Garden on the last day of October

shoesThere was lovely autumn sunshine yesterday. I went into the garden in my Hallowe’en get up to take a few pictures. The garden isn’t as exciting to me now but I think I should have a record of what it looks like in a different season.

Autumn is seriously beautiful. The other day I drove back home from the weekly shop through an orange tunnel of trees. Low sun, autumn leaves, winding roads through the woods. There was definitely some magic going on.

autumn-figI haven’t got much to say today. It was only five minutes in the garden, finding what I liked best about it.

end-of-fig

kerria-jcrocosmia autumn-garden-stuff autumn-garden

courgetteThere is one last courgette hanging on. And since I can’t be bothered to tear up the bedraggled runner beans yet, there are still some of those too.

berries nasturtiums-reseedingOne bed dug over and manured. Nasturtiums are trying their luck. I could salad them up before the frosts, I suppose.

hosta-seedsI’m most impressed with the hosta seeds. Pretty!ย  Last year I took some of these and planted them. Nowt happened. Next year I’m really going to look after my hostas. This year so many snails and slugs dined on them, they ended up looking like lace.

That’s it for now. Shock,horror, I have done very little crochet in the last week. We’ve been away for half term and had poorliness. I’ve taken to reading more too, which takes up stitchy time. I’ll try and find a better balance this week.

little-halloween-garland little-crochet-batPs. I found a couple more dodgy pictures of my little halloween garland.

September Garden. The End of Summer.

end-of-summer-in-the-garden

I am getting old; I’ve watched Gardener’s World three weeks in a row. Monty has given me a long list of garden jobs to do and I’m adding tasks quicker than I’m tackling them.

japanese-anemone

At the beginning of September, the garden still looked quite pretty. Two weeks later I’ve still got some hot pink roses and pelargoniums but other things are looking really tired.

spider-webs

The Japanese anemone that was beautiful two weeks ago has swapped its pink petals for cobwebs.

garden-spider

Spiders are eveywhere. I keep getting a faceful of garden spider. A few years ago I would have flipped my lid but I’ve gotten surprisingly used to them now. I still had an episode of Bake Off ruined by a gargantuan house spider last week. Now, those ones do make me pee my pants. It was so big you could hear its footsteps!

old-parsley

They’re making homes all over the garden. This teeny one has made its home in some old parsely.

cabbage-white-eggs

Talking of bugs… I cannot believe how the cabbage white butterflies are still laying eggs. They’ve been at it all summer! I’m still out there, smooshing eggs. As I smoosh, the farty waft of brassica goes up my nose. I wonder if that’s just encouraging more butterflies to come along.

butterfly-eggs

Up close the eggs they’re really interesting. I had no idea that they had those vertical ridges.

butterfly

Is this one a red admiral? I’m rubbish at butterflies. I spotted it proudly sitting on my runner beans. Very haughty.

runner-beans

My runners have been the most successful thing this year. But mostly, it has been quite lacklustre in the veg beds. I’m going to spread what compost I have over the beds and then get my hands on some manure.

nasturtiums-and-oxalis

Weeds have been the happiest things.

tatty-veg-bed

Look at how tatty this bed has become! The shame. This weekend I took out the pea sticks and it was the first time I’d really noticed how messy it all was. I’ve been a particularly lazy gardener this year. But when spring comes around again, I’m going to be really good.

influenced-by-gardeners-world

After a Gardener’s World injection I did try out some rosemary cuttings. I think I’ll smarten up the front garden with these (if they work). I don’t show pictures of the front as it is a spectacular hell hole.

himalayan-honeysuckle himalayan-honeysuckle-flower

Himalayan Honeysuckle is a weed I keep because the bullfinches come for the berries. I don’t think I’d like it otherwise.

crappy-garden

And that’s that. Overall, I’m disappointed at how scruffy I’ve let it all become but I’m also feeling enthusiastic for next year. I think I thought that, I could get away with letting it do its own thing. It turns out that a garden is a lot of work. Monty would not approve.

Fabulous Fig Recipes (for the non fig lover).

picked figs

Last year I was moaning on here about how much I really didn’t like figs. I don’t want to say this out loud, but there’s a chance that I’m slowly becoming accustomed to their strangeness. I’m still not a big fan but I’ve found ways to make figs work for me and mostly I think that involves taking away a lot of the figginess. I’ve struggled to find different fig recipes over the last couple of years. I like to take away the texture and disguise some of the flavour but most recipes celebrate the unique qualities of this funny fruit and it was tricky finding a selection that suited my tastes.

When properly ripe, figs are quite soggy, they have what I can only describe as a pappy texture. They also taste mega sweet and leave behind that sugary after taste that real ribena has (or old chewing gum), I’m guessing that’s fructose! As much as I am not keen, I still can’t leave them on the tree so, as well as giving them away, I’ve found some recipes that work for me: a non lover of figs…

ripening fig

(I spend every other day wobbling on a giant step ladder, reaching dangerously high to grab at all the ripe fruit I can find. I have no idea why I go to such lengths, I guess I don’t like to see them go to waste).

Homemade fig chutney

Fig Recipes:

Nigel Slater’s Fig Chutney.

This one is by far my favourite fig recipe. It takes quite a bit of bubbling but I’ve been highly rewarded. Especially yesterday when I had some with cheese and crackers. It’s even better this year. The only change I made to this recipe was swap raisins for apple. I had cox growing in the garden too and thought to use those rather than buying more ingredients. I’m not a very tidy chutney potter/canner, so it seems.

fig tree

Dried Figs.

A weird one this and they do have a medicinal quality. But I kept going back for more so that must mean something. Very easy to do and I was surprisingly impressed by such a simple thing.

Fig and Lime Sorbet.

I was dubious about this one but honestly there are so few ingredients that I think I was just being stupid and lazy. I haven’t made this for a couple of years so this year will see its return (today is probably a fig picking day actually and by chance I have limes in the fruit bowl – they were for mojitos but I’ll make the sacrifice). I love the citrus in it. I love lime!

Sticky Toffee Fig Rolls.

I’m cheating with this one, I’ve not made this recipe yet! But the kids have asked for fig rolls and these have got toffee in them so they can’t be that bad!

fig

If anyone has any other fig recipes they’d like to suggest, do let me know. I’m trying to think of boozy things but I’ve got nothing at the moment.

Garden fig tree.

I’ll be saying goodbye to figs next year. This tree is far too big for its boots and we’re going to chop it. It needs a good pruning. I think you’re supposed to do that in January. As figs grow from the previous year’s twigs that means no figs for at least a year. However, I think it’s safe to assume that I won’t really mind!

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer Garden.

early morning sweet peas.

My last garden post was about three weeks ago. In that time I’ve taken a few pictures and I’m sharing them here today. I’m alsoย  linking to last July from the archives. It’s all of July’s posts because I seem to have added garden pictures to nearly all them. You think you’re a consistent blogger…. Apparently I’ve changed (not necessarily all that much, but most posts are now, at least themed).

lemon verbena

This lemon verbena smells amazing. I don’t know what to do with it, other that pinch bits off for whiffing every now and then.

the sun in summer sunny day in the garden 6am summer garden

There’s been a lot of samey samey over the last six years. I am extraordinarily tempted to have a big overhaul and rip out the tatty, overgrown stuff to start all over again. I’m getting lost with planting and there is no real garden design. I’m not sure if normal gardeners do any real design; maybe they just hope for the best with the stuff they like. I know I like the cottage garden style and I know I like having my own vegetable patch and that’s about it. I also know it needs is muck. Lots and lots of nutritious muck. Would half a tonne be enough for everywhere?

veg garden

There is something in the photograph above that has become my mortal enemy. I didn’t get a good picture of it that day but it was there.

pesky cabbage white

Here it is. Little blighter. Under the net as well! Most days, I’ve gone out into the veg patch with the explict task of squishing butterfly babies. I started off squeaminshly using tools but the more angry I got, the more vicious I became. Now I just use my fingers to smoosh any bright clusters of orange eggs or any newly hatched caterpillars. I’m still grossed out my the big fat juicy ones so I flick those ones across the garden or drown them with jets of water. Between this and the frog from a few weeks ago I feel like a proper murderer. I really like purple sprouting though, so they must die.

leek flower head

This is a leek flower (a leftover from last year). I was wondering what it would look like (quite pretty, as it turns out). I’m glad that it’s as pretty as its ornamental cousins.

morning glory

Morning Glory. I want more.

Crocosmia

Crocosmia. Spreading like wild fire.

Japanese anemone

Japanese anemone. The white ones don’t work as well as these.

blue lobelia

I know I showed lobelia last time but I like this picture.

Honeysuckle honeysuckle. Lonicera.

What I haven’t done in years is suck the nectar from honeysuckle. It was always something we did when we were little. That and red clover.

buddleia buddleia or buddleja

And it works with buddleia too!

cabbage white on verbena

It could have been any butterfly, maybe a peacock or red admiral. What about one of those little blue jobs? Nope… thanks cabbage white.

cabbage white butterfly on verbena bonariensis

butterfly

It was definitely laughing at me whilst it probed its teasing tongue into my verbena bonariensis. Cheeky.

bee on the verbena bonariensis bee

These bees are far more welcome. Hello bees!

Flowers in July

lobelia and other annuals

There has been some sunshine this week. Enough for me to nip out into the garden and take a few pictures anyway.

Hot pink roses

I haven’t included any long shots, my camera was on the wrong white balance setting and they all came out a bit orangey/acid.

Hot pink rose

So whilst some of these closer shots are still quite vibrant, I think they just about get away with it.

honeysuckle

I’ll have to get on a chair to get some pics of the in flower honeysuckle. I didn’t this time.

Climbing rose with not much to climb.

This hot pink rose isn’t growing in the pot, it’s just hugging the flowers that are. It grows behind but has nothing much to grab on to. It’s in its third home. I’ve had to move it because I initially planted it in a stupid place, where it slumped on the ground. It looked kind of depressed. Now, it’s more contained but still makes an attempt to reach out for friends.

borage

Trigger warning, nasty story in next paragraph. Scroll past to avoid.

borage and bee

I’ve got more borage than is necessary. I didn’t rip it out, like I was supposed to. It gives me gardener’s guilt. I tell you what else gives one gardener’s guilt: mowing down big, fat juicy frogs. Seriously, I am traumatised. Yesterday, I was merrily chopping the grass to a more acceptable level when, judder judder thump. A frog was flungย  a couple of feet from the whizzing blades, flung carelessly to his death. I may have hollered loudly, I may have also run inside the house and waited until Husband came home to sort it out.

blue salvia

Isn’t salvia nice?! So blue! That’s better.

ox eye daisy ox eye daisy in a pot

I think it’s a good year for bugs. There are little black bugs I’ve never seen before. They’re particularly noticeable on the big stinky daisies.

pink sweetpea

I was disappointed to find them hiding in amongst the sweetpeas too. I’d brought in a lovely bunch to put in a pretty vase. Somebody came in behind me and promptly chucked them back outside. They were riddled.

summer garden sweet marcy sweetpeas

So, we’re mostly admiring the flowers from a distance. I think Marcy is just looking for the bugs.

snap dragons

Someone has eaten the top off the snapdragon. More bugs!

Nasturtiums

I’ve got caterpillars writhing all over my brassicas but they’re not touching the nasturtiums. I thought those cabbage white butterflies loved nasturtiums.

Ugh, bugs!

A Cottage Garden in June

the garden

I’m not sure you can call it a cottage garden if you don’t live in a cottage. However, it’s the style I like and I’m going to call it one. The theme for this post is pictures of my garden. And that’s it. It’s all I’ve got to show as I haven’t taken any photographs of anything else (apart from camping pics that I don’t have time to go through). I’m in a can’t be arsed slump. It must be the weather.

taking pictures of the garden

In no particular order I’m going to blather about some flowery pictures and see where it takes me. I will fly by the seat of my pants. I’m an expert at it.

Peach rose

I like this pretty peach rose. It wasn’t planned. He is a leftover from the previous owner who dumped it behind the shed. I plopped it in the ground to see what would happen. I’m glad I did.

Yet another view of the bottom of the garden

Whilst I’m down at the bottom of the garden, amongst the birds and the bees, I may as well start here. It’s a total mess, not at all manicured. It’s the way I like it as it means you can avoid a lot of hard work.

Geranium Rozanne

I’m a sucker for pretty flowers.

flowers in my garden

As well as those geraniums I’ve got some ox eye daisies coming up. My brother and I used to call them bum flowers when we were kids because we thought they smelled like bums! Delightful. I haven’t actually stuck my nose in any of the ones that have presented themselves, I’m not that keen. Maybe I should, just to check and see if they’re still bummy. They add a bit of non-bummy interest too. I like a bit of white to break up the bluey purples that are going on.

Down at the bottom of the garden. June cottage garden

I missed the peonies do their thing. They’re a bit saggy and old now. It must have happened quite quickly. Look at all my weeds in the gravel. I can tell you that most of it is borage. It goes mental. I think it’s going to have to come out. It’ll get massive if I leave it. If anyone in East Devon wants some, give me a shout and you can have some. I’ve got loads. Same for nasturtiums.

Cottage garden in June

Loads of figs happening.

Hawthorn blossom

This was the hawthorn blossoming a couple of weeks ago. It’s shrivelled and died since. I’m surprised that it’s a thing I look forward to (not the dying bit, obvs). It’s really impressive when in full flower.

A baby coal tit getting ready to leave home.

This also happened. Not in June, mind you but it was the last day of May so not a million years ago. So cute. I’m relieved that these guys fledged. Tits. Coal tits. It was a close call though. The day before, one of them ended up in our hall way. As far as I’m aware it’s Marceline’s first real gift for us. She also brought us a wasp last night though. Luckily the little tit was still alive and not in too bad a condition. It was taken back to the box where it wriggled back in.

stalker in the lupins

Here she is; a tiger in the lupins. A frog was her prey this time. I heard it way before youngest child spotted it.

ribbit

It did not have a particulary pleasant singing voice. But I’d recognise a frog scream anywhere. Our old cat used to bring in half a dozen frogs a day. It got tiresome, ferrying them out again. I don’t like it when they go rigid.Ravaged Lupin leavesAnyway, that’s reminded me about the lupins. Look what a difference two weeks makes?! Delightful, they were. Now, they’ve been ravaged by slugs or something. Gutted. I love lupins, if only for their leaves. And look what they’ve become! pfft.

alliums

Just up a bit from the lupins, I’ve got some alliums. They were really cheap to buy this time round. A couple of years ago you were lucky to buy three in a pack for less than a fiver and this time I got loads (I don’t really remember, it was months ago). I’d be much happier if a couple of small children hadn’t gone round with whipping sticks. In this photo you can make a few headless casualties (a the top).

Speedwell Veronica

Ok, I seem to be working clockwise around the border. I do like a pretty tangle of speedwell. I think this is called Veronica. Loads of things seem to be called Veronica though, flowers are confusing.

Mexican fleabane or Erigeron

There’s loads of this near me, it grows all over Devon. Erigeron or Mexican fleabane. It’s in fashion at the moment (Mum saw it on Chelsea). I never thought of flowers as fashionable/unfashionable but apparently this is the case.

A yellow rambling rose

Up near the house is a yellow rambling rose. I bought it from the local garden centre about five years ago. Two years ago its pergola doodah got blown down and the rose was chopped to a foot high. In two years it has gone nuts. I love it.

Yellow Roses.

The smell was drifting gently in to the living room last night (had the doors open), it was lovely.

Swathes of yellow rambling rose

Everyone grows runner beans here. A couple of years ago there were six gardens in a row with them. Interesting, hey?!

Sugar Snap Peas

I’ve also got peas. It sets me appart from the runner bean crowd. Bean dweebs.

Front garden gubbins

And because I never do, let me show some of the front garden. The foxgloves out the back were weak this year, pathetic and weedy. I thought they’d be happy wherever they ended up but not so as it turns out. There are loads out the front and they’re very perky. Mostly I choose alpine plants for the front as they’re not as fussy. I have cerastium (snow in summer), it sits very nicely with some lithodora (which was thirsty and manky looking at the time of photographing, so I cropped it out). Erm, what are those pink things? Are they indeed, just pinks? Dunno. And some weeds to show you that I am neglectful and untidy.

This afternoon I potted on some anagallis and my morning glory. I also started planting out some lettuces (with the help of a not so competent three year old) but had to stop for school pick up. Now that I’m back indoors do I really want to continue with that job? I’d probably make the tea instead. Eldest is at judo so I should do it now.

Garden in June