Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A small start

So why bother, some of these pictures are nearly a year old, what's the point?

Well the point is that first and foremost, the blog is my garden journal (with other stuff creeping in).  It's a public blog second and whilst I love the visitors and connections it gives me, even if no-one apart from Management ever looked at it, I would still maintain The View from Bag End.  It's going to be quite a bit of work over the next few days to get up-to-date but if I don't do this, in future years, I'm the one who will feel short-changed  over the missing months.

No-one else needs to feel they have to go and look at 'old stuff' but because these entries are too old to show up in Feedly or Bloglovin, then here's some links so that, if nothing else *I* can see what I've caught up with!


Red Squirrel

Cottage Garden in June

Fruit Cage

The weather - again

Daisy on Sale Fell

Despite all the garden work this month, which has been much more than we might have expected, and some fairly horrible weather on occasions, just to prove a Certain Small Person has not been neglected and is still getting out about about!

Nine days

I have just nine days in which to get all last year's photo back-log sorted, processed, and blog-ready . . .

There's only a few of them . . .

It goes like this:  the novelty of working for himself has worn off and LP applied for what he calls a 'proper job'.  Over the years I have given LP copies of all the garden photos which he proudly takes to family parties to show people what he's been up to.  The work he has done at Bag End is very relevant to the job application and I promised him that I would have all the photos sorted and up-to-date in time for an interview, should he be selected.

He's got an interview on 10th April.

So I've got nine days . . .

Nothing like a bit of pressure to make me get off my backside!  In truth it's absolutely the last thing I feel like doing right now but a promise is a promise and he's a good friend without whom I wouldn't have a garden. 

Expect an awful lot of blog updates over Easter :-) 

This little one has nothing to do with anything but I like the picture :}

Monday, 30 March 2015

Daisy world

A glimpse into the daily life, between 16th - 30th March, of a most spoilt, adored little girl.

Daisy as mountain goat on a steep bit of path above Crummock Water

Late afternoon stroll down by the river


A windy morning at the beach - must have been chilly for the coats to have been doubled up

Back at Crummock, just for a change

Keeping an eye on the gardening

A sunset stroll from Fangs Brow

Windswept on Sale Fell

This is only a brief glimpse into Daisy world. We are out every single day but I don't take the camera on every walk, and sometimes I don't take pictures when I do have a camera in my pocket.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Just a glimpse

Although it has been a good week in the garden it's been remarkably frustrating in other ways.  I don't want for much in my life, but I am desperate to see the Northern Lights for myself.  With a huge solar flare at the beginning of the week the likelihood of a good display was getting the sky-watching community more than a little excited.  The KP-index was almost off the scale and the sky seemed clear, so on Tuesday night I set off.  After packing the car with every camera in the house, every spare (fully charged) battery, every memory card I could lay my hands on, tripod, warm clothes and a couple of flasks of hot drink I headed north for our usual beach on the Solway Firth.

Long story short:  I arrived.  I sat and waited, and waited, and waited.  I wandered around and looked at 360ยบ of very dark sky.  I got increasingly freaked out about being in a pitch dark, isolated spot by myself (M. was in London, although he knew where I'd gone, and Daisy was at home) even though I knew perfectly well there was no-one around and absolutely no danger.

I came home around 1.30am.  What I probably should have done was sit in the garden.  What I did was come inside, talk to Daisy and look online ... to find jaw droppingly gob-smackingly beautiful images of the aurora taken at Whitehaven harbour - 10 miles south of here.  I don't know if I was too early, too late, or just plain unlucky.  I do know I was extremely tired the following morning.

Friday morning was the eclipse.  After two days of wall-to-wall sunshine we woke to thick cloud.  Daisy and I went for a short walk as the eclipse approached totality and although we couldn't see anything we certainly experienced it.  Lack of light, temperature dropped dramatically and the world just felt so different.

The astronomy Gods took pity on us a little later as the clouds parted briefly.  Using 'proper' safety glasses we were able to watch as the clouds came and went, and came again.  Towards the end I grabbed a camera and pointed it to roughly the right part of the sky.   Given I wasn't looking through the viewfinder I'm quite pleased.  It's not much but certainly better than nothing :-}


Thursday, 19 March 2015

To Do List

LP is back, thankfully, and on ‘light duties’ although what passes for ‘light’ with him would knock me out for a week, but he is (allegedly) an adult and capable of knowing how much he should be doing.  So, forbidden by me to shift soil, he was meant to be spending yesterday and today engaged mainly in carpentry tasks.

Finish edging on front of willow bed: ✔︎

Cut some extra re-bar for raised bed hoops: 

Finish emptying the trailer and put the remaining bark chip in the greenhouse, with enough to freshen up the path by the Top Pond:  ✔︎

Fix a timber edge to divide what will be our 'wild flower meadow' from the yew hedge ✔︎

So that was Wednesday.  He returned on Thursday morning in a particularly good mood, apparently having had no physical effects from the previous day's labour.  I thought he was going to build the small beds inside our fruit cage - he had other ideas.  Some days, it is best not to argue, although I did insist on lots of breaks.  Our meadow is a step closer . . . The strip on the left will be dug once we've set out a new path down the middle.

I haven’t been completely idle this week :-}  More seeds have been sown and the First Early potatoes are in pots.  I was going to leave it another week or so but the sprouts on “Swift” were definitely ready to be in soil.  Some are in the greenhouse for the earliest meal, the rest are outside with a little cover.

I did a little shopping. Firstly, Vinca to cover this small bed.  I was looking for spring-flowering heather but there was none to be had.  The Vinca might be even better - longer flowering season, really good for bees and will still create shelter for froglets as they leave the Top Pond.

And because, once again I didn’t sow seed in autumn, some beautiful looking Foxglove.  I grew Excelsior Mixed in the Coppice a couple of years ago and it was spectacular, fingers crossed these will perform as well.

And then I went back to the nursery and bought a significant quantity of box plants. I have a mad idea to create some box hedges (whilst praying we don't get the dreaded box blight) and maybe even put some topiary shapes in whilst we're about it.  If all these plant purchases seem extravagant, they're not.  For the past few years a local nursery (that's proper growing-plants-nursery, not a garden centre) has treated me as a 'pro' and not a regular, amateur gardener, and I get all my plants at wholesale.  This amounts to about a third of the cost of going to Dobbies, or Hayes, or somewhere with a huge overhead.  The range is often limited but the plants are generally tough and well-suited to our conditions.  It also means we've been able to afford to stock the garden much faster than we otherwise could have done.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

I never want to have to do this again

There are lessons to be learnt here.

For sometime now it has been fashionable not to straighten up the garden at the end of the year.  Apparently we’re meant to leave everything for ‘wildlife’.  That might be a good thing in an urban garden, but we have fields on two sides, log piles, ponds, untidy hedge bases and goodness knows what else, and we’ve definitely got a thriving and varied selection of wild things living in the garden.  With no chemicals and lots of sheltered places for hibernation I don’t think I need to leave all the knackered perennials until the following year.  I’ve never been intentionally fashionable in my life, but for the third year in a row I didn't manage to get the garden tidied up as Autumn turned to Winter.  For the third year in a row I’m starting the new season on the back foot and am already behind.

You would think I might have learnt my lesson the second time this happened, but the eternal optimist, I am always convinced there will be a decent spell of bright weather in January and I can do the cutting down and clearing up then . . . I may have finally learnt that 10 miles from the coast in West Cumbria I am not in charge - the weather is in charge (I may have mentioned this previously, it seems like the message is finally getting through!)

Falling out of love with the garden last summer and letting everything get on top of me didn’t help,  And this is why I have had spent an entire week clearing up the fruit cage.  Multiple sessions outside to the exclusion of all other {much more attractive} gardening tasks, including working on in the rain (hey, I was already wet and muddy, a bit more wasn't going to make any difference).   There are no ‘before’ photos because the horrible mess of the most profligate strawberry plants ever to grace a raised bed is not something I want to see again.  I adore the Marshmello plants which produce some of the best tasting fruit in the whole strawberry kingdom but they create runners like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

It's all been worth it though, each bed has had a feed of chicken pellets, a top dressing of peat and a mulch of composted bark, the fruit bushes are pruned and full of new buds and it won't be long before they are in leaf.

Once the paths have had a new covering* and additional “little beds’ built at the end of each row it will all be so smart I’ll not recognise the place:-}    Sadly, that will all have to wait.  I’m reliant on LP for all the heavy work and shifting of bulk supplies.  He’s poorly and we don’t know when he’ll be able to come back.

*  a decision has had to be made - the bark chip is rotting down far too fast and replacing it every couple of years is just too much work.  It looks like we'll be trying stones.  Oh goody, tons of stones to move . . . 

Thursday, 12 March 2015


It has rained this week.  Monday afternoon, most of Tuesday, and Thursday surpassed itself - 2½" in one day according to a neighbour who keeps detailed records.  Yes - TWO and one HALF of an inch, that's 63.5mm for post-decimalisation young people.

We need a drainage solution . . .

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Collective noun?

Is there a collective noun for a ludicrous number of frogs?  I think we've cornered the market in frogs and frog spawn this Spring.  All three ponds have significant clumps which has been added to by an elderly neighbour who recently moved from her large house to a smaller place in Cockermouth.  She wants to fill in the tiny pond in her new garden and asked me if I'd do a rescue and relocation.

Every night for the last week Daisy and I have (unintentionally) disturbed large numbers of frogs when we've gone out in the evenings.  One night I counted over 30 in just the Top Pond and there were nearly the same number in the Big Pond.  Impossible to photograph in the dark, but during this morning's rain we saw a few stragglers.  I wish I'd thought to take some video and see if I could record the 'frog chorus' that could be heard if I managed to creep up without disturbing them.

I wanted to create a wildlife garden - looks like the amphibians are happy with construction so far :-}