Sunday, 19 December 2010

Holly and Ivy

Blimey, no blog for over 3 weeks!  Where has the time gone? I mean, I know what I've been doing but are we really only a week away from Christmas?

I've spent the last couple of weekends walking in woods collecting anything on the ground that I could use for a Christmas-themed activity for people with dementia.  So I've been going out and coming back with bags of ivy, holly, berries, cones, conifer leaves.  I had to buy mistletoe from the garden centre (well everyone's entitled to a little peck at Christmas!) and ribbon, cranberries and other bits and pieces from the shop but everything else was outdoors.  The idea being that we were going to make outdoor Christmas decorations together of stars, wreaths and garlands and food garlands for the birds. .  I say "were" because I've just spent the last week off work with the flu and had to cancel the activity - great timing!

Still the walks were lovely; I wandered first through Kingswood near Pentewan where you can usually guarantee finding broken conifer branches lying on the ground close to the entrance.  It's a steep-sided wood with plenty of tracks that you can choose to go exploring off the main hard path.  You have to be observant when picking things up though; it's a popular dog-walking area and there's always a few dog owners who give everyone a bad name by not picking up the dog mess!  Then the following week I drove up to the viaduct in the Luxulyan Valley, taking the other two members of the Tywardreath Gardening Team with me, where we wandered along through the wood finding lots of fallen berries, moss-covered wood and whole 'ropes' of ivy hanging from the trees.  Luxulyan Valley is a World Heritage Site due to the industrial remains of a copper mine owned by Joseph Treffy in the 1800s.  You can follow the old leats and find hidden man-made waterfalls and mysterious machinery parts throughout the woods.  Enough of the history, here are some photos I took along both walks.

main route through Kingswood
off the beaten track - Kingswood

Aaah, good sign of a cold winter!
Luxulyan Valley - top level walk from the viaduct

No toe-dipping this time of year!
end of the man made watercourse
Python? in Cornwall?? Just an odd-shaped fallen branch caught up in the trees.........................or is it?!

Work has been busy this month but we've managed to fit in the annual Christmas sing-song in the office,  and a day for our Sensory Trust team to have our own Christmas 'party'.  This year we all got together at a colleague's house and made lots (and I means LOTS) of gingerbread shapes to give out to people we've enjoyed working with this year.  Various offspring came and joined in too and together we rolled out the dough, made shapes (including several crocodiles, a goat, a sheep and a Phoenix bird!), baked and went completely mad with icing pens, silver balls and chocolate and candy decorations.  Great fun!  You can see some images on our work's Facebook page if you're interested.

Thankfully the bout of flu finally dissipated this weekend and I spent a lovely afternoon in the garden yesterday.  We've only a smattering of snow here so I was able to get up into the field and cut some logs in the sunshine before collapsing back on the sofa with the realisation that perhaps I'm not quite back to full health just yet and that I really ought to get a good bow saw as soon as possible!

This isn't snow that's leftover; this is as much as we've had so far
Evidential footprints; rabbits have been eyeing up my apples trees!

at least there's food for the birds
one single, tiny Cinquefoil growing on the path caught my eye

Today I went for a walk in the nearby woods that are at the opposite end of Luxulyan Valley to the viaduct, following a route that follows an old railway track (there's that industrial heritage again!) through the woods and out along by the river and local railway line.  There's a lot to see in the Luxulyan Valley; if you've never visited you should next time you're in Cornwall.

by foot, by boat, by train 
old railway line now provides a route for walkers

                                                    old railway route passes underneath Par - Newquay branch line

coming out of the woods to the riverside walk

Anyway, the walk must've done me a lot of good because I've had more energy today.  I don't think I could've coped with the 'bird' incident otherwise. Oh yes, Jasper the Giant Killer went out to hone his ninja stalking skills and came back dragging a live bird through both cat flaps and into the kitchen.  The poor thing, a female blackbird, was dragged in shrieking and flapping.  She managed to get away from him and fly from the kitchen through the living room to rest on top of the curtain poles, having left a series of, well lets just say 'messages' across the floor, on my sofa and all down the curtains!  Nice!

Jasper was promptly removed (whilst he was still trying to get various feathers from around his mouth) and my next door neighbour, whose over 6 ft and very handy at getting things that I can't reach, was equally promptly fetched to catch the bird.  Thankfully, it wasn't hurt and was swiftly released over the fence outside whilst Jasper looked on confused and wondering why the early Christmas present had been rejected!

Having washed the curtains, I've spent the afternoon baking.  Home made presents for the neighbours as well as biscuits and chocolates for Christmas, although I may have to make more because the white chocolate, cranberry and roasted hazelnut cookies are mighty fine if I say so myself.  Thankfully the chocolate isn't yet set enough for me to make the Cointreau truffles, otherwise it's highly likely that they won't last until next weekend either!   It's all Quality Control, honest!

I'm spending Christmas at home in Cornwall this year, with various friends and then hope to see the family before, or after, New Year; depending on the weather.   Wherever you're spending your Christmas and New Year I hope it's with good people, good food and the odd tipple of something warming and I hope you spend this festive time sharing laughter and memories and making many more new ones!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year xx

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Frosty days in the sunshine

The Field

A bit of gardening on a sunny winter's day has soothed my soul and refreshed my mind; It's also created a twinge in my lower back and in my shoulders but hopefully a hot bath will take care of later!

How come, when you've spent so much time raking up leaves it just looks the same afterwards?  I picked up enough to almost fill my second compost bin this afternoon but you'd never know from looking at it afterwards.  You turn your back and all the hazel trees in the hedge have a good shake and drop more leaves onto the path, patio and lawn!

After the non-effective leaf clean up it was time to check the compost heap. Earlier in the year I'd made a compost container out of old pallets  and then spent months filling it up and turning it over.  It seems my reward was a great pile of compost ready for use. In addition, I was given a plastic compost bin which I'm filling up at the moment, but it doesn't hold much so maybe I'll build a second one from pallets.  It's easier to access, not likely to blow over in a strong wind and I can get much more in it. The only downside is that it's a much harder job to turn it all over, but that's a small price to pay to have enough compost for both the garden and Field in the future.

Jasper joined me, taking  up his usual spot, like a sentinel, on a corner of the compost container. I think it's because not only is it a great place to catch the sun but he also has a strategically placed high point from where he can see the various mouse holes in the nearby bank without the poor unsuspecting mice seeing him before it's too late!  Besides, evidence suggests that not so many rabbits are coming in at the moment - one attempt at a new hole which was instantly filled in - so I guess he's looking for smaller snacks at the moment.

Don't let the looks fool you...he may look relaxed but Jasper is ready to pounce at a moment's notice!

The compost came in handy for my apple trees.  Planted this year, they could still be susceptible to any hard frost so it was time to clear the ground around them and ensure that they didn't have to battle with the weeds for soil nutrients.  The sun was reaching the trees but not the ground around them so it was hard with frost and I was expecting it to be a really difficult job.  However, it turned out to be easier than I thought to get the weeds out. Having had decent weather in the summer and more chances to strim the weeds and brambles, thankfully I was only having to dig up ground cover plants around the apple trees.  After that I used a layer of dead leaves and compost around the base of each one to help keep the frost away and to give their roots some extra 'food'. I think perhaps a trip to the garden centre to get some fleece for them might not be amiss next weekend.

I took time too to take some photos of The Field; I like to keep a record of it's development and seasonal changes. It'll be great to look back at them, and this blog in the coming months to see the journey of this project.  Today was a great opportunity to see the frost lying on the ground.  In previous years I haven't been able to get into the Field for the 6ft weeds, wildflowers and brambles.  It was lovely being able to wander through it, through patches of sunshine and hard frosty ground where the sun's warmth hadn't managed to reach.

Mr Robin sits camouflages in the hedge eyeing up the worms
Frost makes even the nettles look attractive
Leaves on the brambles add some colour in the sunshine

Is that a lodger in Room 3 at the bug hotel?
 Tiny flowers of the Fatsia Japonica

It was so enjoyable,spending time in the garden on a crisp sunny day this time of year, but to end that with a mug of hot chocolate by the wood burner is the icing on the cake.  Jasper wouldn't know about hot chocolate, but he'd agree about the fire - he's sleeping in front of it.  Probably dreaming of mice and rabbits.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Bulb planting

Had such a great morning yesterday.  Myself and a couple of friends from work hosted a bulb planting session at the care home where we're working with residents with dementia.  We'd gathered a group of the residents, care staff, relatives, young people and others from the community to plant a mixture of daffodils, crocuses, lilacs, tulips and Glory-of-the-snow in the garden.  Turf squares had already been cut in advance so that we didn't waste too much time and could get straight into planting the bulbs.

It was just so great to see the residents looking forward to being outside.  Because the outer garden area of the home has open access to the road, they spend very little time in their garden.   This is something we are changing as part of the project; demonstrating to the care staff that time spent outside is so important to people's well-being that it shouldn't be seen as an 'add on' to their normal daily routines, and by that I mean for both the residents and themselves.  

It only took about an hour and a half to do the planting but that was long enough for the residents and they were quite ready to go back inside once we'd finished.  So many rosy cheeks, so much conversation and laughter.  It felt just like it was, a morning spent with friends in the sunshine, doing something fun that would give us more enjoyment in the months to come.

One resident (I'll just call her 'R') is an ex-marathon runner and has been known to run off down the street when taken outside before, even making it difficult for fit and healthy care staff to catch her!  The care staff weren't keen on bringing R out to participate because of the risk of her running off, but we persuaded them to try and it was so worthwhile that we did.  She didn't once make a run towards the entrance, she was too busy enjoying herself in the garden, chatting with the member of staff who was planting with her and watching others planting their bulbs.  After R had planted all her bulbs, she asked to go back in for a cup of tea, and as she passed me she had the biggest grin on her face that I knew it had been worth it.

Another resident was a very keen gardener when he was younger.  E is 90 now and has been a bit of star in the project.  He's given radio interviews and had his picture in the paper, talking about his days as a gardener and how his favourite flower is  the Chrysanthemum which he used to grow for competitions.  E's eyesight is very poor and he can't bend down far these days, but we weren't going to let that reduce the level of his involvement.  Working with the guidance of a youngster he planted a whole row of bulbs.  It was a bit like watching an episode of 'The Golden Shot' (remember that game show?), with the young lad calling "Left a bit, right a bit" until E had his hand right over the hole then he'd drop the bulbs in and his assistant would cover them over.  They talked together as they planted and walked around the garden.  I think they're building up a real friendship, and it doesn't matter if E doesn't remember his helper the next time they meet - he'll feel a familiarity with the young lad that will make him feel safe and comfortable in his company.

You see, we're as bad at wrapping older people with dementia up in cotton wool as we are our kids these days.  We assume that people with dementia are unable to do so many things and yet when we let them take the lead (letting them know that there's support available should they need it), they show us that they're more capable than we think they are.  Particularly when it comes to being creative or using skills that they're familiar with.

Isn't it time we took the stabilisers off their bikes and allowed them to wobble a bit?  Because if we did, the obvious look of joy on their faces would put a smile on ours too.  Sometimes a risk is worth taking.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cornwall Floods

Well I wasn't expecting that this morning!  I was woken up around 5.15am by howling winds and heavy rain. At that time of the morning there's just no point in trying to go back to sleep so, as I usually do on mornings when I wake early, I got up to have a cup of tea.  Sir Jasper (the rabbit-killer) was asking to go out so I opened up the back door and we were both greeted by a torrent of rain.  This happened about 4 times in the space of half an hour.  It not that I'm losing my memory, just that Jasper tends to lose the ability to use his own cat flap if there's anyone in the house that could open the door for him; even if his legs, and eyes, are crossed! But each time the door was opened he took one look at the rain and turned tail back into the kitchen.  I suspect I'm not alone amongst cat owners in this ritual.

My brain still didn't examine the evidence before it - not until I'd gone through the morning routine and was in my car going down the road and saw the traffic queue ahead.  Not the rail crossing barriers down at this time of the morning surely? It was 10 minutes too early. Then I began to spot the debris on the road and several cars ahead were turning round and coming back the other way.................ah, maybe it was something to do with the high winds and torrential rain we'd had in the night.  Tuning to the local radio station confirmed my suspicion (hello Brain, finally awake I see!).  Floods, mudslides, fallen walls/trees, debris (both floating and non-floating), stranded vehicles, people trapped in houses and in cars.....mainly the areas of St. Blazey, Lostwithiel, St. Austell, Par and Luxulyan.  Basically, all around where I live. Even the trains were affected, both branch and main lines closed due to landslides or, in the case of a local branch line, a storage tanker had washed on to the railway line!  I'm sorry? had I missed the announcement about the impending Cornish Apocalypse?!!

I promptly turned the car around and attempted to get to work via another route.  To shorten this entry, I'll just say it was a FAILED attempt involving numerous texts and calls from caring family and friends, Asda, a dead car battery, a friend to the rescue and a repeat of the journey, in the opposite direction, back home.

After a greatly desired and enjoyable cup of tea I took a walk down the road (in my wellies, just in case!) to look at the damage. I had to take some photos of the scene; I felt it was important to keep a reminder of what nature can throw at us when we're not prepared for it.  These photos were taken several hours after the initial flood, after the fire engines had left and most of the traffic dispersed.......

We faired better than Lostwithiel and Mevagissey as I discovered when I checked the BBC Cornwall website .  I've been in touch with friends in both locations and fortunately they and their homes are safe. I'm one of the lucky ones; I can sit here tonight by my own fire in the comfort of my own home.  Others have been less fortunate.  Taken in by neighbours, families and friends they are most likely spending their evening contemplating the enormity of the tasks ahead of them tomorrow. And they're forcasting more rain tonight; not as much as last night apparently but still - it won't be welcomed in this area.  For once I won't be saying my usual wet weather comment..."It's good for the garden".

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A Good Read

I've been writing this blog since Monday!  I've added, deleted and re-written it.  I've had to change the weather comment so many times!  At the beginning of the week, the BBC weather website said this Saturday and Sunday would be rubbish, then it changed to both days being sunny, now Saturday is here and it's looking relatively sunny  but apparently the rain is back tomorrow!

I want to get out into the garden, continue clearing out the edges of The Field so that I can get to the hedgerows and give it another strim before the winter.......those darn rabbits will be back digging in if I'm not careful and the weeds are creeping around the base of the apple trees. So much to do, so little time (or in this case, so little dry weather!).  My garden isn't directly outside my house, it's actually behind my neighbours house so I can't see it from any of my windows and there are times when I get home too tired to check it.  Then before I know it, it's been a whole week since I've seen it.  So now I'm feeling guilty because I haven't been out in the garden for over a week.  Other things have taken precedence lately and, with the shorter days, by the time I get home from work it's too dark to see what I'm doing.  Like I've said before, I love Autumn - but I start to feel out-of-sorts if I don't get any decent time in the garden, or anywhere outdoors for that matter.

So in the meantime, I've turned to my gardening books for some connection.  On the sunny side (pardon the bad pun) it's provided the opportunity to try and improve my gardening knowledge.  I recently bought a copy of John Seymour's 'The New Self Sufficient Gardener'; first published in 1978. It's a wonderful book; chapters divided into fruit, veg, herbs, seasons, planning, cultivation, preserving and even a miscellaneous section on garden structures, tools and animals. The illustrations are lovely - I don't know why but it's like flicking through an old book from bygone days. I can see I'm going to get a lot of use out of it.  I particularly like his suggestion of having your hens underneath your fruit trees as they eat a lot of the harmful grubs and I'm certainly going to think long and hard about where to build the hen run next year!

There's another book on my shelf which I love to pick up and relax with on the sofa:  The Healing Garden by Romy Rawlings.  It begins with a quote from Thomas D Church:
There are no mysterious 'musts', no set rules, no finger of shame pointed at the gardener who doesn't follow an accepted pattern.  Landscaping is not a complex and difficult art to be practised only by high priests.
It's given me the confidence to just go out and try things in the garden; if they don't work it's on to Plan B (or in some cases C, D and even E!) but when it does work it's a real boost to the Gardener Within.  This book isn't just about plants for aromatherapy (although there is a section about that) or homeopathy; it contains advise and information on:
  • Creating a low-allergen garden
  • How to Feng shui your garden
  • Encouraging wildlife 
  • Herbalism
  • How to use colour in the garden as therapy (for example orange is the colour of activity, enthusiasm and freedom and complements the colour blue, which promotes relaxation and tranquility)
Not to mention the beautiful photographs. I'd like to try and incorporate some of the ideas from this book into the flower beds in the Field (when I get around to putting them in which probably won't be in the near future) along with some plants suggested in James Wong's book 'Grow Your Own Drugs'.  I quite fancy the idea of growing plants that will help my ice-cold feet warm up in the winter or stop me from spending a fortune in face masks and hand lotions!

My garden needs more in it; that's what will give me more reason to be out in it.  Vegetables, chickens, fruit trees, wildlife pond, fruit bushes, places to sit, views to soak up, wildlife habitats etc are the things that will help me spend more time in it and encourages me now to put those wellies on, grab my coat and hat, unlock the shed and out with those tools!

gardening puts a smile on your face!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Garden Memories

The foliage all around the garden and in the woods across the road are shouting "Hi!, it's Autumn!! I love this time of the year. Those colours! not to mention the numerous opportunities to shuffle through piles of leaves; who can resist?  Here at home, I have a great view of the woods on the opposite side of the valley, particularly from the top of The Field. At this time of year, if you get a good sunrise, there's an explosion of oranges, reds and yellows as the sun hits the trees.  I've not yet managed to take a decent photo of this but if you look at this photo and imagine it being much better in quality and colour, you'll get some idea of what I'm talking about.

This will be the first autumn that I'll be able to get into the field.  In previous years I've concentrated on creating the lawn and borders and haven't had time to do much to the field - especially with the last two wet summers we've had - hence the photos of tall weeds and wildflowers in my slideshow.  But this year I've managed to keep on top of the strimming and it'll be great to get into the field properly and see the colours change in my own garden.  Hopefully I can have one or two bonfires. That smell of burning wood takes me straight back to my childhood and grandpa's garden where he'd have a bonfire after pruning the roses and raking up the dead leaves.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't have a memory of time spent in a garden.  Whether it's a childhood memory of playing with friends, building dens, planting seeds or of your first family garden watching your own children playing with the dog or running around on a hot summers day with the hosepipe on!

Garden memories are playing a big part in my work at the moment.  I'm involved in a project that is re-connecting older people with dementia, living in care homes, with their communities.  Using the outdoor environment at the care home as the place to create those opportunities through activities and events.  I've spent hours talking to residents, finding out what elements and features make a good garden, how it makes them feel (in it's present state) and how they would like to use it if they could make more use of it.  I've involved care staff and relatives to find out how the garden can support their work or make their visits more meaningful.   The stories and memories that have been shared show just how much we are all connected to the outdoor environment and nature, even if we lose our short term memory or are unaware of that connection during our hectic, daily lives.  We feel more relaxed when we've spent time in the garden, we sleep better when we've had a few hours out in the fresh air.  We go for walks to be on our own, to 'sort our heads out', make life-changing decisions or to spend time with people who are important in our lives, sharing our favourite places with them and making new memories all the time.

I spent yesterday afternoon with a group residents from a couple of the care homes involved in the project, all with dementia, and their care staff.  Friday afternoon we carved pumpkins together with some local children; making silhouettes of bats, moons and stars, cats and Jack o' lantern faces.  Conversations struck up about who had or hadn't tasted pumpkin soup, about who's had the scariest face or the most pointed teeth or the best bat outline! Yesterday, we took those pumpkins to Trerice, a National Trust property near Newquay, where we entered them into a 'Best Carved Pumpkin' Competition.  First, Second and Third prizes all went to delighted residents and they received a jar of pumpkin chutney and a bag of daffodils each.  We had a quick wander around before the rain drove us in to the Tea Room (not much persuasion was needed to get them into there!).  We'll be planting the bulbs shortly in the garden at the home.  Hopefully some of the relatives and people in the community will get involved as well.

This morning I finally got time to carve my own pumpkin which was very quickly joined by a pumpkin that's either manically depressed or is based on The Scream! Carved beautifully by my friend and fellow blogger Envirobitch who's over from Australia at the moment.  They'll be out on the windowsill later scaring small children but hopefully not causing the traffic to swerve or brake!

Happy Howloween one and all!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Sunday sunshine

After being in London twice in 2 weeks, travelling on trains, driving up and down the motorway to Northamptonshire and back, it was so good to get out in the garden on Sunday.  I did a quick sweep around the lawn and borders first, checking to see if any urgent jobs were required.   Thankfully not, but I'm noticing that some of my summer plants are still flowering - the Sidalcea (variety: Elsie Heugh) and the Hairy Canary Clover.  This time last year, they'd both died down and I'd already cut back the dead stems on 'Elsie'.....could be the weather affecting them, or they just enjoying being where they are!   Mind you, I don't have borders brimming with plants and seasonal colours yet so what little colour is still hanging around I'm very grateful for.  I need to think about putting in some autumn/winter plants to get more colour in the garden this time of year.

Canary Clover
Sidalcea 'Elsie Heugh'

Walking around the borders I spotted a large, dark hairy caterpillar munching it's way through a leaf. He/she was so handsome that I had to take a photo and later identified it from a website.  Turns out it was a Knot Grass moth caterpillar - never heard of it!  I was surprised that such a beautiful caterpillar becomes such a dull coloured adult.  Anyway, I left him/her where he/she was as I didn't have the heart to interrupt lunch!

Mr (or Mrs) Knot Grass Moth caterpillar
beautiful markings of orange/yellow and white

Next, it was on to inspect The Field.  I did a quick sweep of the top area just to make sure that the rabbits haven't returned to try and dig back into the old warren.  I'm a bit bothered that they might start to try and get in for the winter but I have a suspicion that the presence of Jasper the Rabbit Killer might just be keeping them at bay. I'm always going to have them as visitors because my garden backs onto open fields; I can live with that, I just don't want them as tenants!

I love being in The Field when the sun shines.  I've begun to pick out places where I'd like to sit; places that offer a view as well as shelter and shade at different times of the day.  One such space is an overgrown Box shrub which forms part of the hedge on the right hand side.  Luckily for me it's growing over into the field and has developed an ideal shape to shelter a bench; plus the view from there looks straight through a gap in the opposite hedge and out across the fields that sweep up to the horizon on the opposite side of the road.  So on Sunday I decided to do a little bit more to open it up.

Every now and again my neighbours children come and help me in the garden and one of their favourite jobs is gradually cutting back this Box ready for a seat to go in. I'd no sooner got the tools out of the shed when I was joined by the rest of the 'Tywardreath Highway Gardening Team', as they like to call our little trio.  I swear they can hear the shed doors opening!  So they set about clipping the Box and I'm pleased to say that, due to all their amazing work, it's about ready for a seat.

2/3 of the THGT at work 
A Box with a view

So, let's end with a question for any budding Sherlock Holmes out there.......when I was putting in my raised beds a few months ago I came across a tree stump which was hiding amongst the weeds and nettles.  It refused to come out of the ground, so I cleared as much off the top and around it as possible and left it.  When I went to check the field on Sunday I found this cluster of mushrooms growing on the top of it.  I think it's an old Hazel stump.  I've no idea what these 'shrooms are, can't identify them from any of my books.  So if anyone knows what the name of them is (I'm pretty sure they're not edible so I'm not even going to touch them!) - answers on a postcard please! 

unknown 'shroom!

any ideas?

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Garden Ideas

So there I was last Tuesday, sitting on the train to London on my way to the International Dementia Conference run by DSDC.  I always enjoy this train journey; the section that runs right along by the beach at Teignmouth and up along the estuary to Exeter is so engaging - whatever the weather.  Then it reaches the open fields and hedgerows around Newton Abbot.   At this point my thoughts turned to the garden and ideas for the future. I don't plan to do too much with the area at the top of the field, just planting a few small trees and encouraging the bluebells and daffodils to grow up there; I wonder if I could transplant some of the smaller hazel trees up there?  The ones that aren't yet fruiting? A quick call to Dancin' Fool or Mr. Dancin' should provide the best advise!  Hmmm, a small wildlife pond up there would be lovely - with a seat nearby for quiet contemplation perhaps?  I will enquire!

A sudden realisation that I've still got some sloes in the freezer (picked from the hedgerows at work) had me reaching for my phone.  A quick look on Google offered suggestions such as Sloe Gin,  Sloe Cheese (apparently NOT cheese!) and Sloe Chutney.  Those who know me would automatically assume that I'd lean towards the gin; but I'm intrigued by the cheese that's not cheese and is, in fact, a thick fruit paste that goes lovely with cheese (ironically), fruit and nuts. I wonder if I have enough sloes...........

My thoughts turn back to the garden and the fact that by the time I get back from London I won't have done anything in it for almost two weeks.  That, and the fact that the clocks will be changing soon, leads me to realise that the time of being a weekend gardener is almost upon me.  I'll come home from work and it'll be too dark to do anything in the garden; work-wise at least.  There'll still be chances to light the brazier and watch the bats looping around The Field or star-gazing on a clear night so I'll still get to enjoy my garden even if the time to make alterations is limited to a few hours at the weekend.

Ok, so it's time to make a list of garden jobs I can do in the autumn.
  1. Begin hedgelaying at the top of The Field
  2. Cut back the overgrown hedges in The Field
  3. Get some ground cleared and the fruit cage erected
  4. Prepare an area for the future chicken run
Well that'll do to be getting on with! Hopefully the weather will be kind this autumn; lots of sunny, crisp, dry weekends - well, you never know!

On the up-side, darker evenings will provide the opportunity to pursue my newest interest - stop  motion animation.  There's an orange cat in the kitchen waiting to be completed and a new flexible web cam waiting to be tried out............................another time perhaps.  I think I'll put more down about the garden, the conference and the weekend in a few days.   There's a glass of wine calling me from the fridge. 

Monday, 18 October 2010


As kids me, my sister and brothers had our own patches in our home garden where we could grow what we wanted.   I didn't really take advantage of this, growing the odd pack of flower seeds and probably killing more than I actually grew. Since then I haven't had my own 'patch' until 3 years ago......when I was 45!  in fact, I bought the cottage because of the land that went with it. It'd been a garden about 30 years ago but left to it's own devices since.  6 foot weeds and wild flowers from top to bottom. It suited me just fine; something I could get my teeth into - not a garden make over, more of a garden project.

I've spent the last 3 years digging, lopping, strimming and planting with help from friends, neighbours and family whenever they visit.  The threat of having a spade shoved into their hands doesn't seem to have put them off!  I now have one area of the garden that is lawned with borders.  I'm slowly building up the plants in that area and this year I've managed to put in some raised beds, build a compost bin and install a shed (well, I dug the area and my neighbour put the shed up for me) in what is affectionately known as 'The Field'. This is the area on the other side of the fence to the lawn.  This area has been mainly left for the first 3 years, getting strimmed occasionally and has played host to a thriving rabbit warren until I got Jasper from the Cat Protection last year who's spent his time hunting in the field and has racked up 9 rabbits (that I know of) and I've had no sign of them since!

I planted 4 apple trees in The Field this year and although you're not supposed to let them fruit the first year I was so excited that I left a handful on and have had the pleasure of my own apple and blackberry (picked from my hedge) crumble for the first time.  A small achievement some may think but a pleasure all the same!

So here I am, the compost is rotting nicely, the raised beds have been treated to some horse manure for the winter and I'm starting to make a list of what I want to grow in them next year.  There's even thoughts of installing a chicken run next year and buying 2/3 chucks to provide eggs and manure for the garden.

This is my garden diary, I suppose.  A place where I can record what's going on in the garden and any new ideas/questions that I might have on it's development.  From time to time I'll be seeking advice on various things and hoping that if anyone reads this they'll be able to help out.

I've put some images on as to what the garden looked like when I first moved in  and various stages along the way to now.  On days when I feel I haven't been out in the garden enough it helps me to look at them and see how much has actually been done in the time I've had.