Monday, June 28, 2010

Hot Day And Garden Therapy

The Song Thrush is a regular visitor to our garden now. He guards the suet treats and chases off all comers, especially the Starlings.
I have enjoyed a few days off from work. I went to the allotment today but it was so hot that I left around midday. The 27 degrees centigrade sun cooked me, and made the sweat pour down my brow into my glasses.
I decided on the way back from the plot that the pond needed a few more aquatic plants. I walked to Hampsons via a public footpath that runs through Fields of Wheat, and a luscious Wildflower meadow. It was extremely peacefull except for little brown birds singing in the small trees.
The pond has taken the new plants from Hampsons. Once the muddy waters have settled down I will photograph it. I spend a good deal of time now staring at the still waters trying to see if there are bugs and beasties in the water, or skating around on top of it. It started off sterile and lifeless, but has developed life over the week or so it has been in existence.
I'm an absolute beginner when it comes to pond building, aquatic plants, and water gardening in general. My ups and downs will be recorded here on the blog.
I'm hoping that the days at work bring Rain. It has been a very dry period recently. The allotment has been baked dry in places. The garden, the Wild flower pond side bed, and the allotment all need rain..
After we lost the football i immersed myself back into the garden. My green therapy.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Strawberries And Roses

Its going to be a big day today. The hottest day of the year and the day that England play a football match against Germany in the World Cup. That is scheduled for 1500 GMT. My Strawberries are starting to fruit now in the new garden. Just in time for Wimbledon (I picked the first Strawberry before the tennis started at SW19). I have loved Tennis since me and Mum watched it. For me the Strawberries and Cream that are consumed there are part of a British summer.
The home grown Strawberries taste so sweet. They are invariably picked and eaten. They are sweet, juicy, and pesticide free. I have them growing in a Herb planter by the kitchen door and in the railway sleeper bed. This year the herb planter plants had an extra top dressing of compost and they are fruiting beautifully. So well in fact that I had a daylight raid by the Squirrel. He nabbed a whole red Strawberry and ran off with it up the fence with the whole Strawberry in his mouth.

I love this photo showing the Lupins, White Foxgloves, Hostas, Alpine Strawberries, and Gertrude Jekyll Rose. These textured Green, and bright flower colours are what I can see from the chair at the backdoor.

My favourite Rose is this Lady Emma Hamilton teasing here with a half open flower bud. She smells of citrus fruit when you inhale the perfumed scent. I love the Copper/Apricot colour of the blooms. The terrific heat will wilt the plants. I have put bark chippings on all the Roses to keep the moisture in the pots. The heat causes transpiration through the leaves and the plants wilt as their water columns collapse. Normally watering afterwards help straighten them out. the ponds Astilbes have wilted, as have the Mints in the pots. I need to do some watering soon.

The Rose Gertrude Jekyll keeps on flowering. She has outperformed all the other Roses in a smaller pot. She was kept in too dry soil last year. Maybe she is making up for lost time this year. Even the Rose buds are perfectly formed. She is one of the most heavily scented Roses.
I love the smell of Roses and Strawberries. British Summer scents to enamour you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bugs And Beds

This is my second post today about another of my projects: the allotment.
I have spent the morning at the allotment just weeding and clearing, photographing, and drinking Coffee. I was looking at a Ladybird in the Globe Artichoke when this mini yellow spider ran out of the segments thinking there was some prey sat above him. I was amazed to find him waiting inside the leaves. After I took this he crept between the plates of the Globe Artichoke to wait for his meal.

This shows some of my small plot. The Runner Beans are growing up the Canes. The Courgettes are looking healthy with their pop bottles wedged in to water them. The Cabbages are forming beautifully beneath the Black netting on the left. The Winter Onions are behind the Runner Bean Canes. The Summer Onions are to the right. Behind them all rows of Potatoes are growing on in the dry summer heat.

I have this beautiful Gallardia in flower in my hexagonal planter next to the Shed. It has a little aphid hanging on it too. My allotment has two small planters, a miniture garden for when im away from the new house.
The allotment is always alive with the sounds of the birds and bee's. Insects are running wild. I heard a Woodpecker today, and saw a little Hawk hunting high over the allotment plots. The only sounds was bird song and my scraping Hoe.

The Hot weather has thrown up some problems however. The Carrots have barely germinated, and there seems to be a serious infestation of little white flys on the Swedes, Cabbages, and Broccoli's.What can i plant to stop the White Flys? The Garlic leaves have picked up a Rust infection from somewhere. Why is that?
I am not a Vegetable expert so I will read up and google these problems.I am trying to keep on top of the Weeds, but forgot about the pests. It will be an ongoing struggle to keep them all in check.

Despite the sunburn, nettle and thistle stings, and sweat pouring off me, I love the peace of the allotment. I photographed this magnificent Shield Bug walking down a blade of grass. The allotment plot may be manipulated by me, but nature is always all around me. My camera is a regular companion always ready to photograph Bugs or Beds (Vegetable ones that is).

Colours From Our Garden

I have been busy on three horticultural projects. The first is of course the new garden itself. It needed planning, planting, then the attention of weeding, and watering.
This is the Long Border which is sunken down from the lawn. The plants have all filled out nicely, and the taller ones have given vertical structures. The Teasel is at the front, with the Foxgloves and Lupins behind.

This striking photo is of my Monkshood Flowers. The flower spike is almost six feet tall. It is a perennial and was moved with us from Fishponds. It has definitely sunk its roots down now and is flowering spectacularly. The Violet/Blue flowers look like the cowls of the monks from century's ago.
Its other name was Wolfsbane as it is extremely poisonous. Beautiful and deadly! All parts of it are toxic including leaves/flowers/roots and seeds. Its poisons can be absorbed through your skin too. Wash your hands if you are handling this plant!
This is the second year that is has grown and I love it.

This is the Monkshood (Aconitum Napellus) in profile. I left a packet of bird food by the raised sleeper bed accidentally. I meant to top the birds bowl up.

Another plant flowering for a second year is this Delphinium Pacific Blue. It is the most beautiful sky blue colour and just glows in the sunshine. This plant got the most compliments at the Barbecue a week ago. It is a traditional Cottage garden plant and is a perennial. It should flower bigger and better for every year of its life.

At the front of the sunken border is this Lupin and the White Foxgloves. The Lupin can have its flower spikes cut once they are done to encourage repeat flowerings. There are another three Lupins in the border but they are not flowering yet.
Four out of five of the Foxgloves are flowering. I have white foxgloves, white foxgloves with a lime green splash in the throat, Pink flowered, and pink with burgundy spots..
The Bees love them and spend ages flying into and out of the bell shaped flower taking pollen from flower to flower on their backs or bellys. They are some of my favourite Cottage garden plants.
This is a selection of some of the colours of my garden. The two other projects that I have been doing is making the pond/wildflower area, and tending the allotment plot at Walton. There are lots of photos and prose to share.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wisley Rose

The Rose that my Mum sent me for Xmas is flowering beautifully now. This David Austin RHS Wisley rose has a light pink rose, with a delicate old Rose smell. The pink flowers glow in the light over the green leaves.
This is the second David Austin Rose to flower. I have the three sisters of Roses.
Gertrude Jekyll, Lady Emma Hamilton, and Wisley.
These are beautiful blooms to lighten your heart up.
I'm working all day today and its going to be sunny. I hope it lasts for my days off..

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Clover And Frogs Dreams

Its the sixth day of our holiday and we are holding a Barbecue today. I spent Thursday with Cat cutting the grass and planting my bedding plants.
I tidied up the two exposed corners of the garden. The wooden decking has been dismantled by John (Cats middle son) and our neighbour. The space that it has opened up is unbelievable.
The sun is just peeking through the clouds now. Fingers crossed it stays dry for our house warming BBQ!
I saw a small frog yesterday on the edge of the grass. I think he had been feeding on the slugs under where the decking was. I thought if there were Frogs in the garden a pond would be nice..
Cat suggested using the Turtle sand pit that was left by the old owners of the house. It is round in shape, deep, green, and waterproof.
I moved the compost bin and contents back to the corner of the garden. That left exposed ground that had a nice dip in it. That's where I dug the hole to sink the pond liner (turtle sandpit) into. I planted some Bergenia's, Ferns, Snapdragons, Bunny Tails Grasses, and Larkspurs around the pond between the compost bin and the fence. Cat sowed some Wildflower mix around the pond. It will be left wild to attract the wildlife in.
The pond was filled and so far the birds have been drinking from it. I need the wild flowers to start growing to soften the ponds plastic green edges. I want to see how the cool water will attract the wildlife. The soil surrounding the pond will be left to develop a little wildness, with my plants anchored within it. Bordered by the grass of the lawn.
The photo is the white Clover that is growing on the front lawn. I love the intricate structure of the flower.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gardeners World Live 2010 part 3

Another of my favourite flowers is Foxgloves. This display of them was lovely and caught my eye.

The Pink Lilys looked like my Oriental Stargazer. They smell heady and so thickly scented. It is a plant you either love or hate. I love them. These were in displays all around the NEC.

A plant related to the one that is at the top of my blogs page. This was a lovely Pink Atrantia. I bought one that has slightly more white in the flower. Alan Titchmarsh talked about these flowers in his weather proof garden.

Dibleys were there selling their Begonias and Streptocarpus. I only have two Streptocarpus left now as the cold killed all mine off. They are lovely flowers and quite easy to grow.

A plant stall was selling aquatic plants. This gorgeous Water Lily was floating on the top. A few exhibitors of aquatic plants are regularly attending gardening shows. This is beautiful.

An Iris Pseudocorus with exotic tiger stripes on purple and white petals. These were like watercolours in their depth of colour. I only have my Yellow Flag Iris here in this garden.

The displays in the flower hall were very tall. Some reached almost all the way to the ceiling like these Lilys.

I dont know what this flower was, but I loved the intricate shape of it, and the contrast of its pale petals against the background.

There were a series of smaller gardens called Border Ones. These were grouped together on a grass slope. I liked the planting arrangement of this one, and the colours.

This humerous garden was entitled "Wheres Grandad?". It is a representation of his garden complete with Chair, Hat, and gloves. Where he would have spent his free time.

The sun was blazing down on us on wednesday. The outside gardens were extremely exposed. People tried sheltering under Trees and by fences wherever there was some shade.

The last thing we saw on Wednesday was a Demonstration at the Guide Dogs Garden. It was a garden designed for a Couple, one sighted, and one blind. The planting was in raised beds, at hand height with aromatic plants at various area of the garden. The scents were useful in knowing where you were in a garden. Along with a variety of different surfaces to make different noises to tell you where you were.
The volunteer showed a guide dog walking around the garden avoiding obstacles, stopping when there was a danger, and being the blind persons eyes. It was amazing how clever the dog was.
He was a pet out of harness, but once he was harnessed he became a working dog protecting the blind owner. Everyday obstacles like wheely bins, parked cars, or even trailing Roses at face height can become a lethal hazard to somebody who cannot see them.
All in all it was a brilliant day. Very long and tiring because of the two hour train trip to get there. I saw Celebrities, watched Guide Dogs, ate and drank well, bought things, and photographed beautiful plants and gardens. Maybe I will be back next year. I hope you have all enjoyed my blog posts..
PS there are two days left if you near to the NEC.

Gardeners World Live 2010 part 2

Away from the Cathedral spaces of the great halls there were a small selection of Show Gardens and Border gardens. This was a keen eco version of Alice In Wanderland. I loved this Teapot fountain pouring into a cup with a giant Teaspoon next to it.

The BBC had comissioned a mini version of Greenacres where the BBC films Gardeners World every week. This was a small representation of this. The Grow Your Own campaign was being launched from here. The presenters were here through the week for Grown Your Own, and for the Plant Swap. They wanted unusual plants in exchange for Greenacres plants.

This show garden was called Help For Heroes, a charity run for British Armed Forces personnel who have been injured in action serving their country. The White Picket fence enclosed a lushly planted garden. The RAF helicopter model hovers above the White House.

The Garden that won a Gold and Best In Show was this Girl Guides 2010 one. It has these lovely Blue/yellow poles and sumptuous planting of wild flowers. I wander if they sowed many trays then put them all together to form a wild flower medal. The Reds and Blues are blooming throughout the garden. The view is restricted to where the poles were.

This garden won me over with its simplicity, and the limited amount of colours. I love how the cushions mirror the wall paintings. The cool water from the feature splashes down under the decking.

People were able to vote for their plant of the show. Ten plants were nominated by judges and the visiting public vote for their best flower. I liked the Princess Anne Rose by David Austin. This flower was a Geranium.

An explosion of pastel colours. These flowers are Larkspurs I think.

For me the flowers are always the stars of the shows. Their textures, shapes, or colours always amaze me, and make me think thats a nice photo for the blog.

The grasses are always arranged beautifully. They keep leaving notices saying do not touch. I just love stroking grasses. They are the most tactile of plants.

David Austin Roses had a display in the Floral marquis. These all smelt lovely. They are my favourite Roses. If you have to have a Rose make sure its one of these.

Another flower I saw in the flower hall was this orange Alstromeria. Peruvian Lilys are always so exotic looking, and have gorgeous markings on their petals.

The Orchids I love to photograph the most are the Ladys Slippers. This was the most striking one that I saw. These photos are just a representation of a fabulous day.
(This is the Second part of three)

Gardeners World Live 2010 part 1

Its been a few days now since I went with Cat to the Birmingham NEC to see the BBC Gardeners World Live, and the Good Food Show. These were running side by side in the cavernous space of four halls. We had got up at five thirty am to catch a train to Birmingham New Street. A ten minute train ride from BNS brought us to Birmingham International. Home of the airport on one side, and the Exhibition Centre on the other. There were various fair ride attractions around the halls decorated with flowers. This Tea cup ride had an Alice in Wonderlands theme.

This ride had lights on, and was equally planted out. I think there was a Carousel one somewhere but we never saw it.

The entrance we used had these triangular displays planted. I never realised until the end of the day that these were related to plant stalls behind them. Everything had labels because it was for sale. I love Hostas almost as much as Cat.

This is 21st century floristry. The people who led the demonstrations guided people through the process complete with microphones and headsets. Two Cameras were pointed at the main table so they could be seen on screens. I loved the purple orchid decoration on the wall behind the tables. As we had coffee they layed out everything that people needed to make their own floral table display.

After a two hour journey these Danish Pastries and Coffee were a welcome pick me up. It gave me time to peruse the Show guide which was over a hundred pages long.

One of the main things for going to the GWL show was to see the Gardening Celebrities speaking live, and in some cases signing books. At ten am on Wednesday the guest speaker was Alan Titchmarsh, talking about weather proof gardens. He was as funny and warm in real life as he is on his talk show. The Ilkley Bard he was described as.. (Ilkley is where in Yorkshire he is from). I have watched him for years on Gardeners World on Fridays when he was the presenter, through to his teatime Chat show, and recently as the affable host of the BBC's coverage of the RHS Chelsea flower show. I have also read his columns in Gardeners World magazine. He is a true legend of gardening in the UK.

The majority of people paid three pounds to sit in this auditorium. I stood outside with Cat watching and listening. The other days (the show runs from 16th to 2oth June) there were other speakers. I wanted to see Monty Don but he was not there on the day we went.I will have to wait for another opportunity to see him speak. Carol Klein, Joe Swift, Toby Buckland, and Alys Fowler were all due to do talks throughout the show. BBC radio 4 did Gardeners Question Time from there also when we were there.

There were all manner of plant stalls at the NEC. This was a gorgeous Pink and White Peony for sale. Look how gorgeous the flower was.

The stalls were all very inventive about displaying their plants to best effect. These Lily's were extremely fragrant. I loved them.

Cheeky Monkey and me. This stall had an African flavour. I loved this Monkey which i posed next to.

There were groups of plant enthusiasts there. This was the Streptocarpus Societys little display plant by their counter.

The Birmingham Orchid society made this wonderful prehistoric display and won a gold medal for it. The RHS was at the show awarding its medals for displays and the show and border gardens.

The sunlight was streaming through the skylights illuminating the displays of plants and all the visitors. It was a stunningly hot day, but as the majority of the show was indoors we did not feel it. There is some enonrmous air conditioning inside the NEC on the cealing high above the floor.

The Gardening Organic stand had these lovely deep burgundy splotched Foxgloves growing. I got their leaflets, and a vegetable growing calender.

I loved this telephone box which was decorated with flowers. The Exhibition halls were full of these inventive displays. The red telephone box is a much loved British symbol.

The other stars of these shows for me is always the flowers. Beautifully grown and displayed to fully emphasise their charms. This Echinacea caught my eye with its pink petals and holographic cone like centre.

These Chrysanthenums look like flying saucers hovering over their leaves. The light of the hall cast them in a ethereal way.

The most popular flowers we saw were these lemon yellow Aquilegias. They had beautiful long spurs and delicate cup like petals. They were nodding at me all around the NEC in plastic bags.

The other show that was running was the BBC's good food show. The Master Chef experience let people buy an hours cooking under the guidance of professional Chefs. The compere was Andi Peters (from childrens Tv) who had everybody in fits of laughter. I hoped to see the presenters of Masterchef (Greg Wallace, and John Torode). They were not there on Wednesday. The invention test where the Chefs have to make a meal from random ingredients would be a draw later during the week. The kitchen was sponsored by Miele, and Bounty. It was free to sit and watch these shows.

One of the highlights for Cat was seeing James Martin from Saturday Kitchen. He cooks quick and easy food every saturday morning and has a layed back demenour. He was in the Sainsburies kitchen. He made three courses in thirty minutes. A crowd of people watched him on a TV screen.
The Food show had so many exhibitors selling everything from Wine to Knives to Cookers etc.
I bought some frozen Pina Colada mix from a New Zealand company. I ate some Whitby Scampi and then had a Buffalo Burger.I drank a Hot Chocolate with Chilli.

(This is part one of three posts...)