Friday, 26 April 2013

An April Flower Posy . Fishpond Maintenance and a Bamboo Screen

It was the beginning of February when I last posted pictures of a posy of flowers.  There was nothing to see in March, zilch, nada, nowt.  But April, well, that's a different story - suddenly the garden is full of colour - albeit, only from spring bulbs - but at least it's something.

Here is a selection of what is in flower at the moment, narcissus of all shapes and sizes, some with fragrance some not.  Tulips are starting to open and the Grape Hyacinths are coming into their own.

I am enamoured by spring flowers both in the garden and in posies in the house, they are so precious because I have waited so long for them to appear.  They lend such cheer to the garden shining out against the fresh green of the grass and foliage.

The miniature Minnow is a particular favourite, such delicate pale lemon petals, two or three flower heads on one stalk.  Exquisitely simple and beautiful.

These are a fragrant, multi-petalled type, called Bridal Bouquet their heads hang for the sheer weight of the flower heads. 

This is another multi-headed type - again, I am not sure of the name, I believe it came in a mixed bag of bulbs.  Last year the mice ate all the daffodil bulbs I stored overwinter, so I had to start again.  My choices haven't disappointed - all I have to do now is find a mouseproof way to store them once they have been removed from the containers.
The first of the tulips to open are two shades of orange - these were from last year - I put them in a spare piece of ground thinking that they wouldn't flower again, tulips seem to have a habit of not coming back for a second year - but I have been proved wrong with this variety - a lovely vibrant colour.  Looking forward to seeing more tulips opening over the next week or so then I have to chose what I am going to fill the containers with to see me through the summer.  Decisions, decisions.

Although the primroses and pansies have been flowering on an off all winter, the sun and warmth has really brought them on and they are flowering their little heads off. Joy.

Oh and I mustn't forget the Forsythia.

Fishpond Maintenance

Last weekend was a really busy one, all sorts of jobs were completed including draining the fishpond.  We chose to have an expert to come and sort the pond out for us.  Someone with all the right equipment.  You should have seen the amount of silt that was at the bottom of the pond - two barrow loads full of really smelly black stuff.

There were frogs and toads hiding in the bottom which were safely removed to our wildlife pond further up the garden.  The water is now sparkling clear with no silty bits floating about - we were overstocked with fish - the large pink fish who lost her eye is the Big Momma and she produces lots of young every year - we gave a dozen small fry to a friend who lost all her fish to the heron - so everyone is happy.  It was a messy job well done and all the silt went on to the compost heap - lovely jubbly.

You can see right down to the bottom now - 3ft. - where we have installed a bag of barley straw in the hope of keeping blanket weed at bay.

Bamboo Screening
The other big job that the beloved completed was to erect a bamboo screen across the end of the garden.  We have nothing behind our garden but fields and we are very high up so the winds rip through the garden.  My raised beds get the full brunt of the wind so the screen now filters it beautifully and will help to give a bit of shelter for those more tender plants.  There was a lot of cursing going on whilst it was being erected , but it was worth all the hassle.

Just some finishing touches needed this weekend.

A Book to Read
When Harold Fry leaves home one morning to post a letter, with his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other.  He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone.  All he knows is that he must keep walking.  To save someone else's life.

A Dish to Make

Cottage Pie
So that was my week - I'm off to the hairdressers tomorrow - I let my hair grow a bit longer over the winter - but now it's getting on my nerves so snip,snip, snip - I may have to spend next week with a bag over my head if the hairdresser gets over-enthusiastic.  Gulp.

How has your week been in the garden?

Friday, 19 April 2013

A New Lavender Hedge . Replacement Plants . The Heron Saga

Spring has finally arrived, and suddenly everyone has something to blog about.  At this time of year I just can't keep up with commenting and reading other people's posts, they are coming thick and fast, so I apologise if I haven't been able to visit you recently.  There is just so much to do in the garden and greenhouse which has been limiting my computer time quite considerably. Now if only the gales we have been having would go back to where they came from I would really like to get on with organising the garden.

I mentioned last week that my Lavender was looking the worse for wear after the harsh winter so I decided, in the end, to replace it with new plants.  Homebase were selling 3 for £9 - healthy looking and bushy, so I bought two lots.  I have put them in a new position and they look so much better than the scraggy old ones.

I lost quite a few plants over winter so I have replaced those too.

l to r:  aubretia / lavatera (barnsley)/ dianthus / erysimum

It seems that the plants fared better that disappeared underground - those on the surface perished.

It has been an expensive week in the garden - at the weekend we bought bamboo fencing to act as a windbreak at the top of the garden (pictures next week hopefully) and three bags of shredded bark to top up the paths plus a new grow-house cover.

I like to add a new fruit tree every year and decided on a patio peach as my choice for this year.

I have never tried to grow a peach treee before, not sure how long it will take to fruit - if it ever does - but there are plenty of buds on it so I will just have to wait and see.

Elsewhere in the garden there is definitely an improvement, lots of spring things have come into flower - so at least the garden doesn't look quite as bleak as it did a couple of weeks ago.

And I have been sowing lots of flower seed to fill in all the gaps that are bound to appear as the year wears on - quite a few have already germinated.

Sorry that this has been such a long post - but there seems to be a lot to fit in this week - things are moving along quite nicely.

Memory Corner

I thought I would show you a picture of my gorgeous red-haired boy Dusty aka Dustyboots - he died a few years ago now but is still greatly missed - our neighbour christened him SCUD 'cos when he saw a cat in the garden he was out through the redundant cat flap like a SCUD missile.

A Book to Read

They forget that their wives had an important meeting that morning;
they forget to pick up the dry cleaning;
some of them even forget their wedding anniversary.
But Vaughan has forgotten he even has a wife - her name, her face,
everything they ever did together - it has all gone, mysteriously
wiped in one catastrophic moment of memory loss.  And now he has
rediscovered her - only to find that they are getting divorced.
Is it too late for him to turn back the clock and reclaim his life?

I am always moaning that my garden looks pretty dull in winter
so when I found this book for £1.50 in a charity shop
I snapped it up - maybe I'll see an improvement in the garden next winter now.

and finally
The Heron Saga

You remember I had to cover the pond because I had spotted a Heron at the top of the garden - well, my husband took the net off at the weekend whilst he was cleaning out the pump or something and didn't replace it. 
The Heron must have been down early the next morning and this happened

I don't know whether you can see this clearly but the fish, our largest,
has a big bruise right around the eye - but the eye socket is
The Heron must have attempted to catch it and pecked its eye out.
We are just hoping no infection will set in.  The fish seems okay for the moment.
And guess what - the beloved soon put the net back on.
Talk about shutting the door after the horse has bolted.
Hey ho!

Friday, 12 April 2013

An unwanted garden visitor . Chionodoxa and Lots of Seed Sowing

Nothing much has changed in the garden since my last post despite the weather warming up a little.  A few more miniature daffodils have opened but still no sign of the proper ones - they are still tightly in bud and refuse to open.

 But, there is one glimmer of new life

The Chionodoxa have decided to flower I love this colour blue.  The Crocus are still blooming away

I have never known them flower for this long, even the Snowdrops are still flowering, although I didn't bother to take a picture of them as they are old hat now.

The Primmys are still going strong too.  I am just grateful for anything showing a bit of colour at the moment.

I have also been sowing flower seed in the greenhouse Marigolds, Cornflowers and wild flowers etc. really looking forward to filling the flower beds and seeing the results - praying for a good summer. One sad thing is that the Lavender bushes don't seem to have survived the prolonged cold and snow. 

As you can see they are in a sorry state - I think I will have to replace them if they don't pick up - must have Lavender in the garden, no matter what.
Nature Notes 

We had an unwanted visitor to the garden this morning.  A Heron.  Unwanted,  because we have a fish pond, and if allowed he would eat the lot of them.  He did look rather majestic though surveying the kingdom from the top of a tree at the end of the garden.
I opened the back door to shoo him off and he gracefully glided away. 

Just to be on the safe side I have put the net back over the pond.  He was spotted in the village yesterday as well, he must be hungry and looking for food in all the garden ponds.  NOT IN MY POND YOU DON'T.

Paul, the farmer, has let his cows out into the back field behind our house - I love to see animals in the fields again and the first day he lets them out they are so excited running and kicking their legs out - so glad to be out of their winter quarters.

Nostalgia Corner

Here are one or two more photos that I found in last weeks shortlived spring clean (I haven't done anything since - slapped wrists) I have been too busy outdoors.
Another picture of my beloved goats enjoying the sunshine in the field full of buttercups - I don't know where all the buttercups went because these days there isn't a single one - weird that.

And this is me, with my knobbly knees, having a word with Boy my male goat, who got smellier and stinkier the nearer my girls came into season.  Unfortunately he came into milk which sometimes happens with male goats, there is a word for it which I can't bring to mind at the moment.  The vet was baffled, and said he had never heard of it happening before and didn't know what to do about it.  I had to milk him in the end to relieve the pressure that was building up - oh dear, what a job.  Happy days!

A Meal to Make

Smoked Haddock Chowder with crispy bacon

A Book to Read

The Finest Type of English Womanhood

It is 1946, and seventeen-year-old Laura Trelling is stagnating in her dilapidated Sussex home, while her eccentric parents slip further into isolation.  A chance encounter with Paul Lovell offers her the opportunity to alter the course of her destiny - and embark on a new life in South Africa.
Many miles north, sixteen-year-old Gay Gibson is desperate to escape Birkenhead.  When the girls paths cross is Johannesburg, Laura is exposed to Gay's wild life of parties and inappropriate liaisons.  Each in her own world, but thrown together, the girls find their lives inextricably entangled, with fatal consequences.

So that was my week, the cold north-easterly wind dropped and the temperature rose just a little, enough to entice me out of doors and tempt the flowers into bloom, we still haven't had any rain yet, but the frogs are still going bananas in the pond laying masses of frogspawn - perhaps they know something we don't!

Have a great weekend everyone - spring it is a-comin'

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Sad and Sorry State of the Rosebank Garden in April . Spring Cleaning and a Hidden Surprise

My garden hasn't taken kindly to the icey blasts of wind and blizzards this spring.  One or two brave plants have put out expectant buds but others have succumbed to the cold weather and I am not sure whether they will survive in their wait for more warmer weather.

Daffodils / Crocus / Tulips and Pansies

There is still very little to show in the garden - everything has been on hold for so long - just waiting for its chance to shine.

The spring borders which would, in a normal year, be full of colour, are struggling.

Everything is dried up and the soil is barren.

Only the evergreen plants are hanging on to their foliage - sadly some look the worse for wear - like the cotoneaster tree in the front garden, whose evergreen leaves are burnt, as you can see from the photo below.  The leaves are sparse and it doesn't look very healthy at all

The leaves have been scattered all over the lawn and onto the borders
I really hope it isn't damaged irrevocably as the birds feast on the berries all winter.

You can see the ground is still frozen - this bed was full of tulips till something unknown, probably a badger, dug them up.

The hellebores have flopped and are looking pretty sorry for themselves

The rhubarb is through but nowhere near as advanced as others I have seen
but the rosemary seems to be doing all right

The garden really does appear to be in  a sorry state and I am not sure how many plants I will have lost over winter but I am going to start sowing flower seed this weekend - from the look of it I am going to have a lot of gaps to fill.

Spring Cleaning

I was listening to Radio 4 this morning and heard an interview with a 96 year old woman talking about how spring cleaning had been a yearly ritual all her life.  It put the idea into my head and I decided to start on the spare room.  Big mistake!  It took me all day and now I'm absolutely pooped.  But one or two good things came out of it.  I had forgotten about some of my paintings that were stored under the bed - I gave up painting a long time ago, so it was a nice surprise to see them again.
This one was called Nightshade for some reason I can't remember now
And this one was of a rotten old tree  I found in the woods.

Something else I found were photographs - one of me with two of my goats from my smallholding days
this is me kissing Rosie, my favourite milker and her daughter Mary Ann.
and this is one of the first lambs we produced - I can remember sitting up all night with the ewe who was taking her time but we just didn't want to miss the birth

A Dish to Make

Corned Beef Hash

A Book to Read
Toby has always protected his sister, Elinor, their bond closer than they can acklowledge.  Then comes war, and in 1917 on a French Battlefield Toby is reported 'Missing, Believed Killed'.  Elinor, an artist now involved in helping surgeons reconstruct the faces of injured soldiers, is determined to find out what happened and writes to the horrifically wounded Kit Neville, the last man to see Toby alive.  But Neville is in hospital himself damaged beyond recognition, and he will not talk - until Elinor asks fellow soldier and her former lover Paul Tarrant for help. 
But are some truths better left concealed?

How has your garden fared over the winter?