Tag Archives: Allotment

And Then There Were Three!

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Well, two bags of the multipurpose compost and three of the topsoil down, means we now have a new raised veg. bed….

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…. which, nestled between the two we did last year, means that now, we have three!

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I have been conscious for some time now, that the Eucalyptus in the front garden was hurtling toward the telephone wires and really needed to be cut back. I know that they can be cut hard back and will regrow from the base with a flurry of fresh, new foliage, but, as I’m growing it mainly for its bark, I wanted to keep the trunk, so I considered pollarding it instead. First attempt! Rather scared!

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After (Mr. Chef) brandishing the chain saw, we now have a serious amount of beautiful top growth, to dispose of, a full garden recycling bin, and several trunks/branches – some destined for firewood for the stove, and the thinner pieces for edging beds in the Woodland. I wanted one of the trunks removed at the base, to leave a balanced group of three trunks….

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….so then there were three!

The next task was to assemble a new raised planter we had bought, to grow more strawberries. You can never have enough strawberries! We had bought one plus an extension kit, with liners, to give us two more strawberry beds….

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….giving us (you’ve guessed it!) three!

Now we just need three days to recover!!

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A Bowl of Frosties!

Crocosmia with Miscanthus, Artemisia and Persicaria

Crocosmia with Miscanthus, Artemisia and Persicaria

Boy, is it cold today! Takes us all by surprise! A pleasant one, however, after this wet and weary spell.

Well, my first choice of title, was to be “A Touch of Frost”, but it had already been used. But a touch of frost is what this post is all about.

How wonderful is the first real winter frost! It transforms the garden from a dull, mushy brown to a winter wonderland. It defines all the leaf edges and foliage detail, with crisp whiteness. This is when you pat yourself on the back for including all the grasses, and structural plants.

Deschampsia cespitosa

Deschampsia cespitosa

Miscanthus "Morning Light" with fennel

Miscanthus “Morning Light” with fennel

In the Grass Garden, the silvery Miscanthus grass, “Morning Light”, becomes even more silvery, set against the backdrop of frosted fennel seed heads.

Even the functional Allotment, takes on a picturesque quality.

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The last of the sweet pea flowers twinkle out of its frosted tepee, looking somewhat like an early Christmas tree!

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The wayward stems of the Japanese Wineberry, still with its autumn coloured leaves, are now edged with white.

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And the frost outlines the box balls, accentuating their crisp, structural qualities.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

Elsewhere, in the garden, the frost picks out the scented shrubs, giving the Mahonia japonica, just starting to flower, the appearance of a sparkling star.

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Most of the flowers are now long gone, but the raspberry flower heads of the sedum, looks like fruits that have been dusted with icing sugar.

And talking of raspberry tones….

Cotinus "Grace"

Cotinus “Grace”

….isn’t the last of Grace’s leaves, stunning etched in white?

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Despite the sterling work done this year by our lovely “Annabelle”, she is still looking wonderful in her old age. As the song says “Silver threads among the gold”.

If this is what winter has in store, then bring it on!

Let Me Introduce You!

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I thought it was about time I showed you round our garden, so I’ve created a new page to my blog. It’s got a plan and everything! After all, I’m supposed to be able to design gardens, so I should be able to come up with a plan of my own!

If you fancy a look round, take a peek! You’ll find it at And now the plan! 🙂

A Berry Good Time and a Love/hate Relationship

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As you can see, I’ve had a “fruitful” day! (Sorry! I’ll stop the corny gags!)
The rasps and strawberries are sadly a distant memory, but there’s still fruit picking to be done. I was determined to harvest before I lost more berries to the birds. They’ve had my red and white currants and have moved on to my blueberries. It was time to gather the latest crops of blackberries, blackcurrants, and Japanese wineberries.

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And so I move onto my love/hate relationship. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with these berries. These were the handful of berries I showed last week. They are not so widely known as the berries we normally grow in our gardens. We have the run of the mill raspberries, blackberries, tayberries and strawberries, along with varying shades of currants, but we had space for one more bush, and I fancied something a bit different.
And different it is! Different, in the fact it isn’t a hybrid berry, like the Tayberry, but a species of its own in the Rubus family. And different, in that it is highly decorative in its own right. It has long arching stems, clothed in soft red hairs, that appear so very tactile. But stroke them at your peril! They disguise the small, sharp thorns that also protrude along these stems. The leaves, as they age, pale to a lovely, lime-green, that really contrasts with the red of the stems. So now, at harvest, it is a striking looking specimen, with its terminal clusters of wine-red berries, that seem to glisten like little jewels. They taste similar to rasps – sweet and sharp, but not so aromatic. And you grow and treat them in the same way, too. Once the fruit is picked, they leave behind their stalks, (like all good berries should do!) which look like tiny orange stars. And there’s more! Once this is all over, the leaves take on beautiful autumn tones of pink and orange, before dropping. What’s not to love?
Well, it is a very vigorous shrub, shooting up strong new shoots in all directions, that’s a two man job to control. They get you from all angles! As for harvesting, they are quite prickly, which isn’t too bad while picking, but a hazardous experience while being attacked by the new stems. Mind you, my support system is rather ad.hoc. so maybe that’s down to me! These glistening berries, are also rather tacky, leaving you with sticky fingers afterwards. But nothing soap won’t put right!

So, all in all, the love out weighs the hate, now that I’ve extricated myself from its clutches! But why can’t it be more like its well-behaved neighbour, the compact, self-supporting and thornless, blackberry “Loch Ness”?

A Day of Delight and Devastation!

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What a delight today has been! Sun and high temperatures – a perfect day for the garden! A day with lots of little highlights which just scream out “Isn’t life in the garden wonderful”!

First we must get the devastation out of the way. It’s not as dramatic as it sounds – honest!

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The Philadelphus “Virginal” had been threatened with a drastic haircut. A bowl cut no less! Pruning by the book had resulted in vigorous new growth, which resulted in a plant that looked huge and gaunt, with strong, straight regrowth and huge leaves. So I decided to shorten all these long growths, in the hope of some branching lower down, with a more twiggy and pleasant, rounded appearance. Devastation, no less! But I think the results are more pleasing.
The Philadelphus was not alone. I apprehensively wielded the secateurs to our fruit cordons – not such a hacking venture. It did involve a lot of double checking with the manual, but I hope I’ve got it right. They certainly look more the thing!
So devastation is not really the right word. Nerve racking tasks that provide delight with a satisfactory outcome.

It was not all hard work. Among the watering and feeding, there was ample time to appreciate the many delights of the garden today.

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The Cottage garden has now reached its “teenage” phase, where it no longer wants to behave and just wants to sprawl about everywhere. Thank goodness for the late developers!

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I can’t rave enough about Hydrangea “Annabelle”. I’m so glad I added it to our Cottage border. It really packs a punch once the roses are past their best. I say “it”, I’ve repeated it another twice through the border. (I must confess, one is the very similar, Hydrangea “Bounty”.) Add to that the Leucanthemum, and the border takes on a distinctly white appearance, now, contrasting with the blues of the Aconites and Echinops. The rest keep ticking over.

But it’s not all over, yet! We have another bite of the cherry, with our Grass garden, just coming into its own now, extending the garden’s season of interest a bit longer.

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No soft pastels here! It’s all hot colours and textures. It moves from golds and blues, through plummy reds with silver, and onto hot chocolates, oranges and bright reds. All softened with grasses. It’s been ticking over up till now, when it’s heading towards its peak. Once the flowering is over, the grasses and seed heads will keep the interest going well into the autumn, and even winter.

Some little delights!

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Doesn’t the Echinops look wonderful against the lime-green of the hop covered fence?

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I love the way the light strikes this Hemerocallis!

The “Allotment” was also delivering delights.

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Apart from the handful of Japanese Wine berries I displayed earlier, the rest of the patch was filling me with great pleasure. All planted now, and produce, such as broad and French beans, cornichons, lettuce, and artichokes, not to mention my very first sweet pea flower, were all starting to burst forth. And the herbs I added a couple of weeks ago, were well settled in.

Wildlife were basking in it as well. Look closer at the globe thistles and you will see it’s not only me that enjoys them. The bees do too! (By the way, they smell gorgeous! That’s the flowers, not the bees!)

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I also spotted a dragonfly flitting by, and as soon as my back was turned, a robin pinched my seat! (Doubling as my kneeling stool – sadly much loved – and hereby, showing my age!) All too fleeting for my camera.

But I managed to catch one photo. (Annette asked for this, if I could!) One of our frogs, sheltering behind a fern.

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A happy day! 🙂

Little Boxes

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At long last! The final stage of a seven year project!

Our "Long Garden Path", runs down the middle of garden, through several "garden rooms" to the Woodland garden at the end. One of the "rooms" is our "Allotment", where we grow our fruit and veg. My aim was to attempt to make this an attractive feature in its own right. It has gone through several incarnations in its time, but hopefully, we have now settled on this plan. The roughly made raised beds and gravel paths were dispensed with as they were actually creating more problems for us. So we reverted to four larger beds – two on each side of the path.

One pair of beds were for the soft fruits – one for berries, and the other for currants. I wanted both of these to be edged with box hedges, hoping for an attractive "Potager" effect! I planned to grow the box myself from cuttings and was prepared for a long wait. It could never be an overnight result.

The first set of cuttings were started just over six years ago and they took well. After about 18 months I felt they were ready to plant up. I had plenty of plants for one bed, the berries, with some left over as spares. However, there were not enough for both, so back to the start. Sadly, these cuttings did not seem to take so well for some reason. They seemed to sit there and sulk, neither growing nor dying. Eventually though, there were glimmers of hope, and I decided I was waiting no longer. They were going in! The currant bed was now complete!

As you can see, I planted them up, but they are poor little things! They will need lots of T.L.C. After all, when you see the berry bed now, they have a lot of catching up to do!

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And now back to my topiary shears!