Friday, April 30, 2010

Moments Like This..

The Cactus we bought from the Spring Flower show has begun to open one of its magical red flowers. I never believed how beautiful desert flowers could be. They are so magical and mystical unfurling in such inhospitable places. I have never been able to induce a Cactus to flower so I will enjoy this one. That was one special moment today seeing the buds opening.

Mission impossible music..The Squirrel was back today in the garden. He got very confused about where the feeders had gone (we keep moving them to stop the birds food rotting or sprouting in one area of the garden.)
He ran from the back fence, through the honeysuckle, onto the greenhouse. Up onto the garage roof( photographed), then along to the Wisteria by the gate. He jumped onto the ground, ran into the patio windows then leapt up onto the right hand fence..

He started to eat my Sunflower seed heads from last years two giant Sunflowers. They were left hanging over the winter for the garden birds to feed on. He ate from the smaller withered Sunflower seedhead which is nearer to the fence level. I loved seeing him acting Squirrel like in our garden.It was another magic moment..
After the Cactus Flower and the acrobatic squirrel we went into town to buy things for the new house. The estate agents rang and we finally got the keys to the new house ! A great ending to a memorable day.
The new garden awaits...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April Impressions

These Goldfinches are regular feeders at the nyjer seed. I hope that at the new house that I can attract these beautiful birds. I admire their quick flying, their beautiful song when they are serenading or calling each other, and of course their beautiful feather colours.

The Welsh poppies are blooming here again. These sumptuous flowers look like coloured silk tents billowing in the wind. The pollen and stamen are arranged around the green centre that turns into the seed pod. I'm hoping we can take some seed pods with us. There are two colours in this garden, the bright yellow, and the light orange. The orange coloured welsh poppy is rarer, maybe its a recessive gene? These self seed freely around the garden, behind benches, and in between paving slabs. Their flower buds are hairy like cavemen...

In the grass at the front of the house there was this single Myositis plant, the Forget Me Not. These are notorious self seeders too. Plant a few this year and you will be finding them for years to come.
I love the plants that have poetic names like Forget Me Not, Love In The Mist, or Love Lies Bleeding. Whats your favourite poetic plant name?

In my planter boxes from Trilby street (my old address) these Jonquill's are in flower. They are have paper-like white flowers and smell like candy sticks. A lovely childhood smell that is so sweet on the nose. They look really dainty on the end of very thin green strap leaves.
I hope that I can bring a few of all these things to our new garden (one day until we get the keys).
The days are warmer, and the daylight available for gardening is longer. The amount of flowers in bloom is increasing weekly and the birds/wildlife/insects are becoming more frantic in their activity. I am in blog heaven at this time of the year. I love photographing the smaller details in the garden. When they are looked at over time they become a photographic/prose mosaic of the constantly evolving garden.
I want it to rain to water the allotment, and to fill my water butt.I have been studying the BBC weather website.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Veg And Flowers

The day has been like a game of football.... with two halves. The first half of the day was spent at the allotment. The second half was back at the house cutting the grass for the first time this year. I picked an entire container of Dandelion flowers from the garden. They were glowing in the sunlight and dyed my hands yellow. The collected flowers will be turned into Dandelion Wine 2010. Cat says I should sell the country wines for a few pounds a bottle, a nominal charge. These Dandelions were picked before the Lawn Mower went over them.

This Viola was growing in some deep grass in the back garden. This plant had escaped from the right hand border. It was bitter sweet cutting the grass as we have to do it because we are leaving this house. I told Cat we would end up having to cut the grass in our new house once we move in. We should have the keys by Friday.

This morning up at the allotment I planted my Cabbage, Broccoli, Swede, and Garlic plants in the prepared beds. Cat helped me tie the canes together to make a cage frame, which we covered in netting. The allotment is surrounded by Trees and hedging and has a good population of birds that dine on some vegetable plants. the net should stop the Pigeons nibbling on our Brassicas. The last thing we did at the plot was sowing two rows of Italian Carrot seed from Harrogate.

At the corner of the shed I planted my Tyre container, and a green hexagonal planter from home. I planted six Pansys, two Mimulus, one dark leaved Rumex, a pink and yellow Chrysanthenum, and another plant with yellow/orange flowers. I planted twenty Tigridia bulbs too in the containers.
The weather forecast is for rain over the next few days. It started raining when we were cutting the front and back garden grass. The only positive thing is that the new house has much less grass to mow!The garden is a lot smaller but I will pack it full of interesting plants and flowers.
Only two days to go for the keys. We will be packing boxes tomorrow. I hope the rain waters the gardens and the allotment to make everything grow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Three Firsts

The post is about three things I have seen for the first time today...
I went to the allotment today to try to get the guttering fixed to the shed with Pat's help. I found these pink Cauliflower looking flowers growing in the Rhubarb. I asked some of the old men and they said it was because it had bolted. The warm sunny days have made it try to set seed I think (bolting). I only thought things like Spinach and Salad leaves bolted in warm weather. I have never seen these on Rhubarbs.

The warm weather has made the Rhubarb leaves huge like a Gunnera. They have grown onto the path at the side making it hard to get around them without getting scratched by the huge Gooseberry bush. Clearing a path is another job for another day.

The jobs you think that will not take long end up taking hours. Pat had to fiddle about with the guttering, and add an extra layer of the roofing so the water ran down into the gutter. She stuck the tarmac roof down with bathroom sealer, then painted it with a tar mix. I poured water from a watering can onto the roof to see how the water ran. The guttering slopes towards the black bin, and the water made a loud splash as it fell into the water but. I will watch the weather now hoping for rain so I can see how much my guttering will collect.
I always under estimate how long things will take, like weeding, or digging a new bed. I was up at the plot for six and half hours.The second thing today was I heard the first Cuckoo of the year (in fact my first Cuckoo ever in real life, not on the TV).
The third thing was.. I found a deceased Shrew on my raised bed. I have never seen one in real life. They are elusive and lightning quick. He was so soft to touch, and had a little snout with whiskers. Life is too harsh sometimes. I wander if he was caught by a bird of prey and dropped by accident landing on my plot?

Talking of strange things I am making a tyre planter to sit on the corner of my shed. I found it in a rubbish heap. I have filled it today with soil ready for planting tomorrow.
Cat came to pick me up from the allotment and we drive to the garden centre at Hampsons. This crazy duck had made her nest from pot plants on top of a wheeled display trolley. She had decanted the ferns out of the pots and was arranging them in a nest shape. She watched me and cat go plant shopping.
I have a selection to plant at the allotment. I want the Cottage Garden plot to be full of colour if I'm spending a lot of time up there.
I will be back tomorrow to take the Cabbages/Broccolis/ and Swedes up, plant the tyre container, make a cage to protect the juvenile plants from the Pigeons.
I bet it takes longer than I think it will.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cottage Garden Plot

We spent today shopping for things for the allotment. I bought a little gas cooker, a whistling kettle,some butane canisters to power the cooker, a fold up picnic table, three fold up chairs, and some tea/sugar/coffee canisters.
These are now safely stored in the locked shed. I'm working all weekend before a week off next week.
I need to level the ground under the water butt so it sits level. The plan will be for a second water butt filled by the first one. 440 litres of rainwater should be enough for the plot I hope.
We drank our first cups of coffee made with heated water from the cooker, with the birds singing. The male blackbird was checking us out again and singing away.
I want to put some bird feeders up around the shed. Hanging baskets and planters will adorn the area around the shed with colourful flowers and buzzing pollinators. I want to grow vegetables, but it will be homely with the table, chairs, and the sound of a whistling kettle when its time for a drink! It will be more like a Cottage garden plot, rather than a Kitchen garden.
I reclaimed six Garlic plants growing here in my raised bed. They will be transported next week along with the Cabbages, Swede, and Purple Broccoli plants to the plot. The only other crop I want to sow will be some Carrots. I have some Italian seeds from the Spring flower show yesterday.
Once the hard work is done we will be able to relax at the plot with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Watching the wildlife, insects, and wildflowers like the humble Dandelion (above).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heather Honey

We have been busy bee's today driving down up to Harrogate for the Spring Flower Show. We spent about six hours there being immersed in flowers, gardening sundries, arts and crafts, and local Yorkshire produce in the warm sunshine.
The estate agents rang up when we were at the Great Yorkshire Showground, and confirmed the sale of the house to us. We will be moving on the 11th May 2010 :)
From now I have to start potting up all the plants that are blooming beautifully in the ground. The boxes will be brought back in from the garage ready for filling. The removal man has been booked already. After months of inactivity we can finally get ready to move into our new house with a new garden.
I will do a Spring Flower Show post tomorrow, I took 100 photos today including one of a BBC Look North presenter.
The Bee in the photo is almost lost in the billowing pillows of the Erica's Lilac flowers. Its an early sign of the growing season the busy buzzing of Bee's.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blossom Blooms And Shopping

The garden has a variety of Fruit trees which are all flowering or will flower soon. The first tree grows under the large Apple Tree. It is a Japanese Quince and it has crimson red flowers which when they are pollinated turn into strange Orange fruits. I don't know if you can eat them, or if they are purely ornamental.

The second flowers in bloom are on the Plum tree. Last year the entire tree was covered in April/May by masses of pure white fragrant flowers which perfumed the air. The Tree made so many Plums that the tree was being bent sideways under the weight of the fruit. I froze about twelve pounds worth in our freezer ready to make crumbles or wine.

The Peach Tree in the corner is festooned with Pink Blossom flowers. This had no flowers last year and so never fruited. Unfortunately we will probably be moved before I can see if this tree produces fruit. We have had plenty of sunshine over the past few weeks which has made everything grow on madly. I do no know if you can grow Peach Tree's in Yorkshire with its heavy clay soil, cold winters, and wet weather. Peaches need the sunshine like me...
Around Wakefield there are masses of ornamental Blossom trees. Some are so heavy in flowers that when the wind blows it looks like white or pink snow in the air, and around the Tree. For me Cherry Blossom trees always remind me of School days (Schools always have them planted near them) and give me a happy feeling.
Cat and me had a busy day today buying things for the allotment. Four heavy stone slabs for a base, a 220 litre water butt and a stand , and some guttering to siphon rainwater from the shed roof into the but. The shed now has our heavy duty lock on it after Cat fitted it.
However we could not fix the guttering due to the strange shape of the sheds sloped roof! I need to wait until next week to continue the allotments rainwater revamp.
I also bought a new red watering can for the allotment from Hampsons, in readiness for when the shed has guttering to collect rainwater. There are four white mugs ready to be taken to the plot. There is nothing nicer than a hot cup of coffee or tea when you are having a busy day at the plot.
We are going to Harrogate for the first flower show of the year tomorrow. It has been almost seven months since the Autumn one.
The growing season is here again. I want to return from Harrogate with sundries for the allotment, a few plants, lots of photos, and inspiration for our new garden.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Electric Purple

One of the plants that was here at Fishponds Drive was this beautiful Campanula. It grows all along, and over a brick wall tumbling down to the grass below. In April it is suddenly revived and the plant bursts into bloom with hundreds of tiny electric purple flowers. It is very pretty to look at it from the dining room window with the flowers glowing in the sunlight.

The Bee's and Butterflies love it. This hungry Butterfly alighted on the purple flowers. He drank deeply and then flew off energetically revived with the red bull type nectar. The flower had caused him to be full of the joys of spring, maybe nectar is intoxicating?
I like plants that attract the insects, which then attract the garden birds. These will eventually attract predators. Gardeners can help by growing insect friendly plants at the base of the food chain.
Lavender seems to draw Bees in from miles. Another plant growing here already was a gigantic Ceanothus bush with Blue flowers that smell like honey. That plant is always buzzing in the summer as the Bees visit it lots. Its therapeutic sitting listening to the birds sing, and the drone of the Bee's in the Ceanothus on a hot day with a glass of lemonade.
My favourite plant though is regarded by many as a weed, is the Buddleia or Butterfly bush. The one at the back of this garden was Butterfly central last year. I loved just standing and watching the Butterflys clamber all over it.
The weather here is warming up, but there is still a chill in the air. The sunshine lulls you into a false sense of security. Tonights temperature is forecast as minus one degree centigrade. When the wind blows you need a fleece on!
The first flower show of the year is on Thursday. The Northern Horticultural Societys Spring flower show at Harrogate. All my favourite plant sellers and dealers will be there. We will have a shopping list for things for the allotment.
It is a pleasure to spend time in the garden at this time of the year and the Spring Flower Show inspires you even more to get out into the garden.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Garden Energy Boost

These Spring Flowers looked radiant in the warm sun. These deep pink, and royal blue Primulas were planted last year, and the Daffodils last November.
The Trees and hedgerows are turning green fast as leaves are growing. The Peach tree at the back of the garden finally has pink Blossoms on it, after none last year. The gardens Apple Tree's are developing the flower buds and leaves. Even my Mallus Braeburn in a pot looks healthy with lots of new growth. I might finally have Apples after three years!
The grass has started growing fast too and needs cutting.
The warm weather gives me loads of energy. I spent four hours today up at the allotment clearing the corner where the compost heap is. I want to dig a new vegetable bed tomorrow. My newly planted Onions were still in the ground. The first batch were picked out and rolled around by mischievous birds. The Potatoes have not grown on yet in their dug trenches,
The wild birds were singing from the tree tops, and the first Butterflies off the year were flying around the allotment in the sunshine. Its too easy to spend hours at the plot when it is nice weather.
I was in my own little world on my weekend off from work. I love the renewal of growth during April, the welcoming back of old friends like Primula plants, Daffodils and Cherry blossoms. The first sign growth from summer Bulbs like Casablanca Lily, and Oriental Stargazer Lily. The light green fern like leaves of the Welsh Poppies in the garden. My Tulips are opening open every few days, exotic colours in the lush green growth. The warm weather has caused masses of people to go outside to cut the grass. One of my the most evocative smells for me of spring is cut grass. The first cut of the year is so fragrant...
Spring is wonderful for working up at the allotment, and then coming back home to go outside into the garden. My arms and face are tanning beautifully. I love the sun on my face, and the wind in my hair.

Friday, April 16, 2010


These Primulas have regrown in the border and exploded in colour. They have a deep orange/yellow colour. They died back almost last year so its a pleasure to see them look s0 beautiful today..
I have finished my night shifts now so I can get to the allotment over the weekend.
I have a new laptop to test out, to try and blog from it on a new internet provider too.
Its very cloudy outside now. The Goldfinches have been eating at the bird feeder station. I cant wait to get into the garden and the allotment.
The main news here is that the UK's airports are closed down due to an Icelandic volcano shooting ash high into the atmosphere. I worried about it effecting our health, and wildlife/plant life. The scientists say it wont be visible by the time it comes down from 30,000 feet.
The weekend is nearly here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Snow Bliss

The garden has this shrub in it from the previous owners. Its white bell like flowers are totally covering the green leaves. It has the look of an Azalea or Rhodadendron.
The photo shows how white the flowers look, like fallen snow in April after my second night shift.
I'm working nights so today's post was after a walk around the garden, pure bliss. The Tulips are forming buds, and the Aliums. The Roses are growing beautifully in the pots ready for moving.
The fruit trees are growing their leaves now, ready for the mass of sweet smelling blossom soon.
Even the Peach Tree is growing gorgeous pink flowers. The sunshine has made everything grow on..
The dawn chorus is playing outside the patio doors as I write this on the laptop. I have just watched three Greenfinches on the feeder. That's the most I have seen in one regular Goldfinches are dining on niger seeds.
All these things seen will help me sleep, and look forward to my days off when i can explore the garden with my camera.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Showtime Plans

The Camellia has got three of these lovely pink buds on it. Last year it looked quite poorly with brown leaves, and it dropped all its buds. It looked like it was going to keel over.
The plant has regrouped over the winter, put on new growth, and even got flower buds on it now.
Healthy Camellias look beautiful with their very thick glossy leaves. They make me want to clean them of any muck they have on them.
This plant will have pink flowers. I did buy a Camellia with white flowers but it never survived the winter.
I was writing in my diary the dates of the flower shows. The 22nd of April will be the first of the year the Northern Horticultural Societys Spring Flower show. That should be special with the cold winter delaying the early flowers by a month.
I want to go to the Tatton Park RHS flower show, and the Great Yorkshire Show in July. The last show of the year is the Autumn Flower show in Harrogate in September.
Of course the biggest flower show in the world is the RHS Chelsea flower show from the 25th of May. I want to mention a garden for people to visit made by skilled young people...
I was reading today about the Buffalo Garden Walk on the last weekend of July (24th to 25th this year) in the USA.
Over three hundred gardens are open for free visitors to walk around them through a variety of distinct districts. The event is run by volunteers and there are no entry charges!The flags designed for lamp posts are beautiful too. If i was in New York in July I would love to go there.
I might buy a white flowered Camellia from the flower shows. These gatherings are part of the Horticultural calender. They are where you can bring your friends or family year after year to go shopping, eat and drink, and look at a plethora of beautiful gardens. The RHS shows have the added bonus of trying to guess which gardens will get the gold medals..
The many ideas you see can be brought back to your own garden. The shows reinvigorate your green fingers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Sunday

This Daffodil is a beautiful two tone colour, with white outer petals, and the burnt orange trumpet. The Fire Tulips behind are fading away now but make a contrast to the cool Daffodil flower.
I went to the allotment today to plant the Onions. I planted the hundred white ones in the bag, and a bonus two rows of Red Onions from Hils. I planted the Turbo Onions today. My Stutgarter Onions had been pulled up and moved around all over the bed. Hils think the birds lift them up from the soil.
I found rodent teeth marks too on a rotting seed Potatoe. The mouse had chewed the central part which was not rotten. There must be quite a lot of resident wildlife that shares the allotment when im not there!
The sun has been out partially today, but the wind was cold. The first Dandelions have started to flower along grass verges. It will be Wine making soon if I can collect enough flower heads. I saw Daisys, and Buttercups flowering too along the Walton road. The warm weather has made the Tree's start to open their leaf buds. Even my gardens Lilac Tree is beginning to stir in the Spring sunshine with the first unfurling of green leaves.
I am working night shifts next week so the allotment will be left to its own devices for a week. I have grand plans in my head, and a shopping list to make the plan a reality.
I hope that Cat and me can get a moving date into our new house....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Two Shrubs

Two Shrubs caught my attention the other day on the lane to the allotment. This bright pink Ribes bush with flower buds like pink bunches of grapes hanging downwards before they open. I think they were slightly sweet smelling.

This American shrub is a long way from home. It was introduced in 1817 to England from the woodlands of Western North America. It apparently flowers after the Forsythia..

My Mum used to have a Forsythia. Its brilliant yellow flowers cascade down the branches like a Catharine wheel firework. Liquid sunshine illuminated here by the sun. The Ribes was definitely in flower at the same time. The lemon yellow is a lovely contrast to the pastel pink of the Ribes.
I have just finished work and have a day off tomorrow. I plan to go to the allotment again to plant my Onions, and spend time in the sunshine. I have been working or allotment digging for a week now without a break.
The outside working, and watching the wildlife is very therapeutic for me. As the daylight hours grow longer so my need to be outside and in contact with soil grows stronger.
Thanks for all my comments, and emails that you have sent. I welcome them all :)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Shed Is Up

I am showing a series of photos today taken at the allotment over the past six days. Last Friday Cats Dad came down to help me prepare a base for a six foot by four foot shed. They said they would construct it if there was a suitable prepared site to erect it. Cats Dad was an architect so it was done with straight edges on a piece of timber, and a spirit level. Three hours of tapping here, digging here, moving soil a bit, until finally it was pronounced level!

I was so proud of the level shed base (sort of Roman mosaic style as we had a limited amount of recycled slabs from Cats parents house) that I took a photo. I had to wait six days until today for the shed to be delivered in pieces.

The plot now has four rows of Potatoes, two Onion beds, five Rhubarb crowns, One Leek bed, and the rectangular bed that will take Cabbage, Swede, and Purple Broccoli plants. It now has a new shed freshly waterproof painted with Cat. I spent all three of my days off up there digging, weeding, hoeing paths, and visualising how the allotment will look.
This year is the RHS Grow Your Own Veg year. I have had an allotment for three years now. The first one I waited for a year before I finally got a section of one. I then gave it up for this one at Walton. There is a waiting list now to get a plot up there.
The RHS is spearheading a campaign to encourage people to grow their own fruit and veg. The problem that I see is there is not enough allotment plots/land for people to grow their own fruit and veg.
In some places generous landowners have let gardeners cultivate unused land for community garden allotment projects. In London I saw a disused car park had building rubble sacks filled with soil for people to grow veg in them. Even they had a waiting list for their bag gardens.

I spent seven and a half hours today in the sunshine listening to the birds singing. I watched the years first Butterfly flying around. I saw two male Pheasants square up by the edge of the allotment flying and shrieking at each other.
Working the soil is blindingly hard work, but afterwards you feel relaxed, in touch with the seasons, and happy. I cannot wait for the harvesting of all the produce that I have grown. Cooking them for a meal will make the whole process worth while. All the blood, sweat, and scratches/nettle stings.
I do believe gardening is therapeutic for people, and brings holistic benefits to all those who work in them. I think that its great the RHS wants people and Children to gain those benefits, and to help healthy eating by growing their own.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Three Herons

Cat photographed this bird the other day, after he alighted on the roof of the house across the road. The Camera has just about captured his long legs, neck, and beak shape. I was working at the time, but she quickly grabbed the Camera to try to photograph him.

It is a Grey Heron in the top photo. This was the one I bought from Hampsons the other day. I have seen the Herons flying over our house on the way back from fishing. They are beautiful birds, and quite large when they glide past in the air. I guess if you have a pond full of fish then these are unwelcome visitors. I love them..

This is an image I took from Google images. I am amazed that we have seen this type of bird several times. There must be a lot of fish filled ponds around here (We live in Fishponds Drive).

Conifer Chorus

Its Easter Monday today and I'm finally off work for two days. The weather is typical for a bank holiday, wet and windy.
This bird was sat in the conifers singing away.I think he is a very musical Dunnock. He stays away from the bird feeders and prefers to dine on insects. He is singing now as I write this on the dining room table by the patio windows.
The RSPB released their big garden watch bird count results from January. It showed that the cold weather had effected the smaller birds like the Long Tailed Tits and Goldcrests .
Traditional country birds were seen in gardens eating from garden feeders.
The Goldfinches have found the bird feeder station which I have started to move around the garden to stop a build up of dropped seed. The Narnia lights and left raised border are recovering now. The birds normally find their way to the moved station quite quickly.
What I need to buy once we move is a cast iron Birdbath like the one that the garden has here. The birds all alight to drink and wash in it. The station has a little plastic bowl but the big birds prefer the big one.
Cat spotted a visitor the other day who alighted on a roof across from our house. I will blog about him next time. He has a long beak, long legs, and loves fish...
I hope that the rain stops enough for me to go to the allotment today to prepare the beds for planting. The weather is forecast better for tomorrow.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Blue Grapes

Growing in the front garden under the shade of the massed rows of Daffodils is this Muscari. It has the look of a thin bunch of blue grapes.
Its the first of April today. The Easter bank holiday weekend is nearly here.The weather here is alternating between pouring rain to occasional sunshine.
The rain is due to arrive in the afternoon tomorrow on good Friday.
I hope the weather holds in the morning for the construction of the Shed base up at the allotment. Under the watchful eyes of Cats Dad (a retired Architect) we will use the stone slabs, and some building sand that we need to buy later today to lay the foundations for the shed.
The sunshine will hopefully dry the allotment mud that we left the other day.
We nearly have a moving date now. The houses papers are with the solicitors. I must stop admiring this garden and start planning the new one.
The sunshine illuminates the many greens of the growing plants, and the yellows of the Daffodils and Red of the Tulips. I have worked magic on this garden. My green fingers will get to work soon on a brand new virtually untouched garden at the new house.