Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Holiday

The garden is looking very lush and full of colour. We are going away for a week tomorrow so I hope that these pictures will keep the readers going. There is a lot of blog to read back through away. I can formulate blog posts when I'm away in the Forest Of Dean. The pond has cleared naturally with all the oxygenating plants. The Snapdragons and grasses have all grown really well, and the Wild flower seed mix has grown great since it started raining.

A new plant in the new garden is this Buddleja Black Knight. I'm hoping that it will draw Butterflies in from miles around. It has a musty earthy smell to it and beautiful dark purple flowers on the flower spike.

One of the Dahlias is almost ready to open. It is a two tone mix of orange/yellow. I wanted it to match the Orange and Yellow Roses. I always love the pomp and circumstance of the Dahlias, Aztec treasure flowers.

The last photo before the holiday is the lilac Larkspur. Cats Dad gave me a tray full of seedlings. They are flowering beautifully all around the garden in lilac, purple, blue, white, and mixed flowers. They have a nectar spur that is behind the flower, very much like a Columbine..
The birds are visiting the garden every day. The buzzing insects are now swarming around the flowers and today I even saw a Grasshopper on the corner of our uncut grass! A few Butterflies have flown through as well.
I am recharging the camera batteries for the holiday. We are going away for a week on a tent holiday, with no electricity point, so no laptop for a week.
Snappys gardens blog is on a summer break..

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Butterfly Count

This week its the Big Butterfly Count. I have been worried that i had not seen any brightly coloured Butterflies in our garden until this last week.
This Comma was photographed at the allotment last week. I have seen a few species fluttering through the garden but not alighting.
I have planted nectar rich flowers in the garden to try and entice the butterflies in. My favourite plant is the Buddleja..
2010 is the international year for biodiversity. The number of Butterflies present shows how well nature is faring. If things go wrong then the first sign is a decline in the number of Butterflies.
As a child I always used to see Red Admiral butterflies. I cannot remember when i saw one last. Are they still around in pockets of the UK?
The count is being run by the Butterfly Conservation charity. Their two main patrons are Sir David Attenborough, and Alan Titchmarsh. Two giants in their respective fields of Nature films, and Gardening.
I just printed off their widespread Species Pdf which is good for the not so technical Butterfly hunter to help you identify them. Its not easy as they are very skittish, and will fly away on a breeze..
The Butterfly hunt runs from the 24th July to !st August. If you are in the UK get counting and submit your results online. It takes fifteen minutes in a sunny place only..

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blooming Beauties

I'm on holiday now from work. I spent three nights working and ended up poorly by the end of them. I am feeling a little better now. Because of that I have delayed my Tatton Park blog post. I want to show my two Streptocarpus Beautys that are flowering in the kitchen now.
The freezing winter earlier this year (it seems a long time ago now) killed off all my Streptocarpus in the greenhouse. The only Survivor was this Streptocarpus Charlotte. The plants sit on a shoe rack away from the bright sunlight that floods through the window.

This is Streptocarpus Hannah. I acquired the plant from the plant stall at Walton. She has light pink flowers with a yellow and red striped throat.
I bought a famous Streptocarpus plant back from Tatton park last wednesday. It was the Streptocarpus Blue Harlequin, winner of best new plant 2010 at the recent RHS Chelsea flower show. It has blue and white colours on the same flower. Blue on top, white underneath..
We are going away on Friday for a week so there will be a few more posts before Snappys summer holiday. We are going to the Forest Of Dean camping and activity doing...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tatties, Caterpillars, And Tatton

These photos were taken on Tuesday up at the allotment. I was pleased to see how much rain has collected in my water but besides the shed. I went up to do a bit of weeding and ended up seeing exotic looking Caterpillars and Ladybirds. I took home lots of nice Vegetables which I posed and photographed. These Caterpillars were munching away on these poisonous Tansys. The pretty yellow flowers were draped in Black and Yellow striped insects. Saying Don't Eat Me..

They loved these alkaloid filled plants. I think they would be toxic to humans and horses if eaten to excess..

A lone Ladybird wandering around on the plot. These are such happy insects.I love finding them in the allotment or in the garden. They are aphid eating machines.

The Cabbages are nearly ready to be harvested. All the blood, sweat, bites and stings seem worth it once it has been washed, prepared, and cooked. The satisfaction of eating your own grown fruit or veg is amazing!I am almost evangelical..just try it and see.

The finished plates with artfully arranged New Potatoes, Pea's, Globe Artichoke, and three types of Courgette from Hils (normal, yellow, and round).
We ate the New Potatoes with some Chicken on Tuesday. They tasted lovely. I need to go back to harvest the rest of the Charlotte New Potatoes.
The RHS Tatton Park Show yesterday was amazing. I took over three hundred photos. Tomorrows post will be about this years show. It runs untill Sunday if you are near Cheshire.
There was so much there to see. It is one of the highlights of the year for me..

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rose MM

The White Rose Margaret Merrill has just bloomed yesterday. She has the wanderful fragrance of a traditional old Rose. Her leaves are nice and green with no Disease. I can stand sniffing the white Rose for ages..
This is the third year it has flowered. It grows tall so maybe can be grown up as a climber. It needs planting once I decide where the Rose part of the garden will be.
I have been to the allotment today where it rained hard. Tomorrow its the RHS members day at Tatton Park.
The Chelsea flower show of the north of England. I will be there photographing all the gardens...
I spent yesterday after nights walking around reacuanting myself with the garden. Looking at the pond, the flowering Snapdragons, watching the first summer Butterflys flit around, and seeing the masses of birds feeding, drinking, and bathing in our garden.
When the sun was shining it was heavenly..

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Morning Glory

I have been working night shifts so my posts have slowed down. I have just finished the third out of four. I came back home, boiled the kettle for a coffee, and topped up the bird feeders. As soon as I have come back inside they fly straight at the feeders.
The photo shows my Teasel flower head growing above the lime green of the Mexican Orange Blossom plant. I think the contrast was quite neat through the lens of the camera.
I need to blog some photos from the Great Yorkshire Show when i am off on monday.
The weather has turned wet and windy at last, after weeks of heat and no rain..

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


One of the unknown Roses is now in flower. I think it is a Rose Golden Celebration. The Rose is a lovely deep lemon yellow colour with a slight rose fragrance. It is blooming now, whereas all the David Austins have stopped flowering and have succumbed to various plant illnesses.

It has the look of a Tea Rose when its buds start to unfurl its yellow petals. I think last year it only had one Rose on it. This year it has a half dozen rose buds. The leaves are also a nice green colour with no black spot or yellowing leaves.
I have been looking at the garden birds today. A family of Goldfinches are now regular visitors to the nijer seed and have also been feeding on the ground. The Blue Tits have also found my new peanut feeder. The round cage seems to attract them, more than the yellow sunflower shaped one which had no where for the birds to land on.
The Great Yorkshire Show starts today. We will be travelling tomorrow to Harrogate to the Yorkshire Showground. I will charge my camera batteries later.
There is a flower tent at this years show. I will take lots of animal photos. I hope it does not rain too much.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hanging Gardens

I have finished my weekend of working and am on a day off finally. The rain has started to pour down overnight giving my hanging baskets a well needed soak. I was too tired last night to go out and water them. The pink Verbenas were from from B & Q

I made the Baskets just after we moved into this house. There are Verbaenas, Lobellias, Busy Lizzies, Begonias, Petunias, and a pink Geranium in the four hanging containers. I have three hanging baskets around the garden, and one window box on the back wall.

The Lobelias look quite pretty at Macro level after a spot of rain. There is something very therapeutic in making up a hanging basket. Watering them in, and watching them grow throughout the season into a mass of colour and effect.

If you are organised you will have bought slow release plant food for the compost mix, and some water gel crystals. These crystals turn into a clear jelly once wet and hold onto the water. Untreated baskets (like mine) dry out very quickly in the summer heat. Water also passes through the soil and runs out. Baskets need watering twice a day during very hot spells. the plants are totally dependent on you for survival. I love the cheerful pink and blue flowers that the baskets are festooned in.
I'm waiting for a sample Wally Bag from L.A. These are recycled plastic bottles turned into containers that can be filled with compost ready to plant. They can be attached to a wall inside the house, or along a wall or fence outside. There is a push to get these Wall Gardens into Los Angeles schools to teach children about gardening and growing things.
The individual pouncehs can be attached together vertically or horizontally and the pockets planted up. Linking them all make bigger wall gardens. We have two lots of fences that could be decorated with more hanging baskets or wall garden bags. Our garden is small so the space needs to be utilised well. I wander if the Hanging Gardens of Babylon looked like a Los Angeles School Wall Garden?
The rain is pouring down now soaking the grass and all the hungry plants. The pond will also be catching its supply of fresh rainwater.
I have also seen who's been nicking off with my garden grown Raspberries.A hungry juvenile Blackbird flew up onto the cane, pecked the fruit off, and then flew away to eat his fruit prize..

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Five Things Today

Today post is five photos taken today on a wet Wednesday from the garden. They are five things that are growing.
The Teasels I grew from seeds have grown now into the architectural plants with the spikey stems and comb like flowers. These spiny flowers were used in textile mills before to sort out threads. Apparently Goldfinches are addicted to the black shiny seeds within these flowers. I will watch to see in the autumn if they attract birds. I grew six plants from the seeds from a Trilby Street flower head. Originally I bought two Wildflower plant Teasels from the RHS garden at Harlow Carr. Since then I have seen them growing wild alongside a farmers field, and at Pugneys lake. I love how they grow tall, and that the leaves form pouches that collect water and insects. Like a basic fly trap design? They are a bit wobbly though as their rapid vertical growth makes them top heavy and prone to leaning. My six look like drunken sailors on shore leave.

Cats Hosta's are magnificent in pots. They have all started to flower. Some people do not like the Hosta's flowers. We have a new batch of half dozen plants ready to be put into barrel planters to join the five mature Hosta's we have growing already. We also bought some copper tape to see if it stopped the slugs and snails from wreaking havoc on the green leaves. There are so many varietys of Hostas all with fancy names. The leaves are beautiful when you water them. The waxy leaves cause the water to form a ball, and it rolls around the Hosta leaf like a pin ball. It hits where the stem is and slides down into the centre of the plant. Watering Hostas is therapeutic for the pin ball way it collects water off its leaves..

The Busy Lizzies skirt my garden nymph statue. She is dwarfed by the foliage of the New Potatoes growing in bags. These are so easy to grow. You only need one grow bag, about five small seed Potatoes and some compost to fill the bag with. The soil just covers the foliage until it breaks through the top. Each grow bag averages about five pounds of new Potatoes. Yummy with butter and parsley. It is so easy I have been extolling the virtues of it to people at work. It is a simple grow your own project anyone can do even with the smallest space!

The Pond today is slowly being surrounded by the growing plants. We have three Frogs that take it in turns to bath in the cool waters. There are lots of flies walking about on top, and black larvae hanging under the water surface beneath. According to the forums we should just let the pond achieve a natural balance of pests and predators. We attracted the Frogs within a few days of putting the oxygenating plants. I love pond watching and seeing what wildlife has moved in already. I want more marginal plants around it to keep it cool during the very hot days. The birds already love this. Its like a House Sparrow car wash with them splashing around on the stone steps.

I love these Baby Apples. These are the first fruit that has formed after three years of growing. The picture of the Apple tree could have been done in a trade description act. It showed a mature tree laden down with masses of fruit. The first year I had one flower which the slugs ate, and the second year there was no flowers at all!
This third year there were masses of flowers and finally some Apples have formed. The Apple Tree is growing in a pot at the moment. I think I will plant it once it has gone back to sleep in the Winter. I want to get more Apple trees for this garden. I want to grow Bramley Apples, especially for freshly baked home made Apple Pies.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Floral Delights

The Lady Emma Hamilton looked lovely before the heat wave began. The sun has shone, but it has not rained for ages. All the water has come from the hose pipe or the watering can.
The flower is beautiful and smells gorgeous. Unfortunately the hot dry conditions make the flowers droop.
For every flower blooming I am finding problems. The Roses have black spot on one plant (the Wisley), and the unknown Rose has gone completely yellow and looks sickly poorly.
I looked at my Apple tree today and found lots of red bugs hatched out eating the leaves and leaving sticky deposits on the small newly formed fruits.
The Pond is looking gorgeous, but something is eating all the green shoots from my pond plants. These oxygenators have been chewed down to the main stem. What is eating them?
The rain that has been forecast has not fallen at all. The conditions may be shocking my newly transplanted plants.
This is the first few months in the new garden. I am finding new problems but also great floral delights. Like the Rudyard Kipling poem goes meet both head on, triumph and disaster and treat them the same.
Gardening is instructive for the mind, body, and spirit.

Monday, July 05, 2010

White Virgin Flower

Today my Madonna Lily finally flowered. This is the second year that it has bloomed. The white virginal flowers have massive yellow stamens dripping in pollen. It is extremely perfumed, and you can immerse yourself in its scent.
It is a perennial bulb that has been grown since the middle ages. I looked for a long time before I finally found the bulb at an Autumn flower show. Over the winter it produces slim green leaves from the crown and stores its energy ready for these magnificent July flowers.
It is an overcast day today. I'm waiting for the rain to fall and wet the garden and allotment. My pond needs topping up too through the rainwater.
I hope that after the Madonna Lily has finished blooming that I can plant it in a border somewhere in the garden. They can grow upto six feet high! I hope that the bulb increases in size too so I get more than one flower stem.
The flowers are so beautiful to look at. As white as freshly fallen snow.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Joie De Vivre

The weekend is nearly over. I have been watching the Wimbledon Ladies and Mens Finals on Saturday and Sunday (Well done Serena Williams, and Rafael Nadal).
I went to see Hils today to watch the Mens final. I have come back home and have just watered the garden plants that were sagging from the heat.
I got an email from a lady who is working for Harley Botanic greenhouses.
"From the 6th to 11th of July the Hampton Court Flower Show in Surrey is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The world famous flower show proves to make a perfect statement in the British summer. Hartley Botanic attended the show last year and received a lot of positive feedback from attendees." Their link will be on the sidebar for a few days..
The show is set in Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace. One of the Themes will be Gardens based on Shakespeares comedys. There is also a Midsummer Rose festival where the Rose of the year will be unveiled (the title of the post).
There are also show gardens, small gardens, conceptual gardens, sustainable gardens, and the Shakespeare gardens. These will be judged for medals as they were at Chelsea.There will be scarecrows based on the characters from the comedy's that the public can vote for. The BBC will broadcast three programs from there too presented by Joe Swift and Rachel De Thame.
The photo was taken at the Spring Flower show months ago. I love the amount of invention, and thought that goes into these annual flower shows. There is always a buzz, and an energy that can inspire you in your own garden. You always come away with new plants/sundrys/photos and ideas. I wish I was going to see it myself now I have written about it.
The summer flower shows do seem to capture the Joie De Vivre. The joy of living, gardening, plants and flowers.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Meadow Nectar

This beautiful looking flower meadow was our front lawn grass. It is on a slope and extremly dry. The Flowers are Fox and Cubs, Dandelions, White Clover, and Buttercups. If you have a big enough garden you should leave certain areas wild. This encourages the natural wild flowers to bloom.

I sat in the flowers and photographed these Bee's getting into the Fox n Cubs. They were totally plastered in pollen and carrying it from flower to flower. The flowers give the nectar freely so they can be pollinated by these insects. Ensuring that the plants genes get passed on to the next generation.

Its good to sit and watch Bee's flying in and out of flowers. Their wing noise on a hot balmy day is very soothing, and can send you to sleep. Lazy hazy days.

I do wander where these Bee's go back to. Are there Bee colonys in the ground or in trees? These were not Honey Bee's but smaller wild ones. The Honey Bees get all the press but I think there are lots more species of Bees in Britain.
Our garden has been planted with the Bee's and butterflys in mind.

Pond Life

Before this picture was taken there was at the end of our garden some very ugly decking panels nailed around a swing and a plastic slide. It took up the bottom third of the garden and made it appear smaller.The wooden structure has been dismantled and stacked up against the left hand fence ready for removal at a later date.
This left the right hand side with some bare earth and a compost bin half way up the garden. I moved the compost bin to the corner near to the shed building.I shovelled the yukky compost that was left from the previous occupants. As I did the clearing work I saw a Frog in the earth besides the fence. He was grinning at me and hopped away. I had seen in our garden a Toad at night, and a Frog during the day. Chris Packham from the BBC's Springwatch said he had used a baby bath before as a mini pond when he was younger. I sent Cat looking for one at Asda. She did not find one but suggested we use the Turtle Sandpit that was by the bins outside. Its big, round, and green.
I dug a Hole around where the decking/compost bin had been, and sunk the Sandpit into the ground. I heaped the earth up around it trying to make the mud come up to the edge. I left a triangular bit of soil between the pond and the compost bin. This will be the natural part of the garden. I planted some Ferns, Grasses, and Bergenias around the edge and filled it up with water from the outside tap.

I read on the internet that you should never use tap water to fill a pond. But I had no rainwater to fill it with. I let it settle down for a few days before I bought some plants. I was worried about animals falling into the pond and drowning. I made a small set of steps from bricks and rocks. The garden birds immediately walked around the pond to the stone steps to drink and bath. They have used the water ever since I filled it up.
I had a eureka moment and when we went around Newmiller Dam I borrowed three jam jars of lake water. The third one was teeming with beasties. My own water was sterile, topping up with other pond/lake water brings the first signs of life. I guess they would occur naturally over time but adding some beasties speeds up the process. Cat photographed me adding the jam jars lake water.

After four days this was the pond. I had bought two plants because I read you needed oxygenating plants to stop the water going green with algae. I had bought some Astilbe to go along the edge. I thought of the planting around the pond to cover the earth up. I sowed a packet of Wildflower seeds around the pond. I want them to germinate, flower, and self seed. I want a wild area full of nectar rich traditional wild flowers. Bee's, Butterflys, and Hoverflys will flock to it I hope. It has been so hot and dry that the germination has not been quick.

This was the second time I saw this Frog in our garden. He was the frog that launched the Pond experiment. I have never gardened with water, and aquatic plants. This Frog is the reason why we now have a pond on the right hand side.

A few days ago the pond looked like this. I have since bought new plants to fill the pond up so it has one third plants. The water has got darker in colour and is swimming with beasties in it, and insects on top of it. When I got back from work last night there was a large dark green Frog sat in the pond on my water grass. His eyes were reflecting the light. When he eventually sat on the pond edge he was huge. He was not the Frog from the photo but a new one.
He has gone this morning. I hope that he is hiding from the predators and that he will return to the pond. Its like Kevin Costner in the Field Of it and they will come...

I had an email from Emma Lee of Awarding The Web saying I had been nominated in the 2010 Garden Blogs category. I have been ranked at number 31 on the world wide web by a panel of judges. I have displayed the star badge on the right hand side. Thanks Emma!
I love to blog about the garden, the birds, wildlife, and anything else that I enjoy. It is lovely that so many people read it, and that some readers have left comments.
Some days you wander if anyone reads your posts or is it a mad self indulgence? Talking to yourself on the internet? I have a passion for the natural world and writing. Taking photographs has also helped my artistic brain in composing and trying to shoot them well for publishing on the blog. The pictures help illustrate the prose mostly. I'm happy for the accolade.