Tag Archives: Home garden

Snow and the lurgy…

Sage Doyle’s snowman; sitting in the New England blizzards…

Well, I have the lurgy – or some sort of virus but every now and then I have to get out of bed and do something. I’m not fit enough to go outside and my brain isn’t working well enough to do any work, so I’m catching up with some blogs – hence the snow storm (hehe) yesterday of book reviews.

Last night it snowed and is still snowing lightly here in London so I thought I’d share some snow photos.

Firstly though, many thanks to Sage Doyle who has said we could share the snowman picture above… Sage is expecting, or is sitting in, New England and a major snowstorm, nothing like our small sprinkle and even may lose electricity (again). That is rare here I confess, although I used to live where the electricity pylons were below tree height and there we did lose power quite often.

Anyway, here are some snow photos… the Ice Crystal on our pond were taken by my husband as he is very interested in reflections and the like and water effects.

ice crystals on pond teasel in snow

The teasels are supposed to provide food for small birds from their seeds in the winter, but do capture the snow wonderfully on their heads as well… and the grass seed heads from the Zebrinus grass stand up wonderfully too in the frost and snow.

frosty grasses

And of course this time of year would not be worthwhile without the 4 clematis in flower – not to mention the crocii coming through and the first blue irises, but here is my favourite clematis in full bloom throughout these winter month – Freckles. I hope you like these photos!


Greedy! Seeds and ….

Now it is confirmed. I am actually greedy. Not interested in gastronomy or gourmet items. Seeds, yes, I am greedy about seeds.

Each year I say I am going to grow less seeds – they need coddling; they fail and give you heartache; they succeed too well and you spend hours potting on. And each year I grow seeds.

This year was going to be different. I was going to be very restrained. I thought long and hard about the vegetables, which would we really eat a lot of, which varieties and just how many to plant – just 3 courgette seeds went in as we don’t need more than that; just two pots of beans and so on.

And then there were the flower seeds. We belong to the Hardy Plant Society and each year the members have a seed exchange. For £5 you can have over 20 packets of seeds – but I was restrained – I bought just 5 packets and my friend Nikki bought another 5 and shared the cost with me. But at the end of the form was a clever item. For just £1.50 you can be sent a collection of ‘leftover’ seeds, so Nikki and I gaily added one each of these to our order. Now these seeds are wonderful. Never too many in a packet, but some really interesting and unusual plants that are difficult to find in nurseries and garden centres. As they come from people’s gardens they are not guaranteed to succeed but still…

These ‘leftover’ seeds arrive on my doorstep this week. 25 packets in each envelope! And oh they were so different and interesting! A clematis stans in pale blue for instance (to add the 30+ clematis already in the garden); a nepeta that grows between 3 and 6 foot tall(!); seeds for a tulip; and many more that weren’t in my books and I had to look up on the Internet. I wanted so many! Greedy, greedy me.

In the end, I selected about 15 and now they the trays are in the greenhouse. How long before the tulip seeds flower I wonder? About as long as our wild bluebell seeds probably – 4 years perhaps?

The green house is full…. the spare room window ledge has all the veggie seedlings sprouting and I am panicking. We go away for 3.5 weeks in November and everything needs attention. Robert has agreed to come in to help while we are away but I wonder if he realises just how much there is to do?

… panic has really gripped me. He will have so many lists from me by the time we go!

The garden has promise for the autumn and winter. Two clematis are in flower and the wisteria is growing back. The autumn crocus have flowered and cyclamens are spreading across the front garden now we can see them having removed the big plants ready for the gravel to come later this winter. And the chrysanthemums look heavy with bud. The acers are beginning to turn too – but only one is showing great colour – the acer Japonicum –

– the others turn much later. So below are photos taken in previous years. I have around 12 acers in total of different sizes and types some tall and some spreading and they all change into different colours in spring and Autumn.

Growing vegetables in interesting and recycled containers!

We had an interesting couple of meetings this week as our two Garden groups have ‘invented’ a sub-group this month.

Our local Residents Association has a competition every other year for the best Front Garden in our area and we want to encourage some of the shared ownership houses/flats in particular, to put  a little effort into these gardens to improve the look as we walk around. Some gardens are wonderful of course, some are awful. So we created a sub-group to help people improve their fronts. We do give out certificates for best in road and prizes such as vouchers for garden sundries so there is some reward for those who undertake this hard work.

The sub-group met at my house and we agreed a poster and press release to sent out in local newsletter and then discussed what we could do in terms  of having an advice stall. We have agreed to provide some seedlings and seeds and advice at a venue and the RA has donated some soil so we are now encouraging our garden group members to plant some seeds for this event in March. The seeds were very kindly donated to us by Thompson and  Morgan so no expense there.

We thought we should help people think a little innovatively about what they use as containers if they don’t have a flower bed and so a picture of  broccoli growing well in a (no longer used by the Council) recycling box might help or a raised bed made from left-over wooden slats. We were hoping to collect lots of these from the Council but it seems they have already been recycled… I have started my seedlings off – well seeds so far – in yoghurt pots and veg trays – all about recycling you know…we thought about making pots from newspaper but that did seem hard work!

The talk got onto how to prevent the squirrels digging up bulbs and then how to stop them eating all the birdseed too. .. the squirrels in my garden jump some 10 feet to get onto the feeders – really revving up their tails and shaking with adrenalin as they prepare to jump… and the idea of chilli powder in the birdfeed was raised. Now I’m already trying this as they are very greedy those squirrels!

Someone has tried chilli around bulbs but it is washed away by the rain so perhaps not so good but they do seem to be a nuisance in some gardens – maybe feeding them birdseed prevents them digging up bulbs I wonder? We don’t seem to have that much of a problem with them that way.

Has anyone got any suggestion or photos of really interesting and recycled containers they have used? Or good looking small front gardens we can use for inspiration? Bearing in mind this is an urban area and so really pretty country gardens are not so useful. We do think that veggies in the front would be just as good as flowers and so some people are going to start some veg seeds as well as flowers but we don’t have a lot of time to plant and grow before mid-March… however, we shall give away more mature plants – if any are left over – at our AGM in May ready to plant out and beautify before judging in late May.

The group got onto other items and we heard that Thompson and Morgan are offering a prize of £500 for anyone who finds a new plant or bulb in their garden. They are hoping to breed new plants and it seems they have done this before from new strains people have ‘found’. So everyone should look out for unusual looking plants… though I think I might want a share in the final profit rather than a prize up front… can’t find details on their website though I was shown a leaflet so am sure it is real, just not publicised properly yet.