Category Archives: Gardening

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

A Rabbit Comes to Call

Here are some pictures from the MENCAP Open Day.  The painted stones sold well, as did the nest boxes and various other items. I say “various” because I’ve forgotten what Julia said.

I know it came to around £100 and is going to make a useful contribution to the garden running costs. One of the volunteers who helps with the garden brought Peter Rabbit to form the centrepiece of the garden display. Ironically, when you consider what he did in Mr McGregor’s garden, Peter is a scarecrow.The group all helped out and everyone had a good day.

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The group took a number of photos of Julia with the visiting rabbit

Even the photograph album (which was back-to-front after my late night glueing session) was judged to be successful.

Cold Garden, or A Man’s Time is Not His Own

I’ve been taking some photographs for Julia this morning, showing the progress she’s been making in the garden (helped by her merry band of volunteers and the garden group).

They have revamped the compost bins, cleared a large area of scrub, put in some raised beds, discovered a variety of plants, loaded up the leafmould cage and found some garden equipment (including plastic compost bins and an incinerator).

I also sorted out the lighting procedure for the gas heater in the site hut and checked the way to remove the spool on the new battery powered strimmer the group has been given. I am a man of many (uncommercial) talents.

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Revamped Compost Bins

After that I was despatched on a job for Julia. I am often sent on jobs for Julia, as regular readers will know. I did the job then I picked her up and I spent the next five and a half hours doing another job for her.

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Hazel catkins

As I say, a married man’s time is not his own.

Down at the (Cold) Garden

The Sedums were looking good with a covering of frost. From a  distance the effect was jewel-like and sparkling. Close up, I didn’t quite get the focus right.  Apart from the vagaries of the camera system, which seemed to struggle, it was tricky as my hands were frozen. After half an hour screwing nest boxes together the cold had got to my hands and I was having trouble finding the button when I wanted to take the shot. Time to sort my gloves out.

With five boxes done yesterday and five again today I have now exhausted the supply of parts. We may do some more next year, if we can find more free timber, but as a lot of customers have been staff and parents we may have exhausted our customer base.

 

As you can see, there is a lot of creative effort going into the the paintwork. It is also clear that drill design has improved over the last ten years, particularly in the area of battery size.

This is the “roof” of the polytunnel, showing the bird damage. It’s actually quite tricky working out where the roof is, when you consider it’s one continuous piece but I decided that if it’s at the top and has holes in, I will call it a roof.

I include it, not because it’s a fascinating shot, but simply to show why we’re making the nest boxes – every £5 we take is £5 towards the new plastic sheet.

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Holes in the roof

Finally, there’s an artistic shot of a leaf sticking to the outside of the plastic. When you’re filling a blog you have to take your shots where you find them.

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Lime Leaf through plastic

 

The Last Nasturtiums

I’ve always gauged the end of the year by the first serious frost, which always tends to flatten the nasturtiums. In my mind winter starts when the nasturtiums finish. The calendar may disagree, but that’s how I see it.

They are actually doing quite well in the Mencap gardens at the moment. The nasturtiums are still looking reasonable, and there are quite a few stragglers in the beds. My original thought for a post was “The Last Geranium” but the photograph didn’t come out that well.

 

As you can see, there is still a lot of colour in the garden, though it’s mainly just a few stragglers rather than beds of colour now. The sumac has mainly shed its leaves now, though the sedums are still showing well.

The Elephant  Grass (Miscanthus sinensis Zebrinus) is still looking good, with its stripes and fronds and the teasel, always looks good at this time of year.

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In fact there’s so much to show that I’ve just posted photos and I’ll let them speak for themselves.

There were birds around too, plus a new art installation and piece falling off the camera – an interesting day all round, and material for a second post.

Day Off

Well, this is vexing. I wrote this post and pressed the buttons and sat back as it loaded. I had added (Part 1) to the title, but when I switched on to write Part 2 I tried to link it to Part 1 and found it wasn’t there. This means that, for the first time in 72 days I have failed to post.

I am not happy. Ah well…

It was a day off today, and instead of making me drive to a distant tourist spot Julia allowed me to relax with a short trip to the Mencap garden.

We managed to fit in a Harvester Unlimited Breakfast on the way – so it wasn’t an entirely bad start.

At the garden, instead of making me walk round and look at things, and probably enjoy myself, she allowed me to do a number of jobs including refilling bug boxes (using hollow stems from the scabious we’d cut back a couple of months ago) and putting some bird boxes together.

I fear I may have seemed a little ungrateful for the opportunity to spend our day off working for an organisation that won’t allow me to volunteer officially. (For those of you new to the story I’m not allowed to volunteer to work with my wife, as I’ve been doing for the last five years, because of “conflict of interests”.)

We had a fig each after that, and I took some photos of the vine leaves.

It wasn’t one of my better days, though building nest boxes is always a good thing to do. So is eating fresh figs.

After that, we returned home for a cup of tea. I downloaded photos and, whilst snoozing happily in my chair, dreamed of Derbyshire.

At that point Julia demonstrated the depths of depravity to which a wife can stoop, waking me up to remind me I’d said I’d give her a lift to Wilkos to buy paint for nest boxes. Obviously I’d meant I’d give her a lift if I wasn’t asleep and it wasn’t too close to Pointless. I don’t ask much from life and a snooze and a TV quiz seem quite modest requirements. So does freedom from being woken up to go shopping.

We went to Arnold, and I took some photos from the rooftop car parks at Wilkos and ASDA (who are currently renovating their car park). They aren’t great photos, but they didn’t offer much in the way of scenery. The main theme is Rain, with a secondary motif of More Rain.

 

 

Tractors, Tribulations and Old Men

After dropping Julia off yesterday I went to see Men in Sheds on the farm. As you know, I don’t really like going, but I wanted to see them before Flintham Show to check on the Little Grey Fergie and to let them know Julia would be round with a group from the Mencap gardens.

There was a covey of four red-legged partridges in the lane, all taking different ways ape and avoid having their photo taken – flying through a gateway, flying over the top of the hedge, running through a hole in the hedge or running along the lane and diving into long grass. I prophesy that in the next few months one will be run over and at least one shot unless they work on their survival techniques.

The Men in Sheds were a bit thin on the ground, with just four of them, plus two women. Women? Whatever next? Two were in Llandudno, one at the doctor and nobody was sure about the others. I hope I’m still driving to Llandudno in my 80s.

The tractor is still in bits, but will be going to Flintham in bits as a display to show the sort of things they get up to. They were actually clearing out a barn today, in their role of cheap labour for the farm, though they have been making nest boxes for owls.

On the way I took some photos of the air crash memorial, which will be covered in another post soon, and while I was there (after having a nice cup of tea) I had a look round at the gardens.

It’s interesting to see things like the anenomes and osteospermum, which were donated as straggly transplants by neighbours, giving a big splash of colour to the garden. Same with the choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom). It was a straggly twig when we planted it (50 pence from a garden centre rescue bin) and now it’s a glossy bright green bush. Same goes for the dog roses – mere whips when we planted the four years ago – full of flowers and fruit now.

It may not be our garden anymore, but it still gives me a sense of achievement to see it, particularly when you think how cheaply we did it.

Things are pretty much as they were last time I visited. The only difference is that instead of merely being absent, the last tenant is now being referred to as having “done a runner”. The barn that is currently being cleared is being cleared of his property to defray costs.

Ironic, I said, that after evicting us to maximise income, there has been no income.

Greed does not pay.