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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First Little Froggy. :)

This is the first little froggy I've seen this season...... well, apart from the ones I disturbed while dismantling the rock garden earlier in the year. I wonder if he (or she) was one of them. I'd just hung a couple of fat balls out for the birds, turned round and saw this little fella sitting comfortably on his chunk of gravel at the bottom of the stone steps. He didn't even mind posing for the camera. I love it when all the little creatures come out of hiding. I enjoy their company. :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Favourite Five.

1. The Rose. This is Rosa Handel. It's available as a climber and a shrub. I love how the petals seem to have been dipped in pink icing and the cream takes on a silvery glow at dusk. Don't plant it in tucked away places. It needs to be as near to where you relax in the garden as possible, where you can see it constantly.

2. Tulips. Any colour, all colours! They burst on to the scene like a showman, shouting that Spring is really here. And for some reason they always make me think nostalgically of my childhood. I wonder if it has anything to do with me eating the tulips in my great-uncle's garden when I was two years old! Just as well it wasn't the bulbs as they're poisonous and I wouldn't be here to tell the tale!

3. Fuchsia. This one is Fuchsia Bart Comperen, which we had in a hanging basket on the arch. Fuchsias are one of the most versatile flowers I know. There's one for every situation in the garden ..... hanging baskets, shrubs, hedging, ones that can be trained as bonsai, containers and there's even a climbing one now! You can get ones with single flowers, semi-double flowers and double flowers ~ spoilt for choice. :)

4. Sweet Pea. I don't think anyone could deny that the subtle scent of the Sweet Pea is heavenly. Easy to grow, comes in gorgeous shades and forms with pretty frilly petals and a scent that could never be bottled ~ a perfect flower!

5. The Lily. Where the Sweet Pea is subtle the Lily is truly sophisticated. The scent is overpowering, but irresistable and addictive! It is easy to imagine exotic far off places while sipping wine on the patio at dusk, surrounded by pots of lilies. A definite must.

These are my favourite five garden flowers. There are a host of wildflowers and even 'weeds' I wouldn't be without, but that needs a post of its own. What are your favourites?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My new propagator ~ worth every penny!

I was disappointed with my seed-sowing efforts on New Year's day. Only one tray, the Alyssum, germinated and the seedlings are very pale. I thought with the little bit of heat we have in our greenhouse, my success rate would have been greater. It just goes to show that it was still too early and much too cold.

Not to worry, I got myself a propagator and what a little gem of a gadget it is! I've now got pots of Delphinium, Orange-scented Thyme, Tomatoes and Chilli Peppers coming up. These photographs were taken two days ago and the Lupins have germinated already! It was definitely a good buy and just the thing for an early start to the season. For once I might have tomatoes before the neighbours! har har :D

Friday, February 13, 2009

I need to Chit!

Sorry, I'm not being rude but the seed potatoes I ordered have arrived and they need chitting.... all one hundred of them.

  • 10 x Kestrel
  • 10 x Picasso
  • 10 x Anya
  • 10 x Pentland Javelin
  • 10 x King Edward
  • 10 x Sante
  • 10 x Charlotte
  • 10 x Foremost
  • 10 x Desiree
  • 10 x Pixie
  • 2 free packets of seeds, one of Parsley and one of Chives which I've already sown. :)

Each seed will produce, on average, 10 potatoes so all going well that should provide us with one thousand potatoes, which should keep us going for a while.

So, just what is chitting? It is the process that encourages strong green shoots (chits) to develop on the seed potato tuber before planting. Although not essential it is particularly beneficial for the earlier cropping potatoes, because it gives the potato a quick start thus cropping slightly earlier. Later cropping potatoes are less likely to need chitting as warmer soil temperatures can make a greater difference.

This is how I chit: I place each seed potato, blunt end upermost, in a compartment of an egg box as you can see in the photograph. They are then placed in a light, cool, well-ventilated spot to encourage the development of stocky shoots 2-2.5cm long, prior to planting. Mine will probably go in the greenhouse, which isn't heated during the day so is nice and cool...... or in my 'computer room', which is really the spare room. It's an extension to the house, so the heating isn't effective and therefore cool! It's also where I work on the computer, wearing a pair of knee-high slippers, and surrounded by all sorts of paraphenalia..... one hundred seed potatoes could be joining me soon!

For such a common vegetable, don't potatoes have beautiful names.....Charlotte, Pixie, Picasso, etc. It might come as a surprise to many people that they have a pretty flower too.

The latin horticultural title for the humble potato is Solanum tuberosum. Over an arch in our garden is growing a relation to the potato, a climber called Solanum crispum.

It is also called the Chilean Potato Vine and you can see the familiar potato-like flowers. The blue is stunning and is a perfect partner for Cecile Bruner, the climbing rose it is growing alongside.

Well folks, you know what I'm going to be doing over the weekend.... I'll be busy chitting. Just as well I have lots of empty egg boxes!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Garden Work ~ As Viewed From Heaven

Every now and again I like to go through the collections of writings that I print out because, to me, they are worth keeping to read over and over. Here's one I'd like to share with you, an imaginary scenario between God and Saint Francis.

Garden Work ~ As Viewed From Heaven
(tongue in cheek!)

God: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature; what in the world is going on down there in the U.K.? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought, and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colour by now. All I see are patches of green.

Saint Francis: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called the Surburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

God: Grass? But it is so boring, it's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, bees or birds, only grubs and worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Surburbanites really want grass growing there?

Saint Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it has grown a little, they cut it.... sometimes two times a week.

God: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?

Saint Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

Saint Francis: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

God: Now let me get this straight.... they fertilize it to make it grow and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Saint Francis: Yes, sir.

God: These Surburbanites must be relieved in the Summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

Saint Francis: You aren't going to believe this Lord, but when the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the Spring to provide beauty and shade in the Summer. In the Autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep the moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves become compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

Saint Francis: You'd better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves fall, the Surburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

God: No way! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in the Winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

Saint Francis: After throwing the leaves away, they go out and buy something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

God: And where do they get this mulch?

Saint Francis: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make mulch.

God: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

Saint Catherine: 'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a really stupid movie about.........

God: Never mind - I think I just heard the whole story from Saint Francis!


p.s. We know that grass when left to flower, does attract bees and butterflies..... for the sake of the parable, please ignore that little bit! :D
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The Weatherpeople were absolutely correct in their prediction of heavy snow for the U.K. Actually I cheated with this photo.... it was taken in January when we had similar weather conditions. As I went for my camera a couple of days ago during the worst of the snowfall, our three dogs had plundered their way round the garden leaving lots of messy pawprints which would have spoilt the look! Hence the earlier photograph. :)

That's my outdoor gardening activities postponed for a while, along with the arrival of the two new coldframes I ordered because the company's courier can't get through the snow. Odd how the school bus managed though. lol According to the news reports, the U.K. is the laughing stock of countries such as Russia and Sweden because we have almost ground to a halt due to difficulty in coping with the snow. It seems that 'the powers that be' are becoming complacent with all the talk of rising temperatures and global warming. Ah well.... that's us Brits, a hopeless bunch of lovable clowns! :D

As far as the garden plants are concerned, the snow actually provides a protective layer and come Spring, the bulbs will be blooming regardless. It's a cheering thought.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Favourite Poem

I took this photograph last Summer in our garden. It was late in the afternoon and the young blackbird didn't seem to mind me pointing the camera at it from below.

What is this life if full of care

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep, or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies 1871 - 1940