Sunday, 17 September 2017

Annual Photos

Every year I try to remember to take eight photos in the garden in July.  They are each taken from the same position (roughly the eight points of the compass).  It is really interesting to look at them now and then and remember the steps the garden has gone through.

This year I forgot and I ended up taking the photos the third week in August instead of mid-July - better that, than not at all.  Here is the set of the east facing border as an example of what I mean by change.

Our first summer in 2007 and we had the patio in and the borders cut.  We had another small seating area in the corner and the borders were colour coded.  This was the red border.
 Next year a summerhouse had replaced the seating corner
 By our third year all the border had been dug up an plants moved elsewhere and we had a veggie garden
 Still with our three veggie raised bed boxes
 Looking even better in 2011.  Lovely rhubarb and great runner beans
 Wionder what I had planted in 2012?
 By 2013 I had given up doing battle with the cats and a flower border returned
2014 and the roses are planted and the fence is mellowing.  I can just see the course of bricks for our conservatory which replaced the patio
 By 2015 the conservatory seems like it had always been there and the border seems to be flourishing
 Needless to say the next year out it all came out and new planting went in
 That's still there this year..... who knows what will be there in 2018.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Cats, cats, cats!!!!

Before I start moaning about just how much I am hating cats right now I had better say that in my lifetime I have been the owner of five cats - at one time I had two at the same I quite understand the 'passion' for them as pets.

Maybe my current situation is karma/payback for all the poo my cats must have deposited on other people's gardens over the years!

Whatever, my garden is a cat's toilet at the front and at the back, in the beds and on the lawn.  There isn't a single day where I am not left a little (or large!) present; some days more than one.  I am fairly sure it came about because until last winter we used to spend half a year in the States and the cats had free rein.  I am trying to believe that the quantity is reducing by degrees as they get used to the fact we are in full time residence.

I have tried just about every suggestion under the sun that is practicable, with no success whatsoever.  Indeed they were the reason for my giving up trying to grow edibles in the back garden a few years ago.

In a last desperate effort we are currently trying two of these.......

They are solar powered sonic cat (and dog) repellers.  They emit a high pitch sound which is uncomfortable for cats and dogs but humans can't hear. There is a suggestion that children might be able to hear it.  I certainly can't.  They have a 70 degree spread with a twenty foot (plus) reach.  As our front garden seems to be the worst hit we are using them out there right now. It has proved difficult on our corner plot to site them so they form a barrier across the garden.  Think we've cracked it.  They have a couple of small flickering lights which flick on when something comes within its range so it is easy to check they are still working.  We have no means of hard wiring them so they rely on recharged batteries.

 Sadly our front garden is mostly in the shade (NE facing) so the solar element doesn't work at all.  We also have a lot of foot and car passing traffic so the batteries run down very quickly.  [The photo above was taken in sunlight in the back garden]

For us this means they are a bit of a pain as we have to keep an eye on them almost daily to check they are still working and then charge the batteries when they are not - so, for us, they don't seem a good long term solution.

Amazingly we have only had one deposit since they went in so I am fairly confident they are working.  I am living in hopes that the eight cats - really! - who use our garden may get in the habit of going elsewhere - huge apologies to anyone who inherits them.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Bits of the back garden in August

August is always the 'flat' month in anyone's garden.  The high flush of summer seems to be on the wane.

the fabulous 49p passion flower

looking a little tired but there's a second flush of roses still to come

east facing border does well

love the muddle

olive, thalictrum (rue) and a glimpse of olive

as above plus clematis

nice muddle of a parahebe avalanche (white) and Erysimum (perpetual wallflower) Bowles mauve, both absolute goers flowers from early spring into late autumn

Sunday, 27 August 2017

A flavour of Sizergh

Sizergh as in Tizer....

We visited Sizergh Castle in mid August but it is still not to late to go there - just about an hour and a quarter from Bury so not too daunting for a day out.

The house/castle is decidedly interesting and is very 'lived in' which makes it probably more interesting than many which can be very sterile and museum-like.  There is the usual National Trust eatery and gift shop - so ice cream and cakes and a rootle round for some presents for folks is not a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon.

This is just a handful of photos to whet your appetite...

my favourite fleabane doing its thing

the reflecting lake

wonderful veggies

showing the companion planting

It is beneficial to plant flowers with vegetables if you have the space (companion planting).  There is a raft of information about it if you Google it.

I do love a stumpery - done well

Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Front Garden in July

My front garden does have something flowering in it pretty much the whole year but I do love July when the crocosmia Lucifer is doing its thing and the hanging basket is beginning to flesh itself out.

The front garden is north west facing - just about the worst for gardens - and is always pretty much in shade so I like to have all the hot colours on this side of the house.

Apologies for the grass needing cutting - pleading too much rain......

Pelargonium (geranium) making a mess by the front door

Just about getting into its stride

Crocosmia Lucifer - one of my all-time favourites

looks better in real life - mass of clematis

Hemerocallis (day lilies) and small yellow kniphofia (red hot pokers)

Lucifer to the front

this is a work in progress

coming round the corner on one side

Add caption

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Any excuse for lunch....

I had lunch yesterday at Summerseat Garden Centre .  On their website it says the garden centre began in 1984.  I am fairly certain I shopped there for many years prior to that when it was just a nursery.  As I am still going there forty years on it must be a testament to its worth.  Admittedly, being an old fogey, I sort of regret its success as it has now transformed into pretty much any other large garden centre.  Hey ho....

 I stopped to read the notice board on the way out, as I usually do, and saw these.....

Click on a photo if you need to enlarge it to read it better.

These are just the things that drew my interest. They do a lot more things, such as trips to garden shows, so seek out their site by clicking here Summerseat or pop in for a rummage or something to eat and read the board as you leave.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Summer routines

Just a quick note to share my regular summer schedule with you.  Summer goes from April through October!

  • Frequently keep on top of weeds and cutting lawns
  • Every week I scatter slug pellets (very thinly) to try to keep the snail and slug population down.  When you meet one huge one five feet up a wall you know you are not necessarily winning.  Most weeks I feed hanging baskets and pots.

  • Every two weeks, I treat my magnolias/camellias differently to the rest of the garden - three are in pots and one planted in the border.  They are watered with a sequestered iron feed.  I use Miracle-Grow but, again, any feed suitable for Camellias and azaleas will do.  The box says use from March to September but being this far North it is probably better to stop at the end of July (ish) as they can be too weak and sappy when they are fed  to stand any cold snaps which will turn up quicker up here. They need to toughen up a little. This is definitely needed if yours are looking in any way spindly or the leaves going a paler colour.  Two doses and my wan camellia is a third taller, full of leaves and they are dark green and glossy again.
  • Monthly - scatter a general purpose granular feed pretty much every where.  I use Growmore or Phostrogen - it doesn't matter what, just a handful of 7:7:7 strewn thinly will keep the garden fed. The numbers just mean it has equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphate, potassium so it is a general all-purpose fertiliser.  You can buy a specialised one for pretty much everything- like one for roses, or shrubs, or perennials, or clematis, etc etc etc but, unless you have loads of money and time it probably isn't worth it.  Ideally, of course, we should all be doing a Monty Don and smothering our borders with home made compost.
  • A couple of times in the season the lawn could do with a weed and feed treatment.  After the first one you will need to scarify the lawn to get out the (now) dead moss and last year's debris.  You might want to treat the lawn to another session some time later in the summer.  Again not too late so it can toughen up ready for the winter.
In hot weather:  I am currently frazzling in 28 degrees of heat so it is a good reminder that any pots or hanging baskets need daily (and sometimes more!) watering in very hot weather.  Any new planting, especially trees and shrubs, need frequent watering whether the weather is hot or not.  By the same token if your garden is reasonably well established don't worry about watering it - the lawn and garden will spring back quickly as soon as it rains even if it is looking a bit dry right now.