Monday, January 30, 2012

Pineberry Surprise

I got an email about Wilkinson's new White Strawberries.These have also been called Pine berries,as the small fruits taste like Pineapple.I bought all my Seed Potatoes,Onions,and Garlic there in the Wakefield Wilko's but did not see these.I cheekily emailed them for a sample to grow in the garden.A few days later and the packet arrived with the White Strawberry dormant plants in it.I needed to soak the two roots first in water.I then planted them in two pots besides the backdoor.I will watch their progress and hopefully tell you all what the White Strawberries taste like.
I read about these as some of the garden trends of 2012.I hope that these will grow some tasty fruits this year.
I ordered another eight Strawberry plants for my sleeper bed a week ago.They have not arrived yet.They will fill the remaining corner of the bed.Last years crop of Strawberries was a delight of the Summer.

Big Garden Bird Watch 2012

I have done the 2012 RSPB's Big Garden Bird watch.I sat for an hour recording what birds landed in the garden.I was surprised by the change in numbers of different birds.The Starling in this photo never flew in during the hour.I wander if the birds know when you are sat counting them.I never saw my Woodpecker,Siskin,Sparrowhawk,or Nuthatch.They are the exotic rare birds I have seen occasionally in the garden.This pair of Goldfinches arrived after the hour.There was a solitary Goldfinch on the nijer seeds during my hour.My surprise visitor was a Green finch.He landed on the Ceanothus briefly before flying off.
House Sparrows topped my list.Followed by Great Tits,Blue Tits, and Blackbirds.I saw single Goldfinch,Robin,Dunnock,Collared Dove,and my green finch. I like how the food and water I put out always attracts the birds in.Its great now I have big wide windows to look out of into the garden.
I looked back today at the Blog and found I bought my bird table in 2007.It is five years old now,and showing signs of its age.I will need to replace it soon,and will look for a new birdbath.Mine is made of plastic resin but has broken on one side.
I have been a big fan of the RSPB's bird count.The results will be collated and revealed at the end of March.I wander what effect the warm winter will have had.I know I will have contributed some data about the health and numbers of all UK birds.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Two New Plants

The conservatory has a six foot plant growing between the kitchen and it.It is a Philodendron,a South American tree climbing giant with heart shaped leaves, variegated pattern,and growing up a moss stick which has its aerial roots growing into the moss.I have always loved House Plants from a very small ages.It started with Spider plants and grew from that to a gardening bug.Doctor D.G.Hessayan has a lot to answer for.I got an email about a website called "Me And My Plants".You take a simple test answering three questions to find your perfect house plant.There are five hundred books a day to be won,so you can play several times.My plant came out as Robert the Rubber Tree Plant.It was delivered from the local West gate florists.The website is being run by the Flower Council of Holland.They sent me the book and the plant.They want to encourage positive relationships between people and plants.The web address if you want to try is:
The conservatory has a Spider Plant,an Xmas Cactus,and an Aloe Vera growing along the high windowsill under the sloping roof.I do not need much encouraging to fill this new room with green plants.
They are always well treated by me,and I try to keep them alive for as long as possible.I think they help clean the air,and are therapeutic to nuture.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Clear Up

The Winter baskets have finally been filled up with a mixture of winter Pansy's,Violas,and Sweet Williams.Cat joined me in the garden clear up.The table has held the plants for weeks before we planted them in the Baskets.Two baskets fell off the fence due to high winds and a jumping Squirrel (called Hogan now after he did a flying clothes line onto the hanging basket.The weight of the basket,soil,and Squirrel pulled the bracket clean off the fence).I hope that these baskets add a little colour whilst other plants and bulbs are dozing in the soil.
I found my metal Frog fence ornament on the ground behind the Hostas.This was one of Cats baskets.The Hostas are all dormant below the baskets.I need to top dress them with fresh compost so they absorb some of the nutrients.They are Cats favourite plants,especially when they flower in white and purple blooms.A garden shared can be a pleasure.I do the heavy digging and moving.Cat cuts the grass and helps plant things.She is getting braver as time goes on.She is also great at potting up plug plants which we have bought from mail order companies.The Sunken border needed revamping after the builders had trampled all over it.The conservatory needed a gap between it and the damp soil.We went shopping for some bamboo fence posts.These run about six inches from the bricks separating the border from the conservatory.The warm Winter had caused the creeping Buttercups to have taken over a large area of soil.The Teasel also had dropped loads of seeds into the soil and onto the grass.I removed them.I think I will grow Teasel in pots to keep them easier to manage.They are prodigious in the amount of seed each comb seed head makes.They are like spiny giants in the garden.I trimmed the Ceanothus so its more centrally structured.It has beautiful central bark running up with all the branches coming away from it.I hope that the Bee's will fly back for the honey scented flowers on this American Shrub.I moved the Honeysuckle in its pot to the area between the Conservatory and the fence.It kept falling over in the wind.I will try to work out how to secure it to block off the area behind it.A narrow hell strip.
I moved the black feathery leaved Sambuca Nigra with its effervescent pink flowers to the right hand side of the border.Last year it got tangled under the Butterfly bush.The Buddleja has been trimmed as well to keep it horizontal.It too has a lovely woody stem.Winter makes you appreciate the structure of plants normally hidden by leaves or flowers.I dug over the soil removing the weeds,and seeing which plants had survived.I found several perennial roots which have been replanted.It will be good to see what grows where.The Camellia survived a Workman's boot which snapped off one of the branches.I hope it will flower this year. They are such pretty plants with shiny glossy leaves,and sumptuous flowers.This plant has survived the winter and has lots of flower buds on it.These turn into pretty scented white flowers.It was one of the original plants that we inherited.There is a green Hebe,and a Pieris that were here when we moved in.This is the side on view of the newly dug over sunken border.Our grass is very soggy and has mud patches.The mole seems to have left us for a while,with no more mole hills along the path.I had spent one afternoon looking at online websites.I ordered all the Vegetable seeds and thought I want to try to grow Grapes inside the greenhouse.Web research suggested that two good varieties were Suttons Seedless Grapes, and Black Munich grapes.I found this plant on the Daily Telegraph garden shop.This experimental plant can grow in the greenhouse during the summer,but can be moved outside during the winter to kill of pests.
It sat on the windowsill waiting for a large pot to plant it in.I hope it grows well,and will record its progress on the blog.
It is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch over the weekend.I need to spend an hour counting what birds come into the garden from my corner chair in the conservatory.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dragon New Year

I went to Wilkinsons today to buy the Seed Potatoes,Onion Sets,Garlic,and Shallots.I bought some more bird food as well and some Horseradish for future roast beef dinners.
It was the Chinese New Year yesterday,and we are now in the year of the Dragon.
I had an email about the Edible Garden Show in March 16th-18th in Warwickshire.James Wong (who presented Tv's Grow Your Own Drugs) will be there encouraging people to try exotic fruits and vegetables.He suggested Dragon Fruits to coincide with the Chinese New year.They are mad looking red fruits!
The Squirrel was back in the garden today.He is a juvenile Squirrel and was munching on old dried cream crackers and sunflower hearts.The birds were in the garden en Mass.
Blackbirds,Collared Doves,Starlings,A Wood pigeon,Robins,and the Nuthatch returned.I'm hoping it will be dry tomorrow so I can continue the garden clean up.The sunken border needs a barrier putting at the back to stop the soil getting on the damp proofing of the conservatory.It needs tidying up and a few plants moving.
The pond water had cleared today and I saw that the Water Lily has survived the winter and is growing fresh new leaves under the water.
I think all my seeds will arrive tomorrow for the years Vegetable growing.There are all new varieties and should be good to blog about my experiences.Our hanging baskets should be planted tomorrow too.I will hopefully have some photos to share.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Birds,Seeds,And Dreams

The conservatory is finally finished.This was the outside view from the garden.The sparkling lights have been moved out into it.There is a nice wooden floor now,and the radiator keeps it warm.I have some where to sit comfortably and look out at the garden and the birds.The bird table took a battering in the high winds.The House Sparrows flew down to eat some of the seeds on offer.They were very close to the window.I can hear these birds daily chattering away in the neighbours hedge.They are very vocal,and very gregarious birds.If one comes to feed whole family's of related birds come to join in.They are comical to watch too.The Collared Doves are our most frequent visitors.They are in the garden daily feeding on the bird food,or drinking out of the bird bath.
Next weekend is the RSPB's big garden bird watch.Counting all the birds in your garden over a period of one hour.I will do it next Sunday when I'm not working.
With new windows to look out I felt inspired to go out into the garden.I continued the clean up of the pots and planters.I went to the pond today to try and sort out the Norfolk grass.It was covered in pond weed!The warm winter and sunny days had caused a boom in its growth.I cleared the debris on top and removed the majority of the pond weed.I have grown some oxygenating plant in the greenhouse which I put back into the pond.I even spied a Newt diving into the murky depths.The Norfolk Reed needs splitting and tougher pots to keep it from breaking out.It is sat in the greenhouse currently.
I sowed more seeds into the wildflower area around the pond.It has a wild charm being left to its own devices.I previously removed the Teasel which was too big for the area.The Frogs enjoy hiding under the plants when they sunbathe.
I went through all my seeds today and chucked out all the out of date ones,and wrote a list of what was left.There were over thirty packets of flower seeds in date still.
The Vegetable seed tin was decimated down to four packets only.Last year I had poor germination rates.It occurred to me afterwards I was sowing with old and mostly out of date seeds.My new years resolution was to use fresh seeds.
I went online this afternoon and ordered all my allotment seeds.I need to go to Wilkos to buy the seed Potatoes,Onions,Garlic,and Shallots.Everything else has been ordered online.
I also decided with me trying to grow Mushrooms,to keep the experimentation going.To that end I have ordered a Grape Vine to grow in the Greenhouse.I will also try to grow some Melons which I have never grown before.
I want to be experimental and try to grow new varieties,and new crops each year.My seeds list is all new ones.It keeps it interesting growing Vegetables and Soft Fruit.
The garden still needs tweaking in places,but im pleased how its advanced after a winter break.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rain Delay And Grand Plans

It has been a wet few days here in West Yorkshire.I went to the allotment yesterday and harvested lots of Carrots,and some Baby Leeks.I surveyed the plot and formulated a new plan to dig it over ready for the new growing season.I will only grow what I like to eat.The surprise for me was how much the warm weather has sprouted weeds,but also that I have finally have some Purple Sprouting Broccoli!The ground was so sodden,it just caked my shoes and stuck to them.The rain delay stopped me starting the spring dig over.I have until the end of March to clear the plot and remark the new beds.
I came back home and started the gardens spring clean.The new conservatory needs a lovely vista to look out at.I trimmed the Roses,cleared all the pots of debris,removed all the grasses and weeds.I wanted to create a clear run along the concrete path.I removed old planters that have gone over.I swept all the winter debris of leaves,twigs,and mud.The view above is along the newly cleared path.The Conservatory will be completed tomorrow with the laying of the floor.Once this is done we can move the furniture in.I want a comfy chair in a corner by the radiator so I can watch the birds in the garden.Only one Goldfinch has been brave enough to eat the Sunflower hearts by the conservatory window.The Squirrels have been at them already though,but these are resourceful creatures and not easily scared off (they come back about five minutes later).
I'm cooking some Carrot Soup now with the five pounds of Carrots from the allotment.They are a mixture of Italian and Chantonay Carrots and smell divine.
The rain was falling all day.The conservatory roof echoes every drop like a rain stick.It will be soothing once the floor is in.
I want to finish the garden clear up.The sunken bed needs a new fence panel running along it to stop the soil falling on the damp proofing.It needs replanting and tidying up.I have noticed the Catnip Nepeta Six Hills Giant has died off.The fragrant herb has attracted all the local cats in,and has pretty lilac flowers.
I am drawing up a new wish list of plants to fill the revamped garden.The pond also needs clearing up of debris and vigorous growth by the oxygenating plants needs cutting back.I'm also looking forward to seeing the first Frogs in the Spring emerging from the pond to serenade for mates.
The weekend will see me drawing up a list of seeds to buy for the Vegetables and Flowers for the garden.I will chuck out all my old seeds that have gone out of date.I hang onto them for years past there sow by date,and there germination rate is always poor.
A new year,a new room to observe the Flora and Fauna,and grand plans for the best growing season ever.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mushrooms and Monstera

I finally have some Mushrooms to show you all on the blog.After two false starts when they wilted and died these Golden Oyster Mushrooms have grown.I bought the set from Suttons seeds as a present to myself..I have always thought Mushrooms have the fairy dust element about them.They grow in woods and in wet grass where nothing was before.They also disappear as fast as they came.I tried some quick pan fried mushroom today which were delicious and silky.The set cost £10 but I guess I have eaten what I have grown making them priceless.This was the Conservatory at the end of day 7.The concrete floor is still drying,as it has been freezing weather.The outside tap and all the birds water has frozen solid.Even the top of the pond has frozen, but hopefully not all the way down so my over wintering frogs and newts can survive.The garden has foot prints,and concrete dust all over it.A lot of the plants have been squashed during the building work.The Spring Bulbs are still pushing up despite the steel toe capped boots treading all over them.Whatever has survived will grow again well.The sunken border now sits parallel to the outside wall of the conservatory.The birds will be feeding extremely close to the house.They will need to get used to it.The mess and destruction will be worth it once it is finished.The garden will be closer through the glass windows.The waterford crystal vase has these lovely Carnations,and Gypsophila.I picked three colours of Spray Carnations to give us some colour during the building work.I love the smell and sight of these cut flowers.
I keep thinking about a large specimen plant to sit in the conservatory.Maybe a Yucca,large Dracaena,or even a Monstera.We are meeting Hils at Hampsons tomorrow so we can look for a showy house plant then.
I want to try to plan the garden out with new planting,and a more defined structure..

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Work In Progress

The Squirrel was keeping an eye on the developments going on in the garden.The conservatory is being built.The past few days have seen the foundations and bricks being built up.All the pots and containers on the decking have been moved into the lawn.
The view from the back door.Once it is finished the backdoor will be moved to the conservatory.I am already planning to buy a large specimen plant for indoors.Maybe a Yucca,or a Parlour Palm.
The past few days have seen me off colour with a cough and a cold.I am working Sunday before a week off.
The garden needs revamping,and the sunken border will need replanting after all the building work has finished.The past few nights have seen the temperature drop below freezing for the first time.It finally feels Wintry.
I hope to blog lots more on my week off..

Monday, January 02, 2012

Snappy New Year

I cannot believe it is 2012 already.It will be a great year with the Queens Diamond Jubilee,the Euro football championships,and the London Olympics amongst other things.
I hope it will be a good growing year.I feel more inspired to grow flowers,fruit,and vegetables.To nurture the wildlife around me,and to record it all on the blog.
I hope that 2012 is good for you..