About my garden

Tuesday 30 December 2014

A little winter sunshine

I finally made it out into the garden. Christmas preparations and vile weather meant that I have not done much in the way of Winter clearing. 
Today it is bright and chilly but not bitter. Yesterday was beautifully frosty which even made all the dead leaves pretty. 
Even though it is the bleakest time of year, well almost, there are always things to find. And not always what you expect in December:

As you can see most of the leaves are still lying around. 
This is my 'woodland area'. One tree and some ferns. It is very shaded in the summer. There is a strawberry flower right at the front.

These are from the Magnolia tree and they do rot down very quickly in spite of being so thick and leathery. Even after a few months I found some lovely skeletons:

 So I collect all these in bags and leave them to rot down for leaf mould. I leave them for a year and then empty out last year's in the spring. I try and spread it around on bare ground as I weed and tidy early in the year, or later... depending on the weather. They don't add much in the way of nutrition but they do add bulk and humus.
Here are some other things:
A bit early, I think.

Hellebore buds - one of my favourite flowers.

Purple sprouting, it really is very tiny but welcome all the same.

It seems I don't empty my rain gauge very often. Now frozen solid.

I didn't really stay out very long, I'm not a martyr. Just long enough to collect some bags of leaves and for my feet to be frozen solid. Then coffee in the warm is very welcome and feels well deserved after all the lazy days and too much good food.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Misty Autumn day

We've finally had a proper frost and that means the end of any tender plants left outside. 
I still have a few Nasturtiums and they are abundant in leaf but very few flowers. I have pulled some of them up but the rest will have turned to slime now. Also the Dahlia foliage is blackened so the tubers can be dug up and stored somewhere dry and cool. 
I have a few tender plants in pots and have already taken them into the greenhouse. Now cleared of all tomato and cucumber plants. This week I have eaten the last of the tomatoes. When I cut the plants down I brought in anything likely to ripen. Sadly all gone now. 
A couple of weeks ago I was out on a misty, grey day:

Spider web on an everlasting pea.

Grasses are fabulous in Autumn.

Everything is still beautiful. Well, maybe not everything. There are plenty of dead slimy plants which should be tidied up. I leave many things for structure but it can look very messy if you don't tidy up at all. I leave the teasels as long as possible but if they fall over a path or get broken they have to come out. 
I'll potter about in short bursts outside over the next few months and tidy up a bit at a time. Sometimes I have to force myself to go out but it's good to get out and earn that cup of tea back in the warm.

Tuesday 4 November 2014


I'm not quite putting together a seed order yet, though I did get my first catalogue in the post this week.
I'm celebrating the wonder of seeds.

This is one of the most familiar seed dispenser. Very effective at shaking seeds everywhere. 

This is Geranium nodosum. You have to be quick to catch these seeds. Those little cups at the top start at the bottom and ping up when ripe, throwing out the seeds. If you are lucky you can catch one still sitting in the cup.


Lunaria before ripening

Salsify makes the perfect globe seed head.

Some we can eat
Just look at how these unravel. I can't help pulling them apart in wonder. It's a weed, in case you were wondering.

Clematis before turning into a fluffy seed head. 

To me seeds are the most amazing things. These are just a few that I have managed to capture. All that potential wrapped up in a tiny package and dispensed in so many different ways. Nature is so effective at her job. 
Actually I think I will go and get out those seed catalogues...

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Nasturtium - jewels of Autumn

I sow a few Nasturtiums every year but they also seed about by themselves so I have quite an abundance of them now. I usually buy a cheap packet somewhere as an extra to the seeds I plan and order in January. After all, there is not much else to do in the garden at that time of year or if there is, you don't want to go out! 
I can't resist the bright colours though I also like the creamy ones too.
The Nasturtiums come up quietly rather later than some seedlings and grow away unobtrusively until late summer and Autumn when suddenly they burst into flower with the most wonderful colours. 

Notice the caterpillar here. For some reason this year they have not been destroyed by caterpillars or blackfly. That is the downside of course, and some people grow them as a sacrificial crop to attract the butterflies away from their brassicas. Often some of my plants are long gone by this time but sometimes they come back for a second wind.
This year they have made huge plants growing over beds and paths.

These marbled leaves are lovely and, of course you can eat them too. I don't think I sowed these this year but then again, maybe I did. 
This year I have been cutting and using them in vases. They last a few days before shrivelling up but I pick some autumn leaves, seed heads and grasses and put them all in a vase. When the flowers go over I just whip them out and put in a few more.

The bright, velvety flower are all the more precious at this time of year as you know their days are numbered. They'll be cut down at the first frost and I'll be back to looking at seed packets and planning for next year.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Autumn clear up begins

Actually there is not much to clear up yet. There still seems to be a lot of green growth about but this didn't look so good:

A few weeks ago they were lush courgette plants. I was leaving them as they still had tiny courgettes on them but today was in the mood for a clear up. This is what I found hiding:

I can have a couple more tastes of summer. The small ones are about finger size! My fingers - small.
Also, on the path between these two bed I found magic beans:
I'm not sure what season they think it is. I reject any beans which have got too big and stringy so this must have been one of those. 
Anyway, I pulled up the dead courgette plants and piled them onto the very full compost heap. There is some grass on top as well. This will all settle down quite a lot.

 I have started to dig out this one but have not got much space to spread it yet so it is going to take a while. I'd really like to turn the other one into it.

 This is the courgette bed now. Weeded and covered in a good layer of compost. The soil had sunk quite a bit as it was a new bed. I left the beans so I can collect the seed when they are dry. There are a few beans left but they are much too big to eat.

These are the Bridgwater beans I'm saving for seed. They are a heritage variety that I got from a seed swap a few years ago.

This is a bag of bedding  plants I took up for someone I work for. She doesn't have a compost heap or a garden bin so I brought them home. They are begonias and geraniums. They will be fine on the compost heap. They are soft and sappy and disease free. I'm always happy to collect material from elsewhere!

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Garden Visit - The Courts, Holt, Wiltshire

This is a NT garden, which I have been to before but decided to visit again last weekend. It was a bitter cold day but not wet so that was one good thing. I had a new camera which I wanted to try out. I wasn't very pleased with it but have since discovered that I had some of the settings wrong so now I'll have to go back and try again!
It's a wonderful place, I'd be very happy to visit again and again. My son,who is training as an arborist, bounced around testing me on tree names. I'm not great and he is great. Then questioning me about shrubs, on which I am a little better. 
Here are some pictures which came out ok:
Lovely Rudbekia

Fruit pods of Koelreuteria paniculata, leaves above. ( I know this as it said on it!).

Bark is so beautiful

Cercis canadensis

 There is an arboretum as well as the formal garden. Also a vegetable garden and orchard.
These look like stooped people walking across the lawn.
Indian Bean Tree

 Suddenly we came across compost heaps. Imagine having all that space to collect and process your compost. I can't help getting excited about compost heaps. 

You got to the end, thanks for indulging me. Actually most of the photos are not too bad it seems!