August round-up…

I am finally getting a bit of time in the garden after our holidays left me with rather a mess to clear up.  I’m at that stage where I am looking forward to getting everything cut back and tidied, there’s still a bit of time to go but I think the general crappy nature of the garden this year (it’s definitely not been my best gardening year) and the out of control vibe of the school summer holidays has me ready for a little more order and some neat vegetable beds.

The garden is full of butterflies today, we have some huge buddleia bushes growing on the other side of the fence, they are in fact taller than the fence at this time of year and the butterflies sun themselves on the wood.

This one sat on my arm and refused to move for about 10mins, I was walking around most of that time slowly doing jobs (and trying to photograph it one handed – not easy – lucky I had my camera around my neck).  Shame there are so many cabbage whites as well, leaving caterpillars munching away at my poor leaves.

Crops this year have been sparse.  We didn’t get to eat many tomatoes at all, most were very blighted by the time we returned from holiday, but we did get to munch some of the sungold before we went.  Their cherry size and orange colour was a winner with C, who likes to eat them whilst exploring the garden.

Also still going strong are:

Cucumbers

Alpine Strawberries

Carrots

Pak Choi

Chard

I have broccoli, barlotti beans, sweetcorn and a second sowing of chard on the way, but the definite highlight of this year are the squash.  I’ll write a full post on these once they have been picked for drying, it’s almost quite difficult to see exactly how many fruits I’ve got with the large leaves roaming everywhere, but it’s looking quite good and may well be my redeeming crop this year.

I pulled up all the shallots when we returned from Yorkshire.  They haven’t grown very big, the trapped rabbit (the one stuck in the vegetable patch) ate all the tops when they should have had plenty of growing time left and the rain had them sitting in damp ground so I have popped them into the greenhouse to dry off.  They may not be very big but there are loads, so I’m planning some pickled shallots this year, when the boys are back at school and I have time.

I’ve trimmed off the garlic and brought it indoors.  It’s been drying for some weeks in the greenhouse and this has about half the crop.  Although they started well they aren’t the size of last years, still good enough though and something I’ll always make room for, in fact I’ve ordered the autumn planing bulbs (Solent Wight) so I don’t forget from Thompson and Morgan.  I’m not going to order shallot sets, I’m going to try planing this year’s bulbs and see what happens.

I need to get my act together, I’m determined to get some autumn/winter crops started, it’s difficult when we are still having such hot days, so many plants have bolted this year, I’m waiting for things to cool off a bit and for the school holidays to be over.  I tend to get very busy with sewing work from September onwards, but I’m determined to make time for the garden, we’ll see, only time will tell 🙂

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Wild Flowers…

We’re nearly at the end of the school summer holidays and it feels to have flown by so far.

We were lucky enough to get tickets for the Olympics, and although the event itself was amazing, I was also very keen to get a good look at the wild flower meadows.  I was not disappointed, the flowers were stunning, especially the ‘gold’ beds as shown below.  Crammed full of blooms and very inspiring, especially after the non event of my cutting beds this year, which have failed for the first time ever.  The weather hasn’t helped but the main problem was a rogue rabbit that was trapped in the vegetable garden which relentlessly munched the seedlings until I gave up.  I still have some Cosmos and Zinnias that might flower before the weather turns but it’s getting a bit late in the year now.

Following the Olympics we travelled ‘Up North’ to stay in my beloved Yorkshire Dales.  For those who don’t know, this is where I am from and my family still have a working sheep farm, just inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

One of the things that I am always in awe of, when we visit, are the wild flowers.  The Dales is sheep farming country, the landscape is lush and green and mostly involves fields surrounded by dry stone walls.  The roads are narrow, but quite busy (it’s very much a tourist destination and a cyclist’s haven), all along the sides there are banks of grass peppered with wild flowers.

The range and mass of flowers is due to the lime-rich soils, I had hoped to take lots of photos, but often I only had my phone camera with me and the results aren’t worth posting, these are the best ones I managed to take, sadly.  The geraniums above are my favourite, they appear everywhere, especially along the roads, along with willow herb and wild scabious.

We spent a lot of time in Upper Wharfedale and Littondale, where a lot of farmers take part in a government scheme that involves leaving the meadows much later before cutting, so as to let the wild flowers re-seed.  We were lucky with the weather in that generally all the meadow cutting was late, the earlier rain followed by the small pocket of sunshine meant that even the meadows not covered by the scheme were still in full bloom.

We had lots of days out that involved gardens.  We visited the Forbidden Corner in Leyburn (sorry to those who read both my blogs, as you’re getting this all twice!) which is a folly garden, but still full of lovely flowers, I was happy to find us in Valley Gardens in Harrogate one day (really for the kids to go to the playground), although I couldn’t manage to persuade my lot to actually to go to Harlow Carr…one day it might happen.

We also spent a pleasant day at Harewood House where a wander around the  Himalayan Gardens had me falling in love with this Potentilla, prompting me to order some similar pink plants from Crocus.  I did have a bit of a sulk after finding the walled vegetable gardens were closed for the afternoon for a play to take place in the grounds.  I was rather looking forward to seeing them.Whilst home, I made a visit to Grove Rare Books in Bolton Abbey.  We don’t often get to go as even though we drive past it daily,  it’s difficult to park in the village.

I managed to add to me ever expanding collection of old Observer Books which are a series of pocket guides to pretty much everything, some originally published over 60 years ago.  You can read more about them here, but don’t blame me if you also become addicted.

I should stress now, I’m not a fanatic or anything, you wont find me lurking at the next Observers Book Society meeting (they have meetings – oh yes they do!) each to his own and all that.  But I do have a bit of a ‘thing’ about collecting books from my childhood and ones on nature.  It’s often about the images, which inspire me in my work at The Linen Cat, but some are just great books.

One of those being the ‘Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe’, which is from the 1970’s and not only is it full of fabulous illustrations but it’s also really good for identifying flowers.

This is a book we have at home (ie my Mum’s), one that belonged to my Dad and I’ve been keen to get  a copy for ages, I just keep forgetting.  Now that you can so easily buy old books from Amazon, it’s hard to resist adding to my collection.  My husband loves all my ‘stuff’, really he does 😉

The garden was a mess on our return from holiday.  I think I’ve really dropped the ball this year, especially on the flower side.  I think I am just bored.  It’s time for a change and I feel freshly energised to do that so I’m planning on moving things around this Autumn and getting some new colours into the borders.  It’ll be fun, I’m quite excited….just need to persuade M to allow a water feature next!

 

 

What gardening blog…?

I know, I’ve totally dropped the ball on both the blog and the garden itself.  School summer holidays are upon us, the Olympics are on, the weather can’t make its mind up and I feel distracted.

Mornings looks like this.  This is my youngest eating from the LAST JAR of homemade strawberry jam (his favourite) and watching 3D Olympics.  Must make more jam before the strawberries are all gone.

This turned up in the greenhouse – what is it!?  I’ve never seen anything so big….is it a Queen Bee, because it is nearly 4cm long, I don’t think you get the feel of its scale from the photo.  Thank goodness I didn’t come across it alive, that would have scared me!

I decided to give the last redcurrants to the birds today.  I feel bad, they are a lovely crop and they look so beautiful and jewel like hanging delicately from their branches, but I have so much jelly left from last year and I just don’t have time to deal with them before we go away on holiday.  Oh well.  On which note, we’re off to Yorkshire for a while, I hope the garden survives as the crops are so late we haven’t really enjoyed eating the produce yet.  Fingers crossed 🙂