Six on a Saturday 16.6.18

It has been a windy week. Despite the strong sea winds my garden suffers from the fox gloves are still standing proud. The hollyhocks I’d already staked luckily. But a number of plants have suffered and the leaves are looking the worse the wear for the weather. The garden is currently in a state of anticipation of things to come. The roses, the hydrangeas, the hollyhocks, the teasel is all set to flower. But hasn’t quite happened despite the signs for the last two weeks.

1. Cobra lily

This strange looking plant is a cobra lily. It’s the first year growing one, so have no idea if it’s coming up right. The picture on the packet shows a dark striped flute shape. Then at the base planted black mondo with the idea that it would be a striking combination. Watch this space to see if the lily develops more. While its meant to be hardy I’m not sure the wind this week has done it much good.

2. Campanula

Each year these star shaped flowers have regrown out of this post. I think it’s a type of campanula, but not something I planted. It is lovely though in flower and the bees love it.

3. Aquilegia

After setting up foxglove seeds ready for flowering next year I’ve also set up a tray of aquilegias. I’ve got some that self seed already, but I’d like to introduce a few more to increase their numbers. I’ve gone for a more flamboyant variety with two coloured flowers.

4. Weigela

I’ve picked up a cheap weigela from Morrison’s. My neighbours has been flowering and is looking beautiful. I’m planning to start in a pot on the patio then see how it grows.

Next doors.

5. Pollinators

The garden is awash with insect life now. Bees are out everyday. Damselflies are coming in bigger numbers. Hoverflies are loving the daisies and marigolds. It’s a clear sign that things are warming up. The weekends have still been cloudy, so still not many butterflies. Sat out in the garden there is now the hum of insects to listen to.

6. Mud kitchen

The biggest addition to the garden this week is Alice’s new mud kitchen. Made for her by her grandad and my father in law to be. She has been loving mixing and smashing the soil. I’ve made a mix of play sand and compost for her cooking. Truly something special for her made by family. I have noticed many of the nearby pots now have a top dressing, but never mind getting her outside and involved in the garden.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. Got a few garden jobs to get on with quickly as it looks like rain is coming.

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Camelia propagation

After watching Carol Klein, on this weeks Gardeners World, I thought I’d try and take some cuttings of one of my camellias. I’m planting more in my outdoor area at school, but as I have little budget to spare in this I’m relying on cuttings from my own garden, donations and plants grown cheap from seed. Having had success with lavender last year and my hebes from this year are doing well I’m going to continue trying expand my propagation techniques.

The camellia has been looking stunning the last few weeks, but the flowers are wilting now. Having fed it better during the last year has had a big impact.

So having watched Gardeners World, checked the literature and internet for advice I set out to attempt the cuttings.

I started with the drainage for the pot with a crock and stones.

Then a thin layer of gravel.

The soil needs good drainage and space for roots to form through. I mixed compost and a gritty sand as a good medium for the cuttings.

To choose a branch for cutting I was looking for growth from the last year. The older growth is lighter and the newer growth redder and fresher. Looking on this particular plant. Then with secateurs I cut a small section of the newer growth.

With a sharp knife I then cut diagonally just after a leaf. These were dipped in rooting powder then placed in the prepared soil mix.

After a water the cuttings were covered with grit for two reasons. First to retain moisture. Second to stop weeds.

The cutting has been placed on the patio in a warm spot, but not one that gets sun the whole of the day to prevent drying out. Some sources of advice mention sealing the pot with a plastic sandwich bag over. I hate taking these on and off to water, so going to try without. Time will tell if it was a bad decision.

The advice reckons the cuttings will be ready for potting on in around three months. I’m looking for roots out of the bottom of the pot, but as I’ve used quite a big pot I’m unsure if I’ll get this.

While I’ve been bust propagating Alice has been busy planting stones from the alpine plants pots into the left over plastic pots from recent purchases. She is happy as anything using these plastic pots. So for Gardeners Worlds aim of reducing or reusing plastic if you have lots of spare plastic containers give them to a toddler to see a face of pure excitement.

I will report on progress later in the year. To follow my garden exploits and wild exploits with Alice subscribe to the blog or follow on twitter.

Six on a Saturday-14.4.18

The weather has remained horrible for much of this week. However there are signs of gradual improvement. The temperature is slightly warmer. I managed in the garden without a coat yesterday.

Currently my garden has a bit of a void. It’s transitioning between seasons. The crocus and glory of the snow are going over or gone. The camelia is still flowering, but wilt is setting in. The daffodils are still going adding bursts of sunshine and the forget me nots are starting to bloom. I’m eager with anticipation for tulips and then Summer flowers.

1 self seeders

Across the borders many plants have self seeded. I selected many cottage garden favourites for just reason when planting my first flowers. From a small patch of forget me nots under two years ago any bare earth has been claimed by forget me nots. The first are flowering now adding small patches of sky blue to the border just visible from the house.

The foxgloves have seeded in a nice drift behind the bench in the shade. I love the appearance of foxglove’s flowers. There structure being visually appealing to me.

I’ve even got a few hollyhock seedlings establishing themselves around.

2 Skimmia Japonica

The skimmia has given me a good dash of colour through Winter. It has now opened its flower’s revealing the dainty white flowers.

3 Roses

Last month I won garden vouchers from linking to The Old House in the Shires Linky on garden blogs. This includes many good reads on gardening. With my vouchers I thought I’d go with a few plants that will hopefully last a good while. Both options I’ve gone for are strongly scented. In my mind roses are supposed to be scented and many modern varieties have lost this. I’m not a big fan of roses however having bought some tougher gold leaf gloves and enjoyed the long flowering season of several of the existing roses I’m coming round to them. Much of my planting is cottage garden style and roses suit the garden.

Cottage maid has white flowers with speckled pink lines much like a raspberry ripple ice cream. Then Charles de Mills has been a popular choice amongst rose growers for many years. It only flowers once I believe, but it has reasonable foliage for the rest of the year to make up for it. With some under planting I can still have colour coming through.

I’ve planted them in a big hole with new compost and root powder to give them a good start. I wrote on planting roses before with my climbing roses and they seem to be taking off now.

4 Dicksonia Antarctica

Also with the vouchers I bought a Dicksonia Antarctica. This fern can grow to large sizes eventually, though growth will be gradual year on year. I’ve wanted one for a while. It would be nice have one further on its growth. However the price rapidly goes up for a larger one. This will be planted in my shady shed area. I haven’t planted yet as I wanting to check advice on the best means of planting.

The patch it will be going into.

5 Jasmine

On my continuing quest to establish climbers over the fence I have planted two jasmine. Jasmine Stephanese have fragrant flowers that are generally white, but can be pink or sometimes yellow. They fruit a black berry. This was another purchase from tesco’s along with the passionflowers purchased previously. As mentioned with the roses I’m hoping to make more of scent in the garden. I have a wonderful section of fence covered in honeysuckle, however it is behind trees and only smelled when I prune it. My lilac bush is beautiful scented, but short lived. So it would be nice to have more pleasing fragrances.

6 Gertrude Jekyll

Over the last week I’ve read Gertrude Jekyll’s the beauties of a Cottage Garden. While there was little actually discussing cottage gardens, it was still informative despite the 100 years since publication. I did like this paragraph:

But the lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others is to know the enduring happiness that the love of garden gives. I rejoice when I see one, and especially children, enquiring about flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in them. For the love of gardening never dies, but always grows and grows to enduring and ever increasing source of happiness.

Following from the child comment, my little gardener has been in the garden with me moving one weed at a time. She is getting a reward with the last of my vouchers. I’ve bought her Percy from Thomas the Tank engine to go with her Thomas from the New Forest. I haven’t given it to her yet, but I’m sure she’ll be happy with it Percy is one of her favourite characters.

Having reported on wildlife provisions in the garden last week I set up the trail camera for the first time this year. I’m pleased to report hedgehogs came in last night twice. Not sure if it was the same one twice or different, but either way happy they are still visiting.

Hope you all have lovely weekends with the improved weather.

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Dorset holiday part 4

Our next trip out on our Dorset adventure took us to the New Forest Wildlife Park. While I do favour seeing animals in their natural environments some I would never get the chance to see. The New Forest Wildlife Park has many animals that are rescue animals that have required a home to survive. While the ethics of keeping animals in this way is hotly debated as more and more animals become endangered captive animals may offer opportunities for reintroducing species back to the wild.

We were greeted by a bear.

The park holds a number of species of owl and these were some of the first animals we saw. Alice was still riding high on the coattails of seeing the Gruffalo characters the day before and was excited to see the owls again. As mentioned before I have a fondness for owls.

Having recently read Simon Cooper’s excellent book, “the otters’ tale” I was excited to see the otters at the park. The park has several species: the Asian short-clawed otter, giant otters and the North American Otters. Our native otter Lutra lutra was absent. But I enjoyed seeing the otters on offer bounding around. Truly amazing animals. Slick through the water and bounding playfully on land.

Alice was quick to spot them.

Inside we found the rather cute harvest mice and hedgehogs. I’m glad to say Alice correctly identified both.

The park feeds the birds in the forest. Blue tits and great tits were enjoying the feeders.

Underneath the feeders a taste of the wild, Rattus Norvegicus, the brown rat. While generally not a welcome visitor it was good to see this animal moving around the forest floor.

The lynx was very accomadating for photos.

Alice stopped for a brief break with Amy.

Wallabies roam the enclosure with you.

Alice was keen to spot the wolves with her binoculars, but no luck.

Another wild invader of the park.

Alice enjoyed digging in the play area.

The bees are starting to come out in greater numbers a sure sign Spring is here.

We didn’t make it round all the animals. There were more deer and bison across the other side of the park, but we didn’t think Alice’s legs would take any more.

Before heading back to the house we stopped off at IKEA for a few things for Alice’s room. It was just a short journey on from the park. While it was hell on Earth for me Alice seemed to think it was just a giant soft play area.

Once back at the house a tired Alice tucked herself into the blanket.

One last day to discuss of the holiday and then that’s the lot.

Cold warnings

With warnings of more cold weather on the way I’ve wanted to ensure I leave a supply of food out for the birds during this vital period. Currently birds will be building up reserves ready for the breeding season. Already I’ve seen a few birds investigating my nesting material. But with the temperature dropping they will be needing high energy, high fat sources of food.The ground is frozen making many natural food sources hard to get.

I have several seed feeders, but these get drained in two or three days. So if I have a busy week at work I don’t always get out on an evening to restock them. The suet feeders and fat balls usually take longer to get through ensuring even when the seed runs out the birds still have food supplies in my garden.

As I was low on suet I went on Haith’s website to see what they had going and found a good value suet starter pack for £14.82. Haith’s have previously given me freebies to review, but this was not. I use Haith’s as the quality I do believe is better and when buying in a reasonable quantity it isn’t badly priced. In this starter pack I received suet fat balls and feeder, pellets, suet block, a coconut feeder, and a bird cake.

Getting out to put it out though meant separating Alice from her new Gruffalo costume, courtesy of the charity shop for £1.50. She has also been spoilt by her granddad with a set of binoculars after a previous blog. Though she hasn’t quite got used to which end to look through.

She had a few phone calls to make on her chocolate phone.

Now Alice was ready we got out to put out the new fat ball feeder and restock the feeders.

The coconut feeder has string on just to put up on a branch.

The cake, block and other pellets went up at the far end of the garden.

Alice was excited by a fir cone she found in the bug hotel.

My snowdrops seem to be running behind the schedule of other locally.

Blue bells and tulips are poking through further with each week.

Now I can sit back inside to do my school work watching the birds enjoy their feast.

Rock hunting

Today saw my parents visiting. After a trip for lunch at the Floral Hall  we headed out for a walk along the seafront.It was a nice day for it. The sun was out and the day was was calm. No chilling Winter winds today.

Alice enjoyed walking with my mum along the sea wall. Increasingly she wants to run.

We got down onto the beach. Just a few months ago Alice was very reluctant to walk on the sand. Now she’s trying to throw herself into the water.

Each time we go along the seafront she finds a couple of stones she doesn’t want to part with. She is very particular over which she takes. I can’t see any particular reason she wants the ones she takes, but she clearly does. In each photo you will see her hands are tightly clutching a pile of stones.

Some other visitors had made a good rock circle.


A distant bird, possibly a dunlin.

A more accommodating photogenic gull. I think it’s a black headed gull, but with the gulls all being white with some black I still haven’t got my eye in on identification.

A nice stroll along the front and an ice cream on the way back. It’s good to see Alice becoming more adventurous. Then with parents gone I still had time to work in the garden to finish the seeding from yesterday.

New Year at the Bay

For New Years Eve we had a quiet night in as Alice isn’t quite ready for parties. New Years Day we headed up the coast to Amy’s dad’s house at Robin Hood’s Bay where we had a lovely meal at the Hare and Hounds in Hawker. Amy had the trio of pork and I had the home made burger with goats cheese. I just expected a few pieces crumbled on the top, but it was a solid slice of grilled goats cheese. It was all delicious. Alice had a good wait, so had walked back and forth across the pub multiple times before food. But she did quite well for her age. She has decided to reject booster seats now. She wants either a chair to herself or my knees to sit on. She knows her own mind for a one and a half year old.

The next day saw a good sunrise over the bay with breathtaking skies. I think I said it last time I went, but photos don’t do it justice.

The next day we got out for a walk. I was taking photos as we went for the New Year Plant Hunt organised by the BSBI. The aim being to monitor what wildflowers are in bloom in Winter.

A few seen on the way.

Red Valerian

The winter heliotrope. A rather delightful low laying wildflower.

Plenty of gorse along cliff faces.

We had a nice walk along the beach. We didn’t quite make it to Boggle Hole, just down the coast. Boggle is a local name for a hobgoblin, a mischievous little person. Boggle Hole was one of the spots the smugglers on this stretch of coast used, thus the name.

Alice was keen to get in the howdah today trying to clamber in before we were ready.

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