Monday, June 30, 2008

The Music Of Plants

The garden today. I only watered the hanging baskets, and cleared some nettles from the Strawberry planter.I spent two and a half hours at the allotment with Cat assisting, planting Gem Squash, and Leeks, plus weeding the beds.
The garden is so full of plants, even I have to pinch myself with how much is growing.
Flower buds are appearing thick and fast. Echinaceas, Butterfly Bush, Zinnias, Crocosmias,The Blackberry bush, and all the others...
It is a sea of green but varying colours, textures, and heights. My David Austin Rose Lady Emma Hamilton is tantalisingly close to blooming.
I have one more day off before nights. It has been difficult juggling work, the garden, the allotment, and visits to other peoples gardens/Harlow Carr..
Burning a green gardening candle at both ends.The energy of summer keeps me passionate about growing plants and watching them flower. A living breathing Orchestra..ready for an explosive finale (like the end of the 1812 Overture).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Scarlet Buds And Soil For The Soul

I looked back to March for this blogged picture of the plot when I got it in March.The top right hand corner has the black compost bin that marked the limit of my plot and Mr Saddiqs.

Fast forward, and this is the plot today.... From the bottom of the photo up there are Runner Beans under the A frame, then Peas, Borage, and French Beans. Onions and Carrots to the right, and the Potatoes to the left. The Cabbages and Brussel Sprout plants are next on the right, and the last bed furthest away has Courgettes growing. Mr Saddiqs grape vines have suprised me by actually growing mini grape buds.The sunshine we have had has been hot and for days at a time.I doubt they will grow fully but lets wait and see.

I caried up in a carrier bag my five Reserve Runner Bean Polestar plants. These five juveniles joined the plants growing already under the A frame. The local slugs and snails have decimated about three quarters of the seedlings before they had a chance to grow on. One advanced plant has scarlet flower buds on. The leaves glowed in the sunshine after they had been soaked by toerrential rain.

The Runner Bean flower buds today. I had spent a few hours trying to cut the grass and weeds between the beds with a knife. It was easier than using cutting tools that give me blisters.My beds have between 35 to 40 square feet of perimeter each!
The grass gives me a path to work around each bed, keeps the soil in place, and absorbs some of the moisture too when it rains heavily.I have not worked out how to keep it trimmed with no power source at the allotment. I thought about a battery run strimmer, or today an old fashioned push lawn mower to run between the beds.

I got a book from called "Vegetable Growing: Month by month" by John Harrison. I needed something that had a guide as to what gets planted when, and a list of jobs month by month. I will review it when I finish it.
I have cleared the plot, dug six beds, forked them over, hand pulled weeds and grass out, dug manure in, planted plants and sowed seeds, watered, and weeded.
I feel the daily stresses dissapear as im working at the allotment. I feel more compassion for my vegetable plants than my flowering plants in the garden.I dont know why I feel that way..
I feel more in tune with the seasons and feel connected to the soil. I check the weather now for my days off to see if i can get to the allotment without getting soaked.
My horticultural skills are being stretched in the exposed, clay soiled plot, and I enjoy the challenge of growing something that can be cooked or used in a meal..
A quote from my new book is that " working the soil is good for the soul, as well as good for the muscles". It makes me quite lyrical about the allotment, despite the hard work, sweat, blisters, and blood.

Anemone And Allotment

Its been a lovely Sunday.I went to the allotment for four and a half hours to cut the grass by hand, and do a little weeding.
I brought some bounty back, a bowl full of Strawberrys, four Courgettes, and eight pieces of Rhubarb from my four crowns.The carrier bag was sweetly scented with the Strawberrys.
It poured down on me earlier untill I sheltered under Angies perspex Shelter with her..
The sun came out and warmed me up, and dried me off again.
I weeded four beds and put five more Runner Bean Polestar into the RB bed with the A frame canes.One plant had some beautiful scarlet flower buds.
I need to upload the photos then blog them.The sunshine and heavy rain has made everything grow really well.It looks very productive my plot and people keep saying it looks really good...
Mr Saddiq made a rare appearance.In the warm and wet his two exposed grape plants have got baby grapes on them.I will be suprised if the exposed conditions let them grow to maturity.Angie has grapes growing in her greenhouse, down from my plot.
I would not believe you can grow grapes outside in Yorkshire, maybe global warming is making it easier for them to survive the UK climate.
I have a few days off so i will return to the allotment tomorrow to finish the weeding, and to mark out the shed base, and see how much room is left for a Leek bed.
The kitchen has lots of plants waiting to go to the allotment.Gem Squash, Leeks, and a tray of French Marigolds to decorate the raised beds and to attract beneficial insects!I love their golden orange colour.
I have been thinking next year I want a bed set aside to grow cut flowers. Like Sweet Peas, Chrysanthenums, Dahlias, Carnations or Pinks...
What do people normally grow as a cut flower? That is grow to put it in a vase in your house.
More photos today when I can upload them.The photo is of a Blue Anemone growing in the right border.I love the complexity of flowers at close range.They are amazingly detailed and I love the swirling colours.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Goldfinches,Ladybirds, and Fabric

A small black Ladybird in the green giant, my Teasel.

I bought two Teasel plants from Harlow Carr a few trips ago to attract the Goldfinches.I needed patience though for them to grow, flower, and for the flower heads to turn into seed heads in the autumn.From the top this looks like a religeous icon, with the spikes radiating out like sun rays.

The central rosette has grown new leaves which arch upwards and out.Masses of flower buds are growing on the plant now.It is covered in green fly, hover flys, and a single two spot Black Ladybird.It is beautyifully architectural and nearly six feet tall.The second Teasel is growing more slowly on the other side of the garden.

Its latin name is Dipascus Fullonum.Its greek for thirst Dipascus. The leaves join together at the base to form little drinking cups that stores rainwater, and pitcher plant like drowns small flys whos nutrients are absorbed into the plant.
It has very spiny stems, and leaves.The dried flower heads were used by the textile mills for cleaning, grading, and raising the nap on fabric.A specific species was used called Fullers Teasel.They liked the dried flower heads as it would not tear the fabric.
I love the plant, a biennial, but like a green giant in the right border...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photos From Bradford

Six images from Hils friends garden yesterday.I took a handful of photos of what appealed to me that was flowering.The pond had thisWater Lilly almost in flower.The only thing I want for my garden is water, either a water garden container or a small fountain.Still water reflects the surrounding plants and sky, and attracts wildlife.I can dream of a bigger garden with enough room for a pond.

Two Roses by the pond. Hils and Cat ponder water snails and foot tapping to make them come to the surface of the water.

A beautiful Blue Iris flowering in one of the curved island beds.The garden was massive, long and even had a field attached to it before.Holly bushes formed some of the boundarys with the cows next door in an adjoining field.Birds were singing and flying around.Its hard to believe a motorway was nearby, and the built up city of Bradford was somewhere near.

A pink Rose, which smelled lovely.Whenever you see a Rose you always cup it, and see if it has a lovely scent.Cat brought me the David Austin catalogue.Roses of all kinds with beautiful names and colours, the descriptions are artfully done.A bigger garden could have masses of DA Roses.

A Honeysuckle growing up the fence that seperated the island bed and pond from a vegetable patch. The colours of the flowers matched the scent.I love Honeysuckle.

The last photo is from Hilarys garden, the beautiful Passiflora Caerulia, or Passion Flower.this totally covers her garage (and maybe hold the garage up).I love these Blue flowers for the complexity of the design.Perfection in a flower.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blues And Red

It rained today really heavily, torrential downpours throughout the day. The photos are of the poor wet Red Robin, and the blue Sea Hollys...
I went to Hils this morning with Cat to water Hils friends garden who was away on holiday. I was amazed at the long garden and these Eryngiums caught my eye..

I have two growing in containers and I'm sure I planted one somewhere but it has not grown. I love the colours and spikiness of this plant.Like stars orbiting the garden.

These Eryngiums are gorgeous. I brought back some goodys for the garden. A coffee coloured Geranium called Espresso, a Heuchera Raspberry Ripple, a Heather, A Fir Tree seedling, an unknown Geranium, a Bronze Fennell, and a Verbena Bonarensis.
These were spares in a plastic tray marked "free plants need a good home".
We went to Hampsons where I bought a gorgeous Japanese Red Blood Grass for the left border. It turns blood red in the autumn.
The rain is still falling now on my last day off.Back to work for two long days before an allotment day weather permitting on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Poor Mans Orchid

My Butterfly Flower or Poor Mans Orchid flowered fully today. It is beautiful shades of lilac, purple, white, burgundy, and yellow.
I grew the plants from match book seeds, little packets of matches with seeds glued to the match sticks. You break the sticks off with the seeds glued at the top of them, put them into compost where a dark line is and water them.
I actually removed the seeds and sowed them in a pot without the matchsticks
The result of a few months of growing is a spectacular flower with a striking face. When I saw the picture on the matchstick packet I thought I want to grow thes beautys...
These are Chiliean native plants, and are annuals. You'll need to sow them every year. The foliage is very fern like and lush green.
I want to find more of this Schizanthus and grow lots of different varieties next year. The plants are in a clay pot and full of flower buds. It should flower spectacularly.
I read it is called a Butterfly Flower because it resembles a small butterfly, not because it attracts them. I have an Asclepias growing besides it so I will see if butterflys like their namesake plant.

A Garden Torch

As I worked yesterday the Rose bud fully opened, revealing the Red Devil Floribunda Rose.It really is as bright as the photo.It looks like an olympic torch glowing in the right border near the Monkshood, Hollyhock, and Nepeta.
I watered the garden yesterday and overnight it rained with more forecast for today.There are flower buds all over the garden.Its starting to fizz ready for summer.
I have Sweet Peas as a posy in a glass of water.They are delicate pastel colours and smell lovely.The trick I read is to keep on cutting them to induce them to flower even more.
It will be a fragrant summer with all the Roses and Sweet Pea's giving their scents.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Tale of Two Flowers

Cultivated and Wild flowers are blooming in my small but densely planted garden.
The third Rosebush nearly in flower. This Red Floribunda is called Red Devil. I hope it will flower fully soon.The tightly packed petals glowed in sundays sunshine.It has a healthy five flower buds on the single growing stem.The colour is so bright, its torch like against the green foliage of the right border.

Margaret Merrill, A beautiful Tea Rose with sumptuous White flowers with a peach flush.Alas this plant has been ravaged by blackspot and is the strongest fragrance so far.Its so sweet and citrusy the scent.I will try to grow it again next year and try to preempt the blackspot.It was stored stacked up in a plastic bag outsideHampsons,along with hundreds of other bare root roses.The stems were not cut at the correct angle so its suffered from poor health. I need to give it tender loving care to make it flower more prolifically and with good vigour.

Climbing Rose Iceberg, in flower with no blackspot or leaf problems. It is perfectly happy in the shade of the out house wall growing in the pot. A few aphids have been the only problem. Niels tells me this grows really well and is famed for its masses of white blousy flowers! A star performer for this funny sunny and wet June.

The Fireweed is famed in Canada for predicting winter.The flowers grow up a pink minuet from the base upwards.When the final flower is done it is said that winter hits Canada within a month.
This is a perennial plant that is spread by the underground Rhizomes and by the feather like seed head after it has flowered.
I cut it down as it had outgrown the small garden and was taking over the left border. I have it as a cutflower in my glass with some freshly cut Sweet Peas.The plant is still blooming too so i can admire the delicate pink and purple flowers.
It grows massively along the long causeway that i walk to work along. I thought it was a gift from the ghostly gardener, It is just a well established perennial wildflower.
I wander if it has been cultivated as the flowers are beautiful?

The Fireweed flower close up.It is called Fireweed because as Canada has wild fires this plant colonises first in the burnt ground.The stems were as thick as tree branches.
Flowers both cultivated and wild growing in my garden side by side..

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gardening Shots

I was photographed tidying the garden up by Cat. After I had left it for four days I wanted to move the plants around so there is a clear path to the rose bench and so I could get into the right border to see whats growing. I swept all the debris and soil down to the end and added it to my compost bin. I have made it difficult to access by putting a Lilac Tree, Strawberry planter, and Mallus Braeburn apple tree around the bin.
The towering plant was a Fireweed. It has been cut down to allow light to the Daylily and Crocosmias. A Helianthus is also getting more light. The Fireweed was eight feet high and dwarfed everything else.

I needed to find some bare soil to plant a Ladys Mantle (which i was watering in here), and three seed grown Evening Primrose. I am not going to buy any more plants as I struggled to find homes for the new ones. A Clematis Montana Reubens is in a pot by the wobbly back fence. I want to grow it up along the fence where the compost bin is.
Still homeless is a Red flowering Camellia, so many plants so little space. I am waiting for my Butterfly Flowers to flower. The buds are expanding and the flower is nearly opening.They look like Orchids on the pictures I have seen. I grew them from seeds stuck on matchsticks.
Tomorrow I will go to the allotment to see whats growing.The garden is growing beautifully and ready to explode in colour for July, the height of summer.
It makes a change for me to be the subject of a blog post, a gardener at work.

Chocolate And Roses

They normally go together well on Valentines day, or as a romantic gift for your loved ones.In the garden they are represented by two plants.The Chocolate Cosmos flowered on the day i came back from Cheltenham.It is a sumptuous velvet soft burgundy flower that looks darker in poor light.It has a bejeweled centre like a crown made of sweets.On a warm summerss day the scent is of rich Belgian chocolates.Read Joanne Harris's Chocolat, and smell this great Mexican perennial.It is in a pot by the rose bench so I can smell its sweet chocolate/vanilla essence!
Pure poetary in a flowers scent.

The Climbing Rose Iceberg, which was only a pound (£1) from Hampsons. It has grown superbly in the pot by the outhouse door. I have planted two marigolds below it but this has made no difference to greenfly!The white flowers smell like roses should, not strong but pleasant and pleasurable every time you bend over to sniff the flowers.
Scent is one of the senses that is hardest to describe in words. I think David Austin has a team of professional Rose sniffers to write the blurb in the catalogue about what each Rose smells like..
I love the heady mix of Chocolate and Roses, this will by my favourite scent combination this summer. I have five more Rose plants to bloom yet.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Birds Of A Feather

Flock together, or so the rhyme goes.. Here the Parent House Sparrow is feeding the ever hungary juvenile on the fence beneath the rugby scrum above.

House Sparrows. I had read how they are scarce in parts of Britain and not far up the RSPB's list of commonest British garden birds in the big bird count. I had about fourteen of them today feeding en masse.

A mystery was how my fat balls (hidden behind a scrum of House Sparrows) went days after being put out.They used to last months. I looked out of the window away from the birds view. A whole flying troupe of House Sparrows flew down to feed together. Some sat, some flew in and knocked the others off, some watched from the safety of the clothes line or canes holding my tomato plants up.They ate most of one of the three fat balls over the course of a day.

Enter stage right. This Magpie swooped down and sent them all flying back into the safety of the tree's. He had the approach of Nosferatu with a black cloak on. His large size and bright colours scared the sparrows away.The prince of Darkness!
I had not seen Magpies in my garden at all since I moved in last November. He had been in earlier but flew out before I could work out what he was doing.
From the kitchen vantage point I waited to see why he had flown down and made the House Sparrow mob scatter...

Onto the bird table to take some nice peanuts. I would not have believed it. The Magpies normally hang out in the Privet hedge and Fir Trees, cackling and making machine gun noises.They are handsome birds, but not really garden feeders.
Maybe this one had seen the House Sparrow mob in action and thought I'll have some of that. He maybe discovered the food when I was away and the house was quiet.
A flying troup and rogue magpie today have brightened my garden.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The climbing Rose Iceberg had flowered massively in my abscence.It rained lots today.These blousey blooms are fragrant and pure white inner petals.The Rose buds have shown pink flushes on the outer petals.
It was too wet to go to the allotment so i went shopping instead.Two rectangular planters are planted now and joining the plant throng in the garden.
There is lots to blog about yet.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Spring Watch Moment

I'm back in Wakefield after four days at mums down in Cheltenham. I spent my days doing her garden and cooking dinners, before watching Springwatch specials on BBC2.
This is my own little part of wildlife, A bee flying into the New Zealand Hebe.
The garden was as I remembered it, and in it were old friends. Plants from years ago that were still there.
I tidied up gently, with my clippers kept busy doing zen maintenence on shrubs. I read the best Japanese gardeners can prune a shrub into a delicate shape and the overall effect is that it has not been shaped by mans hands.
I went plant shopping twice to put in some new plants. Not as many as I would have liked, but Mums gardening time is much less than mine.It is still her garden, with a little of my green fingers giving it magic..
I made her garden neat, tidy, and colourful. I will post some photos later on. My camera batterys are recharging ready for me to photograph my garden tomorrow.
I had not thought about my own garden much so it was a suprise to see it again. After looking at it daily a break was good. I did miss my garden birds though, even the pirate Pidgeons :)
I'll see whats new tomorrow in daylight. A Robin, Blue Tit, and a few House Sparrows welcomed me back.
Spring Watch is a series of programmes that concentrates on native British wildlife and insects, that gets people from their tv to the outdoors to meet nature.
Foxes,Badgers, Deers, White Tipped Eagles, Otters, Seals, Frogs, Newts,Slugs, etc were all mentioned and shown over several nights of programmes. It showed you can find wildlife within urban environments when you look for them.
I looked this morning for some wildlife in Mums garden and photographed some busy Bee's..

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oxeye Fly

An au revoir post to last untill friday.I have watered all my pots that looked dry in the garden and the hanging baskets.
An enormous flock of twelve house sparrows descended on the garden today to feed on the fat balls and peanuts.I wandered why the fat balls were being demolished in a week.
A photo from the allotment showing an Oxeye Daisy with a metallic looking fly.
I'm going back to my home town to see my mum and revamp her garden after the last tenants let it grow wild.
I've been told by Hil's and Cat to take it easy.My foot was painfull after Hils garden and the allotment.Taking it easy is not easy for me.I'm too active.
I hope all your gardens are growing and that your flowers are blooming.I will take photos and blog from Friday.
I hope the weather is nice and that I get into the garden lots down in Cheltenham, in the Cotswolds.That garden is the one that launched me into growing plants and flowers.Its the original garden.My original inspiration :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wild Garden

As it was said in the Kevin Costner film Field Of Dreams "Build it and they will come".I have made the garden beautiful where there was nothing before but weeds, grass, and brambles.I have picked a mixture of traditional plants that attract Bee's, Butterflys, and Birds.
The Robin is an ever present garden spirit sitting on the fence and hopping around my pots.He has brought his new fledglings out with him.I have masses of bird families attacking my eight bird feeders.The rich food and flowers sees a stream of visitors.

This is the baby Robin who is even more cheeky than his parents.He sat about two foot from me for this lovely close up on the bird table.

The acrobatic Blue Tits have lovely feathers in blue, yellow, white and black.How they can hang upside down to feed is amazing.They are also so quick but light on their feet.They crash into the bird feeders, have a snack, then fly off into the privet.Many a photo is just a post or fence where they have alighted as I press the button.

A House Sparrow hanging onto the biggest weeds?They are seven feet tall now and tower above the Viburnum.They have pendulous pink flower buds at the top end of the plant.I love how his feet are gripping onto the bendy stem as he is looking down at the feeders from the unusual perch!

A few days ago I saw the plants on the right border moving Jurassic Park style on a windless day.I saw a glimpse of a furry brown body.I wandered if Amazon the field mouse was back, but grown larger? This cheeky one broke for cover after darting between the borders and scurrying between the many pots around the garden.Perfect cover for a daylight raid...

A juvenile House Sparrow keeping watch. As one watches the adult and juveniles were feeding at the fat balls below..

The clumsy and crazy Wood Pidgeon.They keep raiding the bird table and ground feeders and deat all of the seeds.They are damaging plants as they fly out of the garden.These are a pain and damaged my Gem Squash this morning.They are the pirate of the garden..

Another juvenile House Sparrow.They are quite scared of me and fly off sometimes and hop around my feet at other times.

My daylight raider with pink ears, dark black eyes, and pale brown fur.A rat maybe?

To capture him on film I placed some nuts on the pavers and waited.He was quite photogenic even with me two feet away from him.He must have seen me before from the cover of the plants in the borders.He seemed unphased by the camera and me kneeling close to the ground.

The Rat got the nuts yesterday.I am going back home to Cheltenham tomorrow for five days.I will be back on Friday evening.
Snappys blog will have a siesta for five days. The wild life will have the run of my garden.I love trying to capture some of the wildlife in my own urban oasis.