Saturday, 15 December 2012

Clever sausage.....

Yippee!  yeah! and etc....

I have just won a £25 runner up prize in the Spalding Plant and Bulb Company competition which I wrote about here on the 22nd November .  I had a lovely time choosing my prize and have settled on two roses that I need for the newly restored border.  At this rate it will be a Spalding border as it already has a load of their stuff in it.

Many thanks to them for a cheer-me-up-thinking-of-my-garden-at-home gift. Here's a bit of their email telling me I had won something.

We have selected your post to be a runner-up!!!

We really liked your idea for the Spring Patio Tub, we imagine that it would be the ideal way to break through those miserable days in February! The colours were simple yet striking, and complemented each other very well. A good selection of flowers too, bringing different qualities to the tub resulting in a diverse mixture. Well Done!

As one of our competition runners-up you now have £25's worth of prize money to spend on any Spalding Bulb products of your choice! 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

All change!

(Apologies to anyone who reads all my blogs as this appears (with minor changes) in them all)

I have just spent the best part of today re-jigging all my photo albums for my Blogs .  It was prompted by Google telling me I was running out of room.  This led to having a grand sort out.  On the one hand it was great to have all the new (purchased!) room, on the other hand it was a load of work re-assembling various folders to share with you.  Whatever web album storage I look at, it never seems to do what I want it to do, which is simply to replicate my photo collection as it is in my computer.  The major problem is (with Google web albums and others) that I can't nest folders within folders as I would like to and I end up with a bunch of small folders all jostling for position.  I then have to rename them all so that they will clump together in some logical way.  For example all the folders to do with Bury Gardeners needs to start with the same word; as Bury Gardeners is too much to type each time, so they've become  - yup! - Garden.  This doesn't make files particularly simple to construct and probably not that easy to find.  I promise I have done my best with a duff system.

The re-jig means that any blog prior to this date which has a link to an album will be defunct.  I am sorry for that but it would have always been so at some stage.  I was already having to remove the older albums to make room for the new ones.  Hopefully, with all the extra space I now have, the future links will last a lot longer.  Meanwhile, so you don't feel robbed I have started you off with four albums - one is my garden in 2012 and three are visits to other people's gardens.

On the whole it will be fine.  When I write a post and create a new album or add photos to an existing one I will give you the link.  You won't have to go hunting and searching for it.  Additionally, if at any time you are visiting  the blog and just want to find something not being written about you can click on the link in the right-hand column labelled  All albums  and that's where you will end up.  When you get there if you click on the drop down arrow of the 'Sort By' option where it says Album Date you can select Album Title instead.  That puts them all in alphabetical order (obviously!) and should make it much easier to find what you want.  When I have finished the first clump of albums will be Clavering then a bunch of Garden albums then a mass of Minis.

Happy wanderings.

Home thoughts from abroad....

I just got an email from Spaldings asking me to imagine planting a patio pot with bulbs and to say what I would plant for a Spring display.

This set me to imagine my garden back home and what it would need to cheer me up if I was there in early Spring.  From my kitchen window (and in my minds-eye from here) I can clearly see  a half barrel at the bottom of the garden beside my summerhouse/shed.  It has a tiny peony plant lost in the middle of it which is crying out for some added interest throughout the year.  That particular space is about thirty odd feet from the house and on the North-facing (dark) strip.  It needs white.

Every year (except this one) I always have at least one pot planted with the traditional three layers of bulbs.  A large pot, a layer of broken crocks or similar for drainage, a layer of compost, then some narcissi, a layer of compost and then some tulips, a layer of compost and some small bulb such as muscari, irises, crocus and finally covered with a layer of compost.

For this particular pot I would plant Narcissi 'Sinopel'.  Please click on the link and take a look it is just lovely.  Fragrant white narcissi with a gold edged green cup.  The next layer would be Tulip 'Exotic Emperor'. Again, take a look; it is certainly exotic.  By now you will have caught on that the theme is green and white.  Normally I spend ages choosing colours that will look stunning together, this time I just want more and more of the same (but different).  To keep that going my choice of small bulbs would be Double Flowered Snowdrops.  Yet again, well worth a click.

It would be wonderful to see those first snowdrops smiling through in miserable old February.  Their companions are both listed as flowering in March/April but I have never yet planted my usual trios, always with matching flowering dates and had all three or even two varieties of bulbs in flower together.  Generally this is annoying as that is what I am trying to achieve.  This time because I want a staggered show of white (with a hint of green) popping up in my dark corner I bet they would flower together.  Anyone want to try it and let me know?

If you are still planting your spring bulbs here's a couple of bulb planting tips - they may not be my ideas but I wouldn't pass them on if I hadn't tried them and found they work......

If squirrels dig up your bulbs.... I had one home where they did this and the annoying little what-nots took one bite, slung the bulb and tried the next one.  One pot next to the front door was re- planted every evening when I got back from work until the bulbs were too nibbled to bother.  I then read about chicken wire.  Plant your bulbs cover with a thin layer of compost and cover with chicken wire then top up with compost.  You can't see the wire, the flowers grow through it and squirrels don't like it.  I don't have any proof that gravel works in the same way but I have had three homes since then and have always topped up with gravel and have never had a squirrel problem, so...?

The other tip is that most tulips don't do that well in our Northern gardens year on year.  I find I get a great first year - all that stored bulb energy, then a middling second year and pretty much nothing by year three.  Yes, I do feed them.  They are fussy about cold and drainage.  I have planted them on sand but with no better results.   It is best to dig them up when they finish flowering.  If your garden is like mine that's not all that easy.  First find them when they are ready to dig up then do it without damage to all and sundry.  I know you plant them in a clump but don't they seem to wander a little?  The answer is any kind of well perforated basket you can get hold off.  I just used dollar shop storage baskets of various sorts.  Pond plant baskets are also used by some folk.  Spaldings have these Handy Planting Baskets.  

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Brandlesholme Community Allotment

Fantastic News...

Brandlesholme Community Allotment is here and just waiting for you to come and grow your own!  It doesn't need to be hard work - a single raised bed isn't at all daunting.  You can get at it from pretty much all sides and you wont be grubbing about on your hands and knees. You might want to grow flowers for your house rather than fruit and veg.  You could plant permanent stuff like rhubarb or raspberries which take very little work and go on from year to year.

The above photo isn't that flattering thanks to rubbish weather but you can see how much it has changed from this scary start:

This might be a hard thing to promote after last summer which was very wet BUT they aren't all like that.  This is somewhere you can get out to on a fine day, maybe have a little bit of exercise and come home with a 'gift' from your little plot.  All pretty much for free.  How often can you do that?

Readers of this might be wondering why all this enthusiasm when I have just this year put my four foot by sixteen foot border back to flowers from veggies.  Here's why I gave up on my veggie strip at home:

1. Cat toilet 
2. Too low - 1 was still working kneeling on the floor
3. Impossible to work the beds as I only had front access
4. Impossible to easily pick the veg for the same reason
5. Not enough space to do everything I would have liked to do
6. Difficult to cloche or net due to its construction of timber-framed 4 x 4 beds

As far as I can see BCA offers ways round all those issues.  Primarily as I can get all round the bed I can easily net them to deter Cats, carrot root fly, cabbage white butterflies et al.  If I can get more than one box I can permanently plant stuff because I will still have room  for what I want.  I can plant enough potatoes to make it worthwhile, 4 x 4 feet isn't enough.  I love spuds!  I might have people I can give seedlings to or give surplus veggies to. The waste always frustrated me doing it at home.

Please get in touch with Donna and lets start a great five-a-day community on our doorstep.

Here's all the info I have so far from Donna Cartwight, a community development worker; this was an email she sent to people who had expressed an interest:

Donna Cartwright
Community Development Worker 
Six Town Housing 
6 Knowsley Place 
Angouleme Way 
BL9 0EL 
Tel: 0161 686 8000

I have your details from the survey we carried out regarding the community allotment.  After much work trying to get it cleared and the raised beds made, we opened the site to residents at the end of October 2012.  Currently the site has 25 raised beds and the Community Payback Team are constructing a summer house and also storage shed.
It is a very large area and we have plans for the following:
Mini fruit orchard
Habit mound
Water butts
Junior Gardening club
Wildlife area
Sensory garden
Seating area
However, this is all dependant on the level of support from the community and how well the site is being utilised.  There are many more options for the site and if people would like to develop a section themselves, this is also an option.
We are also looking for a person to oversee the site and liaise with myself with any problems, concerns, or for support in developing the site.  Ideally a small group of residents to assist them would be great.
Whilst it is not the growing season at present, there are winter vegetables that can be grown, and we are keen to get all the beds signed for.  If we have spare beds, there is an option of having additional beds.  Community Payback are happy to create more beds.
Community Payback have offered training and advice sessions every Friday, on site, between 10.00am and 2.00pm.  They can offer advice on what to grow and when.
If you are still interested, please let me know so you can sign up and receive a key and a set of rules.  You will then be free to visit the site whenever you want.
I look forward to hearing from you and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Donna Cartwright


My photo album Garden - The Lotty - 2012

Monday, 15 October 2012

Tip from GW

I mentioned recently that I can never remember which clematis to hack and when, so I just hack down anything I don't want looking straggly in April when we get back from Naples.

On Gardeners World on Friday someone who was growing hundreds of varieties said all he did was:

If it flowers before June - don't prune

..............and everything else he hacks to the ground (!) on February 14th

No use to me as I won't be here but I thought it might help someone reading this?  As usual I wonder if the the June and February timings are good for us 'up North'?  How late do your Spring Clematis flower?  February seems an odd month to do it?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sunshine at last

I managed to get a full day in the garden at last.  I know you had sunshine over the weekend in Bury, but I was in Kinross for four days enjoying the Scottish sunshine and just praying it would be waiting for me when I got home and last through Tuesday..... and it did.

I planted up six pots of bulbs - the ones from Spaldings.

I don't exactly follow the rules for planting bulbs but I always do it the same way and it works - so here is how I do it.

No bulb is going to need much more than six inches of compost, so if I am using a big pot I pack it with styrene packing chips to where I think the compost should start.  If I haven't got any of those lovely noodles/chips I just break up any polystyrene packing.  Those trays you get fledgling plants in from B & Q are ideal. .  
The compost I use for everything is B & Q's grow bags - unless I find a cheaper deal somewhere   Usually you need a maths degree to figure out the best deal on compost as you need to calculate price per litre to be able to compare them.  Any way in that goes, then the bulbs, right way up and evenly spaced, top up with compost and top off with a layer of (horticultural) grit.  I get that from Summerseat if you are on a hunt for any of it.  You might have to ask where it is - it isn't always easy to locate.  Mostly I use it to stop weeds getting in.  Oh, how I will miss my Summerseat lunches in Naples!

The six pots are:  Iris, narcissi  alium,  tulips, muscari and anemones.  It will be really interesting to see how they do.  I might miss some of them as I don't get back to Bury until April, but I am hoping the folks who look after our place will take photos for me.  If so, I will keep you posted.

I also planted up my (little bit larger) plug plants that I had from Thompson and Morgan in my top and bottom third of the new border. I honestly don't hold out much hope for them.  The only ones which put on any decent size in the last month were the foxgloves.  Hard to believe there are eighteen plants in this square!!  The only way they might make it is if you get a freaky warm October/November to give them a chance to get their little feet down.

Interesting to test it though?

The plants are echinacea, foxglove, lavender, geum, penstemon, delphinium.

I emptied all the summer baskets which is always really sad, especially as there was life in them yet.  I stashed my big strawberry pots on the gravel in the utility area near the greenhouse to give them some protection over the winter.  I left their wooden trolleys on the patio to stand the bulb pots on as I don't want their feet in any freezing water.  Hence no saucers under them.

The furniture is all stored away.  I don't think there would be any sitting in the garden even if we were here.

I checked plants to see if anything needed tying in to prevent wind-rock and there were some odds and ends of stuff like an Iceberg (rose) that had broken free of its restraints and some newish growth on Lady Boothby (climbing fuchsia) .  She is an annoying lady - so late into flower she is hardly worth having.

I also pruned New Dawn (climbing rose) which I know shouldn't really be done now up North, but it was hugely 'leggy' and flailing around.  I'll do a more severe prune in the Spring, no doubt.

So that's me and my garden put away for the winter.  I will try and stay in touch over the coming months so you don't forget that I am here for next year.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Game bird

Well I leapt out there today and stuffed in the pair of Russian Sages and the fourteen daffs.  I also managed to empty the pots ready for me to pot up the bulbs - probably at the the weekend some time.  The sages look a bit sad to say the least - not a leaf or green bit in sight but as they should be fully dormant that's to be expected.  They will do fine if we don't get any worse weather - is that possible?  I decided to put the best one in the duff side of the border and the smaller one in the good end - there's a perverse kind of logic in there somewhere.  I also potted up the anemones into a small bowl for the table outside.  No photos as I was snatching an hour before presenting myself at the dentists and other chores.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Webbed feet

Those of us in and around Bury must be wondering if we should consider ark building after all.  It really is incredibly wet!!  I have two cachepots standing on my tables on the patio that I had to take the fuchsias out of because they were literally overflowing with rain.  In less than a week they have filled up to the top. 

There is no way I can get in the garden to do anything.  The lawn has a lake at the bottom and the rest of it is a mire.  The beds themselves aren't workable in this even assuming I was prepared to be out there doing it.  One day this week I waited and waited for it to stop long enough to get to the greenhouse to water (!) my plants.  It didn't and by early evening I had to tog up and grab a brolly just to do that.

Meanwhile my fantastic freebie has arrived from Spaldings. They are worth about nineteen pounds - no small beer in my book.  Thanks a lot to them.

I have one hundred perfect bulbs and two Russian sage.  The sodden chap who delivered them said he hoped they were a box of water lilies otherwise he'd probably wasted his time.

So, now I am doubly frustrated by the monsoon as I have 14 free daffodils I picked up from Summerseat and this great gift to get planted.  I am determined the sage is going in tomorrow even if I do it in the rain.  I just don't fancy spending ages removing all the weeds from the bed.  I might just clear a big enough space and hope I can get to the weeds sometime before we decamp for warmer climes.  

I could put all the bulbs in pots except I can't get out to empty the pots of their summer annuals so that I can do that.  Frustration all round.  I bet every gardener around here feels the same right now.

If this is an example of Spaldings' products - so far, so good; very fat, clean, firm, good size bulbs, two promising (bare root) Sages, all nicely packed and with loads of information about how to plant them if you are new to the game.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Annoying nature!

I bet everyone reading this has these problems(?)

First one - weeds.  These two areas were immaculate on the 12th August: look at them now!

Second one - borders with odd sides.

You can see from the weeds photos above that the left hand bit of the border is not too bad whereas the right hand side is chock-a-block with weeds. The same thing happens with things I plant.

The centre of the border is defined by the tree.  I then plant to the right and left, mirror imaging what goes where.  I do like symmetry. Admittedly in a couple of years the plants are absolutely anywhere they like but I start off this way.  These two sets of three plants were pretty much identical.  The right hand side is flourishing while the left  struggles.  

I promise you these photos are taken from exactly the same height.

The obvious answer is light levels and, yes, there is slightly more shade on the left of the border than on the right but the emphasis is on 'slightly'.  In fact, for most of the day it looks exactly the same to me.

The border faces East and there is no shadow that I can see until very late into the day.  I am astonished that it can make such a difference.

Every one of my back garden borders behave in the same way - one side out performs the other.  So annoying.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

New Spalding Link

You might notice there is a sort of badge added to the right column for Spalding Bulbs.  It operates like any other link; it just happens to be a picture rather than words.  If you click on it, it will take you to their site.  They also have a collection of garden blogs (including this one) on their Blogger Club site if you fancy a look around.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Volunteers needed

Close Park Rangers are looking for volunteers to help on the 16th September.  Just an hour isn't a big ask and you get goodies as a reward.  How good is that!  We can do it ......

Volunteers needed!
16th September, 1-4pm, Close Park Radcliffe
For 1 hours volunteering in the park you will receive:
Seed Tray
We have 100 of these hampers to give away, in return for 1 hours volunteering on the park.
Meet at the Ranger Base at 1pm. Hampers will be given to the first 100 people who complete an hours volunteering with us.
Please bring gardening gloves, all other tools provided.
They can ring me if they need more info
Amy Leach
Ranger for Radcliffe
Bury Ranger Service | 15, Stock Street | Bury | BL8 1BU

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Thompson and Morgan Babies

Back in June I ordered these plants from Thompson and Morgan.  They promised delivery before the end of August!

True to their word they arrived while I was away on holiday!!

Fortunately most of them survived as you can see from these photos. It looked like I had lost four but I planted the stubs in hopes there was still life in them.  Sadly not.

This was one of their regular 'free plant' offers. This time there were 36 plug plants; all perrrenials and all in my border colours so I thought I'd give them a go.  I sent off my £4.90 for post and packing and settled down to wait.  Truth is I had pretty much forgotten about them until, as I said we got home from France and there they were.  they were a bit sad looking as they had been awaiting some TLC since leaving T & M's tender care days before.

I moved them on into these trays and they have put on some growth in just a week so they must be doing OK.  I have them in the greenhouse with the door open every day just to give them a bit of protection at night and from the hurling rain.  I want to get them to grow at a rate of knots and hopefully need moving out of these trays by the end of September (?).  We leave for Florida at the end of October (late this year) and I want to get them in the ground and ready to face the winter as I won't be here to take care of them in the greenhouse.  Ideally they would be great potted on, kept in the cold greenhouse and planted out next Spring.  I am probably just being super optimistic but it seemed worth a try for less than a fiver.  If I end up with two plants out of the three dozen I will have broken even on buying two small plants next year.  

They are made up of six of each of the following:
Geum, Lavender, Delphinium, Penstemon, Echinacea, Digitalis.

The dividing line in each tray are cuttings of pinks I took a while ago.  Again some are clearly doing well and others not so much.  These too are going to have to take their chances in the ground by the end of the month.

I'll keep you posted on their progress or their demise.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

... and the first shall be last....

If, like me, you read (logically) from the top down, you may have discovered that Blogs file stuff the other way up - last is first so to speak.  This is a great idea except when you want to post several items on the same day.  Today is a case in point.  My ramblings actually start six items down at the post headed 'A Bunch of Stuff'.  So, if you'd like to start there and work your way back to here, I'll let you get on with it.......

Help! Pest???

I am hoping someone out there can help me.

Every year my rudbeckia flowers are eaten by something before they even open.  It has been the worst ever this year.  As you can see I have three puny-looking clumps.  It particularly matters because the half moon bed at the front of the house only has one variety open at a time so they all have to work really well to look good.  

The rotation starts after the daffs with day lilies then a succession of geum, crocosmia Lucifer, rudbeckia , finishing with a late, small, yellow crocosmia.

This is a close-up of the damage.  I am pretty sure it isn't slugs or snails as I have them knocked right back now.

I do wonder if it is earwigs.  It looks like the chewed petals I remember (from childhood) on my mom's dahlias when they were attacked around this time of year and that, most definitely, was earwigs.  

That said, I only see the occasional one, whereas I am seeing a lot of these caterpillars and some ordinary looking small green ones.

Please, please if you know what is eating my poor old coneflowers I would love to know.  Even better if you also know how to get rid of it.......

If you don't want to 'talk' here in the blog (and some folk don't) you can email me.

A bit of support

I try to avoid any plant that is going to flop.  I hate the look of supports and I don't want the work!  This year it has been impossible to avoid it as it has been so wet.  All the rain has made stuff extra tall and extra floppy.  I've found myself shoving plants into the vertical that I've never had to do before.

I may have shown you this before - apologies if that's the case.

They come in three sizes.  This is the middle size which does for my stuff (mostly).   I might invest in a couple of large ones next year.  I've bought two lots of two (they come in two's) for three years now so I didn't feel the pain of six quid a go.  They soon add up to a useful number and make a difference in your borders when you need them.  Dead easy and quick to shove in and you don't have to think about them in advance - just see something having a swoon and shove it in.  I promise you none have mine have been at all visible when they are in place.  The leaves of the plant generally cover them.  Most tall things are also fronted by smaller stuff which neatly hides the supports of their bigger cousins.

They are at any large garden centre.  I got some from Newbank and some from Gordon Riggs.

Plant of the month

My garden is a May, June, July garden so by August onwards it is on the decline.  That said, the Japanese anemone starts to come into its own about now.  I especially love the white one at the bottom of my garden.  It is a border which is pretty much always in shade being North facing and having a  fence and neighbour's house behind it.  White's are lovely there, they just glow.

Fruit to flowers

Nature's normal process is flowers to fruit which I am in the middle of reversing.

Because I have decided to quit on the veggies I also decided to not bother with the strawberry pots and I have converted one to perennial plants already and I have bought plants for the other pot.... I just need the weather to let me do it.



It looks a bit puny right now but hopefully next year it will flourish.  I am also trying to replace all annuals with perrrenials to cut down on the work a little.  This is a start.

An invitation with perks

I just had an email from Spalding's Bulbs inviting me to add my blog to their Spalding Bulb Blogger Club,  which I am happy to do.

I had an email from them today offering me 100 Spring Bulbs free for joining them and an invitation to pick a plant from a list to review.  I chose a pair of Russian sage plants.  So watch this space.

A bunch of stuff

I seem to have a list of things I want to mention and none of them seem to join up with each other so I thought I would just do a short bit on each so you can pick and mix what you are curious about.

The easiest place to start is to point you to the web album with some photos I took in France a couple of weeks ago.

Most of them are flower arrangements like this one which are in Chenonceau.  Every room in the château has flowers and they are spectacular. They are grown on the estate and are created by  two full time florists  who renew each one twice a week.  I have also seen them at Christmas time and they are even more astonishing creations.

The other photos are pretty self-explanatory and all can be found in the  Masbonneau flowers album.

This last one might need some explaining.
I took the photo as I would like my long-suffering other half to create something like it for me on the wall at the (front) side of the house to tie in the rose and clematis that's there.  The stretched (not tensioned) wires we put there don't really work very well. 

This one is actually a very sturdy piece of metal work. We will probably have to replicate it in wood.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A couple of tips

Just to finish today's blogging I thought I might throw in a couple of tips.

When I was looking for the link for Gills nurseries I noticed this tip on their site, I am sure they won't mind me passing it on.  


Look after the hedgehogs – get porridge oats down as slug deterrent. Slugs eat the oats which kills them and then are safe for the hedgehog to eat.

If you try it let me know - does it reduce the slug population?  I wonder if it is cheaper than organic pellets?

You can follow more tips from them at

My tip is probably a feeble one but was an accidental find for me.  I was too lazy (as usual) to get out the trug for just dead heading a couple of hanging baskets and a handful of roses, but fed up with the petals flirting about all over the place because I can't get a good grip on all the rubbish I knew I would accumulate.  I just grabbed an empty pot and took that round with me - brilliant -  lightweight and it could be held under where I was snipping and in the junk went straight in.  

This photo is turning into a bit of a triple tip actually.  Here you can see my new snips and new secateurs.  The secateurs tip is, if like me you never sharpen the ones you've got, you really do need to buy some new ones after donkeys years of use.  My old ones were really blunt.   It is such a gradual progression you don't really notice it.  I have wanted new ones for a long time but couldn't get any decent small ones.  They are mostly made for blokes with hands like ham hocks.  They are heavy and open too wide for my grip.  These small Burgon and Ball ones from a National Trust property are good.  Not the fine fit of their predecessors but I will get used to them in time.  

On another NT visit I treated myself to the snips (I hadn't found the secateurs then).  I had seen them around for a long time and had read/heard good things about them, all of which I poo-pooed as just another faddy item to make money out of gullible people.  So I eventually lined up with the gullible and bought a pair.  Love 'em - keep them by the back door key and pick them up and put them in my pocket when I go for a stroll round the garden.  No more black finger nails from dead heading as I go.   

Annual record

I might have mentioned before that I record the garden from the same (roughly eight compass points) place each year in July just to remind me how things once looked and when.  They make for interesting viewing.  I am just picking the South facing part of the garden to show you the development of the box hedge round the patio.  When I am frustrated with its slow growth I remind myself how well it has actually done.  This summer was the first year that a good section of it on the left has made it to the right height for cutting properly into shape.

In 2007 when the patio went in we had an ugly sloping front concrete edge - a few inches on the left, increasing up to more than a foot on the right.  I decided that if I grew a box hedge in front of it it might look a bit odd from the lawn side as it would be a sloping hedge (!) but it would hide the concrete and the hedge would like nice from the patio and the house as it would soften the edges of the paved area.  This is the 2007July record photo which shows the spindly little plants I put in.

Here it is in 2012, ready for its first proper hair cut.  I have trimmed it a little each year just to keep the growth compact and low to the ground.

I might have missed Derby Day (the date you should trim box) by a mile but that's OK when you live where we do.

Flowers, veggies, flowers

My East facing border must be totally giddy by now.  In 2007 and 2008 it was hot colour border, although even that wasn't static and included a tree moving around a bit!  In 2009 it became the new veg garden with raised beds.  The only moving around for the next couple of years was legitimate as the veg rotated.  When I took my border record photos (more of this in a while) this July it was still doing  that job.  One month later in August and all the vegetables have gone and it is returning to a flower border.

My poor long suffering other half kindly removed all the boxes and put in an edging to match the rest of the garden.

I then raked away to try and grade the excess soil to fit in the space.  This proved impossible and we had to remove a couple of trugs of it and spread it around the other borders to dispose of it.  The soil in the new border is like a TV garden.  You know how in TV gardening programmes they virtually dig a hole with a butter knife, well I have exactly that - friable is an understatement.  Such joy while it lasts.  Indeed it was so soft from being unwalked on raised beds that we actually had to tread it down to firm it up for planting and get rid of pockets of air.

By the end of the day we had achieved this and planted the tree and the four plants I bought from the Edenfield trail tour.

By the next day I had planted the remaining twenty-four plants from Gills, added a couple of hanging baskets which were on the utility area arch trellis to cheer up the blank ends and, with the exception of the cat poo preventers, it is beginning to look like a garden.

Does anyone know what the white flowers are? Click on the photo to enlarge.

As always these photos and others are continually being added to my Garden 2012 album. 

Rogue Lily

When we moved into this house in 2007 and I started the garden the North facing border was planted with hot colours.  It has probably undergone more than one change of heart since then but I am still stuck with the rogue red poppy which appears every year and I have now learned to live with it and admire its tenacity.  This summer, incredibly, a rogue orange day lily appeared.  I assume it must have come from a bulblet which has taken five years to mature into a bulb large enough to produce a flowering plant.  I took pity on it and moved it to the new narrow border at the front of the house.  I intended to plant it with perrrenials next year.  It already had annuals struggling away in it and I needed to spend my hard-earned on the new back border.  As soon as it went in I knew it would drive me crackers sitting there on its lonesome.

Off we tootled to Boscow Nurseries (Little lever) to stoke up on plants.  I have visited this nursery for as long as I've lived in Bury - over thirty years.  I always knew it, and still refer to it as,  Margaret Gill's.  She had the stall on Bury market which was the other regular shopping place for me.  They are still there and so is the nursery, though sadly without Margaret.

Originally the plant material  was pretty much home-grown as they were a working nursery.  This meant the plants were hardy enough to survive my Lancashire garden, unlike some of the soft, sappy, Dutch imported stuff you buy in other places.  I am not sure this is as true these days BUT they certainly do get hardened off in our climate.  The plants are perhaps not as well kept as they once were - a bit weedy and sometimes under-watered.  I do wonder when I say this if that is actually true - have we just got used to the shiny sterilised imported under cover grown stuff we see everywhere?  A bit like the difference between supermarket veg and your own grown stuff, complete with holes and dirt and dead bits.

Any way enough nit-picking.  On the whole it is still a great place to buy your plants.  I got 52 perrenials for £68 where else can you do that?  This included two lovely healthy jasmine ready to scramble up my trellis arch.   Optimist!  After my other half dug out a pile of hard core I added a couple of handfuls of potting compost and a sprinkling of bone meal and they will have to take their chances.  It can't be any worse than growing them in a pot.  Here's hoping the roots can find their way out of their grim surroundings and into something they like.  The other plant incidentally is the second year of the spectacular twenty-foot Lady Boothby climbing fuschia... mmmmmm???

Twenty-eight of the plants went into the new narrow border at the front of the house to back up the solitary day lily, which is where this story began.  Talk about sheer genius/canny instinct on my part, when I walked round gathering up stuff for front and back borders I was just picking right colour, right size, right price with no thought to number of plants as I expected to add to them at some time.  Not so, twenty-eight was exactly the right amount for the space I had.  Job done.

To emphasise the value of shopping at Gills, several of the pots held plants such as coreopsis, crocosmia and day lilies which would easily split into half a dozen reasonable size plants.  I didn't do this as I want them to get away fast and hopefully completely fill the border next summer.

The other twenty-four went on to start the new border in the back garden.

Much binding.....

Much Binding in the Marsh may not mean anything to most of you but for those of us for whom it is an instant transport to childhood I'll just join you in a smile.  That's an awfully long preamble to sharing a recent few days away in  Much Birch (between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye).  As usual my ramblings about the visit will appear in My Clavering whenever I get to write it (!) but I wanted to show you a couple of pictures from the gardens we saw.

We stopped at Attingham Park on the way down (for lunch!) but I don't have any garden photos from there as we pretty much ate and ran.  From my memory of two previous visits I don't think it offers great gardens any way - it is decidedly a park estate. 

We were staying at The Pilgrim Hotel in Much Birch.  It had lovely borders, pots and baskets all blooming away, so the visit promised good gardens as soon as we arrived. (Thanks to Phil for the photo)

We came home via Powys Castle on my recommendation as I always like the feel of the place and the great views across the Menai Straits. Some of you may have spotted the fatal error.  I was remembering Plas Newydd!  To be precise I was correctly remembering the lovely terraced gardens at Powis but has transported it to Plas Newydd's setting.  It is very confusing being me.

Any way the gardens at Powys certainly deliver even on a showery day.  I would recommend seeing them but not if climbing up and down a very steep hillside doesn't appeal to you for whatever reason.  There are perfectly great walkways and paths but it is the epitome of a terraced garden and can be hard work if you don't take it at a steady pace, which we didn't do.

There is a Powis Castle gardens album if you want to see more.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Photos from today

Sunshine at last and out in the garden for the day.  

At one point this afternoon Ken was making a brick edge, I was weeding and dead-heading, the chap who cuts our lawns and his sidekick were doing their job and two chaps from New Bank arrived with a tree and two trellises.  Talk about excess.

I took a few photos at the end of the day and added them to the Garden 2012 album.

I'll just pull out a couple.

A friend very kindly gave us some 'bricks' which Ken spent a very hot couple of hours hammering into place.  The idea is that the gardener now doesn't have to do a vertical strim which means I can get plants to the edge and over the bricks without having them decapitated.  I can also add soil behind them to give me a better amount for planting in. This is needed as the edges round the wall are very poor. 

Next year I intend to plant a smaller version of the half circle perrrenials all around the house edge.  I will be looking for a short yellow daisy, small day lilies, small crocosmia, small geum.  Suggestions welcome?

Not looking too terrific yet but it will fluff up nicely next year.  Newbank are in my bad books though.  I bought six plants from their three for nine pounds table (which is extortionate in itself) only to be told when I got to the till the liatris wasn't in that deal.  This meant I paid full price for all three of my six plants.  The only option was to take them back and find something which was in the deal - how you do that when I thought I had already done that, I don't know or just abandon the lot and leave.  We had friends waiting for us to get through the hellish queue in the first place I could hardly subject them to another wait and I wanted something as I had already stripped out the strawberries ready to plant some perrrenials.  They were exceedingly ungracious about it, clearly implying I was trying to pull a fast one, which really annoys me.  Not only am I pernikity honest about such things but I have spent untold thousands of pounds with them in the thirty plus years I have been going there.

To compound my disgruntlement... I paid the required sixteen pounds to get a tree and two pieces of trellis delivered and they arrived with the wrong trellis!  Right style...wrong size.  Not exactly rocket science you would think.  To be fair they brought the replacement very quickly.

This is a picture of the tree in its pot waiting for its new home.  It was a dry as a bone!!  It is only a simple Rowan or Mountain Ash - Sorbus aucuparia.  Good for a small garden as it only makes about 15 feet and is tough as old boot.

Thank you to Susan and Jefferson

This is just a big thank you to Susan and Jefferson for opening their garden last weekend (21st, 22nd).  The heavens were kind to them this year and granted us two good weather days.  Last year we went round in waterproof over trouser thingies, raincoats and umbrellas and we were still running with rain.  You have never seen four more bedraggled specimens lunching at The Red Hall later.  

So, as I said, great weather and even greater garden; go and look at my photos.  I have loved watching the garden change over the past three years and hope to go on doing so.  

Not only do we get to see a truly remarkable garden but we are entertained and fed.  Delicious cakes and drinks and this year a young singer called Grace O'Malley.  Four toasty, warm, cream-caked folk had a great day.

Friday, 20 July 2012


My last post began with an apology as must this one.  Unfortunately when I was busy carping about this and that last time I hadn't given any thought to the people who had done all the hard work so that I could have a great day out touring round other folks gardens. Sadly my criticisms were very much taken to heart by one of the organisers and when I reread my piece I should  have worded it very differently.  I did email her to apologise and she was kind enough to accept my apologies but I thought I should at least share that with you.  The following are a couple of snippets from my two emails to her:

I am very sorry that what I said has upset you and that was certainly not my intention.  I reread what I wrote and realised it could have been phrased better.  With your permission I will copy this email to you as a post in my blog as a public apology for being so nit-picky.  I thought the trail was wonderful and I had a lovely day and it is all thanks to people like yourself and others who spend a huge amount of their time organising these things.  Without such folk all this sharing of our gardens would simply not happen and it is such a great thing to do.  I hope you are able to accept my apology and my huge thanks for all your hard work.

As for my not using the contact numbers I suppose I was doing the overly British thing of not liking to bother people.  As I said we found eight gardens out of fourteen in our bumbling fashion.  Please don't let minor carping discourage you from your endeavours.

Please don't get fed up with doing it because there are chumps like me whose mouths run away with their brains!