Thursday, June 28, 2012

Olympic Colours

In the green planter under the Apple tree this pretty red and orange flower has bloomed.I could not remember planting anything there.It smelt very sweet.
It is two Freesia plants that i must have planted the corms in the Spring.they have the look of crocosmia but smell divine.This is a second plant with five buds on the flowering stem.
I sellotaped the stem of this one to try to photograph the red and yellow flower.It has beautiful blue stamen and a strong sugary scent.
The white Lupin is also flowering away now.The two new plants were designed to contrast with the purple spires of the other Lupins.They need deadheading now to encourage a second flush of flowers.
The patriotic Petunias i ordered from Suttons have finally started to bloom with all three colours.Red,white,and blue.Just in time for the upcoming olympics.
 I love these contrasting colours.We have them in three planters and this one basket.they have a lovely fragrance too released mostly in the evening.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fragrant Flowers And Strawberries

 The Honeysuckle in our garden has finally started to flower.the small delicate flowers have had bees buzzing around them already.they smell divine.It has taken two growing seasons and the plants now cover the trellis they are growing up.
 Another fragrant flower growing in the front garden hedge is this lovely pink and yellow Snapdragon.I wander if the birds have dropped the seed and it has sprouted in the thinnest amount of soil.
 Wimbledon started yesterday and we had our first Strawberries of the year.Small,juicy,and sweet.The plants are looking very healthy and laden with flower buds.The netting is protecting them from the birds,but not from the ravages of slugs!it has been very wet so they love the raised bed.
The Roses Moliniuex are flowering away now and smell great too.An old tea/rose kind of scent.The flowers have a beautiful deep yellow colour,with many petals.We need to buy another one in the winter to plant where one had died.
 I love walking around the garden and inhaling the scents from all the different flowers.It makes the garden very a sensuous place with the visual and the scents.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Magpies And The Rain

 Its been a typical British summers day today.A little glimpse of sunshine and then the heavens have opened.Its pouring down with rain now so no gardening can be done.I was industrious earlier potting on my Leeks Neptune,and putting copper tape around the French Beans in the greenhouse.The photo is of my Bletilla Striata I bought at the spring flower show.Its the first time i have actually seen them flower.
 It had three buds and two flowered.Alas they have dropped off now so i will wait and see if it flowers again.I bought some Bletilla before but the mouldy old flat killed them off.I love the furry throat of the inner flower and the wing like light pink petals.It is an oriental orchid that actually grows in soil,and not on a tree.
The only other thing I can do is watch the wildlife in the garden.We have had a family of Magpies terrorising the other birds.Here they were playing in the bird bath and washing.they eat insects and fat balls that have been dropped.
 The Squirrels have been coming in and eating off the bird table.Cat felt sorry for them after I squirrel proofed the Sunflower hearts and peanuts.They destroyed the other peanut feeder by biting through the metal mesh.The other problem is they keep digging up my pots.I have had to move the Carrots and French Beans into the greenhouse to try to let them grow on a bit.
  The other crops growing in the greenhouse are the Grape vine which is covered in flower buds,the slow growing Jalapeno Chili's and three varieties of Tomatoes.Premio,Black Cherry,and Italian Plum.
  The allotment is growing big crops,and the kitchen garden a different variety of crops.The only benefit of all the rain is the Apples on the tree are growing well.They love the rain!This year there are fourteen apples on the tree, breaking the last three years records (Three apples each year only!)
 The rain makes the green leaves and grass in the garden glow.I'm back on nights over the weekend so the blog will be resting until Monday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Old Roses and Exotic Seeds

   The warm weather has encouraged some of the Roses to bloom in the sunlight.The Lady Emma Hamilton was glowing yesterday in the warmth.I love the strong scent she has.The bush is covered in eager rose buds ready to bloom.
 A late comer to the Roses blooming is the Rose Harlow Carr.It has a sweet fruity scent,but has masses of buds all over the very spiky plant.this one scratches when you want to sniff the blooms.
My favourite citrus scented Rose Gertude Jekyll.she has bloomed almost a month later than last year,maybe down to the strange British weather we have been having.
 My seeds arrived today from Fothergills.Red Mustard,Rainbow chard,and some Bok Choi.I thought the allotment beds with spaces could try growing more exotic vegetables.
  The garden is looking very green with lots of flowers blooming.The wildlife seems happy with it too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Home Grown And Jitka

 It was a lovely sunny day today to take my seed grown Vegetable plants up to the allotment to plant them.I had the metal supports from last year to construct the netted cage on the left.The local Walton Pigeons love pecking Brassicas to bits,so this keeps them off the young plants.
 I also made the mini version on the right hand side to protect the Broccoli Waltham,grown from USA seeds this year.
 The last two beds have been dug over (again) and are ready for the last lots of seeds to be sown.I have ordered some more seeds from Marshall, based on a famous kitchen garden Lady's best vegetable list.I have had my Carrots,Japanese Onions,and Parsnips fail to germinate any seeds this year.I bought a packet of Johnsons East European Carrots called Jitka to try out from Asda.
I also planted some Outdoor girl Tomatoes,Moneymaker Aubergines,and the three Butternut Squash from Hampsons.My Butternut Squash seeds did not germinate at all.
  This Poppy was blooming just under the side of the Onion bed.My secret strimmer had not strimmed this Poppy away.I love the delicate petals,covered in jewels of droplets, after i watered the Onions.
  The area behind the last two raised beds needs clearing,and maybe covering with black tarp.The weeds and grasses grow like mad on any bare soil.I am thinking of green manure for all the raised beds to try to prevent the weeds getting a hold.
  The allotment has last years Leeks growing flower buds,ready for me to try to harvest the seeds.This years Leek Neptune are in the Greenhouse.
 There are Potatoes,Red and White Onions,Shallots,Garlic,Sage,Peas, and Turnips growing.I have sown more Peas,and French Beans in the raise beds.
   The allotment will help provide lots of fresh Vegetables for our meals this year.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Los Mariposas

I got an email about a conceptual garden being shown at the RHS Hamton Court Garden show in July 3rd-8th of this year.It is designed by Robert Kennett and is entitled Los Mariposas.This is spanish for the butterflies.A symbol used by Amnesty International to highlight womens rights in Nicaragua.
 He has planted around a pink cube with Cornflowers and Stipa Tennuissima or pony tails.
    He will put the national flower of Nicaragua Frangipani on a copper bell jar,in the centre of the pink cube.Lots of exotic lush planting and Pentas plants will be there to feed the live butterflies that will be flying inside the cube.These represent the hopes and dreams of the Nicaraguan girls.The heating,humidity, and light will be controlled to make a perfect environent for the Butterflies.                                      
 Butterfly World at Saint Albans will be providing the Butterflies for the conceptual garden.                                                                              
Amnesty International sent thousands of handmade painted Butterflies from around the world to Nicaragua last year to express solidarity with womens groups fighting sexual violence in a hostile political environment.                                                                                                                         

Cherry Pies and Tiger Worms

  It was a productive weekend with Cat.We went shopping on Friday for compost for the new wormery compost bin.I saw this small Heliotropium plant.It has small purple flowers with white and yellow inner petals, but smells like a freshly Cherry pie.I tried growing this from seed before but it failed.It is sat in the conservatory along with the Black Knight Coleus,Fern,and Bletilla Orchid.
 We bought some new netting for the Strawberry bed.The plastic balls were used to hold canes in a fruit cage shape.The netting covers the sides and front.I did not want birds trapped in the netting so there is space at the back for them if they get stuck.The wet weather has boosted the Strawberry bed.There are hundreds of flowers and fruit forming already.I hope some will be ready for the Championships at Wimbledon.
 I finally got the Hungry Bin from Omlet.It is an inverted pyramid shaped bin that uses New Zealand Tiger worms to compost organic matter.The worm casts get pushed down to the bottom of the pyramid.The worms produce a liquid plant fertiliser that needs diluting ten fold in the drip tray underneath the hungry bin.
I am trialling the bin,and will mark its progress here.Cat put it together for me on Saturday.Our normal compost bins use earth worms to help break down the organic material.These specialised Tiger Worms usually live in the forest floor in the leaf mould layer, so they keep near the surface.If we feed them regular they will breed and will keep eating the organic kitchen waste.It will be an organic enclosed loop of making compost and fertiliser.
 Cat thinks I'm mad feeding the birds,and now needing food for the worms!They have already tried escaping through the lid,although it is locked to prevent insects and pests getting into the bin.
  The hungry bin is on wheels so it can be moved to prevent it getting too hot or too cold.The instructions provided tell me what the worms like and don't like.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Two Plots (Yorkshire and Islington)

   I spent some of the day at the allotment trying to clear hundreds of weeds.The rain and sunshine has made them grow so fast.I have four compost bins on the go at the same time and they are all getting filled with grasses, and weeds.The raised beds that are in use are working quite well.I may need to black tarp the pathways between the beds and unused areas to keep them at bay.
 I am a bit OCD when it comes to weeds.I want the plot to look perfect,and weed free.It is not like our garden where I have control.Every time i have time away then all the weeds grow!It was lovely and quiet up there today with the sound of buzzing bees pollinating the Raspberry flowers.
 Not all weeds are ugly,this beautiful scarlet Poppy was growing on the edge of someones plot.I love the petals that are like a red silk hankerchief.They are so delicate blowing around in the wind.
 When the sun catches the red petals they glow like rubys in a sea of billowing grasses.The wind was quite cooling today,and made everything sway in the breeze.
 After the crazyness of work it is good to get my hands in the dirt.I planted French Beans,and another three rows of Peas.I need to look for more Parsnip,and Carrot Seeds as none have germinated at all.I thought Carrots were easy to grow.I wander if the dry conditions then waterlogged soil had rotted the seeds?Growing vegetables is a mystery still year after year why things work or fail.
  I am lucky I have a half allotment plot.Across Britain there are long waiting lists for plots.They were out of fashion for a while,and councils sold off whole swathes of allotments so there is a shortage now.I got an email about a project in Islington in London.I read there are only about 60 plots for the whole borough and that they now give new plot holders ten years only!A community project has tried to provide new ways of growing vegetables.
 The photo shows the aerial view of the Hovering Allotment project in Grenville Park,Islington.The design was made by design students from the American Intercontinental University.A plug in allotment garden that is irrigated by the tower at the back of the garden.It collects rainwater and feeds it down the zig zag channels.Pipes can be opened to water the planter boxes.
 It was comissioned by Islington council,and Friends of Greenville Gardens.The site has been infested with Japanese Knot weed so the soil could not be used after treatment.The students built the raised beds on stilts off the floor.The boxes are modular and can be adjusted to different heights for the needs of people to use them, like children,or the elderly.
 Each of the eighteen planter boxes is being looked after by a family from the diverse local community.The design mimics a river system where communitys are built on the irrigation planes and the students wanted the allotment garden to be a representation of the surrounding community.
 Islington is one of the most built up urban areas in London,so this green space must be a great place to sit, play,meet,and take children.I love the freshness of the design overcoming the problems of the site.
It made me realise how lucky I am to have an allotment.I think it is a great,simple but very effective.I saw the plans and the photos of all the hard work that went into the project.
The final photo shows the Mayor of Islington at the grand opening of the Hovering allotment garden on the 9th June 2012.I hope that they grow beautiful vegetables and flowers that will be a source of pride and pleasure.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Snappys Garden Tour

 The sun came out for a few hours yesterday so we took the opportunity to sit out in the garden on the Rose bench.I thought that the blog has showed a lot of flower pictures but not the overall garden picture for a long time.I walked around the garden trying to photograph the garden from different angles capturing the areas I write about the most in the back garden; The Sunken border,Strawberry Bed,Wildflower Area,Pond,Greenhouse,and Concrete path.
  The concrete path has over 100 pots running along its one hundred foot length.The Greenhouse is in the right hand corner sheltered by the large shed.
 The path side of the sunken border.It is a good 12 inches lower than the grass above it,and now sits under the conservatory window.The Ceanothus,Bronzed Fennel,Geum Mrs Bradshaw,Lupins,Dogwood,and Aliums have all mingled together in a riot of colour and texture.
 The sunken border viewed from the middle of the garden.The Buddleja has grown massively despite being trimmed back.The Honeysuckle has clambered up the trellis to cover the gap between the conservatory and fence.the view into the garden is between the Buddleja and the Ceanothus.The garden birds love flying into these so you get a very close up view of them.
 The main Strawberry bed by the fence.It was constructed with sleepers and has been topped up with new soil and runners pegged down every year.The bed is a sea of pretty white flowers which was covered in bees yesterday.Some of the plants have started to grow ten or fifteen Strawberries each.The plants love the rain,and the sunshine.I need to build the fruit cage around it soon to stop the birds and squirrels nicking all the fruit.
 The bamboo fence defines the wildflower area.The soil in it has never been added too and remains poor soil with builders rubble and sand in it.The wildflower mix flowers beautifully and differently year after year.I keep finding new flowers that were not growing before.The pond is on the right hand side of the Wildflowers.The inhabitants are protected from predators and the shade from the tall flowers has stopped the algae bloom dead in the water.some of the flowers here are five feet tall in shades of pink,white,blue,and yellow.
 The long shot shows the garden from the shed down.It is compact and bijou but absolutely packed full of plants and flowers.the plastic chairs were cleaned and brought out for the BBQ that the rain moved indoors on Jubilee river pageant day.They have not been moved back yet.
   The greenhouse is the powerhouse of the garden growing my vegetables,herbs and a few flowers.The Grape vine is growing away beautifully at the back and has about ten flower bunches ready to bloom.The plastic covering has ripped to shreds in the Yorkshire wind.This will be replaced by the end of the year with a glass and timber greenhouse.I will be able to grow my favourite two plants Tomatoes and Chilli's easier,and be able to control the night time temperature easier.The wet on the floor is where the roof has leaked rain.
The pond is a great part of the garden.It keeps me easily amused by watching the frogs,newts,and water fleas swimming about.I love jam jar dipping to see what is living in the pond.Its amazing how much life has moved into our preformed liner.The rain tops it up (a lot of water this year!).Frogs are so cool to look at.They sunbathe in the corners with their heads sticking out.The birds also use it for drinking and for bathing.
The Sun was shining yesterday for a brief while.then after tea it started pouring down with torrential rain again.The bird bath did a good job of reflecting the sky under the Lady Emma Hamilton.A sparrow is hopping down the path looking for food.It was a perfect relaxing Sunday.
 The bunting is still up on the fence.It is very decorative and was a good back drop to the photo of the Sweet William.These are beautiful flowering plants that smell like mild cloves.They are very upright so look like pink and red torches held aloft in the hanging baskets.
 That concludes the mini tour of what the garden looks like at the moment.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Birds.Blooms,and Rain Again

  I finished working my night shifts and got up yesterday to enjoy the garden.It was raining all day, cloudy,windy,and wet.More like November than June.The good thing about the rain is that the plants in the garden are looking lush and green.The Rose Lady Emma Hamilton was overhanging my Classical statue.The free Rose Queen Elizabeth is slowly starting to grow from the buds.I hope it grows some leaves so it can start growing strong roots ready for next year.It arrived a little late for this years flowers I think.
 The mystery rose from Anne's garden.It has a beautiful old rose cup and is strongly scented.It has flowered at the top of long arching green stems.This plant needs a nice big pot or to be planted into the ground so it can grow freely.The colour is more pale lilac than pink.
 The Lady Emma Hamilton looks amazing with its burnished small leaves,and the flame like apricot coloured flowers.They smell divine too.A fresh citrus smell,very fresh on the nose.This Rose is large now but flopping all over.It needs pruning back in the winter to regain its shape.This is the oldest Rose i have in the garden.
 The other star Rose performer this year is Darcey Bussell.She has grown quicker than the other Roses but also flowered beautifully.These have a delicate tea rose scent.She is the prima ballerina of the garden!
The torrential rain yesterday sent masses of birds into the garden.the House Sparrows are like ever present garden spirits chattering away,flying into the garden and landing on any branch that moves.They may be brown but their feathers are quite ornate when you spend time looking at them.
  I also had a surprise visitor yesterday on the feeding station by the window.A large bird landed heavily on it causing the pole to shake.I thought its a pigeon.When i looked up i saw some beautiful yellow eyes,and a sharp beak.It was a large male Sparrow Hawk looking through the window at me.By the time i got the camera he had flown off.For those few seconds we were observing each other through the window.Amazing!
 I have found evidence of Sparrow Hawk in plucked feathers of baby birds in the garden.I saw one on the shed roof plucking its prey,but never as close as that to see its eyes.They are magnificent birds.
  The bunting is still up on the garden fence,but i think i will keep it as a decoration for 2012.The London Olympics are a month away now.I hope it drys up so i can get to the allotment on my days off.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Jubilee Dinner And Downpours

 We had our Jubilee lunch yesterday.The rain had started to fall overnight on Saturday night,and it rained the whole Sunday.Our planned outside barbecue was moved indoors into the conservatory.We blew up all these balloons and Cat tied them in groups of three.
 The bunting decorated the fence on the newly rearranged pots.The path was cleared for people to be able to walk up and down.
 The garden became the backdrop as we watched the BBC's coverage of the Royal Pageant along the river Thames in the conservatory.
 The Queens Jubilee flag got absolutely soaked and dripped all over the fence.It rained non stop all day.They planned the river pageant for two years but not for the awful weather!
 The baby Squirrel did not mind the rain.He  tucked into the birds seed whilst we had chicken drumstick,burgers,and sausages.There was salad,pasta,and sweets too.
The conservatory was decorated in red,white,and blue.I enjoyed the spectacle,and seeing how many people lined the banks of the river Thames.
 It has been dry today and sunny!Alas I have to go back to work tonight.The garden still looks lovely after its grass cut,and pot brush up.