June Garden

It’s sunny! The sun has come back! I was worried there for a minute. How is your garden? Did it benefit from all the rain?! Everything looks lovely and lush in my little cottage style garden.

I have finally planted out some annuals and while I wait for those to impress me, I’ve got some perennials in flower and one or two surprise self seeders. Although it’s all gone a bit straggly over the years, I still love my garden space.

These alliums have all collapsed now. They looked very proud of themselves when they were at their peak.

The honeysuckle has never looked so good. It was all lopped back two or three years ago and it has done it the world of good. The colours are looking super tropical!

I’ve got a thing about blue flowers. I love them. The more intense the blue, the better. Speedwell en masse is terrific but just look at that anagallis! It’s wonderful. That’s one I planted last year. I did a test between shop bought seeds and collected seeds. Um, I have no idea which this is. Sorry. It wasn’t a very good test. It could even be the survivor of two summers ago when my mum brought me over three plugs from Sarah Raven. It goes nicely with the double petalled feverfew (there was a rogue one that cropped up years ago, I made sure to collect the seeds and now there’s tonnes of the stuff).

During the first week of June, my rambling rose was phenomenal. It was huge! Of course, it was battered by the rain. It is no longer as happy as this.

The rain also quashed the lupins and enticed slugs and snails towards my hostas. The peony has been dead headed. I might chop back the whole lot as it’s drowning a geranium. I’ve done some weeding, which has made it look less tatty than this.

And then there’s the veg. So much purple stuff this year! I’ve been watching the dwarf french bean flowers come out. We have baby beans! But it is the purpleness of the flowers that puts a smile on my face. So much prettier than runner red or the white of the usual frenchies. I’ve got purple mangetout too! The packet says shiraz, which makes me want to drink wine. The flowers are beautiful although they’re more Audrey 2 than sweet pea. There’s no smell either but I hope that their fragrant sisters will  soon get a move on a do some growing. I cheated and bought a pot of ten sweet pea babies. I’ve always grown them from seed in the past but completely forgot this year.

It’s all kicking off now so I dare say I’ll be back quite soon with yet more pictures of plants. See you soon. X

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Garden Pictures for Spring

Just some garden pics. These have been taken over the last few weeks. It’s good to see what wakes up and when. There are lots of jobs that need to be done. I’ll go out there in a minute and put the bean canes up. If I can squeeze it in I’ll go to the garden centre and get some pretty annuals for the pots. I got some at the supermarket the other day but they need companions.

This iris is an unexpected visitor. I haven’t planted any in recent years and there haven’t been any flowers for that amount of time either. It must have decided to just go for it this year. I like his little spider friend!

Um, that’s all really. The rain has been relentless this last week, I must make the most of today’s sun.

Bluebell Time

It’s bluebell time, come on grab your friends, we’re going to visit bluebell lands…etc

I don’t know a single person that isn’t impressed with a sea of these. Let’s face it, even a single bluebell sitting on its own is pretty good. Bees especially agree.

At the weekend we had an impromptu adventure to our nearest gathering of knock your socks off bluebells. Blackbury Camp is situated on the Ottery St Mary to Seaton road and it’s beautiful and interesting at any time of the year. I wrote about it last year when I was seemingly a bit mardy. Check out my grump here.

Photographing outside views is a lot different to product photography. I’ve had more practice at the latter but not much else.  This was one of the things that was upsetting me last year. I’ve improved since then but I still don’t fully understand how to get the best shot. It’s not just about clicking away and hoping that one will turn out OK. Every picture you take should have something going for it. That’s what I think. Believe me, I totally click away and hope for the best but I also try and plan stuff too.

I wasn’t thinking about it at the time (hence the non matchy matchy) but these two pics are the left and right of the same view. We’re in an oval bowl of an iron age fort. You can run around the top “walls” or amble through the centre. What is not seen to the left is the lane that brings you here. To the right; an exit, a series of trenches and stunning views of the valley beyond. The pic above this one shows the other side of the wall and one of the trenches.

Do have bluebell woods near you? Anyone in Devon know of other pretty woods? What follows can only be described as Bluebell spam. It’s worth it though!

Spam over. And by the way, I cheated. The bumblebee shots aren’t from Blackbury Camp at all, I took them in my garden a few days before our jaunty outing! Sorry about that. The fun will never end.

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Busy Busy in the Garden.

I feel like this is the beginning. Doesn’t it feel like the beginning of the gardening season? Hardcore gardeners have probably been at it for weeks but cliche that I am, I did most of it over the Easter weekend. Even squeezed in an obligatory garden centre visit. Anyone else stereotype themselves this weekend?!

My outside space was neglected last year and I made a promise that I would be more attentive by the time spring came. So I chucked on old trainers and tatty jeans to spend a couple of days in the garden. (If my mistreated anemones can make the effort to flower, I can make the effort to green my fingers).

If I’m being honest, the bank holiday weekend wasn’t my first time out there, I’ve done rudimentary weeding and pruning, stuff like that, oh and planted some pea seeds. But it was the first weekend where I’ve spent a considerable amount of time doing organising, tidying and planting. Alchemilla mollis was growing in the gravel, so I scrabbled around and got those in pots,  I popped out to the front and gathered lots of baby foxgloves and put those in pots too.

Mum had given me a heuchera and a pulmonaria, so in the borders they went. I’m hoping the foxgloves and alchemilla will join them to fill up all the gaps I’ve got. Some cat mint died last year and left a hole. I didn’t split it when it was at its best a few years ago, I could see its demise coming and wasn’t proactive in saving it. Eh, I’ve never actually split any plants, even though the gardeners on the telly do it all the time. I get a lot of my plants from Mum cos she does what she’s told! Maybe I should chop apart the geraniums this year.

It doesn’t matter how weedy things are in the borders. As long as “weeds” bring colour, they’re welcome. Look at the delicate blue of the speedwell, I love that colour. My mum must too, it’s another one from her. Do you love forget me nots too? They make me extremely happy indeed. Those white anemones are the first plants I ever introduced to that patch. I’m amazed  that they come up every year.

At the end of the season last year, I collected some seeds from the aquilegia. I planted them in a tray this weekend (along with many other seeds in many other trays) and I hope to give the ones under the fig tree some friends (not that you can see the fig tree in the photo above – it’s that blurry trunk in the background).

I’m so excited to see all the buds on the clematis. We had to chop loads back last year as it was clogging everything up. Buds mean flowers! We didn’t kill it!

And you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve been eating purple sprouting with nearly every dinner. There’s flipping loads of it now. I needn’t  have worried about it at all. Just had some patience. But now it needs to get over itself, my runner beans will need to go in that space.

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A March Garden.

Huzzah! Spring is here! Hello Spring! Who doesn’t swoon over spring blossom?! I can’t get enough, it’s just so lovely. This example I found in a car park. Ok, a garden centre car park but a car park nevertheless. It was smothered in busy bees, who couldn’t get enough either. I watched them go about their business for a while, Youngest had to drag me away.

These pictures were taken on my phone this morning after dropping the boys off at school. Super happy flowers. Even weedy types like celandine and daisies are cheerful.

I might have crept into people’s gardens to take some of these (probably didn’t get spotted).

There have been two periwinkle fails in my garden so I make do with walking past this lot every day instead.

Anyway, this is the garden at the moment. I’ve had two “sessions” taking photographs in the garden this week. Both have been lacking. It might be the absence of Chelsea quality plants, the disorganised appearance or just an unskilled photographer behind the lens (I’m improving on product photography but outdoor snapping is a completely different ball game). In real life I love this view; a picture of it is never the same. Hmm.

Look at all the yellow! Who is a gobbler of daffs? Someone has eaten the flowers now. I bought some slug pellets yesterday but I don’t know if daffodils are a slug’s cup of tea.

I’m glad the anemones in the border come up every year. The ones I planted in pots in the autumn haven’t flowered. They might flower in the next couple of weeks or they might not get blooms at all. They could be punishing me for tugging  at them a while back (I’d forgotten what they where, which I mentioned last time I did a garden catch up).

I’ve had a quick look at what the garden was like around this time last year. Currently, it seems to be a weeny bit behind. I wrote a very similar blog post a year ago. I’d better have a different twist on a spring garden for next year.

I think the bluebells are multiplying! No other spring bulbs I’ve ever had have done this. I’d love it if the snow drops could bring it upon themselves to do a bit of breeding or whatever it is they do. I’m fed up of sporadic lone drops. I want big ol’ clumps! Luckily, the bluebells have got enough gumption about them to get their clump on.

The happiest garden happy happened this week. I found purple sprouting! The relief!! I’m looking forward to munching on this I tell you. My all time favourite vegetable. When I was pregnant (this time four years ago) there were trips green grocers nearly every day to buy it. The man there started giving me worrying looks after a few trips.

I often have a companion when hanging out in the garden. She will follow me all over the place. I’m feeling sorry for Marceline at the moment. We’ve had a few incidents of cat wee wees in the utility room.  I blamed it on hyacinths the last time I got a waft but then I caught a tom nicking her dinner. He scarpered when he saw me. Of course, now I realise he’s had a spray in my house! Cheeky arse. Thankfully, it’s just the utility room (no soft furnishings) but how dare he?! Poor Marcy. I thought she had it sorted and ruled her roost but maybe she’s being bullied by the swagger monster next door. I’ve doused the place in vinegar but not sure if that’s the correct remedy.

In the interests of full disclosure: The corner of shame.  This is actually a potion making zone. The boys have been brewing some weird concoctions that I’m not party to. It’s this or mud pies I suppose.

The next few weeks of the garden are possibly my favourite: The bright blue clouds of forget-me-nots, the planting of veg seeds, the montana clematis! It quite possibly means more blog posts about flowers too, for which I will not apologise!

And, veering off in a completely different direction, I’m desperate to talk about the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, desperate! But I’ll keep my gob shut until next week. I’ve found a few YouTube vlogs about it but I wasn’t organised enough to do that. See you next week. Have a fabulous weekend. X

 

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Feeling the chill.

knitting-with-cake-and-teaCold innit?! I’ve put the heating on and I’ve got tea, cake and knitting. Knitting, I tell you!!  This is my first ever knitting project (not counting the endless squares and “scarves” I made as a kid or the unfinished multi colour/multi stitch jumper I attempted when I was fifteen). There will be more of this next week because I definitely want to write about it when it’s finished…

january-gardenI was planning on releasing a free crochet pattern today but a thing I ordered for it hasn’t turned up. It’s gonna be super cool, why hasn’t the postman brought me the thing I need!? Boo. Instead of crafty talk I’d better do a quick garden update. It’s been a long time since I posted anything non crafty and I feel bad that I’m ignoring the garden just cos it’s winter. Winter gardens can be beautiful too. I’ve just looked up what it was like in September. Flowers!

sun high-f-stopI took these at 8.45 this morning. Different f-stop used but the same view (I’m taking a few minutes here and there to learn about my new 50mm lens that I got for Christmas).

web frozen-himalayan-honeysuckle frosty-herb cold-plant chilly-morningCripes, it was chilly. I didn’t stay out there for long. If I took my time I could get some really nice pictures. I’m a panic picture taker though and really should give myself more time to think about things like angles, lighting and focussing properly (obvious, right?!). Also I need to give myself more time when using the camera functions; actually think about how I can employ them to their best advantage. There’s a lot to process.

ice-bucketThere are still dead sparklers in this bucket. Abandoned in November. Slovenly.

potsI’m embarrassed to say that I started to tear up some of these plants the other day. They looked just like weeds.  I’d forgotten what I’d planted and assumed that they’d be bulby type plants if I’d put them there. They’re anemones! As soon as I saw their cormy bottoms, it dawned on me and I hastily shoved them back in the pot. I hope they don’t mind too much.

Even in winter, I love my little garden. It’s a mess, but that’s allowed at this time of year. Still wondering why my purple sprouting has no purple sprouting though…

Anyway, I’m off to wait by the letterbox with my knitting. On the plus side, I might be able to get my knitting done by tonight so I can wear it out later!

 

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Garden on the last day of October

shoesThere was lovely autumn sunshine yesterday. I went into the garden in my Hallowe’en get up to take a few pictures. The garden isn’t as exciting to me now but I think I should have a record of what it looks like in a different season.

Autumn is seriously beautiful. The other day I drove back home from the weekly shop through an orange tunnel of trees. Low sun, autumn leaves, winding roads through the woods. There was definitely some magic going on.

autumn-figI haven’t got much to say today. It was only five minutes in the garden, finding what I liked best about it.

end-of-fig

kerria-jcrocosmia autumn-garden-stuff autumn-garden

courgetteThere is one last courgette hanging on. And since I can’t be bothered to tear up the bedraggled runner beans yet, there are still some of those too.

berries nasturtiums-reseedingOne bed dug over and manured. Nasturtiums are trying their luck. I could salad them up before the frosts, I suppose.

hosta-seedsI’m most impressed with the hosta seeds. Pretty!  Last year I took some of these and planted them. Nowt happened. Next year I’m really going to look after my hostas. This year so many snails and slugs dined on them, they ended up looking like lace.

That’s it for now. Shock,horror, I have done very little crochet in the last week. We’ve been away for half term and had poorliness. I’ve taken to reading more too, which takes up stitchy time. I’ll try and find a better balance this week.

little-halloween-garland little-crochet-batPs. I found a couple more dodgy pictures of my little halloween garland.

September Garden. The End of Summer.

end-of-summer-in-the-garden

I am getting old; I’ve watched Gardener’s World three weeks in a row. Monty has given me a long list of garden jobs to do and I’m adding tasks quicker than I’m tackling them.

japanese-anemone

At the beginning of September, the garden still looked quite pretty. Two weeks later I’ve still got some hot pink roses and pelargoniums but other things are looking really tired.

spider-webs

The Japanese anemone that was beautiful two weeks ago has swapped its pink petals for cobwebs.

garden-spider

Spiders are eveywhere. I keep getting a faceful of garden spider. A few years ago I would have flipped my lid but I’ve gotten surprisingly used to them now. I still had an episode of Bake Off ruined by a gargantuan house spider last week. Now, those ones do make me pee my pants. It was so big you could hear its footsteps!

old-parsley

They’re making homes all over the garden. This teeny one has made its home in some old parsely.

cabbage-white-eggs

Talking of bugs… I cannot believe how the cabbage white butterflies are still laying eggs. They’ve been at it all summer! I’m still out there, smooshing eggs. As I smoosh, the farty waft of brassica goes up my nose. I wonder if that’s just encouraging more butterflies to come along.

butterfly-eggs

Up close the eggs they’re really interesting. I had no idea that they had those vertical ridges.

butterfly

Is this one a red admiral? I’m rubbish at butterflies. I spotted it proudly sitting on my runner beans. Very haughty.

runner-beans

My runners have been the most successful thing this year. But mostly, it has been quite lacklustre in the veg beds. I’m going to spread what compost I have over the beds and then get my hands on some manure.

nasturtiums-and-oxalis

Weeds have been the happiest things.

tatty-veg-bed

Look at how tatty this bed has become! The shame. This weekend I took out the pea sticks and it was the first time I’d really noticed how messy it all was. I’ve been a particularly lazy gardener this year. But when spring comes around again, I’m going to be really good.

influenced-by-gardeners-world

After a Gardener’s World injection I did try out some rosemary cuttings. I think I’ll smarten up the front garden with these (if they work). I don’t show pictures of the front as it is a spectacular hell hole.

himalayan-honeysuckle himalayan-honeysuckle-flower

Himalayan Honeysuckle is a weed I keep because the bullfinches come for the berries. I don’t think I’d like it otherwise.

crappy-garden

And that’s that. Overall, I’m disappointed at how scruffy I’ve let it all become but I’m also feeling enthusiastic for next year. I think I thought that, I could get away with letting it do its own thing. It turns out that a garden is a lot of work. Monty would not approve.

Fabulous Fig Recipes (for the non fig lover).

picked figs

Last year I was moaning on here about how much I really didn’t like figs. I don’t want to say this out loud, but there’s a chance that I’m slowly becoming accustomed to their strangeness. I’m still not a big fan but I’ve found ways to make figs work for me and mostly I think that involves taking away a lot of the figginess. I’ve struggled to find different fig recipes over the last couple of years. I like to take away the texture and disguise some of the flavour but most recipes celebrate the unique qualities of this funny fruit and it was tricky finding a selection that suited my tastes.

When properly ripe, figs are quite soggy, they have what I can only describe as a pappy texture. They also taste mega sweet and leave behind that sugary after taste that real ribena has (or old chewing gum), I’m guessing that’s fructose! As much as I am not keen, I still can’t leave them on the tree so, as well as giving them away, I’ve found some recipes that work for me: a non lover of figs…

ripening fig

(I spend every other day wobbling on a giant step ladder, reaching dangerously high to grab at all the ripe fruit I can find. I have no idea why I go to such lengths, I guess I don’t like to see them go to waste).

Homemade fig chutney

Fig Recipes:

Nigel Slater’s Fig Chutney.

This one is by far my favourite fig recipe. It takes quite a bit of bubbling but I’ve been highly rewarded. Especially yesterday when I had some with cheese and crackers. It’s even better this year. The only change I made to this recipe was swap raisins for apple. I had cox growing in the garden too and thought to use those rather than buying more ingredients. I’m not a very tidy chutney potter/canner, so it seems.

fig tree

Dried Figs.

A weird one this and they do have a medicinal quality. But I kept going back for more so that must mean something. Very easy to do and I was surprisingly impressed by such a simple thing.

Fig and Lime Sorbet.

I was dubious about this one but honestly there are so few ingredients that I think I was just being stupid and lazy. I haven’t made this for a couple of years so this year will see its return (today is probably a fig picking day actually and by chance I have limes in the fruit bowl – they were for mojitos but I’ll make the sacrifice). I love the citrus in it. I love lime!

Sticky Toffee Fig Rolls.

I’m cheating with this one, I’ve not made this recipe yet! But the kids have asked for fig rolls and these have got toffee in them so they can’t be that bad!

fig

If anyone has any other fig recipes they’d like to suggest, do let me know. I’m trying to think of boozy things but I’ve got nothing at the moment.

Garden fig tree.

I’ll be saying goodbye to figs next year. This tree is far too big for its boots and we’re going to chop it. It needs a good pruning. I think you’re supposed to do that in January. As figs grow from the previous year’s twigs that means no figs for at least a year. However, I think it’s safe to assume that I won’t really mind!

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer Garden.

early morning sweet peas.

My last garden post was about three weeks ago. In that time I’ve taken a few pictures and I’m sharing them here today. I’m also  linking to last July from the archives. It’s all of July’s posts because I seem to have added garden pictures to nearly all them. You think you’re a consistent blogger…. Apparently I’ve changed (not necessarily all that much, but most posts are now, at least themed).

lemon verbena

This lemon verbena smells amazing. I don’t know what to do with it, other that pinch bits off for whiffing every now and then.

the sun in summer sunny day in the garden 6am summer garden

There’s been a lot of samey samey over the last six years. I am extraordinarily tempted to have a big overhaul and rip out the tatty, overgrown stuff to start all over again. I’m getting lost with planting and there is no real garden design. I’m not sure if normal gardeners do any real design; maybe they just hope for the best with the stuff they like. I know I like the cottage garden style and I know I like having my own vegetable patch and that’s about it. I also know it needs is muck. Lots and lots of nutritious muck. Would half a tonne be enough for everywhere?

veg garden

There is something in the photograph above that has become my mortal enemy. I didn’t get a good picture of it that day but it was there.

pesky cabbage white

Here it is. Little blighter. Under the net as well! Most days, I’ve gone out into the veg patch with the explict task of squishing butterfly babies. I started off squeaminshly using tools but the more angry I got, the more vicious I became. Now I just use my fingers to smoosh any bright clusters of orange eggs or any newly hatched caterpillars. I’m still grossed out my the big fat juicy ones so I flick those ones across the garden or drown them with jets of water. Between this and the frog from a few weeks ago I feel like a proper murderer. I really like purple sprouting though, so they must die.

leek flower head

This is a leek flower (a leftover from last year). I was wondering what it would look like (quite pretty, as it turns out). I’m glad that it’s as pretty as its ornamental cousins.

morning glory

Morning Glory. I want more.

Crocosmia

Crocosmia. Spreading like wild fire.

Japanese anemone

Japanese anemone. The white ones don’t work as well as these.

blue lobelia

I know I showed lobelia last time but I like this picture.

Honeysuckle honeysuckle. Lonicera.

What I haven’t done in years is suck the nectar from honeysuckle. It was always something we did when we were little. That and red clover.

buddleia buddleia or buddleja

And it works with buddleia too!

cabbage white on verbena

It could have been any butterfly, maybe a peacock or red admiral. What about one of those little blue jobs? Nope… thanks cabbage white.

cabbage white butterfly on verbena bonariensis

butterfly

It was definitely laughing at me whilst it probed its teasing tongue into my verbena bonariensis. Cheeky.

bee on the verbena bonariensis bee

These bees are far more welcome. Hello bees!