Friday, 31 May 2013

Friday Flowers . What's New in Bloom and a Village Walk

The weather has been pretty miserable all week but at last it has brightened up and a trip around the garden was called for to see if I could find anything new that has come into flower.

I picked a few wallflowers and geraniums for this light and fresh posy - I have a soft spot for wallflowers, and all the different colours they come in - they haven't been the best this year, but have still provided a bit of colour in the borders.

The lilac is blooming its socks off, it didn't flower last year for some obscure reason, so the blossom is all the more welcome.

There is a lilac bush on the verge outside the house and everytime I get out of the car and brush against it I almost faint with delight as the fragrance overpowers me.

If you grow Clematis Montana you need to give it plenty of room to grow - it has created a hedge all along the front fence and looks stunning - it has reached its maximum now and I don't have to prune it or anything  - this is as good as it gets.

Glorious - isn't it.

The Dianthus are looking pretty good too

Earlier this week I went for a walk around the village to see what I could find in the hedgerows - it was mostly cow parsley, but it does look pretty spectacular at the moment
The fields are lush and green after all the rain

All this week I have been reading a book called 'Waterlog' by Roger Deakin.  Inspired by John Cheever's classic short story 'The Swimmer', Roger Deakin set out from his moat in Suffolk to swim through the British Isles.  The result of his journey is a maverick work of observation and imagination, a uniquely personal view of an island race and a people with a deep, instinctive affinity with water.  Encompassing cultural history, autobiography, travel writing and natural history, Waterlog is a personal journey, a bold assertion of the native swimmer's right to roam and an unforgettable celebration of the magic of water.

If you go over to my blog A Single Moment I have quoted a passage from the book.  I love the thought of swimming in rivers and hidden secret places - I have been to quite a few of the places where he swims and he describes them perfectly.

And finally, if you are interested in what I have been up to in the veg garden check it out here

Friday, 24 May 2013

Friday Flowers . What's New in Bloom . Pretty Cows and Handsome Horses

The poor old garden has really taken a bashing this week.  Rain, hail, even a bit of snow and gale force winds.  Welcome to spring in England.  I ventured out inbetween heavy bouts of rain to pick the Friday posy - there wasn't a lot to choose from but I managed to make a fairly decent bouquet.
lilac, tulips, pansies, aquilegia and cornflowers
The garden is at that awkward stage changing over from bulbs to cottage garden flowers that aren't quite in full throttle yet.

Spanish bluebells
In the front garden the bluebells have now emerged amongst the forget-me-nots.  Each year I dig bucketfuls of bulbs out but they just seem to come back stronger than ever.  I didn't plant these, they were in the border long before we got here and have established themselves good and proper.  They don't last long in flower and the leaves look a mess when they have gone over - I am quite brutal with them but they don't seem to mind.
The Aquilegia are just starting to open - it is hard to get a decent photo of them when their heads droop these are the more natural smaller headed ones, the hybrids still haven't opened yet.  I used to have a lot of almost black ones granny's bonnets we used to call them, it is just a waiting game to see which colours emerge eventually.
Allium - Purple Sensation
The Alliums are slowly opening too - I don't seem to have as many as last year, not sure where they have disappeared to - I love to see them dotted about the borders adding height above the rest of the flowers - one plant I definitely can't get enough of.
cherry blossom carpet
The wind and rain have done a great job in helping to get rid of the cherry blossom the lawn is covered  and it sticks to the soles of your shoes and you carry it indoors and leave petals all over the door mat - I seem to be forever sweeping it all up.
And finally the Geraniums are starting to flower.  At least these come back every year without any fuss - my sort of plant.

Each year during the summer months we rent the field out for grazing for horses.  There are four in there at the moment and they are intrigued by my comings and goings.

Peering over the fence whilst I am working in the kitchen garden

Friendly chaps who provide plenty of manure I collect trugs full of the stuff when they have gone - every little helps.

Last year I planted wild flowers along the edge of the plot and they have come back really strong  this year.

And finally, at home in the back field the farmer has a couple of Guernsey cows amongst all the Friesians - they are so tiny compared to them,  really dainty with such pretty faces.

How is your garden faring with this awful weather? It can't get any worse - can it?  

Friday, 17 May 2013

Friday Flowers . What's in Bloom and Goodbye to Alfie and Eddie

These redhot tulips were picked from my cutting garden - well, in real life they are more of a burnt orange - mixed with yellow archangel and cowslips - they certainly pack a punch.

I can never understand how these delicate Dicentra plants survive the harsh winters  when I have lost so many other 'sturdier' ones.
The Cornflowers are beginning to flower - they, at least, come back every year without fail and make a welcome early addition to the borders.
This pale lemon Heuchara with its bright green leaves is a very understated addition to the borders but it is a good filler plant that grows well in shade and splits easily.
The same applies to the Lady's Bedstraw which has really taken off this year - apparently its perfume increases if picked and dried - it used to be used as a strewing herb.
The Solomans Seal has popped up not far from where is was planted it usually gets attacked by saw-fly and doesn't look this good for very long.  You can see the Comfrey pushing its way through underneath it.
The Polyganum, I call it a bottle-brush plant, is planted in a large container where I can keep it well-watered.  Originally it was planted in the bog-garden, which we no longer have - it just wasn't boggy enough.
A couple of weeks ago I was bemoaning the fact that we didn't have many Forget-me-Nots this year - well I was wrong, they have popped up everywhere - there is a sea of blue all over the garden.
And finally, the James Grieve apple tree with its lovely apricot coloured buds is putting on a great show.  Praying for an apple crop this year.

Goodbye to Alfie and Eddie

It has been a sad week for me - my two grass-eating machines have gone. 
I got up at 6.30 a.m. every morning for the last 10 years or so - come rain or shine to
feed and water them. Saving titbits, cabbage leaves etc. for them to enjoy.
I reared them by hand - they were pets who served no useful purpose except to keep
the grass down in the field.
I shall miss their little faces every morning waiting at the gate expectantly - I won't go into
any detail as to why they are no longer with me or I will get a bit emotional.
Stupid I know - they were only sheep after all.



Goodbye old pals.

Friday, 10 May 2013

A Posy for May . Garden Update and Cherry Blossom

The lovely sunny weather has departed and left us with strong winds, and although rain was forecast, we haven't had all that much.  It has turned colder too we are still lighting the log burner in the evening.

An unexpected and unplanned combination of tulips and wallflower beautifully co-ordinated.

I love this tulip and buy it every year - such delicate markings - and as the flower head ages it turns into a soft lilac colour.

The daffodils have all but finished but the tulips are still going strong, there are buds on the lilac tree, which didn't flower at all last year and the ornamental cherry is garishly showing off its blossom.

If you can spot the white blossom in the top left hand corner - this branch has reverted to type from where it was grafted and produces small cherries which get scattered all over the garden and produce tiny plants.

The wallflowers are taking centre stage now but compared to other years the plants are rather small perhaps they didn't take too kindly to the long winter.

The container apple tree - Charlotte - is the first one to blossom.  I haven't had any fruit for a couple of years from it and it has suffered from mildew - so although it looks healthy enough at the moment - anything could happen - shame, because it produces a great tasting apple.

This Spirea is flowering its socks off at the moment - when it isn't in flower it is quite a boring shrub, but it is certainly making up for it just now.

And in the wild garden - my name for the bit of garden that is full of weeds that I can't seem to eradicate - the grape hyacinth and cowslips are magnificent.

Memory Lane

For many years I kept a variety of rabbits - it was the only livestock I had room for
other than cats and dogs. 
top left - Coco
top right - Mary Mungo and Midge
middle right - Bugsy
Daphne - bottom right

Bugsy was my favourite - I had him for years  and he was as tame as can be - when I was working in the garden he would follow me round and keep me company.

A Dish to Make

I have been finishing off the tomatoes I froze at the end of summer last year.
Fried tomatoes on ciabatta is a favourite lunch of mine.
I saw it being made and eaten when I watched the DVD
Julie and Julia - if you love eating and cooking then this is the film for you.

Meryl Streep's voice gets on your nerves a bit but it is a great film.

A Book to Read

This is the next book on my pile to read

Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetry is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the
very breath of those who live nearby.  Into their midst comes
Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with
demolishing it.
At first Barratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a
modern man of reason.  But before long, he begins to suspect that the
destruction of the cemetry might be a prelude to his own.

Hope you all had a good week despite the change in the weather - it's a good sign that the weather will turn when I get the garden furniture out of storage for the summer, and pack away my winter clothes.
That's life!

Friday, 3 May 2013

A Mini-May Heatwave . The Tulip Season and a Newt

Hello May - where did you come from and where did April go?  That has to be the quickest month ever.  I suppose it is because there is so much to do in the garden that I hardly noticed its passing.  I have finally just about caught up with everything - the weather has been so wonderful that staying indoors wasn't an option.  Seed sowing, pricking out and transplanting has been full steam ahead and now all everything needs to do is grow.

The garden is changing, every day there is something new in flower.  The daffodils are going over and the tulips are coming into their own.  I usually pick shades of purple and lilac tulips for my containers, but this year I seem to have chosen, yellows, apricots and cream.  I say seem to have chosen, mainly because I can't remember doing so.  I obviously had a funny turn in the garden centre at the time of choosing and a touch of amnesia.  Anyway it all turned out alright in the end.
These yellow tulips were the first to open a lovely cheerful colour and the apricot ones are turning orangey now but I don't even mind that.

A few pinky ones have sneaked in so I must have started off on the right track but  lost my concentration somewhere along the line.

At this time of year the garden is usually full of Forget-me-Nots but I think the winter did for them and I only have one border with them - it's a shame as I love to see them filling in all the gaps.
Pulmonaria . Mahonia . Tulips . Honesty . Dandelion . Camellia

A Seed to Sow

flower seedlings - Tithonia . Echium . Cosmos . Zinnia

Memory Lane

When we moved into this house almost thirty years ago it was completely uninhabitable and we had to bunk down at my father's house for a few weeks till it was made fit to live in.  The garden was filled with junk and hadn't been cultivated for years.  So everything was quite a challenge.  But little by little everything started to take shape and even now is still evolving.
All the conifers were removed, skips were filled with tons of rubbish and the picture on the right shows the garden after a couple of years.  This all happened when we were a lot younger and had the energy and enthusiasm to take on a massive restoration project.

Wildlife Corner

Newt basking in the shallows of the pond

Gorgeous sunset after a wonderfully sunny day

A Book to Read

I am really loving being able to be out in the garden again and enjoying seeing everything blossoming - how about you?

Damson blossom

Check out what's happening in my veg garden over at A Woman of the Soil - see you there