Wednesday, October 25, 2006
It's been much colder over the past couple of days, so it looks like autumn is finally here. The trees are turning now, with yellows showing through the greens. Of course, down the allotment, it's mostly browns, although the 'Winter Density' lettuce are up.
The remains of the Calendula will have to be pulled this weekend - they've done well. As soon as the frost hts, the Ricinus and Dahlia will become sludge.
Mr HM took some nice photos of a fig leaf and a Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' leaf. Beautiful colours.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
My, how Mr HM laughed!
On the positive side, the allotment is gradually taking shape and today became a 'proper' allotment, with some garlic (courtesy of Henry - thanks!) planted, and a line of rather optimistically sown 'Arctic King' lettuce. I may need to supply some protection for these, assuming that the slugs and snails don't get to them first. The navvy and I dug two more beds and rather over-keenly started on the next beds, but soon realised our mistake. A couple more weeks of digging and it will all be sorted. I'll plant some green manure in most of the beds over the winter, to out-compete the weeds.
Two new beds, and the optimistically started 3rd row of beds...
I've also ordered some raspberries for the allotment: 18 canes for £21, with 6 canes of three different varieties, spreading the harvest from mid July to autumn. I've got 5 canes of 'Octavia' in the garden, which went in last November, and gave a small but delicious harvest this summer - it took me back to picking raspberries in my grandad's garden when I was little.
A bit chillier today and the sky has been a dull grey all day. Perhaps autumn is finally with us - the leaves are now yellowing on the trees along the front of the road. Surprisingly, the Indian Bean tree (Catalpa bignoniodes) has still got all of its leaves - like my parents' Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' it's normally very late to gain its leaves and very early to lose them.
The Jay has been visiting the back garden this week, which is lovely to see. They are a very colourful member of the crow family, with a raucous call. Its favourite food is acorns, but it seems quite content with the peanuts supplied by us.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
It's not my fault, the pushers produce shiny catalogues, filled with so many promises. The rush of ordering on-line, the anticipation of the parcel arriving. The excitement of unpacking the parcel and reviewing all the different packets of hope. And, in the case of the package I got this morning, the joy of separating the hungarian rye seeds from the mangetout seeds, the packets of which had burst in transit.
Then, the fun of planting the seeds, the anticipation of the first hint of green appearing through the compost. But with the highs come the lows ... the devastating slug attacks, and when you go away at the weekend, only for it to be the hottest weekend on record, causing the seedlings to shrivel. And, even when you've carefully nurtured the little darlings, snail families take up residence in the cabbages, leading to ... well - I'll post the pictorial results of that little disaster tomorrow. Suffice to say, self sufficiency in red cabbage will not be happening this year.
Still, forced labour for Mr HM down the allotment tomorrow, and my wild over-optimism and enthusiasm will lead me to try planting a few lettuce 'Winter Density'. Mind you, a blue tit was cheerfully singing this morning, and if he thinks it's spring, then me planting a few seeds is a minor triumph of optimism over sense compared to his seasonal confusion.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Veg courtesy of Harold
Today my labourer and I (thank you Mr HappyMouffetard!) double dug two 4 foot wide beds at the bottom of the plot. We dug out plenty of perennial roots as we went, but no doubt plenty more remain. Another couple of months and we'll have all of the beds dug (no point over-exherting ourselves!). The soil is nice & rich, with a sandy layer below - ideal for decent drainage. Now I'm just waiting for my asparagus plants to arrive.
On the home front, I've just trimmed the lawn edges, and done some deadheading of Dahlias and Rudbeckias (annual and perennial) to try and encourage a few more final blooms. I'm planning on buying a Viburnum shrub for the front garden, to give some fragrance over winter. I've found Crocus a good site for shrubs - excellent quality and the shrubs don't seem as expensive as the herbaceous plants they sell!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
The smell of autumn is so evocative. It brings back memories of dahlias being prepared for showing (dad was a very successful shower of dahlias in the '70s). The smell of vegetation starting to break down, wood smoke and the smell of an imminent frost. Fantastic. It may be a foretaste of the cold and dark of winter to come, but to live in a country with such different seasons is amazing.
Putting the garden to be is the key job of the moment, although there are still plenty of blooms in the garden. The Schizostylis coccinea is still looking great, as are the Japanese anemones. The Verbena continues to attract butterflies into the garden. Mr HappyMouffetard trimmed the lavender flower heads and mowed the lawn, which is still growing quickly and completely recovered from the lack of water through July. Tomorrow we're down on 'the plot' to start digging beds, so hard work ahead. The beds may have to be double dug, with a lot of forking to remove perennial weed roots. No doubt more photos of the hard work to follow tomorow.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
The site is not very full, which is a shame. Hopefully it will start to fill up, as allotments are having something of a renaissance at the moment. There is evidence of some allotments coming into recent cultivation, so fingers crossed it will get fuller.
As for us, we're tired, stung, aching but with a real sense of achievement!
Ness Gardens are based on the Wirral Peninsula in North West England. The gardens now belong to the University of Liverpool, but were originally privately owned. Although not huge, there is certainly enough there to keep a keep plantophile interested for a few hours.
It's a good place to visit all year round, with hellebores and a snowdrop collection in the early part of the year, and the late colour herbaceous border at the moment is looking fantastic. We are 'friends of Ness' and go regularly - encouraged by the delicious home-made cakes (the coffee and walnut cake is fantastic!)
It has several glasshouses - one harbours a nice collection of carnivorous plants, another has desert plants.
(Pitcher Plant from Ness Gardens)
See the side bar on the right for a link to their website.