Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flower and Fern Mania, 28th April 2009

Another sunny and rainy day but with enough breaks in the rain to work outside. I finished weeding the fairy hill, quite a task as you have to battle with large bushes and much of it is on a steep slope. Still, all done for a while now. Then I moved up to the bank at the side of the allotment area. I had noticed that the weeds had started to grow already, since I last cleared it, particularly one I call 'Sticky Bob'. I have no idea of its real name. It grows from a tiny thin shoot then it will climb 6 feet or more up shrubs and fruit trees, given the opportunity. Then it has thousands of little white flowers that then produce thousands more little seeds to make more misery for me next year. Here it is:

What a little beast it is


I noticed as I was sticky bob removing, how wonderful the fern look at the moment. They are fresh and green and some of them are rather odd shapes. I did get a bit carried away!

3 different varieties of fern

This is probably my favourite, the huge fronds of this fern are still all curled up. They look rather alien

On this fern, the fronds are just starting to uncurl

Here the fronds are uncurling that bit more. Can you see the ones behind already open?

I think these look like sea horses

On the grotto bed, the 3 new ferns we planted last year have really grown:

The fern is the central plant, such a pretty pale green

This one has really delicate foliage

Hosta fire and ice to the left, then bugle then the little fern.

Back to the allotment bank and here are ferns and celandines with a trunk of rotting wood

Ferns and forget me nots

These are the old leaves from last year. The shape looks like a peacock's tail.

This is actually bracken just starting to grow

I think it's time for a bit of colour now. As the tulips are all but over, I thought I'd capture the few that are left:

I think the petals will have fallen off by tomorrow

The cream tulips all have a raspberry coloured blush on them and have turned almost white

In case you missed this photo on the top right hand of my blog. 3 black tulips, all in a row. How beautiful they look

This is one I haven't seen before. It must be one of the new ones Jim planted last autumn. The petals are like shells.

One last shot of these beauties before the petals fall

The grotto bed has an upstairs and a downstairs! This is the upstairs, where the black tulips are:

There you can see both the first floor and the basement! I love this grotto.

Now where? Ah, the Fairy Hill

This is part of the bottom of the fairy hill, all weeded now

One of the fairies standing in front of a burgundy viola, ringing her chimes

This bush is also at the bottom of the hill. It has tiny leaves and very tiny yellow flowers all over it. The bees absolutely love it. I risked life and limb cutting out the bramble from the centre.

These are the little yellow flowers

I manged to get just one shot of this minute little bumble bee. He's so cute

This little chap was even smaller. Look at the pollen sacks bursting. Click on them to enlarge for the best details

They moved so quickly, they were hard to get in focus

The lilac is also at the bottom of the fairy hill and is just about to burst open

The bugle is such a stunning blue

Isn't it gorgeous? I noticed I'd taken a photo of a fly on this bugle, so enlarged it, below

As flies go, he's rather splendid

My Parcel, to be taken down of May 1st - then turned into a new work of art!

Cats and Birds

I went to take a close up of the siskin on the nut holder but there was no sign of him. I wonder why??

Sandy in his 'nest'!

I hope I haven't bored you with too many photos. I should have stopped at the ferns but, as usual, I got carried away. Off to bed now as it's 3.30am!

Monday, April 27, 2009

27th April 09, The Sun Shines on and Off

It's been one of those real April days with showers and sunshine. I did manage to get outside for a while, thank goodness. I was going stir crazy stuck inside. I even managed a photo or two.

My aim today was to weed the rockery. Now the poor old rockery has suffered somewhat since the builders arrived. I still thought it was worth tidying it up, albeit a temporary job. This is what it looked like:

This is a section of it, but you get the general idea

Now, post weed, which was done a bit on and off between the showers!

I think it's an improvement. You can actually see the Acers. They were about hidden by grass before.

While I was weeding, a little siskin kept eating away at the nuts. I tried, rather hurriedly to take his photo:

It's worth enlarging the photo by clicking on it. It's such a pretty little bird

If it's fine tomorrow, I'll try and get closer, I'm sure he wouldn't mind.

Standing on top of one of the rockery stones, I took this shot looking over the arboretum:

I love this view. It'll be what I can see from my studio when it's done. To the left is a little wooded area, then my mother's bird bath, a bird table and the acer bed. You can see the bottom half of the 'snake' bed for the roses too.

I wandered around the front after one of the rain showers and took a few randoms:

I love the mixture of yellows here. It was a bit dull though. Cistus (broom) to the left, euonymous to the centre, then primula in the front and perennial alyssum to the right.

The pieris forrestii is looking magnificent, black tulips in front and white saxifrage spills over the wall.

The 2 trees in pots are Gingko Biloba (or Rocky Bilboa as I call them)! I think this is a particularly pretty section with the rough steps leading up to the allotment area in the background.

One of my all time favourite flowers is Alchemilla Mollis. I brought some from the UK and they are just making a reasonable sized plant. They look wonderful after the rain:

Alchemilla Mollis, centre, miniature hebe to the left, alyssum on the right

Once it has had some flowers, hopefully they'll spread all over the place.

Tonight Jim made tortilla, which I love. We sat and watched Ashes to Ashes while we ate it. Then it was rhubarb and apple crumble and custard. Rhubarb from the allotment, of course. Aren't you jealous?

I do hope no one is in the vicinity of the nasty swine flu that's hit Mexico so hard. They keep warning us that we're overdue a pandemic. Let's hope the powers that be are wrong this time.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

25th-26th April 2009, Marmalade and Chutney Making

Well, after the sunshine comes the rain and it certainly did. It's poured for the past 2 days so it's been inside stuff. We did saw some wood yesterday for Stanley but that was about it for working outside. I am trying to make a wall hanging, so have spent the rain time doing that. It's a new venture for me and I've had help from my sister in Australia and Bea at Doginthehole. I'm not thrilled with it so far but hopefully will be by the time it's finished. I want to make some more ATCs, I'm missing doing them.

Spring Cleaning

I have taken the curtains in our kitchen diner down and washed and ironed them. They get filthy with the smoke from Stanley, as do the poles, so they'll have a wash too. Today I also did the rest of the ironing. How virtuous am I?

Marmalade and Mango Chutney

Jim has had a productive 2 days. Yesterday he made marmalade and today, for the first time, he's made some mango chutney! It tastes delicious and in a little while we're going to have some cheese and biscuits with the chutney, to try it out properly!

The Marmalade and one of the black tulips

Mango Chutney

The Cook!

Dirty Desk

My desk had disappeared under piles of material, boxes, little pots of findings and cottons, pins, needles, you name it, it was there somewhere. So today I attacked it and now at least I can find some of my stuff.

Friends Rediscovered

I had a lovely email from one of my friends from the NatWest Bank today. We used to work together in Bakewell and as we are both Southerners, had quite a bit in common, mainly that we couldn't understand half the customers!! We used to look at each other blankly sometimes. Nikki would whisper (about one of the customers) 'What's he saying' and I'd reply, 'I don't know'. It was great fun! Nikki left but we've kept in touch. Would you believe she has just discovered my blog and has read it all the way through! How mad is that. Dedication I think the word is. She made lots of compliments about my photographs, which left me smiling.

I've also discovered an old friend on Facebook. We used to be together in a drama Group called the High Tor Players and we always had the after show parties at Brenda' s huge house. It's such a great tool for finding people from the past. She has also made wonderful comments about my photography.

If you want to leave a comment, Nikki, you can you know! I think you have to register with Yahoo or google or some such.

Fun and Games

After dinner yesterday evening, I decided to straddle Jim on the settee. Calm down, everyone, we were both fully dressed. We were messing about 'play fighting', when Buster decided he wanted to join in too. We ended up a giggling heap of arms, legs and a very wet tongue!! I laughed until I hurt!

Sorry, no garden photos to admire today, so here's one of Jim and me soon after we'd first met. Here is the Bakewell Tart under the Bakewell Tart sign!! In Bakewell.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thurs, Fri 23rd and 24th April. Garden and Extension Update

I took a few photos on Thursday as I'd got back late on Wednesday. It was a bit of a dull day but I think they're ok. The builders had been and put the first and 2nd coat of rendering on the extension. We are now awaiting the arrival of the windows - now that will be exciting. This is how it looks now:

This has been taken from the top of the orchard.

The barn and the extension from the top of the orchard.

Oh yes, the barn. As I mentioned in my last blog, Jim told me on the phone that the barn would probably have to be demolished. In some ways that seems a bit sad, but in other ways it'll be quite exciting. The barn takes away a good part of our view from the cottage and the afternoon sun dips behind the roof quite early on. This is the back wall:

Look at that gap!

This crack is on the side nearest the house.

The other end wall is hidden under ivy, but from the inside we can see that it has many holes.

The crack above has widened a lot since the building work began. The builders looked at the barn and agreed with Jim that it had to come down. We now have plans to make it a feature, leaving some of the bits of wall standing and making a courtyard garden! The job is quite difficult because of the enormous roof, made up of sheets of corrugated iron, each one containing at least seven bolts. Each one of the bolts will have to be cut off. That's about 600 bolts. We do have a big barn at the top of the front garden, so we will still have storage for the mower and other machinery. Just another little problem to be solved! I am very excited about the new views we will have though and the extra sunshine.

This is the current view standing in the new sun room. You can imagine how much more we'll see with the barn removed

This is the view from my studio, again, what a view I'll have!

This is the top corner of the orchard where there was a turkey shed. Jim demolished it while I was away! That heap of the wood on the ground is all that remains!

Jim was just removing some chicken wire from the bank when a bird flew out through it! On inspection, there is a nest contained 3 eggs. Jim placed the wire back and secured it and the bird returned. It's a robin and the nest is really hard to see, it's so well hidden. At least it hasn't been frightened away. Do you want to see?

It's probably a good idea to click on the photo and enlarge it, then you can see her little beady eye and red breast. Jim took this photo.

We have also been busy on the arboretum. You may remember I was making a new border down the edge. It was opposite the larger of the 2 flower beds, the one containing The Judas Tree. The grass strip between the 2 beds was really 2 thin to mow, so I suggested we join the 2 beds together - which is what we have done!

The Judas Tree is on the right and the bed now goes to the 'road' on the left (which you can't really see from this shot).

This is taken from a little further away. You can see the back of the barn on the right, and just in the corner, a piece of the 'snake' rose bed. Today Jim has planted some shrubs in the newly enlarged bed on the left, so it doesn't look so bare.

Now for a few random shots to finish with:
This rather bad taste fellow used to sit by our pond in the UK!

The black tulips in front of the pieris forestii. White saxifrage in front.

Contrasting foliage. Spirea and euonymous

One of my favourite perennial geraniums

The Red Acer, please click on any of the photos to enlarge them

So that's about it for today. Back in Ireland, it's rained on and off today but I've carried on regardless! Jim planted the shrubs in the new bed we've made and I did some weeding on the fairy hill. There's still so much more to do.