I Am Not Worthy…But Thank You!

It is glorious outside today, what a difference some sunshine makes!

DSC_0074I’ve been out in the garden all morning, clearing the borders (of leaves) and attempting to get on top of things before the growing year gets going. It doesn’t make for pretty photos, sadly, as my poor garden is very dull at this time of year. There are things on the way, it was nice to uncover and reveal all the little green shoots, but I’m sad that there isn’t more to brighten up the gloomy spots and it really is something I need to look into for next year (more Hellebores?…Possibly). I’ve left the leaves in piles at the side so the ladybirds have a chance to emerge, before I move them over to the recycle bins.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.51.35As I was working, and as always happens, I had a running commentary of possible blog content going thorough my head. I am a perpetual ‘virtual’ blog writer….shame I’m so bad at doing the actual writing! I was just about to head upstairs and start sewing when I realised that some blog post are well overdue and do need to actually be written, so here goes.

Back in February, I was really lucky to have my blog included in a post entitled 13 Glorious Gardening Blogs  by WaltonsNot only am I now lusting over a garden studio again (they have some really lovely sheds, garden rooms and cabins on their website) but I feel rather guilty, as I haven’t been a very good blogger recently, and don’t really feel like I deserve to be on a list with other truly, decent garden blogs. Ho-hum. Perhaps it’s the kick up the bum I need to get back to regular writing? DSC_0076The kind ‘blurb’ mentioned my Whisky Marmalade recipe and it reminded me that it is Seville orange time of year. Ocado currently have them available for delivery and I was very tempted, for a moment, until I checked the cupboard and realised I still have 6 jars to use up going back to 2011 and 2012. That’s one of my problems, I like making things but then it’s usually only me that eats them, and there is only so much marmalade one women can eat, especially as I don’t have toast much these days. Still, if I say so myself (and I do) my recipe for both Whisky Marmalade and Seville Jelly really do work well and the jars from 2011 are as good as the day they were made.DSC_0004I noticed one of Miss Bumbles little spring critters hanging in the door when I closed the cupboard up. It’s not like me to be that organised, I must have put her back there when the winter version came down.

DSC_0160I know most people who drop by here know me already, but for anyone new, I live in an end of terrace, period house with my two boys, two cats, guinea pigs, chickens and a decent sized garden with a vegetable patch. I sew for a living, and sell my work on my own website (The Linen Cat – even more neglected than this blog, right now). Most of the things I make are nature or vintage influenced, often a mixture of both. My house is quite ‘arty’ and I like to support other makers, where I can, so I tend to mention any pretty things I might have come across on here. I cook quite well, but my baking is a bit hit and miss and I struggle with time, these days, to look after my boys, sew and keep on top of the house and garden but I’m not one to give up. Oh and I’m Northern, but live in Kent, so be prepared for me to ramble on about Yorkshire a lot.

I have quite a bit to write about at the moment and I have actually taken my camera with me, as I’ve been working – big pat on the back for me – but I think it might be best of I split things into smaller posts. Small posts, more often, that’s the key, like the way I garden 🙂 Mushrooms next!

Garden Catch-Up!

DSC_0001 (1)I’m forever thinking I should try to photograph the borders and flowers more in the garden, but I never really get around to it. The top borders (as above) where looking quite good, earlier in the year. They are now rather overgrown and weedy, but there is still more colour than there has been for a while.DSC_0006I do like having the chickens roaming around. The ‘big’ girls can make quite a mess, but the Bantams are much less invasive and definitely get my vote.IMG_20160529_144610Ava was looking especially dandy in front of the side bed,DSC_0009which has my winner of a plant, Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ growing in it. I just LOVE this and plan to buy another for the upper border. It flowers early, is architecturally quite fabulous and the bees are always all over it. I think you can dry the flowers…must try that some time….I wonder if you could then spray them silver for Christmas?DSC_0002I just nipped out now to try to take some photos, but it’s too windy and to be honest, on close inspection a lot of the blooms are very much past their best. We’re about to enter that period where my garden looks all faded and sad, and where I always wish I’d grown some dahlias for later colour!IMG_20160619_100525-EFFECTSI was lucky to get invited to Hampton Court Flower Show last week and the main theme seemed to be wild flowers, informal planting and lots and lots of wild flower turf.  I could happily also go in this direction, especially as maintaining my beds is quite a chore (not that I’m suggesting for a moment, the meticulously planned ‘informal’ planting of the show doesn’t take forever to achieve), but I feel like I’m now stuck in the ‘Brilliant Bold’ garden theme I opted for 10 years ago.DSC_0001My own wild flower patches, in the vegetable garden, aren’t nearly so impressive….especially as the shed behind them needs re-painting (that’s the wasps, by the way, eating the wood and removing the paint stain layer. There’s a purple wasps nest somewhere…hopefully not in my loft!).

I’m about to upgrade my chickens to a walk in run, which will likely have to be static and I quite fancy a border of wild flowers alongside.  I might just dig up this lot up though, and simply re-plant it by the run, it’ll save me spending hours weeding out the  seedlings that grow all over the gravel path, next to it, in future.DSC_0004There isn’t a lot else to report in the garden. I did harvest the garlic, including some quite impressive bulbs of ‘Elephant’ garlic that have been growing since last autumn.  It’s not the best crop I’ve had, partly due to the rain, it was in danger of going mouldy if not pulled up and so was taken out a little too early. Still fresh garlic is so amazing, it’s something I’ll always make time for.

We have courgettes, french beans, lettuce, radish, herbs, spring onions also on the go;DSC_0005and plenty to come, including tomatoes, aubergines, melons, squash and sweetcorn (which I’ve allowed flowers to grow amongst, as above) so quite a productive garden this year.

I will try to be better at photographing and blogging, it should be berries next, if the pesky pigeons have left me any!



This post is really just for my own records, as a package of 12 bare root shrubs has just arrived from Thompson & Morgan, that I bought for an amazingly cheap price.

Annoyingly, I’ve had to look each shrub up, using its label and in some cases it doesn’t say what colour the shrub is so below I’ve done my best guess, purely so I have a record somewhere of what they all are:


Ribes odoratum

Ribes aureum, Golden Currant, Flowering Currant, Buffalo Currant

Hardy Shrub
  • Fragrant blooms followed by edible berries

Set against a backdrop of glossy green foliage, the pale yellow flowers with a spicy clove-like fragrance are produced in bunches at the tips of arching stems. The early spring flowers of Ribes odoratum are followed by edible black berries that often persist well into late summer. By autumn, the foliage turns to bright shades of red and purple. This fabulous flowering currant provides a long season of interest, and being tough and resilient, it will grow well in most gardens. Height and spread: 2m (6′,6″).


Ramanas Rose (Hedging)

Rosa rugosa

Hardy Shrub

A tough, resilient and reliable rose shrub that will grow and spread readily in almost any situation. Ideal as a security hedge too as the prickles and thorns will deter any would be intruder, the ramanas rose, rosa rugosa is a good performing hedging plant. In spring a profusion of simple pink flowers will cover the hedge, giving of a sweet scent. The flowers will develop into bright red round fruits, or hips, that are not only attractive to wildlife but are also a good source of vitamins A, C and E when used in jellies or Jams. Supplied as 50 – 80cm bareroots (20 – 31″) Height: 150cm (59’). Spread: 150cm (59’). Planting Distance: 60cm (24″)


Weigela florida ‘Polka’ (Large Plant)

Hardy Shrub

This spreading deciduous shrub looks glorious in Summer when its arching branches are filled with soft pink trumpet shaped blooms. The nectar rich flowers of Weigela florida ‘Polka’ are gently scented and attract pollinating insects. The foliage is an unusual dark blue-green colour and forms a dense cloak of leaves that creates an excellent background for summer flowering perennials when grown in mixed borders. Height: 120cm (48″). Spread: 150cm (59″).


Forsythia x intermedia ‘Goldrausch’

Hardy Shrub

Forsythia is that yellow flowering shrub which everyone asks about each spring! The bare stems of this plant are cloaked in bright golden-yellow flowers, when nothing else is in the bloom in the garden!

Forsythia ‘Goldrausch’ is a compact variety, which can be grown in a shrub border, trained as a colourful hedge or grown against a wall. An excellent plant for small gardens. Forsythia plants are an easy to grow shrub, which is easy to prune and will last for many years. Height and Spread: 2.5m (8’).


Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Atropurpurea Nana’

Berberis thunbergii ‘Crimson Pygmy’, Berberis ‘Little Favourite’, Barberry

Hardy Shrub

This dwarf deciduous Barberry makes a colourful addition to rockeries and borders. This RHS AGM variety has red-purple foliage that brings a bright splash of colour in spring before maturing to fiery scarlet in Autumn. The yellow spring flowers are loved by pollinators, and the berries that succeed its blooms will attract plenty of birds. Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Atropurpurea Nana’ is hardy, growing happily in any well drained soil. With its neat, compact habit, it makes a useful low hedge too. Height and spread: 100cm (40″).


Symphoricarpos ‘Albus’


Hardy Shrub

A compact plant which produces a mass of small white flowers in summer which go on to produce white fleshy berries in autumn (harmful if eaten). A non fussy shrub, Symphoricarpos ‘Albus’ will thrive on most soils and although prefers to be in sun, it will tolerate part shade. The deciduous foliage is a yellow tinted green colour, which goes beautifully with its white fruits. Height & Spread: 80cm (32″).


Potentilla fruticosa ‘Mango Tango’

Shrubby Cinquefoil

Hardy Shrub

Cup shaped orange-yellow flowers stand out nicely from the grey-green foliage of this compact Shrubby Cinquefoil. Blooming over a very long period from May to September, Potentilla fruticosa ‘Mango Tango’ provides real value in a sunny border or rockery. This hardy deciduous shrub is adaptable and surprisingly tough, despite the delicate appearance of its fine stems and tiny leaves. Grow it en masse in hot, sunny borders, where it will superb drought tolerance once established. Height and spread: 60cm (24″).


Deutzia setchuenensis var. corymbiflora

Hardy Shrub

Deutzia setchuenensis var. corymbiflora is a particularly attractive deciduous shrub. From early summer the white cupped-shaped blooms are borne in dense clusters against the grey-green foliage. In winter, the upright stems are revealed, with mature plants displaying fabulous pale brown peeling bark. This elegant shrub has been awarded an RHS AGM for its garden performance, and makes a classy addition to woodland areas, mixed borders and cottage gardens. Height: 200cm (78″). Spread: 150cm (59″).


Lilac ‘Katherine Havemeyer’

Syringa vulgaris

Hardy Shrub

Elegant panicles of double lavender-blue flowers are produced against a backdrop of heart-shaped foliage on this beautiful, spreading lilac. Syringa ‘Katherine Havermeyer’ is a quick-growing, trouble-free variety with nectar rich, fragrant flowers that are loved by butterflies. A well loved specimen shrub for cottage garden borders that requires little maintenance. Height and spread: 7m (22′).


Tamarix tetrandra

Four Stamen Tamerisk

Hardy Shrub

As a medium size shrub or small tree, however you see it, Tamarix tetandra is deciduous with feathery foliage consisting of small, needle-like green leaves. Originally discovered in Holland, this plant will withstand UK winters, down to temperatures of around -20C. The RHS have awarded this plant a prestigious Award of Garden Merit for its arching, almost black branches, together with large plumes of light pink flowers in late spring. A worthy winner! Height & Spread: 4m (13′).


Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Variegata’


Hardy Shrub

Beautiful variegated foliage in cream and green cover this vigorous shrub during Spring and Summer, making it an interesting addition to the back of a border or as part of a larger shrub collection. In the Winter, Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Variegata, as with all Dogwoods, really steals the show, with thickets of bright red stems which will liven up the garden when most other plants are dormant. !. Height: 300cm (118″). Spread: 300cm (118″).


Spiraea japonica ‘Green and Gold’

Japanese Spiraea

Hardy Shrub

Japanese Spiraea is a robust deciduous shrub that deserves a place in every garden. Spiraea japonica ‘Green and Gold’ produces a profusion of flowers against a background of the yellow-green foliage from mid to late summer. Adored by butterflies and other pollinators, Spiraea is an excellent choice for a wildlife garden, where its vibrant autumn foliage will add a splash of late season colour. Tough, resilient and easy to grow – a superb low maintenance shrub. Height and spread: 120cm (48″).

That’s if….off to get them planted out 🙂

Vegetable Plating Lists 2016

Drying Flower Heads

I saved a lot of seeds last year, especially flower ones, and they have been laid out drying (and hopefully not going mouldy!) in the greenhouse.  I’ve gone though the seed box and along with everything I’ve collected, the only thing I should need to buy are cucumber seeds, which I hope to pick up locally, and maybe some things that are a bit different to grow just for fun.  And so, my ‘list’ is pretty much the same as last year:


Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

Aubergine Money Maker F1

Sweet Pepper Worldbeater

Chilli (I need to buy new seeds, again, not sure what variety yet)

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia


Spinach Bordeaux

Cucumbers (Need new seed, again not sure what)

Courgettes Zephyr

Melon Edonis

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Broad Beans Crimson Flowered

Peas Oasis & Purple Mangetout

Herbs Dill, Chives, Garlic Chives, French Sorrel, Thyme, Mint, Coriander, Lemon Grass


Swiss Chard Bright Lights & White Silver

Beetroot Bolthardy

Sweetcorn Conqueror

Spring Onions Welsh Red Stem & North Holland Blood Red (seed collected from last year’s plants)

Pak Choi Mei Qing Choi & Rubi

Beans Blue Climbing

Broccoli Red Arrow & Rudolph & Kailaan No 2

Carrots Yellowstone, Rainbow Hybrid, Purple Haze, Healthmaster & Sugarsnax

Turnip Sweetball & Snowball

Lettuce various varieties

Herbs Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Winter Savory and many more…

Squash Crown Prince, Sweet Dumpling, Turks Turban, Hooligan & Barbara Butternut F1 


Pak Choi Tatsoi

Fennel Romanesco

Spinach Perpetual (Leaf Beat)



Kale Cavolo Nero & Red Russian

Herbs Parcel, Cress (Bubbles)

I realised that I’ve not bought garlic for years now, I grow more than enough to keep us going and often find myself throwing some away when the new bulbs are ready and I tire of the old, dried ones.  Because of this, garlic is also on the list and was bought and planted last autumn.  I went for garlic Germidour, which I haven’t grown before but I wanted to order everything from one place.  It’s a french, soft-neck variety that can be planted in autumn or spring.  At the same time, I bought potatoes, Pink Apple, and shallots Longer.  The potatoes are now chitting in the kitchen and the shallots are on their way in the post.

I still haven’t planted up my February list but need to get on with it, so perhaps that’s one for the weekend 🙂


Late Summer Garden…

This year started so well, I don’t think I’ve ever been so prepared with the raised beds or kept the grass so well ordered (thanks to the earlier moss killing and scarifying sessions), but what started well has all slipped down hill rather swiftly as time has gone by.

DSC_0160For the first year ever, I’ve hardly used any of the berries.  The blackcurrants and gooseberries both went to the birds.  The cherries, though, were eaten by us, as where the alpine strawberries.  The apples, which I’ve managed to grow in decent amounts for the first time ever on my family apple tree have mostly dropped off, just as I thought to go pick them, are now laying bruised and rotting on the grass.  On the plus side, I did manage to pick the redcurrants and hand them out to friends, they were too glorious to waste.

DSC_0162I’m amazed (as I always am) at how quickly the weeds take over if neglected for even a short time.  We were lucky to get a few days on Yorkshire, a couple of weeks ago, during which time there was some much needed rain down here in the south and when I finally went into the garden to do a tidy up last week, I couldn’t believe how many weeds had taken hold.  I’ve resigned myself to just trying to keep on top of things by pulling any heads off before they flower and removing the stems when I have more time.  I’ve done the same with anything I don’t want to self seed next year, such as the poppies.  I’m happy for them to grow, as they are lovely, but I’ll make a point of scattering the seeds in places I want them permanently to be, instead of their growing like crazy all over the place.
The biggest success of this year has been growing the flowers for cutting in and around the vegetables (instead of in separate raised beds).  This was mostly down to my not making a plan and just planting up seedlings as and when they were ready in whichever spot was free, but it’s kept all the beds ‘interesting’ to look at, over a longer period. 
Of the new flower seeds I planted, the Rudbeckia ‘All Sorts Mix‘ has been the greatest success, I’ve always struggled to germinate Rudbeckia in the past, I have no idea why, but this year they went well and their lovely bright pop of colour is very welcome at this time of year, I’m pretty sure I’ll be growing these next year to be put into the main border to add some colour late in the season.  We’ve had sunflowers, marigolds, nigella, snapgragons to name a few others, all grown in rows amongst the vegetables.


The end of the garden, where the veg patch is has generally been well used this year.  I added two hammocks to the decking area and it’s really pleasant to sit there and look back at the house through the planting.  I had to buy two hammocks to stop the boys arguing over who can sit where, when!!
DSC_0160 (1)

I’ve concentrated on keeping the decking clean and leaf free this year, another first.  I hope that if I keep clearing it regularly, we wont get a build up of slimy leaves  and that lovely green slippery surface that comes with them.  The birds make a bit of a mess too, from one of the trees they like to sit in so I’ve kept that area regularly scrubbed down.  The table and seating was power hosed down at the beginning of the year and I’ve slowly worked through getting a good coat of oil on it all.

We’ve had a lot of BBQ’sDSC_0165

whilst listening to old records on my portable player…the boys quite like the old rock and roll ones but were less impressed by my Nik Kershaw tracks.

petersham3 I was lucky to be taken to lunch at Petersham Nurseries last week, by my Sister.RadishIt was heavenly, the food was fresh, tasty and amazing.  We both had grouse for our main course, served very simply with chard, sweetcorn and new potatoes and I have to say, it was the best tasting grouse dish I have ever had, cooked to perfection and just delicious….I would show you a photo but I was too busy enjoying eating and looking at the equally lovely surroundings, besides, I do feel a bit of a prat photographing my food (I did take a single photo of the radish nibbles though, but not until after we’d eaten half!!).Petersham FlowersThe visit made me want to grow dahlias again, I’ve had a bit of a break from them here, but it was the main flower used for arrangements and on show in the garden when we visited.

paradise barsBack at home, I can’t help but notice the interest in healthy eating recipe books at the moment.  I think it’s partly to do with my age and the age of my friends, we’re all busy attempting to look after our bodies as the reality that we aren’t spring chickens any more sinks in.  The latest to be added to my collection is Helmsley Helmsley ‘The Art of Eating Well’ which I mainly bought because I wanted to make Paradise Bars.  Oh.  My.  God.  Best thing ever.  Like top quality Bounty bars, although like many healthy recipes, I have to remind myself that just because the ingredients are ‘good’ the bar itself is still very calorific, even if it is all good fat, so I need to not chomp them all in a week.  Which is hard.

Off to get one from the freezer now!

Busy, busy, busy…

It’s April, and as happens every year, my kitchen has been turned into a giant greenhouse as I get as many seeds as possible started in this busy month.  I’ve been really good this year and have spent most of the Easter holidays so far working on the garden.  I wasn’t sure about doing more than just maintaining things as there is still a question mark over if I’ll need to sell or not, but in the end I figured I’d go for it and plant both vegetables and cut flowers and at least I can hand over a full garden to the new owners, should it come to that.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 08.46.57 Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 08.46.20 Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 08.45.58I ordered some new flower seeds from Thompson & Morgan (as above) and these have all been started in a giant seed tray made from a plastic tray intended to put a large grow bag on, which I’ve filled with small seed cell trays.


DSC_0137It was born out of necessity, after I ended up at a standard DIY store instead of my usual independent garden shop (which was closed) and there wasn’t a lot of choice, but it works really well.  Once the seedlings are established I’ll move the tray into the greenhouse so the plants get even light and don’t become too leggy.  I’ve also planted up lots of the seeds I collected from last year, mainly things like Nigella and Calendula.


In the garden the spring bulbs have returned in all the borders, but with a little less enthusiasm, the exception being narcissi which come back year after year.


My trough, that sits on the drive is looking promising, but sadly, the two small raised beds in the veg patch that were full of spring plants last year have produced nothing 😦 it would appear the various pests I suffer with in the garden have eaten all the dormant bulbs.


On which note, I am determined to get on top of the rabbit situation and have spent quite a bit of time trying to block any remaining entry points, often by inventive means.  My methods are by no means perfect and not always pretty, but I’m determined to eventually keep the little furry critters out.  Sadly, this wasn’t done in time to stop them munching many of the nice new plant shoots that emerged early last month so a lot of the damage is already done.  Must get on with cleaning my decking as well, I have swept it a number of times over but it needs power hosing down to get it really clean.


Indoors, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of making mineral bone broths, you can google a zillion methods so I wont bore you with those, but basically it involves slow boiling your left over meat bones (often browned in the oven beforehand, especially if you’re using beef bones) with any vegetables, herbs etc that need using up, for hours and hours and hours.  You add a splash of vinegar to cold bones before cooking the broth to help bring the minerals out.  It’s pretty much the same process I’ve always done for making chicken stock, expect I now really do throw every vegetable peeling or limp carrot from the back of the fridge into the pot and I boil it a lot longer, until the bones start to break down.  I’ve mostly then been using the stock to then make batches of chicken soup for F as he loves it and in theory it ‘might’ help his broken arm heal quicker.

To add to my vegetable list from last month, I’ve added:

Sweetcorn ‘Conqueror’

Climbing BeanBlauhilde’

Indoors and in the greenhouse, in gutters:



Direct (under cloches) I’ve sown:

Spring Onions



Turnip ‘Snowball’

I hope to get broccoli, kale, and all the squash on the go in coming weeks.

Right, I’m off to give everything a water, it’s amazing how quickly things dry out in the greenhouse if they aren’t carefully monitored.

We’re having a heatwave…

I started writing this post on July 16th, but the title still stands, we are most definitely still feeling the heat here in the UK.  It’s left the grass brown and the flower borders are struggling, but I have managed to keep the patch vaguely watered and the greenhouse gets a daily dose.DSC_0017 Earlier this month, I was very lucky to be invited along to the Hampton Court Flower Show.  I took some photos on my iPhone, but they aren’t great quality so I’ll skip posting them.  I really enjoyed the show, it’s the second time I’ve been….my main thoughts are there are less show gardens than I expected and they are quite difficult to see after midday, due to the crowds, we were lucky to get around most of them pre-lunch and then zoom through the flower tents afterwards, which are a real treat.  I bought some plants back, mostly for the boys

DSC_0022 C got a new succulent for his room, I was told that if we snap off the flowers, let them dry out for a couple of days then push them into soil, we’ll get new plants, so we are certainly going to try this.  I’d also bought the boys fly catchers, but these have gone into the bathroom so I remember to keep them watered (with rain water only), otherwise I’m sure they’ll be dead in a week.  The grass on the left is ‘bunny tails’ which has, as the name suggests, little fluffy tufts of grass heads on medium stalks.  It’s gone into the giant planter that has sat empty for months, along with herbs but that deserves a post of it’s own.DSC_0034 My crazy mixed bed where I threw all the reminder of the flower seed packets in has been dominated by self-seeded poppies.  They grow all over the garden and I’m making a point of removing the heads so I have a little more control over where they germinate next year.  They are nice, but not quite the shade I would choose.  I prefer darker reds, these are more of a pink hue, still, they do add colour when there isn’t a lot else going on.

DSC_0027The same bed is now full of marigolds (Indian Prince) which also self-seed all over the garden.

DSC_0188These are top of my ‘cut flower’ list so I don’t mind at all, they look a little scruffy in the photo as I’ve just been away for a few days, so the poor garden has dried terribly and no-one has been picking or dead-heading the plants.  You can see a single cornflower trying to push through, and there are nigellas as well, out of shot.
DSC_0195The only flowers I specifically planted that have made it are zinnias (just about to flower) and cosmos.  This chocolate colour was not expected though!  I was sure I’d be getting hot pinks but this might be another self-seeded number as it originally appeared in the gravel and was transplanted to its new spot in the raised bed.

In the next week, I need to get any winter veg started and hopefully we’ll get to eat the corn, potatoes, courgettes and broad beans that are nearly ready.  I HAVE to get some work done outdoors, but the heat is getting to me and I’d rather not go out there unless I have to.

DSC_0061I’m also up against it with my sewing work.  I’ve managed to finish and list this ‘gardening’ apron, but there is so much to get done for the busy season that is Autumn/Winter in the shop.  Too many things and not enough hours, but then isn’t that always the way 🙂


June In The Garden…

I’m clearly not getting back into the swing of blogging about the garden, I think I’m just quite distracted by the house (I’m trying to get it better organised) and sewing, but the garden hasn’t been completely neglected, in fact the veg patch is in a pretty good state, despite the setback of having the delivery lady leave the gate open when we were away (she was putting a parcel in the greenhouse) and as a result the rabbits taking out EVERYTHING that was growing.


The borders are the main neglected area, I’ve pretty much let them fend for themselves this year and as a result the plants are heavily interspersed with weeds.  I’ve decided to just let it be this year and focus on growing vegetables and cut flowers.


I do have to address the geranium psilostemon though.  It’s self seeded like crazy and some of the clumps need to be removed, which is proving difficult as the roots are firmly fixed into the ground, I may have to resort to spraying them, although I do hope not.DSC_0239 12-21-43 It reminded me that I don’t think I’ve ever posted this photo.  I took it some years ago to show what happens if you cut the geranium back after it’s first flowering, as you can see by the patch on the right (the left was not cut, to show the comparison) you will get a second flush of stems and flowers, not quite as vigorous as the first, but certainly better than a pile of dead looking soggy leaves.

DSC_0067The bees are busy and they LOVE the mathiasella ‘Green Dream’ that I planted a couple of years ago.  It’s been a real winner of a plant, with lovely tall stems and it’s great for cutting for the house.  It’s also survived the rabbits, which are causing real problems in the main garden, they took out all the lupins and the Japanese anemone (which is attempting a come back, I think) amongst others.  I’m quite worried that all the spring plants I spent ages putting in on the side border wont return as they also got nibbled, after flowering.  As I type there are…….12 rabbits in the garden and 3 fat wood pigeons.  We really need to get the entire fence rabbit proofed as it’s the only way to control the problem and since loosing my cat over Easter (to old ages and illness) the problem has increased.


The roses are doing well this year, I found these two in the side border, both of which I’d forgotten I’d planted.  I’m not even sure what they are but the spray rose is lovely, I think I remember buying it for exactly that reason, small, multiple heads that slowly open to end up as frilly pale pink flowers (which appears to be the case).  I’ll try to find out what it is, at some point.

DSC_0087The patch is making a come back, after the rabbit attack, quite a few plants must have had enough roots to return, or were munched in such a way that they have survived.  It’s all a bit scruffy and could do with a good tidy up, but we have:

  • salad leaves
  • radish
  • carrots (under netting to deter the root flies and rabbits!)
  • x5 purple mange tout (all the rest got eaten)
  • barlotti beans (making a come back after being pretty much wiped out)
  • broad beans
  • garlic (nearly ready to pull…rabbits don’t like garlic, it would appear)
  • red spring onions (left in from last year, now going to seed, the new ones got eaten)
  • courgettes
  • perennial spinach
  • cucumbers
  • potatoes
  • alpine strawberries (again, munched to the ground by rabbits, but making a slow return)
  • tomatoes
  • red peppers
  • aubergines
  • chillies

There are also some herbs (Thai basil, sweet basil, lemon grass, thyme, rosemary, sage, mint, lemon balm, garlic chives, regular chives, coriander, parsley & marjoram), a bed of mixed cutting flowers plus all the self seedlings from last year, such as cosmos, that I’m leaving in place for transplanting later.  Oh and the triffid looking thing near the greenhouse is a swiss chard that’s gone to seed.  I may as well let it be and collect the seeds once developed.


This is the view a couple of weeks ago from the house.  It’s difficult to photograph as it’s been rather sunny here and the shadows are very deep, this was on a rare cloudy day.  The hedge has been clipped and at the end of the year I’m going to cut back the gooseberry bushes and shape the currants so it all looks a lot neater.  One day, we might even get proper gates!  I was hoping to show you a nice photo, this one is a bit messy as I managed to break the lawnmower being over zealous with the long meadow like grass so there will be no more lawn trimming until it’s fixed.  You can also see the new fence and decking area we put in last year.DSC_0002This is a ‘before’ photo and as you can see, we gained huge amounts of garden by decking out the back area behind the shed.  We also gained a good couple of meters along the fence side, where we trimmed the bottom of the trees off, to make space for the fence (it used to just be a low stone wall, which is still there, with overgrown scrub behind it, it was not very private or safe, so sadly needed fencing in).

We have school sports day today, I had hoped to get out and pull a few weeds but the temperature is already rising and I’m no good at gardening in the sun.  I must be one of the only Brits that actually likes clouds and rain.  Still, there are lots of things to do indoors so I’d best get on and hopefully we’ll be eating some homegrown produce in coming weeks….that’s always the best bit 🙂

Flower Planting Lists 2014


I took the boys geocaching in our local woods today, it’s a new ‘hobby’ for us and I am hoping it’ll get them outdoors with more enthusiasm.  That and I’m clearly a geek and like this kind of thing.

boys 1 boys 2 boys 3

They do make me laugh, they know photos on the phone get ‘auto’ enhanced, often being but into a motion sequence and C has taken to doing funny poses just for this purpose, I’m not sure if it’ll work in a blog post, but I do hope so.ryarsh wood flowers

The flowers are out in full force, it looks really nice and it reminded me that I have never posted my list for flower planting this year, so here it is 🙂


Cleome Violet Queen H-H Annual


Amaranthus Caudatus/Love-lies-bleeding Viridis H-H Annual

Salvia Patens/Sage H-H Annual

Schizanthus/Butterfly Plant Dr Badger H-H Annual

Antirrhinum/Snapdragon Liberty Classic Crimson H-H Annual

Aster Matsumoto Crimson & Matsumoto Blue H-H Annual

Didiscus Blue Lace H-H Annual

Tithonia Rotundiflora/Mexican Sunflower H-H Annual

Zinnia Sprite H-H Annual

Cosmos Versailles Tetra, Antiquity, Purity & Dazzler H-H Annual

Molucella Laevis/Bells Of Ireland H-H Annual

Nicotiana Alata/Tabacco Plant Lime Green H-H Annual

Physalis Alkelengi/Chinese Lanterns Perennial

Tragopogan Crocifolius/Salsify Perennial

Agapanthus/African Lily Dark Blue Perennial

Cerinthe Major/Honeywort HA

Nigella Damascena/Love-In-The-Mist HA

Ammi Majus/Bishop’s Flower HA

Euphorbia Oblogata/Spurge HA

Briza Maxima/Greater Quaking Grass HA

Burpleurum/Thorowax HA

Salvia Horminum Blue Clary HA

Centaurea Cyanus/Cornflower HA

Calendula Officinalis/Marigold Art Shades & Indian Prince HA

Nigella Damascena/Love-In-The-Mist Deep Blus HA

September – October

Sweet Pea Painted Lady, Matucana, Midnight & Blue Velevet


I’m not sure how many of the seeds will germinate, many of them are very old so I hope to finish them off and start fresh next year, but I figured if I make a list it’s more likely that I will at least try to remember to sow them!

The Perfect Day…

It’s the most glorious day outside.  After some frosts earlier this week the sun has finally returned and when working in the garden this morning, I had to stop, as I was too hot in my long-sleeved t-shirt!


From my last post list, the following are happily growing.

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

Aubergine Money Maker F1 & Slim Jim 

Sweet Pepper Topepo Rosso, Jumbo Sweet F1 Hybrid & Worldbeater

Chilli (I used some seeds we got for free from a restaurant – no idea of the variety)

The Artichoke and Cape Gooseberry have refused to germinate – boo!  The tomato seeds, as nearly always, all germinated (I put two per jiffy) so I removed one of each.  In past years, I have been weak and have often potted these up, ending with an insane amount of plants and nowhere to put them.  I’ve learnt from that mistake 🙂

Today, I have planted direct:

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Beetroot Pablo & Bolthardy

Carrots Yellowstone, Rainbow Hybrid, Purple Haze, Healthmaster & Sugarsnax

Lettuce various varieties

I have so much more I had hoped to get started, but I forgot to buy soil yesterday – oops!


The spring flowers are doing really well, in the borders we’re moving on from anemone ‘blanda blue-flowered’ and aconite Eranthis hyemalis ’ to grape hyacinth, snake’s head fritillary and narcissi plus the tulips are also about to give their show, which is always a pleasure.  As always, there are anemone in the cutting patch and loads of hellebore dotted around the borders (as they are one of my favourites).


I picked the first rhubarb today, to make bellinis for Mother’s Day.  I am home alone with the boys, but I have some mini prosecco bottles in the fridge so why not?  I used Jamie Oliver’s recipe found here, only I cut the rhubarb really small as I quite like some little bits of it in the bottom of the bellini glass to nibble on once the drink is gone.  Oh and I also made it in the microwave, as all my pans were in the dishwasher.


Sorry of you read both my blogs as this is a repeat, but as I know I wont be getting anything for the day itself (poor me – ha ha) I bought myself some chocolates which I will, of course, share with the boys.


As always when I’m on my own (my husband works away every so often) I plan food ahead.  For tomorrow’s Sunday lunch I’ve just made the ‘gravy’ for sausage casserole using this Delia recipe as a base.  I’ve actually used beer and stock for the liquid, not red wine and I have to cook the bacon lardons on the side as my youngest is vegetarian (he thinks eating animals is mean, and I respect his view even though the rest of us do eat meat).  I’ll also cook the sausages separately tomorrow, again so Charlie can have his favourite vegi ones. For tonight, we’re having homemade pizza, so the boys can choose their own toppings.  I just did a quick Delia Toasted Sweetcorn Salsa to have on the side, as I love it and if I leave the tabasco and tomatoes out the boys will eat it.  I am sooo far ahead, we’ve even finished topic homework – go me.

Right, I’m off to get the pizza base started 🙂