We'd like to store some data on your computer to see which pages you look at. This is purely for my own incessent curiosity about stuff, and to find out what sort of things on here are popular. We don't store anything that can identify who you are, and we definitely don't let anyone else see the data. It's just between you and me.
In the last post I mentioned that the new garden is a barren empty space, which was and is true. The previous owners had bought a patch of soggy, waterlogged and undraining grass, and had stripped it and all the topsoil off intending to Do Something With It, but never really did get anything done. Arriving with maybe a little more self-awareness, we realised we were going to have to bring in landscapers, at the very least, to help us come up with an outline layout and do much of the heavier work—the earthmoving, paving-laying, bed-building and so on. So now, a start has been made, and to hopefully make it a little less waterlogged the garden currently resembles the sort of artificial inland beach you find in The Netherlands.
Topsoil is already on order, so hopefully before too long we will have a bare expanse of soil instead of sand. In the meantime, we’ve started buying plants to go into the beds when they are ready. Fingers crossed they won’t have to sit in their pots too long.
Unsurprisingly, herbs are the first thigng to be bought.
This blog has been quiet since the end of last year. If you’re a regular reader of the main blog you’ll be aware that in February I left the garden behind and made a new start, with a new-to-me house and garden, in South East Wales. Nothing has changed in the garden of the new house since moving in; there hasn’t been anything to post here, and there’s a good reason for that which I’ll come to in a moment.
I’m writing this today, though, because right now it’s the middle of the 10th UK National Gardening Week. This year’s event, understandably, is themed around wellbeing, about the benefits that gardening can bring to both your physical and mental health. It doesn’t, of course, have to be your own garden; you can get the same benefits from community and public gardens too.
The garden here, on the other hand, is something of a barren empty space at the moment.
On the upside there are plenty of dandelions for the local bees, and a few patches of clover and Herb Robert, even if the rest is a barren stony, sandy desert.
This garden is much bigger than the tiny scrap we had previously, and I’m sensible enough to realise that making over a garden of this size completely from scratch is probably beyond me: even if I thought I could take it on myself, I’d probably not get it finished this decade. However, even if we have had to reach outside for some help with the basics and the layout, there are plans in hand to transform it and create a space that both evokes the same atmosphere as the previous garden did when it had matured, and that we are able to change and evolve over the coming years. I’ll go more into the thoughts behind that further down the path, when change has started to happen.
The last day of the year, and the first proper frost to hit the garden. If you read the main blog, you might have already seen yesterday’s post about a frosty cemetery. The garden, though, is rather more sheltered so wasn’t really touched by yesterday’s frost at all. Today was the first day that the frost was hard enough for the cold air to get properly into the garden and touch everything down to the ground.
As I’ve said previously the nasturtiums normally have late autumn and early winter mostly to themselves in this garden, and by the time the frost comes the garden often consists mostly of nasturtium. This frost, though, will start to kill them off.
The honeysuckle should be made of somewhat sterner stuff.
The garden has been fairly quiet since I restarted this blog. Hopefully, 2021 will see some interesting new developments. You’ll have to wait and find out exactly what, though.
It makes me a little sad to see this, especially given the goofy grin on The Child Who Likes Animals’ design. Still, I have to remind myself that it is inevitable, and they are just part of the circle of life and death in the garden. They have been broken down by mould, eaten by slugs and snails, and are now feeding the herbs and the honeysuckle.
The other day, over on the main blog, I briefly mentioned that the Hallowe’en pumpkins have been put into the darkest corner of the garden, the southern end of the back bed, for the local slugs and snails to eat. As not much grows successfully in that corner of the back bed save for sweet cicely and (once) tree spinach, it tends to be left as something of a wildlife corner; and The Child Who Likes Animals likes to leave things like melon rind there, to see how it attracts invertebrates and to watch it decay. So, a week ago when it was time to put the hollowed-out carved pumpkins in the food waste, we thought it might be a nice idea to leave them in the garden instead.
It was getting towards twilight yesterday when I took this photo; but you can see that there are a number of small slugs greatly enjoying them. Mould is spreading, too, and spiders are using them to lurk behind. If they behave like a melon rind does, the flesh will slowly disappear and possibly in a few weeks time only a papery skin will be left.
A month since the last post on the garden blog, and not much has changed. For a number of reasons I have not done very much at all in the garden, not least the continuous bleak weather: cold, rainy, and blustery. Occasionally there is a clear night and Mars, Saturn and Jupiter sail smoothly across the sky; but more usually the heavens are filled with fast-moving grey scudding clouds.
The plants are still growing, of course; or are settling down for winter. The honeysuckle’s flowers have gone, and it is covered in little dark round berries instead.
The nasturtiums I mentioned previously are still going strong, though, covering the back bed from top to bottom in yellow flowers and straggling halfway across the decking too. The bumblebees are still feeding from them; next year’s queen bumblebees preparing to hibernate, I presume. In this one, however, I spotted an earwig, its head down and pincers outwards.
Apparently you can sex earwigs by the size and shape of their pincers. I didn’t try with this one, and left it be inside its flower.
It’s been a few years now since we deliberately planted any nasturtiums, other than occasionally moving seedlings that have been popping up in particularly strange places. Since then, they’ve been left to self-seed. Every year, midway through summer we start thinking “there aren’t many nasturtiums this year,” and then when they come up, “the nasturtiums aren’t flowering much this year”, because we forget how late in the season they really come into their own.
This year was no exception. By the end of August we had plenty of foliage but barely a single flower; in mid-September we noticed they had suddenly leapt up and were climbing all over the back neighbour’s shed roof; and now, at the start of October, they have taken over half the back bed and are covered in flowers.
Their long, muscular stems are bursting through the honeysuckle, across the lemon balm and around the rosemary, and wide, round leaves are bursting through all over the place.
Some of the wildlife we have spotted in the garden this summer, not including the fox that passed through, then scaled the neighbours’ kitchen roof and was away up the street along the ridgeline of the terrace.
These are all phone pictures, because it’s much easier to whip my phone out when I spot something interesting flying around than to go hunting for a better camera. The biggest pain using the phone for photos like this is the difficulty in focusing on exactly the right thing.
When this blog first started in 2011 I drew a sketchplan of the garden and have referred back to it in posts here a few times since. It only recently occurred to me that now I have a better phone than I did then, I could get the same effect by leaning out of the bathroom window. So here is what the garden currently looks like, more or less, in yesterday’s rainstorm. Please excuse the chopped-down brambles wilting on the roof of the shed.
When The Children went back to school part-time in the summer term, one of the things The Child Who Likes Fairies did was plant basil seeds in a pot. In fact, she enjoyed it so much she did two pots, and brought them home with her. We put them on the kitchen windowsill without much optimism, and were as surprised as anyone when a number of seedlings came up. We split apart the most viable ones, and now she has four small basil plants growing on the kitchen windowsill, taking up most of it.
Given the current weather, we knew first thing in the morning yesterday that after lunchtime the garden would be too hot and sunny for us to comfortably spend much time in, but, we thought, at least we can put those basil plants outside to get some sun and some fresh air. Given we knew we wouldn’t be outside, it gave me an idea to try something I’ve thought about doing, on and off, ever since I first bought a digital SLR. I set up the camera on its tripod pointing at the basil plants and the nasturtiums, and programmed it to take time lapse photos, two per minute. We all went inside (and watched The Railway Children), shut the doors, and left the camera to do its thing.
After the film had finished I headed back outside and found that the camera’s batteries had run down after not much more than a couple of hours, and I hadn’t really thought about how the sun would move around and start shading part of the area in the frame as the afternoon progressed. Moreover, after being sat in the middle of the garden on a sunny day for that amount of time, the black rubber handgrips on the camera were now almost too hot to hold, and I had to carry it back inside rather gingerly with its strap. Maybe that had some sort of an effect on the battery life as well. In the evening, I worked out how to stitch each frame together into a video, and upload it onto YouTube.
“I, for one, welcome our new Triffid overlords” said one friend. The nasturtiums might not be changing much over the course of a couple of hours, but The Child Who Likes Fairies’ basil plants are definitely making the most of being in the sunshine.
A blog about regular everyday gardening in South-West Britain, and inspirational things on the same theme. It started out about a tiny urban garden in South-West England, and now is about a slightly larger suburban garden in South-East Cymru. For other stuff, see the main blog.