Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Garden Of The Mind

We went shopping today, and when we came back Cat said look at the Lilac Trees buds. I had not noticed its new growth of flower buds. This tree in a pot has travelled with me from Trilby Street to Fishponds Drive to our current address. It is now over two metres tall, and even the leaves smell of Lilac.
The Tree has been with me in my head since my Nans Sister had one in Pickering. As soon as I got into gardening I always wanted a Lilac Tree. Its flowering and scented blooms is one of the highlights of the year. I remember there is a Lilac Festival in Spokane, Washington.Does anyone have a web link to it?

Its funny what plants you can associate with your family. Memories of plants make you attached to them. When you get the chance of a new garden you seem to pick the plants that your parents or grandparents had before.

Childhood memories imprint in the brain, or in this case the perfumed aroma of the Lilac Trees flowers.

I read an interesting article on the BBCs news site that reflects on gardening over a period of time means plants take on the role of photos in a family album.

I have the deep attachment to the Lilac Tree i bought in my old garden. Cat bought me a David Austin Lady Emma Hamilton Rose a few years ago for my birthday. It has followed me in three houses now and the combination of scent/blooms mean I long to see it flower every year.

Flowers from my memories include a Climbing Rose that still grows outside Mums kitchen window in Cheltenham, Foxgloves that self seeded everywhere and run amok, A Camellia that flowered near to the Climbing Rose, and Lily Of The Valley that bloomed under a conifer hedge between the Foxgloves. These flowers have become a link between my past and present.

Over time though our garden will begin to take on deeper significance that comes from caring for a piece of land. New flowers, plants, and Trees will become linked to this garden and my memory.

I cannot wait for my Lilac to flower and I will photograph it for the blog.

Gales And Grapes

This was the allotment at the end of my four and a half hours there yesterday. I have dug along the path that divides my plot from the adjoining one. The two separate sections now meet. Its a case now of continuing to dig the plot, and eventually remove the covers that cover the middle section. They have done a good job of suppressing weed growth, and killing off the top layers of grasses. The first crops need planting once I'm off again. Maybe Sunday if its not raining. I also cleared the brambles, debris, and deadwood in the Gooseberry Bush that sits on the corner of the plot behind the Rhubarbs. It must be ten years old, and is laden with little red and white flower buds. If they all get germinated it will be a bumper crop of Gooseberries. I need to find some recipes to use them up. The weather today has turned to a howling gale. The garden is being buffeted by high winds and things were getting rolled around. The grey chairs, the Bird Table ( is top heavy), plastic pots, and a compost bin waiting for transport to the plot. I have gone out and tried to batten down the hatches. I placed bricks on the Apple Tree pot to stop it being blown over. I have moved the heavy bird feeders onto the static feeder. The Heron wind chime is now indoors away from the wind. I put the bird table against the fence so it is not as exposed. The sun is shining illuminating the leaves, twigs, and paper that is being blown around by the gusting winds. The photo is of the Muscari, or Grape Hyacinth. It looks beautiful and was back lit by the natural sunlight. It is fragrant too. These were growing under a Hebe bush. I dug them up and put them into a pot. I promptly forgot about them until I saw the pot this year with green leaves growing upwards. They are more compact than the Hyacinths. They were so heavy that the pink flower spikes have collapsed onto the sunken border. The smell of the pink Hyacinths on an evening is delicious.
I got an email today from the RSPB with the results of the Big Garden Bird count that I blogged about in April. Over 600,00 people took part counting over 2 million birds!

The Results are here:

I tried catching the Goldfinches in flight. I want to capture an image of them squabbling in midair. They yell at each other but go beak to beak. They do not touch however. Their hovering control is beautiful to watch. I will keep watching and trying to photograph Goldfinches in territorial disputes. I like this photo even though its slightly off centre. It captures some of the movement of these beautiful songfull birds.

The last photo is of a Greenfinch. He is a rare visitor to the feeders. He has a fondness for the sunflower hearts. These are regularly topped up in the hexagonal feeder. He has got sunflower hearts all over his beak.

The only birds brave enough to fly in the howling gales are the Goldfinches. For little birds they are very resilient feeding in snow, rain, or like today high winds.

The sun is shining outside now bathing the garden in a lovely light. The last day of March is here already.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March Colours

This is the Golden Daffodils and Blue Pansy Matrix in the sunken border. The Camera has captured the yellow,green, and blue really well.I am still working out how to use it properly.I need to print out the very large instruction booklet.Why do Cameras not come with them these days?

I have finished my night shifts, and have a few days off ro recover. I am ready to be in the garden, and up at the allotment.

I bought two new Honeysuckles yesterday from Wilkos to be planted by the back door to grow up some Trellising.

The Clematis on the other side has regrown beautifully from the base. It must be the third type of Clematis that flowers from new growth. It does not regrow on the woody stems that were left from last year.

I soaked some Sweet Peas last night in boiling water, and have left them overnight. This softens the seeds hard shell, so they germinate more easily.

I want the sweet peas to grow up some netting so the flowers can be cut easily and brought into the house. Fresh scented flowers from the garden.

I will sow the selected flower seeds today in the Greenhouse. Some Lupins, Foxgloves, the Sweet Peas, and Busy Lizzie's.I want to pot the Honeysuckles up too.

There is magic when you sow seeds and the plants grow, then flower.So much to do, but I love it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Photo

This is the first blogged photo taken of the ponds Marsh Marigold on my new Fuji Pinepix camera. The Marsh Marigold is a British wildflower that normally grows on boggy areas or alongside streams, rivers, and ponds.
I am using two cameras still until I work out how to use it properly.
The older version (8000sd) is nearly three years old now.It has taken tens of thousands of photos across its life.
The weather has changed now. Its cooler with thick grey clouds. This plant is stunning to look at with its pristine yellow petals.
I wont be able to get into the garden or allotment until Tuesday. Have a good weekend wherever you are.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Big Bulb Plant And Big Lunch

I got an interesting email about an event called the Big Bulb Plant.
It suggests community groups organise planting of summer bulbs now like Dahlias, Nehrine, Gladiolis or Lilys. Planting should take place between March and the start of April.
The bulbs can be planted in public areas that need reviving, or even in pots outside your neighbours door.
They want to link with another event run by the Eden project. They want people to organise a big Lunch in June (June 5th) where neighbours sit and eat lunch at a table for one day a year. The tables hopefully will be decorated with cut flowers from the communitys Big Bulb Plant.
This was started by the International flower bulb centre, in conjunction with the Eden Project.
Information, ideas, and forums are all on this website:
I must go and buy some Lilys to take part in this. I will decorate the Neighbours front doors with pots of colour. These Gladiolus will bloom in the garden.

Visions And Vegetables

I have spent a lot of time recently up at the plot. I did five hours today up at the allotment. I saw the first Butterflies of the year a few days ago, but only managed to get this photo today. The Tortoiseshell Butterfly alighted on the dry soil to sun himself. Once I got too close he flitted off like a wild spirit. They are so beautiful and amazing to photograph if they land close enough for you!

Growing by itself in the Brambles was this Feisty Daffodil. It is situated behind my compost heap bags. It caught my eye as I started the digging again today.
I am racing to get the allotment ready for my plants. I have changed from making individual raised beds, to having the whole plot dug over from end to end, and then planted in blocks.

This photo is the result of weeks of digging to remove all the weeds, and couch grass that had started to grow over the winter.
The green on the upper right of the photo are my five Rhubarb crowns, growing under a huge Gooseberry bush that has been there years.
The green sliver is last years path. It needs digging over to meet the soil on either side.
I have not burnt any thing despite generating a huge amount of grass/weeds. All the green waste is being composted. I will return all the lotties compost back into the soil. I will supplement with fresh manure too to add the organic content.Recycling allotment waste into compost is one part of my natural vision.
I brought the second Water butt up to join the first one that is connected to the shed. Collecting rainwater and using it to water the plot is another part of my natural vision.
Around the shed I have laid down black liner with wood and stones to form a solid base to avoid standing in mud.
I have Potatoes, Onions Sets, and Garlic that can be planted after my night shifts. I will try to finish digging the green sliver tomorrow so the dug soil is ready to be raked over, and marked out with sticks and string.
The side behind the photo has been started but is mostly full of roots. The black tarpaulin I laid down last year did a good job of killing off the weeds/grasses. It was important to me to clear the plot by hand, with no chemicals sprayed. This is the third prong of my green vision, no harmful chemicals/pesticides/herbicides etc.
I want to try some companion planting this year to try to stop the pests from attacking the plants. The whole plot will be surrounded by a grass border, and hopefully some natural wildflowers and plants. I want to grow in harmony with nature. I have seen lots of worms, butterflies,some early foraging Bees, Field Spiders, and even Slugs. The birds are constantly singing around the trees that surround the allotments. Working with nature is another part of my green vision.
This is the second post from today showing what I have been upto. I'm on nights from tomorrow so all work will cease for a while. I need to start drawing my allotment planting plan after the nights.

Colours From The Garden

I have been busy the last few days splitting myself between the garden and the allotment. Both have lots of things that needed doing. The Spring sunshine warmed me up, and inspired me to get very busy. This was the first Daffodil to flower in the garden. The warmth made it unfurl its delightful yellow petals around the orange trumpet. It is slightly scented too.
I planted the spring colour plants that I bought. Geraniums, Violas, Pansies, and Primulas were placed between the foliage of the spring flowering bulbs.

This is the second Spring Bulbs in flower. I planted four pink Hyacinths and they have all bloomed in this pastel pink colour. They are scented like Candy sticks. I love their perfume outside on a warm day. The breeze blows it to your nose. I was amazed how they all flowered together at the same time. did they communicate to each other in the soil?

There is a Blue and Purple theme going on in the sunken border. I planted them in groups of two, three, or five. The colours will stand out in the loose planting style. I like splashes of early colour to join the various greens of plants that are growing on now.

These are Primula Denticulata, or Drumstick Primulas. They hold their flowers aloft, like a ballet dancer holding his partner high in the air. These are a dainty white, with the yellow eye.
Cat spent a few days clearing the huge amount of wood from the gardens path to the shed, and the rubbish that was on the front drive. She used the nice pink gloves I bought her.
The space is amazing now on the path. The wood took up almost a third of the path. The birds have been hopping around, with cocked heads looking for the missing giant wood pile!
The Compost Bins, and water butts have been moved onto the path. We need to get a builder to build a concrete base for the greenhouse. The greenhouse is temporarily homed by the back gate. It will be moved up to the base once its built.
The cleared space means the tall bird feeder can now be left by the fence, and not on the grass. I want more Hostas now to fill the empty concrete. A mixture of Roses and Hostas will run along the fence to the shed.
I still need to plant the Fifty Gladiolus that I have bought. I am thinking of digging a border along the path (where the grass is now) to the shed. I still have a voucher for David Austin Roses. I think they would look good alongside the path.
I have selected some flower seeds that I want to sow tomorrow. At the moment the greenhouse is full of veggie seeds in modular pots and trays.
I want some more flower power to fill the garden with colour all summer long.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Seed Sowing

It was a productive day for me. I made Chocolate Chip muffins today, then spent over three hours sowing seeds in the greenhouse.
French Marigolds, five types of Chili Peppers, Pumpkin, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Swede, Squash, Runner Beans, Sweetcorn, and two types of Tomatoes.
For salad picking I sowed some Iceberg Lettuce, and Rocket in easy to pick trays. I have a pot for some White Lisbon Spring Onions.
Cat sowed her Herb seeds in her pots. Parsley, Chives, Coriander, and Basil.
The Magpies have been busy too, making a nest in the adjoining gardens tree. High up near the top of the bare tree they are building a domed nest with twigs and mud. They will lay eggs at the end of March. We will see baby Magpies in a few months.
Both Magpies have taken to coming into the garden to drink water from the Birdbath, and from the pond. The one in the photo took a drink from the birdbath then flew off again. Today is officially the first day of Spring .
I'm back to work tomorrow after a lovely week off full of family, gardening, and good food. After a long day I have some days off to finish the allotments digging, ready for planting in a few weeks. There will be lots of lovely home grown plants to fill the plots empty spaces.
Like the Magpies home building its all the groundwork and preperation that makes the end result more satisfying.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Garden Additions

The weekend is here and there is so much that needs doing in the garden. I made this cold frame up a few days ago. It replaced the old one that got destroyed by the high winds. This one is made of wood, and was prefabricated with the screw holes drilled for me.Once I had got the sides the right way round it fitted together like a dream. It is housing the Leeks and Cabbages that I sowed in February. Overnight it took in the flowers that need planting into the garden as we had frosts and below freezing temperature.

Over the winter one Rose pot has split in two. I decided to re pot the Roses, the Monkey Puzzle tree, and the Gooseberry. I went to Wilkos for the plastic pots, then Hampsons for three bags of multipurpose compost. They are only sixty litres now. I wander of the overuse of peat has caused manufacturers to go from 75 to 60 litres? I bought the two Barrell planters as we have some already that house Cats Hostas. These are all in the Greenhouse awaiting my attention.

After ten months in the outhouse the plastic connectors and metal bars for the Greenhouse were taken out of the box and laid onto the grass.
Cat secured some more instructions from Wilkos (Big thanks to them for giving us a copy of them. We lost the original in the move). We spent an hour poring over the plans working out which connector went where and built it. We sent off for a new cover as the old one ripped to shreds, over the bars. I love the new/old Greenhouse. It will be the powerhouse behind all of this years Flowers, and Vegetables.
This weekend will be a mixture of planting, re potting, digging the allotment, sowing seeds, and doing blog posts.
Tomorrow is the official first day of Spring. There is so much to do, but that is good. The growing season always fills us with hopes and dreams of a perfect year. Its sunny outside and the birds are filling the garden with there singing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Patricks Day

Its Saint Patricks Day and in honour of this we are cooking Irish Sausages, and Colcannon for tea. We have had a busy few days with Mum visiting us, and ongoing gardening tasks. The photo is of the Dogwood Mum bought me at Harlow Carr. I will do a blog post about our visits to Harlow Carr, and Newmiller Dam.
These Dogwoods look beautiful in Winter with their colourful stems. I want to buy a few more so they can be grouped together. During the summer this one has variegated leaves.

The other plants I bought was this David Austin Rose called The Dark Lady( Old Rose scent and scarlet flowers), and three pots of the Wildflowers, Marsh Marigolds. These will illuminate the pond with their golden yellow flowers.
Mum has gone back to Cheltenham now. Cat and I went shopping today for greenhouse instructions, pots for my Roses, and some Solar Frog lights.
We have been busy building the Greenhouse. Spring begins in 3 days on Sunday. More posts later.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Inca Gold And Sunshine

Its a beautiful Sunny day here today.I am about to make the new cold frame that we bought the other day. It was a frosty night last night. The garden was covered in ice crystals this morning.
The birds have been busy feeding in the garden. Flocks of Goldfinches have been noisily flying in, chattering to each other all the way.
Talking of which I have now just gone onto Twitter. Another platform for reading my thoughts, between posts on the blog.
I will try to link between the two of them.!/snappygardener
I am off work for a week on annual leave, and today my Mum is coming to see me and Cat for two nights. We will be going to Nandos tonight for tea, and RHS Harlow Carr tomorrow with her.
The photo is of some Alstromeria that we bought from Asda. I love these Peruvian Lily's with their cheeky tiger striped petals in a variety of colours. We have three bunches in Purple, Lilac, and this pastel Orange in a red glass vase in the front room window.
I went shopping yesterday with Cat to buy some bird food. I bought some new seeds. Sweetcorn, Outdoor Girl Tomatoes, and some more Leeks Musselburgh.
The growing season is beginning in earnest in the Mid March sunshine.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Today's photo is of one of the Crocus that has flowered in a rectangular planter. I love the violet stripes and the egg yolk yellow golden stamen.
There are three of these types of Crocus Flowering. These actually open to flower, unlike the black and yellow ones which seem to collapse or get eaten in the Lilac pot. They look like deflated balloons.
Gardeners World came back on tv on Friday night. It was presented by Monty Don.
Poor Toby Buckland has been released from his job at the BBC. I saw him at Tatton Park RHS show last year and i thought he was a decent, humble man. In TV gardening its the audiences that win through, and the decision was made for him and Alys Fowler to leave the programme.
I saw Alys at the BBC Gardeners World Live show at the NEC, at the end of the day as we were leaving. I hope they both recover from losing their jobs and go onto great and better things. As they say when one door closes another opens up for you.
We have booked time off to go down to Birmingham in June to see the BBC Good Food Show/ Gardeners World Live. We will stay overnight and arrive to the shows refreshed..
The Harrogate Spring Flower show is in a few weeks on April 14th. It is the Northern Horticultural Societys 100th Anniversary, who run the show every year.
I cant wait to go with a new camera ready to take lots of photos of all the colours of the rainbow.
I do love the jewel like beauty of the Crocuses. The Spring Flower show will be a treat for weary winter eyes, and be a blaze of colours and scents.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Retail Therapy

I'm back again. After four night shifts, one sleep day, and one long day!
I went to Hampsons today to buy a small water Lily for the pond. I forgot as we walked around so i still need to buy one.
I bought some Spring Colour that can be planted in the sunken border and in the pots and boxes. Flamboyant Primulas, Violas, Pansy's, two Geraniums, and some Gladiolus and Peacock Orchid bulbs for summer colour.
There have been terrible gales over the last two days. My old Cold Frame blew into the pond in bits!
I bought a new wooden cold frame which still needs putting together. The Battered Cabbage and Leek seedlings will go in there once its made.
The wind also blew the Apple Tree over in its pot, and split the roof of the Bird Table when it got blown around the garden. The roof is split and broken. It needs some emergency repairs to keep it going.
Every time I think the worst weather is over we have some other major winds, rain, or snow! The garden continues to grow in preparation for Spring. Some of the container Crocuses are flowering now, and the Daffodils have got flower buds forming.
I'm working one more day tomorrow then I'm off for a week.
I want to go to the RHS garden at Harlow Carr in Harrogate, and down to David Austins near Wolverhampton for Roses. My Mum is coming too I hope next week to see me in Yorkshire..
We are planning further works on the garden. These bought plants will bring some colour into the borders and pots.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Pond Sitter

The bamboo fencing has now been replaced around the pond. The end closest to the door has simple green wire frames for easy access for the wildlife. We can also see towards the pond from the Kitchen.
I went out today to have a look at the plants. I spotted a large Frog on the edge of the pond. He dived into the deepest section.
He is chilling under the grasses on the deepest shelf. From the surface he is completely camouflaged.
Only the colouration and a slight movement showed where he was hiding when i was showing Cat.
The sunshine has come out now and started to warm the garden up. The birds have been busy feeding all day. They seem to use the garden as much as I do.
Every day sees a new plant growing, or something interesting to look at. Spring is only a few weeks away now.
I'm happy the Frog found a new home, only two days after we built it for him.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Thing Of Beauty

The two jobs I wanted to do on my days off were to change the Turtle pond liner for the new Mayfly 250 litre one, and to put up my greenhouse. I have done one of the jobs, but had to abort the second due to losing the instructions on the greenhouse!
The first stage of the first job was to dig a hole big enough to accommodate the new pond liner..

This photo shows how much soil I had to dig. The two rectangular potato grow bags were full of soil, and five 75 litre compost bags were full as well. Two hundred and fifty litres was a lot of soil to remove to fit the pond liner into. I wanted the top of the pond level with the soil. This took around two hours to shovel a hole that I could stand in.

I played around with the direction the pond liner sat in. The original builders of the house left a sandy/stony mix beneath the soil. This was a partially dug hole with the liner sat telling me how much deeper i needed to dig.

Once the hole was dug deep enough for the top to rest at the soil surface I had to back fill the hole around the liner. This exerted some wonderful pressure on the liner. It has some new twisty edges now around the pond top.

I put the top soil back onto the edge of the pond. I split the green grasses into smaller clumps, and planted the Carex, Astilbe, and Bergenia around the pond.
Cat helped me fill the pond with water in a filling ceremony. The oxygenator plants were put onto shelves under the water. I placed Bricks so the birds can drink and bathe on the pond side.
My Flag Iris has moved into the deep end of the pond on bricks. Finally I sowed some Wildflower mix around the soil, and scattered some dark Poppie seeds.
A robin flew in to drink two minutes after this photo was taken to show his approval.
I saved two milk cartons full of old pond water (with all the beasties in it). This was added to the new pond water today. I hope that it will attract Frogs and Dragonflies this year.
The greenhouse needs instructions. It has hundreds of metal bars and connectors. I cannot remember how the top sections are put together.
The Greenhouse has a new cover that we ordered as the old one ripped in the wind. I thought we would use the plastic covered walk in greenhouse this year until we were organised to lay a concrete base for a permanent glass greenhouse.
I had to take it to bits again, to wait for either my old instructions or for new ones. The pond is a thing of beauty. I hope that the plants will grow, and my wildflowers germinate.