Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sunday mornings

So its a rainy Sunday morning.  I am sitting in the conservatory listening to the Archers and to the rain.  Listening to the Archers in here is a new thing, just bought a new radio/ipod dock to keep in here so that I use this room more.  I have never really made proper use of this small, leaky, freezing in the winter, stifling hot in the summer, room (can't think why?)  This year it will see more use, this year I will sit in here on days like today and actually look at my garden.

First thing I notice is the background noise of the Sunday footballers who are on the playing field behind the garden.  I am surrounded by playing field and love the shouty noises, the thud of the ball being kicked and the whistle.  For most of my life I lived within ear-shot of the City Ground in Nottingham.  Saturday afternoons in the garden were about listening to the distant noise of the game.  By the shouts and groans you could make a fair guess at the score, before going inside to keep checking what Forest were up to.  When growing up usually my father and two elder brothers were also at the game.  I rarely went, usually ended up sitting with my grandmother with other old ladies who seemed only vaguely aware of what was going on.  So football has always been with me and I still love the distant sounds.  I marvel at their commitment.  It is 'stair rods' of rain out there.  Their legs have that pinkness that goes with cold and rain.  Yet they run and shout and kick and I listen and smile.

Because sitting and looking at the garden is not a usual thing, I see things from this angle I haven't really appreciated before.  The Manx gorse is a little spark of yellow in the left side of the garden.  it is close to the winter flowering cherry, which is a young tree but flowers away each year happily.

I can also see the winter flowering honeysuckle, an untidy shrub if truth be known, it needs shaping once the flowers have gone, but it is a haze of white against the green back drop of the ivy-infested hedging.

I  am wondering about what has survived and what hasn't the harsh winter.  Worry more about the waterlogged ground than the frost really.  This is such thick heavy clay - I am certain if I need another career I could start my own pottery or brick production!  Wondering also how the pond will be this year.  I spent a lot of time last year finishing it off, making sure the edges were ok and starting planting it up.  I was rewarded by dragonflies which were just incredible.  I hope I get the same show this year.  When I looked at it first thing this morning it was a still mirror, reflecting the trees on the boundaries.  Now it is just a mass of rain-drop ripples.

Waterloo Sunset playing on the radio - brilliant song - really need to get on with the day now....

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Bear necessities

Rain all day yesterday - grey mizzle today - but I got outside briefly.  The signs of spring are getting more and more.  The winter aconites are just on the verge of flowering and the Manx gorse bought two years ago is flowering for the first time.  Its cliche time of year, when you want to sing songs about the circle of life - thankfully I don't know the words so made do with 'The Bear Necessities' instead.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


As I drive to work each morning, I go past a really ugly small retail park, but it was flanked by a row of beautiful rowan trees that I admired.   Most of the trees were the red berry version, but some had beautiful white berries.  They might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I watched them through the seasons and was so sad to drive past this morning and see their stripped trunks lying horizontal by the road side.  They have all been cut down.  So so sad.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


It's been raining most of the day.  I can hear it really loudly at the moment bouncing off the roof of the conservatory.   I like the sound - it reminds of caravan holidays when I was little.  Probably the main thing I liked about those holidays was the sound of the rain. 

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Introduction to the garden

Thought it would make sense if I made some sort of description of the garden - try and put things into context:

I’ve lived here since 2007.  It is fair to say I bought this garden and house, as that was the order of decision making.  The house is fairly ordinary, 1930s ex-local authority semi.  The garden was mainly a large lawn so the potential was amazing.  I live in the East Midlands, not too far from anywhere really which makes it really nice.  I have a full time job so gardening is weekends, evenings and days off.  It is, it is fair to say, my obsession and it makes me happy.

So – here is the general description of what I have.

About a third of an acre that surrounds the house on three sides (semi – remember).  When I moved in the front garden consisted mainly of lawn and some large shrubs that blocked out light to the house.  Shrubs are now consigned to the front hedge and the main front lawn is now replaced by an knot garden.  This was planted about two years ago and is still in its infancy.  It is not right and does not make me happy yet.  I keep tweaking it but I think it will be an ongoing saga for some time.  I sometimes think I should have left it as lawn.

The side lawn at the front is disappearing in a piece-meal fashion.  One side was dug up a few weeks ago to enable a lavender low hedge to be planted to match the other side of the path.

In between the front garden and the back garden is a small gravely area just outside the kitchen window.  This is now starting to get some self-seeders inhabiting it and it has a few crocus in it for colour this time of year. 

The back garden is still largely lawn, but now has a large-ish pond in the lower third surrounded by quite a large flower border.  This gets a lot of sun and is particularly good for dahlias.  It also has some bamboo and grasses, quite a few roses and a hamammelis. 

There is a row of hornbeams planted last year to divide the garden up a bit, which one day will be pleached.

There are large borders close to the back of the house leading up to the bramley apple tree.  These have lots of roses, foxgloves, some perennial grasses and astrantias.  There is a rose arch with Souvenir de Dr Jarmin and a Mme Alfred Carriere roses climbing over it, plus a pink clematis purchased on the Isle of Man.

The top left third of the garden is largely trees and shrubs and lots of wildflowers.  I tend to mow paths through this throughout the year, ending with an annual scything September/October time to keep it in check.  That area is developing quite well so far, though still needs work.

That is the overview.  Photos will follow.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Birds and fritillaries

Got home just that bit earlier today, so nice to see the garden before dusk.  Robins were flapping in and around the pond, enjoying the slight warmth of the day.  Also really pleased to see the start of the Crown Fritillaries just coming up.  It's their third year in the garden, the first year they were ok, the second year they were disappointing, so I have my fingers crossed that this year they will put on a show.  Currently the forecast is looking good for Saturday, I might get a day outside if I am lucky.