Monday, 29 October 2012

Life of leaf

Spent the day entertaining my youngest and trying to tidy up outside whilst building a mini-world for lego men in the garden.  Figure that poking upright sticks into the lawn to form the fence of an encampment would go a small way towards autumn aeration of the sodden grass;  buried crashed aeroplanes on the camp's perimeter in piles of fallen leaves, but my favourite bit of all was building a tiny camp fire with 'flames' of the finely cut red leaves of my Japanese maple 'Palmatum dissectum' poking through the carefully laid twig logs. Recaptured the essence of childhood for one fleeting moment - priceless!!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Drunken damson Christmas cake

Have finally decanted my damson gin into bottles, but couldn't bear to just throw out the fruit and almonds which had been steeping in the alcohol, so stoned the prunelike remains and substituted them for raisins/sultanas in my Christmas cake recipe.  The recipe demands almonds to, so no need for substitions there.  Am looking forward to sampling it a couple of months from now.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Groundworks continue

Finished paths (or should I be less grand and say 'filled in the gaps'?) around my raised bed this weekend.  Next phase is to fill it with the tulips I've just had delivered from Parkers Wholesale (  This could be a dangerously addictive new find of a website!

Nicked the idea of paviours and bricks from my sister's garden - very pleased with my new addition. It's also a great way of using up just a few of the blue bricks which I dug up when putting down slabs to unify/level the paved area around the side of the house.

So many jobs still to do - and the days are getting shorter...

Pricked out my dianthus 'Sooty' seedlings in the greenhouse today, so hopefully they will overwinter successfully in a cold greenhouse or in the coldframe.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Revamping the border

Time to get to work on the newly emptied border.

October is a great time to think about what works and what doesn't, and what you want to achieve next year.  Getting in there with a spade and the contents of a compost bin will help your soil get a boost for next year, and will give the inevitable frosts time to break up any heavy soil over the winter.

I'm going to set to work in a moment to dig out more ground elder and other weeds and really get my 'new' thorn free border ready for planting.  I've been looking at smaller, repeat flowering roses to put into it on t'internet and have earmarked a few possibilities on www.cants - 'Susan', a white rose which is reputed to repeat well and have a really good vase life and also the beautiful pink Queen of Sweden rose.

The only thing to remember with roses is not to plant them in soil which has previously been home to roses or they will not thrive due to 'rose replant' problems, so will have to put them in a slightly different patch.

Am very excited about my new area though, so better get to it while the rain holds off.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Being brutal...

I've finally done it - chopped down the huge, vicious rambling rose which took up most of a border.  Thorny work.  (The man who helped me with the prunings at the recycling centre doubtless still bears the scars).

Not only have I regained the vast space it took up, I'll now be able to pick my damsons without getting stabbed by its thorns, and also my eyes are no longer at risk of a spiky poking when putting compost in the bin. There's a lot more light getting in to the whole area so should be able to grow a whole new array of plant in that patch and extend my cutting flower area.

Whilst I had my loppers and pruning saw out, I took out the viburnum tinus which thought it was a tree rather than a shrub.  I inherited it with the house, and have let it be til now, but now that the damson tree at the end of the hedge is much taller, I don't really need it as a privacy screen, so off with its head!
Finished off cutting the hawthorn hedge and reduced its height a bit as well, so all in all, a very good (but prickly) day.  When I took my jeans off last night, my legs looked like they'd had a run in with a fleet of hedgehogs.

A bit sparse now, but I've rediscovered my dogwoods!  Looking forward to my 'new' planting space next spring.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bee friendly

Flicking through Ryton's Organic Gardening magazine the other day, and out plopped a packet of  seeds full of a mixture supposed to attract bees.  Thought it would be rude not to plant them, so sprinkled them into two butler sinks which flank the french doors to the patio.  Will be interested to see what pops up as the seeds develop.  I can remember that field scabious was listed in the ingredients, so can add that to my collection of that genus...

My lavender hedge (sorely in need of a clip at present) at the front of the house is a magnet for bees, as is the angelica in the back garden.  Don't use chemicals, so bees are in no danger from those in my garden, but my two cats are quite another matter.  Often to be found stalking bees in the flowerbed -  most annoying.  Domestic moggies are a bit of a disaster zone for garden wildlife in general. The only pity is that slugs are far to slow moving to interest the cats - maybe I could start a slug and snail gym to try to get them to be a bit zippier to transform them into cat playthings. Anything that falls into this category (frogs, mice, bees, flies, wasps, rats, moths, butterflies etc) seems to have their population in my garden very strictly controlled.  Or maybe I should just grow lots of tall bee plants to keep them out of feline reach!

Monday, 1 October 2012

October jobs

Time to plan ahead for next year and maximising cutting garden space. So.... the short-lived beauty of my rambling rose does not make it worth the vast (and lethally thorny) space it takes up.  It is on my list of things to axe but not until I have found the best spike-proof gloves.

Am also going to cull the large patches of hardy geraniums, but at least now I have control of the school garden, I can donate them to the bare borders there and get divisions of them in future, should I want them back.  The same goes for the ferns which have got HUGE and for the lysimachia  which has outspread its welcome.

Anemone corms are soaking on my worktop ready for planting tomorrow, and Parkers bulb catalogue is awaiting my next decisive moment...  Looking forward to a better growing year next year - weather permitting.