Tag Archive | Garden

A walk in the Leicestershire countryside

015Today I was left to my own devices at the local garden centre, Wistow Rural Centre, there to browse the new crop of plants and choose some for my revamped garden. The Centre is a perfect way to spend a few hours of  “me” time and I made the most of every sunny minute.

After buying some plants and leaving them safe whilst I busied myself with other things, I went to the cafe for my lunch. A nice and healthy baked potato with ham salad went down a treat before I was off across the nearby fields to commune with the new-born lambs and swans. The woods are still carpeted with a mass of snowdrops and looked a picture in the dappled sunshine breaking through the trees.

018I walked along the stream into the fields where the sheep and their lambs were mostly snoozing in the warmth of the early afternoon sun and I enjoyed watching the lambs snuggling close to mum and every now and then helping themselves to a little sustenance, little tails wiggling away merrily whilst they fed. Like the apple blossom in May, it’s a favourite sight of mine and a sure sign that Spring is on its way even if it’s taking it’s time this year.

008On my way back to the centre I stopped to look at the large bare-earthed field which in just a few months time will be transformed into a Maize-Maze. This is an annual phenomenon with the maze changing shape each year. I remember taking William around the maze when it was in the shape of a pirate ship, trying to find our way out of the 6 feet high maize without cheating. When you enter the maze you are given a flag to wave if you need help and there are  number of “spotters” standing on platforms dotted around the maze looking out for anyone who needs help to escape. Children and adults alike have great fun wandering around the passages formed by the  maize searching for clues to the quiz that is also part of the experience.

A hot cup of tea and slice of lemon drizzle cake were the perfect end to my afternoon and I managed to fit them in just in time before hubby arrived to bring me home.

How’s that for good timing!

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My new garden….coming soon!

001 - CopyI love my garden, and it has given me great pleasure in the past but last year it was looking a bit tatty and so I decided to ring the changes. I dug out all my plants from the back garden and put them into the front border where they proved to be a huge success. I replanted them just at the right time when the ground was still wet and we had several days of lovely warm sunshine for them to bask and settle in. It was lovely to see them all blossom during the summer and we could enjoy the gorgeous flowers greeting us every time we came home.

As an experiment, and to give the clay soil a bit of a breakdown, we then planted the borders with vegetables. Runner beans, courgettes, herbs and potatoes. They were lovely but it just wasn’t the same as looking out over my  beautiful  shrubs and flowers and so this year I am going back to the drawing board.

BeFunky_002I have started to buy selected shrubs and perennials to plant over the next few weeks when we get a prolonged spell of temperatures above freezing ( I hope!). It’s so exciting but I am determined to wait until I have enough plants before I start to plan the  borders and and decide where each one will sit best.

Strangely enough, although I love new and different varieties of traditional plants, I still have my favourites; Californian Lilac (Ceanothus), Hebe’s, azaleas, foxgloves and aquilegias. They are all waiting patiently on the patio ready to move into their their new home. Today I am off to a garden centre for a long look round and in hope that I will be able to add to my collection. Hubby is leaving me to browse for a couple of hours whilst I pick and choose, change my mind, sigh and deliberate over colours, blooms, frost-hardiness and price, so I am up, ready and raring to go.

BeFunky_0014Of course, poppies are top of my shopping list. The first hairy fronds are usually peeping through the soil by now but I can’t see any sign of my favourite beautiful orange poppy plant that this blog is named after and so I must face up to the fact that the very harsh winter has taken its toll and I have lost my beloved poppy plant. All is not lost however as I will be able to replace it and hopefully the new version will do just as well, if not better, than the original.

It will take several weeks to get organised but it is a work-in-progress and that’s the amazing thing about gardens. They literally grow in front of your eyes.

How satisfying is that.

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My garden in pictures

Catmint, cannabis for cats

We have two cats. Tessa, a lively and feisty three-year old black-and-white female and Tom, a typical relaxed and chilled ginger Tom cat . Tom came with two speeds, slow and stop and never breaks into so much as a trot until “foodie” time. Tom now weighs nearly 7kgs so is a “big” cat and our vet did warn us that ginger toms are prone to relaxing a little too much and gaining weight so we try to kick him out of the house (not literally) as much as possible so that he gets some exercise.

Having been ousted from his pad however, Tom will usually stroll out of the kitchen door and straight into the garage where he has his comfy seat on some of the outdoor furniture stored in the dry whilst this incessant rain continues. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind.

Tom doesn’t roam far preferring surroundings that he knows and loves. Our garden is full of little trees and plants under which he can hide undetected and, with his selective hearing, ignore calls for him to come inside.

One thing Tom does adore, is catmint. I have grown some plants from seed and they are now big enough to plant out but I have a problem. Tom doesn’t just paw the leaves and roll in the bushes he eats them. I understand that sniffing the leaves gives cats a “high”, and may also be hallucinogenic (like LSD) whilst eating the leaves induces sleep. I may have found the reason he spends half his life asleep but I suspect that our neighbours have no catmint left!

My dilemma now is, where do I put the plants so that they can grow into big bushes?

Hanging baskets!

Sound idea, but I need to be a bit more imaginative with the placement………..

Changes afoot……

Sometimes you find yourself in a rut. Doing the same things at the same time and limiting your horizons by long-standing expectations. Sometimes however it does you good to break out of this reverie and challenge your “norm”.  Only then will you realise that things don’t have to be the same year in year out and changes can be made if  you free your mind of its rusting shackles and have the courage to do something different.

My “norm” is looking forward to a spring and summer in a garden full of surfinia hanging baskets, traditional bright annual bedding plants and the ever reliable perennials annuals dotted around the borders. I love my garden and get great pleasure from nurturing these young plants from seedlings to full-blown blousy glory in the summer months.

But, this weekend it will be welly time and I will be moving my beloved perennials and shrubs from my back garden into my front garden and preparing my back garden to become an eclectic mix of herbs, vegetables, and old fashioned annuals which complement the self-sufficiency. (Hubby doesn’t know yet but I’ve just ordered some railway sleepers to form the retaining walls needed to complete the job)

Hubby too has a patch of garden on which he grows vegetables every year. He does a great job with cultivating bags and bags of potatos, tomatoes, cucumbers etc but he grows everything in rows…..how boring.

My new garden will be far more higgledy-piggledy with a heady mix of bright courgettes-en-fleur, pumpkins, sweetpeas entwined amongst the runner bean wigwams, marigolds to ward off the wee beasties and swathes of lavender, lemon balm and  monarda to encourage the bees and butterflies to swarm and flutter around the teasles and nasturtiums. I am also relying on the numerous frogs and our hedgehog family to complete this idyll by eating all the slugs.

That’s the plan. So let work begin……

November in the garden

There’s nothing like some fresh air and gentle exercise to lift your mood and boost the Vitamin D levels which tend to lapse a bit through the winter months so, although early morning was a little grey, misty and uninviting I set out into the garden to do some tidying up. It’s very long time indeed since I’ve been outside in mid-November in a t-shirt and I can’t remember ever seeing cowslips and fuchsias in full flower as well as self-seeded foxgloves, aquilegia and hollyhocks already well established for next year.

The grape-vine which trailed across the garage and into next-door’s garden (clearly aiming for the pergola to cling to) is now trimmed ready for winter and a barrow-load of grapes which shamefully went to waste this year is now in the compost heap. I hope the scavengers enjoy the intoxicating effects of fermentation as much as these elephants clearly relished the ripe marula fruit!

September serenity

I can’t remember when I last sat down in my garden and listened to silence. Tonight I did just that and as well as being very dark, all was very quiet and peaceful. No wind, not even a light breeze to disturb the turning leaves. Warm enough to sit out in T-shirt, I sat and breathed in the oily-scent of  the lavender bushes freshly trimmed. I watched my two cats chase each other through the shrubs stopping every now and then to listen for a frog to catch and tease.

The fountain in the pond cascades through the night and I sat and watched the longer blades of grass edging the lawn gradually bend with the weight of descending moisture. The grape vine is bursting with bunches of ripening fruit and the branches of the apple tree are bending under the weight of a bumper crop of apples. Figs are fleshing out and darkening and the late tomatoes are slowly turning from a hard-green to a softer ripe-red thus avoiding their inevitable transformation into the dreaded green tomato chutney.

Friday night and everyone is home behind closed curtains. Taking stock after the hectic week behind them but preparing for the weekend ahead. Tomorrow will start early as the dawn doggy walkers take Missy, Copper, Amy and Kevin for their daily constitutional. Lawn mowers, pressure-washers and jumpers-for-goalposts will appear as the rest of us get going and start our weekend jobs and activities which will last until late afternoon when preparations will begin for dinner at home, an engagement party next door and the odd late-summer BBQ.

A veritable haven on my doorstep.