Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Garden is no place for Sartorial Elegance

Have you ever noticed how t.v. gardeners adopt individual clothing styles to work in the garden?

Carol Kline prefers the wardrobe cast-off look

Sarah Raven with her long skirts, linen blouses and necklaces

Monty Don his French grape pickers look

Alys Fowler, with her, shall we say, very individual style

And Geoff Hamilton, who's uniform was a checked shirt and jeans (always) with a ribbed sweater with elbow patches in winter.

All, in their own way, have a gardening uniform.

 Mine has changed over the years - when I kept smelly goats, overalls were my chosen attire, bib-and-tuckers in the summer.  I have been through several Barbours, which ended up even smellier than the goats, with rips from brambles, pockets hanging off and in a general state of disrepair.

 Coats feature heavily as part of my gardening get-up.    My favourite was a lovatt green thick cord padded anorak type.  I was devasted when the zip broke and I had to find a replacement coat.

  Now my favoured coat is a waterproof, padded, fleece lined, zip up-to-the-neck bomber-type jacket that just falls short of keeping my backside warm.  We have gardened together for several years, washed only when it has become so encrusted with dirt that it stands up on its own.  We are good friends, it is a couple of sizes too big so that I can put plenty of layers underneath, should the occasion arise.  I hope it will keep me company in the garden for a good few years yet.  But when it finally bites the dust, I shall take great care selecting the next garment - after all, a girl must look her best at all times!

But I have forgotten the inimitable Percy Thrower (for you young 'uns he was a gardener in the 50's)

He was always smartly dressed in the garden, never without his attendant pipe.  And think of the old-fashioned gardeners - waistcoats, ties and caps at all times.  How times have changed!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Let's Mix It Up a Bit

In the Rosebank garden I have four raised beds which are mainly used for salad crops - you know, things that need to be picked when you need them, instead of having to make a trip to the allotment garden,  so all my herbs are grown at home as well.  But because the beds are part of a flower garden I like to mix and match flowers with the the veg so that it all blends in.  I have written about this before here and implemented most of the planting plans I had then.

Last year I split the Chives and planted them all along the edges of the beds together with California poppies, Nasturtiums, Sweet peas, Pinks and Morning Glory.

'Why on earth should it be a rigid rule that flowers
must be grown in one part of the garden
fruit in another and vegetables
always hidden away somewhere round the back?
Why not grow them all in the same border?
Geoff Hamilton
The Ornamental Kitchen Garden

I like to think of it as my Ornamental Garden and not just a veg patch.  So if I want my Runner beans to look a bit special I use a metal arch to grow them up and leave the bamboo canes for the allotment.

I want it to be pleasing to the eye as well as functional.  So, if I can do this in the raised beds, why not reverse it and put ornamental veg in the flower beds.  I mean, why not have a Sungold tomato plant to give some height in the flower border with a Morning Glory plant twining around it or a few Rainbow chard plants to give lovely coloured foliage, or runner beans threading through a shrub, like you would with a clematis.

from The New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord

These thoughts are all in my head at the moment, but there is no reason why they can't become a reality. I have already begun to do this, with raspberry canes and fruit trees, in amongst the flowers, and I grow tumbling tomatoes in hanging baskets, rather than trailing petunias.  After all, it is my garden, to do with as I wish - so why don't I work outside the box and have a little fun with it.  There are no set rules are there, so I may just break a few.

from the New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord

Monday, 23 January 2012

July and January - Before and After

 I thought it would be interesting to look at all the borders in the garden at the moment, and compare them to photos taken in July of last year.  (Click on any photo to enlarge)

Container garden - Jan 2012
Container garden - July 2011
 The containers that are now full of bulbs and pansies were planted with pale pink geraniums in the summer.  The purple clematis is in full flow on the fence which is beginning to get clothed in ivy which also surrounds the pots.

Purple patch - Jan 2012

Purple patch - July 2011
 Only the lavender is prominent with the grey foliage in winter, in July this bed was full of delphiniums, erysimum and echium with pink and purple flowering shrubs at the back of the border. The patch of yellow argyranthemums (not sure if that's right - lets say yellow daisies) has been moved now, as it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Patchwork garden January 2012

Patchwork garden - July 2011
 You would never necognise this as the same border it changes all year round dependant on what has self-sown that year.  The orange blossom has made some significant growth in the corner and smells divine in the heat of the day.

Shrubbery January 2012

Shrubbery July 2011
The shrubbery can hardly be called that now as last winter finished off quite a few of the shrubs.  I have several hebes waiting to take their place.  I allow pineapple mint to roam free in this bed which gives it a kind of unity.  I will be interested to see what comes up in this bed in the spring as I planted anemone blanda by the bucket load and various other plants that have disappeared underground - I just hope I haven't accidentally dug them up in a weeding frenzy.


Raised beds January 2012

Raised beds July 2011
The planting of the raised beds is very luxuriant with every bit of space taken up with salady stuff,  and anything spare that would not fit in at the allotment.  I planted a lot more containers of veg last year, which were surprisingly successful.

Shade garden January 2012

Shade garden July 2011
The shade garden is under the apple trees and in early spring is full of aquilegia and sweet rocket, followed by feverfew and foxgloves, though by the time this picture was taken they had all disappeared.

Front garden January 2012

Front garden July 2011
 I have gradually been replacing the plants in this border for yellow, orange and rust coloured flowers.  But on looking at this photo I quite like the mismatch of colours.  At the moment it is planted with wallflowers, which should look good mixed in with the tulips.

I have enjoyed looking back on last summers' pictures, you soon forget just what it looked like six months ago - and it gives you hope that it will all come back and be just as stunning this year.  Later in the year when the garden is in full-swing I will do this excercise again and compare like for like in each area of the garden.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Nature, Beauty and Gratitude

Need a daily dose of optimism - then watch this:-

Wasn't that great - it gives you something to think about doesn't it?  Have a good Sunday.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Winter Walk

After waking to frost, the sun has been dazzling later in the day, but without any heat, and the frost has soon perished in all but the shadiest of places.

The sun has brought out all the gold in the garden where it glistens in the cold light.  And on the Hydrangea Petiolaris outside the back door I found buds

All I could find along the lanes were the leftovers from Autmn

I take a familiar walk around the village, swaddled in scarf and gloves, to look for early buds or signs of spring - but there were none to be had.  The pink campion is still hanging on to a last flower, a little ragged, but persevering.

A copper leaf in the hedgerow standing out amongst the decomposing leaf litter.

The gold of the lichen on the old bare branches

Ripening berries on the ivy turning from green to red to blueberry blue

And the sun casting my shadow, long and thin, on to the dried stalks of  nettles

After a brisk walk I returned home and saw the sun highlighting a pink primula in the front garden the only plant flowering besides the poor old hebe which I chopped back to within an inch of its life after most of it died back last winter

And finally, just to make you smile

Lots of equine nostrils

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A Very Frosty Morning

I drew the curtains early this morning to find the world outside frosted over.  We have had very few frosts so far this winter, this was the best one so far, the temperature has dropped to -2 deg., which after all the mild weather we have been having, came as quite a shock to my fingers and toes.

The farmer still has his cows out in the back field, usually they are in the cattle sheds, warm and dry.  I expect there are a few frozen udders this morning.

All those plants that have dared to flower will be shocked also, pity the poor bulbs that are poking through the soil, thinking that Spring was round the corner.  A few more weeks yet my beauties.

The sun is shining bright now and the frost will soon be melted, the heating has been turned up a notch and a hot bath is calling to bring life back to my frozen bones. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

In Defiance of Winter

 I spent some time in the greenhouse yesterday as it wasn't too cold, watching the birds come down to the feeders, that we have now hung again after the feeding station had been practically demolished with the winds.  Although the greenhouse glass was pretty murky I managed to get a good shot of the Goldfinches feeding and squabbling.  They are so colourful and exotic-looking it's hard to believe they are in a UK garden.

 I have just done a post on my other blog here about Snowdrops, so I though I had better check up on mine.  At last they are pushing through the ground - I only have this small patch so far, but I would like to increase their number for next year.

Tulip leaves
 Checking out what else is coming through I saw that the Tulips that I have planted in containers around the pond are making a show.  Tulips - in January? 

Lavender cuttings

I am a big fan of Lavender and the new plants I put in last year have bushed out really well so I took some cuttings to increase my stock.  Most of them have taken, so I will put them into individual pots now and grow them on.

 Usually, at this time of year, there are no berries left on the Cotoneaster - it is a sign that the winter hasn't been too cold, as I have hardly seen the usual Blackbirds and Redwings  gulping them down like there is no tomorrow.


I haven't seen any Redwings in flocks in the surrounding fields either - perhaps they have decided not to migrate this year.  Come back - you're forgiven!

This beautiful dark purple Hellebore is in flower - I am so proud of myself - I grew it from seed, and it has taken two years to finally flower.  The one on the bottom right is a huge plant with lime green flowers, not particularly a favourite, but the one top right is pale pink when it is young, then the flowers turn a dusky red as it ages.  I can't believe that once I didn't like Hellebores, so glad I changed my mind.

Apple tree prunings
 Finally, I spent a couple of hours this morning out in the gardening pruning the apple tree.  My neighbour asked me to cut it back as it hung over her garden, and as her side gets the sun, the wasps arrive in their hundreds to eat the ripe fruit.  So I cut off the best fruiting branches of the tree to satisfy her.  If I hadn't done it, she would, so I had no choice really.  My back was aching by the time I had finished - just shows how unfit I have become over the winter.  Never mind - with all the jobs that need doing - I'll soon get back in shape for the busy year ahead.