Blackbirds

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Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken…..

Oh how I love their singing. One was just singing his socks off out in the garden, which has inspired todays blog.

Penstemon Blackbird

I have only recently discovered the large family of Penstemons. How did I missed them? Why are they so good?

  1. They seem to be resistent to slug and snail attack.
  2. They are perennial plants, which means they come up every year. Although the narrower the leaf the more hardy they are. However they do become tired after a few years, but see point 5 and it’s not an issue.
  3. They don’t need staking, just put up spires of flowers, which if you pick encourage the plant to create even more.
  4. Flower from June until the first frosts.
  5. Really easy to grow from cuttings – see the picture on the right – In the spring when I cut the plant back to encourage it to grow new stems, I simply took some of the compost destined waste, cut the leaves down by a half, slid them down the edge of the square pots. Six weeks later I have 16 new plants to put into the garden. I’ll let you know if they flower!
  6. Finally, with varieties called, blackbird, raven, white swan, which already adorn my bird themed garden I am now on the search for firebird, osprey, whitethroat, flamingo and woodpecker to add even more species of these easy going generous plants.

With the weather set to be glorious, and Chelsea on TV this is the season to enjoy your garden. Go and Hygge your garden.

 

 

 

 

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A hunting we will go…

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I love autumn walks, and therefore we are currently planning to walk the ‘Coleridge Way’ with friends. 51 miles of glorious Somerset and Devon walking. Between you and me , I had to look up which poems Coleridge had written. Basically, The Ancient Mariner, the poem about the Albatross, and Kubla Khan.

This lead me to think of adding an Albatross plant to my garden….Albatross are not in the British bird books, so surprise, surprise it wasn’t in my database.  I checked it out and yippee…there is a beautiful waterlily, but without a pond I am not going to be successful. However there was a Streptocarpus. These are indoor plants, that can just about go out in good summer weather. My collection of indoor plants is very limited, a couple of orchids, and a cactus. So I delved a little deeper. There were just two bird named Streptocarpus, but loads of girls names. Streptocarpus are going to be a great addition as my  ‘Go to plant for a gift for women’. Almost all are named with girls names of a certain generation, mine. So if you are looking for Anne, Susan, Becky, Jenny, Laura….they are all there.

I am going to buy mine from Dibleys in Wales. Most seem to cost between £3.20 and £4.00, so this isn’t an expensive forage into a new area of gardening…..certainly cheaper than digging a pond for a Water Lily.

So next time you need a quick present for a friend, other than wandering around the rose section of the nursery, save yourself the exploration into the cold, and try the houseplant section and investigate Streptocarpus.

Enjoy the last few evenings of wandering around the garden, the nights are drawing in. I am putting the garden and this blog to bed until the New Year.  So until then, enjoy your garden.

 

Clematis dreams

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I have grown tired of one area of my tiny garden. It is the bottom path below the vegetable plot. I walk along it and there is nothing that I like, the Spirea bridal wreath struggles, as does something without a name and a poorly flowering forsythia. So I have cut them back. Now I have ordered 5 shade loving clematis and I truly hope they are shade loving! I hope  they might enjoy climbing up the bare sticks of the former shrubs if I don’t get round to digging the old bushes out.

So what have I ordered?

  1. Pink Flamingo and immediately I think of that wonderful dance they do. I am so impressed that I have managed to attach the video clip!
  2. Ruby Glow – I am lucky enough to know several people who will be celebrating their Ruby wedding anniversaries, so this should make my mind wander about their lives and blessings.
  3. Snowbird – Not technically a bird, just those older people who holiday in warmer climates, and I know a few of them. But what a beautiful flower.
  4. Summer Dream – Summer, what a useful middle name my daughter has. What dreams I had, and what dreams she still provides. Brilliant.
  5. Happy Anniversary – If this behaves anything like Sweet Pea Anniversary I will be over the moon.

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(Sweet pea anniversary was the first sweet pea to flower, and is still flowering!)

Make the most of the last few glorious days of autumn, and plant any trees, shrubs or bushes in the warm soil, along with any extra Spring bulbs. You’ll be so pleased that you made the effort.

 

 

Joy, pure joy

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Sedum Autumn Joy

Just look at these beautiful tiny flowers that make up one head on Sedum Autumn Joy.  Pure joy for me because my darling grand-daughter Pippa has the fantastic middle name of Autumn. This plant sums her up beautifully – thousands of tiny chunks of learning that are coming together to create her unique character. A wonderful little person who delights in everything she sees.

It is also pure delight for bees at this time of year. It is only because it is chilly this morning that the heads aren’t covered in bees. But this worried me this morning as I have been noticing how few pollinators we have. When I was younger people bought those ghastly yellow fly papers that hung around the kitchen – Yuk!! We always had at least two flies constantly buzzing around any light! Where have they gone? I have my suspicions and am leaning towards the neonicotinoids, so beware of using any Bayer products. Neonicotinoids are in chemicals sprayed on plants, then absorbed by the plant which when insects feeds on the nectar in its flowerts are subsequently poisoned! Moral of this tale –

  1. Use good old-fashioned muck to improve your soil.
  2. Minimise the amount of bought chemicals you use in your garden.
  3. Be careful about where you buy your plants as nurseries tend to use chemicals to make the plants grow more efficiently. Try to grow from seed or cuttings.
  4. At this time of year leave flowerheads on for as long as possible to provide a food source.
  5. Set up some insect houses so that these creatures can make a home.

Enough of my ranting – I’m now off to seek out those pesky slugs and snails that are nibbling the pansy / viola flowers that I planted last week. Unfortunately violas have few good names, but for winter colour and cheer they are second to none. Sadly when you plant them you HAVE to cut off all the flowers so that they make stronger roots. I hate doing it – so bring the heads indoors and float them in a bowl. However within a fortnight they are blooming beautifully – but some of mine are being nibbled so check them often most active at dusk and remove those munching molluscs.

Finally I hope I have managed to create a My Hygge Garden Facebook page which my daughter informed me was the way to go…so let me know how you get on!

Joy, pure joy

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Sedum Autumn Joy

Just look at these beautiful tiny flowers that make up one head on Sedum Autumn Joy.  Pure joy for me because my darling grand-daughter Pippa has the fantastic middle name of Autumn. This plant sums her up beautifully – thousands of tiny chunks of learning that are coming together to create her unique character. A wonderful little person who delights in everything she sees.

It is also pure delight for bees at this time of year. It is only because it is chilly this morning that the heads aren’t covered in bees. But this worried me this morning as I have been noticing how few pollinators we have. When I was younger people bought those ghastly yellow fly papers that hung around the kitchen – Yuk!! We always had at least two flies constantly buzzing around any light! Where have they gone? I have my suspicions and am leaning towards the neonicotinoids, so beware of using any Bayer products. Neonicotinoids are in chemicals sprayed on plants, then absorbed by the plant which when insects feeds on the nectar in its flowerts are subsequently poisoned! Moral of this tale –

  1. Use good old-fashioned muck to improve your soil.
  2. Minimise the amount of bought chemicals you use in your garden.
  3. Be careful about where you buy your plants as nurseries tend to use chemicals to make the plants grow more efficiently. Try to grow from seed or cuttings.
  4. At this time of year leave flowerheads on for as long as possible to provide a food source.
  5. Set up some insect houses so that these creatures can make a home.

Enough of my ranting – I’m now off to seek out those pesky slugs and snails that are nibbling the pansy / viola flowers that I planted last week. Unfortunately violas have few good names, but for winter colour and cheer they are second to none. Sadly when you plant them you HAVE to cut off all the flowers so that they make stronger roots. I hate doing it – so bring the heads indoors and float them in a bowl. However within a fortnight they are blooming beautifully – but some of mine are being nibbled so check them often most active at dusk and remove those munching molluscs.

Finally I hope I have managed to create a My Hygge Garden Facebook page which my daughter informed me was the way to go…so let me know how you get on!

Light bulb moment

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I know it seems a little early, but, I am not a fan of winter in the garden, so I popped along to the garden centre, and was quickly engrossed in selecting an assortment of bulbs. This is one of the easiest ways to find plants with meaningful names – the element of gardening that gives me that hygge feeling.

So, although I have to sadly admit to having a spreadsheet of names, I still love to rifle through the packs of bulbs to see what I might have missed. Then it hit me. A lightbulb moment. I really enjoyed giving Pippa potatoes to my grandaughter, and suddenly I saw Red Riding Hood tulips, and Goldilocks crocus, I always prefer to do things in threes, so I  scanned the shelves for one more Fairy tale themed set of bulbs, then I happened upon New Baby daffodils – Yes, I am about to become Nani to grandchild number 2, so this made a trio of bulbs to provide something of interest from late January when the crocuses start to peep through the cold soil, until April when No.2 is due. Will they flower on delivery day? I’ll let you know.

Lightbulb moment

So next time Pippa is here, in early October, we will have fun together planting up a big pot to place by their front door. It’s quite easy, the bigger the bulb and later it flowers the further down the pot you place it. So put some fresh compost in the pot, place the tulips at the bottom, 6 or 7 inches deep, add a couple of inches of compost, then put in the daffodils, add more compost  so that the crocus are just a couple of inches below the top of the pot.

We will pop along to the garden centre to choose which pansies or other plant she wants to put on the top for all winter colour -sadly pansies and cyclemen have fewer names.

So, give yourself a treat and pop along to your garden centre and see if you can have your own ‘lightbulb’ moment. You could always start giving Happy Family pots of tulips as Christmas presents……but that might be too much planning.  Happy Hyggering…

There’s no business like Show business!

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This week I have been focussed on Weston Village Garden Club show. It is very traditional with the opportunity to compete – with sections such as Flowers, Literature, Vegetables, Fruit, Homecraft, handicraft, Art, Photography, and a children’s section.

My Hygge garden suddenly became less peaceful and more purposeful. I looked to the best, rather than the more meaningful as I looked for competition entries. So I entered:-

  • An arrangement of the few flowers that were still colourful – a clematis, yellow nasturtiums, lavender,orange calibrachoa from the hanging basket, and white japanese anemone. This not only won First prize, but also gave me a trophy!IMG_5069
  • I was pleased with my vase of Anniversary sweet peas which looked good, no greenfly but perhaps the stems were not straight enough.
  • 3 Goldcrest Dahlias – again, lesson learnt, cut them shorter as everyone’s dahlias are shorter at this time of year – The red ones that did win were top class.
  • Beetroot – 1st prize (top tip is to water them every other day with slightly salty water to improve their colour),
  • 3 courgettes (not me….to get 3 straight and measuring 150mm is more challenging than you would imagine)
  • Parsnip – I now have a washing up bowl full, as ‘Tender but True’ clamped itself to the ground. They were HUGE. More than 3″ diameter! So parsnip soup is on its way!
  • 7 matching Opera beans – these were the last of the season. Had the show been earlier I would have been in with a chance.
  • Homecraft was another Trophy
  • 1st prize – Apple cake – Thanks Mary Berry
  • 2nd prize – Apple pie – Again thanks Mary Berry
  • 1st prize (2nd year running) – Fruit cake – cooked to show recipe.
  • 1st prize – Seville orange marmalade – The smell as the oranges cook in January lifted my spirits then and now,
  • Victoria sponge leaked on the journey, which was a shame.
  • Scones were not quite as good as usual – I like my yoghurt scone recipe better.
  • 3 photos – I won the shield last year, but found this years subjects much harder – but a 3rd for my sunset was pleasing
  • Finally, a poem about the seasons won 1st prize – a real surprise!

I was also running the kitchen to provide the essential ‘village teas’ with a wonderful group of volunteers. We served about 400 teas cakes and raised a substantial sum for those small improvements that make such a difference to the appearance of the village. It was a busy day with an early start (5.30) to make my scones and Victoria sponge wonderfully fresh, arrived at the hall at 8.00 to set up, and then provided teas all day long. That said – I loved it, as did the many people who sat contentedly in the garden, and who visited the show.  If you are ever in need of tea and cake, or in need of an uplift DO visit ANY village fete, garden show, coffee morning or other event – you will come away with that Hygge feeling that the small things are actually the big things in life.

 

Pip Pip Hooray – Pippa potatoes

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Pippa is my one and only grandaughter and obviously the apple, or should I say the potato of my eye.

Back in May I found some Pippa potatoes at the Weston village gardening club potato day event. I was so surprised to find Pippa potatoes, and they were a must have buy. I planted 5 and took 5 up to Manchester for Pippa’s parents to grow with her. Now that the final days of August are here, the Manchester Pippa potato crop has been harvested. Sadly my crop were damaged by the slugs so I have had to rely on Pippa’s parents efforts.

This has been a venture into the unknown – I supplied them with the potato bag, compost and the 5 seed potatoes. They planted and watered the potatoes very diligently. As you can see we are creating a chip off the old block by encouraging and developing my grandaugthers gardening skills.

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Unfortunately the message of adding more compost as the shoots appeared was lost in translation, as was the description of tickling around the surface to soil to sneak a few of the top growing potatoes without disturbing those growing down in the deeper dark soil.

So, the lesson learnt is that potato bags DO work. You don’t have to dig and turn over soil, just plant some seed potatoes in a plastic bag,  and top up with more compost as the season progresses. All you have to do is think of some names for your garden perhaps Swift, Kestrel, King Edward and with 315 to choose from, there has to be one that has a connection to you.

Growing plants by name is addictive – next week I am hoping to start buying some new shrubs that need autumn planting – so I am off to do some investigating. Until then, enjoy your garden.