Garden blogging

Six on Saturday – Waiting For Frost (6/10/18)

I was surprised to watch the opening minutes of Gardeners World this week and see an autumnal steam of breath coming from Monty Don telling us he has had the first frost at Long Meadow. I’ve got to the stage in my daughter’s garden that I am tired of summer plants and want to move on now and have a good tidy up, dig up the dahlia tubers, cut down perennials and clear the beds to make room for all those enticing daffodil, tulip and allium bulbs sitting in the shed waiting to be planted.

The garden has different ideas, and stuff is still flowering! Here are my Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator. Please pay a visit, after reading mine of course, to his blog and take a look at all the other great blog contributions.

One:

The dahlias in the garden have suffered dreadfully from mildew, a problem I never had in my old garden, but then this summer has been unusual. I’m not sure if it is the right thing to do, but those that have finished flowering I have cut down, leaving the tubers in the ground for the next few weeks. After looking and pondering for a long time, the Cafe au Lait dahlia has had a stay of execution because the flowers outweighed the mildew on the leaves. I am by no means an expert on dahlias so any advice would be welcome please.

TWO

Although they are supposed to flower spring and summer, this Primula Vialii has decided to carry on flowering, yet the leaves are beginning to look ragged and dying down. I saw that if they are happy where plants, they will spread their seed and more plants will appear next year, I do hope so.

THREE

Another plant which has decided to flower again, despite it being October, is the Callistemon or Bottlebrush Plant to you and me. It has certainly settled well into its home at the end of the hot flower bed.

FOUR

I can’t see this magnificent perennial Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’ ever wanting to stop flowering. Maybe it’s about time I stopped deadheading it! It does, however, produce wonderful colour into the border.

FIVE

Talking about colour, my Son in Law bought this fabulous Canna in the summer and it lives in a large pot on the patio. Can anyone tell me please how to look after it during the winter months? Do I just place the pot, complete with canna, into the shed?

SIX

My final six is a just small section of the end of the garden which is strewn with windfalls from an enormous apple tree. If you are not ducking to avoid being hit on the head as they fall, you are in danger of twisting your ankle by stepping on them. Far too many apples to be collected and made into pies, chutneys, juice and the myriad of other things you can do with apples. I am well aware that a lot of you may throw your hands up in horror at the waste of apples, sorry about that. However, I am hoping they will fertilise the soil well.

Garden blogging, Garden visiting

Six on Saturday 15/09/2018 – Mottistone Gardens

In a bid to avoid repetition of previous Six on Saturday posts, I was delighted when I checked the participant guide that a six could include a garden visited. So here is my Six on Saturday following my coach excursion on Wednesday to the Isle of Wight. It was the only day that has rained for weeks! We visited Ventnor Botantic Garden and the colourful National Trust garden at Mottistone. Given the choice of the two gardens I am sharing six of my photos taken at Mottistone.

1. Monocot Border and Lower Garden

Following the garden plan, the first part of the garden you are guided to is the Monocot border and the Lower Garden. It is clearly quite sheltered and had a tranquil feel to it. The planting here consists of palms, banana trees, cannas and wonderful white and orange Ginger Lilies to name but a few.

2. The Steps up to the double border

I love Erigeron and the steps leading up to another part of the garden where covered with these delicate looking pink and white daisy-type flower. They flower from May to October and must be quite resilient growing out of cracks. Clearly a lot hardier than they look.

3. A blaze of colour

At the top of the steps, the orange just hits you with a sharp intake of breath. There were several varieties of orange dahlias, the information on the website tells us that the spiked orange dahlia is called ‘Ludwig Helfert’.

4. The double herbaceous border

The end of summer/early autumn planting was striking. There are lots of blues and purples with Michaelmas Daisies and Sedum which intermingled with bright yellows. I didn’t photograph them, but there were four very busy volunteers working hard in this part of the garden.

5. The allotment/kitchen garden

I always get excited to find a kitchen garden when visiting gardens. This one, on a west facing slope, was particularly interesting because it is being revamped. I had a lovely chat with the NT garden designer who took time out to show me the plans and explain what was going to go where. The cold frames in the middle will be replaced with a Mediterranean Garden, growing plants such as aubergines, and peppers. I will certainly look forward to seeing it when finished. The other interesting thing is that the compost area is in full view and not tucked away out of site, as they often are.

6. Border by the tearoom

Again, another border packed with autumn coloured planting including a beautiful Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ . This border also had orange dahlias, enormous Nepeta which the bees were loving and at the front of the border are Gaillardia, which I think are Kobold Goblin. They really are that bright, no photo tweaking here.

Now please peer over the garden fence and take a look at everyone else’s Six on Saturday hosted every Saturday by The Propagator.

Garden blogging, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 08/09/2018

Hello people, I’m back again!

Life took a bit of a dip recently after the death of my Dad and I lost interest in everything including blogging! I haven’t stepped foot on my allotment for 2 weeks and not sure what I’m going to find this afternoon when I make a much needed visit. However, yesterday I spent time in my daughter’s garden doing a spot of tidying up, they have missed their gardener (me!) so there is a lot to do.

1. Begonias

Whilst not to everyone’s taste this begonia trough is a riot of colour and you can’t help but think wow! Personally I was not a lover of begonias, the name always springs to mind visions of little pink flowers with burgundy leaves used in park gardens. These were small bedding plants given to my son in law by his father and I planted them in a trough on the patio, certainly not expecting the kaleidoscope outcome. They have survived the hot dry weather, being ignored, and have changed my view on begonias.

2. Morning Glory and an unknown clematis

Much to my daughter and SiL’s dismay, after pulling up the bindweed growing rapidly up the trellis on the garage wall, I planted Morning Glory. I think they were a little more than a bit dubious when I explained the difference and that ‘Grandpa Otts’ was a great colourful climber. Although we thought we had cleared the bed in the spring, I found a tiny clematis shoot, so without saying anything I left it to weave it’s way up the trellis. By some miracle it is the same colour as the Morning Glory, but I have no idea what it is called – anyone recognise it?

3. Dahlia ‘Preference’

A good friend wanted to buy me a ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlia last year but as they were out of stock she ordered tubers to be delivered in the spring. The nursery sent two tubers of ‘Preference’ with a note to say Cafe au Lait was still not available so we’re sending the tubers closest in colour – which was not the case. It is aptly named as I do prefer this one, the blooms are smaller than ‘Cafe au Lait’ and it gives more colour. You can see from the above photo, it has been left to tumble through the flowerbed – this happens when the gardener doesn’t visit regularly and stake the plants 😄. I think they look lovely like this and might just let them do this next year rather than have them regimentally tied up.

4. Salvia ‘Love and Kisses’

I have introduced a number of salvias of different types into their garden. We have all fallen in love with ‘Love and Kisses’. I was a little concerned that it wasn’t going to get enough sun, this border is in shade in the morning and late afternoon, but clearly it was a good spot and it is thriving. Getting it through the winter is the next step – advice on this please?

5. Euphorbia ‘Summer Icicle’

How many packets of seeds free with gardening magazines do you actually use? I had a weird collection in the spring and amongst them was a packet of Euphorbia seeds. I was unaware you could not only grow Euphorbia from seeds, but that some of them were annuals. As an experiment I sowed them in little pots and was not very successful with only two coming to fruition. They are in the ‘Hot Bed’ and are so pretty. I do know they are full of sap which can be an irritant so will be careful. ‘Summer Icicle’ is on my seeds to grow list for 2019.

6. Hot Bed

It is difficult looking after someone else’s garden when they have different ideas and these obviously must be respected. Even more so when it is family. I like the cram-it-all-in style of gardening, giving the higgledy piggledy look, as you can see in the number 3 Dahlia photo. My daughter and SiL prefer to go for the clear cut, room around each plant, look. It is a large garden with lots of space for different flowerbeds so a variety of looks are easily incorporated. Armed with a list of suggested plants from me, they bought and planted a hot bed, including grasses. monarda, agapanthus, salvias and knipofia. It really is quite impressive and they have done an excellent job. Above is the bed from both ends.

Please call in on The Propagator’s Blog and see his Six on Saturday and peep over the garden fence of the many other contributors.

Personal blogging

Writing a blog can be cathartic

Today, Tuesday 21st August, my darling dad, known to the family as Pa, was cremated and we were not there to see him off.

Pa (94) had advanced Alzheimer’s, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday 12th in Guernsey. I really lost him over a year ago when he didn’t know who I was anymore.

He was not religious and didn’t believe in an after life “When you are dead, you are dead, you can put my body in the dustbin”. For me I always found that concept difficult but had to accept and respect we have different ways of looking at death. Before horrible Alzheimer’s claimed him, he said when he died he wanted a memorial service only.

Why were we not at his cremation?

No family or friends live in Guernsey and we all agreed rather than fly to Guernsey for a cremation service only to bring his ashes back to the UK, it would be more sensible to have a Direct Cremation and then repatriate his ashes for a Memorial service. Anyway my eldest daughter is on crutches with her leg in a boot from knee to ankle and my brother has broken his wrist and is in plaster which would have made it all the more difficult!

A Direct cremation

“A direct cremation, is for those who would prefer a simpler choice for their funeral. It’s different to a traditional funeral as there is no funeral service and no one present at the cremation. It’s for those, who for lots of reasons, prefer not to have a funeral service. This option of a simple, straightforward cremation is now being chosen by a growing number of people”.

I don’t regret that decision but this morning I sat and cried because my lovely Pa was going into a large incinerator without any family goodbyes. My Mum died last year and before her death I could never come to terms with burial versus cremation. Mum was adamant to be buried and surprisingly I found the idea of being buried easier to cope with. She now has a headstone and plants on her grave. Although her spirit left her body, I have somewhere to go to talk to her.

Getting the ashes back to England is not easy. The undertakers in Guernsey had originally said they would post them to a local funeral director. Although it would have been in a sealed container, we laughed at the vision of him arriving in a Jiffy bag. However Royal Mail, for insurance reasons, no longer accept human remains, so we have to arrange for a courier.

In his Will Pa requested, much to our surprise, that his ashes be scattered at sea. This is an interesting event to arrange. Whilst not exactly a scattering, there are water urns.

Water urns

Biodegradable urns when placed in water will float briefly and then gracefully sink to the bottom, where they break down naturally over time. This prevents blow back.

A work colleague of mine scattered a relatives ashes on a lake and everything blew back in their faces, they couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

Did you know there are companies that hire out boats for the purpose of scattering ashes at sea? They will take a small party out, in our case this would be in The Solent (Pa grew up in Southampton, so that seems appropriate), it will moor so we can say our goodbyes with promise messages.

Promise messages

The notepaper which will completely dissolve in water, you write your wish, thoughts, or promises and then cast it into the water with the ashes.

Pa was always a ‘party man’ and lived the good life to the full, so he would totally endorse us hiring a company who also provided champagne and M&S sandwiches afterwards. Obviously, this will have to be done when family members have their various limbs out of plaster.

Rest in Peace my darling Pa, I will miss you so much.

As for me? Each life event has a stress level number. With Mum dying last year, retiring from work at the end of January, moving into a new area at the end of April, missing close friends and my garden and now Pa dying, my level is extremely high and I am really struggling. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and I will get there eventually. Writing this has helped.

allotment, Garden blogging, Garden Meme, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 4 August 2018

My Six on Saturday is an allotment update.  The ground is like concrete, I am going daily for about an hour to water and ‘stock take’.  There is little else to do, so I am appeasing myself that I am building up a tan and tightening my biceps carrying heavy watering cans from the trough to the plot.

First an apology I have broken rule 7 of Six on Saturday:

Not too much verbiage. ….it’s easily done, but since there are Six things, and a growing number of Six posts to read in a typical week, consider being a little frugal with the wordcount.

1. Protecting sweetcorn husks

53FDD0D5-C284-4534-9FF4-B6E9E46E5F11The sweetcorn (Northern Extra Sweet) is coming along a treat, despite the strong winds last Sunday.  I have staked them and built up the soil around the base of each plant – there are only 8.   I read that night visiting animals have a panchant for ripe sweetcorn and it’s recommended to protect the husks with large plastic bottles until ready to pick.  Now, I’m not sure if this was a wise thing to do.  I have carefully punched holes in the top so they don’t sweat.  Any thoughts on this?

2. Pumpkin update

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I planted 3 pumpkin plants and have 3 pumpkins,  there is an abundance of female flowers but no more male ones,  I wonder if that is the norm, I don’t needs lots anyway.   The one with the yellow bottom I can’t stand up because the stem is too short, the one at the bottom right of the photo is now on its end so with a bit of luck it will become round in shape.  I’m seeing a lot of posts on FB allotment group pages of pumpkins splitting so fingers crossed mine will be ok.

3. Cauliflower protection 

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This is allotment life on a shoestring.   I had a freebie packet of cauliflower seeds so for a bit of fun I sowed them in pots.  Only 2 came good and because the ground was so hard when they were ready to plant out I put them in a doubled up growbag.  Someone told me an elderly gentlemen on her allotment said they thrive on solid ground, he compacts the soil with a roller and drills thin holes for his plants.  She said his cauliflowers and cabbages are the envy of their plots!   Anyway – my homemade cage.  Despite putting collars around my two precious plants they are still swarming with whitefly.  Rather than buy a cage, or netting, I found an old net curtain I was about to throw away and made my own cage.  It’s a bit rickety but I am hoping it will do the job.

4. Blackberry heaven 

When I took the plot over a number of folks told me that the blackberries were always fabulous and they were not wrong.  Last week I picked a punnet full and decided to make blackberry gin.   There are so many recipes on the Internet but all are roughly the same, however, they vary in the time that the gin is ready from 2 weeks to 3 months and I’m  not sure why or if it matters.  I’m going for 2 weeks in time for my daughter’s birthday.

Ingredients

250g Blackberries

70cl Gin

100g Sugar

Method

1. Put the blackberries in to a 1 litre sterilised bottle or jar

2. Add the sugar

3. Top up with the gin

4. Shake well

5. Store in a dark cupboard and leave for a maximum of three months, shaking the bottle every week or so.

This recipe is courtesy of NicholasJon.

5.  Apples galore

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The little apple tree on my plot would appear to be some type of Pippin.  They are still very small and it could be due to the lack of water. I understand they are usually ready in September so we shall have to wait for a taster session then.   I’ve seen recipes for spiced apple gin 😄😄, so much better than eating every apple from the tree.

6. Baby strawberry plants

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I am wondering if I would do better to put these little strawberry runners into individual pots rather than a new bed.  Any advice please?

If you’ve been a great reader (thank you) and got to the bottom of this post, please now pop over to The Propagator Blog who hosts this weekly meme and has lots of contributors it’s always great to peer over the fence at other peoples gardens.