Sunday, 17 November 2013

Garden Log - October and November

The imminent arrival of child number two has meant that the garden has been nearly as neglected as this blog of late. My time has been taken up with things like nursery painting, and hauling baby clothes out of the loft, not to mention trying to make sure that our two year old tank/elephant doesn't break the heavily pregnant missus too badly.... I still haven't managed to plant anything out, and I suspect that by this point I'm probably too late. I could theoretically still get some bulbs in, but realistically, that ain't gonna happen. The stuff in pots will just have to stay put until things warm up again. The only stuff I'll be really cross to lose will be the astrantia that I've grown from seed as they've taken the entire year to get to any sort of size, and I really want that in the garden. It'll probably be fine, but we shall see.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Autumn Planting

I'm starting to get increasingly worried about whether I'm going to get my autumn planting done. My garden, the back in particular, is very poor draining, and the amount of rain in the last few weeks has been enough to ensure everything stays sodden. Even with the odd rain free day, the ground just doesn't dry up enough to do much. The lawn stays like a paddling pool, and the beds are so wet that any digging at all will do more harm than good.

I'm hoping that I get a break soon as I've got quite a few bulbs to put out, as well as a load of perennials that I've grown from seed. The lawns are in serious need of their final haircut for the year.

The weather forcast isn't favourable, but I don't tend to pay much attention to it as it seems to have very little bearing on reality, so fingers crossed!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Garden Log - September 2013

Once again I stand guilt of blog neglect. It's amazing how quickly life passes by if you let it, and there's been a fair amount going on of late to keep me busy!

The garden has a definite feel of winding down at the moment, but at the same time I'm still getting the last bursts of fruitfulness. Tomatoes are ripening, courgettes are still appearing, and some of my cosmos and sunflowers are only just flowering.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Garden Log - August 2013

Shock horror. A garden log posted in the month that's being written about! You may not see this again for some time...

Everything is looking and smelling fab this month, but there is a definite sense of things reaching a peak and winding down. The ornamental stuff has, for the most part, done better than I could have hoped. The veg on the other hand has been somewhat disappointing. A few strawberries earlier on in the year, and I'm getting a few courgettes and a bit of salad, but still no tomatoes. They're on the plant, but taking forever to ripen. I suspect this is probably down to the soil being a bit crap and nutrient starved. I've been reading about how last years constant deluge will have washed everything out of the soil so I'll have to take some steps to address this once things have died back a bit. My compost heap appears to be doing well, so I should have a good load of mulch to stick down, and the missus and I have been discussing building a raised veg bed in the border under the kitchen window which will allow me to import some good top soil and horse shit. None of this can hurt even if it doesn't improve things (which I doubt will be the case) so we shall see.

Without further ado, here are some pictures!


Monday, 26 August 2013



We had a trip out to Tynemouth Market yesterday. Amongst other things, I've come home with a sempervivum and a couple of sedums bought from a very helpful lady whose stall I shall definitely be going back to. I've potted them on into some nice little terracotta pots that I had sitting around and they look great! Alongside the other couple of succulents that I already had they're looking like a nice little collection. One that I may have to expand...

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Challenge Fail

Ok, so I appear to have totally failed on the photo challenge. Seriously, who has time to do that every day as well as keeping up with real life!?

Anyhoo, some pics from this morning...

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

August Break - A Break

Busy few days... (Much building of flat pack furniture). Have some pictures...


Friday, 2 August 2013

August Break - One for yesterday - Breakfast!

The August Break 2013

Garden Log - July 2013

Since we've come home from our little jaunt into the middle nowhere there hasn't been a single dry day. Not really complaining as A) we had lovely weather while we were away, and B) the garden REALLY needed it. The upshot of this has been that getting some non-soggy shots for this monthly update has had to wait a few days. That's this months excuse anyway.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A Week In The Middle Of Nowhere

We're just back from a week in a lovely cottage small holding in the Cardigan Bay area of Wales with my dad, and my sister and her better half. The cottage, very kindly lent to us for a week by some friends of my dad, is pretty much in the middle of nowhere with very few other houses around and, even better still, no mobile signal. The Internet was also pretty patchy (as in it only seemed to work at about 6 in the morning), but that was a good thing for the most part. A week of enforced digital detox was pretty damn good! Days spent reading actual paper books and doing a bit of wood gathering, and nights spent either barbecuing and sitting around a bonfire, or gathering together to eat on the picnic benches outside the kitchen. I could really get used to living like that...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Garden Log - June 2013

Late again. Sorry and all that...

The garden has been looking brilliant this month. Lots of stuff flowering like mad, and loads of green growth making the beds look pleasantly full.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Today's Lesson

So, today's lesson is:

Don't put secateurs in you back pocket.

More specifically:

Don't put secateurs in your back pocket and then sit down on a leather sofa.

I am not a popular bunny....

Sunday, 9 June 2013

NGS Garden Visit - Washington Old Hall

What better to do with another fine weekend but partake in a spot of garden visiting? Even better is a garden that is free to enter, but had a NGS plant stall, and a very reasonably priced tea shop with a fabulous selection of cake. Just the job. The Intrepid baby, my sister, and I felt it was too good to resist.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Garden Log - May 2013

What a month it's been for growth. Plenty of rain mixed with a reasonable amount of sunny days have sent things rocketing up! Lots of colour is appearing and the amount of soil showing is shrinking by the day. I've dug a new bed in the main garden (it's against a south facing fence, so hopefully that should allow me to try a few more sun lovers), and moved a few bits and pieces around. Here are this month's pictorial highlights.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Old School Tools

I love old gardening kit. I'd rather have an old, solidly made piece of kit that's been around for years and should last quite a few more than some plasticky piece of modern crap. I have two pairs of pretty rubbish modern shears in the garage, but these look and feel so much nicer, and they make a proper 'snick' noise when you use them.

I aquired them for the princely sum of £2.50 at the Tynemouth Sunday market. A bargainous find. They need a bit of a clean up and sharpen, but a bit of elbow grease and they'll be good as new.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Hanging Planters Of.... Sunderland...


I read somewhere recently (possibly Gardeners World Magazine) about a thrifty method of preparing hanging baskets. Ever the cheapskate I decided to give it a go.

The general gist is quite simple - don't buy moss or whatever to line it with. Kill two birds with a single proverbial stone and use the mossy thatchy stuff that you can rake out of the lawn. Simple! Hanging basket liner and an incentive to get around to scarifying the lawn in one fell swoop.

Now to see how well it lasts. We've had a couple of seriously soggy, windy days since it went up and it has survived thus far. Only time and the ever delectable British climate will tell.


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

DIY Planters

DIY planters are hardly a new idea, but using things that would otherwise be chucked is one of my favourite things about gardening. I think it adds an interesting and eclectic look to the garden. These planters are parts from an old bread maker that we had that gave up the ghost. Not bad eh?

Thursday, 25 April 2013

What A Difference A Year Makes...

Just a quick one for today - I wanted to share my marvelling at how much growth the brunnera "Jack Frost" that I have in the front garden have put on, both in the last few weeks, and in general since they were planted.

It can't be more than a month since they were just little smudges of green in the soil, and are larger now than they were at their biggest last year.

I'm still new enough to dealing with plants for this level of growth to astound me. Does that ever wear off?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Garden Log - April 2013

The peony seems to be growing as I watch!
Spring is, thankfully, finally springing and things are growing astonishingly fast. The evenings are getting light enough for me to get outside after That Baby is a-bed and the soil has warmed to the point where I feel happy planting and sowing directly. There's still a fair old bit of catch-up to be played, but that's all good!

So without further ado, here is this months photo log. Enjoy.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Spot of Sun

A hive of busy busy
Yesterday I thought spring had sprung. We had a lovely warm afternoon that was actually sunny enough to be working outside in a T-shirt. I got loads done - Lots of potting on of seedlings and putting in some summer bulbs, with a smattering of weeding and trellis building to keep things interesting.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Garden Log - March 2013

Not much to see here! Like everyone else I'm suffering from non-appearing plants due to the ridiculously cold weather. It's all getting very tedious, and I'm sure everyone could do with a little bit of the old sunlight and warmth... Anyhoo, for what it's worth, here's this month collection of incredibly exciting garden pictures.

Stuff Sprouting. Slowly.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Sunderland Farmers Market

I recently discovered that Sunderland is to start holding its own farmers market. The first one is today I believe, which leads me to the point that has prompted the rant that you are about to find yourself on the receiving end of. Why on this wholly lumpy green earth would you put such a thing on on a Friday!?

I've been making quite an effort lately to support home grown business and buy local, and have thought that a farmers market would be an excellent resource in doing this. It would be the sort of thing that would draw me into the town centre on a more regular basis, as the thoroughly sorry collection of pound shops, cash generators and discount sports clothing stores that we currently enjoy aren't much of an attraction... We have a ridiculous amount of supermarkets in the city (5 massive ones and 4 smaller ones at the last count, and more on the way apparently), but virtually nothing in the way of local businesses away from the town centre. All of the clumps of local green grocers, butchers, etc. that you see in other cities have disappeared in all but a couple of the outlying village areas, forcing you into the supermarkets, who obviously stock their shelves from that cheapest source, I.E. foreign imports.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

NGS Garden Visit : Moorbank Botanical Gardens, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

First garden visit of the year, and as coincidence would have it, it was in my home city. Moorbank is owned by Newcastle University as a private facility, but opens for e NGS several times a year.

The gardens are made up of two areas - the green houses and an open air area. I went with my sister and the Intrepid Baby. After a minor mystery tour finding the place, and then another to find somewhere to park we made our way through to the entrance and coughed up our entry fee. Our first challenge of the day became immediately evident - the walkways were only just wide enough to get a buggy down, and woe betide anyone wanting to get past us in the other direction. Nevermind, obviously the place was never designed to cope with buggies, so we just had to try and manage.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Whitby Jaunt, Part Two

Part one of this thrilling tale can be found here.

So, day two. The main event of the trip - my thirtieth! I've got fairly mixed feelings on this, but I think on the whole I'm happy enough.

It's been a good day. All very laid back. We got up and had a very fine breakfast of local meat and cheese with fresh bread, then a full Yorkshire breakfast, followed by pastries. All washed down with plenty of coffee and fresh orange juice. Once we felt capable of standing again we went for a waddle around the hotel's lovely gardens. The gardens themselves aren't very mature, and there's not much around at this time of year anyway, especially this close to the coast. There are plenty of box edged beds with paths running through them, as well as a large lawn and a patio seating area outside the restaurant. It looks like it will be stunning in the summer. It was very pretty at this time of year, but rather chilly!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Whitby Jaunt, Part One

WARNING! Entirely non-garden related post!

With my birthday coming up, the other half and I decided we'd plan a couple of nights away somewhere relaxing, so after some umming and ahhing about various places north and south, we decided on Whitby. For those who haven't had the pleasure of a visit, Whitby is a lovely fishing town on the Yorkshire coast. It can get quite touristy in the summer, and is famous for its fish and chips, but at this time of year it's fairly civilised. A well wielded google search should turn up all manner of historical shenanigans, should you be interested in such things. We've been a few times before and always found it to be a nice place to relax. A quick look around on the ever trusty Trip Advisor for somewhere to stay turned up Raithwaite Hall which seems to be a modern take on a country house hotel. More on that later.

The Mother In Law kindly agreed to look after That Baby for a couple of nights, and so we've set off with bags packed, and only a fairly mild dose of the predictable procrastination and general faffing about that seems to be a natural part of such departures. We broke the journey down by stopping off for lunch at Ibrahim's Cafe in Middlesbrough. It's fairly close to my office, so I've had take out from there before, but I've never had the chance to sit down and take my time. The food there is great, and very reasonably priced. They do a very nice seekh kebab roll which is worth sampling if you happen to be in 'Boro.

The rest of the journey down was lovely. It had been snowing earlier in the day, but the weather had cleared up and we drove over the moors in bright, clear sunshine. I love that part of the drive to Whitby. Provided you don't end up stuck behind someone tootling along at half the speed limit in their Nissan Note, it's one of the most enjoyable roads I've driven. At some point before you get to Whitby, the road that leads to the hotel forks off on its own into the moors, then winds quite steeply down into the village of Lythe (I think. Google maps none too helpful on this point) where the road ran right hard against the seafront. The sea was a textbook illustration of iron grey, angry water. As we waited in a small queue of traffic for our turn to go over the single lane hump backed bridge that crossed an inlet, the sea was smashing into the tidal wall next to us, covering the car in sheets of spray. All very exciting.

Not long after this we made it to the hotel. After meandering up a fairly lengthy driveway, past a few ongoing expansion projects, we arrived at a very pleasant looking building made from honey coloured stone. I suspect that in few years time it'll look like it's been there for ever. Even more more impressive still was the huge Rolls Royce that was parked outside the front door. I wonder if they'd let me drive it... After getting settled in and having the obligatory quick look at the hotel bar, we decided that it would be a marvellous idea to walk into Whitby. Only a mile and a half. Easy we thought! Cue high velocity sideways snowstorm. Very painfu...Bracing! Yes! Um... Ow. Luckily it took very little effort to find a cozy little pub with a log fire that we could slump next to and defrost. We didn't move from there for quite some time. The rest of the evening was enjoyably quiet and uneventful. A couple more pubs, some decent enough food, and then the decision that we couldn't be bothered with walking the return journey and jumping in a taxi. We shall now spend a thoroughly rock and roll night lying on the bed in our room drinking wine, reading, and being secure in the knowledge that we have a full nights sleep ahead of us without being repeatedly smashed in the ribs by the Incredible Hulk (A.K.A. That Baby). Tune in next time for another not particularly thrilling instalment of The Whitby Jaunt.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Holy Shroomy Pelargoniums Batman!

I was giving my overwintering/house plants their weekly soak the other evening, when I made a mycological discovery in the pot of one of my pelargoniums.

How the hell did that get there!? Ah well, guess I'm repotting that one then!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Horticultural Careers - Why Not?

There has been a lot in the gardening press recently about the lack of new blood coming into the horticulture field looking for a career. It's all seen as desperately uncool, and being a gardener has been likened by our glorious and esteemed prime minister as being on a similar level to litter picking.

Having said all of that, I suspect from some reading around that I've done over the last few days that the real answer is actually rather simple. Money. Simple as. If people are going to spend time, effort, and hard earned cash on getting themselves a horticultural qualification, put more time and effort into developing their skills, and then go out and put those skills to use making other people's property look nice, they are going to want the effort to be worth it.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Garden Log - February 2013

And so it starts. The first proper session outside for the year, and the beginning of the photographic deluge. The Other Half decided to take That Baby off for some minor galavanting (a trip to the shops and then a visit to the great grandparents) so I took the opportunity to start getting to grips with this years planting.
The main job I wanted to do was to pot on some of the seedlings from the agapanthus seeds I sowed back in November that were pinched from Alfabia, the garden we visited on holiday. That done I also potted up some of the swag I acquired from the mighty Poundland yesterday. I got a load of Oriental poppy roots, some Lupin roots, a bare root rose, and a blueberry bush/root/whatever. These have all been potted up today. I also got some crocosmia 'Lucifer' corns and some gypsophilia roots, but these have yet to be planted. Poundland seem to have an astounding assortment of plants in at the moment. I know that these are not going to be of the greatest provenance, but I'm trying to garden on the ultra-cheap, so they'll do me fine. The main problem I have is that they don't give you the full name of what you're buying. For example, the climbing rose I've just potted up (yeah, I know it could be planted, but the bed where it's going doesn't exist yet) is labelled simply as a "purple climbing rose".

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Foodie Outings - Junipers Pantry Supper Club

Apparently many gardening types are also fans of good, locally sourced food, so I don't feel there's too much problem in this slight detour from my normal vaguely horticultural output, especially given the lack of gardening going on at the moment for me to blather about.

Last night the OH and I went to a supper club at Juniper's Pantry, which is an extremely nice deli in the Barnes area of Sunderland. Should you be in the area and feeling a craving for a duck and black pudding scotch egg with runny yolk, or maybe one of the best breakfast sandwich you've had in some time, then this is the place to go. They've been running the supper club on Saturday nights for quite some time now, but offers of overnight baby care from Nana generally only happen on Fridays, so we've not been able to make it before. Cue a conversation between the OH and David from Juniper's on Facebook where we discovered that they were opening on Friday evenings for a trial run due to the popularity of the Saturday nights. Whoop! That's us booked straight in for that then.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Oh yeah, and Happy New Year

How very remiss of me. That last post was the first of the year and I let it pass without any mention of resolutions, plans or good intentions. Ah well, too late for me to bore you with it now.

Here's to a less infuriating year in the garden. Normal picture barrage service will resume as soon as I can get outside without disappearing to the knees in my own personal swamp. And I've gotten around to disposing of the Christmas tree.


Given my suspicion that no one is particularly interested in seeing pictures of my garden looking like a muddy pool after our most recent round of deluges, things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms such as shaking and general grumpiness, but hopefully things shall start picking up soon.

This forced absence from the garden does however mean that I've been able to do plenty of reading. Much of this has been non garden relevant, but I have been enjoying catching up on various garden magazines on my new iPad (which shall hereafter be referred to as the Fondleslab).