Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scottish Autumn Break

After finishing my four nights we are now off to Scotland for a week.This is a weeks holiday with Cat and Tom.We are going to the Highlands of Scotland, near to a Loch.
The birds food is topped up and the garden can be left for a week.By the time we come back the Pumpkins will need harvesting for Halloween.
The Roses are still blooming despite the October weather,and darker nights.
The camera batteries have been charged.I hope the weather is not too bad for our week.I have packed a hat,gloves,and scarf.
I hope that we can see lots of flora and fauna in the wilds of Scotland.
See you all in a weeks time!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Garden Update

Autumn has arrived in Yorkshire.The trees are gradually shedding their leaves.It has been wet and windy for a few days.The plants are getting blown around outside now.It needs tidying up and the new winter bedding plants need planting in the pots,baskets,and sunken border.This was the view from the backdoor a few days ago.The Toad Lilys have begun to bloom in earnest.They have such beautiful colouration on their petals.The stamen seem to float over the plant like something from a sci-fi movie.The combination of warm sunshine,and wild weather has caused the Lady Emma Hamilton to put on a second flush.This year has been a bad year for the amount of these Roses.I think the plant needs trimming back in the Spring to reinvigorate the plant.The Roses she produces are gorgeous to look at,and heavenly to smell.The Apricot coloured blooms seem to sing out during grey days.The soft light seems to make them glow like copper coloured candles.Another job to do is to try to cut back some of the pond plants.They have exploded in growth and totally covered the pond.There are now baby Newts in the pond.The summer newts laid eggs and left in August.The Lily pads and pond weed provide perfect cover for the nifty one inch mini newts.There are a lot of Frogs in the pond though who eat small Newts.Hopefully some Newts will survive the winter and go on to lead productive lives.The Flag Iris pot is the favoured home for the Newts with its coloured stones.They wedge themselves between the stones.The Norfolk reed needs splitting and potting into an aquatic basket.It is vigorous!the Wildflowers around the pond will be left to set seed and will only be cut down in the Spring to clear some soil ready for the new plants to germinate.the only thing I want to move is the eight feet Teasel.They have made giant seed heads,like architectural sculptural pieces.I will leave one lot for the birds.I will spend the next year digging up Teasel plants from all over the garden!The Frog here was chilling in the water balanced on the pond plants.I love Frogs.I hope that the water is deep enough not to freeze solid..The Seed heads of flowering plants can be quite decorative.As the flowers start to fade they add some magic to the Autumn garden.Once the first frosts hit they will look magical with hoar frost on them.I will try to leave as many as possible for the birds to eat,and for the decorative effect until spring.It takes training to leave a garden a little wild after the beautiful flowers of summer.This years Apples are still growing on the Tree.One is almost Apple sized,the other two are catching up.The Tree has grown six Apples in 3 years.I am planning on planting it in the winter with lots of compost and manure into the ground.I need to buy a tree stake to keep it growing upright.Once it is bedded in the fruits should grow more plentifully.I love the idea of growing fruit in the garden.The Strawberries have been a great success.The raised sleeper bed has provided us with pounds of fresh juicy Strawberries.They need more compost digging into the bed and the weeds removed.I will pin down any Runners and maybe buy more new plants for the last section that is not full of plants.The netting has kept bird damage down to a minimum.the bruised ones get put on the grass for them.The Verbena Bonarensis have flowered quite well in their first year.These will grow better next year as they find their feet.The birds loved landing on the tall stems.these plants look great en Mass so the purple flowers can shimmer in the air.The Gladiolus have flowered secretly in the sunken border.They have been blown over and hidden amongst the debris of other plants.The pink and white blooms look lovely when they first bloom.I always forget to stake them and they always fall over.Next year i will remember.
The birds have started to visit the garden again.The spring garden was full of hundreds of birds.As the natural food becomes more available they come less.Winter will drive them back into my garden bird buffet.I have mixed seeds,fat balls,Sunflower hearts,and Nijer seed.I am looking for a new peanut holder as mine keeps getting wet then going mouldy.I need one that keeps the peanuts dry.Most seem to be open cages.The Yorkshire garden is quite exposed to the elements.
I have some new Tulip Bulbs to plant.These are called Tulip Purple Prince.They came as part of the offer with the winter bedding plug plants.Violas,Pansy's,and Sweet Williams.These will provide the bridging colour between Autumn and Spring.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumn Signs

I finally have a weekend off and I'm going to enjoy it.The Autumn weather means it has fluctuated between sunny days to wet rainy days.The damp days have inspired these Mushrooms to start growing in the grass.They are like fairy castles appearing overnight and then disappearing a few days after.The underside of the mushroom is amazingly intricate.Fungi's are strange things,a cross between a plant and an animal.These little grey caps look like a miniature village.Like the Gauls village in the Asterix comic books.they are hidden under our back gardens grass.The appearance of long hidden mushrooms is a sign of Autumn.Usually woodland floors sprout lots of Mushrooms in the autumn.The Spring Primulas have grown quietly over the summer and have begun to flower in earnest under the bird feeder.The white Flowers have a radiant yellow centre like a spun egg yolk.These are very hardy plants and should survive the winter.The Echinops flower heads have turned into seed heads.They still have an architectural form to them.Seed heads forming is another sign that the seasons have changed.
In the pots on the decking this lone Petunia flowers away.I love the vibrancy of the red with the patterned veins.The October skys illuminate reds,oranges,yellows,and browns more clearly.These colours seem to glow.
The Snapdragons by the pond are still flowering.I enjoy the candy stick smell that these flowers have.There are pink and these white Snapdragons growing still.These self seeded from the first year we planted around the pond.The wildflower area should grow anew each year with different varieties of flowers.The soil has been left poor with no compost added.
I topped up the birds food and water after we went shopping.As the weather gets colder they will come to the garden more frequently.I think that the Trees and shrubs provide plenty of natural food for the garden birds.Winter will draw them into our garden to feed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Harvest Reflections

Its the eleventh of October already.The crops that I have grown are almost ready to harvest.The old men have started to clear their plots and the air can be quite smoky at the allotment from bin fires.I am resisting still and compost all my green waste.I have started to clear the beds that have gone over.The peas,the onions,the garlic,and the sweetcorn.The Courgettes have died back and are covered with a white sooty mould.It has rained quite a lot over the past few days so I hope my five Pumpkins are increasing in size.I want to use one as a Jack O Lantern,and the rest will be turned into soup.As the harvest kicks in I find you need inspiration to deal with the glut of Vegetables.I will try to cook my Runner Beans into a Lebanese Tomato and Garlic dish.What do you do with eight Cabbages that are all ready to pick?I guess I could blanch them and freeze them.The freezer already has Tomato Soup,and Carrot Soup frozen in small portions.These can be used on cold wintry days after a long walk,with a crusty bread roll.The summer harvest can be carried over through the dark days of winter.
Its not all gone smoothly this year.White Rot has decimated my Onions and Garlic.The Sweetcorn keeled over as soon as it was planted out.The Cauliflower plants died after strong winds and slug damage.The Broccoli has not grown any florets yet!
Despite all this we have had sixty pounds of Potatoes from the Plot,Carrots,a few peas,Rhubarb,Runner Beans,and a beautiful Cabbage.
Still growing in the ground is winter Vegetables.Parsnips,Swedes,Carrots,and Brussels Sprouts.I am planning next years crops already.
The garden has grown Strawberry's in the sleeper bed.Potatoes in grow bags which were not as productive due to the dry early summer.Tomatoes and Chilli's have been a great success.I will definitely grow these again.I will look for new Varieties to try and grow.The Red Cherry's were lovely,juicy,and strong tasting.The Outdoor girl were big but not as tasty.There are hundreds of varieties of Toms to try,and more Chilli's.
As the growing season ends it is a good time to reflect on what has gone right,what was a disaster,and what could be done next year.
I will try to grow Sweetcorn in large grow bags in the garden so they can be tended and watered all year around.Working full time and not being able to go every day made the crop fail.They need the tender loving care for them to reach their potential.
I think the sleeper bed in the garden needs more Strawberry plants.Last year i increased my stock by pinning down the runners from the parent plants.Strawberry plants can be propagated easily every year.The thrill of picking bowls of fresh Strawberries was amazing.
All this harvested crops need storing,freezing,or used in cooking.The whole point of growing Vegetables is to eat them freshly cooked.I enjoy finding new recipes to cook and taste.Growing and cooking are two of my passions.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

October Garden

I have been working lots so the blog has been slightly neglected.I have been enjoying the last blasts of colour and flowers in the Autumn garden.A few days of sunshine has inspired flowers to bloom for a second flush of colour this year.The Mexican Orange Blossom suprised with me with its almond scented flowers above glossy green leaves.Arthur Bell flowered for a second time.The plant has such a lovely deep yellow colour with a slight fragrance.The roses have all grown on beautifully.The Roses Wisley,Lady Emma Hamilton,
and Gertrude Jekyll have all got rose buds on them now.The Abysinnain Gladiolus have been flowering away in a pot by the backdoor.They look lovely with the white and plum flower,with the scent of Lilac.They have been damaged by the wind and rain that has ravaged the garden.The leaves have started to change colour,and some have dropped off.Walking along the street can involve kicking through piles of leaves.The Lilac Tree leaves look autumnal now.
Today has been a lovely sunday.Roast Lamb Dinner,watching Countryfile,and the Antiques Roadshow.Im working tomorrow.
The garden needs tidying up.I have new plants growing for the baskets and the sunken border for the winter period.At some point I will remove the debris from the summer party.I am enjoying the last bursts of colour.
I know its late in the season because Autumn Watch started on Friday night..