Sunday, October 31, 2010


The Pumpkin Cat bought was carved today, and placed in the window with tea lights burning inside his head. His ghostly face shone out of the window, illuminating our front room.
Hordes of colourfully dressed children (and accompanying adults) trick or treated at our door. We had sweets in a box to hand out to the goblin hordes!
Originally a Celtic Festival (Samhain, where the dead cross over to interact with the living) it crossed the Atlantic to the USA with the pilgrim fathers. Our carved Turnips became Pumpkins in the USA.
Recently it has been embraced by the young (and young at heart like me) and is more widely celebrated in the UK. We only spend one tenth of what the USA does but it is growing. I love the Pumpkin glowing spookily. Ghosts of the past and present collide.
Its the last day of October. Where does the year go? We spent today giving the front and back grasses a cut. I topped up the birds food and did some weeding.
The pumpkin will be turned into a hearty bowl of Pumpkin soup tomorrow. I hope you have a Happy Halloween wherever you are.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October Reflections

This flower is blooming in a planter box near the shed at the back of the house. It has grown their itself, maybe dropped by the birds.
It is orange and has the look of a Marigold type flower. I love it when mystery plants start growing where you did not expect any!
Another example of that was the two Tomato plants that were growing by the sheds door.A bird must have dropped the seeds on the mud besides the concrete path. Two vigorous Tomato plants were growing away and producing masses of fruit. I took a volunteer tomato and have harvested the seeds from the fruit. The variety will be unknown, maybe tomato Dodworth? (our street name). I have cleaned the jelly off the seeds and are waiting for them to dry out on a side plate. They will be sown in March and hopefully I will have a greenhouse ready to grow the plants on. They were more productive, and shorter than all my other Tomato plants.
I grew Gardeners Delight, Alicante, Italian Plum, and a Mediterranean Beefsteak Tomato plant. They did not grow that well outside by the fence..
Its raining outside so I'm inside the house looking out. I saw the Goldfinches today on the sunflower heart feeders. They have been forming large flocks that sing and bounce their way around the sky.
I need a dry day to give the grass a final cut of the year. The Wildflowers around the pond are flopping around but are still in bloom. The border needs weeding and the Spring Bulbs added. I have compost forming in the bin, and the excess soil from the Potato grow bags.
I harvested around five pounds of Potatoes yesterday from two Potato Grow Bags. The excessive dry weather prevented a bumper harvest I think (I got five pounds from each grow bag for the last two years). That yield was half what I would have expected! We have been eating our Potatoes for weeks now all grown at the allotment or in our garden. There is still a good amount left. I hope that the Potatoes will last untill Xmas.
The grey Sky's and wet days give you a chance to reflect on the year, all the highs and lows. To start dreaming in earnest about the next growing season. This garden is still a work in progress. We only moved in this year believe it or not! It feels a much longer period of time with work, illness, and family problems.
Gardening is therapeutic for me. I love making the garden beautiful, and that other people can enjoy its benefit. Its much more than just getting exercise as you get outside to work in the garden. No matter what stresses you are under a walk around your little green patch can lift your spirits and make the troubles lift for a while. Sitting quietly in your green patch is akin to meditation.The rainy day has made me quite reflective.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Violet Viola

This is the Viola that has regrown after it died back during a hot spell. The Plant looked dried out and dead. With a little watering and TLC it has grown on and flowered. I love the Iris like markings in the centre petal.
I have been watching The Landscape Man on the Channel Four On Demand player.
Mathew Wilson (the ex curator of Harlow Carr) follows six couples who have landscaped their big gardens. They are all gardens on a Victorian scale.
I look at our much more modest garden and am still thinking what to plant where, and where all the structures need to go. Such as the Greenhouse, Waterbutts, and Compost Bins.
The weather is cooling down now, and the birds have started to return to the garden in numbers. Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Gold Finches, Magpies, Collared Doves, House Sparrows, and a Robin. I must remember to stock up with Bird food for the cold coming winter, and to replenish the water in the bird bath and bowls.
Our garden is still very much a work in progress.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Plants And Pond

Its Sunday afternoon, and just time for a quick post. I'm working nights again tonight. I thought I would show the pond with its wildflowers spilling out all over the grass.
The pond plants have multiplied like crazy and need thinning down. The one from Hampsons was the most vigorous and has covered almost the whole pond surface.
I have not seen the Frogs for a while so I don't know if they have moved away for the winter.
The compost bin next to the pond is half full now and has lovely compost forming in the bottom half. All the kitchens vegetable/potato scraps go into the bin and is mixing with the weeds/plants/grass mix.
I hope to cover all the borders in the winter with the compost mulch mix ready for the worms to start breaking it down and adding it to the soil.
Once I'm off again I will try to get to the allotment ready to start my end of season clearance. The gardens front and back grass needs one final cut to prepare them for winter.
As one season draws to a close there are always jobs to do for the next season. A gardeners work is never fully done, and that is good.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Healing Gardens

I took this photo of a weed flower that has bloomed in the sunken border. It has very delicate yellow petals, and a fly looking for its nectar within the flower petals.
Tonight the second programme of Spring watch is back on. A week has flown by already!
I enjoyed the wildlife films that interspersed Chris Packham and Kate Humble talking. I missed Simon King and felt there was a big gap missing. They are having guest presenters every week but he is a hugely charismatic guy to replace!
I'm off for a few days so expect a few posts and photos. I wander how often people need to blog throughout the year?
I originally started with the idea of 365 posts, one for each day of the year. This has been impossible with me working full time at the hospital. When you return exhausted from work you want to eat and sleep, ready for the next day.
I have also been poorly with a cough and very sore throat. What do people think are good plant/flower remedies for the cough and cold?
I have been sucking cough lozenges flavoured with Cherry or Raspberry. The original gardens were monastic Herb gardens for treating and healing. Plants have always been grown for their looks but also their healing properties
I hope i can recover from me being ill, and revamp the garden ready for winter and spring.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Insy Wincey

The evenings are getting darker earlier, and its getting colder at night. I bought a thick winter coat today ready for the cold mornings ahead. I get up at 530am for my long days so its always very cold first thing.
The trees around the roads are showing signs of the change of season. Leaves are turning to fiery colours. The crisp green leaves turn to hues of orange, yellow, red, or russet, before they fall to the floor under the tree. The pavements are slowly being covered by dropped leaves, perfect to kick your way through.
There has been an explosion of Spiders spinning webs between anything that is upright.
The dying back Hostas have flower spikes covered in seed pods. These structures are what the photographed spider has attached the webt to, and constructed its ornate web. Why do Spiders go crazy in the Autumn and spin webs on anything in the garden?
I bought a bag of mixed Daffodils and Narcissus from Wilkos. These will join the Tulips, Aliums, Crocuses, and Iris that need to be planted before the ground freezes solid.
We collected King Edward Potatoes, along with a Courgette, Runner Beans, and two chunky Italian Carrots from the waterlogged allotment.
The allotment plot needs totally clearing across the winter ready for rotavating and digging in of manure. I want to start next year with a blank plot and just grow plants in blocks, instead of trying to have raised beds.
I love Spiders in the garden. It shows that there is a healthy balance with plenty of food for the arachnids. There webs look magical when the first frosts freeze dew droplets on them.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Autumn Watch

The Autumn watch program starts tonight on BBC 2 with Chris Packham, and Kate Humble. They are broadcasting live for eight weeks, concentrating on wildlife around Britain. I have a pair of Squirrels that have taken to visiting my garden. A juvenile one, and an adult one. They are so agile and are quite daring. Undertaking daylight raids of my bird feeders. This one found my peanuts irresistible. He has to work though to get the nuts from within a steel cage.

They are eating the birds food, but also digging up holes in my pots. I still want to find a method of deterring them from destroying my pots. They move plants and bulbs out of the pot as they dig with their small paws.
I read the other day that the greys days are numbered, as a stronger faster Black Squirrel has been conquering their previous territories.
The grey Squirrels that we have in the garden, are so perfectly adapted to live amongst people, and are always hungry. They previously out competed the British red Squirrels.
I think they are charming, so I will have to put up with the destruction of my pots. They are part of the wildlife that visits the garden. They will be enjoying the fruits, and berries of the Autumn, readying themselves for a cold hard winter.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Autumn Crocus

The Colchicum I bought from the Lancaster garden centre has bloomed. The flowers bloom before the leaves and stems. They are also called bare naked ladys.

The flowers are a pale lilac colour, and have the look of Dahlias about them. I love these flowers as everything else in the garden is dying back.
These will grow leaves afterwards, and grow bigger year on year. I will buy some more different varieties and colours. I like the drama of the blooming flower. It made me go outside daily to check how advanced the growth was.
I will definitely grow these again. These are the stars of the Autumn garden.