Wednesday, 17 September 2014

This is what you do when you want to see the pot from inside the conservatory!  i reckon no-one will be sitting outside much from now on.

Got a great deal in tulips from Lidl - £3.99 for 20 spanking healthy fat bulbs - downside they are a mixed pack of three varieties and I am a single variety in one pot person - hey ho - not this year.

This is my other absolute bargain.  If you are looking for standard olive trees or standard bays of a decent age/height get to B & Q (Crostons Road) there are a few left.  I went for just bulbs and a couple of large pots (£7) but saw these.  They were priced at £19.98 for the olive(these) and £18 for the bays.  I thrashed around mentally as I wanted a pair and that is a bit rich for my blood.  I talked myself into it as I haven't bought much for the garden this year (conveniently forgetting other expenses which is why I haven't bought much for the garden this year!) and picked up a pair.  Got to the counter and they were reduced to £10 - typical of B & Q 's rubbish display (or lack of) pricing.  Any way with old person Wednesday discount - two pots and two standards came to £30.60.  Wish I had somewhere for a pair of bays.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Logan Botanical Gardens and Castle Kennedy

I think Logan comes under the banner of Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh as I couldn't find a website particularly for them, but click here if you want to know more:  Logan Botanical Garden

Last weekend we had a couple of days in Leswalt near Stranraer and visited a couple of gardens.  There are six very well known ones all in a small area around the Mull of Galloway and all worth a look, I am told. 

Sadly this is not an area you will be 'passing' or 'near to' if holidaying elsewhere; it is very specifically its own destination as it is the (UK's old man's beard) peninsular hanging off Scotland and, as such, becomes its most southerly point.  Add to this the power of the Gulf Stream and you can see it is something of a gardener's paradise in the North.  Indeed Logan is loaded (for me, overloaded) with sub tropical planting.  

fleabane doing its thing

Our other garden visit was to Castle Kennedy Gardens which was also glorious, especially considering we are at the back end of the gardening year.

First, the practical; here's a simple way to support large areas of floppy plants.  I have seen it done more discretely but the idea is always the same - a framework of something attached to legs on a large scale.  I am doing this next year in my front garden for sure.

This is part of the same border with that system running all along it.

I you want to see more photos of these two gardens click on Galloway Gardens

Monday, 15 September 2014

On buying cyclamen, fleabane, clematis

First let me show you my nice little obelisk and clematis that I bought this summer:

Very pretty, just a pity that it's not what I thought I had bought.  Someone had done the classic poking the wrong label back into the wrong pot.  I can't tell you what variety this clematis is but it isn't the patio size pale pink one I thought I'd bought.  So that's a switcheroo to do next year as there is about thirty foot of clematis starting to cling to a four foot piece of wire.

More successfully, take a look at these lovely cyclamen - bargain from Lidl at £2.99 for the four pot pack.  You could split them already, if you wanted, into more planting pieces but they multiply pretty quickly if they are in the right place (wooded area - no, I don't have one!!).  They are delight in the rotten winter months.  (yes, just look at the weeds!!)  nice in pots waiting for the bulbs to appear.

Next, come some of my all time favourites, fleabane.  I just love them.  They are considered to be something of a weed and will seeds themselves in every nook and cranny - unless I grow them!  I had about six from a friend a couple of years ago and I have trouble finding the odd one or two daisies even if I go on a specific search for them.

Come back tomorrow if you want to see them in their full glory somewhere else.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

What not to do to trees

.... or a lesson in being lazy!

At the beginning of the growing season I hired a gardener to remove a small willow tree as that was a bit beyond me.  She made short shrift of it and seemed to know what she was doing so I decided it was the moment in my life to relinquish the hard graft and the boring jobs and pay someone else to do it.

Weather permitting, she had done the chores asked of her each time she came and we have gone on OK.  Any wrong judgements - such as allowing her to cut the small box hedge with huge electric clippers which seems to have stunned it into looking very sickly - have been of my own making, so no complaints.  Retrospectively, I think those sort of hedge trimmers tend to tear rather than snip which is what the box hedge requires.

On her last visit I asked her to weed as usual.  There is always enough of that to completely fill her time but, understandably, she gets fed up with it so I try to throw in something else.  On this occasion I didn't bother to do that and assumed she would use all the time weeding and tying in and supporting and dead-heading and those sorts of things.  But no - she pruned a tree and six of the eight (?) the roses.

Trees only need pruning if you are tackling disease or they are in the wrong place and need to be kept restrained in some way.  Often is isn't something an amateur should do as you can make a right cod's ear of it.  If a tree needs 'topping' you need someone who knows what they are doing so you don't spend the rest of your lifetime looking at a deformed specimen.

Why, oh why, she thought my little amelanchier (snow berry) needed hacking back I have no idea.  It is compounded and compounded by all sorts of things - it was struggling enough and was just about getting its feet down in a north facing border at last after three years there.  You grow them for their autumn colour!  It is the main focal point from my kitchen window and where I sit in the conservatory, so I see it endlessly day on day and inwardly howl.

It is too late for me to deal with it this year which might be a good thing as my first instinct is to rip it out and start again.  I am now trying to give it next year and see what happens to its growth.  I suspect it will be as ugly as I think and will have to come out.

She also pruned the roses right back - in August!!!  Never, never prune roses in summer - they want a lot of tying in and maybe the judicious nip because they are so unruly but if you hack them now they put on a spurt of growth to try and make amends and weaken themselves just in time for the cold weather to arrive.

Even stranger - look at the photo (you can see the new red growth appearing) - she left one piece standing.  I have six climbers all 'pruned'.

The moral of the story - if you want a job done well do it yourself or don't let anyone loose on your garden without strict instructions.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Scarecrow trail

Here's the map for the trail - what a lot of entries - well done you..........

To download a copy to print, click here:  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A garden really worth seeing....

Don't Forget our Open Garden 13/14 Sept 12 noon to 5pm
Please pass this email on to your friends who may be interested

The wonderful Rossendale Community Ladies Choir will
be singing for us.

Please can you help
If you would like to donate a cake please contact Susan Tel 01706 213934
Thanking you in advance for your kind generosity.

We look forward to seeing you at 
23 Dalesford Haslingden BB4 6QH
Jefferson and Susan Conway

Friday, 29 August 2014

Trouble with photos

Anyone following this blog may have noticed the photographs suddenly fell of the page.  No, I have no idea why.  Even my techie husband agrees it is nothing I have or haven't done.  Indeed if you scout around it seems to be a problem with Blogger that has been around a while and has no solution.

It will be impossible to put them all back in.  Can't tell if I am cross or upset right now!

There are a few of the Garden and the Lotty in albums (links in the left-hand column) but that won't cover half of what's gone missing.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Another open garden near us

This isn't one I have been to and sadly we are away this weekend otherwise we would have gone.

Badger Corner
11 Brockclough Road
Whitewell Bottom
BB4 9LG 

Sunday 10th    11am to 4pm

Once again Dawn and Ken Taylor will be opening their Rossendale garden, with the invaluable help of friends and family, this time to raise funds for the Rawtenstall Remembrance Parade.

The extensive garden in Whitewell Bottom has been cultivated over many years and is an oasis on several levels with steps and slopes, lawn, ponds, a woodland walk, stream and is packed with a variety of shrubs, trees, vegetables and plants, together with accompanying wildlife. 
Many people come year on year and find there is always something new to see.  The event is an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones as well as to appreciate the results of many hours ofvery hard work. 
Tea, coffee and biscuits are included in the entrance donation of £3.00, child entry is free, but they must be accompanied at all times by a responsible adult.  Home-propagated plants, home made cakes and Auntie Viv’s Strawberry Cream teas will be on sale. 
Disabled parking area only – please park at Whitewell Bottom Community Centre, just a short walk away. 

Kind regards
07866 081839

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Truly a garden visit worth doing - inspirational

Jefferson & Susan invites you to our Open Garden for Charity 
13 & 14 September      12 – 5pm
23 Dalesford Haslingden Rossendale BB4 6QH

We have a young but very interesting garden on many levels
English and Mediterranean Style, Long Borders and Interesting Features. 
Japanese Garden, Outdoor Chess, Gold mine. 4 Ponds.
Steel Sculptures Art Studio.and Plant Sales

In past years we have held our Open in July, this year we are Celebrating Autumn
Let us hope the Autumn colours are as good as last years

Rossendale Community Ladies Choir will sing for you, please support them.

We are supporting:
Rochdale Hedgehog Rescue –Air Ambulance & The Smile Train
Please Donate £3.00 pp

Café:  Tea/Coffee & Cakes       Sorry no Dogs  - Strong Shoes 

Please forward these details to Friends and Groups who may be interested.

Scarecrow Festival

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Scarecrow festival

Scarecrow Festival

12 - 21 September 2014

scarecrowIT'S BACK and it's BIGGER...
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Brandlesholme Scarecrow Festival, meetings are already underway between members of All Saints Church and Brandlesholme Methodist Church, the Library, Residents Association and Community Group, Woodbank Cricket Club, Councillors, local businesses and others to plan a Festival again this year.
The Festival will run between the 12th and the 21st of September, with a special event on the Sunday to close the weeklong trail and to present prizes to the winners.  It is hoped to run a number of different categories this time, and initial interest promises to make this year’s Festival even bigger and better than last year.  Watch out for more information soon!

I have 'borrowed' this from the Brabull - - the online voice of the Brandlesholme residents Association.  If you don't know about them, check out the site.  

My first husband and I were once upon a time the editor/printer general factotum for them but that was many years ago.  Nevertheless I remain a staunch supporter and reap the benefits of my £1.50 membership each year by borrowing the lawn scarifier and other bits and bobs of kit I neither want to buy nor store.  Well worth doing if you are a handyman/gardener type person.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Recording your garden

Those who know me know I have a passion for recording things, family tree, endless blogs, photographs, journals, diaries, writing of any sort so it is no surprise I have gathered 'data' on my various gardens in many homes over my lifetime.  

This is one thing I do every year in June.  I try to find a dry day around the middle of the month to record my garden so I can see how it changes year on year.  I have just done this year's record and thought I'd share the idea with you - doesn't take five minutes and you'll always have a record of what you did.  Looking at them today, we were saying we were surprised I had a vegetable border for four years, we thought it was only a couple and we were reminded of the caravan we had and the barbecue we never used!

I take eight photographs one from each corner diagnally across to the other corner and one in the centre of each side directly across from the opposite border - pretty much eight points of the compass in our garden.  Here's the record of one of the corners.  This one faces North-east.

2007 - we had just moved in and had got the patio down.  We had a small decked area in the corner with a couple of seats.  I wanted it because the other corner of the garden was lobbed off diagonally and I like things to balance.

2008 - we have added a summerhouse in the corner and the tree seems to have gone missing from the bottom border?.... but we have gained a pot on the patio.  The box hedge around the patio is just showing above the concrete.  The irrigation system is in - I can see a line to the pot.

2009 - the tree has reappeared but the side border has turned into a vegetable garden.  the patio pot seems to have had a baby

 2010 - looks more settled.  The bottom border is looking good and the veggies are thriving.
 2011 - the year I forgot to do the photos so had to find something that would do.  Quite glad I did as this one shows the lovely noisette rose doing its thing on the patio with its feet in lavender.
 2012 - now everywhere looks as though someone lives here.  The summerhouse was my workshop that summer
 2013 - I've moved back into the house to work and the vegetables has been replaced with a flower border and tree.

2014 - So here we are right now with the conservatory being built so it will all look very different next year!

If you are interested the best way to view these is to click on the first photo which will set it to full screen and then you can flick through and see how much it changes each year.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Out now

Here's what's out in my garden this week.

James Gallway.  

This is a nice tough rose but can't decide if it is a climber or not - more a large bush that needs support.

It has lovely glossy leaves and seems to resist rust and blight and bugs pretty well.

The wrong poppy - this is a rogue red which comes up year after year - it has been pulled out, dug out and even poisoned!

I've decided to learn to love it.

The pretty little white thing flirting round it is called Bowmans Root (Gillenia Trifoliata).  Well worth having if you can find it.
 I love this iris.  it is just about starting in the garden after three years!  We dug it up from a B & B where some friends were staying - with permission!  hey had stunning borders absolutely choked with it.  My two little bits have struggled to get going in a north facing border (they do like to be sun-baked) but finally we are seeing some flowers.

It is an unusual one and could be Iris Spuria
Pretty common but no less nice for that and a real doer - this is masterwort (astrantia - probably major) - no idea what variety.

It will flower most of the summer.  Not spectacular but incredible if you get up close and personal.

The white is the beginnings of the False Goats Beard (Astilbe) just starting to come into flower another stalwart.
 The peony i have in a tub - thin it bneeds feeding as it only seems to manage two not huge flowers a year so far.  There again, when my sister gave it me about three years ago it was only a few inches high so its doing OK.

This is a sentimental plant as it is from my sis before she decamped to Canada and in memory of my mom and the red peony of her home.

 I can never get a photo of this odd little primula to do it justice. I think it is the capitata part of the primula family.  it starts out covered in white farina (looks like it is covered in talcum powder) so it looks very odd, but then it progresses to this. 

This is a really tough sweety - why oh why didn't I note its name.  It is a very small white shrub a friend bought me in a pot last summer.  I tucked it into a corner before we left for the winter not really expecting it to survive.  When I was home in December it still had a few flowers on it and as soon as it could get going this year it is off.  it is another one where you have to really look at it to appreciate it.  The pretty little white flowers have an even prettier centre.

Let me know if you know what it is.

I don't do any good with roses - mine are always scabby with rust and covered in greenfly and more bald than leafy and the flowers get smaller and smaller and less and less every year.  The exception to this were the two beautiful and bountiful Blush noisettes that I had on the patio.  These are the two that we have had to dig up for the forthcoming conservatory.

Right now it looks as if the younger of the two might have survived the move but the other one has given up the ghost.  If one makes it through to next summer I will buy another to replace the dead one.  Fingers crossed.

I suppose roses should be regarded as fairly high maintenance; they need spraying several times a year and feeding often and I never seem 'to get round to it'.  Maybe now I have a gardener every couple of weeks?????

Friday, 6 June 2014

Garden day

Just had a tiring but nice day sorting out the garden - actually demolishing part of it and checking out the lotty.

We have a prize-winning foxglove (self-seeded) in the corner of one of the beds.  It must be a good eight feet tall, quite perfect and unsupported.
The patio area filled with roses and lavender and pots was always the best part of the garden.  Happily and sadly we are adding a conservatory and they all had to go.

I hacked the roses down to about half.  They are already loaded with buds and first flowers so it couldn't be a worse time to move them.  To add insult to injury they have gone to replace two rubbishy Iceberg roses that have never done any good.  So we will see if the adage of 'never plant a rose where a rose has been' is true.  Mind you I presume we will never know what killed them when they keel over.

I chucked a gallon of water on each and talked to them nicely.  I'll let you know if they make it or not.

Over at the lotty my jersey royals are doing very well.  I hope to be attacking them very soon for the scrumptious baby stage.
The middle bed has tiny raspberry bushes in it and they seem to have taken OK just need to bulk up a bit!

I filled the rest with all sorts of seeds:
- Dwarf beans.  'Speedy'  by name and by nature as they claim 'from sowing to eating in 7 weeks'.
- Red cos lettuce - Rosedale.
- Red spring onion - Furio
- Purple carrot - Cosmic Purple
- Tomato - F1 Sweet 'n' neat Cherry
- Cucumber

I don't have great hopes for the tomatoes or cucumber this far north.

From my third box I picked about six pounds of rhubarb and still have this lot left ready to fatten up.  There was no black membrane visible before I pulled the rhubarb, it completely filled to box. 

The strawberries are loaded with their first batch of fruit ready to ripen and are a good size.  Really should be feeding them!  Make a note.  Incidentally a good all-purpose food to save you buying lots of different things is a tomato food (cheap one from Home Bargains at the bottom of Brandlesholme Road).  The basic rule is that anything where you want fruit or flower can be fed with pretty much the same thing.  If you want roots then it needs something else.

OK over to the fruits of my labour - Rhubarb Crumble.

The spoon is a table spoon to give you an idea of the size of the dish - serves four generously or six if you are posh.

Rhubarb, plus tablespoon water or orange juice or whatever takes your fancy - just enough to make sure the rhubarb stews down nicely.
100 g cold butter cut in cubes
75 g caster sugar
175 g plain flour
good pinch of salt

Cut in ingredients with a knife or rub in with finger tips or much, much better,  get a pastry blender - dirt cheap - as little as £4 - Google them.  You can make crumble or pastry in minutes.  Make double the amount and freeze half for another day.

Cover the rhubarb with the crumble - don't press it down just make it level and bake for about an hour at 180C .  Just keep an eye on it after about 40 minutes as ovens vary.

There is a more precise recipe at the top of the blog under Recipes and one for a really nice rhubarb and orange pudding.  Enjoy.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Hello again!!

Hello again to anyone who manages to re-find me!!  So much for quitting the blog.  I am back again.

We just had a great meeting with our new Community Development Officer and she is very enthusiastic about getting the Lotty moving forward so it seems sensible to crank up this blog again as our check in place for Lotty folk (and others).

My own garden is being (partly) taken care of by a lady called Joan who has cleared the weeds out of two of my three borders so the garden is starting to get knocked back into shape.  Hopefully by the end of the summer it will be looking OK again.  Watch this space.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sad to say....

I'm afraid I am giving up this blog along with gardening!

I have been under par for the last six months - long and boring story - and have had to 'employ' someone to do my garden.  Those of you who garden can imagine what that's like!!

So it seems idiotic and a bit 'Lady Penelope' to report on what my gardener is doing........

Huge thanks to those who have travelled along with me and this epistle - its been great.

(Today I bought a magnolia Stellata (Leonard Messel)! not quite the size of the one above..... but one day .....)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Fellow lotties

Anyone wondering if we are still chasing the powers that be to get more work done on the lotty this is the latest missive: 

Sorry for not getting back to you but I have now been moved to another Neighbourhood.  I will pass this on to your new Neighbourhood Co-ordinator along with an outline of where the project is up to.  The new Community Development worker starts in May so she will be also contacting you.

So I am afraid it is just a case of watch this space.................

Monday, 14 April 2014


Finally managed to get to the lotty and do some planting.  To be fair I am not in the best of health right now so everything is a struggle and physical hard work is low on the list.

Any way Ken and I tootled round and checked the site as usual, including the two sheds.  We had been told there was a leak in one over the winter but couldn't see which one so need to get to the bottom of that.  It will give us a reason to 'chase up' the powers that be.  We did try to get some answers about what will be done when but, as often with these things, there isn't anyone 'responsible' for it since Donna left.  Her boss got it dumped on her until it could be passed on - so you can see how that's working out.  We'll do our very best to crank it up again but I am not hugely hopeful.  These sort of things are great when you have a motivated and hard working person shoving it along.  We can't do much if anything ourselves as we aren't 'official' so we can't order and pay for the stuff to get done; all we can do is keep asking......

I had a similar experience with the Junior Lotty Club.  I prepared six months sets of projects/work sheets/kit and suggested prizes etc; I did three of them here before I went to Naples and set up a system for the others to happen and within a month it had died a death.

So, as far as I am concerned,  I am sad to say I am pretty much at the point of shoulder shrugging and just getting on with my own stuff.

If you remember at the close of the season we covered our plots with cardboard to keep the weeds down.  It worked just brilliantly.  This is what they looked like.

We just removed the concrete and bricks that held the cardboard down and the beds were immediately ready to plant up - not a weed in sight and no digging necessary.

I take that back we are still removing huge chunks of concrete.  We dug three pieces this size out of half of one bed.

I have no idea if it was just incredibly lazy on the constructors part or an attempt to save on volume of soil but it is beyond annoying.  Even if you have the most rudimentary understanding of growing things you must realise they don't grow through concrete!!

Incidentally all the concrete and bricks we used on the cardboard is stuff we dug out of the beds last year.

The rhubarb/strawberry bed just needed a bit of a tidy up.  They had spawned three extra plants which I have left in and two others had succumbed to the winter.  I replaced these with the runners I'd potted up in the autumn.

So, after doing that and removing the debris, this is ready to do its thing.

I am surprised to see flowers on some of the plants already.

I will be removing several thousand baby sycamores over the next few months - the beds were smothered in their seeds.

Last year I boned on about not knowing why folk make such a palaver about strawberry runners - pinning them down and cutting them off and potting them up etc.  I just take them off the mother plant and pot them up .  I take more than I need  - so instead of the six I thought I might want, I did ten.

Here they are stuffed round the side of the dustbin and utterly neglected for six months. Only one didn't make it, leaving me nine new plants.  Two of these replaced the lost ones at the lotty and I added in three more and the other four have gone into troughs in the greenhouse in the hope of getting some early strawberries (under glass).

There is little or nothing to see in beds A and B but they are planted!

B has three raspberry canes at the edge of the bed.  I know they are a tad pathetic but as they were under a pound from somewhere like Lidl - worth a shot.

The rest of B has the usual salad stuff - mixed leaves, radishes, spring onions.  I hope I will be putting in dwarf beans in a couple of weeks and maybe some spinach.

A has got my International Kidney spuds in it.  I have done a naughty and put potatoes in the same place as last year but it wasn't blight ridden and any way I've found this variety doesn't seem to get it even when growing cheek by jowl with those that do.  So I stuck to the one variety this year and will be munching on Jersey Royals in a few weeks time I hope.  They go on to make good mid size and then large potatoes too so they last the two of us all season.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Free plants from Gardeners World

Honestly, no catch, Gardeners World do these offers every so often - I have had them and a friend has too and they are just what they say they are.  

48 perennials for Free just pay cost of postage which is £5.65

Ideally you'll need to put them in pots to get to a decent size before planting out - but a real bargain if you do...............

(Thanks H for directing me to it)

Here's the link just click:   Free offer