EOMV, Garden Meme

End of Month View: 31 May 2013

Slowly everything is coming into fruition, and the battle between protecting new shoots and the slugs and snails eating all in sight has begun in earnest.   It really is a battle, due to the rain, which brings out the terrestrial gastropod molluscs in force, and the weather warming up bringing out new shoots.   The garden is now scattered in slug pellets, not at all organic I am afraid but I have chosen this method as I really do want some perennials to survive  for the summer months.

Has anybody used Strulch as a an organic mulch?  I saw it advertised on the Telegraph Gardening website.   Apparently it’s made from wheat straw, slugs and snails don’t like the texture and it has an added snail and slug deterrent.  I thought I might try some.  Believe me I have tried, gravel, egg shells and all sorts of other proprietary brands but nothing really works as well as the unattractive tiny blue pellets.

This post “End of Garden View” is a review of the garden at the end of May, a meme hosted by Helen at Patient Gardener and a most useful guide to past years and what is happening at present in other garden bloggers gardens.  In general I tend to fill most of my posts with macros of the flowers and plants in the garden.  This month I am going to show the actual garden, which is really quite small, just packed full of goodies. 

First is the bottom of the garden from the back of the house.   The lilac is fading now so will be pruned shortly.  I took this photo  before pulling up the forget me knots that have gone to seed and the Spanish bluebells.  I only have a few Spanish bluebells, having pulled most up over the years, but I decided to keep some as they do give colour when it is needed.

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I went with my friend and neighbour to a local nursery last week and bought trays of White Cosmos and mixed Antirrhinums (snapdragons), as well as a blue Salvia Mystic Spires to replace the beautiful blue one I had for the last couple of years, sadly with no trace this year.   The nursery is a family owned affair and the plants were such good value, almost half the price of the large garden centre opposite.  I bought lots of things, none of which broke the bank.

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It is very sunny and warm here today so I took the opportunity to plant up the bedding, and this is what the flower bed looks like now.

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 I also found a home for the Salvia.

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I got carried away a few days ago with the ‘Chelsea chop‘ and was merrily cutting back the hardy geraniums, until halfway through one plant, when I realised to my absolute horror that I was chopping down the Astrantia!!   However, as you can see from the photo above, it is producing new leaves very quickly so all is not lost (I hope).

In the first photo you can see the frame to the plastic cover I had over the raised bed in the winter.  I have now removed it and all the chicken wire I had over the seeds.   Rather than grow vegetables this year, I mixed together the remains of last year’s seed packets and scattered them over the bed with the hope that I will have an abundant floral display.   The chicken wire was to stop the cats from using it as a giant litter tray.

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A few years ago I bought a couple of ‘sticks’ labeled Raspberry Malling from Wilkinsons for a £1.  These have gone from strength to strength producing bumper crops.  When looking up further information I found there are various Malling varieties and I have come to the conclusion mine are Malling Admiral.  This year I think they are going to do me proud.  I have kept the greenhouse frame over the bed so that I can run wires to support them, but in general they don’t need training as they have strong stems and grow as a shrub.

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The north facing border is very lush and the Astilbe seems to have taken over completely, so that will need a spot of culling, but not until after the summer, I rather like the pink plumes they produce.

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Turning towards the house, the Sambus Nigra (Elder) is exceptionally tall this year, probably due to the fact it wasn’t pruned when it should have been, but it is giving height to the garden and it’s nice to have a tree.

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Another view of the garden, from the south facing patio.   Here the Choysia has been cut back so that I can get down the side of the house.   The fuchsias are going to be beautiful this year, and the Olive tree is covered with tiny buds.

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The front garden is nothing special, but I do like to keep it tidy with a welcoming aspect.  Last weekend I planted up the hanging basket, which will be in shades of pink, with trailing fuchsia, begonia, diascia and various bits of trailing greenery.  A friend of mine, who is helps me with the heavy duty gardening jobs, would like to trim the low hedge into a neat and tidy form but I quite like it looking wild.  I may, however, trim it a little in the next couple of days.

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I have some lovely orange Day Lilies which I hope will show some signs of flowering, and the purple iris is being stripped by snails and the flowers are stunted.

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The Heuchera and Lysimachia are looking splendid, bringing a lovely display of burgundy to the middle of the front bed, under the window.  When the orange Day Lilies are out it the colour contrast will look great.

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It has been good for me to write this post today, as it had made me sit down and not get carried away doing too much.  I feel so well, it is hard to remember that I have internal stitches that still need to heal.  I would love to get out there to mow the lawn but that will have to wait.

Please pop over to Helen’s blog and follow the links to other gardens to see how they have got on with the vagaries of the weather over the last month.   Happy Gardening in June one and all!

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Garden blogging

A Happy Bank Holiday Visiting Gardens

I had a lovely day yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday, with a good friend of mine, she is not a gardener, but is always happy to come garden mooching with me and my camera. We set off, like Thelma and Louise, in her newly purchased silver sports car, first to Denmans Garden for lunch and a wander around the garden. The food at Denmans never fails to hit the spot, the menu is varied and interesting. It would seem that fish finger sandwiches and chips, for a long time a homemade delicacy, are the latest thing to appear on restaurant menus, and it was this dish I ordered; my friend had fish cakes, salad and chips. We found a table outside and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

Denmans is a 4 acre garden owned by John Brookes the garden designer. The garden had an unkept look about it, and looked as though it was in need of a little loving care, although when you read about the garden it does claim to have a “casual effect” and a “tamed wilderness”. When we entered the Walled Garden, with its gravel path, the first thing that caught my eye were the Aquilegia.

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There were some very pretty yellow and white iris in the opposite bed which contrasted well against the tall blue spires of…sorry, forgive my ignorance but I don’t know what they are.

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I almost missed the Wisteria, which is growing at the back of a flowerbed as a twisted and gnarled tree. The flowers were so high up we were unable to get near enough to smell the perfume, and it wasn’t wafting about in the warm air either which was disappointing.

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I have been to Denmans at various times over many years, but have never noticed the swathes of Nectarosordium. The sheaths that cover the knobbly flowerbuds before they burst out look like something from outer space. I found just one bulb that had broken through, and I suspect anyone visiting next week will see a mass of lovely flowers. I’ve never had much success in growing this plant in my garden, and this year just have one solitary stem.

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After our walk around the garden, we headed off to Upwaltham Barns, a garden that was open for the National Garden Scheme. (NGS). I last visited this garden the same Bank Holiday weekend in 2011, on a very cold day, so was looking forward to seeing it again on a warmer occasion.

It was very obvious from the entrance that the garden is far behind this year, a problem that we are all experiencing. I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the photos taken in 2011 against the ones I took yesterday. In 2011, the entrance flowerbeds were packed with poppies, Nepeta and other colourful plants.

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In 2011, I was blown away by the masses of beautiful blousey peonies and tall spires of Delphiniums. This year, the peonies are still in tight bud and there was no sign of the Delphiniums. Everything looks very green and lush but there is no colour.

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We then headed on towards the vegetable garden. Here, again, it was clear how behind everything is. When I looked at the 2011 photo, I noticed how large the strawberry plants were, and you can see the soil between all the vegetables whereas you will see how abundant everything was.

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The tulips were just about over, and the alliums were taking over, although they were not in their full glory. My last photo shows how the tree lined avenue, with a garden at the end with box edged flower beds. Again the trees are looking sparse, yet to fill out, and the flower beds, which in 2011 where bursting with height and colour, you can hardly see the flowers above the box.

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It’s been difficult for everyone who opens their gardens for the general public, either on a regular basis or through the NGS. with visitors wanting to look at flowers rather than beds of foliage. Fingers crossed for a lovely summer when everything will bloom in its full glory and make up for lost time.

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Garden blogging

A Little Gentle Gardening is a True Panacea

I am having to be very strict with myself when it comes to pottering in the garden at the moment, as you can imagine. Whilst everything is healing well on the outside I have to remember that I have had a major abdominal operation and muscles etc need to repair themselves. It is all too easy to get carried away and stretch to reach the back of the border or pick up a heaving watering can. It is very frustrating to say the least!

There are a few surprises in the garden. I have found some very tiny Cerinthe seedlings. Silly the things we gardeners get excited about isn’t it!? I love this plant and was so disappointed that all the tiny seedlings which came up at the end of last year had disappeared over the winter months.

A few months ago work colleague gave me a carrier bag containing some Alstromeria he had dug up, and I was happy to see that they have settled in their new home and producing leaves. I can’t remember if he told me what colour they are but seem to recall he may have said yellow, time will tell. Now it will be a battle against me and the snails, to ensure that it has a good chance of succeeding.

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The other lovely surprise was the discovery of a Solomon’s Seal in the front garden. My friend first pointed it out to me, and I initially thought she was wrong (I should have known better) because in 12 years of caring for the front garden, I would have known if I had this plant. However, she was quite right and at the back of the border, tucked up against the wall and underneath the lilac tree, growing quite happily is a Solomon’s Seal. Goodness knows how it got there but it was lovely to see.

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The north facing border, in the back garden, at the moment is very green full of Astilbe, yet to flower, hostas and ferns, so the Eurphorbia Griffithiii Fireglow is a joy of colour. I am always happy to see this appear every year. It dies down over winter and to see the little red shoots in the Spring is a good sign.

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I have a lot of Aquilegia (Columbine/Granny’s Bonnet) and love to find them dotted around the garden; they are such prolific self-seeders. Last year a majority of the self-seeders were pink, this year there seems to be an abundance of purples and blues, I don’t think I will ever understand nature.

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I can’t find any Nora Barlow this year, but there are still a few Aquilegia in bud so I am hoping it will appear again. There is a very pretty pale blue flower which I don’t remember and which I believe to be a cross-breed.

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We are getting close to the End of Month View so I won’t spoil that post by including too many photos of what is growing in the garden at the moment. Alliums get special dispensation and I make no apology for showing them in this post, because by next week they should be complete globes and make for a different photograph. I planted a lot of Allium bulbs last year and they have all come up making their mark in the flower beds.

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Health update:

My garden is going to be my saving grace this Summer. I had some very disappointing news when I visited the ColoRectal Surgeon on Thursday after the removal of the tumour. Unfortunately the cancer is what is classified as Stage 3 (old Dukes C) and out of the 10 lymph nodes removed there are signs of cancer cells in 4 of them. This means that I will now have to have chemotherapy, yet another hurdle to face. There is further wait now for an appointment to see the Oncologist to discuss the treatment plan, but I had a call from the MacMillan Nurse who said generally it is a combination of Oxaliplatin (given by injection) and Capecitabine (taken as tablets) given on a three weekly cycle over the course of six months. Once treatment is completed and I am back to full health, we then have to tackle the GastroIntestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST) which is in my abdomen. It is benign at the moment and 70%-80% of all GISTs are benign but will have to be removed. This means further surgery and possible drug treatment afterwards. They are resistant to chemotherapy, so the blessed thing is not going to be eradicated by the chemo. I had a very low day yesterday, feeling that life was bloody unfair, its bad enough to have one type of cancer (Adenocarcinoma) but to have a second tumour that could develop into another cancer (sarcoma) is just mean. But it is something I have to deal with and if I want to live as long as possible, it is a necessary evil and I will find the strength somehow.

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Bowel cancer, Cottage Garden

Eric Has Been Removed and I Am Back in My Garden

Hello there, I am back and Eric has been evicted!!   This post is in two parts, the first a health update and then a garden update.  You are free to skim the first part and go to the garden, which  is probably of more interest.

Eric’s eviction 

As I woke from the anaesthetic I remember patting myself down and saying “Keyhole and no stoma” to the response “Yes, keyhole and no stoma”.  What a relief that was, although if it had been worse I would have just had to deal with it.

Anaesthetics, painkillers and my system do not mix well.   It took me a long time to come round, and although my 4 hour operation started at 8:45 a.m. I was not down in a ward until about 5:30 p.m. and in a comatosed state for the rest of the day on a drip and oxygen.  This meant that the first of the Enhanced Recovery Program (ERP) steps, to get out of bed and move into a chair the same day of the operation, went by the board.   Wednesday was not much better, following a visit from the Pain Team, I was dosed with Ketamine (yes the stuff they give to horses!) and slow release morphine.  By the afternoon I was so spaced out, I couldn’t even form a sentence, was violent sick (not good following abdominal surgery) and every time I closed my eyes I felt black and white patterned walls closing in on me.   It was all very scary, I thought I was having a stroke, and think the doctors had the same worry.   I was taken off all painkillers except good old paracetomol and by Thursday was back in the land of the living – it was certainly an experience I don’t want to repeat.  I was then two days behind the ERP but caught up quickly and was discharged on Sunday into the capable care of my youngest daughter and her husband.

The Surgical Registrar told me they had taken out just over a foot of my colon, and happily announced that they had “removed all the cancer” – making it sound as though I had only had a tooth pulled.   I have an appointment with the Consultant on Thursday 23 May to find out what the staging is and what chemotherapy treatment may lay ahead of me.    In the meantime, I now have to build up my strength and get my appetite back.  I have lost a lot of weight and have cheekbones I haven’t seen for years!

The Garden

I came home yesterday, Saturday, and it was a joy to wander around the garden.  The Forget-me-nots, bluebells and Lilac look wonderful, especially with the alliums just about to come out.  Stupidly, I had left my DSLR camera on and the battery was flat, so the photos below were taken using my little Fuji FinePix and sadly they are not quite as sharp as I would have liked them to be.

The garden over the wall has a magnificent Ceoanthus in full blue bloom, mine is still in tight bud, but then it is probably not getting as much sunshine.

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The Lilac needs pruning hard after it has flowered to encourage more flowers next year, it seems a little top heavy at the moment.

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Imagine this is smellie vision, the perfume at the end of the afternoon today, with the sun shining on the lilac was breathtaking.

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As I said earlier the alliums are just about to flower, which will add to the blue/purple hues in the garden.  Not to mention give me the opportunity to take lots of photos of them from all angles.

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Nestled between a prolifically growing hardy geranium (cranesbill) and the Aquilegia I found the Geum Bell Bank flowering away to its hearts content.  It is such a pretty plant and I am pleased it has decided to return again this year, so many plants in my garden give up the ghost after the first year.  Knautia macedonica is a prime example it clearly doesn’t like my garden.

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Finally, another allium, a giant one this time, which is going to look really colourful against the Eurphorbia when it is out in full.

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© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.