homestead :: the garden journal

I decided to turn my handy little notebook I keep with jottings on all things to do with the garden into an online journal. This is just a record of what I am planting and doing each month in both gardens, the one here at home in Yorkshire and the one at the cottage in Scotland.

At the moment I don’t want to start a separate blog so I am writing this in the pages section and you can read about my daily gardening exploits if you are interested by clicking on the link ‘The Garden Journal’ which you will find both along the top menu bar above the header picture and in the side bar and this will take you through to the relevant pages.

Each month will have a new page and depending, of course, which garden I am in at the time it will say by the date.

I will still be doing the ocassional gardening post on here – but the more day to day stuff will be in the journal. Pages unlike posts will not notify any followers when I update in the journal so I will let everyone know of any updates at the end of my normal postings. Hope to see you there.

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bEAching ~ rambling around the borders and New Luce

I must put plasters on the shopping list.

DH was making anti-bunny cages for the plants yesterday and had a slight argument with a hacksaw.  Ouch.  This is not unusual when he is doing ‘things’ in the garden – sometimes it’s his head, sometimes his fingers – luckily for him today it was only his finger.

This is why a flat tyre might prove fatal one day if we needed to get to A&E.

I continued in the trellis border….. all 40ft of it.  It is beginning to take shape, well some kind of shape – not exactly the shape I had intended but I can titivate it later;  flowing curves are not easy to cut so they look good from all directions…..…. but for now the hard work is done, the lawn edged, the bed weeded and the stones removed other than the ones that are there for decoration or bunny protection.

This is the end of the border before….and after……When I get the rest of the planting in and there is less bare earth and more colour it will start to look better.  As this is the seaside garden I am planting a mix of seaside plants – Valerian (a good spreader and so far anti-rabbit), lavender, Santolina, kniphofia, Erigeron and thrift.

No doubt by our next visit it will once again be covered in weeds and maybe bunnies.

Rag, Tag and Bobtail have now been joined by bibbity and bobbity, hippity and hoppity and what seems like many distant cousins.

But the sly old fox is very close on their tails – hiding in the gorse – just waiting his chance. I am still keeping a few bunny cages in place just in case…..

…and a few stones to prevent nibblers from damaging the roots whilst the new plants ‘settle in’ and grow stronger.

At last I have uploaded the photos of our little venture last Thursday.  After climbing the ‘mound’ we set off travelling north on the road to New Luce that runs on the eastern side of the Stair estates at Castle Kennedy just outside Stranraer.  Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a Hen Harrier flew overhead (Lord Stair had mentioned to DH sometime ago that they are nesting on his estate at Castle Kennedy), a beautiful bird and quite a size with a very large wingspan.  It came extremely close to us and swooped past gliding gracefully into the woods.  Apparently, there are not many in the UK so we are lucky to see one.  Sadly it was one picture that I didn’t manage to take.

New Luce is a tiny conservation village part of the Glenluce parish. It is on the road to nowhere and developed as a village through the necessity of having a meeting place for all the local outlying farms of such a large parish.  It is like an oasis in the dessert only here it is a lush oasis in the middle of moorland.  The locals affectionately call it Nineveh.  There are 62 homes and about 90 residents of all ages.   It is positioned where two rivers meet – the Main Waters of Luce and the Cross Waters of Luce.  Like the river the two main streets of the village form a T shape each of which has a bridge over one of the rivers.

Take any of the four roads to New Luce and you will not pass through any other village or hamlet on the way,  save Glenwhilly, which I believe is nothing more than a couple of houses clustered at the old station on the way north to Barhill;  strangely it boasts Scotland’s most remote signal box though goodness knows where the passengers would have come from in such an uninhabited place.   Like New Luce , the station at Glenwhilly closed in 1965.

Glenluce, a small rural village to the South of New Luce has a village shop and is the closest place 5 miles away, and where the younger children now attend school, Stranraer is 9 miles to the South west and Barrhill 13 miles to the North so it feels more isolated than remote;  surrounded on all sides by open moorland (that has not yet fallen to any great swathe of forestry planting) and where sections of the winding road are single track with passing places and cattle grids.  As you descend down from the moors towards the village the scenery changes into a more gentle landscape of farmland with farmsteads dotted here and there….– complete with grazing sheep…. lots of them and on the road too….. and in no hurry. We entered at the lower end of Station Street.Just to the left of the picture stands this old iron bath tub filled with an array of flowers.  Just one of the many repurposed artefacts around this village. At one time this old tub was to be found in one of three Inns as this notice tells me.  That is a lot of drinking establishments for such a small place.  Interestingly in the 1846 census there were not only 3 Inns but several village shops serving 278 villagers and a school attended by 50 children.It is a haven for the red squirrel;  sadly we saw none on our visit but I just love the way the locals in this area make the road signs their own and have added a cheeky little apple sticker – often the cow signs have been adapted to resemble the belted galloways with the white band. And just look at this wonderful play park for the handful of children who live here. Libbie would have loved to play in here for the afternoon.Over the Main Water bridge now and I just had to take a picture of this house with the sun pod in the garden – I have only ever seen them displayed in John Lewis before and wondered who bought them!They had a collection of rare breed sheep wandering about- the one at the back resembling a big teddy bear was so cute.

Opposite is the little village shop and Post Office offering free herbs in the window boxes, beside it is a red telephone box (mobile signal is poor) and a post box – all a good sign of a thriving village.With limited stock and limited opening hours and a bus service only on 3 days of the week and no train link you do not want to run short of anything living out here.At the top of Station Street is the junction with Main Street and what appears to be a little public garden, where a cottage once stood, no doubt lovingly tended by the local villagers.

It must be one of the best kept villages I have seen in ages and I love the way they reuse, repurpose and recycle so many discarded objects, turning them into planters and sculptures as you will see on our little walk around.

At the back of the garden was a flight of gravel steps leading up to this monument – we couldn’t quite read the inscription on the stone but given its position here it must be quite important to the village.The gravelled path continued along what seemed to be a little lane running high above Main Street at the back of the row of cottages.  Here we found some very curious allotment style gardens with sheds…..I have never seen so many sheds in such a tiny village….everyone had a shed, or two or three! The Ferrets Nest certainly appeared to be more of a weekend chalet than a shed.  And one or two had a caravan – possibly in use!And whichever wall you looked over everyone had a display of household artefacts and recycled objects …..or even an old ruin in their back gardens.Eventually the little lane came out onto the main street again.

Some of the cottages had quaint window displays inside and out….

and fancy wall plaques… sadly not all were delightful – this window is displaying a notice announcing a closure –It appears that the last of the Inns, the Kenmuir Arms Hotel, is also now ‘closed until further notice’ – the owners having closed up in the winter of 2018, gone abroad and as yet not returned.  Though noticing a skip outside the back with mattresses dumped in it I am thinking perhaps they are not reopening.  It was a popular Hotel – especially with walkers… and campers who could pitch their tents down at the bottom of the Hotel garden by the water ….with the midges. Going further along Main Street and over the second of the bridges (Main Bridge) I came across this cute little cottage with a recent extension… It is possible it might have been a Toll house.This garden outside this chalet caught my eye – where else in the world would you come across a scene like this on the road side where there is an open invitation to passers by to play with the little toy cars…….and no one steals them! There were so many unusual things to see in this village I will take a break here and continue in part two a few steps away at the church and village memorial hall.

Apologies if there are spelling mistakes, it is late, I am tired and WordPress spellcheck has disappeared off the editing toolbar.

Back soon x

 

 

 

bEAching ~ bordering on the edge

Another sunny day today but a little windy; rather more than a breeze and less than a gale.  I thought the trellis border looked quite calm from the caravan window.  I thought wrong.  But decided to carry on with it anyway wrapped up in a woolly hat, and my trusty fleece lined gardening coat ( with the hood up of course as I hate wind on the back of my neck it gives me a bad neck for days).

I actually got quite a bit more done and have nearly removed all the stone edging and re-edged the grass trying to give the border a nice flowing curve – not an easy thing to do as the curves look better or worse depending on your viewpoint in the garden.  I didn’t take any pictures today (other than the one of the plants I bought and are still waiting to be planted) – I will surprise you another day.

DH was on hedge maintenance all morning but at 11.30 precisely calamity struck when he discovered he had a slightly flat rear tyre (well the car had).  It was a slow puncture from a nail that had embedded itself in the rubber.  He went to change it for the spare but with limited tools here he couldn’t get the nuts off the wheel – he decided he would need help from a local garage.

Oh no…as you might know it was already lunchtime by now there is no garage in the village and when we checked most of the garages in town had closed for the weekend and the bank holiday on Monday.  We didn’t want to wait until Tuesday or we would be stuck without and car over the long weekend which is not a good idea in case we had an emergency on our hands.  We searched around on the internet and eventually found an MOT station open until 3pm  – so he pumped the tyre up a bit and drove carefully into town and they kindly changed the wheel for him but would not accept any payment and DH had to force a few pounds onto the old guy.  People are so helpful up here.

Whilst he was gone I put the tray of apricot Violas I had bought into the planter and then made some mushroom soup, just an excuse to use the new blender really.  The instruction leaflet gives the speed settings for different foods – soup or sauce, milkshakes and ‘carrots with water’.  Can anyone enlighten me on the ‘carrots with water’ – is this a new drink maybe?

I mentioned yesterday that after going to see (and climb) the mound we headed off up to New Luce.  The pictures for this are far more exciting than my garden but I am still in the middle of preparing them so as bedtime is beckoning I will have to have a go at finishing the post tomorrow. x

 

bEAching ~ borders and mounds

Yesterday was a wonderful gardening day, sunny and dry and not too hot.

I switched between the cooler shaded stream or burn border and the trellis border.  Neither are finished, nothing in this garden ever resembles a finished state, but as they say – ‘tomorrow is another day’.The stream border is on the northern side of the cottage.  Edged with pine trees, rosa rugosa and the Fatsia which needs pruning, it has become a bit leggy but keeps the border cool and shady and protected from any strong inland winds.  The buds on the rosa rugosa and hydrangea in the border are only just starting to unfold as they too were quite leggy and I cut them back quite hard this year.Meanwhile in the trellis border on the seaside of the cottage the plants I put in last year………have now been un-netted so I can weed inside (no doubt watched over by the bunnies on the hill pondering on their next juicy meal) and I am in the process of removing the stones edging the border for easier grass cutting.

It is slow work.  And a long border.Around the garden, especially in the lower wood and woodland walk,  things are stirring and beginning to flower. Solomon’s Seal

Dicentras and Tiarellaand apple blossom.

The sea yesterday was a beautiful indigo blue – such a contrast to the silvery grey earlier in the week.  I woke up this morning so late, it was a quarter to ten when I finally got up – I think I had gardened myself into a standstill yesterday so we decided a day doing very little was in order.

A long shower, the last of the tomato soup and then a little afternoon jaunt in the surrounding countryside.  Our only fixed point was to go back to Dunragit a few miles outside of Stranraer to see the ‘mound’. The Mound of Droughduil was identified only a few years ago by archaeologists from Manchester University as Neolithic dating back to 2500BC and not Medieval as originally thought.  In stone age times it was a ceremonial centre and meeting place for the local community.  We went to take a closer look today as it is magnificently covered in Bluebells.  We climbed up to the top –it stands some 30 feet high and is quite flat on the top – a lovely place to picnic maybe – just a touch draughty;  the summit being reached by a tiny trail path through the grass and bluebells.  Strange to think how many feet through the ages have trodden on this very turf.  Although not quite the dizzy heights of the Eifel Tower the view from the top is still worth the climb. Going down seemed much steeper than going up. Afterwards we took the road up to New Luce –  but that is a story for tomorrow.  For now it is my bedtime, DH is already tucked up in bed – I can hear the gentle wafts of snoring coming from the bedroom – no doubt I will be back in the borders tomorrow. x

bEAching ~ down the daisy path

A warm sunny day today so back out in the garden –  we decided that we should not go on too long like we so often do and end up having lunch well after 2 o’clock (and miss the Archers); so at 12.30 pm we stopped for lunch and then sat for a while afterwards just reading.  The new blender worked a treat on the tomato soup and we have enough to last us 3 days.

It was far too hot to weed in the trellis border as planned – it gets full sun more all less all day so I opted for the border I am renovating alongside the daisy path that leads down to the cottage from the lane through the little blue gate. daisy path

Originally there was a hedge of Escallonia here on the right of this picture above but it was badly frosted one year and only one of the plants has survived, which I am nurturing back to health.  The rest of it has been dug out and I will have to buy some new shrubs to go in soon.

As elsewhere in the garden the rabbits have been digging to try to get to the roots of all the plants – more stones are needed to protect them until things grow into a mass.

I promised an update on the cottage – I am working on this, trying to find the photos I have taken – perhaps I will get to do the post tomorrow.

No other photos tonight – not that I didn’t take any, they are still in my camera – DH forgot to pack my download lead and I have to mess about taking out the memory card – a bit of a faff when you are dog tired.

No other news tonight either –  it has been a very quiet day here just us and the birds in the garden ….well perhaps a rabbit or two as well.

Forgive me if I haven’t commented on your posts tonight – I need my sleep.

So I shall say goodnight x

bEAching ~ drip, drip, drizzle

Raining all day here today – the forecast was right, but it was not heavy rain more a constant drip and drizzle so it didn’t sound like we were sitting in a tin can as caravans often do in the rain, in fact we hardly heard it at all.

We had a lazy day.

In the morning we made tomato soup ready for tomorrow and then realised we didn’t have a blender here or tomato paste. I spent some time catching up with a few blogs and realised how many have fallen away recently – pressure of time, nasty commenters and some just run their course – but they are missed.

We made egg and cucumber in cheese rolls for lunch with ‘leaves’ on the side – a nice change as we hardly ever have egg sandwiches at home.  I say ‘we’ but actually DH made them.

After lunch we listened to the Archers and then drove into town as we needed fresh bread and more milk.  We overcame the lack of blender too – we bought a cheapish one from Argos and then a tube of tomato paste from Tesco.

Whilst in Stranraer we drove out to the local garden centre on the other side of town and bought a few ‘filler’ plants mainly for the empty pots but others to put in the gaps in the borders.  It is essential here to fill all the spaces to prevent the weeds and wild flowers taking over in our absence.  DH told the shop assistant we were buying rabbit food – we might well be if they get a whiff of them – I am rather hoping the plants I chose are not caviar to the rabbits.

More wire netting might be called upon.There is nothing so lovely as a few raindrops and I just had to take one or two quick snaps.  I absolutely love these little cones on this pine tree they are like tiny raspberries.

After a leisurely look around, stopping to chat to some friends we bumped into from the village, we had a cup of tea in the cafe and our treat for the day, some dark Scottish fruit bread, buttered of course.

The garden centre also sells cards, a few gifts and pots.  I solved a birthday present whilst browsing and bought a mug for my friend and former colleague Miss T – and that is what it says on the mug – it is identical to the one she bought me last year that says Miss V. It was always our greeting.   She would call out to me on arrival at the office ‘morning Miss V’ and I always responded with ‘morning Miss T’ – it stuck over the years and everyone else always addressed us as Miss V and Miss T like the shop assistants were called back in the day.  Some things I still miss about working!

To catch up on the gardening – yesterday I did no more than tidy the border by the gate.  A bit of a dark corner that the sun hardly reaches – perfect for the ivy but little else.  I was so pleased that the hydrangea I planted last year seems to tolerate the shade and damp well – it is filling out nicely and I have added a clump of pink geranium and ground covering periwinkle.  So far the rabbits have left them alone but I have to cover the roots of the hydrangea with large stones to prevent them digging and nibbling them.  I think the ivy needs a bit more of a trim tomorrow then, weather allowing, I will be moving on to the trellis border.

There is quite a bit to sort out here – a shrub to move and a lot of weeding.

A lot of weeding.

The valerian has grown well now so I am also going to remove the netting and the stones that edge the border.  It has been difficult to weed inside the netting and also difficult to mow up to the stones….. we are left with a bit of a grass fringe.  I will just edge the grass instead.

Ah well my cocoa has arrived now….coutesy of the catering department (as DH calls himself).

Time for bed x

sEAsons ~ the delights of Spring

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant”

Crocus Iris Snowdrop

The weather was so lovely at the weekend you could sense the fresh clean smell of Spring in the air – I just had to down tools inside and go outside for a while.  In the space of a couple of hours I had tidied up a few of the borders, gathered the last of the leaves and replaced some of the earth scratched up by the local cats.   The cats can be quite a problem so to protect the emerging plants and prevent them from being uprooted I pushed a few more twiggy sticks around the shoots – at least the crocus in the lawn are safe.

It is very encouraging at this time of year to see little buds appearing on most of the plants and signs of life poking through the ground here and there – I just hope any future frosts or snow does not damage them.

I also had a visit to our local independent garden centre because I still had £60 left on my voucher (the one the partners gave me when I left work).  The expiry date was 2nd February  this year but I managed to persuade them to extend it for another month as they have very little stock of anything at the moment – the season for them has not yet started and they do not sell many garden tools or gardening products like the large national garden centres.

In the end we decided on a Braeburn apple tree on M27 rootstock for our Scottish garden as it is a good time for planting and we will be visiting our cottage (caravan) in a few days time and can take it with us in the car.

We have a bit of a mystery in that in Scotland we have a Bramley apple tree and it has always fruited well – abundantly well last Autumn – but they are not self-fertile and are actually classed as triploid (requiring two other apple trees)  but there are no other apple trees or crab apples in our garden or the neighbourhood yet it keeps on producing fruit.  The Braeburn is self fertile but might be a reluctant fruiter so far North – we are banking on the mild Gulf stream climate that we have at the cottage to help it along but it may not like the winds.  We will give it a go.

With the remaining money I chose another of the glazed Heritage pots to match the one below that I bought last Autumn only a smaller sized one this time.I have always thought the one I got to put beside our front door looks a bit lonely so now it will have some company.  With the last £6 on the voucher I bought three pots of lovely pink tulips to go in it.

Today the weather is much cooler again and quite windy – good for the washing though – I have been working my way down all the dust sheets from the decorating at my daughter’s house.  I think we have more than we need now between us so the worst of them will be going out, they are not even fit for the rag bin.

I always like this time of year  – I feel energised to start cleaning and clearing, blowing away the cobwebs that have gathered in the corners over the winter and at the moment I am a little more motivated after feeling rather lethargic and probably a little lazy since Christmas.

homestEAd ~ out in the garden

Another glorious day today, bright, sunny and clear blue skies – after stripping the bed and throwing the bedding in the washer I was tempted out into the garden and ended up staying out all day…with the washing.  I planted Allium, narcissus and tulip bulbs, cleared the last of the leaves that had fallen into the borders and spread a bit of manure around some of the plants.CyclamenThe Cyclamens are now planted in the front border by the footpath providing a splash of colour, although there is still quite a bit here and there in the garden.HebeMeanwhile DH spent time on the new shed.  It is has now been slotted into the space at the side of our house and waiting a fit out inside – a few tool hooks and some shelving.  We are reusing some white melamine that was once part of the wardrobe in my eldest daughter’s room, it is still in good condition so a shame to waste it and it will create a bit more space in the garage.

The shed is draped in polythene sheet for the moment to protect it from the rain and allow it to dry out enough to paint.  It will be so good to get the gardening equipment out of the garage and back to where it should be. Once the shed is finished DH will be concentrating on painting the front door.  We have plans to get a new one but to make it look more presentable for the time being we are going to paint the present one.

I may have mentioned that we had been contacted by the National Statistics Office to take part in a survey.  We agreed to be in today and the nice gentleman came at 5pm which was helpful as by then it was far too dark to garden.  The questions were not difficult – mainly about education, career and our present circumstances.  It was hard remembering just how many GCE’s I have though and what the subjects were;  no-one has asked me that for a long time.

I still have the selection bags to make.I tried out a couple of prototypes (apologies for the colour – flash light is never great) using the wrapping paper and some old cut up Christmas cards as tags.  I will probably go with the one on the left with the string tie though each tag will be different.  I have made a note of the paper size I used on the trial one so I can cut them out and make them up all at once and have a bit of a production line going…putting 5 assorted fun sized chocolate bars into each bag will make 8 bags.

Tomorrow I shall have to decide whether to make the bags or clean out my freezer – I doubt I will get both done as I will need to iron the bedding I washed today and also pack to go back up to our daughter’s for the celebration this weekend.  I am really looking forward to seeing Little L and Sweetie again.

But not the packing!

So a few more jobs off the list – shame I have to add some new ones on.

homestEAd ~ the grass is always greener

Yesterday was quite a long day over at daughter’s house.  I was too tired even to write a post.  I didn’t even feel that satisfaction of a job well done either as progress was slow to non-existent.  DH was similar, he is doing the hallway – preparation stage, so not a lot to see other than filled in cracks and holes.

Isn’t it always the way that one day you seem to make a lot of progress and then the next hardly any.  This was definitely a hardly any.

I am challenged at the moment by both the hot weather and a bit of dithering on my part over the patch of garden I am ‘transforming’ at present.

Before I cleared this part it had been home to the many raspberry plants but had also acquired rosebay willow-herb and the large-leaved Persicania (Knotweed).  The raspberry plants have since been relocated to the back of the garden and we will make a proper frame to support them soon.

I thought I had a plan – my idea was to put gravel down on this bit of garden on the other side of the path to create a little seating area with a few plants mainly in pots and an obelisk towards the back corner and incorporating the plants already in situ.

My problem here was twofold – next doors fence which is stepped due to the gradient has a little gap at each bottom right hand corner and the gravel on the other side of the fence keeps spilling through.  So an edging board is required to prevent this – and that will need help in the shape of a bit of muscle to hammer the supporting pegs and boards in place.

The second problem is the two existing plants to the left of the photo beyond the pole – a large patch of Johnson’s blue geranium (flowering over) and the yellow flower I pictured in my last post (still blooming).  I was going to work around these and put some stone edging around them to make a border but after playing around in a variety of ways nothing seemed to work well and in the end I decided to keep the design clean and simple – remove the plants and gravel the whole area otherwise the whole thing was in danger of becoming bitty.

To be able to make a start today I will have to wait until the afternoon when there will be some shade over the plot.  There is quite a bit of earth to remove to get to a level low enough for the path edging to contain the gravel once it is laid.  There lies another problem – what to do with all the spare soil – probably a raised bed in the vegetable patch by the shed.

The aim of this garden transformation is to make the garden look more appealing and low maintenance.  Most of their neighbourhood are young,  first time buyers, both working so they seem to prefer all lawn or all gravel or a mixture of both but nothing that needs very much maintenance.

We are spending a minimum amount for maximum reward and keeping most of the mature shrubs that give the garden some shape and interest. The turf from B&Q for the extension to the existing lawn (well grass) cost about £50 but well worth it.  It covers the patch that had two really old straggly shrubs well past their best and removing them has opened up this space considerably and added some visual length to the garden.

The new grass has grown remarkably well despite this hot weather and was the greenest kid on the block by far (apart from the astro turf next door!).

There was great excitement yesterday for the first cutting and we all stood round afterwards admiring.  The join and difference in colour is not as noticeable now it is cut (I should have taken an after photo so you will have to take my word for it!) and with some extra care and attention and a bit more grass feed and weed the older part should start to thicken out and green up to match.

The large silver Senecio (or Brachyglottis as it has been renamed – I hate that name so I always revert to its former) in the middle of the picture has almost finished flowering and will be due a bit of a trim to contain it in the space.

So before I go round to sort my daughter’s garden I have a little bit to do in my own then back to work again tomorrow  – only 7 days to go now to the big day.

Thank you to everyone for your great suggestions for when I leave work – I am storing up the information and when I get some time for myself to think about my next moves I will be sharing them with you.

Oh and welcome to my new followers – I can never quite believe anyone would want to sign up for my daily ramblings!

But for now while the sun shines I need to make …a seating area!

Back soon x

 

bEAching ~ more good weather – more gardening

Garden Notebook

  White Foxglove

I hope I am not boring you with all this gardening but I have to take advantage of the good weather whilst I can even if I feel I will never straighten up again and my gardening boots are welded to my feet.

Talking of feet, what was I thinking – to come on holiday and not bring some cool open sandals?  Trainers and Sketchers are a bit warm this weather and my feet feel two sizes bigger – nothing to it but to plunge them into a bath of cool water.  I suppose with the sea only a few yards away I could go and have a paddle this evening but I think the thought of dodging the midges out there puts me off.  I will stick to a bowl of water.

It is unlike me not to be in the mood for gardening but today I did feel a bit ‘off’ but I think that is more to do with the weather being so unusually hot for days on end and having to continually move about the garden with the shade and not really getting any border fully completed.

Frustrating.

I finally settled for sorting out under the apple tree and clear around the base.  The gardening books all tell me that apples do best when the ground around the trees are kept free of grass and weeds.  The grass doesn’t grow there anyway (far too shady for it to be bothered) but obviously the weeds don’t read the same books and will insist on gathering around the trunk on mass!

After spending the morning crawling around underneath this and the adjacent Corkscrew Hazel I have cleared the spot once again and will spread some manure around in the hope it will help preserve some moisture and feed the tree at the same time.  This dry weather might make all the apples fall off while still tiny – fingers crossed they stay on the tree long enough to swell and ripen.

Of course the apple tree should have received a hefty pruning last winter to cut it down to a more manageable size but if you remember the visit when this was planned the country was taken over by the Beast from the East and we retreated to the warmth of the caravan all week.

Apple tree therefore did not get a good ‘going over’ and as a consequence is now another four feet higher.  Not sure why anyone would want to plant a half standard apple tree that grows up to 5 metres in height and doesn’t own a cherry picker.  Needless to say we inherited this tree with the garden but it does produce the most wonderful Bramley’s – but only at the top of the tree!

We went into town after lunch as we had to do another tip run with all the bags of weeds that I have generated –  they accumulate quickly and filled the trailer.  I also had a shopping list that went something like this:-

  • 1 large bag Compost
  • 3 bags Farmyard Manure
  • 3 bales Bark chippings
  • 2 pints milk

The milk being for us of course!

I would normally make my own chippings by shredding the pruned branches but there just isn’t time on this visit. So nothing for it we decided to buy some – it would be worth the money at the moment to keep on top of the bits of garden we have cleared.

There is not a lot of choice up here and the prices are more expensive than at home – there are no chain stores like B&Q only independently owned shops.  We did manage to find some 3 for 2 on both the manure and bark at the local garden centre which is easy parking when you have a trailer on the back and they do a good cup of tea and the most deliciously moist fruit loaf sliced and buttered.

Bobtail bunny is bobbing around the garden tonight  – his curiosity is leading him to investigate our pile of bonfire prunings.  A good job it is too hot to light it or one more ‘bob’ and he would be a roast bunny.

Back soon x