Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday Rarities

  The sun was actually shining a bit today (the first rarity).I was weeding at the allotment earlier between flurries of snow flakes.Once I came back I wanted to go into the garden to plant my newest Strawberries.I decided also to re pot these four house plants that live on the kitchen windowsill. A Crassula (money tree), the Coffee Arabica plant, and the two Pelagoniums (Atta Of Roses, and Lotus Land).These have been moved into bigger pots to try to encourage better growth.
 I finally took the Ken Muir Strawberries "Mara De Bois", out of our kitchen fridge.I have planted these in a large potato grow bag.These are delicate French Strawberries with juicy red fruits.I used a mixture of garden compost (i had to lift the compost bin up over the compost) and Asda compost.These Strawberries are in the finest soil mix now so should fruit really well.
A new visitor (the second rarity) to the bird feeders is this shy and elusive Green finch. I have not seen them at our feeders before  a week ago.They are a big stocky looking Finch with a tough beak, and olive green feathers.The other Finches do not disturb them when they are feeding.They wait for them to fly off.
  Its the long Easter weekend starting with Good Friday tomorrow.I hope that the gardens Daffodils may flower this weekend.The flowers are breaking through their paper covering.I hope the weather stays fine and sunny.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wood Mouse Dash

   The freezing March temperatures drove out one of our secretive garden creatures.This Wood mouse was running up and down the concrete path and diving between the concrete and the wooden edge.He is amazingly quick and very nimble.The cold makes them come out to feed more plainly in sight.I have not seen the other mouse in the sunken border close to the conservatory,and there are no more tell tale signs of shredded sunflower hearts and seeds.Either that mouse has moved,or been eaten by a predator.
 The snow and wind means its not the best time to plant these Dog Roses.There is a bundle of ten Roses held in a black bag.When I bought them I thought it was one Dog Rose.These will form a low hedge along the front garden over the gravel driveway.The birds and squirrels will be able to eat the sweet Rose hips in the Autumn.
  The plants I bought from Asda are now in pots.Seven Lily Of The Valley,and Two Agapanthus Blue (the photo on the box looked purple).They are chilling in the greenhouse.Hopefully the sheltered warmth and light will make these leaves start to make chlorophyll.They have been stored in a box in Asda.
 The Three new Roses (Moliniuex, Wollerton Old Hall, and Scent Sation have been potted up in a mixture of garden/Asda compost.It was so snowy as I was trying to plant them.
Hanging on the Honeysuckle is this new slate thermometer.I need a nail in the fence post on the left hand side.
 I watched Fridays Gardeners World today about Hellebores, and Viburnum.Monty was mulching his Long meadow borders.I will mulch with the garden compost once the snow has melted.I will top dress all the pots, and have some Rose food for all the Roses.
  I have just remembered (old age forgetting?) that there are my Ken Muir Strawberries to plant.I have not decided where they are going.The Amelia Strawberries in the herb bag have died back mostly.The mixed Strawberries in the sleeper bed are thriving.The  Ken Muir plants are in the fridge!!
  Only four days left in March now.I hope it warms up soon enough for my French Strawberries,and my Rosa Canina.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Through The Ice Glass

    The big freeze continues over parts of the UK.The heavy snow we had has partially melted here in Wakefield. The BBC weatherman says the jet stream has moved south and the freezing Arctic air has flooded down, giving the UK one of the coldest March's in a century.These Icicles were hanging down outside the conservatory window.Formed from snow thawing during the day and refreezing.
 Water forms amazing structures when it freezes.I loved the clarity of the ice,and how light gets refracted through it when you look through the ice..
I have so many plants to pot up or plant now.There are 10 Dog Roses from Wilkos, Two David Austin Roses,the Rose Scent Sation, and my newly arrived Mara De Bois French Strawberries to plant.
  I went to Asda to buy some potting compost (3 for £10).I also bought some Lily Of The Valley,and some Agapanthus for the garden.These also need potting up.
 The Birds were flying in and out of the garden today to feed.They need all the help they can get as it was freezing cold.The Robin looked very Christmassy, even in late March.the clocks go forward next weekend to move us into British summer time.I hope the Russian Chill has gone by then.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Snow Story

   This was the scene this morning from the conservatory.The snow had been falling overnight,and was all over the garden.the birds were going mad for the bird food.
 The neighbouring conifers make a good foil for the falling snow that was blowing down this evening.It had been too cold, and windy to plant my roses.I bought some large pots for them, and more bird food.
 This picture sums up the second day of Spring.Snow,wind,and freezing temperatures.Apparently last year it was 15 degrees and sunny.What a difference a year makes in Yorkshire.
The weather forecast is for more snow tonight, followed by freezing days.It is not snowing now.I was getting impatient for Spring, Winter has just come back for a last icy breath.
  I bought ten Dog Roses today.I only thought there was one,but there are ten.I might make a front garden Dog Rose hedge to grow opposite the Moliniuexs.They are soaking in a bucket.I also missed the postman today who tried delivering a parcel.Cat will hopefully pick it up tomorrow for me.I dont know what it is..

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rose Fever

 It has been a busy few days for the postman.Yesterday I got the David Austin bare root roses through the post. Wollerton Old Hall, and Moliniuex. They were placed in a bucket of water in the greenhouse to fill the roots with water ready for planting.
 I went to the allotment today and dug over the sage bed.I found 28 clumps of Garlic that have regrown in the winter.I planted them in three rows in a freshly dug/manured bed, and will see if they actually grow.Some of them had started to grow the cloves like you buy in the supermarket.They must all join together eventually.It was cold and started to snow a little.My hands were frozen in the soil.It is still too cold to plant anything yet.I hope the soil warms up in a week or two.
  Gardeners World Magazine did a survey and found despite the awful rain in 2012 more gardeners were determined to grow their own fruit and veg.7% more than last year.They all agreed that the rain decimated the productivity last year.Quite a lot of people agreed they enjoyed seeing the plants grow from seeds, and enjoyed the harvesting at the end with the benefit of healthy eating, and saving money.
 When I got back home there was another delivery.This time Rose Scent Sation from Fryers Roses.They are based in Cheshire, near to Tatton Park.I need to go shopping for some large pots for the two new arrivals.The Moliniuex will be planted in the front garden where the other one died.It will be a small Rose hedge separating our garden from the neighbours. They have pink Roses under their window,so it will compliment the look of the front gardens.
 The White Rose pictured is from some flowers from Asda with Chrysanthemums,Lily's,and White Roses.The Chrysanths have lasted really well.I assume these roses were grown in Holland or Kenya.All the garden Roses are only just waking up,with small amounts of leaf growth.
  I have eight Rose bushes in pots in the back garden; Lady Emma Hamilton,RHS Harlow Carr, RHS Wisley, Darcey Bussell, Arthur Bell, The Dark lady, Margaret Merrill, and the rescued Ann Rose (thats who I dug it up from).There are four Rose Moliniuex in the front garden (soon to be joined by a fifth).
  These will be joined by Wollerton Old Hall, and HT Rose Scent Sation. I'm hoping for a couple of climbing Roses to be sent to me soon to join the Rose celebration.
 I love their flowers,the scent,and the romance of growing them.I have Rose fever I think,but they bring me great pleasure.As much pleasure as I get from growing vegetables and fruit for the kitchen table.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Equinox Eve

    It is the first day of Spring tomorrow,the vernal equinox when day and night are of equal length.the sun briefly shone today.The Collapsed Crocus actually opened its petals wide enough for me to photograph the warm sunshine centre,and red hot looking stamen.
 The upright Crocus also opened briefly before the cold forced it shut again.they are quite wise only opening in warm sunny weather when flying insects can pollinate them.
 A mysterious little Finch sat on the hexagonal bird feeder eating my sunflower hearts.I thought he was a Goldfinch, until I looked a little closer.He has a forked tail, a yellow strip across his face,and wing bars, with a speckled chest.I had to look at the photo with the RSPB handbook of British Birds.It turns out he is a Siskin. My first ever recorded here in the garden.If your camera is available you can take a quick snap to try to identify the bird later.I like knowing the names of the birds i see in the garden.
 When i went to new york the only birds I could identify were Starlings,and Blue Jays.All the others were mysterious to me.
 The Hungry Bin was full to the top of the taper.I emptied out the bottom section with all the worm casts.It has been 9 months since I got to trial the bin.It makes lots of plant fertiliser as a liquid below in the drip tray.It is solid worm casts.I will use it for the Vegetable plants.Tomatoes,and Chilli's.It needs drying out first as it was very wet.I will use the fertiliser on the Roses, Hosta's, and Fruit Trees to see if they benefit from it.All the kitchens organic waste goes into the Hungry bin.A New Zealand product!
 In the Sunken Border growing above the brightest strap leaves are these two Crocus flower buds.In shades of dark blue and pale stripey lilac.I cannot remember planting these ever,so there return has been a pleasant surprise.
 The Lilac Crocuses in situ besides Daffodils,Tulips,Primulas,Lupin,Iris,and Heuchera. The spring green colours are vibrant in front of the patio.
I got a sample of this hand cream to try called Lotil. It is very good after you have been digging the garden/plot and when your hands are dried out.It is not highly scented, and is absorbed into your hands.I would not have bought any myself,but i have found it useful after working in the garden.Do gardeners use creams after a days work toiling in the garden?
  I hope the longer days mean I can get into the garden more and get my hands dirty (which i love).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Garden Shows 2013

   Its raining again outside so I'm making some chicken stock from the bones of the roast dinner from yesterday.I love how my Aquilegia regrows each year from the ground.Mine seem to be perennials not annuals?These are the Dragonfly Mix colours,big blooms with long spurs trailing behind them.
 The Chinese Tree Peony has regrown spectacularly from the stem that sticks out of the soil.There is one flower bud that I can see.It should be a shocking magenta bloom when it flowers.It has been growing for two years with no flowers.Lets hope 2013 is its first year of blooming.
 The Rose Darcy Bussell is miles ahead of all the other roses.She has grown masses of healthy new leaves.Her pot sits by the red brick of the conservatory. I wander if this keeps the pot a few degrees warmer than the surrounding border and pots on the pathway.
I watched Gardeners World on You View and saw a man talking about his favourite Hybrid Tea Roses.He said one was called Scent Sation and smelt like Turkish delight.I have ordered it from Fryers Roses to join my other collection.I still have two bare root Roses on order from David Austin Roses.
  The Internet is terrible (or good) for can read Blogs (like mine),get advice about clematis, or sowing vegetable seeds,peruse seed merchants,and look at thousands of plants which you can buy with just a few clicks.The world is brought much closer from the comfort of your own home.
  I had a look today at the dates of the Harrogate Spring flower show (25th-28th April), RHS Chelsea flower show (May 21-25th),Great Yorkshire Show (9th-11th July), and finally RHS Tatton Park flower show (25th-28th July).For me the shows are a good way of breaking the year up into highlights
 I have booked two tickets already for the Great Yorkshire show.
   I'm hoping to go the Harrogate spring flower show in April for one of the days.They are going to build a greenhouse using canes and 2000 pop bottles.It has much more going on than in previous years.
     It the 100th anniversary RHS Chelsea flower show.It was started in 1913.The daily telegraph had good sepia photos of some of  the earliest Flower shows.It was still popular in the early days as what it is now.
I love the Queens visit,and the Press/celebrity day on the Monday before it opens.How many new flowers will be named after famous people?Will Alan Titchmarsh show the Queen around again?
  Prince Harry's charity in Lesotho has a Chelsea garden this year so i wander if he will dig a few plants in.His Dad (Prince Charles) is already famous for his horticultural/organic interests so i wander if any of the green fingers have passed down in the genes?
 The RHS Chelsea flower of the year 2010 Steptocarpus Harlequin is still growing here in Wakefield on our kitchen windowsill.When ever it flowers it reminds me of Chelsea.Gardening trends and plants start off here,and are broadcast around the world.One day i might actually go to it (instead of watching it on the BBC).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Garden Colours

    I started off today going into town to buy some more bird food for the garden birds.More wild bird seed mix,sunflower hearts,suet snack, and fat snax with insects or meal worms in.I would hate to think how much money per year I spend on feeding the birds.They are like substitute pets really.They come and go as they please.I hope that all the food and water makes them like our garden as a safe haven in an urban setting.
 I planted two Primulas in the baskets but they have been ravaged by the frosts.The sunken border plants have slightly more protection, or a micro climate under the conservatory windows.I love the magenta colour of these flowers against the frost damaged blue.
I got these beautiful tea light holders from  Jo Alexander, a family run business in Cambridge.I hope that the summer is dry enough for a barbecue.
These will help create ambiance in the evening.I might buy some citronella candle tea lights to keep the insects away.I love the rustic design, and the little glasses that fit inside these holders.They are 90 cm tall and are waiting to be used.
  I came back home and the sun was shining a bit.I felt motivated to do some more planting and sowing.I bought some Garlic from Wilkos.It is now planted in two tubs on the patio,just next to the Bramley Apple tree.
   I sowed some Oriental Mustard,and Mizuna seed in a tub.I want to try to grow peppery or spicy leaves to eat.I liked baby Rocket leaves when i tried them,and the red mustard that I got with the African grow bag before.I will try to sow rows every two weeks now to have a steady supply..
  I also planted four Asiatic Lily's called Black Out in a pot.They will contrast to the bright crayola colours of the mass planted pots on the path.They are orange,pink,yellow,and red Asiatic Lily's.
 I will do my Herbs,and flower seeds tomorrow.I also have some Anemone De Caens to plant in the sunken border and in a selection of pots around the garden.The Tomatoes have now moved back into the cooler greenhouse under the plastic lid.I want them to grow sturdy and not leggy.The Chili seeds are stubbornly not germinating in the conservatory.I need patience,not my strong gardening point.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Three Things

   The post title is about three things that are sat on the conservatory windowsills.This year I decided to try and start off the Tomatoes and Chilli's inside the warmth of the house before moving them into the greenhouse to grow on.The Tomatoes are called Brandywine, and they have all germinated like crazy.I think there were about forty seeds.I will probably grow a dozen plants, the strongest seedlings.Who needs heated propagators?
 My seed potatoes for the allotment are chitting on the windowsill.The Belle De Fontenay, and Shetland Black Potatoes are growing nicely.At the end of March I will plant them in two raised beds up at the allotment.I spent today digging in seven bags of farmyard and house manure into the raised beds.I hope these Potatoes will grow well and crop magnificently.
The third photo shows a plant I got from Hampsons.It is grown around the world to make my favourite hot beverage,a Coffee Arabica plant.I love how glossy the leaves are.Imagine all the coffees in the world start off from these plants.I am enjoying trying to keep it healthy and growing on.
  It's been raining most of the day.I got very wet at the allotment trying to mix the manure into the dug raised beds.I have some areas left to clear,and the black paths to be made around the raised beds.I really need it to be drier for a bit as the allotment is very muddy and soggy underfoot.
  I have just watched comic relief on bbc1 and bbc 2 for a good few hours.I hope they raise lots of money for all the causes they mentioned on their videos.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ice,Snow,And Stawberries

    The weather has changed back to wintry again.The pond was frozen over the top this morning.The water was slush puppy like when i took the photo.Luckily the frogs and newts can dive into the deep water under the mud and rocks to keep the icy cold away.
 The bird baths,and the grape vine soil were frozen.A hard frost had happened overnight.It was only minus two this morning,despite the sunshine.
 The lady of the garden is showing signs of frost damage.The white alabaster is being shattered by the freezing temperatures and warming sunshine.
 She has a cracked head, and the left shoulder has a big hole where it has shattered.I will need to buy a new statue soon.I think I got her from Victoria nursery for about £45.The Yorkshire weather takes its toll on all the garden ornaments.Another excuse to buy more then!
 These white Pine berries are on the second year of the trial.They produced no fruit at all last year.I'm hoping that this year they will fruit so i can taste a strawberry that is like pineapple.One of the supermarkets tried selling them a year ago.I top dressed the tub with our garden made compost.
   It is totally rotted down to chocolate brownie mix.The bin needs its contents decanting,so i can start the process off again.The first bin is full to overflowing.I will regularly water it,and compress it down.The worms will find their way in and make another 180 litres of garden compost.All the garden waste goes into the two compost bins.The kitchen waste goes into the hungry bin to feed the tiger worms.They have nearly made fresh compost too from worm casts.
 My little gardening job today was to clear the Strawberry beds of excess dead leaves from last year.It will hopefully expose the new growth to light and encourage good leaf growing.I still have French Strawberries on order from Ken Muir but they have not arrived yet.
 A surprise visitor today was hanging around the bird feeder upside down.Even when i went in the garden he just sat on the fence looking at me.He has a taste for the birds suet snack,much loved by the Blue tits.He left raking teeth marks down the suet.
 The sun was shining on his fur.They are so acrobatic climbing up and down things.The squirrels use my bird feeding stations like trees,sitting on the top and looking around for rival squirrels.He chased one out of the garden and through the trees that border the gardens.They are so quick and agile.
I went online yesterday to buy a new Rose Moliniuex to replace the middle on that has died.I thought it would be lonely so I also ordered a Rose called Wollerton Hall.A highly scented one to sit by the rose bench.They will be delivered in either March or April.
 Its strange weather with sunshine,a blustery wind,and occasional flurries of snow flakes.Back to work for me tonight.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Birthday Boy And Rain

 It was my birthday on the 5th March.I was born forty years ago in a maternity hospital in Swindon.I was working night shifts and came home to the nigella lights and the banner.
 Cat bought me these two books.A street cat called Bob, and a book about the original Mr Selfridge.Hils bought me a station clock for the garden that you can read from two sides.
 I spent three hours at the very muddy plot today trying to dig over the raised beds.I took another six bags of manure to add to the raised beds.It was wet and cold today,and the soil was very claggy from the rain.The plot is saturated in places.
 This is the view from the shed down to the conservatory.
The sunken border has some nice coloured flowers and textures of newly growing leaves.The Daffodils are growing beautifully with big flower heads.The Ceanothus,and Butterfly Bush are growing after their trimming.
  The weather is going to get worse tomorrow with heavy rain all day,and maybe snow.Winter does not want to release its grip just yet.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Seeds and Starlings

   I finally got out into the greenhouse today to start sowing the early Vegetable and Sweet Pea seeds.I have decided that the Tomatoes,and Chili's will start off in the conservatory.Once germinated they will migrate into the greenhouse.The two types of Chili's I have sown are Jalapeno,and Scotch Bonnet.Last years seeds never germinated at all so I'm hoping 2013 will be more productive.These two plants (Chili's and Tomatoes) are my favourite to grow.The end fruit is always a joy to cook with,or eat fresh from the plant.There are double the amount of Jalapenos to Scotch Bonnets.
 The greenhouse has received its first seed trays of the year.I sowed Celeriac Monarch,Leeks Musselburgh, Cabbage Derby Day,Kohl Rabi, and three varieties of Sweet Peas. Navy Blue,Supreme White,and Fragrant mixed.These will adorn the metal spirals in the barrel planters next to the back door.There are plug plants of scented night phlox,and Nemesia ordered from online.It will be a scented garden to excite the senses.
I heard the birds flying in when I was in the greenhouse.They flew off as soon as I came out of there.The feeders have been topped up, a new fat snack put on the bird table.The Chaffinch,Robin,and Wren have been in the garden.Along with the usual Goldfinches,Blackbirds,Collared Doves,House Sparrows,and a few argumentative Starlings.
 I saw a buzzard circling high up in the sky with his wings stretched trying to find thermals.He was so high in the sky he eventually disappeared from sight.I spotted Frogs in the pond last night.My torchlight safari found two together, and one in the deepest part of the pond.
  I have taken out three flower packets too to sow after my nights.Nasturtium Empress Of India,Dwarf French Marigold,and Antirrhinum Monarch Mixed.I have some Anemone De Caen to plant too on Thursday.
  Sowing seeds from your hands into fresh compost is good for the soul.It is the start of the garden growing season.Watching the seeds germinate,and grow is part of the magic and beauty of nature.Being able to cook with these self grown ingredients is also wonderful.Fingers crossed they all germinate.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Crocus Sunday

   It was a day of rest for me today after two long days.I was too tired to go to the allotment.I just chilled at home and admired the flowers in the garden.I love the colours of these new Primulas.I planted six new plants before so there would be some colour to look at.
 The Crocus in the Lilac tree pot have regrown.Three cigar shaped flower buds with brown and yellow stripes.They have previously not flowered just collapsed like they had been eaten by something.
I will try to get a photo tomorrow of them open with their red stamen inside the golden cups.When the sun shone briefly they were open.When I came back from Asda they had closed up again.Even the front gardens snowdrops were open for a while.The flowers only open when the weather is nice and they can attract pollinators.If it gets too cool they close up again.I need a nice sunny day and to have the camera close to hand.
 I am working nights next week (including my birthday on Tuesday).I will sow some seeds tomorrow to put in the greenhouse.I have them laid out on the table.I am growing 24 varieties of Vegetables from Seeds.I want to order some Garlic to try and grow some in the garden.I have not managed to grow any yet.The cold wet weather gives the leaves rust,and then the foliage dies back before they can grow lots of juicy cloves.I want to make lots of garlic bread with the garden grown garlic.
  The sun is rising earlier and setting later.The temperature has gone up a bit.Plants are coming out of their winter slumbers.The crocus is a good indicator the seasons are changing.