Friday, 24 March 2017

Friday Skywatch

The sky has been uniformly grey for days, but today, hooray, a little sunshine and even more promised for tomorrow! Time to point my camera to the sky for Friday Skywatch.
This is the view down the garden path, spring flowers out but no sign yet of any leaf on the horse chestnut tree and the newly thinned walnut tree.

In the greenhouse the tree peony is just coming into flower
and the first early peas are growing in the Waitrose paper cups.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

'St Patrick's Day' daffodils

The 'St Patrick's Day' daffodils are just about out in time to celebrate their name day.
The moss that grows on our apple trees is a good indicator of the sort of weather that we get!
But spring is happening and the borders are springing back into life.
The camellias outside my kitchen window are in flower.
When they were first introduced into the country, brought back from China and Japan by the East India Company in the seventeen hundreds, they were thought to be delicate plants and were grown under glass. They certainly look very delicate, but, happily they've turned out to be as tough as old boots. 
I love them.

I've picked a few to bring into the house.
With some supermarket roses for company.

It's wild out, the wind was howling about the house all night and has continued throughout the day. A pair of ring doves have built a very untidy nest in the fir tree by the front door. They didn't choose their site well and are obviously not an expert pair of builders. 
"The doves are unhappy," Himself told me this morning."How do you know?" I asked. "How do you know what an unhappy dove looks like?" He pulled a suitable face, he had found their eggs smashed on the ground. 
Do you have conversations like this?.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Busy, busy

Today was the local annual seed swap and potato day and I went along as a helper on the seed swap table.
The event has been running for the last eight years and is a real success. People bring their gathered seeds to swap or come and buy for a donation of 50p per packet. The hall is full of enthusiastic growers, both experts and novices exchanging tips and enthusiasms. I had packeted up some of my most prolific seeds from last season, squash, beans, white foxgloves and so forth and had plenty to swap. 
I bought a few potato tubers called 'Swift' that I've not grown before, chosen because they are quick to crop and someone in our house is always eager to start eating the new season spuds the minute he sees a bit of green above the ground. (It must be in the genes!)
I returned home to the sight of a nicely thinned walnut tree.

The thinnings were chipped down into one small heap.
There is still plenty of wood left on the walnut tree but now it has a far more open structure.
And the small pear tree, just coming into bud, that sits in it's shade should feel the benefit.
The rhubarb season has started.
On Donna's suggestion I came back from my Waitrose shopping trip with a large bag of spent coffee grounds to add to my compost. Oh, I do love a freebie!
But couldn't resist buying this bag of pale-coloured ranunculus.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Coffee

I don't drink much coffee, at least, I didn't think I did. Himself is awash with the stuff and I put all the spent grounds on our compost heap. But every Saturday I shop at Waitrose where I collect a free coffee in a paper cup which I bring home to enjoy with the weekend paper, which is also free. Ah, the small pleasures in life! When I looked at the empty cartons it was clear to see that I'd actually drunk quite a lot coffee over the year.
Waste not want not. I've punched a few holes in the base of the containers and they've been put to good use in the greenhouse.
I've planted them up with first early peas and mange tout.

I'm thinking that if the bottom of each carton rots away I'll be able to plant the whole thing in the ground without disturbing any roots. (It's not often one hopes for the bottom to drop out of anything!)
It's bitterly cold outside, with frost on the cards for tonight, so I'm still just pottering about under cover.

Friday, 3 March 2017

What's cooking?

A big pot on the Aga usually means good things to eat.
But not today! Here's the problem.
I've been repotting my auricula plants, of which I've got many. I love these flowers but unfortunately so do the vine weevils. In spite of dosing the soil with Provado vine weevil killer the horrible white grubs arrive each year to feast on the roots and kill the plants. I've scrubbed the pots and replanted with fresh compost. But what to do with the large amount of grub-infested earth that I'm left with? I don't want to contaminate anything else. My answer is a few hours on top of the stove at sufficient heat to put paid to the problem. 
All repotted.

It's not fit weather be outside.
I've opened my seed box to check what's inside.
Come on weather, buck up, there's lots of planting to be done.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

It's mizzling.

No sooner do I say how much I'm enjoying a bit of sunshine than it's back to mizzle - mist and rain. How dreary! It's really miserable out, low light levels, cold and damp, goodness knows how the spring flowers put up with it. The snowdrops look delicate but they are hardy little things. I've brought some into the house to enjoy.
There are more than five hundred cultivars of these dainty 'milk flowers' but I have only two or three un-named varieties.

New flowers are forming on my orchids. This plant had white flowers when it was given to me as a present several years ago. Since then any new shoot has produced yellow flowers.
Ain't life strange?!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

At last!

At last a couple of dry days and some sunshine. I've been itching to get out into the garden for weeks. The soil is wet and sticks to my boots, but there's so much to be done, ground to clear, shrubs and trees to prune, perennials to divide that in spite of claggy (technical term!) footwear I've been outside clearing the vegetable beds ready for spring planting.
There are still quite a few crops to harvest, including sprouts, swede, leeks, chard and spinach. Can you see all the mole hills in the orchard? They've been very busy tunnelling there and in the garden whilst I've been tucked up inside throughout the winter.

It's lovely to see spring flowers and the green tips of bulbs emerging from the ground. The snowdrops are putting on a good show.

Miniature daffodils around Maisie's grave.

We walked up the road to meet friends for lunch at the local hotel.
It always involves a pootle round the vegetable garden to see what's growing.
 How impressive!

This is what I aspire to!