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.