Showing posts from April, 2018

Day 30 of the 100 day project

Well I did the time in the garden for day 29 but didn't manage to record it!  But here we are now on the last day of the month, day 30, and I can truly say that whenever we have been here, rain or shine, I have engaged with the garden.  There are three days when I didn't and those were when we were away in Devon looking after the delightful granddaughters.  Sometimes it has been a single dandelion, sometimes it has been an hour or two of weeding and working, but so far, so good.  It is too early to take stock I think but the garden does look better partly for my attention but mainly for spring. Here is one of two little crab apples in front of the holiday cottage just coming into blossom.  Yesterday I weeded the bed on the sunny bank here.  This is the driest, sunniest place in the garden and the soil is stony and drains like a sieve.  I planted three salvias that I had bought when I went plant shopping with my daughter in law on Saturday.  I know I will not have eradicate

Day 28 of the 100 day project

I am a day late recording this but I did keep to the project!  Older son and his family have moved into a new house, a brand new house with a garden with no turf which has been for a few weeks a sea of mud.  Ian laid turf for them over this last week and yesterday my lovely daughter in law and I went shopping for plants for the garden as a housewarming present for them. It was very good fun.  Lindsay has a great eye for colour and a strong sense of style.  She knows how she wants the garden to look and my job is to provide enough gardening experience to help to identify the plants which will bring it all together.  We bought camellia and hydrangea, climbing roses and clematis.  There is a real interest in starting with such a completely blank canvas.  I have only have had gardens which someone else has started or, up here, a garden to make out of a field which is a task on a different scale to a domestic garden so the challenges here are quite other than the ones she faces. I r

Day 27 of the 100 day project

Rain, grey, thin, drizzling rain.  I have been out all morning at my Welsh class and in half an hour I am out again.  I really do not want to get wet before I go.  I really do not want to break my run of time in the garden. I rush out.  I deadhead a dozen or so daffodils by the crab apple tree and rush back in again, hair already frizzing, shoulders damp, hands dirty despite the gloves. Does that count?

Here we go: Day 26 of the 100 day project!

Day 26 was a busy one.  A quick coffee this morning followed by a meeting of the tourism group of which I am a member.  I hate the way at such meetings no one ever wants to take notes (me included).  Everyone avoids the chairman's eye.  There is an uncomfortable silence until somebody gives in and agrees to do it.  So this morning I volunteered up front to get it over with.  It was a good meeting, covering lots of ground and my writing got messier and messier as I raced to record it.  I came out with a banging headache and whizzed straight off to another meeting.  We got home about half past four and the thought of engaging with the garden was the very last thing on my mind. So for half an hour I didn't.  I drank a cup of tea.  I flipped through a magazine.  I thought seriously about not bothering today.  But the whole point of the project is to do it when I can.  Next week there will be a couple of days when we are away and nothing can be done so all of a sudden I got up, pu

Day 25 of the 100 day project

Today is a classic example of a British April day.  This morning started sunny.  Ian was going to Manchester to prepare elder son's garden for turfing.  We had been intending to go and work together but the forecast was for rain and showers and I was pretty sure that my improving cold did not need a morning digging in the rain.  So I stayed home and, contrary as an April day, the sun kept shining.  I decided to walk down to the river as part of trying to reclaim my pre-winter fitness.  It is easy to go down but a long old slog up and if I want to continue to climb hills I have to continue to climb hills. Over the garden gate the wind is blowing the sun and clouds about and the birds are singing. I walk down quickly, listening to birdsong, noticing the wood anenomes starring the sides of the path.  At the bottom of the hill the highland cattle are out, drowsing in the sun. By the side of the river, still fast and full, the kingcups are shining.  Their yellow could alm

Day 24 of the 100 day project

Yesterday Frances left a comment which really struck me, you know the way things do which sound obvious but which you had somehow managed not to understand.  Gardens are good for self care she said. We were talking about looking after yourself which is something I have been thinking about a lot as the fourth cold of the winter struck.  And I thought, well yes, gardens must be good for self care.  There is all sorts of research demonstrating that being outside, looking at green, has a beneficial impact on both mental health and physical recovery from illness.  So gardens must be good for self care. But not if you do them the way I have been doing for the last few years.  Gardens as an endless to do list do not soothe the soul.  They just make you feel beaten up about all the things you have not done.  And yet gardens overgrown and uncared for don't soothe the soul either.  They are a reproach as the garden ceases to be a garden and becomes a forest of bindweed or nettles. But if

Day 23 of the 100 day project

Day 23 did not go as I had planned.  The cold which was thinking about returning yesterday (and let's face it, it is only about a week since its predecessor went) decided that it would come marching back.  I had a go this morning at making soup and shaving my legs and behaving like someone who felt all right, only to have to admit by lunchtime that I didn't feel good at all.  So this afternoon was a write off but this morning, before it was a write off, I did one small gardening thing for the 100 day project. We grow hundreds of daffodils up here.  Wales is a good place for daffodils.  There might even be thousands or a thousand or so, I am not sure.  There seems to be conflicting advice about whether or not to deadhead daffodils.  Some experts suggest that you increase the proliferation of daffodils if you do, some suggest that it makes little difference.  I tend to deadhead where it makes a big difference to the look of the part of the garden.  This morning I deadheaded the

Day 22 of the 100 day project

Back to the project.  Five days entirely focussed on small girls and dogs took me away from my 100 days but here we are again, home, shattered but happy.  We have had fun.  While we have been away the garden has been burgeoning all over the place. The tubs full of tulips have burst into colour in front of the house and the holiday cottage but the beds are also bursting into weeds. I have come back from Devon with all the signs of another cold.  How can that be?  I decided to do an hour or so anyway and try to ignore it. First of all I planted out three white foxgloves which I brought home the other day.  They were very cheap and I'm pretty sure it is because they are not going to flower this year but never mind, they will be with me next year. Next I weeded a small herb bed which we planted up last year for the use of visitors to the holiday cottage.  I have loads of herbs in the kitchen garden but the only visitors we have ever had in twelve years who have taken up my i

Day 18 of the 100 day project

Yes, I know.  What happened to day 17?  Read on. We are in Devon looking after our two little granddaughters for a couple of days while son and daughter in law and the new baby have a small break elsewhere.  The girls are delightful, generally amenable (apart from occasional passing bouts of shouting from the two year old!) and we have been left food in the freezer and the usual pre-school sessions in the day, quite a few for the four year old, fewer for the two year old.  So this is probably about as easy as it can be to be responsible for two under fives and two dogs.  One of the dogs is at the vet's as she is not well.  The girls are good eaters and good sleepers.  And yet it is still quite full on and I am sitting on the sofa very near to drifting off to sleep! I had plans before we came of continuing the project by visiting a local and very good garden centre and buying some more plants which would contribute to moving the cutting garden at home over from annuals to g

Day 16 of the 100 day project

I think I went a bit off piste today.  This morning we went to yoga and this afternoon I decided that, before I did anything at all in the garden, I would walk down the track to the river.  Is this part of the 100 day project?  Well sort of.  I am sure that being aware of the seasons is a crucial part of connecting with the garden.  I knew that this is the time for the wood anemones to be out under the trees by the track.  It was sunny and blowy, not particularly warm but bright and breezy and full of spring. Over the stile, along the top of the scrubby wood and down through the big field.  Everything is greener than it was a week or two ago even if the trees are not yet in leaf.   Moel Arthur, the Iron Age hillfort on the horizon, is crisp and clear against the sky. The wood anenomes are holding their starry faces to the sun.  They are a slow spreading plant so a woodland with a lot of anemones in it is likely to be an old one. Down the track to the bottom of the valley

Day15 of the 100 day project

Day 15. No sun. 3 pieces of a very thuggish pink persicaria transplanted: all to places where it is difficult to grow anything at all! OK, persicaria.  Do your worst, or best, not sure which. Do you have thugs and if you do, what do you do with them?

Day 14 of the 100 day project

What a difference sunshine makes.  Today I worked for longer in the garden than I have for months and months.  The sun shone, the birds sang.  I dug up what felt like tons of creeping buttercup from the bed by the metal greenhouse.  I can't honestly say that the work I am doing in the kitchen garden is making me fall back in love with that part of the garden but I do think the repeated being outside and being in the garden is giving me a renewed sense  of connection. We planted the clematis montana and the honeysuckle by the field shelter, from now on to be known as the Sedd Maes (the meadow seat in Welsh).  Thank you veg artist.    I sat there in the sunshine, enjoying the pattern of the hazel and the tiny new leaves budding on the dogwoods.  I am glad we have the "windows".  I like the sense of sitting right inside the garden. I opened up the shepherd's hut and sat in there to drink my tea and read the paper. And finally, feeling a bit tired and a bi

Day 13 of the 100 day project

Sometimes with the best will in the world there is simply no time to be out in the garden.  Today began with a rush off to Welsh class in a misty, wet morning.  After three and a half hours of doing some stuff in Welsh which I didn't even know I had forgotten, never mind didn't remember, it was straight to meet Ian for a speedy lunch on our way to younger daughter's for an afternoon with her and her children.  By the time we got home all energy was spent and the day was over. So today's part of the 100 day project is about an achievement which has been a very long time in the making and which is only very tangentially mine.  Some years ago (three?  four? I am not sure) Ian and I were wandering around the garden and arrived in the bottom third of our field/garden.  This area is meant to be enclosed and is the only area in the garden which is not turned to look at our stupendous view.  It is meant to be a place to walk into, a place of greater enclosure and shelter.  We

Day 12 of the 100 day project

Day 12 is looking like a challenge.  It is misty.  It is cold.  It is dank.  Do I want go outside?  No I do not.  What on earth can I think of that I would like to do and that I have the energy to do? I think today I might make something different count as part of the project and pick daffodils for the house.  After all a garden is for pleasure and part of the pleasure of a cold dank day is to bring armfuls of daffodils into the kitchen. There, and today that is the 100 day project: daffodils and primroses and pulmonaria.

Day 11 of the 100 day project

Today I thought I would tell you a bit more about why I have embarked on the 100 day project.  Gardening and blogging have been long standing passions for me and over the last three or four years I have in some ways lost touch with them both.  Gardening was the first to go.  We have nearly two acres here.  When we first came there was an intensively gardened kitchen garden and one or two small areas which were planted up but most of the land was a large field with two apple trees, one walnut tree and a lot of rough grass.  For the first six or seven years we were here making a garden out of a field became an obsession.  I read about plantsand gardens night and day.  I tested the soil.  I sketched and researched and made plant lists and planted and planted.  Some of that was successful: the fruit trees grew in the little orchard, the mixed native hedging grew and so did the native trees.  Daffodils grew although there were never enough.  Some things died.  Quite a lot of things died to

Day 10 of the 100 day project

100 days is rather a lot isn't it?  This morning it is pouring down.  However I have a cunning plan.  It looks like the rain might stop over the course of this afternoon and if it does, or even if it doesn't, I am going to remove one solitary dandelion which I missed in the side garden. Does it count? Of course it does.

Day 9 of the 100 day project

9th April, 9th day of the project.  I think I got it a bit wrong today.  I went to yoga this morning, which was an excellent idea and helped to make me feel I was well on the way to recovery.  Then this afternoon I headed out to the garden for a small session on the project.  The first mistake I made was that I hadn't decided in advance what to do.  This meant I was assailed from all sides by things I could do and as a result ended up doing too much.  The second mistake was to be too aware of the beauty and order of the garden belonging to the friends we saw this weekend!    I know their garden is much smaller than ours but it still a fair size and very intensively gardened.  Walking around yesterday with my friend I was so impressed by the weedfree beds, the tidy raised beds waiting for their vegetables and most of all by the clean and orderly greenhouse already full of the new season's growing things.  I know our friends are very good and keen gardeners and I really should ha

Day 8 of the 100 day project

We were away overnight staying with some friends and got back home about five o' clock.  Normally I would make a cup of tea, have half an hour with the newspaper and then get on with making a meal.  Today as we were driving home from Derbyshire I was thinking about what I might do that would count for day 8 of the 100 day project.  I decided on a little bit more cutting back.  I am still coughing although I am sure I am getting better, slowly.  Cutting back is quick and easy and the garden is full of tatty growth which has been blasted by the cold weather or is the dead growth from last year. It is a quarter to six.  The low evening sun is shining through the dead stems of last year's phlox.  I cut that back and the euphorbia next to it.  Small job and it does reveal the weed and the grot grown through the bed but that is fine.  Today I am not weeding and today I am not despairing!  Today I am cutting back the phlox.  Tick. Then I move on to the herb bed which we mad

Day 7 of the 100 day project

Rain and rain and rain.  So not working outside today, even for five minutes.  Today's version of the 100 day project is some thinking.  I want to pass some things on.  We have been looking at things in the garden that we can share or pass on to other gardeners, both plants and tools.  We have lots of hazel whips which were a gift from a friend who does tree rescue like some people do dog rescue.  He can't bear to see young trees thrown away so he takes them and tries to find someone who will give them a permanent home.  He gave us these on the basis that surely we must have room for them.  We heeled them in while we thought about it.  When we moved the henhouse the place where they were became incorporated into the hen run.  Now they are scratched around and sat under and still there, maybe three years on.  We still don't have a sensible long term home for them so we are going to give them to some friends who are just starting out on their gardening life and would like t

Day 6 of the 100 day project

Ok, now it is time to actually do something myself instead of getting other people to do things!  I am still coughing and bunged up but I persuade myself that doing something outside, however small, will make me feel better.  I like being outside and I wonder if this long, cold, dark and miserable winter has left me short of vitamin D.  First of all I cut back the other artemisia, meaning that this job can come off my list.  If I stick to my resolution only to have five things on a list that means something else can go on.  Time taken, about ten minutes.  This leaves a few minutes for admiring this hellebore being blown about in the wind and the weak sun. Then I decide that the big task of the day (and by big I mean little) will be to dig out some dandelions from the side garden.  And this is the beauty of the 100dayproject for me.  I have decided that doing one thing counts, so, despite the fact that digging six dandelions and four creeping buttercups out of the bed simply reveal

Day 5 of the #100dayproject

Today I knew we would wake up in Manchester, at our older son's house, because we had been babysitting grandson number three, aged three, while his parents had a tiny well earned break.  And today contained a lunch with younger daughter and her family postponed from Easter Sunday when I was ill in bed.  So finding a way of doing something in the garden for day 5 of the 100 day project was going to be a bit of a challenge I thought.  And yet, astonishingly, three things got done today and none of them by me although I am claiming that both my presence and my focus on the project caused or inspired the things to be done. The first was the thing I had planned.  Grandaughter number two, aged two and seven months, loves to help in the garden and in life generally.  I thought I could encourage her to do some watering of my scented leaf geraniums which are in the wooden greenhouse, looking dead and sad but quite possibly still alive.  By the time we got to this she had already fe

Day 4 of the 100 day project

It was looking as if it might be tricky to find something which would count for the project today.  Cold and cough continue.  Continue to look like something the cat dragged in.  And today we are off to Manchester to pick up grandchild number 4 from nursery and look after him overnight to give his hardworking parents a tiny break.  I contemplated not going and letting Ian do it by himself but that just seemed too sad.   So I was very aware of limited time and limited energy.  Fortunately Ian had staking the amelanchier on his list and I decided that holding the post would obviously count as it was a vital part of the job!  This is because we have adopted the practice of staking diagonally rather than vertically and diagonal stakes need someone to hold them at an angle in order to start them off right! We moved this amelanchier last year.  There have been three planted up here by the shepherd's hut for five or six years, maybe seven.  It is a useful rule of thumb that any timescal

Day 3 of the 100 day project

Here we are, got to day 3!  Today the snow has all gone and the sun is shining.  It is bright but it is also cold.  Still coughing and spluttering I decided that I must be able to do something today.  Ian has been working on repairing the raised beds so I had to go out to look at that and admire it.  The beds have been falling apart for a while and it is amazing to see at least one of them looking like it is meant again!  It is not so noticeable in the summer when the beds are full but in the winter the collapsed corners and the gaps in the sides have been very visible.  I might post some pictures when he is finished although it seems a little like cheating to pinch his achievements instead of accomplishing something of my own! There is a ring of tiny daffodils in the kitchen garden.  When they were planted years ago there was a pear tree in the centre but pears don't really like it up here.  Apples are very happy and we have huge apple crops every year but the pear trees, two

Day 2 of the hundred day project

Well the weather is not playing ball with the one hundred day project.  It is snowy and rainy and slushy and cold and there is not one single thing I would want to do in the garden even if I was not feeling sore throated and sore chested and sorry for myself. And we are not talking crisp white stunning beauty snow. It does not look like this.  We are talking mush and slush and grey and rain on top of snow and a deep desire to hibernate or live in the South of France.  It is April.  It is Easter, no more snow for heaven's sake. So I have decided that making a list of things to do in the garden will have to be my task for today.  Now this could be a mammoth list which really could only be followed by moving to the south of France.  There is so much to do out there that a counsel of perfection or even a counsel of mediocrity could produce pages and pages.  I have decided that what I need is a list of no more than five things, of which two must be really quite small, the kind

Day 1 of the hundred day project

It is Easter.  Instagram is full of beautifully styled Easter trees and chocolate eggs.  But in amongst all that loveliness I came across a post on the #100dayproject which stood out somehow.  The idea is that for one hundred days you should do something in the garden every day and that, however small it was, it would make you connect with your garden and make the garden feel loved and lived in.  I wondered if I could combine something like that with my blog which also needs attention from me to feel loved and lived in so I thought I would give it a go.  I am not promising myself to post every single day because I know that we will have time away when both the garden and the blog will be out of reach but I will see how I go with a little bit of garden and a little bit of blog. I really wanted to start today because it is the 1st April and that seems like a suitably new day/new month/spring sort of fresh start.  That was the first problem because I have spent the last few days poleaxe