Friday, March 30, 2012

Venice Of The Cotwolds

 It was our first full day in Cheltenham.Me,Mum,and Cat went to the Venice Of The Cotswold's,Bourton On The Water.It is a picturesque village with a river running through the centre of the village.Gorgeous chocolate box houses face out onto the river.Mini bridges span the water from one side to the other.

It was cold and grey today.I was shivering in my New York Yankee top.The last few days have been around twenty degrees centigrade.It was around 12 degrees C and cool.The river looks magical with sunlight dappling across the water.It is very shallow,very clear,and clean.

The bridges were lovely.I think there were about four of them spanning the River Windrush.In the summer its said there are more visitors than residents.We visited it a few years ago and had tea in the lovely Windrush Cafe.

After spending out on a Moorcroft pottery Nuthatch on a pot we sat eating snacks by the river.I had bought a coat by then because I was frozen.
 One of the Houses had a small Cherry Blossom Tree growing in its front garden, growing behind stone mushrooms and alongside the river.I love Cherry Blossom Trees.The pink flowers are so delicate,pretty,but also fleeting.
 Bourton's other famous residents are the Ducks that quack and swim along the River.Mum gave them some bread to eat.You can see the shallow water and stony bottom.
 The next stop was the small market town of Stow On The Wold.The Sun started to burn all the clouds off and it finally warmed up.We had some coffee and dinner in a cafe called Huffkins.I loved my Gloucester Old Spot Sausage Sandwich with home made Red Onion Relish.We walked to the Medieval Church.I spotted this beautiful Forsythia,liquid sunshine.
 These Daffodils were blooming in the Churchyard.They look great illuminated by the afternoon sunshine.

This was the Church called Saint Edwards where we walked around after dinner.I bought a few more bits in the many shops in Stow On The Wold.
This was Huffkins Cafe where we ate dinner.It is a grade 1 listed building with gorgeous black timber beams,and original wooden stairs and walls.I loved the atmosphere.It was busy considering its only the end ofMarch.We are going to the Stroud Farmers Market tomorrow,its been a good start to out Cotswolds trip.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Froggy Thursday

This is the first Frog that I have seen this year in our pond.He sat on the edge of the pond between the liner and the brick.I saw some Newts too sunbathing on the shelf on the edge.The algae bloom is slowly shrinking as the pond plants come back to life,and the oxygen levels rise.
We travelled to Cheltenham today,down the motorways.We passed lots of panic buying queues trying to get hold of petrol..
The plan for the long weekend is to go around Gloucestershire,and see gardens,villages,and wildlife parks.
The camera and laptop has come down so I can blog about our long weekend in the Cotswolds.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Purple Haze

It was a day of two halves again.The morning and early afternoon was spent up at the allotment.I got picked up by Cat (who brought us some Pink Lemonade to drink at the plot).I got home and found my hanging basket brackets that I ordered online have arrived.They slip on to the concrete fence posts and use the weight of the basket to secure the brackets brake pad.I found them originally at the RHS Tatton Park flower show 2011.Our winter flowering Viola has finally bloomed.This is such a delicate flower about the size of a five pence piece.It is deepy Purple,dark, and sultry.The nine raised beds have been constructed up at the allotment.The leeks are on the edge of the soil where the Potatoes will go next week.It was a swelteringly hot day.Im still sunburnt on my shoulders from the sun yesterday.I wore sunblock but not enough apparently.You can cook an egg on my shoulders.
I am going to see Mum tomorrow in Cheltenham.I will take the laptop so I should still be in contact.I hope the weather is as nice as the past two days.
There is one raised bed kit left over,but I do not know where to put it yet.I dug up the last of the Parsnips today,along with Leeks,and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.Two Broccoli plants remain untill next week.The Rhubarb is growing away nicely at the bottom of the photo.I now need to plan what is growing in what raised bed,and will make a series of paths to cover the soil between the raised beds.The majority of the plots Spring clean has been done.Now for the start of the growing season.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sun Beauty

The Fiery Tulip finally opened in the boiling hot Sunshine.The colours are vibrant,with orange coloured by red wine.It has the impression of ink blot paper on the outer petals.I love how the flower opens up seductively to show its pollen laden stamen..The Tulip is a work of Natural Beauty.The overhead photo shows the diablo Tulip? (I cannot remember what it was called,it was planted five months ago!)
I spend the day down the allotment digging another two raised beds.There are four down now.I have to go tomorrow to construct the other five.Most of the soil has already been dug for them so I will not be as tired afterwards.
I took down four bags of homemade compost which is now on the four beds.It was beautifully crumbly organic material which will hopefully feed all the vegetable plants to come.
Spring days always reveal new flowers or growth.I am always waiting to see what has bloomed, or developed more.The garden is small but packed full of interest.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Raised Beds 1 and 2

It is the first day of my week off.I went to the allotment today to start constructing the raised beds from the kits that I have.I had to dig these two from scratch as the weeds and grass have over ran the area in the winter.I have another eight beds to construct.Three of the beds need digging over still.The sunshine was out again,and it was a balmy nineteen degrees centigrade.I saw this Comma alighting on the brambles at the back of the plot.I cant wait for the beds to be ready so I can get to the exciting part of sowing seeds and planting the beds up.The weed clearing and digging is hard work.
My left hip and leg are hurting.I spent three and a half hours today down there.I will have to go back tomorrow and maybe Wednesday so it will be ready for when i come back from Cheltenham.
The Comma is a beautiful colour glowing in the sunlight.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

British Summer Time

The Weekend has come and gone already.The clocks went forward at 1am this morning to take us into British Summer Time.
I took the raised beds up to the allotment yesterday.It was sunny today after a foggy night and morning.The warm sun made it nice to stand outside and see what was growing.
I love this fiery Red and Yellow Tulip, stubbornly still closed.It reminds me of a Mexican Wrestler Costume,El Diablo?The colours are vibrant and punchy.I hope its the same inside the flower cup.Yesterday this Orange Tulip flushed with green was clamped shut tightly.The sun today cajoled it into flowering.The orange petals glow above the soft olive green leaves.One of the flaming orange Tulips partially opened in the sunshine.The pastel yellow Tulips flowered yesterday and today.They have the colour of buttermilk.I love the dark stamen inside the cup floating above it.Some of the Tulips were planted in lots of barrel planters or pots.The sun illuminated through the flowers like a church window.Even the leaves seem to be alive in the sunshine.All the chlorophyll glowing.The Orange Tulip opened.It reminded me of the Statue Of Liberty's torch in New York.Fabulous flower.The bright flowers and warm sunshine have inspired the birds to start building nests.This female Blackbird was carefully hopping around the bin selecting the softest grasses and twigs for her nest high up in the neighbours Fir Tree.She spent ages selecting these materials for the nest.I am always amazed how birds use natural materials to construct nests.The Camellia finally flowered yesterday.Despite being trod on it has survived the conservatory being built.It has two other flower buds on it.The colour is lovely and bright.The move last year shocked it and it never flowered.The Hyacinths continue to perfume the garden with their fragrance.These were formally indoor ones that were planted in the sunken border.They have grown really well.We went out for Dinner today.I took a few photos before we went out.March is full of greens and pastel colours.The garden still has masses of Tulips that have not flowered yet.They are a beautiful addition to the garden.
I have three days to do the garden and allotment before a trip to Cheltenham on Thursday.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Edge Of Glory

I took some photos yesterday of all the flowers that were teasingly almost flowering.I planted my Tulips last year late last year so they grew leaves but no flowers.They have survived over the winter and are growing beautifully with healthy leaves and solid stems.Their crowning glory will be when they open in their myriad of shades and colours.I cannot remember what Tulips I planted.The labels have washed away in the Yorkshire snow and rain.The Patio Apple Tree Braeburn has started to unfurl its Spring leaves,warmed up by mild temperatures and cool breezes.I re potted the Tree into a huge pot.It now has room to grow outwards to form more side branches.It is already over two metres tall.I hope that the blossoms all get pollinated by bees and turned into a bountiful crop of eating apples.A Solitary Parrot Tulip shows flashes of colouration on the outer petals.The flower buds are clamped tightly shut.I must resist the urge to peek into the petals to see what colour is beneath.This Tulip has pink lipstick almost on the uppermost edges of the flower buds.I bought Tulips I think in Red,Black,White,Yellow,and Blue.Normal Tulip shape and Parrot Tulips.I love the candy box colours they provide.Their arrival is always keenly anticipated by me every year.At the flower shows I will buy more Tulips.They have a habit of dying after a few years so need regular replacements.When they are in flower they are glorious signs of late Spring.The last plant on my teasing list is this Kerria Japonica.These yellow ball flower buds will unfurl to look like exploding yellow pom poms.The light green and yellow glows in March sunshine.I re potted this plant to try to encourage a bigger plant with more flowers.I want stems dripping in gold.
I am off work now for ten days so I can concentrate on gardening,taking photos,doing the allotment,and going to Cheltenham to see my Mum.Its going to be a good ten days with all these flowers on the edge of (blooming) glory.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Old Rose Discoveries

I was off work today and spent a few hours up at the allotment in the March sunshine.I was too tired to do lots of digging.I have one more shift before I can concentrate on getting the plot ready for planting and sowing.
The longer days have encouraged the Gardens Roses to start growing on really well.From bare stems to leaf covered plants.This photo is of the Lady Emma Hamilton,my oldest Rose bush.I got a review copy of a new book called Women In My Rose Garden by Ann Chapman.She has an extensive collection of Roses in her New Zealand garden the Trinity Farm Living Rose Museum.She thought it would be interesting to see how the Roses were named,and look into the history of some of the women who have had Roses named after them.She has written about thirty five different Roses.The only one I have in the garden is Gertrude Jekyll.There are lots of old Roses,French Roses,and more I have not read about yet.A whole new selection of Roses for me to look for on my travels around garden centres and flower shows.
I love gardening,and books.So combining both is heavenly!The book has beautiful illustrations and text to give a brief biography of the Woman,and a brief growing description of the Rose itself.
If you love Roses try to get a copy.It is published by Hardie Grant.
I will closely follow my Roses this year as they grow and hopefully bloom with masses of scented lovely Roses.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hyacinth Suprise Blooms

I finished my four nights and can relax now for a few days.I found this Hyacinth growing under the conservatory window in the sunken border.It was one of three from an indoor pot.I planted the bulbs into the soil.I love the candy stick smell of the Hyacinths.This has survived all the building work and has flowered secretly.
They are a Spring flower that you either love or hate.I enjoy their scent,and if you have lots you can perfume the air like Arabian nights.
The cabbage seeds have started to germinate in the Greenhouse.My Grape vines buds are swelling nicely as the sap begins to rise in the warmer March days.The fruit trees buds are also starting to open now.
There are lots of Tulips with big fat flower buds that are not open yet.They will bring Spring colour explosions.Each day brings something else that has grown a bit more.Walking around the garden daily shows more Spring growth.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cats New Orchid

I bought this white Moth Orchid for Cat from the Asda Mothers Day plant section.It has gorgeous white flowers with a hint of yellow and pink in the middle.These Orchids look other worldly with their three dimensional flowers.Once these were rare,coveted,and collected from all other the world.One of my best gardening books is called "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orleans.This introduces you to the crazy world of Orchid lovers and collectors.I love the pure white of these flowers.In the camera flash light they glint like ice crystals.The Orchid is sitting on the kitchen windowsill next to my Scottish Frog.I planted the four Bearded Iris today in a long green planter.I hope they flower this year for me.I had two Iris in the sunken border but only one has survived the winter.I hope it flowers because I have lost both Labels!
The garden plants are continuing to stir.The Lilac Trees leaf buds have broken out.My Pear Tree has got the first bud opening.In the greenhouse the Grape Vines buds have started to swell along the vine.
Tulips have formed their flower heads but are carefully tucking them in.All the Roses have new red leaves growing all around them.In the soil the perennials have started to regrow.I love the surprise of seeing plants that have disappeared below the soil appearing again.
I will be able to get to the plot on Tuesday.I hope my raised beds will have been delivered by then.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Rhodie Recruits

I was too tired today to go to the allotment.My back and legs were aching from all the digging I have done recently.I wanted to go to Hampsons for a coffee and sausage sandwich,and a quick look around the plants they sell.The sun was out in patches but it was cool most of the day.I bought three new Rhododendrons for the front and back garden.There is wooding decking along the side of the front garden that holds the grass back from the driveway.I cannot believe how many Ladybirds have been nesting in the grooves within the wood.The soil is quite dry as well so they do not drown.The sunshine has caused them to leave their wooden hotel en mass and to run along the wood and all over the front grass.Every time you step you have to look out for a Ladybird.I love their bright coloured coats and how they feast on aphids on my Roses.They are fearsome predators but lovely looking. The original Rhododendron (we call them Rhodie's) we had died after we transplanted it.I bought three new ones today for about £12 each.They each have a different coloured flower.The one in the front garden is called Rhododendron Purple Splendour.This has been around since 1900 as a plant type.I bought some Ericaceous compost to dig into the ground so it would grow away happily.
The other two Rhodie's were planted in larger pots for growing on the concrete path.They give some vertical structure with their shiny green leaves and conical shaped flower buds.There is a white flowered one with a central red wine splash called Sappho,and a scarlet red flowered one called Wilgens Ruby.
I also bought some Iris Germanica Bearded White and Blue.I bought a lovely yellow dwarf Iris called Yellow Brown which has beautiful throat markings.
I planted the Rhodie Purple Splendour in the corner by the neighbours Japanese Maple.We have done more to the front garden in the past two days then we have in 18 months.I think the warm sunshine helped inspire us.
I planted my new Oriental Stargazer around the Sambuca nigra.The Freesias have also gone into the new planter box,and in the sunken border.They will make nice cut flowers for the house.
The Rhodie's should keep us with flowers in May and June for years to come flowering between the Spring Bulbs,and the Summer flowering plants.I will try to have something of interest growing all year round in the garden.
Its back to work for me tomorrow but it has been a productive few days split between the allotment and the garden.My new compost bins arrived today.Big,black,and sleek.220 litres each.They will have to go up to the plot next week after these night shifts.All I'm waiting for now is the raised beds to arrive from Derby..

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kissing Lips And Black Gold

I spent the day trying to relax at home.we went shopping to Asda before we started planting in the front garden.There were five David Austin Moliniux Rose bushes to plant,and a Himalayan Birch Tree to plant.The Betula will be vase shaped with beautiful white bark and nice dangling leaves.After all the work we did the photos do not do it justice!
We had to dig down beyond a foot of grass roots.We dug out five squares of grass to make the holes for the Rose bushes.Their year growing on meant they were full of healthy roots.They should take well in their new permanent home.The Himalayan Birch is now planted.The top leaf bud was just beginning to open so its not a moment too soon to plant it.I had to hack the grass away in a circular shape.I dug in plenty of organic compost to try and give the Tree a healthy start.I had one lot of bamboo fencing spare,so I stole a second panel from the pond to make a surrounding barrier to mark where the Trees bare soil should be.It was not perfectly circular and looks like a pair of kissing lips from the front room.The odd shape has a rustic charm.According to Bluebell Nursery's where I bought the Tree online I need to be patient.They think it will be two to three years before it shows its white bark.I had them cut off the main stem so it will grown vase shaped and not as tall as a single stemmed tree.
Cat and me worked well planting out the front garden.It looks really nice now.There are also pots by the front door with Asiatic Lily's growing again.I wander about some purple flowers trailing down where the grass drops down onto the driveway.The Moliniux Roses will flower with their brilliant Yellow Roses.
Now I have to be patient and remember to water our Tree every three days until it is well established.I cannot wait to see it grow into a mature specimen.
After we had done that I blended our Parsnip Soup and decanted it into containers for freezing.It will join the Tomato Soup,and the Carrot Soup already in the freezer.
I emptied the gardens first compost bin today.I managed to fill ten plastic bags with the black gold.These will be used to enrich the allotments raised beds once they arrive.The second compost bin is full to the top.I can now start again in the first bin.In about eight months the second bin will be ready to deposit its black gold (compost) for me.
Feeling it all soft and crumbly in my hand with no odour made me feel good.Its like gardening alchemy turning green waste into a useful garden enriching product!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Plot Revival

This was the plot at the end of my fourth day of clearing the weeds.I have started at the far end and worked my way backwards towards the shed end.The purple Broccoli is still growing and needs clearing once it is fully harvested.Amazingly over the Winter this Garlic has grown through the Soil to form these lovely glowing green leaves.The white rot stopped the Garlic growing last year.It stunted the root growth and caused the leaves to wilt before any cloves were formed.It was sunny when I took the photo.It makes weeding more pleasurable when the sun is on your face.
This Rhubarb is growing slowly on the corner of the plot beneath the gigantic Gooseberry Bush.I like its off coloured leaves growing from the crown.I have about five crowns growing on.
The weeding and digging is like riding a bike.Painful at first,but it gets easier as time goes on.I am trying to clear as much as I can before my raised beds are delivered.I have also ordered two new Compost bins for the plot.I have nearly filled a 330 litre on already!I have three large green garden waste bags filled up too.The plot generates a huge amount of green waste.I will compost it all and then dig it back into the soil.
I dug up a row of Parsnips today and have tried to make some Parsnip Soup.I harvested the rest of the Swede too.The question is what to do with all the Leeks that remain?
I could make some Soup but the freezer is already full of Carrot soup,and Tomato Soup.I need to limit what I grow to what we can use.There always seem to be gluts of certain Veg at certain times.
I have spent the past two days at the plot.Tomorrow I will be spending time shopping at Asda,and planting our Silver Birch Tree.My legs and back ache from all the digging over.

Flowers And Buds

The sun was shining yesterday and today.The Daffodils have bloomed in the spring weather.I love how they announce the changing of the season.The golden petals and orange trumpet are a welcome sight after winter.The centre of the trumpet glows like a medieval church daring insects to collect the nectar within.They are such perfect shaped flowers.There is a purity in their simple structure.I have maybe ten Daffodils growing around the garden.I want to plant more in the autumn so the border will be full of nodding Daffodils.Green and Yellow is the colour of a hopeful Spring.For the first time today I noticed that the over large leaf buds on my Lilac Tree were actually the flower buds.Like little Lilac Hyacinths the covering is teased off exposing the neat packets of Lilac flowers.There look to be about six flowering buds on the tree.It is probably two months away from flowering but I'm excited already.
The heady scent of the Lilac for a few weeks is worth the waiting the rest of the year.Its amazing what you can see if you take time to examine the small things that you are normally oblivious to.