Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cats,Crocs,And Blue Shades

Its the twenty ninth of February today,a leap year.The crystal vase has a mixture of some Alstromeria growing in it.I wandered about the last time it was a leap year.
I had a look back at the last leap year in 2008.There was a blog post, I was at Trilby Street making an African bag garden.There were Blue Polyanthus flowering there. years later here are some more Blue Polyanthus growing in the sunken border.I love the Blue petals with the yellow inner eye.I do not know if these are the same ones.I took plants from Trilby street to Fishponds Drive,and here to Kettlethorpe where we are now.I love the link between 2008 and 2012.I caught the slinky malinky kitty sneaking in to try to forage some Catnip.I have some Nepeta growing on in the greenhouse.The areas moggies have eaten my plants to the base.I almost think he was chewing on the roots for his Catnip fix.This cheeky juvenile Squirrel was raiding the birds feeders.Eating sunflower hearts,peanuts,and fatballs.He was not bothered even when i tapped on the window.
The Crocodile and Cat statues are still in the garden.They are part of my healing garden.I hope to be blogging in four years when the next leap year occurs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Garden Revival

When we came back from New York we found these beautiful Snowdrops blooming in the front garden under the window.They lay dormant for ten months of the year,but bloom spectacularly in February.They are delicate looking with the white petals edged with the lime green smile.They herald the start of the end of winter.The winter flowering Pansy's continue to give me surprises in their colour of flowers.This one is a dark crimson colour, deeper than the purple and violet flowers of some of the others.It stands out from the other blooms. The Rose Darcy Bussell has begun to grow fresh new leaves.They emerge from the buds glowing red like fiery Ruby's before they deepen in colour.She is covered in new growth more than the other Rose bushes.I hope for lots of sumptuous scented Roses this year to bloom.The Sambucas Nigra has survived being transplanted.The dark feathery leaves are beginning to emerge from the buds.I hope its airy new position will make it more visible.Last year it had to grow out from beneath the vigorous Butterfly Bush.I love the Sambucas frothy pink flowers.The dark leaves are nice to look at as an architectural plant.Two more plants waking from their winter slumbers are the Lupins,and the Daffodils that survived the builders feet.The Daffs here are behind some of the others.They know what time of the year it is.In other places Daffodils and Narcissus flowered weeks earlier than normal.There are two Barrel planters full of Tulip bulbs.I planted them late last year so they never flowered for me.I cannot remember what types there were.It will be interesting to see which Tulips have survived the Winter.A solitary Daffodil.I will buy more this year to plant in the sunken border.The other plants I'm missing are jewel like Crocuses.They are blooming around Wakefield in grass areas under Trees.I like the Purple and Golden Yellow ones.
March 20Th is the beginning of spring,three weeks away.Its good to see plants growing here already.
The birds have been in the garden today feeding up.Their songs fill the garden up with a delicious noise.I have seen a little Wren today,and three Chaffinches,along with all the usual suspects of House Sparrows,Blackbirds,Wood Pigeons,Collared Doves,Goldfinches,and Blue Tits.
They are getting more excitable as the days warm up,and the light lasts longer.I topped up their food and drinking water.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pink Champagne And Jazz

When we went shopping yesterday we found tents,stalls,and hot food for sale.It was the sixth food,drink,and Rhubarb festival.Wakefield is one corner of the Rhubarb triangle,famed for growing its early Rhubarb in darkened sheds to produce sweeter stalks(the other two places are Leeds and Morley).The nickname for early Rhubarb is Pink Champagne.I have heard that the Rhubarb is picked by hand in candlelight.The sheds are apparently full of creaking stems as they grow in the dark.The leaves are small and pale yellow coloured.The stalks are long and lusciously pink.I had to buy one packet to try and cook with.
The festival had local chefs showing their audiences how to cook a variety of dishes with Rhubarb.Here it has been used as a fruit for crumbles and pies although it is a vegetable.The pink forced stalks (grown in the pitch black sheds) are one of the earliest crops.The council is using the food festival as an early stop for foodies.There were plenty of Yorkshire food stores selling sweets,cakes,jams,pies,and game meat etc.A brass band played in the precinct under the spire of the Cathedral.There was a man dressed like a pantomime dame called Ruby Rhubarb walking around.There were also a variety of bands, theatre events,and talks around the district.Its good a local food is being championed,and that the festival had drawn people to visit.The pink Champagne we bought was cooked down a little,sweetened with sugar,and turned into a crumble.We will have it with some custard once i have blogged.I am back to work tomorrow so no more gardening until Tuesday.
My amazon order came so I'm listening to some Jazz Cd's.Louis Armstrong is playing as I type this.I got a compilation CD from Starbucks in the World Financial Centre and it has inspired me to buy some old Jazz Cd's.It goes well with the pink Champagne.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hockney Blue

I have finished my night shifts now.I got up at about half past two and took a few photos of the garden.I love the flowers that are blooming in the hanging baskets and around the pots.These Pansy's give shots of colour.They are beautiful to look at,like a David Hockney watercolour painting.We had two bags of straw from the Bluebell nursery tree box.One black bag must have been blown around by the wind.When we came back from New York we found straw everywhere.I need to clean it up,and put it back into the black bin bag.
The Roses and Silver Birch need planting into the front garden.I have a compost bin to empty and bags to fill up.The front garden planting will need lots of compost to help them get off to a flying start.
It has been a hot February day today,hotter than some places around the Mediterranean.Strange weather patterns!
The warm weather means our spring bulbs are advanced now.I hope for some flowers soon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New York City 2

The view from our Hotel room showed these illuminated trees outside an office block.I loved the red bark chippings they used to mulch the area aroun the base of the Trees.Its very Christmassy to dress trees up in fairy lights.We went to the Winter Garden Atrium in the world financial centre.The Circle Line Ferry guide told us to go there to get a good view of the area around ground Zero.It was reopened a year later after the September 11th 2001 attacks.I love these giant palm trees growing under the domed glass roof.It reminded me of a Victorian greenhouse.They had to replace all 2000 glass panes that had been broken by the collapsing WTC buildings,and have acquired sixteen 40 feet high Washingtonia Robusta Palm Trees.
The stairs and all the marble was replaced too.From the top of the steps it is cathedral like looking down.They use this space for Art exhibits,live music,and film screenings.From the top you can look out to ground zero.The Freedom tower (to be named World Trade Centre 1)is currently under construction.It was at the 86th floor.It will be 1776 feet tall,after the year of the decleration of Independence.
The site where the two World Trade Centre buildings stood has been turned into a 9/11 memorial and museum.The Memorial was called "Reflecting Abscence" and is two black pools with the largest manmade waterfalls in America.400 trees will be planted around the two pools.I hope to go back once they have finished their contruction.This Wall Street Bull statue was one of my favourite sights.A Sculptor called Arturo Di Modica made it and got his friends to deposit it in front of Wall Street in between Police patrols.It was removed for not having a permit, but then public opinion made them bring it back to the Bowling Green facing Broadway.It is now one of the most photographed Statues in New York,symbolising strength and buoyant stock markets.I loved it so much I bought a small Key Ring of the Charging Bull.Office buildings seem to have containers and pots outside them.In the cool February days this was a lovely splash of colour.Dogwoods were popular all around New York with their fiery red or orange bare stems.In Bryant Park this American Sparrow was singing away,all fluffed up to keep the cold out.These look like our House Sparrows (and sound like them too).The bustling sidewalk of Time Square.I loved the light and dark that the sunlight falling onto the tall buildings made.It is a city born to be photographed.There is so much going on constantly besides you,and around you.There must be millions of photos you could take in New York city.Bryant Park had an outdoor icerink which was popular.It had music playing,and lots of hot food places cooking street food.The smells were divine making you hungry.This is my arty New York Shot.Tall buildings,trees,and blue sky.Public parks become like mini oasis's in the concrete city.These Trees seemed to curl gracefully upto the sky.They will become green cathedrals during the summer lining the tables and chairs beneath where people relax.The last photo shows the Carousel at Bryant Park.I love these American decorative artworks.These are the sounds and colours of Childhood.
These two dozen photos to show some of New York.I still have much more to see like the Bronx Zoo,and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.I will have to save up for another trip.

New York City 1

I am back after a week in New York.I loved the big apple.I thought I would show some of my favourite photos.I took over three hundred.These yellow Taxi cabs were everywhere.This pic shows outside Grand Central Station,one of the grandest railway stations I have ever seen.The Chandelier lights and star covered ceiling are worth going into there even if you do not want to catch a train.There are also shops and restaurants in Grand Central.(I wanted to eat Oysters there,maybe next time!)This shows the Empire state building from the Hudson River side.I love how patriotic the New Yorkers are.There are the stars and stripes proudly hung up on buildings public and private.On the circle line Ferry that was a good introduction into New York.Most immigrants arrived from the sea,and were amazed by the city that never sleeps.The Freedom Tower is being constructed in the centre of the photo.The most famous Lady of America.The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France after one hundred years of Independence from the British.The salty sea air has turned her the famous green colour.We could not go up to the crown as it was shut for repairs.This statue was the first sight of America for the many millions who came from afar.New York is a big city,and can be admired best from the air.You can get helicopter flights to fly you over Manhattan.We settled on going to the top of the Rock.The Rockefeller centre has an amazing observation deck on the 67Th floor.I love the view of Central Park.We had perfect blue sky and sunshine for our observation day.Cold but clear.The wide streets and busy Sidewalks remind me of New York.The light illuminates the buildings and the flags that fly up above.My favourite building on our week away was the Chrysler building.I kept photographing it from all angles.It is not the tallest but it is the most decorative.There is such a wealth of amazing buildings,and the closer you look at them the more detail you can see.
One of the many highlights was visiting Central Park.I wanted to see the Carousel but it was closed for restoration work.I got this sneaky photo of one of the cars and some horses behind it.I think Carousels are like modern works of Art.They need to be preserved and looked after so future generations can ride on them,and admire their colourful sculpture and vibrant paint works.This one was originally on Coney Island.These birds were the first ones that I managed to photograph.The one of the left is the humble Starling.I wrote a blog post before about the man who released every bird species mentioned by Shakespeare into central park.This bird was one of those descendants.There was a murmaration of about thirty Starlings having a bath in the puddles.They love splashing in the water until they look bedraggled but happy.The bird on the right was like a crow but had beautiful blue iridescent feathers.I found it good to see birds that I had no idea what they were called.Like my garden birds but wander fully exotic and mysterious.Most of New York had few birds.They flocked to the public spaces.When you sat with a coffee or a cake they were singing around you,and flying between bushes.It is huge Central Park.We walked around about half of it and needed to get a bus back!This pond was near the main entrance at the south of the park.I love the way the skyscrapers stopped around the parks open spaces.Like giants afraid to step across an imaginary line.Most people in New York had no garden.I saw a few window boxes,and a lot of houseplants growing on windowsills both in office buildings,and peoples apartments.
Central Park had been rescued by a conservancy group,and had teams of volunteers to keep it pristine,and to raise funds for it.It is beloved by tourists and native New Yorkers.The difference between the busy streets and the quiet leafy paths was amazing.Masses of birds were singing,hopping around,eating,and flying.All of nature came to recharge their batteries.
Sculptures,fountains,lakes,boats,bridges,ornate buildings like a Swedish house and a Castle,baseball diamonds,a Zoo, and concert venues are all contained within Central Park.I'm glad that the two men (Olmstead and Vaux) won the design competition to create a public park.They would be proud of their legacy now,as it is the most visited park in America.The Stars and Stripes was visible everywhere.When the sun shone down they were illuminated like stained glass windows.I love this balcony which had ivy growing down.Some kind of vine plant was growing around the iron wrought balcony.It looked quite woody so it must have been quite old.I would miss my garden terribly if I lived in New York.These people must have hankered for some green plants outside their balcony door.There were window boxes,and public buildings had formal planters with shrubs,small trees,and ornamental Cabbages.Some were planted with Daffodil,and Tulip bulbs.These will give flowers during the Spring and Summer.
This was the first dozen photos that remind me of New York.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Big Apple (tomorrow)

Its my last Blog post before we go to the Big Apple: New York.I have this lovely picture of the Daffodils in the conservatory window.
I worked today so I'm glad I planted all the fruit trees and Strawberry plants.The things left to plant when i get back are the Rose Moliniux's and the Silver Birch Tree need planting in the neglected front garden.
I hope to take lots of photos and see lots of new things in New York city.I will be back on the 18Th February.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fruitful Friday

It has not snowed since but the freezing temperatures made the snow turn into ice blocks.The grass was very crunchy underfoot.I was mindful of the fact I am working tomorrow,and going to New York on Sunday morning.It was dry so I went out into the garden and found the lovely stainless steel spade with the nice wooden handle.I had four Fruit trees to plant.It was not the best conditions to plant them but I could not leave them any longer in the conservatory leaned up against the windowsill.I had to drag the patio Apple Tree to near the door so I could make room for my two new Apple Trees.The Pear Tree is called William Bon Chretian,which apparently mean good christian in french.I planted it alongside the greenhouse in the middle between the path and the pond.I want Cat to try to eat some home grown Pears.They are a traditional British fruit that has fallen out of favour because they take time to ripen even after picking.Patience is a virtue for this kind of fruit.I hope they taste sweet and juicy.The Apple Trees are both cooking Apples.I am a big fan of cooking Apple Pies and crumbles with home grown apples.At Fishponds where we lived before there was a well established tree that gave us plenty of fruit and made many yummy pies.They can be frozen too and used to compliment a traditional roast dinner.This one is a Bramley Apple Tree.It appears to have had all its side shoots cut off.This year will be a growing season for this plant.It might be next year before we see Apples on it. The second Apple tree is about twelve feet away from the Bramley.It is called Howgate Wander and is also a Cooking Apple.They are of the same pollination group so they should help fertilise each other.The rose bench sits between the Apple Trees.
I will have to move the hanging baskets though once they start growing.I have found a better solution to hanging baskets that does not involve screwing into wood.I bought some wonderful brackets that clip onto the concrete posts.They are expensive but very practical and will stop me splitting fence panels with my heavy baskets.The raised Strawberry bed was frozen solid with ice and snow.I had to plant the thirteen Strawberry Amelia plants into pots.They are sat in the greenhouse.I will plant them when I come back from New York.The last fruit Tree I planted was this Sweet Cherry Merton Glory.I had to plant it into a deep pot because I did not know where else to plant it.Of all the trees this was the most solid and is covered in bursting buds.Cat wants some of the grass given over to a patio area to sit the table and chairs.I may plant it alongside that.The garden is only small so I might need to prune the Trees to keep them within size.It will be a productive garden once it gets going.
It may take a while for them to get going but I'm hopeful our kitchen garden will provide us with fresh fruit for many years to come.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Rain Delays

Today was a day of rain/snow delays.I wanted to get outside to plant my Fruit Trees and Strawberries.The ground is still frozen,and the Strawberry patch covered in snow and ice.
The cold weather brought me flocks of birds feeding in the garden.This Chaffinch is a new arrival this year.I was saying to Cat I have not seen a Chaffinch for ages.He must have heard because he was hopping around the garden enjoying the bird food.
I went shopping instead of gardening and got my US dollars for New York,a new guidebook,and some Camera Batteries.
I bought a Cherry Tree from Asda today on an impulse.It was only £6!
I have five trees to plant now so I hope that the weather improves tomorrow so I can get them planting.
I was reading about Grape vine pruning,and it has left me more mystified than before.I want to grow it inside the greenhouse in a pot but what to grow it up?It will be trial and error trying to grow the grapes.
I watched a good program called Butterflies,Bee's,and Blooms presented by Sarah Raven.She was saddened by how the changing rural landscape in the country has decimated our native wildflowers,and how the knock on effect was that the pollinating insects are getting sick.She was trying to reverse the decline,and try to resurrect the traditional wildflower meadow.She wanted part of a village green in Northamptonshire to be wildflower meadow,and a farmer tried a six metre wide wildflower strip around his arable crops that would benefit insects and attract predators to defend his crops.The next episode will deal with urban gardens.
I hope that I can get my fruit trees planted tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Some rare visitors to the garden feeders were this pair of Green finches.They look so serious on their faces with their large bills for cracking seeds.I like their muted olive green feathers with yellow striped wings.
I went back to Asda today and impulsively bought another £6 fruit tree.This one is a Pear Tree, the variety William Chretian used extensively for canned fruit in the USA.It is joining the two Cooking Apple Trees that I bought yesterday.
I have four trees now to plant in the garden once it defrosts a bit.The snow is still layed on the grass and in the pots.The night time temperature has fallen too freezing everything over.
We only have five days until we are flying to New York.I want to have planted my mini orchard or at least potted them up.The Strawberry plants I mail ordered also need planting when the ground is not frozen.
I love how a mild January gets you excited about the growing season,and how February brings you back to earth with winter chills.The birds always cheer me up as we wait for the seasons to change.