Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Floral Surprises

 We have come back from our week away in the Lake District.A stunning part of the country that I have never seen before.I came back to masses of flowers that had starting blooming in our absence.This Bee loves the Red Clover growing in our wildflower area.I saw masses of pollinating insects here.
 Our first posy's of the year.The Sweet Peas are blooming away nicely.The more you cut them the more they flower.The scent from these filled the conservatory and reached the bottom of the stairs.There are three varieties, David Bellamy,William and Catherine,and Spencer Mixed.these were late sowings as well as i was too disorganised to sow any in the winter!
 This is the first sumptuous Bishop Of Llanduff flower.They over wintered in the shed and the dark foliage has sprung up quickly.I love the deep crimson colours of the blooms.
 The Asiatic Lily's have bloomed all together at the back giving orange,red,pink,and yellow flowers.They do not smell but look great.I want to buy more of these in different colours to give a wider variety of flowers.The Lily Beetles do not seem to have done much to the flowering potential of these.
 I thought this was a Toad Lily but it is a scented Pink Phlox,and it is stunning.The flowers are iridescent and glow even in the poor evening light of a cloudy sky.They smell faintly of cloves but quite sweet.
The White flower of Sweet Pea William and Catherine.There seem to be two colours.A salmon pink,and this white flower growing in the pot.
 Its the last day of July.The days of summer will be fading fast.This year seems to be have been an almighty wash out.
 I have been watching the Olympics since the amazing opening ceremony.I loved watching the conclusion of the equestrian 3 day eventing.The show jumping was fabulous!
 I am back to blogging as well now after a little summer rest.I need to upload some Lake District photos too to show how glorious it is in the north west,,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pine Lake Weekend

 We are staying in this lovely three bedded Lodge that overlooks the infamous Lake.There are not a lot of Pine Trees however,but lots of Waterfowl,shrubs, and deciduous trees.
 The swan and six cygnets were swimming along the lake shore when we arrived.They are so graceful,and powefull Swans.
 The Lake shore is lined with Lodges on two sides.The reception,restaurant,kids area,and entertainment area sit on the western end.The east end of the lake  is a bird sanctuary and not accessible.
 When we walked around the lake shore we stumbled on this British Orchid growing above the lapping water of the lake.
 The first night saw this cheeky duck who we called Kingsmill (after our loaf of bread) who flew onto the lodges patio and tapped on the window with his beak.We gave him two pieces of bread,then read do not feed the birds!oops..
 When we walk along the road to the reception we went past this Wisteria in a pot.The first thing we noticed was it was growing inside the window as well as outside.There is a special guest residing between the Violas..
 This Duck is nestled down so far that she cannot be spotted until you look right into the pot.She is brooding some eggs and has been there for the last 3 days.
 The sun briefly shone and I snapped this Blue Damsel Fly on the green leaf.They are very difficult to photograph as they keep flying away if you get too near them.
 Growing nearby to a lodge was a Butterfly bush just like ours.This Butterfly was basking in the sunshine yesterday and enjoying the nectar.
These Beetles were on the white flowers by the Orchids.They love the nectar on offer.We have spent the weekend relaxing.There are lots of visits planned for the week to see as much of the Lake District as is possible.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday In Carnforth

We are in Carnforth today on the edge of the Lake District.We are spending a week here exploring the surrounding lakes,villages, and mountains.I have the camera and the laptop to upload the photos of what we do every day.
 Our lodge overlooks a lake full of water fowl.The area is famous for William Wordworth writing about Daffodils near Ullswater.
 The sun actually shone yesterday for a few hours.I hope that the weather is nice for our week away.
 The Astrantias are looking beautiful,framed by the Norfolk Reeds.
 I have photos of Swans and Cygnets,and a cheeky Duck called Kingsmill.I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hungry Bin Update

 The new Omlet home food waste compost wormery has been in use for a few weeks now.I have been checking the top of the composter every few days.The worms have become benign garden spirits, as I think what will the worms eat today and are they still healthy?
 A potato sack covers the vegetable peelings and kitchen waste.The only things they do not eat is onions,chilli's,meat,oil,pasta, and dairy products.The tiger worms naturally live on the forest floor in the leaf mould layer of the ground.
 We use a lot of vegetables,potatoes, and Cat eats lots of fruit.The skins and generated kitchen waste is added to the top of the compost bin.It cannot be more than an inch a day,and needs mixing with shredded paper,dry grass clippings,or sawdust to balance the decomposition.Apparently too much acidity will kill the worms,and if it is too rotten it also kills them by starving them off oxygen.Its like real life wriggling Tamogatchis!
 They dislike the light so as soon as you open the bin to look they burrow downwards into the soil.They are making worm casts and these will move down to the bottom of the inverted pyramid shaped compost bin,which eventually will feed the plants in the garden.
This rogue worm was under the potato sacking.You can see the stripes along its body.The booklet said it would be about six months before I can harvest fresh quality soil from the bottom of the compost bin.It is also supposed to make plant fertiliser but as yet no liquid has dripped from the bottom of the bin.
 I will mark the progress of the Tiger worms here.

Garden Changes

  The rain has fallen so often that July is in danger of being washed out.The surviving Roses have been cheering me up.This Arthur Bell is the only Rose on the plant.Black spot has infected quite a lot of the plants.It is so vibrant with its lemon yellow petals,and scent.
 Blooming beautifully as well outside the conservatory is the Butterfly Bush.I hope for some hot dry weather so we can attract the local butterflies.The coppiced growth has seen it grow about twelve feet and the rain has pushed a lot of the stems sideways towards the bird feeders.
 After the conservatory was built we lost the space to have the outside table and chairs.We wanted a patio area built for sitting out,and having barbecues (assuming it ever stops raining).Half the grass was dug up and moved to by the kitchen wall.A stone base layer was layed down and compacted in the space.That was day one.
I worked two long days and the Patio was finished on days two and three.It cannot be walked on until tomorrow.I have been imagining planting combinations along the edge of it.The concrete path and the fence on the left were not parallel so a line of stones has been used to fill the gaps.
 The Mole has been busy digging on the bottom right hand corner!The Bramley Apple Tree will keep growing in the corner alongside the Strawberry bed.
 We still have grass at the front of the house,and the half a lawn at the back  bordered by the pond, greenhouse,and path to the shed.
 I have one more day to work before we are going to the Lake District for a week.I'm praying the weather is kinder to us.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Water and Wildlife

  The rain continues to fall heavily today after a nice warm sunny day yesterday.The rain is like an ever present part of 2012.It has effected events,farming,flooding,and gardening.The pond has been topped up nicely by mother nature.It has battered the wildflowers around it so they bend down over the edges of the pond.It is a haven for wildlife and a safe refuge for insects,amphibians,and small spiny mammals!
 The Water Lily tantalisingly opened with the hint of sunshine.As the day goes on it closes again.It is only open in good conditions.It must be a survival strategy to open when the conditions are favourable and when pollinators are flying around.Our small pond has a small water lily but it has still grown ten lily pads,and two massive flower buds.Much bigger than last year.
 The resident Frogs seem happy with the mixture of marginal plants,pollinators,and a few pond weeds that have dropped in.The Newts were also swimming around the pond last night when i shined the torch into the water.
 The Astilbe has flowered again for the second year.It has fine feathery flowers over delicate leaves.I would like more of these around the edge of the pond.I have a mixture of plants that were available when we planted around it.
 This was the long view when it was not raining.the Flag Iris is in the top right hand of the photo.It has not flowered at all this year.I plan to split the pot and plant some into the garden.These are growing in soil at the hospital so it does not have to be immersed in water.The pond is lovely to sit next to and to look in the water to see the bugs and mini beasts swimming around.Frogs and Newts seem to love it,so the healthy water balance must be right.
Another visitor I have been seeing around the garden is this Hedgehog.I found her asleep under the Strawberry bed netting.Then the other morning I saw her snuffling around the garden in daylight.She looked healthy,with all four limbs okay.Eventually she went to sleep by the greenhouse under a green seed tray.The websites say Hedgehogs are nocturnal and only come out in the day if they are injured or poorly.Our Mrs Tiggy Winkle went to sleep then was gone when I checked later.I wander if she got disturbed in her nest?
  The pond is a constant source of pleasure.I just need to control my wildflowers so you can actually see the waters edge.The birds,insects,and wildlife always keep me going outdoors to look for them.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Storms And Garden Highlights

 The terribly wet British summer has continued and caused the 2nd and 3rd days of the Great Yorkshire show to be cancelled.I will blog my first day highlights.The weather is wreaking havoc this year with outdoor events like show jumping,or music festivals.One plant in the garden that has grown magnificently is the Buddleja Black Knight.It is now maybe ten feet tall and draped in purple flower buds that smell lovely.I'm hoping for some sunshine so the Butterflies can find their way to the plant.
 It was cut back to within a foot of the ground but has grown like mad.The garden birds love alighting on it to wait for a good time to eat the sunflower hearts.The small purple flowers are beginning to open slowly.they have a rich earthy smell.
 Another plant that has loved the heavy rains is Cats Hostas.There are flower buds growing out of every pot in white and purple colours.The waxy leaves direct the water down the stems into the base.We just top dress the pot with fresh compost every year and new growth bursts upwards.There has been a lot of slug damage on the smaller pots that are closer to the ground.I want to buy lots of copper tape to go along the rims of the pots to prevent mollusk damage.
 The Black Bamboo is growing really well.New shoots have grown about four feet high with no stick to keep them upright.I am going to paint my canes black so they blend with the Bamboos  bark colour.They need re potting in their bigger pots.The foliage makes a lovely noise as the wind rustles through it.I love the shiny black stems of the mature canes.
 In the greenhouse the Grapes have started to form.Little small green globes beneath the serrated vine leaves.The vine has grown all the way up the trellis and is now running along the greenhouse roof.The greenhouse needs replacing so it will have to be pulled down off that or trimmed back down.I hope that these Grapes ripen in this dreadfully wet summer.
 The Sweetcorn Lightning growing in a grow bag in front of the compost bin.The plants have grown magnificently in the wet conditions.I hope that my mini block of four plants will cross pollinate each other.I'm hoping for a few corn cobs at least!
 The Asiatic Lily's in the back garden have begun to bloom.Crimson red, and the odd Orange coloured one so far.These have survived an early attack of Lily Beetles earlier in the year.I have so many Lily's that i think they got indigestion!
 The Violet coloured Geranium has regrown a second batch of flowers.The rain seems to have encouraged this plant back into new growth.It was flopping outwards from the centre,but has now grown new fresh foliage from the centre of the plant topped off with these lovely flowers.
 The Roses have suffered a lot with the heavy rain.Black spot is rife,and several of the Rose bushes have dropped all their leaves.Gertrude Jekyll here is a fighter and has a few more Rose buds formed.
 The Apples on the Mallus Braeburn continue to swell and grow in size.There are now a record 12 Apples on the tree.The new fruit Trees are growing well in the ground and a pot.The Pear and Bramley Trees look good.The Cherry Tree has finally lost all the black aphids and ants.I do not know if the rain drove them off or if they have finished a breeding season?I will use tape at the bottom of the Tree next spring to stop the ants defending the Aphids and rolling the leaves up.I will place all my Ladybirds on the Cherry Tree.
 The White Lupins contrast beautifully to the luscious green foliage below them.I think I would like more of these.White and green is very calming..
 The other plants that benefited from the rain are our Sweet Peas.They have shot up the swirling silver poles.the poor Petunias underneath have been ripped to shreds by raindrops.they are too delicate for summer storms.I hope to have a bumper year of Cut flowers to decorate the house and conservatory.
The last photo shows the Coriander flowering.I grew this from Seed,and have enjoyed just eating leaves off the plant.The flavour is delicious,and much beloved in Asian and South Asian cooking.I hope that we get a few sunny days so I can get to the neglected allotment,and spend time in the garden.
 We are having a new Paved area laid down on half the grass to site a table and chairs,and maybe a two seated swing seat.The washing line needs moving too.There will still be some grass for the bees and insects..
 The garden continues to grow and bloom despite the difficult conditions.We need to cherish what has survived hazardous conditions.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Rain And Strawberries

 The jet stream has brought us more torrential rain today.In some places a months average rainfall has fallen in a day.The rain water was running down the garden path.The greenhouse floor was flooded as the rain poured through the holes in the plastic tarpaulin.My green planter box was flooded again with water.One plant that is enjoying the rain is the Apple Braeburn in the pot.English Apples love sunshine and rain.We have had plenty of the second!The gardens Sweetcorn are also loving the wet conditions.
I put out more bird food.The house sparrows were gathered under the cover of the squirrel proof feeder eating the sunflower hearts.I need to buy some more fat balls as they have ran out.
 The wildflowers by the pond have been flattened by the hard rain we have been having.This is the Astrantia Major,one of my blogs favourite flowers.Its growing by Red Clover,and Birds Foot Trefoil.
  The garden is looking very lush,with a few rain battered flowers.I have just eaten a bowl of our home grown Strawberries with fresh cream.Perfect after watching the men's singles semi finals at Wimbledon this afternoon/evening.Well done to Roger Federer,and Andy Murry who are both through to the final on Sunday.
 It is dry at the moment with lots of birds singing away in the evening twilight.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Blooming Surprises

 I have finished my latest set of night shifts and came back to find the garden awash with new blooming flowers.These Freesias scent the air outside the conservatory and when you come back to the house this is what you can smell.They are strongly scented and I will try to grow lots more next year.
 The Poppy that was growing under the Sambuca has flowered.It has a massive double flowered poppy with black and red ladybird petals.the central yellow bit looks like a sweet.
 It has been pouring with rain so the Poppy is a bit bedraggled,there is one more bud left to flower though.I cannot remember sowing any Poppy seeds here..
 The Asiatic Lily's by the front door have begun to flower.I think there were five different colours and these red ones have started to flower first.
Despite the Lily beetles best intentions these look to be flowering beautifully.They look amazing above the strappy leaves.
 We have a few days off to recover,but the weather forecast is for heavy rain and thunderstorms.I hope to get to the plot over the next few days..