Monday, May 31, 2010

Clematis And Blackbird

The Clematis Angelique is in bloom now. I loved the soft violet coloured petals of the flower, and the ornate centre where the seed head will form later on. I wanted to grow this is a tub up a frame. Cats idea is to grow it from a pot up the brick wall behind the kitchen door. An arched trellis would support its climbing habit and covered the brick work with pretty flowers in the Spring.

I covered the soil with my bark chippings. I read that Clematis like Sun on their flowers and leaves, but cool, damp root systems. There is even a pruning guide on the plant label. I thought if I can get a winter flowering Clematis to grow alongside Angelique then we could have flowers most of the year round. This Clematis flowers from June to October. The greenhouse it grew in obviously forced it to flower in May.

Tonight sees the return of Springwatch on BBC 2. It is a live wildlife program being broadcast from Pensthorpe in Norfolk, with reporters in several other locations around the UK. It follows animals and birds that are living in Britain. It encourages people to get out and actively search for wildlife to observe.
The average British garden has a vast array of wildlife in it and around it. Sometimes things are so common that they become invisible. Springwatch makes the spectacle of nature exhilirating and exciting following the life stories of various species of birds and animals. For example a family of Blue Tits, a Wren family, and a nesting Avocet are being broadcast live on Webcam. It is on Tv in the evening for 3 weeks.
In the garden today this Blackbird was posing on our fence. He had his eye on some Suet feed on the bird table. I love the golden beak contrasting to the black body feathers.

When I bought the suet/seed mix in a plastic tub nothing went near it for a few days. I noticed then that it has a few peck marks in it. Now after two weeks the tub is nearly empty. Song Thrushes, and Blackbirds are flocking to eat the fatty snack, and to take it away to feed hungry fledglings.
The garden is full of birds now that are attracted to the new feeders. They are displaying their natural behaviour. I have seen aggression, courtship, and even mating (Cat blushed at the antics of the Collared Doves on our fence. I always thought they were quite virginal, not exhibitionists!).
Fledgling House Sparrows sit on the feeders beating their little wings, chirping at their parents to feed them. I have seen Blue Tits on my Monkey Puzzle Tree, Woodpigeons fighting on the path, House Sparrows drinking from the water bowls, Starlings bathing in the birdbath, Bee's pollinating my Raspberry and Strawberry flowers, and just now typing this House Sparrows rolling around my Strawberry bed having a dust bath!
All this activity has happened within the confines of our garden, in the middle of an urban estate. The bird song is frenetic from early morning starting with the Dawn Chorus, until the Dusk makes the birds go to roost. As the sun sets it triggers the release of the Bats into the still twilight air. The first night we stayed in this house we heard Owls twit-a-wooing in some nearby trees somewhere.I have not heard them since. I heard a Cuckoo when I went to work one morning in the deciduous woodland across the road from our house.
A new mystery from today is that something has been digging my planter boxes out, on the concrete path. Soil has been dug and thrown onto the concrete that the planters are on. leaving holes in the soil!I will try to observe it to see who has been digging. They have not eaten the plants. I think they were interested in insects beneath the bark chippings in the compost.
The garden is slowly attracting all manner of wildlife. Making the garden attractive to wildlife is one of the priorities on my list of what I want from the garden. I think i have started off well on that road.
Springwatch is always one of the highlights of the year for me. As a post Chelsea RHS flower show Tonic Kate Humble and Chris Packham are brilliant.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lilac Dreams

Flowering now in the pot in our new garden is my sumptuous Lilac Tree. I have had it for three years now. This year it has only grown one magnificent collection of heavenly scented flowers. These contrast to the green and speckled gold leaves. It is a small hybrid Lilac and is nearly two metres tal at the moment.
If you sit on the bench you can have the flowers balmy sweet scent wafting near your nose. I absolutely love the smell of Lilac. It is one of my favourite garden smells to take me back in time to me and my Grandmother and her sister....
I wander why this year only one branch has flowered? The roots were not disturbed during the move. The only thing I can think of is that the freezing winter damaged the growing buds and stopped them from flowering. The flowers last year were much more abundant but not as fragrant.
The Lilac Tree flowering is one of my gardening highlights of the year. What an excellent tree and flower!
Once its done the variegated leaves can start storing all their energys up ready for next years purple light show. Between the end of these flowers and next years I will be dreaming. My dreams will be Lilac scented and coloured.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Geum Mrs Bradshaw

A plant that has seemingly recovered from the shock of being transplanted is this Geum Mrs Bradshaw. It has bloomed since I planted it in the raised bed. It has lovely red flowers with golden yellow stamens like a crown in the blooms centre. They flower at the end of long stems and seem to float in thin air from a distance.

The flowers have a gradual change of colour, and start of an orange colour, and the red seems to develop from this. This flower is a tiger stripe mixture of red and orange.

This is how the buds start before the transformation begins between the orange and the red ones.
It has been a good day. We went food shopping, then returned later to Asda to buy a patio set. Six black reclining chairs, a black glass table, and black parasol. All for one hundred pounds. These are sat on the decked area immediately outside the backdoor overlooking the garden and the birds.
The garden here is slowly coming on. I cut the back grass again. The neighbour will help us tomorrow take down the decking frame and slide. I will be able to sit with Cat then and plan what to fill the available space with.
I'm thinking of more Geums (I have an orange one too but its not flowered yet), some patio fruit trees, and some grasses and bamboos. We need to connect the water butts to the sheds guttering to collect rain water.
A new garden is organic, growing all the time. It is fluid and dynamic, not static. These colourful flowers are the icing on the garden cake.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kind Hearts And Cygnets

One of the new plants that we have bought since we moved here is this beautiful Dicentra Spectablis, or Bleeding Heart. There must be some amazing natural selection going on here for a flower to form a heart that has tear drop sacs hanging underneath it.
It is an Asian perennial plant, that likes shaded areas where it is dry and hot. In damp areas they can tolerate full sun. They are clump forming and do not like being disturbed because of glassy roots that break easily. They are native in China and East Asia.I wish I could have been the plant hunter who found these in flower! What a Valentines present that would be.
I hope ours survives in our sheltered garden. It has been so hot since we moved in that the last few cloudy days have been a relief from the heat. I love the heart shape flowered dangling in the breeze.
I worked yesterday so i missed all the BBC coverage of the Chelsea RHS flower show. I will do one more post I think about highlights from there after I watch the BBC I player catch up programs.
We went for a walk around Pugneys today. We saw Dragonflies, Coots, Cormorants, Ducks, and Swans, Ducklings, and Cygnets. It was very windy, but we walked along all the paths that we had never trod before. The mud had dried out in the hot weather making them passable.
We saw an amazing sight too. A shrub bush covered in what looked like spiders webs. Thick webbing formed walkways and tunnels between branches and leaves. Inside the web like tunnels were masses of Caterpillars. The egg sacs had been wrapped in leaves and the Caterpillars had eaten their way out. The Shrub in Pugneys car park was festooned in web like an Xmas decoration, and had hundreds of small yellow/black Caterpillars. What will they turn into? Are they baby Butterflies?
We saw a dead Pike floating in the water. I saw this arched fish shape moving in the lakes edge. I took off my socks and shoes and waded into the cold water. I saw his long body and sharp teeth, it was a Pike. I think a fishermen had killed him after catching him. I felt quite sad for him..
The other thing that distressed us was the amount of rubbish that people have thrown into the lake. Plastic drink bottles and carrier bags, ice cream tubs, and crisp packets. Why are people so messy? We worried about the Cygnets and Ducklings choking on plastic bags.
The plastic will not degrade for about a thousand years. That's why supermarkets here have made a conscious effort to make people bring reusable bags. It has been quite effective and the amount of plastic carrier bags used has dropped.
A lot of the rubbish was accumulated around the fisherman's spots. Drinks cans and sweet hard was it for them to take their rubbish away in a bag?
I have become more aware of how what we do impacts on our environment. The plants, insects, fish, and animals are our responsibility to look after them.
I have become more green as I have grown older. Maybe I am becoming more appreciative now of the world and all the amazing things in it.
I love the sharp toothed Pikes that lurk under the still waters, and the heart shaped Dicentra flowers. The world needs people with kind hearts who will fight for the wildlife and environment to keep it for future generations.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gold Rush

One of my favourite plants of all time is the common Flag Iris or Pseudocorus. It has been growing in Britain since Anglo Saxon times. It has been the anglo saxon flag symbol too. It grows on the edges of ponds and lakes. I bought mine from Hampsons and grew it in a fake pond pot. A pot inside a water filled pot. It has grown beautifully after it was frozen solid in the winter. It got totally encased in ice. The ice melted, the temperatures rose, and it grew away.

I first saw these plants growing at Harlow Carr around the Queen Mothers Lake. I have subsequently seen them at Newmiller Dam here in Wakefield. They are very vigerous though and can elbow out other species of plants in the pond edge. They are good in water filled containers though like my plastic fatball container.

The flowers are six petaled with the pairs forming yellow flags. They have dark markings running up their throat. They are like liquid sunshine on the patio.

It was also a golden day at the RHS Chelsea flower show with the medals being handed out this morning to the expectant gardners. The rest of the day will have been euphoria or dissapointment, followed by relief that its all over. The RHS members have the next few days to admire all the gardens, and stands in the Great Pavillion, before the general public are let into Chelsea. 157,000 visitors will pass through the gates in five days.
Eight two gold medals were handed out this morning between the gardens and the exhibitors in the Grand Pavillion.
Andy Sturgeon won a Gold medal and coveted Best In Show garden for his Daily Telegraph garden. He was back presenting the BBC's coverage a few hours later alongside Nicky Chapman. He is such a down to earth guy with a really eye for planting and the balance between structure and plants.
James Wong also took a Gold medal for his Malaysian Garden. The presenter of BBC 2's Grow Your Own Drugs designed it with his partner David Cubana. He (David) was quite Shy hiding at the back of the garden clearing debris from a water feature, when the judges arrived to present the card with the medal embossed in it. James Wong said "excuse me" to Nicky Chapman and ran back to show his shy partner. They were both delighted with the Gold medal.
I have just had a look at the Gold Medal winners. One I liked was the Green And Blacks Rainforest Garden highlighting the plight of the peoples of Cameroon. They had made a complete rainforest surrounding a traditional banana leave constructed tent. The Ladys from Cameroon made the dwelling. Her Majesty the Queen loved this garden when she visited it on Monday and was asking lots of questions about it.
I loved the Yorkshire Rhubarb and Custard Garden, it received a Silver medal. The Thrive garden called The Unexpected Gardener is really good too and got a Gold medal. I will try to get some photos of the show gardens to show the ones that i liked.
The full list of awards is here:
The new plant voted the best newcomer was a Streptocarpus called Harlequin Blue. It is a bi colour Streptocarpus with a yellow lip, and dark blue upper petal. I will see if i can buy it at the Autumn Flower Show or at Tatton Park in July.
Its been a day of gold then from my blooming Flag Iris, to the awards at the 2010 Chelsea flower show.
The two gardens I tipped the UK Skills Growing World Class Talent, and the Eden Projects Places Of Change got Silver medals. Well done those two teams of people.

Monday, May 24, 2010

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010

Today was the press day of the RHS Chelsea flower show 2010. I watched last nights preview show on the BBC iplayer hosted by Alan Titchmarsh. His excitement was palpable.
I got an email this morning about the biggest show garden at Chelsea built by some of the most vulnerable people in England.

It is called Places Of Change and is designed by Paul Stone for the Eden Project (The famous Biomes in Cornwall), along with Homeless agencys and Prisons.
The photogenic spokes person for the homeless who helped make the garden is man called Scruffy (real name Paul Pulford) photographed above outside the hut in his part of the show garden.
His love of gardening has really helped save his life, and turn it around from a life of drugs and despair. He says he was depressed for years but that helping on this garden (and one at last years Chelsea) has made him "happy to go out and play". He has constructed a fifty metre square part of the larger garden. It has been made with entirely recycled material, and is already attracting birds and wildlife because its so natural looking.
Altogether Five hundred people from forty three homeless Agencies, and Fifty Prisoners from eight prisons have helped grow, construct, and plant the gardens with the gardeners from the Eden Project, and supervised by Paul Stone.
I love the stories of the Garden designers and their gardens. The stories seem to bring extra meaning to their pristine gardens. I get as excited as Alan Titchmarsh. What new things will be their? Who will win a coveted Chelsea RHS gold medal? What are the things that are in Vogue? What will people take back from their visit to the Showground?
Andy Sturgeon is back at Chelsea after a year off. His partner had died and he took last year off from garden designing. He has designed the Daily Telegraph garden which is called a Contemporary Gravel Garden. He told Alan Titchmarsh that his partner used to love some Purple flowers that he has used in every garden. He has used them in her memory in this reflective garden. He was one of the new presenters on last years Chelsea coverage.
Another good show garden will be the Flemings Australian garden. Last year there were devastating Bush fires in South Eastern Australia. There nursery was burnt to the ground with all their Chelsea plants. They did not go to Chelsea. To save costs this year there entire crew has come voluntary for no pay. They have all taken a month off to build and plant the garden. It features a whirlpool bath complete with seats!
Her Majesty the Queen visited today I think, along with the worlds Media and Celebrities. The TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc held a cook off in a Children's Garden with a large Pizza oven in it.
Their will be new plants unveiled at Chelsea like the Bill Bailey Nepenthe (Pitcher Plant I call it), a Dahlia Ian Hislop, Princess Anne Rose, and a Lily Allan Orange Lily..
There are Show gardens, Urban gardens, Courtyard gardens, and the vast Flower tent. I Am sure there will be lots to blog about.
One day I will get to visit it in person I hope..

Raised Bed Revamp

The first thing I did once we had moved all the furniture and boxes into the house was look at what plants I had brought with me. I picked a few that I liked and went shopping for more plants of the same type. I bought a Geum with orange flowers, three Lupins, three Hollyhocks (in Black, white, and crimson colours), two Aquilegias (Columbines), one Dicentra Bleeding Heart, and some Stipa grasses for my path border.. I also bought three 25 litre bags of top soil for the raised bed.This was neatly stacked around our Rose bench waiting to be used.

This was the raised bed as we moved in. It has some decking on the right hand side keeping the soil off the paved area. It runs up to the neighbours fence and is maybe thirty feet long by three feet wide. It was home to some leggy plants, and some poorly specimens. The soil was compacted, covered by fabric weed guard, and was sparsely populated by any insects when i was clearing it. Even the Chocolate Mint in the bottom left hand corner found it hard to escape from its corner.

The most enormous thing in the garden after the decking play area was this big Lavender Bush. It was around fifteen years old but very woody. Lavenders need regular cutting back to prevent woodiness, and replacing every few years. They are bought very cheaply from nurseries too. Behind it was the yellow leaved, and dark leaved Choisya; Mexican Orange Blossom. These two plants survived the revamp. They are so lovely to smell the flowers and the leaves are ever green, so they give the garden colour and structure all year around. They are good building blocks to build a garden around.

The plants that were left once the overgrown Lavender, and Thyme were removed included four Pieris's, a Hollyhock that was almost totally eaten to the ground by slugs/snails, some Grape Muscari, a Snail destroyed Foxglove?, the two Mexican Orange Blossoms, and a perfectly healthy looking Hebe. The healthy ones have been left in to bulk up my planting.
I used the fork to break up the soil to a depth of a foot and turned the soil up. I broke up all the large clods of earth that I found into a nice crumbly mix. Good soil looks like Chocolate Brownie mix and feels as good in your hand.

I had to reinvigorate the soil which I think was a mixture of soil and builders sand. It was solidly clumped together with no worms in it, no beetles, and hardly any weeds. It must have been devoid of any nutrients. The top soil was mixed in when I started digging the plants in.

Before I planted these I went with Cat to her parents. The hours break took my mind off the planting. I wanted to rearrange the pots on top of the soil to get the best looking arrangement for the planting. I came back and arranged them how I liked them. Then three hours of kneeling on either side of the raised bed digging small holes for the plants. I bought a bag of bark chippings as the weather had been extremely hot and the soil was bone dry in the garden.

The finished raised bed at the end of the day. I was too shattered to put the bark chippings on. I thought I would see how the soil did.
There has been four of the hottest days of the year so far with daytime temps up to 29 degrees centigrade. The bark chippings have now been put on top of the raised beds soil. They are quite ornamental highlighting the plants above. They keep the moisture in which is key to a low watering garden, and they suppress weed. They are organic in that they can be dug into the soil over future years.
The majority of the plants I bought were all Perennials. They should flower for us for many years, even though some of them are quite small. I bought three keys plants to attract the Butterflies and Bee's. The first is the Ceanothus or Californian Lilac. It blue flowers smell of dripping Honey and attract Bee's for miles.
The second one was a Buddleja Black Knight which attracts Hoverflys, Butterflies, and Bee's. They are extremely nectar rich.
The third plant was an old favourite called Nepeta Six Hills Giant or Cat Nip. Its guarantied to make the local moggys go mad (Cat Nip is used in Cat toys and treats) and was like Bee central at Trilby street with its scented Leaves and purple flowers. I just think the name Six Hills Giant is fabulous too.

This was taken two days after the revamp. The Bark chippings are down and the Roses lined up to stop me falling off the path which is a foot higher than the patio slabs! The Pots and Roses make you walk around them.
The Strawberry/Pea bed is on the top left hand corner next to the bird feeding station. The insects are flying into the garden now. I have seen hundreds of baby spiders on a web, one yellow bodied spider on the Strawberries,more Midges, and a Hoverfly in the raised bed. The influx of new plants has enriched the gardens mini environment.
The birds have started to arrive into the garden en Masse for the food, and the water. I have watched Starlings bathing in the bird bath as I wrote this.
Its the first day of the RHS Chelsea flower show today too..

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mexican Orange Blossom

One of the joys of a new garden is finding what hidden gems have been left behind, or that are buried beneath an over grown shrub.
This garden was pretty sparse. There was an enormous old leggy Lavender bush, a woody Thyme bush, two Choisyas, one green Hebe, and four dog eared Pieris. Only one Pieris has stayed in the raised bed.
This Mexican Cherry Blossom smelt like warm Almonds, like a freshly baked Bakewell Tart taken out of the oven and left to cool on your kitchen side. the name Orange Blossom comes from the fact that its leaves are scented when crushed like an Orange plant.
They are evergreen shrubs with the most heavenly scented white flowers. I moved the darker leafed one to the other end of the raised bed, one at either end. The next blog post will be about the raised beds revamp..
I have worked a long day today and it was extremely hot. Time for my bed now before more work tomorrow. i will post about the main raised bed transformation.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Our New Garden

I took these photos the week before we moved in. I wanted a series of before pictures to contrast with the completed garden at a later stage. I will be able to link to them as I love the makeover garden photos or TV programs that do that.
The first photo is the view from the backdoor through the french doors. They open out onto the decking area, complete with ships balustrade around three parts of the decking (the third part is on the left hand side not visible in the photo).
It drops down onto the paving slabs besides the house and is bordered by a long rectangular raised bed that had some very old woody shrubs, and some smaller dog eared ones. Also visible is the Swing/Slide/Decking frame for the kids that was left behind, the compost bin, and the Shed/Temporary Structure.

A large concrete path goes along one edge of the garden to the shed at the back of the garden. This was originally designed for a heavy motorbike to be led up the garden path for storage. This has a lot of tubs on it at the moment. A thin green line growing between the left hand fence and the pathway. This may be broken up one day, but that is a job for the future. I will have to grow on it to start instead of in it.

From the side view they had their bins stored by the raised decking against a fence. There is the houses main down pipe from the roofs guttering. Maybe my water butts that are by the shed can be connected to this? Water conservation will be a key issue in this garden as it is so hot. Yesterday it was about twenty five degrees centigrade. It has not rained for over two weeks so everything is drying out.
The green tub planter had three Strawberry plants left over from the previous owners. Behind the raised bed area there is a square section of railway sleepers. This has been turned into a miniature Strawberry Bed.

The only thing growing in the vegetable patch is a clump of Forget Me Nots. I have dug around those. The clothes dryer has been replaced by Cats rotary dryer and moved further right towards the fence. We originally lost the first metal rotary dryer spike down the hole that the green one was in. It was five feet down the metal base pole so our little spike disappeared into a cylindrical hole when we put it in. It went deep underground, we could have hit coal it was so deep. We could not get it out so in the future archaeologists will find a copper coloured spike...

The view from the top of the garden. The decking is on the left hand side. It forms a sort of wooden frame for the kids to run over to get to the slide. It has been bolted and screwed by power tools together and is impossible to dismantle with hand tools. The amount of space it takes up means one of our first jobs will be to dismantle it.
Like everything it sounds much simpler than it is. Moving has been a nightmare at times with problems everywhere. The garden is my source of refuge from stress. I can sit by the back door and look out at the bird feeders. I can visualise new sections to the garden, and dream a little more.
The garden itself runs along an East/West route and has Sun in the back garden most of the day hence the term its a sun trap. It is situated in a man made valley, surrounded by a house on the right, and behind the left fence a house set back. Behind the Shed there are further row of houses behind Trees. There are three big Conifers to the left with at least one large Tree behind it.
On the right hand side there are three smaller trees and a large Hedgerow that runs along the neighbours border.
There is a mixture of Environment for the garden birds to live on hence the Dawn Chorus here starts around 4am and is still going strong now at 10am! It is alive with singing, chirping, and whistling sounds in the sunshine.
I brought over a hundred and twenty pots with me to fill the new garden with sights and smells, foliage and flowers. The cash value of all the plants must be hundreds of pounds. I love to lavish money on the garden. I have already spent a good few hours in the new garden getting close to the earth and the birds. I have noticed that the insects have started to visit already. Beetles and worms that were not there originally. The soil was a mixture of builders sand and clay,and had not been dug over in a long time.
The transformation has begun. I think the best gardening projects are best done full of enthusiasm and passion, but never done fully to completion. It always good to have something else to do. The after photos will be blogged soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hitch And Home

We are finally settling into the new house, and one of our favourite visitors to the garden is a Nuthatch (named Hitch by Cat). He is the image of this daily telegraph photo. He flys upto the Sunflower hearts, takes one, then batters the heart on the fence with a solid crack of his beak on the wood.
After long days and nights I have four days off to do some gardening, and seeing whats growing up at the allotment. We are due to have internet put on tomorrow which means I can finally blog my before garden photos which are on the other laptop.
I have spent the time here so far making up hanging baskets, observing where the sun rises, and how it crosses the sky in relation to the garden. Watching the wildlife, and planning the garden.
The bird feeders are a hive of activity, and you can while away an hour just watching the garden birds like Hitch.
I took Cat to Hampsons today to buy new plants for the new garden. I have bought Paeony, Aquilegias, Stipa grasses, Hollyhocks, a new Dicentra Bleeding hearts, Heuchera, Lupins, and a Butterfly Bush ready for clearing, digging, and planting tomorrow. I bought three bags of top soil ready to be dug into the first bed.
The boxes are finally getting unpacked and the house is becoming more homely. We had our large American Fridge/Freezer delivered today too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tulip N Move

I'm back after a little mini break. This was a Tulip from the old garden, a beautiful Apricot/Peach colour.
We finally moved last Tuesday. It was a long stressful day but its all over now thankfully. They say moving is the most stress inducing thing you can do. We have been unpacking boxes, having done one room at a time starting with the front room, then the kitchen, and lastly our loft bedroom..
The one hundred and twenty five pots are now sat around the new garden on the concrete path, or on the decking that was here already. The water butts and compost bins were transferred. The Rose bench we put together has come with us, but needs painting with waterproofing paint.
I need to transfer the before photos that I took before the move from the old laptop to the new laptop to blog.
So far I have set up two bird feeder stations, planted a few Strawberry plants into an existing raised bed, and filled my Potato grow bag planters up with compost.
The garden remains an idea in my head which I toy around with whenever I'm not working.
I had to leave the Tulips behind, all of them except for the Blue Parrots in the large pot. I will buy lots from the Autumn Flower Show in Harrogate in September.
I have been working in between unpacking. The blogging has taken a back seat, as has the allotment. Now we're settling in I should be blogging more often. I do enjoy before and after photos, especially of our new garden. There is new wildlife to photograph, and a garden that is like a blank canvas.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Moving Eve

This Ladybird was sat on the Dandelion when I took this photo. I love the huge size of the flower compared to the insect.
Today is the last day we will be at Fishponds. I dismantled the greenhouse which took two hours, packed the greenhouse contents into boxes, moved the two compost bins, and started to empty six hundred litres of water from three water butts ready to be moved, and helped move more boxes over to the new house.
The hanging baskets I planted at the new house are looking good and I watered them this evening. Tomorrow the removal man will move all our furniture into the new house.
Even Tom is excited for once. It has been a monumental task packing a three bedroom house up, and a garden packed full of two years worth of plants in between working. We have just finished our three night shifts and the move coincides with mine and Cat's days off.. We will have to get the Internet moved too to the new house so I hope that my three dongle works.
The main move will be stressful, but I should be able to start work on our new garden. I will post the before photos soon.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Blackbird And Baskets

We woke this morning to a hung parliament which means nobody has complete control of the country. Its like having three head gardeners all squabbling about the lawn, or what goes in the flower beds, or when to prune the Clematis. Its much better to have one leader.
This Blackbird was captured mid hop running alongside the planter boxes. He is only bothered about worms and eating food.
Yesterday I planted two hanging baskets and one planter box at the new house. I used the mixed Lobellia, and plants from the hanging basket mix to fill them.
We had wardrobe problems when they only delivered one half of a pack of two. A few phone calls later I had to go to the shop to pick up box one of two! The second Wardrobe still needs putting together.
I have put up a fancy new feeder at the new garden. It has four hooks, a seed bowl, a water bowl, and a hook for fat snacks to hang on. I recycled some Strawberry plants into the raised bed.
We are both working the next three nights. I will blog again on Monday after a sleep. Have a good weekend wherever you are.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Trials And Plants

It was a day of trials yesterday about the house. We started painting a horrendously dark blue wall in soon-to-be Toms bedroom. We got Dulux paint Ivory Silk and spent hours trying to paint the room to cover the dark blue paint. We got covered in paint and we only had one step ladder to use to get to the ceiling.Whilst we were painting the removal man we had booked for next week sent a text message saying he had been rushed into hospital and therefore was unable to do our move in six (now five) days. Cat was very stressed by that point.
We had to go back to Fishponds Drive to ring around using the phone book to book a different removal firm. After ringing around to get quotes and availability it has been re booked for half past ten next Tuesday on the 11th of May. Cat was a bit happier then..
We had to go back to paint a second Ivory white coat on the first wall. It made the room so much brighter that we decided to paint the other two walls (the fourth wall is wall papered in a pale blue/white wallpaper). We then ran out of paint and had to go for some more. Today's job is to paint a second coat on the two remaining walls.
Once we finished that I went to Asda to buy some pots for the great evacuation. I have amassed a big selection of plants. Some from Trilby Street, and some we bought for here. I have become a plant collector it seems. They never looked that many in the borders. But once they are dug up, potted up, and sat on the patio they look loads. This took me about another three hours of removing them, watering them, and placing them on the patio.I also dug up my Daffodil and Crocus bulbs ready for the move. The removal man will be taking a mini plant nursery in his 16 foot bedford Van. There are one hundred and twenty five pots in the garden.

There is also the two compost bins, three water butts, one Rose garden bench, one bird feeding station, one bird table, about twenty garden ornaments, and the greenhouse needs collapsing.
The garden is such a big part of my life that this feels normal. Do people worry when they move about taking their favourite plants?
My David Austin Roses have been birthday and xmas presents from Cat, and my Mum. . Each plant has a story about where I found it, what it means to me, and the plants own botanical details. All this added together gives me a sentimental attachment to my garden plants.
We are both working nights over the weekend. We finish Monday morning and move houses Tuesday.
We bought some plants for the new house yesterday. Trailing Lobellia and a selection of hanging basket plants from B & Q. Once the paintings done, and the wardrobes have been delivered I can relax by making hanging baskets today.

ps Its the General Election today when the government is elected based on the division of parliamentary seats. It has been the closest run election in years. The outcome is still very unclear. We should wake up tomorrow and know the results. It will be a long day for the politicians today waiting.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Magnolia Magic

This Magnolia is in flower outside the house now. They are so vibrant and joyful as they flower. The flower buds look small and furry and how the enormous blousy flower grows from such a small bud is amazing. They are not long lasting and fall apart after a week or two into a papery mess, like a New York city ticker tape parade. The petals get blown around in the wind and lie strewn around the garden.

The inside of the magnolia is magnificent. The Red and Orange stamen/lime green filaments look like an alien. This will turn into a seed pod I imagine if the flower is pollinated. I read that the Magnolia has been about as a species longer than Bee's. It made the centre bit tough for beetles to pollinate it without damaging it. The photographed plant only had two flower buds that formed. There is one left now, the second one fell to bits after it was photographed.
There are a lot of different Magnolias in flower around Wakefield in shades of whites and pinks. They offer a splash of magic for a week or so in late April/Early May.
We hung curtains today in the new house. Its amazing how homely a place looks once you put a pair of curtains up on an otherwise sparse window. In a weeks time we will have officially moved into the new house. I was imagining a pair of small trees in the front garden (which is just grass at the moment). We have a Magnolia in a pot but it is still very small, maybe in a few years it will bloom for us in the new house.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Show And Stars

This is the Cactus in flower at the new house. The pink star glows yellow in the middle, like a burning coal fire. Cat bought this from the Harrogate Spring Flower show a week ago, and it has flowered since we brought it back. Its May now which means The RHS Chelsea flower show is only a mere three weeks away (the 25th-29th May).

This is the biggest flower show in the world from a horticultural excellence point of view. I will be watching the show from the comfort of our front room as all tickets have sold out. My dream is one year to go to the RHS Chelsea flower show..
Talking of Stars I have to say that if you are lucky enough to have tickets for Chelsea go to see the Growing World Class Talent garden at RHW43. It is being built now by a team of young landscape gardeners. There is an organisation called UK Skills that helps young people compete in high standard competitions against competitors from around the world, in a variety of skills such as landscape gardening, bricklaying, electrical installation, cabinet making, floristry, and stonemasonry. These young people have competed (or want to win a place) at World Skills, the largest skills competition in the world. 1200 people from fifty countries will compete in front of 150,00 visitors It is a biennial competition. The next one is in London in 2011.
I have been asked to mention members of the team building the garden. Keith Chapman, William Gadd, and Grant Finch. There is no bigger stage for you to show your stuff off. Good luck guys! I hope that you get a medal, but im sure the experience will be priceless..
The garden has been designed by Paul Green , and will be constructed under the guidance of Harry Turner, lecturer at Askham Bryan college. I hope that Alan Titchmarsh and Co show this garden off on the tv. It will have a pond, wall, Apple Tree, Fescue grassed area,and lots of wild flowers. It will be wildlife friendly.
The RHS link to this garden is:

My Chaffinch finally came back and I got his photo at about half past seven on monday night. He is very handsome with his blue/red feathers and black/white wings. He enjoys the new seeds I bought from Wilkos. He prefers there seed mix.
He is a star of our garden, reclusive, shy, but spectacular when he appears.

Blue Parrots And Garden Birds

I started work today on digging up all the garden plants that will be moved in a weeks time, and replanting them in temporary pots. I started at the back of this garden. There are twelve pots of Strawberrys now, along with my Raspberry Tulameen, and a Gooseberry bush. The Tulips will be the last things dug up as I need to have them arranged in colour order when they are dug up( ready for planting the bulbs in November). The Blue Parrot Tulips were bought at the Autumn Flower Show last September in Harrogate. They are planted in a big pot so I can just move their pot without disturbing the plants. They look purple in Spring sunshine.

These were the Blue Parrots through the backdoor window this morning. It is cloudy, and has rained intermittently. The birds have been in the garden watching me pot plants up. I repotted my two Rubber Tree plants today as well.
I have removed the plants from one of the two borders. This took me around five hours. I have stopped for the moment.I might go back out this evening to continue the selection of the plants that will be moved. From the table looking out I can see the plants in my lidless cold frame...
Sambucas Nigra, My Camellia, Geum Mrs Bradshaw, four Lavender plants, the Rhodandendron Shamrock, Rose Margaret Merrill, the Leopards Bane plant, Dianthus Jazz Festival, and more... I have also tried to bring a Welsh Poppy from this garden. I found a perennial root with new growth on it. Fingers crossed that the plant survives being transplanted into a pot. That one plant should colonise the new garden borders once they are dug.
I saw a few rare garden birds today as well. The camera shy Chaffinch has come about four times. Every time I tried to photograph him the camera ran out of battery, or he flew off by the time I turned the camera on. He is very regal looking, and quite shy about being in the garden. He flys away at the hint of my camera.
I saw a pair of Grey/Yellow Wagtails?, singing in the shrubs behind the duck run. I followed them up and down the garden listening to their song. They flew between shrubs serenading and pecking at insects. I think they were Grey Wagtails, not like the Black Wagtails we see outside.
Cat is finally finishing her nights tonight. So we can start moving boxes down to the new house again tomorrow, and I can finish the plant evacuation of Fishponds. The Blue Parrot Tulips look stunning in the sun.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Sometimes in the garden random groups of plants when in flower, form beautiful contrasts. This Dandelion was lit by the spring sunshine against the electric violet of the tumbling flowers behind it.
This was pleasing to my eye and made this photo....
I spent yesterday and today moving stuff down to the new house. I roped in Hil's yesterday, and Cat's parents today into helping me move boxes. The house is slowly being transferred a mile down the road in boxes.
Its typical bank holiday weather, cold, overcast, and wet. The skies keep emptying every so often. The garden here was full of Blackbirds, Goldfinches, and Wood Pigeons this morning.
The new garden will have a massive injection of life,from the many plants here, along with my potted Apple and Lilac tree's. I will be digging them up and transferring them into plastic pots to wait for the move day. The bird feeding station and the bird table will come with me to entice the garden birds in the new garden. I need to buy a large bird bath, preferably cast iron like the one we found here.
I will blog soon the before pictures of the new garden. I'm trying to visualise it in my head first, then I can start a plan in earnest in my head gardeners notebook.
I want wonderful contrasts of colour, shape, and form in the new garden. It must be wildlife friendly too.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Mayday Tulips

It's Mayday today traditionally celebrated here with Maypoles and Morris dances. I can remember as a child dancing around the maypole with a long ribbon. It is an early celebration of Spring, for the agricultural workers to have a day of rest after all the crops have been planted.
Outside the backdoor this pot has been planted with mystery Tulips and bulbs, with the Blue Parrot Tulips. The mystery Tulips have bloomed in a mixture of pink and white colours. The Statue I bought from Spring Green nursery. A woman in a classical pose. If I had a big garden I would have a life size marble statue. Until then I have this three foot version to pose by the Tulip pot..

Its like Strawberry and Vanilla ice cream swirls on this Tulip. It is bordering on frilly the petals so does not hold a normal Tulip shape.

This one looks more like a Peony or Camellia flower but it is still a Tulip. I have about a dozen varieties growing in the garden. They all need digging up and labelling, before being transported to the new house.
Crocuses give you hope after a cold winter. Daffodils make you smile. Tulips are like the torch bearers for a hot barbecue summer. Their myriad of colours have caused avarice in gardens since the Dutch used to sell the bulbs as commodities in the 17th century.
My favourites so far have been The Queen Of The Night Tulips, and the Lurid Red Parrot Tulips in the border. The pot above has the Blue Parrot Tulips but they have not opened their flowers yet. I'll post about them when they do.