Sunday, 31 October 2010

October activity

Autumn weather and a stinking cold haven't helped this month. Not as many Green Dot Days as I would have liked, nothing new there :}>


Not all Bag End wildlife is actually in the garden.

The geese are still passing overhead in large numbers and making an absolute racket, it would have driven Ollie nuts :}> Just one of four big groups to pass over at lunchtime:

Honey Fungus?

This is the long bed at the front of the house which I filled with daffodils last year.

And this is some of the fungus currently growing at the base of the escallonia.

We've got this on 14 plants, about 25% of the total planting. If it is Honey Fungus then bugger, but I won't be surprised if that's what this turns out to be. HF is thought to attack old and diseased wood and that is certainly a reasonable description of the escallonia mess. I console myself with the knowledge whilst it is almost impossible to eradicate completely, it can be kept partially in check by physical barriers. If I have to have this anywhere in the garden, the front bed is the best place for it.

From the RHS website:

We're fairly certain we have seen timber like this when clearing (and thankfully burning) bits of this hedge in the past. Bugger, bugger, bugger.

When I have the time, the inclination, and the weather is co-operative I will do some digging and see if I can find any of the rhizomorphs. At some point in the very far off future we always planned to remove the escallonia . . . might be doing it sooner than expected.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The morning after

Sunshine, clear sky, beautiful autumn day.

The storm has blown itself out, none of the trees fell down and even the dustbins are where I left them.

Friday, 29 October 2010


It is a tad breezy in West Cumbria tonight. The number you want is the top one: 48

That's 48 miles per hour, or 77 kph for those too young to understand proper units of measurement. This was recorded just outside the back door, wouldn't want to be anywhere near the fells at present.

Everything that has not already blown over has been laid down (fence panels, garden furniture) and I've moved my car from under the magnolia tree which has a nasty habit of misplacing small branches when it is windy.

I don't like this and my mood has not been enhanced by realising that the clocks go back this weekend and from Sunday it will be dark just after 5.00pm.

Can't change the weather, so work with it

Ferocious wind and rain Thursday night which carried on throughout most of the day. I went out at 8.00am to retrieve the just-emptied dustbins before they were blown down the road and nearly got taken off my feet by a tremendous gust. As soon as it was light enough I even stuck my head outside and counted the trees to make sure they were all still upright.

Even an omnipotent being such as a Hobbit cannot change the weather so the best thing to do is take advantage of it by hiding in the sewing room all day

I got the most hateful job out of the way first - repairs to a couple of pairs of trousers for Management, then I could get to the fun stuff and it didn't take long for the baby quilt blocks to go together. QuiltSue wants a sunglasses alert on this quilt and she's right - it is even brighter than Yellow Peril and that's saying something!

Messed around for ages with different layouts and still haven't decided what to do . . .

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Bark chips

I think it's funny that when the Atkinsons lorry arrives with another two bulk bags of bark chips the driver automatically positions his vehicle to lift the consignment over the hedge rather than stopping at the bottom of the driveway.

Management isn't surprised: "they're used to you by now".

Delivery is the easy bit, now I have to barrow these lovely things to various beds before winter rains make a mess of the soil and the weather isn't being terribly co-operative this week.

Stealth quilting

Also known as drive-by piecing.

Once again, life, the Universe and what passes for normality at Bag End is not allowing a long sit-down session with the sewing machine. Instead, I'm sewing a few seams at a time on the blocks for James' baby quilt. Whilst the kettle is boiling I can get another half a dozen bits put together, whilst I drink the tea I can cut strips for the next section and in this way it is surprising how fast things grow.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Whoops, no email

From our ISP's "status" page:

[26th October 2010 - 7.50]

This outage is due to a major power outage affecting the Salford datacentre where the mail.** platform is hosted. Power engineers are working to restore power to the building, after which time additional teams are on-site to supervise the powering up of each piece of equipment.

[26th October 2010 - 7.45]

This appears to be a core network issue in the datacentre where the mail platform is currently hosted. Engineers are working to restore normal service and we’ll provide further updates as we receive them.

[26th October 2010 - 7.00]

Engineers are aware of a problem affecting mail.** which means access via POP/IMAP and webmail is unavailable at this time. Engineers are working to restore normal service.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Autumn or Winter?

The calendar says October, the thermometer has other ideas. In the greenhouse last night:

Damn cold, but very pretty in the potager this morning.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Busy weekend

On Saturday, the cooker and extractor hood were delivered.

On Sunday the cooker was delivered again.

The first one had a tiny ding in the front and the excellent delivery men weren't having any of it - straight on the phone to supplier and a new one promised for the following day.

I have waited a very, very long time for this. This is the first time in over two decades I have actually been able to choose a cooker - my flat, our previous houses, the rental in Cockermouth - all had a cooker installed and none of them have been my choice. Regardless of how much I disliked them, it never seemed right to replace virtually brand-new appliances. As the oven & hob in situ at Bag End are crap and on their last legs, something new and indulgent could finally be justified. A lot went into selecting this, hopefully once it is fitted my cooking will live up to it :}>

Sink and taps have been here a few days, worktop will arrive with the fitters. We are not having a completely new kitchen, there is nothing wrong with the current units which are solid wood and in excellent condition. It is, however, time for a little bit of renovation.

A note for Hazel before she asks - no, I did not buy the RangeMaster. Much debate, numerous visits to friends with RangeMaster stoves, but in the end I decided the 90cm RM was too small, the 110cm was too big for the space we had, this stove by Leisure is a Best Buy from Which? and has everything we want, and more. A couple of weeks to wait and then total chaos for a few days whilst the contents of all the cupboards are temporarily relocated.

After the Saturday delivery we went to Scotland which was extremely enjoyable. Happy anniversary dear one, 20 years, good grief ....

And then we came home, which is also very good :}>

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Before construction, destruction

Bottom gate

It wouldn't be Bag End without tree roots . . .

Side gate

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Extremes of temperature

In the last week the greenhouse has experienced a crazy range of temperature for the time of year.

During a particularly lovely sunny day the temperature went to over 100 degrees.

Last night we had the first major frost of the year, an early appointment in Cockermouth meant I was scraping significant ice off the car at 7.30am. Not surprised to see it went below "zero" in the greenhouse, definitely time to bring the last of the tomatoes inside.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Food Chain

Might not be everyone's favourite garden visitor but we think he is beautiful.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


New neighbours are clearing their own overgrown garden and although nothing like Bag End scale, it did require a day of hard chainsawing from their brother and his friend who turned out to have a very professional arboreal business near Penrith. Richard kindly emptied his truck of all the wood and leaf chippings onto our drive before setting off down the A66.

This sort of "rubbish" is not suitable for laying over beds but perfect for making a path. It will enable me to start on one of the many projects that has been pending for far too long - clearing next to the back fence in readiness for a new hedge.

Only managed about 5 yards before the weather turned and being inside seemed a better idea, but it's a start.

Fedge progress

Having a mad retail moment in September left me with a large quantity of lovely Viburnum Tinus.

We also had a long empty bed which needed planting. Our aim was for a windbreak that would also provide shelter for birds and insects. The Viburnum fits the bill perfectly - evergreen, compact growth, flowers at a time when there is little else around, scented.

I tried to add some of the snowdrops saved last Spring which have been living in one of the raised beds but they were already making lots of new growth and moving them would have created too much disturbance. I'll have to get my timing right next year and relocate them just after they have flowered. I was given some Lily of the Valley earlier in the year which filled the space instead, LotV can be invasive once it gets established but confining it to a raised bed should keep it where I want it.

With the addition of the Heuchera I've accidentally created a white border - ooh er - Sissinghurst anyone?

Good morning

7.30 Sunday morning ....

and five minutes later

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Climate change?

It's only October for goodness sake, daffodils shouldn't be doing this.

More bulbs came up blind this spring than I would have liked and it's possible this was because they were not planted deep enough, easy solution to that is pile more soil on top of them.

The compost from our original huge bin in the Coppice is well rotted and usable so I shifted about 6 or 7 barrow loads and spread a layer between 2" - 3" thick over the whole bed. No digging - over time the worms will incorporate it all for me. It is hard to describe the satisfaction from being able to shift barrow after barrow of homemade compost - lovely stuff, I wonder if I will every be able to make enough for the garden?

Atkinsons delivered another bargain bulk bag of bark chips (try saying that in a hurry before coffee) and it took a surprisingly short amount of time to shift nearly all the bag and put a 4" layer over the compost. In the meantime, the robins and wrens who live around this hedge thought all their Christmas and birthdays had come at once and spent happy hours mugging the compost for worms and bugs.

A rare event indeed - a Bag End job started and finished in two days (actually, less than two days - 3 hours on Friday afternoon and the same on Saturday morning).

Friday, 15 October 2010

Christmas Quilt for Small Sproglet

My intention may have been for a couple of hours gardening this morning but the weather had other ideas. I put the time to good use and now have all the strips cut for the next Christmas quilt.

I like to cut lots more fabric than I will probably use - it means that I can have as much variety as possible in the blocks and avoid repetition. Now everything is prepared the actual piecing of the blocks shouldn't take too long.

Surprise visitor

Not sure who was more surprised when I went back to the bedroom after breakfast to make the bed. This little wren had flown in through an open window and couldn't work out how to escape. Fortunately I was able to persuade her out without too much stress on either part.

The wrens love to fossick around in the huge log piles which are under the side windows. I wonder if putting up some wren boxes in this area would prevent them coming inside - it's not the first time it has happened.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Another delivery

There can be significant benefits to be gained from building good relationships with local suppliers. Especially when one supplier is the local timber merchant who phones and says "we've brought a load of fence panels back from a job and they're in good condition - can you use them?"

And £10 later (including delivery) they're sitting on the driveway. More compost bins? Seven additional pallets were a nice bonus.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Grow Your Own?

The birds are definitely enjoying the GYO food supply this autumn and the sunflower seeds are popular with great tits, blue tits and coal tits. I was sitting quietly on the door step trying to take pictures when I realised I had an unexpected visitor.

This is not an attack-pheasant - he was aiming for the shelving rack not the great tit!

The rack wobbled rather too much for his liking so he spent a few minutes picking over the soil in the rhubarb bed before flying off.

He knew I had crept along the potager and was hiding behind the asparagus bed but didn't seem too worried.