Category Archives: Longridge


I was away the first week or so of this month and noticed how many plants had come into bloom and soon past their best. I was able to photo the ordinary red Peony but my splendid yellow Tree Peony was finished.

As you can see from my header photo everywhere is very green at this time of year. The Hostas add to the verdancy.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas in full bloom in May, I haven’t had time to label everything …

Alliums are spring up everywhere and the larger ones give a good dried display when the foliage dies back later in the year. Of course the more humble chives I grow in a pot are in the same family

In the pond and damper areas delicate iris flowers never seem to last long Free colour is provided by the number of Aquilegia variants that I allow, can’t stop, to spring up in the borders. Geraniums are beginning to flower in all parts of the garden, they seem to thrive in the NW.

I’ve a varied selection of Euphorbia with their diverse and unique floral structures.

Of course it’s Lilac time

Other shrubs are showy

Viburnum plicatum Mariessii

Laburnum watereri vossii

Choisya ternata.

Cornus kousa Gold Star.

My Clematis are not doing well, too much winter cutting back but Nelly Moser always puts on a good display.

Each day you walk round the garden something new appears

Papaver bracteatum

Gladiolus byzantinus and Libertia formosa.

Roses are just beginning to bloom but they will be better in June…


Magnolia Susan.

Its been a dry but rather cold month. Scarifying the lawn produced masses of moss, lawn sand was heavily used and had to be watered in. The resulting black areas look awful at present but I’m hoping will pay off. I was in no rush to start mowing.

Shoots are appearing everywhere, tree leaves are a lovely fresh green, ferns are unfolding and young cones colouring up on the conifers.

Clumps of bluebells bring colour to shady areas. Early herbaceous plants are slow to flower but a few ‘weeds’ are already blossoming, that is why I leave them to seed in a few spaces.  Cambrian Poppy, Honesty and the Yellow Dead Nettle.

As one cherry blossom is blown away another appears.Of course spring is when the Rhododendrons come into their own and the best time to visit some of the famous gardens where they flourish. My favourites were Dunge Valley Gardens close to Windgather Crag in the High Peak for a bit of apres bouldering and Muncaster Castle on the edge of the lakes. It was to the latter we retreated on a rainy climbing trip in Eskdale 20yrs ago and I purchased Rh. Unique and it is always one of the first to flower in my garden. Good to have a bit of history involved in ones plants – that was the weekend Princess Di was killed. Others are flowering in a shady area at the back …

May Day.

Bo Bells.

Usually the first clematis to flower is an Alpina variety with a delightful shade of blue …Dotted around are several different Corydalis

and  Dicentra …

… they need very little attention and provide low colour.

The prehistoric looking Darmera peltata thrives in my boggy area and produces interesting flower heads before the large leaves appear.At the end of the month the spectacular blue Camassia quamash starts to open, a sign that the garden will be in full bloom next month.

Sparrows and tits are occupying all my nest boxes and the swallows were back on the 20th.

Around the block.

I can’t believe I was climbing a few days ago in a T shirt as this morning the cold dull weather continues towards Easter. I rouse myself to do a favourite short walk from home to see what is happening in the countryside. Longridge Fell looks broodingly down on the start of my walk into a field full of seagulls, they are unusual so they must be feeding on something – possibly recent muck spreading.

A glance at the 1:25000 map shows many small ponds in these fields, they are the remains of Marl Pits dug in the 19th century to provide lime rich clay for spreading on the fields to improve the soil. They now provide an interesting habitat for wildlife and plants. One near here unfortunately is used by the duck shooting fraternity, today the mallards were paddling happily. A couple of larger ponds used to keep my children happy for hours fishing for god knows what.

I passed a few metal gates which are for access to a line of aqueducts crossing this area, the Thirlmere aqueduct to Manchester and the Hodder aqueduct to Blackpool. Generally the former has black gates whilst the latter green. A useless bit of information.

On the lanes Blackthorn was in flower before its leaves appeared, the reverse of the Hawthorn, May Blossom. The phrase “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” was particularly pertinent today in the cold wind.  Better information.


Sheep were with lambs and the cattle were being let out into the fields. I came across a particularly threatening breed of sheep.

Pit Bull sheep.

Since I was last this way a memorial seat has been erected – “he loved this farm” a lovely sentiment.

Passing three popular hostelries …

Ferraris Country Hotel.

Derby Arms.

The Alston.

… shunning them all I arrived home in under a couple of hours. The weather shows no sign of improving but at least I’ve had some exercise.



From the first day of March the frogs were busy mating in my pond and bats started flying round my house at dusk. There are lambs in the field at the back of my garden. Feels like the year has started at last and we have had a few sunny days at the beginning of the month.

Spring bulbs continue to appear, Muscari, Anemone blanda, Iris reticulata and Snake’s Head Fritillaries all were a joy to see again. The taller daffodils come into their own for picking for the house.The low lying Pulmonaria brighten several gloomy areas – officinalis , Pink Dawn and Azurea.

This pretty little blue flower seeds itself around the borders – Cardamine pentaphylla…Of course the cherries have come into flower, lets hope there is not too much wind which destroys their petals… as has the Magnolia stellata…

The delicate primrose flowers of my Corylopsis shrub soon fade…… and the petals of Camellia are susceptible to the morning sun on frosty days.I’m just back from the Canary Islands and looking forward to April’s offerings but first there is some hard work to do on the lawn and those weeds have started growing.


I must say that it was a slow start to the month with cold weather holding things up, only by the middle of the month did the temperature reach double figures and then came the wind. Even this morning we had a light snow shower. Normally I’m walking or climbing abroad this month but due to procrastinating I’m still suffering the British weather – I have however make good progress with pruning and shredding, neglected lately, so a large area of the borders now has a decent mulch. Accompanying me has been the sound of birdsong – it becomes louder as the month progresses, reminding me to provide some more nesting boxes.  All around in Longridge the fields are being eaten up with new developments, now that planning control has become meaningless, so I’m glad I have my own bit of countryside no matter how small.

The usual bulbs have pushed through and started flowering – snowdrops, crocuses, narcissi, scilla and anemone blanda – Featured ImageA few early herbaceous plants are flowering – a primula variety,   bergenia and pulmonaria officinalis. I have a young prunus ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ which struggles to show a few blossoms, I hope it will improve with age.This exercise of showing a month by month diary of my garden is beneficial in that it is highlighting gaps which I hope to fill. I notice my yellow witch hazel [Hamamelis] has disappeared and needs replacing. Within the last couple of days my pieris japonicas are just coming into flower – the aptly named ‘lily-of-the-valley shrub’.What will March have to offer?


I have been meaning to follow my garden through the seasons for awhile – January is a good place to start. Due to our topsy-turvy climate this year there are no pretty pictures of fragile blossoms pushing through the snow, though a spell of icy weather has retarded some plants. 

The photo above shows a rather bare garden with my progress in cutting down a 50year old Blue Spruce that lost all its needles a couple of years ago and unfortunately shows no sign of recovery. The best wood will fuel my stove but I’ve decided to shred the brash to use as garden mulch.

January is a difficult month for flowers and I’ve relied on hardy shrubs to bulk up this post. From the start of the year the Mahonia, Jasmine and Virburnum have been in constant bloom. Slowly the Hellebores have come into flower and that’s about it really but I’m hoping things will get going next month. Maybe I should plan ahead for next January with more plantings.

Mahonia Charity

Mahonia Charity

Jasmin nudiflorum.

Jasmin nudiflorum.


Viburnum Bodnatense

Viburnum Bodnantense.   

Helleborus argutifolius. Corsican Hellebore.

Helleborus argutifolius. Corsican Hellebore.

Helleborus sternii

Helleborus sternii

Helleborus purpurascens.

Helleborus purpurascens.                                                     

Helleborus niger.

Helleborus niger, Christmas Rose.

I’ve just come in from the garden as the sun sets and starlings congregate in a nearby tree for possibly some murmuration later.

A Local Weekend.

Writing this whilst outside is a torrential downpour and distant thunder. The strange summer weather continues. This weekend I’ve managed two contrasting walks.

Saturday. A dull morning but things improved after lunch so I took the opportunity to complete a few more map squares I had signed up to for in the Ramblers ‘Big pathwatch’.

The idea is that every public footpath in England and Wales, all 140,000 miles, should be walked and any problems noted and hopefully duly sorted. I like to do my bit for the local paths around Longridge. No big problems found today – only one electric fence with no safe way through. However it is the height of summer and the height of vegetation is noticeable on lesser walked paths, you certainly need long trousers. So by the end of the walk I had had enough of nettles and brambles, and the Ramblers can’t do anything about that.








Sunday. After yesterday’s field path navigations I felt the need to be free up on the fells. The morning was warm and sunny with the threat of storms later so I was away relatively early to park above Chipping for my usual Saddle Fell, Fairsnape and Parlick circuit. The path goes through the yard of Saddle Fell Farm and steeply up an old peat collectors track. Several WD numbered marker stones are passed – a reminder that these fells were once a tank and firing range back in the 40’s. Saddle Fell also has a tragic past – on a sunny  Sunday, 25th March 1962, three teenagers, two brothers [11 and 18] and their sister [15] set off from Chipping for a walk over to Langden Valley. The weather changed with low cloud and a snow storm moving in, they soon became disorientated and hypothermic. Somewhere on Saddle Fell the boys sort shelter in some rocks but the girl staggered on to raise the alarm at the farm. Both boys were dead when found the next day and this led directly to the establishment of a mountain rescue team in this area. As I climb the fell I pass an old stone shelter and often wonder if this was the site of the brothers last night.There was a very strong Easterly wind and I virtually ran along the ridge. With some local knowledge this route can be achieved without any serious bog trotting. The air was warm and the haze hid any distant views but you do experience a strong sense of wilderness and space up here. Today I was really only interested in putting some miles below my mountain boots and a quick 1000ft of climbing as part of getting a bit fitter for a forthcoming trip in the Austrian Alps. A few pairs of grouse startled me as they flew out of the heather, so they haven’t all been shot since the ‘glorious‘ 12th. Strangely for such a sunny morning there was virtually nobody on the fells and the wind was too strong for the parapenters and gliders. Although I did witness the strange sight of a group carrying the model planes up to fly – it looked as though they were carrying crosses up to Calvary.

I was back at the car in under two hours and will return for some more training with a heavy rucksack next time.