Category Archives: Gardening

The Dogwood Fedge

We used to have a willow fedge on the farm, which was quite useful. They make good windbreaks, are sustainable and don’t take a lot of skill – just some thought and a bit of hard work.

I hadn’t thought of the word “fedge” for several years but it came back to me this week. So did “pressure graft”. It means the bits of branch pushing against each other an eventually joining up.

I’m not sure we need a new word to describe them fence or hedge would do the job without being mashed together in a new word.

When we went to Harlow Carr we saw a development we hadn’t seen before – a woven dogwood fence. Or hedge. Actually, I suppose there is a use for fedge now I think about it – it does save the effort of making a decision over use of the word hedge or fence.

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Dogwood Fedge at Harlow Carr

It’s an interesting decorative border, I’ll take more photos as the year moves on. They willow ones get quite leafy – I’m intrigued to see how the dogwood version does.

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Dogwood Fedge at Harlow Carr – rhubarb forcing pots in the background

Harlow Carr Gardens – The Visit

The approach to Harlow Carr was interesting as the satnav told us to take a different route to that indicated by the brown signs. It was an interesting, and narrow route. I will follow the signs next time and suspect I will have a less strenuous drive.

There is a lot of building going on in the area, and there is a large set of roadworks at the entrance to the gardens. Despite this we didn’t have to queue for long and were soon in the car park, dodging doddery pedestrians and trying to find a space.

I think I’ve already mentioned that most of the pensionable population of Yorkshire was out in the garden. Many of them were playing slow-motion Russian Roulette in the car park whilst others formed an orderly queue at Bettys.

That still left a surprising number to fill the garden paths. Fortunately, although the unkindness of the passing years has rendered me less mobile, it has made it easier for me to formate with pensioners. I was even able to hold a few up as I paused for photography.

There are some compensations to getting old.

We only saw about quarter of the gardens. There was a big bed of heathers as we walked in. It was good winter colour, one of the things I was looking for, but not something likely to be making an appearence in our garden.

There are some great vistas in the garden which, again, aren’t likely to be repeated at our house. You need distance for vistas and that isn’t something you can buy at the garden centre.

We looked at the alpine house because Julia is looking at a cactus/succulent/alpine project this year. I suspect the Mencap version will be slightly less polished than the RHS version.

I had taken a few photos by this time, including a wicker worm and a moving sycamore sculpture.

I won’t take you through the rest of the day in such detail – just give a quick list. Spring flowers, rhubarb, dogwood, kitchen garden, scones, toilets, mosaic display, sulphur springs, foliage beds, garden centre, bookshop, afternoon tea at Bettys.

We missed the lake, the library, the arboretum, the education garden and probably some other things we don’t know about.

To be honest, my search for new winter ideas didn’t meet with much success – I already knew you could plant bulbs and shrubs and leave large areas of bare soil.

It was a very enjoyable day despite this and I’m looking forwards to the spring visit, though I might try taking a flask and sandwiches next time. That way I can save money and take up an entire bench whilst pensioners tut their way past looking for somewhere to sit.

I’m a member. I can go as many times as I like without it costing more. I’m feeling quite smug.

 

 

Harlow Carr Garden

Harlow Carr is the Royal Horticultural Society Garden just outside Harrogate, a town which is home to Betty’s Tea Room and a Sainsbury’s supermarket that has a sushi bar. In Yorkshire the only dead fish you normally see has been fried in batter.

Just a few photos for now.

 

Well, maybe a few more…

There will be more when I have time, plus two more scone reports.

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Not Quite Scones – but I’m calling it Number 8 in the series

We had coffee with blueberry muffins in the Mencap garden this morning as part of my programme of guerrilla snacking. This came as a surprise, as until I needed a word to describe my random intake of sugary calories I didn’t know I had a programme of guerrilla snacking. The coffee came out of a flask and the muffins came from McDonalds. Consequently, I have to admit that quality wasn’t necessarily the keynote of the morning. However, real life can’t be all cappuccino and croissants. Or scones.

I’m calling it Number 8 in the series, just to add some light and shade to the Scone Chronicles. Location was good, company was excellent but muffins just aren’t scones.

The flowers are doing well, though they could do with more of them. Unfortunately money is so tight that there isn’t any for fripperies like flowers. They are saving for a new cover on the second polytunnel. I’ve just ordered 100 snowdrops. I’m going to plant some at home and give Julia the rest. She’s a lucky woman – blueberry muffins and snowdrops all in one day.

I just mentioned this to her. She raised an eyebrow and muttered something I didn’t quite catch.

Her tolerance and my deafness are two important factors in the longevity of our marriage.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

Great Tit at Wilford

Great Tit at Wilford

The birds, as usual, were not very cooperative, but I did get one shot.

Four Days to Go. And Snowdrops.

I have four days to go before the end of my 100 post challenge. Hence the title.

Apart from that, I am short of inspiration.

I had a look round the MENCAP garden this morning. Here are some photographs.

Composting operations are going well, and the woodchip has all been tidied away. There’s even a scarecrow to guard the woodchip piles. This is an important part of the garden as the “soil” is, in places, only a few inches deep over the builder’s rubble that was left after the rebuilding of the school.

There is plenty of bird life about to, though they mainly manage to hide behind branches and prevent my autofocus working. Apart from the normal birds we also have a variety of gulls, terns, ducks, geese and cormorants flying overhead as we’re just the width of a path away from the River Trent. There were gulls and cormorants this morning but nothing stopped to pose for me.

A big project for the coming year is reskinning the smaller polytunnel. That’s what happens when you don’t have a policy of replacing things until they fall apart. Ideally, for you should reskin them after about three years as they become opaque and less light gets to the plants. This one has lasted seven or eight years so it hasn’t done badly. It finally became so brittle that it simply gave up. Julia taped it back together last winter but there’s now nothing to stick the tape on.

Polytunnel in distress

Polytunnel in distress

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Overwintering broad beans

At least there is a good cropof broad beans coming along…

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.┬áNothing 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…