Copyright © 1997-2009 Demand Media. All rights reserved.
Blossom everwhere, the parkways are lined with flowering trees - cherry fruiting, and pink and white japanese flowering.
Crab apple will come later. The black thorn is also splendid and there should be an ample supply of sloes (wild plums) later this year. Daffodils are every where alongside the roads and the tulips are coming out. In may 18 miles from here is the Spalding tulip festival and parade. In the garden the Flowering Currants are a mass of blooms and the muscari and hyacinths are in full bloom. My camellia is great and the cranberry is full of blossom. The primulas and primroses are gracing flower beds. The only problem is that March was very dry and I had to use the hosepipe several times.
I'me now off to do more potting up and then off to by more compost.
Carry on weeding
Spring is here in my corner of the UK. Crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and early tulips are in bloom and many trees are in blossom. I've purchased my first plug plants, sown seeds and started a mammoth weeding task. I must thank you all for your kind wishes and comments. The next meeting of the gardening group is looking at gardening tools. I have found some odd but useful tools and i note that there are subtle differences from country to country. Any ideas or pixs would be welcome.
I've only been able to snatch a few days gardening due to weather and and domestic issues. Mother in law spent six weeks in hospital and the authorities would not let her go home as she could no longer look after herself. So we had to find a suitable home and are in the process of selling her home to pay for her care. This has involved clearing out and selling years of accumulated treasures.
The garden group I run started up again after christmas and we have a full house. This week we discussed soil types and testing and growing some veg in pots, such as kohl rabi and beetroot. The group helps to maintain sanity in an otherwise not very nice period. My brother in law in Canada died last sunday two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. My sister and i are still sorting out my elder sister's estate after her death last year. Bring on some sunshine!
Daffodils and crocus are blooming in spite of the grey days and the snowdrops have produced white carpets in many gardens. A small fortune has been spent on seed for the wild bird feeders both at the front and back of the house. A friendly robin expects personal service whenever I am in the garden. Most things have survived in the greenhouse with minimal heating but even some hardy plants have been killed outside. It was the frost after Christmas that caused the destruction as there was no covering of snow.
According to the weather forecast the sun will come out tomorrow - cue for a song - so I might get grubby knees this weekend.
Bye for now
We have all just about caught up on our sleep. In the days before christmas day we were awakened at 4.30 in the morning by the paramedic control because mother in law had pushed the button on her help pendant. Pushing the button activates a phone call to a centre that dispatches an ambulance. She had falls, was seeing things like 10 men stopping her from going to the toilet etc. Were were all so tired that when she called out them for the last time we were so fast asleep that we heard nothing and she was admitted to hospital on christmas morning at 4.30 with a minor heart attack. Because she insists that she does not want to o into a care home, she can't be sent. So we have been trekking to our NEW hospital. It is so large it could compete with many a major air terminal.
In spite of all this Christmas day lunch went well with the eldest daughter and her tribe being fed well, youngest daughter for breakfast with her husband and middle daughter on Boxing Day (26th) , Before and during Christmas it was very cold (for us) -10 deg C with lots of snow and ice and chaos. With all the hot air spoken by politicians I thought there would be an earl thaw but it only happened yesterday with promises of more snow and ice to come. Gardening has just been inspection, plant protection fleece and monitoring the green house heating. The fish pond cascade prevented a total freeze over but elsewhere there was five inches of ice.
Hope is for the new year. We have booked a murder mystery trip on the Orient Express - so it will be back to the 1930s to sole a crime whilst enjoying a super meal in luxury - must dress up for the trip.
What is interesting is what as been growing under the snow; mosses, lichens and weeds that must be loaded with antifreeze!
A good and happy ney year to you all and may your garden dig itself.
So far it has been a classical November with two days of fog, then bright, warm and frost predicted this week. The lightson the blue fir in the front garden have been restored and 500 blue lights sparkle at night. Trees should be lit up. There are many ways to do this. Floods underneath, floodsshining on the top, strings of light. We do it all year round. It spreads joy.
A friend died suddenly, we were the last to see him, a modest man who had two dinosaurs named after him. He was a teacher, geologist and grew masses of orchids for which he won prizes.
My hardy fuchsias are doing well. Masses of birds visit the feeders and the biggest visitor so far was a heron that perched on top of the greenhouse. I have a net over the pond and a plastic heron stands guard. The fish seem ok so far!
Now my birthday is over I can now think of christmas. On my birthday we all went to a new Afro-Caribbean restaurant and I had jumbalia (word is not in my computer dictionary).
In spite of the weather many trees are still holding on to their leaves both golden and green. Because the holly every where is covered with red berries the lore says that it will be a cold winter.
Are their any folk lore sayings in the US? Please tell.
Bye for now
True to form we have had three seasons in one week, shirt sleeves on friday and to day high winds, horizontal rain and its cold. Up to today there were plenty of leaves on the trees. We visited the Cotswolds last week and the forests were a picture of green, gold, red and brown. At noon we stopped at Banbury for lunch near to Banbury Cross. There is a rhyme
about thisRide a #@!$ horse to Banbury Cross
She shall have music wherever she goes
The words of the Banbury Cross nursery rhyme are often attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England (the fine lady) who travelled to Banbury to see a huge stone cross which had just been erected. The words 'With rings on her fingers' obviously relates to the fine jewellery which would be worn by a Queen. The words 'And bells on her toes' refer to the fashion of attaching bells to the end of the pointed toes of each shoe - this fashion actually originates from the Plantagenet era of English history but was associated with the nobility for some time! Banbury was situated at the top of a steep hill and in order to help carriages up the steep incline a white #@!$ horse (a large stallion) was made available by the town's council to help with this task. When the Queen's carriage attempted to go up the hill a wheel broke and the Queen chose to mount the #@!$ horse and ride to the Banbury cross. The people of the town had decorated the #@!$ horse with ribbons and bells and provided minstrels to accompany her - "she shall have music wherever she goes"
So much for Folk stories.
As always where ever we stopped plants tempted us and some gifts were purchased.
There is a Cotswald cottage in the US at Greenfield Village near Detroit. There it is a museum piece but people still live in them - modernised inside- and they are very very expensive.
NB the censor software replaces kock (substitute first k with c) with garbage it means a very large horse. To the pure all things are pure!
This year the Swans that migrate from Siberia to spend the winter in England have arrived three weeks early. This is taken has an indication of a cold bad winter. Not too far from us are wet lands where you can, from the comfort of a hide see the wild ducks, gees and swans fed under flood light. The trees are now starting to change and if there are no strong winds should be in leaf until the middle of November. The grass continues to grow and will do until the temperature drops below 40 deg F. One winter tip is to cover the compost heap up with black polythene to keep it warm. If the heap is warm the bacteria will grow and generate more heat and produce better compost.
There are a few more spring bulbs to set. Planted now in special compost in bowls, prepared hyacinths should flower at Christmas. Keep the bowls in a dark warm place until the green breaks through. Bird feeding has intensified and when I am in the garden I have a Robin that follows me around and comes very near. The Camellia has buds ready for spring, I put used tea bags in the tub. After all tea is a variety of Camellia and the bags keep the compost acid.
Love them or hate them Brussel sprouts are now in season. In my many travels to Belgium I was only served with them once and the pastry we call a Belgium Bun in england I have never seen in Belgium.
The next job is to turn green tomatoes into chutney.
Now is the time of the year when you go into the garden in the early morning and spider's webs are sparkling with dew.
In the evening large ones scurry across the floor and cause the odd scream- not from me, my job is to remove them. This brings us back to conkers - horse chestnuts. Foly lore would have us believe that conkers keep spiders at bay. The problem is no one seems to have told the spiders.
I am preparing to move pot plants into the green house despite the warm day weather but at night the temperature is falling a great deal. Few trees are turning gold, most are still verdant green and the hips and haws are shining in the hedgerows.
I have renewed the lights on my blue fir and now it twinkles with 500+ blue LEDs. Precautions are being taken so it is not vandalised.
A pumpkin of more than ample proportions has been purchased for , pie and soup will follow. The tomato crop this year has been good especially from the self set ones!
Some shops have dared to mount christmas displays, never mind I have ordered my easter eggs.
As we approach autumn (Fall) the fruit of the horsechestnut trees are starting to drop, this is the start of the conker season and shortly the international championships that are to be held at the town of Oundle near Peterborough.
You take a large conker and drill a hole through it and thread a string or leather boot lace through the hole. Knot it at the bottom so the nut will not fall off. The top of the conker is the light grey patch. In the game one person holds the conker at arms length dangling from the string the other person coils some of his string around his hand and with the other hand holds his conker. Using a whip like action he tries to hit his opponents dangling conker to smash it. If it does not break the roles are reversed continually until one of the conkers shatter. In the championships the collected conkers are selected blind from a bag to avoid pickled or baked conkers that are difficult to break. I believe the game is also played in some parts of France;
Warm and wet at the moment and you can almost see the grass grow, It looks as if the last cut will be late this year. Very few leaves have turned gold and most plants are brilliant green..
The churches are preparing the harvest services and suppers. There a still a few bakers who produce loaves of bread
like wheat sheaves. I can syill rember fiels of cut wheat standing in groups of sheaves called stooks waiting for the threshing machine. There is a lot of technology in a combine harvester but very little romance.
Time for tea - every thing stops for tea!
The wild fruit is very abundant this year I have gathered pounds of blackberries (brambles) and the wild cherries have fed us and the birds. The hedges are bright with the glowing orange of rose hips and the deep red of hawthorn haws. Hips and haws are the seed cases. Not to many berries on the hollies but wild mistletoe is also abundant. In the garden there has been a second blooming of many plants and the late warmth and rain is causing the grass to grow and grow and grow. I grew beefsteak tomatoes this year and the result are generous to say the least. There are still some blossoms on the lavender so the bees can have a final top up. Bees and wasps can smell adrenaline and it irritates them, thus if you are afraid of them it can make matters worse. Bumble bees are the least aggressive and I have had five different types in the garden. I have spotted two type of honey bees - the old english (fairly rare) and sicilian hybrids that can be aggressive if you approach the hive. I used to keep bees many yars ago but because of the fears of neighbors had to stop.
Those of you who have visited Britain may have tried Licorice Allsorts a mixture of sweets (candies) that consist of all sorts of soft sweets. August has been like this - dip your hand in the weather bag and what comes out is a surprise.
Two days produced six inches of rain. We have had hot drying winds, cold winds, dull depressing days, a few sunny days and the need to water plants after all the rain. Nevertheless the harvest at home and on the farms is going well. When farmers do not complain things can't be too bad. The Hurricane off the East Coast of the US seems really bad and let's hope it is not the start of a very bad season.
Those of you interested in Norfolk Lavender go to http://www.norfolk-lavender.c
o.uk/ where there is a good slide show.
The Garden Group I run for the U3A starts on the 14th September and 28 have registered. Most are widows but there are sufficient men to keep them occupied while I spread the gardening gospel.
The highlight of August was the Peterborough Beer Festival where over 350 real ales we on sale (two from small breweries in the US) , over 50 continental bottled beers - these are also classed as real ales, many of which have the final fermentation in the bottle. Then there were ciders, perries and fruit wines. The nettle wine is superb if you like dry white wines. Attendance is around the 40000 mark. There are food stalls and varied entertainment plus a fun fair for the kids.
It is events such as these that tourists should attend to get the real flavour of Britain
We are well into the season of flower festivals in the country churches. The ladies of the village decorate the church with flowers according to a theme and such events attract many visitors. Teas are provided - scones with cream and jam. cakes and sandwiches - that raise money for the church and charity. These are events that the tourists miss. I am not sure what they would think of village shows where locals compete for the best vegetables, flowers, cakes and homemade wines. Parsnip wine can be very good. There may be contests such as bowling (9 pins) for a pig or side of bacon.
This brings me to 'is it me or?' brought about by cheese going mouldy. I'me sure that when we had a pantry it kept longer on a cold slab in a cheese dish. We used to salt beans (string to you runner to me) to preserve them and during the war grandmother used to preserve eggs in isinglass. Fruit seemed better bottled (canned to you) and lasted longer. Farms now put potatoes in to cold stores and not the clamps they used to (covered in a thick layer of straw and then earth).
Is it variety or declining taste buds but new potatoes do not taste like they used to. Home grown is best.
To day is the remembrance day celebrating the victory over japan so once again flowers come to the fore.
The above link raises many issues but would a large garden/park of remembrance be better?
So far it has been a troubled year but gardening helps to keep you sane. My older sister died in May and there is a whole lot of sorting out to do as her executor. She came back from Canada with my younger sister, was directly admitted to hospital and died three days later.
Mother in law had her 94th birthday and is becoming more confused and continues to lash out with her zimmer frame.At last we have got a decent gardener to attend to her garden at £11/hour. Previous ones were charging £25/hour (don't know todays conversion rate) I cut the lawns for her but can't handle mine and hers.
It's been a super year so far for soft fruits - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries and redcurrants. The hot weather has been replaced by showers but we need some more sunshine so please send over your surplus!
I have a self-set tomato plant and have never seen such rapid growth and it is full of fruit ready to ripen. If it is good I will save some seed.
The East of England Show (equates to state fair) was good this year and I will post some photos of the orchid show. There were exhibits from around the world.
Sorry I have been late blogging
YES! June is busting out all over. Yesterday I had my first own grown strawberry of the season. the plants are full of fruit so we will stock up on cream. The few days of rain followed by high temperatures have produced amazing growth - weeds as well. I have planted icelandic poppies and the range of colours is amazing, They should seed well and help the bees. They loved the flowering currant and now they are fertilizing the raspberries. The background hum is a welcome sound. Bees are endangered so plant plenty of blossom. The red and white wild roses are now blooming in the country side and some lavender is already in bloom. Some 40 miles fron us lavender is farmed commercially and to see and smell a field of lavender is something great. They make oil of lavender and use it in cosmetics, soaps, perfumes and candles etc. It would be interesting to know what the most exotic or difficult thing you have tried to grow.
Bye for now
Copyright © 1997-2009 Demand Media. All rights reserved.