Sunday, January 31, 2010

Icy Garden

The temperature dropped last night to minus five degrees centigrade. The garden had a frosty covering over the plants and grass this morning. I love the icy filaments that have formed on the leaves of these Rhododendron. The white ice crystals highlight the colours of the leaves and flower buds.

The birdbath has frozen up again. It has a lot of water in it so its a solid block of ice. The sun is trying to warm up the shivering earth now.
Its the RSPB's Big Garden Bird watch Weekend. You count how many birds you see in one hour of sitting looking. You can post the results online or via snail mail to the Rspb. They work out across Britain the health of the native garden bird population.
The cold weather has sent rarer species into peoples gardens for food. My rarest bird was a male Chaffinch. He ventures to the feeder in the Apple tree. Chaffinches are shy of people, and rarely come into gardens. They prefer feeding in tree tops away from people instead.
The frost hardens the ground, and makes the green leaves of the bulbs show up. There are hundreds growing now in the garden borders, and at the front of the house along the grass.
I cant believe its the last day of January already. It has already been a challenging year with work stress, and the threat of us moving again.
We were looking at houses to buy around this area of Wakefield. My first interest is always whats the garden like? Cat looks at the room sizes, and house fittings....
The two areas of a house I love are the Kitchen (I love cooking and baking), and the garden. As long as there is something to garden then I can start planning once we have moved in.
I have moved around lots all over the country. I guess if we have to move on then I will salvage my best plants and re pot them up ready to be transferred. When we buy a house then I can plant my Apple tree that is in the pot, and my Lilac Tree. I have never wanted to put my roots down before. After 36 years I am happy to be here with Cat.
Gardening is my passion (along with wildlife, plants, flowers, and birds) and its good to have someone who is interested in the same things.
We can build a dream garden together.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rhodie Revamp And The Mouse's House

Cats Rhodie (Rhodadendron) got a make over today. It has been languishing in a pot since we moved here. It has beautiful Raspberry jam speckled pink flowers. I cleared all the grasses and annual weeds that have decided to grow around the base. I removed the dead leaves from last year and moved it into a prime spot on the patio by the bird feeders.
I hope that as the weather warms up that the Rhodie will show signs of life.
It will make the trip if we do have to move, as it is Cats favourite plant in the garden.
I spent a few hours today in the garden tidying up the leaves and debris that have accumulated over the winter period.
Dead plants were decanted into my bright pink trug, as well as bird seed, leaves, and branches. These filled my second compost bin to the top. The first compost bin needs emptying across the borders.
The greenhouse was swept out, rubbish removed, and pots restacked neatly. I found my Agave (the Century plant) had suffered some frost damage, and my Venus Fly Traps were looking a bit sickly in the greenhouse. I found a Mouses house too in the corner of one my cardboard boxes.
The Mouse has vacated the box, but they had been eating gourment bird seed all around the greenhouse. My Pea plant guttering was being used as a buffet for the Mice. They had stored masses of Sunflower seeds and bird seed.
The light is fading now outside. I have two days of work before I can continue the gardens clean up...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This is some kind of Succulent plant that I bought from the plant stall last year. It has survived the cold winter and snow.
We went to Pugneys today and looked at all the water birds around the lake. I saw a Heron, and some Cormarant type birds on a platform in the lake.
The sun was shining through the clouds and the mist. My camera batterys ran out though so i was camera less.
Its my Sisters Birthday today...Happy Birthday Jaws!!
Cat told me yesterday our landlord is thinking of selling the house that we are renting. So we may be moving to a new house sometime in the next few months.
All I could say was I have planted three hundred spring bulbs! As long as we see them flower. I remember how we have revamped the borders, made the raised beds, put a growhouse up, and added three water butts!
We will need a removal van just for the garden stuff, and my plants. The David Austin Roses, and the Grasses would be dug up.
I dont know now whether to grow lots of plants if we are having to move again...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Therapy

I cannot remember what this shrub is called that is growing in the back garden. the red/pink flower buds look like little pine cones. The leaves are green and glossy.
I will take whatever colours I can find in the garden in January. Some stars of the garden are the Dogwoods. There is a red one, and an orange one, bare of leaves but beautifully coloured for the grey rainy days.
I was thinking yesterday how the garden helps me destress after work. Just walking around and looking at the plants, seeing what has grown, and what has survived the icy weather before.
I love to pull out a few weeds, and put plants into the ground from pots. I like the soil on my hands, as a direct way of connecting to the garden. I am like Monty Don with soil on my hands and in my blood.
For me gardening can be very good therapy. It seems to be used by Prisons, Young Offender groups, Schools, and Community groups.
Tending an area connects you to the seasons, and to the earth you are growing plants/vegetables in.
If I can relax in the garden then I'm better at work (The hospital as a nurse) helping people, both patients and relatives..
I have a few days off after tomorrow to start the garden tidy up, and hopefully get to the allotment ready to plan the growing season attack..
I hope all your weekends have been fruitful, and fun!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Old And New

The Rose Golden Wedding has lots of new plump buds on the green stems. The leaves survived the snow and the rain to hold on. New buds show that the promise of a new growing season is close. My favourite buds to look at are the Lilac Tree's. They are a mixture of green and red. Once they start to swell and grow I know Spring will be here.

A survivor from last years original planting is this yellow Primula. It has been quietly growing since last Spring, almost dying back. But it has regrown with vigour, and the curled up flower buds are a lovely vibrant yellow colour. About five Primulas are still growing in the right hand border. I cant wait to see their beautiful flowers with the pheasents eye in the centre.
I was reading about gardening programs on the BBC. Gardeners World had lost over 2 million viewers with its new basic approach, and gimmicks. It has been reduced to thirty minutes, and aimed at the experienced gardeners that turned off in the past year.
One of my garden hero's is Monty Don, and on Thursday he was back on the tv. Presenting a program called "My Dream Farm". He helps out six couples who want to leave an urban existance for the countryside and a working farm.
He looked back to his old self (He had to leave Gardeners world last year due to his punishing schedule effecting his health). He is a total garden fanatic and loves horticulture. He has the earth ingrained into his hands and into his blood. He is knowledgeable and passionate about gardening, growing vegetables, and returning people to the natural world that they have lost sight of. He is also president of the Organic Soil Growers association.
The other legend of Gardening returning is Alan Titchmarsh. He is due to make a series of programs about the great British public gardens, visiting them, and seeing how they are run.
The mixture of old and new seems to work in the garden, as well as on the TV.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I finally managed to photograph the cheeky Robin who has been feeding in our garden. Yesterday as we stood outside he flew from the Fir trees to the Sunflower heart feeder and took some food. He flew back into the tree branches and just observed us.
Today he flew onto the pink garden waste bucket and posed a few feet away from me.
He thinks its the mad one who is always looking around the garden.
Its been raining heavily overnight, and the soil is waterlogged.
Yesterday Cat took me to the allotment to see what it was looking like after the winter break. It did not look too bad with only a few weeds, and grasses poking up through the turned soil.
I hope it can dry off so I can finish clearing the last ninety square feet of the plot. The Brambles have receded a bit so I can clear them to the fence ready for stone slabs to be layed down.
Once the base is layed I can buy a shed, some compost bins, and enclosed water butts.
I want to make the plot self sufficient so I do not have to buy compost, or walk to the water hole on the other side of the allotment.
I want to grow three types of Potatoes, Onions, Leeks, Cabbages, Carrots, Parsnips, and Garlic up on the allotment. The gardens raised beds will be Strawberrys in one, and Pea's in the other.
I have grown Peas for two years now, and there is nothing better than to eat fresh garden Peas from the pods just picked. I pulled up eight Parsnips yesterday from the gardens raised bed. We had a few roasted last night with a roast dinner.. it was worth the wait to. I want to make Parsnip and Apple soup with the others.
The garden is looking lush, and the Spring Daffodils and Crocuses have begun growing their green leaves from the planted bulbs. The garden birds have been slightly scarse this morning because of the rain.
I bought little handheld Binoculars from the Cheltenham car boot sale for observing the gardens birds. I got up early to watch the birds feeding.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snowdrops And Old Friends

I am back from Cheltenham now, after a weekend spent with Mum. This delightful Snowdrop opened its first flower on Saturday. I love the purity of the white petals, and the intricate markings of the lime green inner part of the flower. These are harbingers of Spring, pushing up through the snow and soil. They were brought from Turkey in the 17th century but have been widely naturalised around Britain. Febuary is meant to be the month to see Snowdrop carpets in several public gardens like Painswicks Roccocco gardens.
I had to kneel down on the grass to get the photo. I guess the small bulbs would be great in a container, or trough so you can see them at eye level.

It was overcast on the first day, and the sun was shining through the hazy sky. I think it made Mums garden look ethereal, and moody.
I saw a Robin today in her tree next to the tool shed. All my favourite parts of the garden were still there.
A large Camelia bush adorned with pink flower buds, the climbing Rose that hangs over the brickwork and kitchen window. The Hebe bush that is bigger than me.
The Campanula had spread like wildfire around the soil under the Kitchen window. I rubbed the Santolina (we call it Cotton Lavender) and the scent took me back ten years...
There were Crocuses and Daffodils pushing their way up through the soil. All the Cheltenham snow had melted away before I came back.
I spent the weekend shopping in town, and at the Racecourses Car boot sale yesterday. I found a Hyacinth bulb with the dutch type glass jar that I blogged about before in a Charity shop.
I bought a one pound box of Jalapeno Chilli seeds ready for March sowing (With a heated propagator I have not bought yet).
Mum's famous pot of Sempervivum's (House Leeks) are growing on strong. They have been growing in there pot for twenty years. They grow lots of Baby House leeks and drop them over the edge of the pot. I have five baby plants ready to start my own eternal House leek pot.
The brief visit to my Mum's garden has fired me up ready for the spring as yet unsprung..
Its back to work for me tomorrow. I need to get out into our garden and the allotment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sing A Song

One of my regular visitors to the garden is this male Blackbird. He is very terratorial and spends a lot of time chasing other birds off the feeders. He has a lady Blackbird companion who he hangs about with.
There may be baby Blackbirds in the future.
The snow has stopped but the freezing temperatures have frozen the thawing snow, and the birds water.
The garden still looks like a winter xmas card scene. It is covered in lots of bird footprints, and cat paw prints.
I'm off to Cheltenham today, my home town. Bringing Mums Xmas presents and Birthday presents.
I hope you all have good weekends..

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thaw And Thoughts Of Spring

The snow is slowly melting away now. the temperature has been above freezing, and the sleety snow has just started to melt the snow on our hillside.
This Butterfly has damaged its wing on the right. They were a pair from Trilby street, and both have suffered Wing Damage.
It has been emerging from its snowy cocoon, as before it was totally covered in the white stuff.
I will enjoy seeing the garden uncovered to see my emerging Spring bulbs.
The Greenhouse needs totally emptying and cleaning out. Floors swept, pots washed and stacked, dead plants removed, and made ready for the heady seed sowing days of March and April.
The Parsnips are still buried under the snow. They will taste lovely once they have been dug up. I have a compost bin full ready to revamp our raised veg beds..
I want to sit down with my biscuit tins that hold all my Seed packets, and decide what can be sown this year. I can then study the seed brochures to decide which new flowers and veg to try out.
The garden birds continue to entertain me feeding in the garden. They have been drawn into the garden with the constant supply of food.
Last night we saw a Fox crossing the road near Pugneys. He jumped back from the road onto the pavement, then ran across the roundabout. He was a small wiry Fox with a red coat and fluffy tail. They must all goto Pugneys with its wildlife reserve for a Foxy takeaway of small mammals or birds..
I bought an RSPB card the other day with a Fox on it. He can go onto the sidebar...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Ice Sculptures

Britain is shivering under the spell of the coldest winter for twenty years. The snow and ice have wreaked havoc with the transport infrastructure. There has been some beautiful sights though too. People say the snow covered landscape is very pretty, like a Christmas card come to life. The melting snow drips from our roof, but freezes at night. My new David Austin Rose has become an Ice sculpture. All the stems and buds have been encased in a clear glacial prison.

The pot has been frozen solid too, and is stuck to the backstep...

Outside the bedroom window is two three feet long Icicles, twisting like horns down from the guttering. The melting snow drips down the icy horns, then freezes at night. They are very pretty to look at the light through them.
The night time temperature was minus nine degrees centigrade last night. All gardening has ceased, and I have just been enjoying the beauty of the snow and the ice.
The birds have been flocking into the garden today to feed and frolic.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Snow Flakes And Frogs

The Xmas decorations have come down, and I have been working nights. The snow has begun to fall heavily again here in West Yorkshire. It has covered the thin layer of snow that was still laying from before. Snow is laying thick on branches, and wires, and slowly heaping up on the floor making moving difficult. It is so crisp, clean, and white. The light from the snow makes everything look magical.

These are the trees at the front of the garden, liberally coated with snow. The one on the right is our Maple. Occasionally the snow is too heavy and the branches dip downwards dislodging snow before springing back up into its original position.

The falling snow is very mystical looking catching the light, and obscuring the dark wall of the industrial warehouse at the end of our garden.

I went outside last night to refill the bird feeders, and put more seed on the bird table. This Robin was having a snack and looking out from the sheltered table at the falling snow. I feel better for leaving food for the garden birds.
They have a new Sunflower shaped peanut feeder that my Mum sent me along with the David Austin Wisley Rose.
My favourite Xmas presents are two Bob Marley t-shirts, and a sparkly Rhinestone Frog keyring. I collect Frog ornaments. The garden has five Garden frogs around the borders.
My new years gardening resolutions are to get the allotment productive, and to make the garden more beautiful. I have grown ten Teasel plants from the seeds from Trilby Street. I think dotted between the Foxgloves will be very impressive.
I have a seeds catalgoue to peruse as well with the snow falling heavily. Happy new year everyone!