Category Archives: Gardening

It Starts with an Earthquake

We had an interesting start to the day when Number One son texted to say they had had an earthquake in Malta. It wasn’t exactly traumatic – apparently it woke him up by rattling his wardrobe and then he went back to sleep.

This is similar to my experience with earthquakes. I’ve been in two, both in Nottingham. In one there was just a moderate bang and the pictures shifted on the walls. In the other there was a vibration lasting ten or fifteen seconds, like a passing train. Ornaments rattled and all the neighbours went out onto the street to see what had happened. I know that last bit because I went out too.

Julia was in those two, and also in an earlier one where people from one end of the building she was in to ask what the shaking was. There had been no shaking at her end. of the building.

I’m sure some of you have much more interesting earthquake stories but I’m not, as I have noted before, very exciting.

The journey to work was much easier than yesterday. This was good as I had nest boxes to build. One of the volunteers in the gardens has cut up his scrap timber and we have enough wood cut to make 12 boxes. Some it is oak. These are going to be excellent boxes.

It was Julia’s job to provide a fully charged drill and mine to use it to screw four of the boxes together. Easy enough, you would think, but one of us (and I will mention no names) didn’t do their job and after half a box the battery ran out.

I will say no more.

I didn’t say much at the time either, I merely sipped coffee, nibbled a biscuit and remarked in passing that it was a shame that there would be homeless birds this spring because someone couldn’t perform a simple task like plugging a battery charger in.

I’m getting good at this zen stuff.

Then I took some photos and went to work. Nothing much happened after that. This evening I’m going to look at the leaf photos and think deep thoughts. Or fall asleep in front of the TV.

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Sitting in the Garden

I spent a while sitting in the MENCAP GardeThere was a distinct nip in the air but it was still very pleasant. Julia provided the coffee and the Tunnocks teacakes. They aren’t really teacakes, they are chocolate coated confectionary with a marshmallow filling and a biscuit base. Somehow I managed to get over my concern about the accuracy of the name…

There’s plenty of colour in the garden at the moment, with fucsias and sedums doing well and the sumac trees changing colour.

It’s also time for the final picking of cape gooseberries – the crop with more names than it really needs.

Cape gooseberry, physalis, goldenberry, pichuberry, ground cherries and inca berries – take your pick.

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Cape Gooseberries

We’ve had our first frost this weekend so it’s going to be medlar time in the garden this week.

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Nottingham Medlars

We missed most of them them last year – either because of the birds or because of medlar rustlers.

 

Recycled Milk Containers

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It started off with milk containers, paint and a pallet. To be fair, paint and pallets are at the bottom of most of Julia’s projects.

I went to the Mencap garden with Julia last Friday to photograph her latest project.

Obtain some milk containers, making sure they are the same size, as this makes things easier. Cut the bottoms off, paint them and mount them upside down in a pallet (a batten through the handles helps), fill with potting compost and plant things in them.

Then make sure you keep them watered.We also had tea and biscuits. I like Fig Rolls: they remind me of visiting ancient aunts when I was a youngster. Some of them were fearsome, but the Fig Rolls generally made up for it. Time, as always, lends enchantment to the view, and I remember the biscuits more than the feeling of being found too frivolous.

They were, of course, of the generation that thought I’d look better up a chimney, though to be fair to them they had left school around the age of twelve and, mostly, worked in cotton mills all their lives. They tended not to marry, as the supply of husbands had been seriously depleted in the years between 1914 and 1918.

What with the Great War, the Great Depression, the death of the cotton industry and the Second World War, they didn’t have an easy time of it.

It’s made quite a good planter now it’s finished, though I expect to be asked about automatic watering systems next.

Upcycling

Julia had an old bike abandoned by the gardens. It lacked a few bits, but she’s a resourceful woman. With the addition of pallets, stakes, flower baskets and the remains of a bird feeder pole she has managed to produce a talking point. You might even call it a garden feature.

This upcycling is certainly the only cycling we’ve done in the last thirty years.

She’s been working me hard tonight, preparing for the Mencap Open Day so this is it for today. As usual, I have plenty of good intentions but have come up short on execution.

Tomorrow I will try harder.

Clumber Park

We had 13 packages to send off this morning, including two very expensive bank notes and two very cheap football cards (my labours of last week bearing fruit!).

Then I took Julia to lunch and decided to get some use out of our National Trust membership. Last year, we didn’t get a lot of use out of them. We went to Clumber Park, which isn’t far from the spot where I took the bluebell pictures yesterday.

It’s home to a number of things including a lake, which I photographed a few times last year, and a chapel which featured in a few photos.

This time we decided to visit the kitchen garden. It’s an excellent place, and very well designed. There’s a massive lean-to greenhouse up against a south-facing wall and a gentle slope to let the cold air flow away downhill. I didn’t walk all the way down, but I’m pretty sure there will be holes in the wall to let the cold air flow away. They designed things better in those days.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Hopefully they won’t say something bad.

 

And finally.

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Cream Tea at Clumber Park

It’s a hard life, but I’m coping…

The Polytunnel News

Julia has secured funding to replace the cover on the large polytunnel. She has also secured agreement from the company doing the work that they will bring the work forward to March. There are so many broken polytunnels after recent weather that the original date she was given was in May.

She’s like that. I have to be constantly on my guard or I’d be forever doing housework and tidying up after myself instead of blogging and drinking tea.

The problem is that they don’t really have much to work with. There’s no mains water and no electricity. As a result of that there’s no light to work by when daylight fails. When there’s no large polytunnel the only shelter they have to work in is the container, which is a bit small for the full group and is not very light at the best of times.

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Mencap, Nottingham – the broken polytunnel

You can’t work outside all day in the cold, and the smaller tunnel is set up for growing space, not as a work area. For the last few weeks they have been packing up halfway through the day and walking back to the youth centre.

It’s been a dispiriting time, but with agreement to funding and a bit of better weather things are on the mend.

Fortunately it looks like the other tunnel, though well overdue for a new skin, will last another year.  That gives time for her to raise the money, and as it’s a smaller job, the group ((and volunteers) should be able to do the work without help.

Flowers in the Frost

It was a bit cold this morning – minus 3.5 degrees C according to my car. With a bit of a breeze and the proximity of the River Trent it felt even colder. I started taking photos and twenty minutes later, when my hands could no longer feel the button, I called it a day and sat in the car with the heater on. Julia continued her inspection, declared the garden closed for the day and started ringing round to reorganise things.

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Frozen solid and minus three and a half degrees, though the moles are still active

I think it’s fair to say that they enjoyed themselves more in the main building than they would have done in the garden.

 

There was still plenty to see, though it was mostly droopy and covered in frost crystals. I tried to get some sun into the pictures but it was a bit low in the sky, and concealed behind trees.

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A cold-looking garden gnome

The poppies, meanwhile, are standing up to the cold weather better than the real flowers.

 

From there I dropped Julia at the main building and went to the jewellers to get a safety chain fitted to one of her Christmas presents. I will say no more…

I managed to do some shopping before my return home and a session of writing Christmas cards and blogging before starting to cook tea.

This is the street, complete with frozen snow. Despite the forecast of higher temperatures I fear it may last a week or more, and continue to be a hazard underfoot.

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A wintry scene