year plants from the Walton flower show have grown about five feet and have the little lilac star flowers. They are beloved by Bee's and Hoverflys.
I put my Blackberry wine into the demijohn today after a week of fermentation in a plastic bucket. It is a thick red colour, but is a year away from being finished.
The fruit we have grown and colllected inspired me to make some more country wines again.
I have Dandelion wine, and Plum wine from the past three years. 2009 will be the Blackberry wine year.
We have made Apple Pies, and Apple and Blackberry Pies. I messed up my Blackcurrent Jam (it turned out like black cement. There are Apples on the kitchen floor in a bag, and Plums frozen in the freezer.
A glut makes you look for recipies, and ways of using the fruit or veg to stop it going to waste. Next year we may have Peaches too from our barren Peach tree...
The Goldfinches and a Robin are flying onto the feeders as I write this. They do not mind a glut of bird food. They keep coming back to feed for a while.
The sun is shining and I will be going to clear a bit more of the allotment.I'll try not to get sun burnt again on my back.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Calendulas And House Martins

This Calendula has been growing by the retaining wall just underneath the Fir Trees that run along the right side of the garden. The soil is bone dry and compacted, but this plant has grown despite unfavourable conditions.
I have collected some seed heads (like crabs claws) for sowing next year. I find orange flowers very therapeutic to look at. It reminds me of Hare Krishnas singing on their parades through the streets of Cheltenham...
I spent five and a half hours down the allotment in the warm sunshine. Clearing more grasses and weeds away, and weeding the Leek and Courgette beds.
I think it will take me around nine more days to complete the clearance. It has been very hard, laborious work doing it by hand. I see grasses and thistles growing behind me as i work my way across.
The digging over is still to be done, before I can mark out the beds and paths around them. The clearing of the neglected plot is the evil task. The marking out and preparing for next years growing season is the better bit.
I have got to know the soil, the weeds, and the bugs that live within my little plot intimately as I have looked at them on my knees. I have marked the limits with canes and string tied between them.
I found a gift today of Raspberry Canes in a pot near the Blackberry bushes. I need to plant them somewhere on Saturday.
The highlight today was sitting at the end of the day drinking a cup of coffee watching the House Martins diving and soaring acrobatically catching insects. Flying past me and Cat so we could see their white under belly's. All the rest of the allotment people had gone, leaving us to witness the spectacle..

Monday, September 07, 2009


The Gladiolus at close range is so ornate. I love the central areas of pink and lime green from where the stamen stick out.
The weather is improving from cloudy today to sunny tomorrow and wednesday.
I hope to be gardening and doing the allotment in a few days...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Viola

This is the second generation of Viola Cornuta I grew from seed. The Hampson bought plants flowered and made seed pods. I collected some and sowed them in a plastic box. They grew and have flowered again.
I like the difference in the flowers. The genetics have developed many variations of the purple and yellow flowers.
They are individually like water colours. The colours seem to blend and form new colours on every flower.
It is known that if you grow plants from seeds they will invariably be different from the parent plants. I think Aquilegias show this trait admirably.
I like the excitement of seeing what new colours you can grow on seed collected plants.
I hope you are all enjoying your sunday.I will be asleep for most of mine...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Garden Birds Gift

This is the little Sunflower the birds dropped. It is only about two feet tall but the petals have coped with the inclement weather better than the giant singles.
I am collecting the seed heads for saving some seeds and for giving to the birds too.
There are more Sunflowers growing under the swings, and a few more near to this one.
I do like how their heads follow the sun throughout the day.
Their flowers are always illuminated by the sun.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Solitary One

Dahlias are some of my favourite flowers but this year this is the only one that has flowered. It is a deeper red colour than the camera can photograph.

They are perfectly shaped flowers with concentric petals around the centre. I will buy more for next year. They add a final flourish to the gardens summer flowers. I love this single solitary Dahlia.
I'm back on night shifts again from tonight so I will spend some of the day in the garden tidying up and clipping the shrubs back.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cats Visitor

Cat spotted this cheeky Squirrel yesterday. He had ran along the retaining wall then shimmied up the bird feeder station before sitting on the seed feeder. He has an enormously fluffy tail.

We had never seen any Squirrels in the garden for the whole time we have been here. He is a grey Squirrel. He sat breaking open Sunflower seeds with his sharp incisors. Like cracking Brazil nuts at Christmas. I found the broken husks filling the bowl..

Here in the Uk there is some ambivelance towards the Grey Squirrel. They were introduced 130 years ago from America into a park in Cheshire, and then in other places released. They have colonised most of the UK with 3 million Greys now. They carry a virus which has killed the native Red Squirrel off, and pushed it to pockets of the UK. There are about 140,000 Red Squirrels in the Uk in places like Cumbria and Scotland.

The Squirrel is so successfull they were being culled before. Now attempts are being made to prevent Greys from encroaching into areas of Reds. The scientists are still looking for a vaccine for the squirrel virus.
He must have smelt the Sunflower seeds and bird seeds. I must admit I enjoyed seeing him come down from the trees to feed. I read as well that if one comes then soon after more Squirrels move into exploit the food source.
He reminds me of Scratt from Ice Age...Sci u rus carolinensis

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sedum In Bloom

The Sedum is flowering now in the garden. The nectar rich pink flowers on this plant, and the white flowers on my transplanted plant.
The Bee was happy to be photographed and flew from flower to flower.
Cat spotted a suprise visitor today too who will be identified tomorrow.
Its been sunny early on but the clouds came, and the rain has been falling.
Its good that the flowers are blooming in September for the visiting bee's and hoverflys.
I do like wildlife and insects in the garden, observable within a few steps from the kitchen door.
I saw the Robin today first at the vegetable raised beds, then on the bird table near my favourite seating area.
The birds and bee's are frequent visitors, garden spirits between the flowers, grasses, and shrubs.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Colours Of The Day

The Eucomis has grown a flower spike this year. Last year it had only grown the red strappy leaves before the frosts killed them off.
I took the potted bulb to the new house and left it in the greenhouse. It has regrown with vigour and been replanted.
The Pineapple bit is all the flower buds not yet opened...
The rain has come today after my nights. I hope the next two days will be dry enough to get to the allotment to continue clearing it.
The garden looks lovely with all the Sunflowers, Gladiolus, and Geraniums flowering away.
The bird feeders continue to attract masses of Garden Birds.
The Eucomis is also called the Pineapple Lily, and is a native of South Africa.
I have a red hot poker plant but it has done nothing in the dry bit of the border. It obviously likes some moisture :)
After my night shifts its nice to enjoy the sunshine on your face, the wind blowing the plants around, and seeing the colours of the day in technicolour.
Its the first of September already, where did the summer go?