Category Archives: Garden

HOW NOT TO ISOLATE.

I don’t think I’m going to be very good at this. I don’t have a regular routine at the best of times – get up when I feel like it, eat at odd hours, read and listen to the radio through a lot of the night. Should I keep to my non-routine or change to the ones recommended everywhere at the moment?  The best I’ve seen was a video from an ex submarine captain who was used to months underwater in very confined conditions.  Worth a look…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-hampshire-52085862/coronavirus-submarine-captain-s-advice-on-social-isolation

It may work for you but a couple of weeks in and I haven’t changed so it looks likely that I’ll plod on as I am.

I wake at maybe 8 o’clock, come downstairs to make coffee and feed the cat. Now I have an extra job – bring in the milk from the doorstep and wash the bottles in soapy water. Don’t believe I’m writing this, what hope for people with OCD? My hands are already getting chapped with all this soapy water washing. I never thought when I started this humble blog site about rock climbing and walking that I would be posting a picture of milk bottles.

I take my coffee back to bed and have a look at what’s happening in the world and in my Emails on the computer. I get distracted by some climbing videos on youtube, you know how it is. One often links into another and another, better make another coffee.

Once up and about I go into the garden. I’m slowly working my way around the beds weeding and clearing up. I tend to do about 2-3 hours until my back has had enough, there are plenty of days left for more. I’ve a good selection of all the common weeds as well as some plants I introduced and wish I hadn’t. This is the first year for a while to have the time to do a thorough job and try and catch the weeds before they become established.

Common weeds…

Bittercress. Seeds early and everywhere.

Cleavers. Sticks to everything.

Dandelion. Deep tap root, worse in lawns.

…Herb Bennet, Nettle, Buttercup, Rosebay Willowherb, Chickweed, Ivy, Bramble  – the list goes on.

Plants I introduced by mistake…

Dog Violet. Tenacious little b…..

Cuckoo Pint. Bulblets and seeds proliferate out of control.

Welsh Poppy. Orange variety has a deep taproot.

Yellow Variegated Dead Nettle. I wish it was dead, suckers everywhere. I was a sucker to plant it.

And then there is my lawn in amongst the moss. Need to buy some lawn sand, I will have to look online.

Lawn in my moss.

I could write a whole post on weeds, I almost have. When is a weed a flower?  Catch them early before they flower. They’ll all be back tomorrow.

The cherry blossom I pictured in my last post a week ago is shedding petals like snow in today’s breeze, it’s such a shame they only last a short time, rather sad really.

The fields opposite my house are earmarked for development and in the last few weeks the bulldozers have been in and stripped the hedges and destroyed most of the trees. They had started on the drainage and access roads but now the site is closed down leaving the whole place in a mess. I used to see deer and hares in those fields and the hedges were full of birds, what now for wildlife? Anyhow, I’m straying off the subject but this has prompted me to build a few more bird nest boxes which are now in place around my garden.  The sound of bird song is very noticeable this spring as there is little traffic noise.

The day passes quickly and cooking my evening meal is something to look forward to. Normally I shop up in the village every day and buy what takes my fancy for that evening’s meal. That’s all changed of course and now I delve into my store cupboard for inspiration, tonight I used rice and lentils to make dal bhat. Dal bhat is a traditional popular meal from Nepal consisting of rice and spiced lentils.  It is a staple food in these countries so as I have a good supply of rice and lentils I should be able to see out many weeks of isolation. I learnt to cook it fairly authentically whilst travelling in Nepal and I still have some spices bought there which are difficult to get in the UK.

What I’ll miss most are fresh fruit and vegetables. I’ve tried to book supermarket deliveries but all the slots are taken so I’ve turned to a local fruit and vegetable firm who normally supply to the catering trade. I’ve just phoned them and they couldn’t have been more helpful, I’ve a box being delivered tomorrow. Maybe picture then and give a plug if they are up to scratch.

The evening is passed with maybe an hour trying one of the cryptic crosswords from my bumper book of TheTimes Crosswords. Then tonight I’m going to watch some films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Every year they normally host an adventure film festival and the organisers have selected a series of films to view free every Wednesday throughout this isolation period. Very good of them, thank you, my own little film festival – I’d get out the popcorn if I had any! Fell asleep halfway through the last film – just like the real cinema.

  Times moved on quickly and I don’t have much to show for it. That just about sums up my day. So don’t take any advice from me regarding isolation strategies as I don’t really have any except…

“Take one day at a time”

SOCIAL DISTANCING TO SELF-ISOLATION. Reasons to be cheerful.

It’s a wonderful time of the year with some exceptional weather, the blossoms are appearing and we’ve just gone onto British Summertime which I always look upon as a turning point.

My cat manages to sleep from dawn to dusk finding warm sunshine throughout the day. I’m jealous.

Last week I was going out for short walks from home Social Distancing as I went. Then this week I developed a sore throat, fever and headaches;  I’m sure, or almost sure, that this isn’t the coronavirus but the rules say if you have symptoms then Self Isolation is necessary for 7 days.

That’s no great hardship as I’m pretty self-reliant but I think I misread the rules and thought I was not to leave my house at all  [that is Shielding – we all have to get accustomed to these new terms]  So I’ve stopped going out altogether which is probably wise in any case. Hence no walking in this post.

I’m fine for food and medicines and have been pleasantly surprised by the offers of help in that direction. Thanks to those concerned.

My telephone line has never been so busy as I catch up with friends near and far.

And there is the bonus of a new friend who is almost hand tame after a couple of days gardening. On a larger scale, the night skies have been clear with a bright crescent moon and an even brighter Venus.

Lots of positives there.

 

THE GARDEN IN DECEMBER.

Well I made it through the year with my garden diary.

Today is the winter solstice, seven hours and 49 minutes of daylight if you are lucky. Its pretty grim here today in Lancashire with drizzle and mist. I missed the classic photo of the robin in the snow last week. Not much else to show in the garden at the moment.

Picea koraiensis

Helleborus foetidus

HAVE A GREAT XMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

 

 

THE GARDEN IN NOVEMBER.

 

Another month has flashed by…

As i wandered round The Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley last week I was making a mental note of any colour for this time of year. To be honest not a lot stood out. The trees were resplendent in autumn colours as one would expect, there were some unidentified tall white grasses near the glass house but you had to look closer to spot anything that would be of use in my small northern garden.

Red Dogwoods were brilliantly coloured but more suitable for an urban park than my borders but there may be room for a couple at the back of a shrub bed. Pyracantha, Firethorn, seemed more colourful than the Cotoneaster in my garden, though with their thorns maybe a position against a wall would be best.  So that is two to buy in for next year.

But what about now, Last week we had the deluge for a few days and now morning ground frosts have become established.

Leaves continue to colour and then blow around the lawn and into my pond, which needs a good clear out.

Euonymus alatus.

Spot the fish.

Nerines are flowering still, as last month, but little else. My Mahonia Charity has started flowering and will do so over winter.

 

Hydrangea heads are drying out and showing pastel shades, I should get round to picking some.

 

The seed heads of Phlomis are worth leaving on the plants over winter for their intricate structure.

 

The holly berries have been eaten by the blackbirds but red berries on the Berberis shrubs are lasting well.

The trees are almost bare of leaves and this has enabled some lovely low sunsets on the last few clear evenings.

 

THE GARDEN IN OCTOBER.

Yesterday morning there was a heavy dew, the temperature had dropped to 6°, today it is wet and windy again.  I’ve just returned from La Palma where the temperature was in the high 20s – what a shock.

Wandering round the garden there is little to see, a few Asters and Japanese Anemones are giving some faded colour. Round the corner the Nerine bowdenii is suddenly in flower. The delicate Fuchsia magellanica Alba is hanging on.

Autumn colours have only just started but the strong winds, whilst I’ve been away, have already stripped some trees. The blackbirds are eating the holly berries so by Xmas there will be none left.

The clocks go back tonight. Little else to say really.

THE GARDEN IN SEPTEMBER.

I’ve been away most of September and the garden is looking neglected, but to continue my year’s diary…

Hedges need trimming and plants cutting back. Not a lot has changed since the end of last month and we are now slowly drifting into Autumn.

Sedums come into their own at this time of year.

As do Michaelmas Daisies [asters]The Monkshood [Aconitum carmichaelii] seem to have grown taller this year, they are probably the most poisonous plant in the garden.Cimicifuga simplex racemona brightens up a shady cornerand a late flowering Phlox paniculata Norah Leigh does the sameThe less showy Physostegia virginiana, the Obedient Plant named because it will stay in any position you twist it to, makes an effort to flower.

Otherwise it is seeds and berries.

The Cornus kousa fruit soon goes off but apparently can be used for making wine – next year.The birds love the Cotoneaster berriesand my Monkey Puzzle tree has started producing ‘cones’

But really we are heading into Autumn.

 

THE GARDEN IN AUGUST.

I’m not going to mention the weather. To be honest the garden doesn’t look a lot different this August from July but there are some interesting additions.

Many of the flowers from July are still showing, the Japanese anemones have a long flowering period…

 

 

 

 

 

… the Hemerocallis, Day Lily, has only a short one – as its name implies.One of the shrubs essential to any garden is Buddleia davidii not only for its fragrant blooms in late summer but for the butterflies it attracts.

Three more unusual plants in my side border are Crinum powelli,  Clematis heracleifolia and Cautleya spicata ‘Robusta’ [Himalayan Ginger]

Far less showy but giving good ground cover in rough shady areas is Persicaria campanulatum. The humble Montbretia has many varieties, all a little invasive, one particular favourite of mine is Crocosomia solfatareI have other varieties of this easy plant 

In my boggy area I grow this interesting plant, Kirengeshoma palmata, which is just coming into flower.

A small uncommon tree, Clerodendrum trichotomum, at this time of year develops strange fragrant flowers.  

The Fuchsia papoose is showing its colourful bells  and who knows with a little more sun plants like Helianthus Lemon Queen will brighten up the end of the month.

Anyhow back to cutting the privet hedge.