Friday, 25 November 2011

Growing Wishes

Over at my blog A Woman of the Soil I have been contemplating what new varieties of veg to try next year, but here in the Rosebank garden I shall be planting mainly annuals from seed.  All of them have been bought (at end-of-season prices i.e. very cheap)  with bees and butterflies in mind.
The only problem is, is that they are seed mixes, so I can't be sure what will come up.

I don't think I will do much direct sowing, which I think is a bit hit and miss - but I have read somewhere that if you sow them now in trays with an aerated lid on, then they will appear when the weather warms up and can be transplanted.

I also hope I will be able to extend my wild flower border around the allotment garden - so I think there is going to be an awful lot of seed-sowing going on in the spring.

With a bit of luck and a following wind there will be a lot of nectar-providers which will give a mass of colour for several weeks all summer creating  a pretty wildlife habitat and a sea of seed heads later on in the season.

I also picked up a packet of first year flowering mixed perennials which should be an economical way to fill in the gaps in the herbaceous borders. 

All this talk of seed-sowing has got me champing at the bit ready to get back into the swing of the gardening year.  There are some great pictures where a designer has used wild flower borders on spare pieces of ground around Sheffield,  @ Noels Garden blog.

Friday, 18 November 2011

A Guided Tour of the Raised Beds

I bet you are getting fed up of seeing pictures of this perennial wallflower by now, but I keep showing it because I am astonished that the flowers keep coming.  It has put on such a good display all year and I am really delighted with it.

At home in the Rosebank garden I have four raised beds which I use for summer produce, things that need a bit more care or that I need instant access to, like herbs.  Two of them, which had lettuce and tomatoes in, are now empty, except for the last of the summer cabbage.  I have weeded them and mulched with garden compost.

As you can see from the picture above, the compost is well rotted and crumbly and needed no sieving before laying it on the soil.  But, after reading the Eartheasy Newsletter, I decided to do as they suggested, and put a layer of leaves over them as well, to suppress any weeds.

If they haven't rotted down sufficiently by the end of winter, then they can be raked off and added to the compost bin.  To stop them all being blown off the raised bed I have netted over the leaves, which will also stop the neighbourhood cats from using it as a toilet.

I have planted my garlic in one of the other beds and as you can see they are about 3in. high now.  If you remember, I started them off in trays in the greenhouse to give the roots a chance to form before I planted them out.  This particular bed is still full of California Poppies which have already re-seeded themselves, so I had to work round them.

At the other end of same bed are my spring onions which are the result of four successive sowings.  When I am ready to use them I slice them off at ground level and leave the roots in the ground to re-form new onions.  This has been quite successful so far and well worth doing.  As you can see, in the corner is a self -seeded foxglove which needs to be dug out and put in the woodland part of the garden.  It is taking up a lot of valuable space but is also sheltering the onions from the wind that rips through the top of the garden from the open fields behind.  So I will leave it there for the winter and try and move it successfully in the early spring.

I had one or two spare cavolo nero plants left over from the allotment plantings so I popped them in where I could find space.  They suffered badly over the summer and practically disappeared, but now, although they are quite small still, they have started to recover - even though the companion Nasturtiums are threatening to take over.
And finally, this is a self-seeded raspberry plant, bang in the middle of the flower bed - and, me being me, I have left it alone to do its thing.  What you can see is the new growth since I chopped it down after fruiting.  The funny thing is, it doesn't taste like any of the other raspberries in the garden - it is much sweeter and quite delicious, so maybe it hasn't seeded from my plants, but my neighbours next door, or perhaps, because of the location, the soil is better for it and has affected the taste - whatever the cause I am not thinking of moving it any time soon - I love a bit of haphazardness (is that a word) where the garden does what it wants to do.
Just as an afterthought, I thought I would show you this lilac-coloured fungi that I spotted whilst I was out walking today, they were down a darkish alleyway right against a fence - stunning colour. 
I couldn't find anything in my fungi reference book that looked anything like them, any ideas?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Garden in November

The garden in November

The last flower of the Crocosmia shining like
a little lantern hanging over the Marigolds

Nasturtiums glowing hot in the odd moment of
sunshine (still hanging on as we have not had a frost yet)

An early flowering Hellebore
that I grew from seed a couple of years ago

I found this last Hydrangea flower  in my friend Janets' garden

and the Primulas have been flowering on and off all year

Mahonia in Janets garden

The school playing field, no longer in use as the school has closed down,
will be reverting back to pasture for grazing cows.

Fiery red Berberis

Now the garden is almost laid bare in readiness for winter it is easier
to see what needs to be remedied for next year.
Every year my aim to to make the garden more as Nature intended
and less 'man made'.
To this end I must try to combine plants in an informal and beneficial way
keeping it as loose as possible, inviting wildlife in to a mixture of
habitats, with light and shady areas, and try to create a natural balance.
A lot of this thinking goes against the grain for a gardener,
trying only to interfere with the natural process when necessary,
rather than imposing your will on the garden.
A lot more research and reading needs to be done over the winter,
a task which will keep me occupied during the long dark days.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Alone and Far Removed

Alone and Far Removed
Audie Murphy

Alone and far removed from earthly care
The noble ruins of men lie buried here.
You were strong men, good men
Endowed with youth and much the will to live.
I hear no protest from the mute lips of the dead.
They rest; there is no more to give.

So long, my comrades,
Sleep ye where you fell upon the field.
But tread softly please
March o'er my heart with ease
March on and on,
But to God alone we kneeled.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Falling Leaves

We have had our first lot of heavy rain today, the most rain we have had all year really; but it did stop for a couple of hours this afternoon and I decided, that after taking a walk, I would rake up the leaves from the lawn.

I suspect that this will be the first of many rakings, as the Willow and Cherry trees hang on to their leaves quite stubbornly.  And, as the weather hasn't really been cold to date, I think it's going to be a long wait.

I don't have room for a leaf bin as yet, so I put them in pierced plastic bags, water them well and tie them up.  Last years' rotted down really well and were put to use as a mulch.

But I would like to have more - I only collect one large bagful from my own garden - but I should like to have enough to be able to mix the rotted leaves in with potting compost.  So, dare I go out into the street with a shovel and a bag and collect what I need, without feeling foolish?

I know in some parts of the village where leaves collect, they cause quite a problem blocking the drains, perhaps I should put on a fluorescent jacket and pretend I am from the Council.

The lengths I am prepared to go to for my garden - I don't know - I think I want my head testing!

Photo source:  Pinterest

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Dying in Bright Colours

October is nature's funeral month.
Nature glories in death more than in life.
The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming
- October than May.
Everything green loves to die in bright colours.
Henry Ward Beecher

It was a glorious day here yesterday, chilly, but full of sunshine.  Whilst out walking I saw the trees lit up and dappley with shade, all turning in varying degrees of yellow.

Then I saw this hedgerow blazing like fire.

And gradually the garden is changing

The Hydrangea petiolaris just outside the kitchen window is ready to shed its leaves
putting on a show of gold.

The evenings are getting colder and fires are lit.

Time for toasty toes.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds -
Thomas Hood