Half term begins

The half term holiday has begun for me. Me and Alice got out for a wander yesterday.

We headed down to the Mere. Alice enjoyed the rather noisy geese and mallards.

It was a bit windy, but Alice enjoys the feel of wind.

Alice has started to imitate animal noises, so we got a good baa at the sheep.

Back home the garden is seeing more bird life. Next door decided they didn’t have the time for their cats. So the cats have been given to family. Suddenly we have much more bird action again. What a difference a cat makes.

The goldfinches have returned after several months of absence.

The birds are enjoying the feeders for longer, so the seed is disappearing quicker.

With the cats gone the birds are becoming more confident coming close to the house.

With the lack of cats and the leaves falling I’m getting lovely views of the birds now. I can sit in the kitchen and look out on a wealth of life.

Autumn gardening

Autumn gardening, for me, mainly seems to be about preparing for the next year.

The Spring bulbs have gone in ready for next year. I had daffodils from last year. They were planted where the bench now sits. These have been redistributed around the border.

I’ve gone with a number of allium varieties. I like alliums for there structural interest and there generally popular with pollinators. Might well be allium overload. We’ll see next year.

Purple sensation says it grows as a cluster up to 80 cm.

Blue drumsticks are a little shorter at 60cm.

Then one giganteum up close to the patio. I’ve planted this with a few drumsticks surrounding. Hopefully have the tall gigantism towering with the blue drumsticks as a lower tier. While a bit pricier it will hopefully come back each year giving a good show.

I’m not a massive fan of tulips, but we saw some lovely varieties when we went to the open gardens. They’ll add a bit of colour before the Summer colours kick in. I’ve gone for tulip alectric; a pretty variety with pink and white petals. I should really wait for tulip planting, so they don’t rot in the ground, but I know I’ve got a lot on with work the next month. But I haven’t had major issues with bulbs rotting in the soil from last year, so hopefully be OK.

 

I’ve neglected the weeding for a few weeks while I’ve got other jobs done, so had a good upheaval. It wasn’t too bad though. Now I’ve got more plant coverage than last year there isn’t as much space for weeds to come up.

In the front the wildflowers that grew these year have died down. I had one patch of lavender growing by the door. I’ve added a second variety at the other end. The stripy leaved plant is a wild plant Lords and ladies. While not something I planted I like the leaves so it can stay for now. As time goes on if the lavender does alright I’ll fill the whole patch. Then it’ll be fairly low maintenance, needing little watering and as it fills the gaps shouldn’t need much weeding. While it may not look very much now it will hopefully develop into a lavender hedge giving lovely scent as you come in the house.

The lavender around the front and back garden has had its hair cut for this year stopping it getting too woody and encouraging a bit more growth next year.

On the patio I’ve filled three pots with some new evergreens giving the patio some foliage and a bit more interest through the winter and into Spring. Two “little leaves” hebes that just have a small spread well suited to starting in a pot.

Then an annual shrub, chamaecynaris pisifera, known as “blue sky”. It will grow a little bigger than the hebes at 50cm. I like the blue tinge to the foliage. Should be good for retaining some seasonal interest through winter.

The birds are starting to return to the feeder. Things can be a bit quiet at the start of Autumn while there is plenty of food to be had naturally, but starting to see a bit more action on the feeders again. This robin was practising its poising ready for the Christmas cards.

The roses are still flowering, although I reckon I might be looking at the last bunch for this year now. Once there done they’ll be needing a trim, then probably a bit further in early Spring. They had quite a harsh cut back this year and did better for it, alongside being fed better.

The leaves on the shrubs and trees are still hanging on in there. Once they drop I’ll be doing the last major Autumn job giving them a

Summer Garden Round Up

We have come to the end of the Summer holidays. It’s time to go back to work, so before I do it’s time to sit back and admire the progress made in the garden this Summer.

Patio

On the patio the pots are doing quite well. I moved one of the fuchsias from the border into a barrel planter as it was getting lost in the border. It seems to be doing well for the change. The night scented stock is doing well bringing in some night time insects.

I put my new mitre saw to use making a corner of decking to cover where the cement ground is uneven. At the back is a dwarf cherry tree that was totally dehydrated at the start of the holiday, but re-potted,  some gravel on the top to keep in moisture and plenty of water over Summer has brought it back.

The poached egg plants are flowering well now.

Our newly refurbished table looks nice on the patio giving us a small table for a cuppa.

My parents have passed on another bigger table. This corner of the patio previously had planters built into the walls. However they’d been built without proper drainage. So the worry was that they were damaging the house. I’ve knocked them out this Summer giving us a much bigger space to eventually build our log store and seating area.

Borders

The rose campion has done well flowering throughout the Summer. Reading Margery Fish she wrote that it should self seed a small number of new plants. So hopefully we will still have a patch next year. I’m keeping some seed heads to try to grow some if it doesn’t self seed.

The alyssum is on its second flowering. Now an area is established like my forget me nots it should self seed around the borders.

The sedum is set for flowering giving the pollinators an Autumn food source.

There are still some daisies left to flower.

The pot marigolds are still going strong.

Planting for bees

The foxgloves, hollyhock and borage are still hanging on in there providing for the bees. I don’t think the hollyhock and foxgloves have much more flowering time left in them, but now they’ve established I should have more growing next year.

Shed shade

Next to the newly painted shed is a corner with plenty of shade. I have a variety of ferns doing pretty well. They’ll give me some year round greenery and they suppress the weeds in an awkward to get to corner. Having watched the fern-atic on gardeners world this week I was inspired to add some more. I’ve got two more British varieties to go in.

Roses

I trimmed back the roses in Spring quite severely and they’ve done better this year. I’ve had flowers from the pink rose through all of Summer and still flowers coming.

They do some from fungal infections though. I’m trying some advice from the Beechgrove Garden to spray with water and a few drops of tree oil. This works on fungus and helps protect the leaves. Just don’t do when it’s too sunny or the oil may burn the leaves.

Composting

The compost heap had been filled with rubbish while the house was rented. I’ve removed what was there and put in two bins donated from my dad. The slabs have been upcycled from the patio planter I removed so nothing goes to waste. While the bins aren’t as effective as an open heap they will still give me some compost to put some goodness back in the borders.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peak into my garden progress.

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Forget me nots

Forget-me-nots cannot be kept out of any garden and no one would want to banish them completely, although they are sometimes too generous with their offspring. I do not feel kindly towards them when I find seedlings coming up everywhere but when later they turn themselves into a haze of blue that fills every space and melts into the flowers around them, I am grateful for their persistence.

Margery Fish-Cottage Garden Flowers 1961

Forget me nots are returning to the garden for the second seeding of the year. I planted a small patch last Autumn knowing they would self seed and fill any gaps. They are fulfilling there role well suppressing weeds that would otherwise grow.

Sewerby Hall

So having finished our time at the bay it was time to say goodbye to the oystercatchers and head home. As we left over the moors we couldn’t help bu notice how stunning the heather is looking this year.

To break up the journey we stopped at Sewerby Hall. Sewerby Hall is on the edge of Bridlington. A Georgian house that was added to through the 19th century. The orangery looks particularly fine, but there was a wedding on so didn’t get a proper look.

The zoo

The house has a zoo located in the old stable space. The animals have moderate enclosures. The Capuchin monkey like looked a bit lonely.

I much proffered the wildlife we saw roaming free on the grounds.

In the walled gardens Alice got let out of the howdah for a wander. She was very taken by the pond. Eventually I would like a small water feature in our garden to attract in the frogs.

I was quite taken by the artichokes. They need a decent space though for effect so I don’t think they’ll make it into my garden.

I can make more space for alliums and globe thistles though.

Bench of happiness

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on several larger garden jobs: building a paved area for the compost heap, knocking out a brick veg planter on the patio, and building a bench area. The planter is knocked out. It didn’t have proper drainage and was up against a wall of the house. It may of caused water damage if left and it’s also give us a bigger space for a table on the patio. The compost heap was dismantled as while the house was rented the renters filled it with rubbish. In its place is a paved area and a compost bin. The bench area hadn’t come on though as we couldn’t find a bench we liked. We wanted a bench down on the lawn so we have somewhere to sit and watch Alice play.

However at the weekend we saw a sign for a yard sale. Not expecting very much we ventured down to have a nosey. We went down the street and found one of the roads had a number of houses having yard sales. Mostly junk they wanted rid of, but one man was selling planters he built and had a bench he’d made for sale. For the bargain price of £35 we got something a little bit more unique.

The area we wanted the bench to go in has been underused. I had some daffodils there in Spring, but apart from that it’s largely been empty meaning weeds have moved in regularly. The area has a slope to it as I think someone at some stage intended a kind of rockery, but never finished it. So I’ve levelled it a bit and then used the stone bricks I had from knocking out the veg planter to build a line at the back to keep the soil slope back. Then tried to level it flush with the lawn at the front.

Alice was keen to help. I laid some sand to help make a better foundation. I think she thought it was some sort of wonderful sandpit for her, but living by the beach we don’t really need a sandpit. She did spread some sand though with the dibber. The dibber is probably her second favourite tool after the watering can mentioned previously.

 

Then weed matting went down and a layer of gravel around the bench legs. Alice is going through a stage of being fascinated by rocks. So she helped get them out the bag. She didn’t cry though that the stones had to stay when we were done.

All in all I’m pretty happy with the end result. I have few practical skills, beyond looking after plants, so this feels like an achievement. The stones at the front are pretty level with the lawn and feel firm.

The bench area looks good from the house with the view through the hydrangeas.

Hopefully we can enjoy sitting watching Alice enjoy the garden and it won’t subside.

My favorite gardening tool

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.

Rudyard Kipling

Gardens can require a lot of work, but I have one tool I probably use more than anything else. My hori hori knife has been invaluable since I bought it last year. Also known as a Japanese soil knife the word hori translates as, “to dig”. Hori hori also works as an onomatopoeia for the sound of digging.

I first saw the hori hori on Gardner’s World used by Monty Don. The knife has a decent six inch blade with a concave shape. One edge is serrated, the other sharp. The blade is almost full tang, going into the handle making it secure.

This is a multifunction tool. Its main purpose is to remove weeds. It does this wonderfully for me. I’d tried a number of different weeding tools and none quite satisfied. When we moved in the garden had been neglected with many deep rooted dandelions. This allows me to cut in deeply and precisely into the lawn to remove weeds down to the roots. 

The knife also acts as a trowel as the curved blade allows you to dig. I use this for digging a lot of the smaller holes for plug plants. It’s also good for digging around plants for moving. The serrated edge can work through roots. It is equally good for splitting perennials.

I also find it works well for edging the lawn where the sharp and serrated edges allow me to mark the line I want and then saw or cut through giving me a neat, precise line.

The blade also marks depth with the ruler on the knife. This can be used for planting bulbs. It goes into the soil easily. A little wriggle and you have a hole ready for a bulb. I prefer it to my traditional dibber as I’ve mainly planted large bulbs like daffodils and aliums where this has worked better.

With the size of the handle and blade it does feel a bit like taking a machete to the weeds, but that is rather satisfying in itself. It is a tool I’ve seen described as, “fun to use,” and it is. It makes an otherwise dull job somewhat pleasurable. Allowing you to lose yourself in the zen of weeding. While not the cheapest tool it has replaced a number of tools in my gardening arsenal. I highly recommend the hori hori to garden lovers. 

Alice on the other hand favours the watering can. Used by her both to water plants and deadhead flowers as she brandishes it in all directions, smiting any flowers in her way.


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