Sunday, 24 June 2007

I am so sorry to have kept some of you waiting for the next stage of the guided tour. I really think that it is time to cross the 'drive' and go onto the larger lawn.

This is looking back towards the 'drive' from said lawn. It was taken a while ago so now the Aubretia is going over. The dead flower heads are still there and are great value. The blue stuff is going over too.

I think that I do not have a pic of the Clematis - Ernest Markham - which has been lovely but is now looking delapidated due to the rain, to the right of the front door. The other side of the window is a red rose.

When G came here, he didn't like the lead downcomers (extra-ordinary man!) so he planted an upright conifer in front. This was not liked one little bit by the rose, which somehow survived and occasionally produced the odd flower. Two years ago, (24 years later) I finally managed to achieve the removal of the conifer (which showed up rainwater damage to 16th Century stone!) and the rose gave one terrific cheer and then put all its energy into recovering. Now it is growing well and covered in red flowers.

The herbaceaus borders are growing well but have little colour. They are the least satisfactory things in the garden. They need a lot of attention and I am physically, or interestedly, not up to doing them properly. They run in front of the east end of the house - the 18th Century addition - with a path between. The back one is quite wide, but because there are two windows behind it is difficult to plant. I have a shrub between but the space is not really wide enough. The Paeonies in both borders were lovely but when the rain came, they turned into big brown blobs. I have at last got them cut off. There is lovely Geranium, which was there when I came. The picture does not do justice to the very strong colour.

The area at the East end of the house, when I came here, was just grass with a pear tree in the corner against the outside wall. It is a difficult area.Everyone says how lovely and sunny and sheltered. But in fact it loses the sun by at least 3.00 and the East wind hits the end of the house and comes back down and the West wind hits the wall and comes back over! At the back, from left to right, is a new Buddleia, (not visible) replaceing one which got too tall to prune, having been there for 20+ years. To the right is a Pyrus salicifolia pendula (Willow-leafed weeping pear) It has not been there very long but is doing well. It is not really suitable but at least it likes it and is growing! In front is a red shrub rose - loose growing and I can't remember what it is - it grows to at least 15feet and has red urn shaped hips. To the right of that is a shrub that I don't know the name of and it is not of much value. Then on the wall is a forsythia spectabilis (I think!) It is meant to absorb the wind coming off the house. It flowers quite well but is a bit wild! In the front row are
Hebe Diamond (very good value), and Cistus x hybridus Gold Prize planted in September 05. Beyond them is a small growing Buddleia and a small red-leaved Berberis. Geraniums act as ground cover and are currently flowering, so it is quite good, though the only other colour is the shrub rose.

Facing East, the next plant is an ancient white rose of some unknown age. It does very well, considering everything. Next to it is a Russian Vine, planted to catch some of the W. wind and deaden it. It does that quite well but ... it is enormously vigorous so I have to do a great deal of controlling! Most of the year the wind is in the West and it grows up and over the wall, taking some of the starkness away from the Green side. However, at some point every year (usually about June) there is a strong wind from the east, which blows it back into the garden and it looks dreadful for a while! 2 years ago, about 2 weeks before a step-daughter's wedding, that was exactly what happened. In fact, on the day there was the mother and father of a thunder storm, with accompanying rain so everyone made a mad dash for the marquee and only 2 or 3 came to look round the garden!

Next is Penelope, which I planted when I first came here. It struggled while partially shaded by the Prunus mentioned below, but is now doing well.

Beyond Penelope, when I came here, there was an Ash tree, which was a seedling in the early 20th Century. It finally grew so wide at the base that it pushed over the old wall. God bless the Insurance Company, who funded rebuilding. Having felled the ash, we put in a door in the wall, which is down some steps, as at some point the ground had been leveled off in the garden, so the difference between the garden and the Green is about 4 feet. I planted an old yellow shrub rose in the corner which I had brought with me from about two houses before! Also there were very old red shrub roses, probably planted in the 40's or 50's. In front of the ash was a Prunus, with a stem whose bark went round in a spiral, planted in the lawn. The spring of the wedding, we had to remove the Prunus which was dying, which left great scope for change. The new planting there has mostly been there for 2 years and now looks like this................
Not bad really for our position at 650ft and mid Northumberland, where everything takes for ever to get going!

We are now (in the pic) facing South. Go on to the right and you come to a pond in the lawn, with my Helebore/hosta bed behind. The pond went in exactly a year ago and is coming on well.
You can just see, to the right back of the pic, a holly which is called the Policeman. It is quite big but kept clipped and guards the front gate. Between it and the gate post is a Philadelphus, the old-fashioned single sort, which has a terrific scent.
So, roughly, that is that for the front of the house. Lots of plants not mentioned, of course, but I fear it gets pretty boring as it is, without adding any more!!!
Next time, we will go round the veg and cutting/holding/anything goes bed and the back lawn, or some of it anyway!
By the way, the reason this did not go up several days ago is that I took pics for back then and when I came to take them off the camera, the card was already in the printer, so there was nothing in the camera!!! How stupid can one get? Then we had nothing but rain or bad light, so only took the pics again today, IN THE SUN!!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

A Day's Hard Labour

Have just looked in here and found several comments I didn't know about! Thanks to one and all. I hope that HB comes back in time to see her picture on yesterday's (20th June) front page. If not, I shall post it again when the weight of gardening eases.

This is just an account of a day's gardening - I haven't the energy to do a further walk.

I can't keep up with everything coming out - I suppose it is always the same at this time of year, but it always takes me by surprise!

The dreadful weather last week put an end to the Paeonies and one of my jobs today was to cut off the dead heads, with a lot of soggy petals hanging about all gone brown.

First job before that was to empty my barrow, which G had filled with very nasty manure that he collected from the road. It was dropped by the farmer clearing a barn where he had beasts during the winter. It had sat through the .6inch of rain that fell the night before last so was very soggy and the bad smell was agravated! The Lord alone knows what he has been feeding the beasts but it must be something nasty!! Also it is completely raw straw with urine and not much proper muck. I didn't show any of the gratitude that was clearly expected!! Anyway, it is now sitting in a shapely heap giving off its perfume.

Cut a few sweet peas for the third time this year. In the past they weren't out till G's birthday on 24th July. They are a cheat this year as I bought plants as I failed to sow them. Much better plants I regret to say, but not the ones I would have chosen.

Raised the string supporting the Broad Beans. Some of the mass of flowers on them were looking pretty soggy and no bumble bees polinating - I hope they haven't all been drowned in their holes. We had masses before the rain. No sign of set beans yet, but here's hoping.

Also raised the string holding the CD's over the peas. They had got lost in the vigorous growth, so not doing their job. No flowers there yet.

Then I got slap happy with the secateurs. A beautiful palest mauve Abutilon, probably mentioned on a walk, is now almost fully out and has survived the rain. The shrubs on either side are growing hard, so I cut them back hard and now the Abutilon can be seen properly.

There are 2 or 3 places where paths are really too narrow, or rather, I planted too vigorous things too near on either side. When ever we get really wet weather, it brings the new growth down so that you get soaked if you need to go by. The secateurs did good work here, but I won't know whether it was good enough till it rains again.

Then, after lunch, round to the yard by the back door. The Lilac flowered very well this year but it needed cutting back a little. It is a very necessary wind-break so I never want to cut off too much but Lilacs do better if they are cut quite hard. I hope I managed a happy medium. I cleared up some of my rubbish, but the lovely G had said he would do some of it, so I just took one barrowful to the bonfire. (A bit of a hike)

Then into the front garden. Found that the dreaded dead-heading of roses had to start. The Old English roses are just beginning to come out, so only one to cut off there. Isfahan is coming on well and there was a bit of work to do there. After several years, it is making quite a feature, on its support. Climbing roses on the front of the house needed tidying as did an ancient white rose on the garden wall and a Penelope ditto. A number of years ago I planted a Russian Vine against the West-facing wall of the garden, which was beating back the terrible winds we suffer from. I suppose it does its job, but it really is a thug! Sometimes it hangs over the outside of the wall, which is nice but then along comes an east wind and tips it all back, leaving it looking horrid! The current vigorous growth has hidden the last 'tip' and is beginning to grow back over, but there was a lot to cut off, to keep it in its bounds. By the time I had done it, and taken it to the bonfire I was very weary, so that was my lot for today.

Friday, 1 June 2007

A bit of rambling

What a lovely two days we have had! And it sounds as though it will go on. What a lot of gardening has to be done. Some of it has been - lots is waiting.

Yesterday was my Hexham day. Got there in good time and bought some bedding plants to put into a bit of the garden that has been wasted for several years. Then did the other routine things and then escaped to a Farm Shop which is arguably one of the best. Bought lots of vegs but disappointed that there was none of their asparagus. Apparently the cold nights had discouraged it! As that was the main reason for going there I was a little upset, but they were offering tasteing of an excellent ham, asparagus and cheese dish which was delicious so I went away happy!

In the afternoon, I planted some of the bedding plants and did some weeding in the veg garden.

It was there that I thought that you should hear about the strange behaviour of the Parsley. Last year I let a plant seed by mistake and covered some more with a cloche which meant that I always had some available. Earlier in the spring, I was sowing various seeds including parsley. Nothing came. BUT around the one that had been under a cloche, there are numerous parsley seedlings! So all will be well. I should have some to pick before too long and certainly some to cover for the winter. The one that was covered last winter will be allowed to flower and seed so I expect to have some for next summer.

Today, I had to go to my dentist to have a filling where I had broken a bit of tooth. Luckily, there was a filling there already, so I did not have to have the horrible numbing injections. I now have a renewed tooth. As the dentist is not far from the Farm Shop, I went back and bought some lovely fresh asparagus as well as a pack of the dish being tasted today. Yesterday's was much enjoyed, so bought some of those for the freezer too. I went on from there to my favourite Garden Centre. Couldn't resist some more bedding and also fell for a Ceanothus. We have not been able to grow them, but have a feeling that global warming has gone far enough to let us do so now. I actually went there to get a small version of any upright conifer in a small pot. I have a small stone thing with a fairly small hole in it. I grow upright conifers in it until they die, then replace. Found one and brought that back too.

This afternoon, planted some of the bedding plants - when (if) they are in flower, I will put up a picture. Also, planted the Ceanothus in the same area. It should be reasonably protected. The Thyme went into the herb area (I don't call it a herb garden because it is very hit and miss. Things go in as and when!) Then I went round the front garden, tying up and cutting down! A red rose on the front of the house, which we have not yet visited, is coming into flower and had two bits that needed tying in. The Russian vine, also not yet met, had a considerable lot cut off. As it can grow 40 feet in one year, that was not surprising! Then into a bed that again, you have not yet met, and found that there was rather a lot of a Weigelia that had died, It has just come into flower. I cut out the dead so it looks better. Then went to the area that you have travelled already and did various bits of tidying up.

Things are coming out so fast just now that I can't keep up. Hopefully, tomorrow I shall take you to the other side of the drive. And there will be lots more pictures. Till then - goodnight.