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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Meet Harry, the baby Gastropod


Earlier this afternoon I tidied and trimmed the foliage on one of the plants in our kitchen. As I began to wipe the worktop I noticed this little fella. Thank goodness I did or he would have been one squashed little gastropod! That's not my finger pointing to him in the photo by the way.... it's a slice of carrot with bits of compost sticking to it. :O) The plant I had been tidying was one I'd grown myself from seed so I think little Harry must have hatched from an egg in the compost. I'll have to keep a sharp look-out for lots of other little Harry's! After escaping a grizzly death, there was no way I could put him outside in the freezing cold, with the remnants of this week's snow still evident and an impending night frost. The little soul measures less than a centimetre long. So he's now safely ensconced in a jam-jar with some compost to bury himself in, bits of carrots and cucumber to eat and, don't worry, I put lots of miniscule air holes in the lid to keep his oxygen supply fresh. I'll look after him until the weather is milder and it's safe to put him outside. I'll have to harden him off like a plant!

Red Clover, Self-heal & Bird's-foot-trefoil

Not so long ago I got some wildflower seeds. I set these ones away on the 9th of February and it didn't take them long to germinate after having spent a few days in the propagator. Below are photos (taken from the web) of how they will look in flower.

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)

This is a beautiful perennial wildflower and a member of the Mint family. It was once used as a herbal remedy for throat complaints because it is aromatic and astringent. In fact, it became known as Self-heal because people once believed it was a holy herb able to cure all sorts of diseases in humans and animals. It's a common meadow flower and the plants I raise will be planted in our lawn to add colour and to provide food for bees and butterflies.

Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Another common perennial wildflower (a member of the Pea family), Bird's-foot-trefoil got its name because, after flowering, the seed pods are arranged in a bird's foot pattern. It is also known as 'bacon and eggs', represented by the vivid orange and yellow of its flowers. It provides abundant nectar, each flower supplying enough for several visits for foraging bees, butterflies and other insects. This little plant will also go into our lawn, but on the edges where it will not be smothered by the grass as it is not a competitive plant.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red clover is also a member of the Pea family, a perennial and is a good provider of food for bees, butterflies and other insects. This plant wont go in my lawn as it grows up to 2 feet tall (60 cms). I have white clover for that purpose. The red will be planted in groups round the garden where we can easily see them and where we can hear the buzzing of all the bees that are going to visit. The leaves can be added to salads as they contain Vitamins C and B, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Chlorine and Calcium so it's a good all-round plant to have for the benefits and beauty.
So that's what I've been up to and now I'd better check on baby Harry!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ghostly goings-on in the garden.... I don't think so!

"Rose Red"

aka Thornewood Castle Inn and Gardens, Lakewood, Washington, USA

Rose Red Mansion

Click here for the beautiful soundtrack

Last weekend I watched a dvd called 'Rose Red'. It's a film based on the novel, "The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer" by Ridley Pearson. Stephen King wrote the script for the film. Briefly, it's about a psychology professor who is obsessed with the house and wishes to awaken it from it's sleep and get scientific proof, at the same time, that ghosts exist. She gathers together a group of psychics, each possessing a different paranormal talent, to help her in her mission. Having been directed by Stephen King, you can imagine the scrapes they get into. And that's putting it mildly! This was right up my street... hauntingly beautiful background music, a house that makes Wuthering Heights look like a funfair attraction and a gothic garden that would turn Ozzy Osbourne green with envy.

Having enjoyed the story I was intrigued to find out where it had been filmed. The location was Thornewood Castle Inn, Washington, USA and if I had expected to happen upon a house with the same dark foreboding as Rose Red, I couldn't have been more wrong. The house, of course, is stunning and I can easily see how it could be temporarily transformed into Rose Red. I'm not sure what I expected to find when I followed the link to Thornewood.... statuary that comes to life? Triffids? Shadows with no substance? What I found was a beautiful house with glorious gardens.

Thornewood Castle Inn

Thornewood Castle Inn is a popular venue for weddings. The gardens provide a heavenly setting.

Aha! Some statuary...... but more cheeky than chilling. And a duck. :)

The English Sunken Garden

It was interesting to read some of the history of Thornewood. Materials had been salvaged from buildings dismantled from various parts of Europe and the UK. It's ironic to think that if I was to make a visit, I'd have to save up a couple of thousand pounds when, originally, a large part of the mansion once stood in England. I think this is what you call Sod's law!

Visit Thornewood here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blooms and Beasties Crafts

As far as the garden goes it's in a transitional stage. In the propagator there are pots of seeds just about to spring to life (the seeds, not the pots!). There are no jobs needing done at the moment..... I prune the roses at the end of February, all tidying up will wait until the warmer weather and the only digging I ever do is when I'm planting something big. I'm a member of the 'no-dig brigade'. I prefer to let all the underground beasties do the work, such as breaking up the soil and aerating it. So I'm posting some garden-related crafts that I thought would be fun to make.

Loveworm Bookmark

Here's the ideal gift to make for someone you love this Valentine's Day..... and make one for yourself too! Click here for instructions.

Fuchsia Earrings

I'm definitely going to have a go at making these. Fuchsias are one of my favourite flowers. This could also be adapted into a pendant or a bookmark, using one of those silver/silver plated hooks. Go here for instructions.

Daisy Friendship Bracelet

This is sweet and very simple to make. Click here for instructions.

Rock Talisman Necklace

I like this because it's a nice way of keeping a special stone or pebble close to you. Here's the instructions.

..... and just to end with.....this made me smile


I took this from the bedroom window a few days ago. These are our 'resident' collared doves. I'm thinking the one on the lower branch should get himself a hat! :O)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February pretending to be November

(image~ stock photo from web)

Well that's we Brits grumbling and moaning again! We thought we'd seen the last of the snow that was here for weeks but over the past couple of days it's come back and it's as cold as ever. Ah well, we wouldn't be true Brit if we didn't complain a little, especially about the weather. It didn't help that our central heating boiler began playing up, leaving us without heating and hot water. Ma little tootsies were numb and eyes a'bleary. But the heating firm was very good and came out and fixed it......... in the evening!

Looking out at the world today, it seems more like November than February. Everything is shrouded in mist and a covering of snow. There are jobs I could be doing in the garden such as tidy the potting shed but I don't want to disturb any hibernating creatures that may be in there.... it's not an excuse, honest. We had a hedgehog ambling about the garden late Autumn and he could be tucked up fast asleep amongst the plant pots and shredded paper. After my blunder last year with the family of frogs, I'm leaving well alone. And what about all the spiders and other wee beasties that shelter in the greenhouse and under branches and stones..... nope, the tidying up can wait until we're well into Spring. Everything should be wakening up then and I'll have an easy conscience.

Don't think I'm sitting around looking at gardening catalogues all day.... no, I'm still being kept busy feeding the waiting birds at regular intervals throughout the day and our Deppy's too, re-filling the birdbath, reading Stephen King, vacuuming, reading Stephen King, dusting, reading Stephen King, studying my Open University course (just in cast my tutor's looking in!)..... and reading the latest Stephen King novel that hubby bought me (I've either done something wonderful to deserve that or he's harbouring plans that need my approval. I'm not sure yet which it is).

Our Bob

Here's one boy who isn't complaining about the snow. This is our fifteen-year-old Bob. Just lately he's becoming a bit reluctant to go on his walks and he doesn't want to go far before returning home, but he's like a pup when it's snowing. He loves it! So he's a happy chappy just now.

...... a couple of cheering quotes:

"Every gardener knows that under the cloak of Winter lies a miracle ... a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream."
Barbara Winkler

"Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow."
R.H. Newell

And now I'm off to read some Stephen King!