Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Rain, rain, go away...

Craziness. That's how I feel about all this rain, and how my garden looks after all this rain. I'm so far behind, it's laughable.
Today there was sunshine, so as soon as I got home from work, fed the kids, put them to bed, and slid on my boots, I was out there; not with any kind of tool, but with my camera. I thought I would treat you to a few photos of the blooming chaos out there. The good, the bad and the downright out of control...

My roses, which were miserable last year, are happier this year. This tree has been with me for years and has coped sulkily with my never-feeding, random-pruning ways. I was expecting a grumpy year. Bless it, it's done me proud.

This little rose I found tucked in beside the greenhouse in a pot, covered in overgrowth. Due to my lackadaisical approach to plant care (only the strong survive) I thought it wasn't long for this world. I was wrong, apparently.

Here's the bed. The campanula is going over, but the yellow stuff is going strong, and the rest of the plants are coming along nicely. If anyone knows what the yellow stuff is, please tell me. It's a leftover from the last residents...

...along with this one, which is about to bloom.

More roses, this time in the shrub bed. It bursts into voluptuous bloom with enthusiastic vigour every year. I adore it. Most of it is buds at the minute.

Look closely. The foxgloves are competing with the basketball thingit.

The garden is full of foxgloves; and vetch and herb robert and clover and bramble and snapdragons and, and, and...

 This one is in the (woefully neglected) greenhouse. It's over 6foot tall. It shares its home with a huge yellow snapdragon that the camera couldn't seem to capture very well. Oh, and various other weeds you can see. And junk. And stuff. Oh dear.

Vetch. Yellow and purple (going over).

 Woohoo! The braeburn 
finally came into leaf! Not only leaf, but blossom! I knew it wasn't dead! 
The pirate flag, on the other hand, is looking a little past its best.

The shrub bed from the back. You can just see the giant 'mushrooms' in it.
You can definitely see how overgrown it is. Sheesh.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Triffid time!

I'm back, by popular demand. Well, okay, my mum insisted I keep going, so here I am. Life seems to get in the way of most things I do for my own amusement, and this is no different. In an hour I have to go pick up my delightful children from school, and really I should sort the laundry and make packed lunches in this time...but no! I shall rebel!

So, it has been a couple of months since my last post. I really am ashamed of myself. To be fair, however, it's been so wet and miserable I've mostly only darted out to mow the lawn or throw a few plants at a bed, and not even much of that recently. If it hasn't been pouring with rain, I've had other stuff to do (see life getting in the way, above). What's spurred me on today (apart from my mum) is that Saturday we visited Gardener's World Live, which invigorated my enthusiasm for all things green; and yesterday I indulged in a spot of gardening that helped ease a cloud of depression that had hit me hard.

In the last two weeks while I've been busy with other things, my unassuming garden with it's mildly chaotic plants suddenly turned into the set for Attack of the Triffids. I'm desperately hoping for sun so I can mow tomorrow, but that won't even touch the amount I need to do.
The shrub bed in the middle of the garden probably gives an idea of how mad it's gone:
June 17th
May 24th

I'm not awfully fussy: I grow my lawn long-ish to encourage the plants like vetch, speedwell, buttercups and daisies. I have no love for a plain green lawn. I'd have a meadow, but I also have a dog, and I have to be able to find the dog a little less plant insanity would be good.
As further proof, if it were needed, here are some of the lovely wild plants and escapees I encourage because you can never have too many flowers for the bees and other buzzies:
daisies and speedwell


Forget me nots

While I've been incommunicado, I created a new bed so I'd have a place to put plants I want; also so that I have less lawn to mow. My lovely mum bought me some campanula which I absolutely adore and would fill the garden with, and some verbena, both of which went in yesterday. She also got me another favourite, allium, as bulbs. So next year I will have a garden with a few plants that reflect rather more of my taste than the previous residents'. Hooray!

I also popped in some tomatoes and peppers for a friend. As I have no funds for more bedding plants this year, and know if I put these veg anywhere else I will neglect the poor things, they have gone in the new bed. I'm no plant elitist.

I also have some blueberries and strawberries coming along, and may even get some fruit from my trees this year.

Sadly all my cherries (ornamental, stupidly) are looking less healthy. Not sure what the problem is.

Below is my son's mini garden. He's very proud of it. I'm hoping to encourage him to take over a rather larger patch soon...

Please excuse all the random formatting issues - it has driven me nearly to the end of my tether just getting it to look this passable. Stupid formatting!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Stolen moments...

Well, I am still here, but between Easter holiday, birthday planning, and general all-round laziness, this poor blog has been woefully neglected. Still, here it is, with the rockery as the centrepiece. I'm still working on getting plants (there are more since this photo was taken, but it is raining, and I'm not going out there again tonight!), but this is a pretty good start, I think...
This is the guardian of the rockery...
This is the full stretch as it stands at the minute...

And these were the first few plants that went in.
I'm quite pleased with it, though I haven't quite completed it, yet. Every moment in the garden recently has been a stolen one. 

And for those who love the 'before and afters'... This is how it started...

Despite the threatening drought, we are labouring under pelting, relentless rain, and have been for a few days now. When it stops, I am looking forward to finishing this off, and then digging out a new bed along the opposite boundary. I also have four lavenders - two Hidcote and two Munstead - to plant out, and I'm very excited about having plants I actually want and chose rather than the slightly bizarre collection I inherited from the last owners. Though I will be re-using all of theirs, even the lilies, because let's face it - I have a lot of ground to fill.

Excitingly (for me) I have asked to be the recycling point for some huge box pallets from work. One will be another compost bin, one will probably be turned into another wood store, and at least one will be a den for the boys. So let's hope life and the weather start conspiring to let me garden instead of conspiring to keep me busy elsewhere...

Friday, 30 March 2012

Ten thousand saw I, at a glance...

Ten thousand saw I, at a glance...tasks, that is. So much to do, so little time to blog!

I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things I need to do. I have really had to stop myself stopping halfway though one thing to start another. It was only today that I cleared up the last of the brash and twigs from the fencing:    

Part of the reason is that I started turning this:

Into this: (work in progress).
It's my new rockery, created using rocks from the garden. This is a millstone grit area, and I have quite a few big old rocks from some defunct drystone walls in the garden, and what the last residents probably brought in from somewhere.

I'm getting soil by leveling out the spoil heap from when they built the garage.
Please ignore the piles of stuff we haven't managed to get to the tip yet hanging around in the background...

Of course, there is weeding and sorting and tidying to be done all over the garden, and while I'm so easily distracted, I'm doomed to struggling with it forever.

So enjoy these more charming scenes:

The daffs are out, of course. More than ever this year because I've cut back so much shrubbery. There'll be more (evil Spanish) bluebells this year, too. And some new bulbs I haven't identified. yet. Plus this tree, whatever it is, has finally decided to flower for the first time ever (see above). I don't know why, but it seems to like us and has improved the last two years from nearly dead to blossoming, which is heartening. Perhaps the garden approves of us...

My orchard is also going strong, and I even have blossoms on one of the trees!

 This is the orchard.
Eventually that brash heap in the background will go up in a huge bonfire, perhaps even giving me room for one or two more trees...
Don't worry, there's loads of dead wood and log piles left for the wildlife.
I'm thinking of entering my garden in the Big Wildlife Garden competition run by the Wildlife Trusts and the Horticultural Society. If you have a garden of any size, you should take a look. There are loads of useful tips, and it's for gardeners of all persuasions, from bumbling amateurs like me to people who actually know what they're doing.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A season of mist and fruitful springiness

Such a long absence, I do feel apologetic; however, it has been filled with a birthday and Mother's day (UK) and a posh night away and parental visitings and so much else, that I don't feel too bad about it.
A couple of major things have happened in the garden in the intervening days. My lovely husband finished the rustic retaining log 'fencing' along the back boundary, and now all we have to do is fill in a couple of gaps and get rid of the piles of junk the work created. Here is the finished product:

 Don't ask about the white barrels, I have no idea. I think they must have had some bizarre idea that they would keep the posts from rotting, but really they're just as open to the elements. Think they may have to go...

Been having a few discussions about what to grow up against this huge fence. Bamboo? Clematis? Ivy? It has to love shade and not pull the fence down. Hmmm...

In other news, I planted two more trees in my orchard, (sorry, no pics) taking us up to 8. We have 3 standards - one conference pear, one Braeburn apple and one James Grieve apple. The other 5 are dwarf trees - another 2 Conference pears, a James Grieve crossed with something else, a black cherry (I can dream), and a Cox's orange pippin apple.

If you're looking at growing fruit trees, it's a good idea to get some advice on what grows best in your area from friends, neighbours and local suppliers. If you live near Sheffield, you can't go wrong speaking to Julian Brandram, and he sells all manner of marvellous, well-loved varieties. Here in Sheffield, it can get a bit breezy and a bit frosty. Now, I was told by a seller (not Julian) that conference pears wouldn't cope, but friends nearby have managed fine, so I've taken the risk - experience versus professional advice, and we'll see who wins. The black cherry is a long shot, and no-one I know has one, but I thought I'd be a rebel and give it a go. And I think Braeburns prefer more sunshine and warmth, but I will mollycoddle it.

My mother has supplied the standards - thanks, Mum! I bought and planted the others early last year because once upon a time, before we bought the house, I was working with some children in my Wildlife Watch group, and I asked them to draw their green wishes for the new year. This was mine:

Wish fulfilled! It will help us keep our fruit monster kids satisfied, as well - they cost us a bomb in fruit. 

I have two new projects: a rockery and a new flower bed, which I hope to get on with this weekend. Photos to follow. And the least beautiful but most happiness-bringing thing I've done to the garden over the last week? Provided the kids with a huge(ly unattractive) trampoline, to add bounciness to the springiness. Now that is all I see when I look out the kitchen window - but, hey, their faces make it all worth while, and this is a family garden, after all.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Sunlight, bees and fun size trees

I've been gardening again. I have to say, my house is suffering a little - the stairs haven't been hoovered in, er, a while. But there's so much to do outside, and when the sun is shining, outdoor chores seem so much more inviting.

Before I show off today's work, though, I saw these two links on my Twitter feed and thought I might share.
This one is about attracting bees to your garden: bees are still in big trouble (and so are we, without them), so have a look and find out how to pamper your bees.

This one:  is about training your shrubs into fun size trees if you have a small garden without room for traditional small trees. I have 18 - oops, 17 now - grown trees in my garden, and I want to try it, anyway. I love the idea of a fuschia tree and a buddleia tree...Plus, butterflies will love you for it.

So today I finished wrestling the last of the rose bushes into burnable piles of twigs. There may have been a lot of very quiet swearing (so as not to upset the people in the sheltered housing behind us - they watch, like Celebrity Squares) and a lot of twisting myself around trying to de-thorn myself (I'm sure my audience appreciated the comedy.)
I'm going to enjoy burning the prickly, evil stuff into oblivion. It's going to be a big fire:

Apologies for the dark photos - I suddenly remembered after tea that I hadn't taken photos, and ran out with my camera into the dark...

I then did for that rhododendron whose life I've been threatening ever since we moved in. I'm going to take the bigger rocks and move them down to make a rockery next to the garage. I'm thinking this new space might be perfect for a living willow dome.

Sunday I brashed this tree, and now it's just waiting for Mark to chainsaw off the larger branches, and then we'll use the trunk to retain the soil  under the fence, and this particular part of the odyssey will be DONE!


Friday, 9 March 2012

A battle lost, the war won.

Today we started in a fairly half-arsed, 'I suppose we should do something' kind of way, and then actually got a lot done. We cleared the top stretch of fencing and cut down a fair sized tree. I got in a fight with a rose tree and lost. And we found some very bizarre things hiding in the junk behind the fencing. I'm shattered.
First, the battle I lost was with this:

some came down and got tangled in my face. there was blood and drama, and I now look like I got in a fight with a small kitten. Hey ho.

But the good thing is, we went from this:

To this:

And then we cut down this, to retain the soil:

On the way we found these bizarre things:

And this is the pile of junk made elsewhere by the stuff coming out of the boundary...*sigh*

I'm looking forward to finishing off and tidying up, I have to say.
Of course, there's plenty to be getting on with after that...