Friday, 25 September 2009

Trying Times...

Have you ever felt that the wind has gone right out of your sails? Looking back over past posts the Linzi who wrote them was really happy and embracing life. She has been gone for a while now. I wonder where she went? I'm hoping she comes back again soon, as I don't like this dreary miserable girl she left behind. Trying times are character building I'm told. Hmmm.....

The dark nights are closing in fast, and a new bite in the wind has all the trees positively glowing in their new shades. You can see the rich tapestrey of colours spreading every day now, getting closer to shaking all those leaves off in preparation for the driving winds and rain.

Love this creeper growing in the courtyard, the newest shoots are holding out against the decay and inevitable drop just a little longer than the old hands who know the drill. They will succumb in the end though, and before we know it new shoots will be emerging from the bare woody stems faster than I ever remembered them grow before! Isn't it amazing?

On a lighter note more tomatoes are ripening every day. None have made it to the kitchen yet - we keep pinching them off the vine every time we walk past them! Never tasted tomatoes as good!

Have a lovely weekend everybody! I'm off to find my hard hat for some serious character building - health and safety and all that!

Linzi x x

Sunday, 23 August 2009

How Do You Weed Yours?

Have been cropping more than just small holding quantities this month! We've gone all industrial and brought in the hay - vintage style!  


Poor Farmer John has had a dicky leg for a good few months now, but still thinking he's a young pup got himself in a fix a few weeks ago when he fell and knocked himself out chasing the young un's outside the pub. Witnessing it left us all very shaken and more aware of the vulnerability of his age than we ever had  been.

The next day we went to see him with some food, only to find him out in the fields, bloody bandage still on, bringing in the hay. "Ye can't waste a good day lass," was his response to our chiding that about needing rest. So we humped in the bales with his son-in-law until there were none left. My experience of crop farming in the past had been charging around in big shiny tractors and trailers with back wheels on them bigger than me, having fun until the job was done. Working on Johns farm felt like a step back in time! Amazing to think that with just a little more time and patience you can still get the job done without the latest technology and best equipment, just a little harder graft! And to be honest, I think we enjoyed it all the more! 

I will confess, I have always had help with weeding the flower beds, the ones actually in the ground with the real soil that is. My containers and raised beds with compost in are dead easy to do, the weeds don't seem to get in so deep - so obviously I grow more in those! Maybe Steve didn't know what he was doing either (although that I very much doubt!) I suspect he was just to polite to correct my gung-ho throw it all away style and made the best of the job he could! Joan, however, was less passive, and upon catching me weeding asked what on earth I was doing! "You don't just throw shovelfuls of soil out with the weeds!" she told me, laughing her head off! I was so embarrassed at my apparent wasteful ignorance that I giggled inanely and took off with my wheelbarrow to hide the evidence before anyone else saw! Wish I had asked actually asked her how you were supposed to weed! I'm now guessing that just shoveling compost on top of all the soil I take out isn't quite right. So is weeding like eating a cream egg? Is everyone is different or am I missing something really obvious? Pray tell me, please, how do you weed yours?

Sutton's seeds were right about calendula being a favorite with kids as its really easy to grow - even I managed it! Its simple daisy like flowers are a beautiful dense orange, and its bloomed all of our short growing season, with buds still on yet! Will definitely grow that again next year. 

Cosmea was a favorite as well, simply stunning plentiful plants, and the range of colour is fantastic. Slower to come through are the rudbeckia. Checking back through the blog, I sowed them in February, but the flowers are only threatening to come out now. Shame as they looked stunning in the gardeners world show - clearly the problem is me!! Next year if I grow them again think I will feed them every day and try a sunnier spot! 


The tomatoes have also taken their time coming though, but what they lacked in August quality they will certainly make up for in September quantity! Little green baby toms are coming on every day - can't wait to get my greedy paws onto them when they ripen!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Buzz about summer

I don't know about you, but for us this summer has been pretty lovely so far! The sun is shining warm and proud everyday, not hiding behind the clouds in fear of the rain like last year! My skin is slowly turning brown, well, less blue than usual, and now with the nights so long and warm, it's great to be able to play in the garden or take the boys out for a good walk on an evening! 

And Yes!! Johnny is home for a while!!! And just look at the new trick he has learned!! Fetch!!!! ha ha

Liam is swimming every day in the hot sun, even if he has nothing to retrieve he breaks into his own little routine and does laps up and down the river - so cute to see him puffing along! The little otter! Clyde on the other hand will only paddle by the banks until Johnny actually swims with him, the look of concentration and trust on his face until he reaches either Johnny or land is so heart warming, bless him!

During our morning walk, we pass a hive of bumblebees in the woods. The monotone buzz is so loud you could almost think there was a big heavy 4 stroke motorbike just in the distance. There are never any bees around, I think they must be getting warmed up to fly. Always makes me giggle. Can just imagine them all with their brightly coloured sweat bands on, dancing in unison, with the Queen Bee leading the class shouting words of encouragement as she stretches and grinds to Blondie! The poor little guys had been having a hard time the past few miserable summers here in the UK, finally looks like they are back on form again thank goodness!!

Couldn't resist raiding my potatoes, even though they hadn't flowered yet.... I know, I know I'm lessening the crop for later but boy do they taste good!!!!! 

Feel so proud plunging my hand in and pulling out a big 'un!!! Swing my little wicker basket and skip the whole 12 feet home!!!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Grass fever - like hay fever but worse!

Can you believe it's June already? Wow! Time seems to pass by quicker every year! Is this a getting older thing? I am terrified to blink in case I miss summer! Well, then again, I do live in England - it's been known to happen!

How beautiful is this? The epitome of a British woodland! Bluebell wood it's called, a local walk that we have driven straight past for 3 years at least twice a week and never noticed! What a magical walk that was, our last one all together for a while! 

Last month saw a massive surge of growth in the seedlings, bulbs and tubers, which are now all in their final planting positions, and looking around in awe at all the space they have to fill! Keep meaning to take pictures for you, but every time I remember too the light is bad! 

Luckily for me, some of the sweet peas survived the ducks un-relenting attacks by hiding behind the strong potato plants and they actually look like they may flower any day now! Some of the sweeties I had given away are already flowering, but I have put that down to them being on much lower and warmer climes. It's definitely not because I sometimes forget to water mine and Sarah waters, checks and cares for hers everyday! ha ha

With my very own action man pursuing and securing our dreams in lands far far away, I have been determined to prove that I can cope without being a totally pathetic woman and needing too much help! Not sure I'm pulling that off as well as I'd like to, but hey, its the thought that counts! So proud of you babe - your doing amazing!!! x x x 

One positive thing about being on my own is discovering how thoughtful and kind people can be, even those that you wouldn't expect to really bother! From quick chats to full blown dinners prepared and delivered, people can be so lovely - thank you! Friendships have sprung up, strengthened and grown daily, just like flowers in the sun! 

Friendships are not the only things growing in the sun! The grass is also doing a fantastic job, and since Johnny left, I have had what can only be described as grass fever! Its an all consuming, stomach churning obsession to tame the ever wild green carpet! There are enough crop circles to spark a 'the truth is out there' investigation,  but somehow its just not so much fun when there is no Johnny to scowl and reluctantly smile at them! Getting to grips with the new lawn mower has given a few giggles! Whoops! Wrong lever! Took 3 wheelbarrow loads to clear that one up! Silly marrar!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Why Do You Build Me Up Buttercup?

Do you remember when you were a little girl or a little boy and the butter question came up? 

A simple yes I like it just didn't cut it. The only way to check if any of you really did like butter was to thrust a buttercup below the chin and if you lit up yellow you were telling the truth!

We spent endless hours in meadows searching for them, with no need to keep in touch with our parents by mobile phone, and the only worry in our little minds was whether or not we would go in deeper than our wellies crossing the little burns (or brooks or streams) that trickled across the fields. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could go back to those simple days? 

How things have changed in 20 years. Have we got meaner as a race or has the media got better at portraying the bad things that happen in the world?

On a lighter note, I dearly wish that buttercups were so hard to find in my garden! Maybe its just they do better in England than in Ireland, but I can't move for them here! No matter how often and how carefully I dig them out, they just keep coming back with a vengeance, bigger and stronger than ever! Tips on how to shift them organically would be fab if you have the time.....

Thought I would share this with you. It's called Lady's Mantle

This is one of the plants that got me excited about flowers for the first time ever in my adulthood (along with bluebells !) No matter how hard the rain came down, and how glum it made me that I couldn't get work done, this little beauty made it all happy again when I saw how it clung to the droplets of water with its beautiful leaves. It thrives on neglect and comes back year after year, regardless of how much of it Louie snatches on his way past, of how little I water it, and of how cold the winter gets. Doesn't it look all wonderfully leafy and magical? 

And here are my sweet boys having a peek over the wall at the rabbits running rampant in the field (literally!) Bless them (the dogs, not the rabbits)! They were dying to leap the wall and give chase, but thankfully didn't (they have pulled me over, and through worse in the past!)

Have a lovely weekend,

Linzi x x

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

5 Minute Gardening

Gardening is a very personal thing, its all things to all people. For me its not an all consuming passion (yet) and I don't feel horribly guilty when I don't get out for a day or two in the green playground. It's always a treat, never a chore, and without the luxury of an abundance of free time to give the hours and hours a beautiful garden needs, a spare 5 minutes here and there in the flower beds will suffice for now. The weeds will always grow quicker than the flowers, and the bees seem to like them so they can't be as bad as we make them out to be! 

Everything is all brand new again and even cutting the grass is a novelty right now. We are lucky enough to have a ride on mower for the lawn and a push mower for the driveway. Fun all round - we get to make really cool defined stripes on the driveway and zoom around making patterns in the front garden. (think the patterns on the lawn will be a one off - Johnny was not impressed with my crop circles, but hey, I had fun!!) 

Following a very sound peace of advice from Landlady Joan, who really knows her stuff, I took a spare 5 minutes to plant the Chives she gifted me in a place "where the dogs can't pee on them!" Obvious really, when you think about it, but then the best advice usually is! They seem quite happy in one of the old hay mangers below the kitchen window, and will be handy to get to when I forget the spring onions for the champ.
Must get trimming the outside of the manger, that grass is taking over the moss! Only noticed just now!

The seedlings are coming along slowly, so won't bore you with totally unidentifiable pic's of little green leaves, thought this pic would be a bit more fun for you.

It's Clydeybops with Johnny's skiing (a.k.a onion chopping) googles on! Bless him! 

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Leggy isn't always good!

Ducks love sweet peas!!! Huh!!!

Was halfway through making a 'Free to Good Home' sign (humor) when I realised that this was not the ducks fault, the eternally hungry cretins that they are, but mine. The plants were obviously too young to survive an attack by the white feathered destroyers, and shouldn't have been out anyway. They should have been hardened off and toughed up properly. Hopefully a mistake that won't be made twice! 

When getting the rest of the sweet pea into the cold frame to harden off properly this time, I found some cells with poppies in. They were the remainder from the seed tray way back when i was twisting stems together to make bigger bunches (what a dumb dumb!) and guess what? They were still alive and growing! These poor little beggars were so weak and straggly that I shoved them into a permanently open cold frame rather than throw them in the bin probably out of laziness more than anything else!  But they looked great! Tight little bunches of leaves, not the biggest, but so strong. Comparing them to the big bunches of poppies I put out, there was no question that the house poppies were far to floppy and leggy to survive in the real world! Another lesson - leggy isn't always good!!! 

The ducks are all nesting now. Feel so sorry for the girlies stuck on their nests and trying desperately to scare away anything that comes near them to no avail. But it will be lovely to have some baby chicks around again. Such a cheery sight to see them waddling behind mum, all in a row. We always end up hand rearing the little runts that get left on their own. Sadly most don't make it (we have been through the whole Sex and the City cast in names now and it never gets any easier) but some do survive. We had to hand rear these 3 last year, as their mum was killed by a nasty dog who was allowed to run free by his stupid stupid owner. 

They are all grown up now and still making us giggle! Cheeky minx's!

This mum is nesting in the bastille next to the house, you can just see her little red beak to the left of the pic, trying to scowl through the wall at us. Bless her!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Know Your Enemy......

Sounds pretty obvious, and I really thought I did. I had thought about what would be visiting the garden and put all and sundry into neat little boxes of what would be good and bad for my flowers and veg. 

Slugs bad. Snails bad. Rabbits bad. Dogs bad. Disney bad. Brother Louis bad. Moles bad. Mice bad. Linzi probably bad (no point kidding myself)

Bees good. Worms good. Louie poo good. Farmer John good. Ducks good - 17 of them should keep the slugs at bay.

This seems logical doesn't it? Well, actually, after this week, ducks are now firmly in the bad box. They have systematically savaged my lovely little poppies until there is nothing left of them. I can't even blame rapid disappearance of them on the rabbits because I saw John (the duck, but looks like one of the village locals) in action, ruthlessly pulling at the leaves until the whole plant popped out and then greedily eating what he could, while trampling the other plants he didn't want into the ground.  How rude!! 
He and his mates have also had a go at the sweet peas planted out only yesterday, but thankfully don't seem to to consider them so much of a delicacy!! Thought I would show you a pic of them just in case they decide they are quite nice after all!

You will be pleased to know that I accepted these setbacks gracefully!!! The beauty of nature, is that nothing is predictable, not what pretty flowers will grow or what the ducks and rabbits will eat, not the amount of rain we get, or when the frost stops or when the sun comes...... Its lovely, and what keeps all this fun!

Here is naughty John himself having a  bath in the little brook that babbles through the garden. 
So cute!! You just couldn't stay angry at him for long!!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Enjoy Every Moment.... Johnny Danger I love you!!!!

Today I got the phone call I always dreaded when Johnny was out on his motorbike. Thankfully he was well enough to make the call himself, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. 

Racing in the car to the scene of the accident, trying to be brave and as mature as I should be at my age, I clung to the fact that he said he was ok (even though he had said that when he cut his finger off with the chainsaw, when he had rolled the dumper, when he rolled the land rover....) 

When I saw the bike lying broken all over the busy road and the cars queued up with the sides taken out of them,  the feeling of grief was overwhelming. He couldn't be ok, judging by the state of the bike, he just couldn't. The ambulance door was closed, were they working on him? Had the shock hid his pain when he had rang me? What was that wet stuff on the road? Composure went out the window and I wailed like a baby. 

Luckily a policeman steered me away from the horrible sight and took me to the ambulance, and when the door swung open, there he was, sitting up fine! I had never been so pleased to see him in my life. 

He had flown and bounced about 50 feet up the road, and had he not had his leathers on, his strong, solid, familiar little body would have not been in one piece tonight. In fact he may not have been with us at all. 

Danger really is his middle name (he changed it by deed poll for a laugh, but don't tell his mum!) and honestly, the boy could break a crow-bar! He gets into so many scrapes and situations. He always tells me he is unbreakable, and I guess I have half believed him up until now. But he isn't. Life is fragile, and precious, precious, precious. Your own little world can shatter in seconds, with no warning. Make the most of it while you can.

Someone was watching over my action man today, there are no words to say how appreciative we are for more time together - we will be making the most of every minute.