Sunday, 7 January 2018

Getting lighter every day.

I know it is hard to believe in the first week  of January that the days are actually starting to lengthen, but they are.  That said, the bulbs in the garden are not showing much growth.  I have quite a lot of crocus, daffodils, tulips and some hyacinth (which tend to revert to bluebells) in the front and back garden and they are very hard to find.  Usually the daffs are easy to spot by now.

crocus ?

The free bulbs (a bag of daffodils) that I get every year from Summerseat are doing brilliantly in their container.  This is the one that I am test running for the company that makes them and it is holding up well to the hostile weather.



There is always compensation indoors from my two fantastic orchids (Phalaenopsis).  They are a couple of years old now and managed to put on a terrific show for Christmas both years.



They must be the one of the lowest maintenance plants ever.  Very little watering, very little feeding and they do this a couple of times a year and the flowers last for months.  How could it get any better.

As for something which is nigh on totally neglected here comes another one.  I have had this Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii) so long that I have no idea when I got it - literally years ago.  I have never re-potted it and it must be choked to death in its original pot.  It gets moved hither and yon depending on what I want to do with any surface or windowsill and gets it gets watered and fed if its lucky.  In return it does this for me.



This year I am hoping to change the borders over to just flowering shrubs - this does include the roses and trees and shrubs already in place.  I want to start to remove the perennials and replace with shrubs as and when I can afford it, or see something I like, not necessarily the same thing!  It will be tough to do as I love flowers and can not imagine living without basics like poppies and columbines and many others.  My thinking is that as I get older the garden needs to be more and more trouble free and a shrubbery seems to be the way to go.  







Sunday, 24 September 2017

Planters on Line

I was recently asked by Planters Online if I would like to write a review about one of their pots.  I happily accepted.

Firstly the site itself Planters Online is an excellent site to visit.  Visually attractive and easy to negotiate.  There are many filters you can choose to reduce the amount of pots you need to trawl through if you are looking for a specific size, colour or finish.

The delivery time was also excellent and my well packed trough arrived just two days later.



 This summer I have been looking for five new 'long toms' to replace the ones I currently use to grow my herbs in outside the back door, but it seems I can only find them on line these days so haven't made a real effort to get on with it.  My other thought was a couple of long troughs and plant three or so herbs in each.  I wasn't thrilled with the idea of lifting large plant filled troughs twice a year when removing old plants pre-winter and replanting with new plants in the spring, so the notion of a fibreglass or plastic pot was attractive to me.




My next consideration was that all the pots in my garden are terracotta and its a look I like and didn't want to deviate from.  Many of the pots sold by Planters Online are very dashing and modern and while they are lovely to look at they are not what my raggety, taggety, fluffy garden is about. 

I decided on one which was described as terracotta and with a matt surface:  ARTESA 25 terracotta matt.  This would cost £35.91.  I am not all that familiar with the usual price for these sorts of pots but since owning it have looked at similar things in four different garden centres and would say this was a pretty average sort of price.  I did find an unpriced one in B & M (!!!) earlier in the year before I set off on this journey and declined it as it was £11 - little did I know then!



 I confess it isn't the colour I wanted.  I was hoping for something close to the usual terracotta colour.  I am hoping it will mute down a little over the winter.  I am sure the product manufacturer would claim it will keep its colour and texture whatever the winter throws at it - we shall see.

These planters are made for indoor or outdoor use.  If they go outside they should, of course, have holes drilled in them to supply good drainage for the plant(s) or have a generous base of gravel in the bottom to do the same.  Similarly indoors, plants would thrive better if they had some means of draining off excess water away from the plant(s).

This is no particular criticism of this seller but I wish pot manufacturers would have the sense to add this sort of instruction to the label and save a few plants 'lives.  My label read: UV resistant, frost proof, shock resistant, light weight.

Again for a complete novice it is useful to mark up places to drill when you flip the pot over.  Ideally if they could mold half a dozen areas more thinly that the rest of the material so they could just be tapped through with something like a nail and hammer that would be even better - not everyone has a drill.

The flipside of this pot looked like this


Do you tap out the huge circle in the centre?  Do you drill through the six small indents round the edge?  Maybe none of these, just make your own holes?

You may also notice that the pot sort of has legs - the main box is slightly raised from the ground with edges that will also allow water to drain away.  This will prevent the pot sitting in water and, more importantly, stop it freezing to the ground in the winter if we have a really bad spell.  All my terracotta pots are raised a little in some way to prevent this happening.

We went with drilling out the six places with the indents.  Seems odd having them round the edges only but there is a sort of run off trough all round the edges to catch water.  So here is the brand new spanking pot ready to take its dozen free bulbs from Summerseat for its overwintering trial run.

[If you get a membership card for Summerseat (also works at Bradley Fold) you get money back and offers like free spring bulbs.]



As it is probably destined for the herb ledge next spring, it may as well live close up to it as that will be the weather it will get for its future life.




So, in summary

  •  the website is a delight 
  • the selection of pots available is good
  • the price is probably pretty average 
  • the delivery excellent 
  • the item promises to be durable 
If you like modern plastic/fibreglass pots for indoors or out this would seem a good place to shop for them.


Unless it does anything dramatic you may not hear any more about it until next year.  Watch this space. 




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.
2007
 Next year a summerhouse had replaced the seating corner
2008
 By our third year all the border had been dug up an plants moved elsewhere and we had a veggie garden
2009
 Still with our three veggie raised bed boxes
2010
 Looking even better in 2011.  Lovely rhubarb and great runner beans
2011
 Wionder what I had planted in 2012?
2012
 By 2013 I had given up doing battle with the cats and a flower border returned
2013
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
2014
 By 2015 the conservatory seems like it had always been there and the border seems to be flourishing
2015
 Needless to say the next year out it all came out and new planting went in
2016
 That's still there this year..... who knows what will be there in 2018.
2017

  (26/08/17)


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 time......so 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

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