Sunday, 30 June 2013

Messing around

Far too windy today to set out the newly bought plants and I wasn't in the mood to do much more than mess around.  Just for kicks and grins, set out some posts and tape in the vegetable patch to see if the plan we have on paper translates into useable raised beds on the ground.

Now, how do I mow the grass with all this rubbish in place?

June flowers

Around the Top Pond:

Rowan and Hawthorn (in the bed between the Big Pond and the road)

Rosa rugosa

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Extreme HRT

With the wet and windy winters we seem to have here (when we're not having Arctic temperatures two years running) plants need a chance to get their roots into the ground and start to establish before what passes for summer runs away.  New planting needs to be in the ground as early in the season as possible to give it half a chance.  Bag End still needs a lot of planting so I made a conscious decision to spend the rest of the year's budget in one go.

This was only possible because a small, local nursery is giving me wholesale prices on the plants.  Not only that, but they allowed me to spend a large part of Saturday wandering around when they do not normally open to the public at weekends.  I had the most blissful of days working to a small mental list but adding to it with whatever else caught my fancy :}

The special treatment continued when I admired some pots of Northern Marsh Orchid growing in a secluded corner.  No surprises that they weren't for sale but when all the plants where taken down to my car for me I found this beautiful pot of Common Spotted had been added as a present!

Two car trips later (and I have a pretty big car) and I'm going to spend the rest of the week imitating a duck* in the flowerbeds as I put all these lovelies in the soil.  For anyone familiar with the work of the late Gill Edwards, it was definitely a day spent in Soft Time :}

Every potential purchase gets checked in my 'will it grow here?' bible: (which should be an Amazon link if Google/Blogger is working properly ...)

Inclusion in Garden Plants for Scotland doesn't guarantee success in The Shire, I've had a few failures and expect to have more, but it's a good place to start. And talking of starting ... I have a lot of pots to distribute around the garden before I can even think about getting the spade out!

* head down, bum up!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Dodging showers

LP is trying to fit as much time in as possible before he disappears for the rest of the summer and we'd scheduled two day's work for Thursday and Friday.  Actually, ~ I ~ had scheduled LP to be here working whilst I hung around on the sidelines and did very little. Only the second part of the plan came off, the weather was uncooperative and we spent much of the day dodging showers.

However, lovely things did happen, firstly a larch slab frame next to the black deck.  LP has loosened the soil and I'll take my time adding compost and soil, Charles Dowding's "no dig" way, and then plant.  I did nothing apart from agree where the boards were to be fixed.

Last weekend I had an 'attack of the pole pruner' so that I could get a couple of apple trees into the bed adjacent to the area that (one day) will be a vegetable plot.  LP had brought his heavy-duty shredder and made short work of a huge pile of branches.  Once again, I did virtually nothing :}

Rain set in after lunch so we made an unscheduled start on splitting logs.  I had an easy time of it sitting on a stool pressing buttons on the log splitter until we called an early finish at 3.30.

It might not have been the day I planned, but a few things got done and I didn't get cream-crackered :}

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Tomato time

Last year was a complete write-off as far as tomatoes were concerned so fingers are crossed for a bumper harvest in 2013.  For once I didn't sow enough seeds to supply all of West Cumbria and have made my life considerably easier!

The plants have been growing well under cover and today I moved them all into the final pots and position.

The wooden "A" frames continue to be perfect for supporting the canes at the bottom end of the greenhouse.

Nearer to the door I was delighted that my cunning plan to adapt the staging made from Stanley sawhorses has worked.  Very little dismantling was required to fit in another six plants.  Two people don't need 18 plants* in the greenhouse and for now we'll just whisper about the half dozen extras which are now in the cold frame and destined for another location tomorrow ... but I have fantasies about growing enough to make my own sun-dried tomatoes.

On the other side of the door the strawberry plants smell wonderful.  Each plant doesn't seem to be producing huge numbers of fruit but that which has set is huge!

* six each of:-

Costoluto Fiorentino (Seeds of Italy/Franchi)
"Heirloom, ugly, ribbed Tuscan beef"

Red Cherry (Seeds of Italy/Franchi)
"Baby Plum Tomato. Produces sweet red oval fruits ideal for containers. Dates back to 19th century"

Principe Borghese (Seeds of Italy/Franchi)
"A traditional variety used for sun drying with egg sized, meaty fruits. Pull the plant up at the end of the season and hang upside down in a cool airy place and pull until Christmas"

The dark side of buttercups

Daisy has been under the weather for a couple of days, nothing specific I could put my finger on but not herself - quieter than usual, a bit off her food.  The only physical symptom I could see was her tummy, the skin a bit red & angry and felt very hot to the touch.

The only thing which had changed in 'Daisy World' over the last week or so is the grass.  Full of buttercups and daisies, I left it long and although we were rewarded with dozens of bees coming to feed every day I had a hunch that this was what was causing the problem.  Madam has been playing on the Cottage Garden lawn a great deal recently and a conversation with a friend followed up with a bit of Googling confirmed the culprit.

Buttercups contain a compound called protoanemonin, a powerful irritant, which can cause inflammation or ulceration of the mouth in horses.  According to the Dogs Trust buttercups can cause dermatitis (and horrible digestive problems if eaten).  They have a list of poisonous substances which can be downloaded here.

So all the grass is cut, the flowers are gone and we'll see if she perks up.  Much to Daisy's disgust I am wiping her tummy with a very dilute solution of Thieves every time she comes in and all her bedding has been washed; whilst I explained this is the price she pays for being a pampered pet and is preferable to Life On The Streets she does not seem convinced.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Going, going, GONE

Bag End Cam, 2

24 hours in the Coppice produced only a handful of shots and most of them were of me digging up a Centaurea to move it!

Overnight however, we had confirmation that Daisy is not a 100% effective deterrent against the neighbours' cats.  Oh well, at least since we got her the little feline sods have stopped using the Cottage Garden lawn as a toilet.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Is this a perfect day?

For QuiltSue and all my other friends who care enough to keep checking in to make sure I really am relaxing and recharging the batteries . . .

Slept well enough last night that I was able to get up at a reasonable time feeling moderately refreshed.  After a quick walk around the block with Daisy followed by breakfast for two I had a lovely, long natter with a dear friend.  An hour wasn't enough time to catch up with all QuiltSue's news but thanks to a hands-free phone I did get all the ironing done and put away :}

Four hours or so in the garden (interrupted by coffee, lunch, a mug of tea and numerous games with Daisy) got more laurel in the ground, new hostas planted out and a few trays of seeds sown.  The hosta were bought unnamed from Seaview Nursery, thought to be Blue Angel or Sum and Substance ...


A day or so too soon but could not resist - the first strawberry out of the greenhouse. Compared to last year's flavourless crop this was pure nectar and will be even better by the weekend.

It was tea-time before Daisy and I set off for Sale Fell.  Starting our walk at 5.00 I expected the hill to be busy with people who'd just finished work but it was eerily quiet.

Only saw one other person over the course of a three mile walk.  The wind picked up at the summit and it got a tad nippy so Madam and I donned an extra layer each.  Daisy was so pleased that she took off into a manic 'I can catch this long tail if I leap around like a mad thing' session.  The photos are only half the story, one day I'm going to manage to video this lunacy!

Delicious no-work supper: Cottage Pie out of the freezer which only needed reheating and some veg.  Despite it being the end of June the evenings are a tad nippy so for the second night running I lit the wood burner and Daisy and I relaxed thoroughly before it was time to go to bed.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bag End Cam, 1

The (very large capacity) SD cards finally arrived and we have been able to set up the wildlife camera and leave it outside.  It's purpose is to show us what is happening in the garden in places we can't see from the house, and at night.

First lesson - do not put the camera in front of the Bag End Buffet.  Far too much 'traffic' and mostly it's stuff we see anyway.  1,300 shots in 36 hours is waaaay too many and the only way to retain any semblance of sanity was to have a major deleting session.

Good to see a hedgehog during the night but I already knew we had a prickly visitor because s/he leaves easily identifiable poo!  As always at this time of year we seem to have West Cumbria's entire population of jackdaws, no wonder I'm getting through three or four times as much food as usual. 

Much tweaking of camera position needed but my initial impression is that, when in the right location, it can take great pictures and I'm really glad we finally got it.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Special delivery

The multi-talented LP is doing a lot of driving for one of his friends at present but I was able to arrange a little "vehicle with driver hire" at the end of a day.

There are a few jobs I'd like to get done over the summer which, providing I have the materials to hand, I can have a go at on my own, working slowly and using the tractor to move stuff around.  So, thirty minutes later I've got 7½ tons of topsoil stacked and covered.

It doesn't look like much in a garden this size ... we're going to need more!

"Just" a local dog walk

Don't think I ever, not for one single nano-second, take for granted how amazing it is to have THIS on my doorstep.

Today's walk location was selected with one thing in mind - shade.  With the car registering 24 degrees by mid-morning it was essential that Daisy and I went somewhere sheltered.  A relaxed amble through Holme Wood above Loweswater, just over 4 miles and thoroughly enjoyed by two-legs and four!

Last week I taught Daisy how to get over the wall-stile, she now runs over it so fast that a decent photo is a bit tricky.