23 December 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - The Burrow has Disappeared and a Visit to Vienna

Hi everyone,

Well, the roads are busy and the supermarkets are full to bursting with shoppers - it must be nearly Christmas. We've had a few days in Vienna for him indoors' birthday (more of that later).

I did a garden check yesterday as we had an unexpected frost. All is well except that the birds have been removing the tree bark covering pots with bulbs in and pulling them up, so I've pushed them back in and covered the pots again. The fish were swimming near the surface and pounced on the food as soon as it hit the water. I cleared a few leaves from the netting and made sure everything was secure in the garden as we are expecting gales from the tail end of Storm Barbara.

The one thing that did stop me in my tracks - the burrow in the cottage garden is not there anymore. It's been filled in, the area flattened, and still no footprints
It's like it never existed. Welcome to the twilight zone!

Friday - I had all good intentions of getting out in the garden this afternoon but by the time I got home the rain had started so all I've done today is feed the fish.

Vienna is a delight and I recommend a visit. At first glance the city looks big but it doesn't take as long as it looks on the map to walk to places.  We visited various Christmas markets, there's just so much choice of anything and everything you could want for Christmas plus an inexhaustible supply of calories and gluhwein.

When you buy gluhwein you have to pay a deposit for the cup in case you decide to keep it. These are the best ones we saw for our amaretto gluhwein - cute aren't they.

One of the many selections of baubles
Hanging decorations and mobiles (and no, that's not me)

It was much colder than it's been here so we were glad we took plenty of layers. It was just above freezing during the day and well below at night. On our first day exploring we saw this ingenious dress made from pine tree branches
and we came across a statue of Mozart near the museum quarter

And a definite must to visit - the Mozart Café...amazing strudel

The next day was him indoors' birthday and it snowed all day which is exciting for us Dorset dwellers as we don't often see it. This is the dress
 and this is the Mozart statue

In the evening we went for a walk in Stadt Park which looked magical and just like a Christmas card.
There is a small lake in the middle and all of a sudden the ducks began running down the bank, plunging into the water and swimming towards some overhanging trees where they stopped to gather (they obviously had their own agenda). We also saw a small heron and there were a lot of gulls for somewhere so far inland.

And here is a pic of us in the snow!

The weather forecast for us here in Dorset over the weekend and into next week is mild and windy so no white Christmas...again.

Anyway, it looks like it's glass of wine time, so enjoy the holidays and catch up next week.




Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

17 December 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Onions, Garlic and Greenhouse Seedlings Doing Well

Hi everyone,

I'm posting the blog early this week as there are various pre-Christmas festivities this weekend. I can't believe we're nearing the end of another year. Either time is going faster or I'm getting slower.

Monday - mild and damp all day. I fed the fish then secured the netting tighter over the pond as it was beginning to dip in the water again. There were a couple of squirrels flirting, playing hide and seek and annoying the pigeons and magpies in next door's tree and the sparrows, robins and blackbirds were active in the morning.

Tuesday - today was dull, damp and dark. Two weeks ago the pond was frozen over...the temperature today was 13C 55F! I checked the compost tumblers, they are coming on nicely, and spun them a few times to mix the contents. Whilst I was sat in traffic this morning, I looked up and saw two rooks snuggling up together on top of a lamp post...cosy.

Wednesday - there was an amazing sunrise this morning followed by a pleasant day. I fed the fish which are enjoying the milder weather and lazily swimming around near the surface. In the greenhouse I pinched out the tops of the sweet peas down to two sets of leaves

Potted up the lupin seedlings (back) and a couple of seedlings from seeds I acquired from a lovely red flower that, as usual, I have no idea what it is
and the calendula seedlings are doing well.

I raked the fallen leaves off the lawn and swept the paths, I now have another bag of leaves composting. I dug up the celeriac and, as I suspected, the bulbs haven't developed, just long roots - shame as the tops appeared healthy.
But, on the bright side, I did find some spring onions (they had a very strong taste) and there is more fennel growing

The winter jasmine is coming on

The union troy onions in both the garden and in the trough are doing well

but there is no sign yet of the yellow moon shallots.

The greenhouse garlic and the outside garlic are thriving

One positive of the milder, damp weather is that the lawn is looking lush
And here's a couple of pics of the garden, not looking too bad considering the time of year

Thursday - a dismal day with spits of rain. Even the birds were in hiding, only the fish were enjoying the weather. I checked the small burrow in the cottage garden and still no sign of activity. Did I say a few spits of rain? At 2 o'clock the heavens opened and we had torrential rain for most of the afternoon.

Friday - the fish were about early, I went back out to take a pic and just as I pressed the button most of them dived for cover - typical.

In the garden a couple of the primulas are flowering
 and the cottage garden grasses are still looking stunning

I still have to tidy up the cottage garden and start planning the rockery and another job on the list is to tidy up the pottering shed

That's it for this week. The week ahead looks like it's staying mild for the time of year which is good for the plants but not very Christmassy. Hope your week isn't too hectic with the seasons  preparations and catch up next Friday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

11 December 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - A Pleasant Week for Pottering and Planting

Evening everyone,

I've managed to get out in the garden this week which felt good and put a smile on my face.

Monday - incredible start to the day. There was a light mist which muted the early morning colours making it look like the world had been airbrushed with soft pastels and there was just a dusting of frost. Magical. The garden was full of blackbirds and sparrows and the blue tit gave its nesting box an inspection. In the front garden the heather Erica carnea is in flower
I haven't noticed the cottage garden heathers in flower yet. I noticed this blackbird sat on the cotoneaster outside the lounge window

Tuesday -this morning was the total opposite of yesterday, dark, damp and dismal although much milder. There was a pair of blackbirds on the workshop roof flirting and playing hard to get. Some of the fish had come up to the surface and ate all the food I put in. Now, although I think of things to do, I'm actually not much of a planner especially when it comes to exactly where in the garden plants are going to go. I'm more of a wing-it, intuitive gardener. But...I have 48 plants to put in. Some are sun and shade, some sun only and some perfect for shade only. So, I sat down this afternoon and made a plan of where all the plants are going - I was impressed.

Wednesday - roll over winter, spring is here! 13C 55F late morning to be precise. The fish were waiting for their breakfast and lunch and ate it all. I was out in the garden all morning and had to take my coat off it was so warm. The blackbirds were still flirting and a robin watched for a while as I sorted out the plants. I heard a woodpecker, that's the first time I've heard one here. And...mid morning I could hear a faint honking noise that grew louder and louder and squadrons of geese flew over, there were hundreds of them (honestly, no exaggeration) all headed for the RSPB reserve. I moved the olive and viburnum Kilimanjaro out of the greenhouse so they can enjoy the balmy weather and I cleared the fallen leaves out of the pond. Then I started on putting all the plants in.
I filled a couple of pots with festucca grass and hechera ivy.

When I emptied one of the pots I was going to use for the grass and ivy I found it was full of bulbs
I have no idea what they are so I've re-potted them - we'll find out early next year.

I planted more festucca grasses by the cauldron pond so hopefully next year they'll provide shelter for frogs that rest in the pond

I planted the gaultheria (partridge berry) in the back bed - excellent ground cover and the birds like the berries

The prunella grandiflora (excellent ground cover), pennisetum redhead (red grass), meconopsis (blue poppy) and fragrant monarda are not photogenic at the moment as they are in their dormant stage.
Thursday - rainy and warm this morning, perfect for my newly planted additions to the garden. Most of the fish were at the surface this morning enjoying the balmy morning...and hungry! By early afternoon a thick fog had descended reducing visibility to no more than a hundred yards or so (no idea what that is in metres but it's not very far!).
Friday - brighter today and still warm. The fish were up for more food and I topped up the small bird feeders although I'm sure the pigeons are managing to balance on them somehow.
Saturday - warm, foggy and damp this morning. The fish were congregated in the pond's 'dining area' waiting for breakfast. I checked the cottage garden but no sign of the heathers in flower yet. There are more small burrowed holes in parts of the garden. The patio blackcurrant has new buds
 An unknown, as the label has faded, (might be a blueberry) is coming into leaf (middle left of pic)
and the double-headed daffodils are pushing through (on right)
Sunday - colder overnight and there were pockets of mist hanging along the hedgerows. I fed the fish, checked the greenhouse then planted out more of the plant delivery. I put one asclepias to the right of the cauldron garden, one in the new flower bed by the side of the greenhouse and left one in its pot to go in the cottage garden once I've tidied it. The tradescantia went into the cauldron garden and the greenhouse beds. I have only planted out some of the tricyrtis mixed (cauldron and greenhouse beds) as a couple are for the cottage garden and a couple for out the front. One of the roots broke off as I was planting so I've put it in some soil and hopefully it will grow. I haven't quite stuck to my plan as more plants were supposed to go in the front garden but never mind, I'll take cuttings and do it next year.
So...not a bad week's gardening even though I only managed one out of the two things on my to-do list - dealing with the celeriac and the cottage garden will have to roll over on to next week's agenda. I went to the local pantomime this afternoon, Jack and the Beanstalk. Great fun...my beans don't grow like that! The weather forecast for the week ahead is mild, cloudy and rain at times so could be another good pottering week for completing my agenda. Oh, and add to that I need to plan the rockery.
Have a good week and hope you find time for gardening amongst the upcoming festive preparations. Catch up next week,
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

4 December 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - A Frosty Week and Stunning Scenery

Evening everyone,

It's been a chilly week with daytime temperatures not getting much above freezing. It had been my intention to put in the plants received the other week but the ground has been too hard, plus I didn't want to put them out while the air was raw and frosty.

Monday - I fed the fish as there were a few under the surface but they were slow to feed, probably because of the cold - a bitter east wind today. I came across another burrowed hole, this time in the veg patch. It's no more than an inch in diameter - could be a bee or wasp.

The day ended with a spectacular sunset.

Tuesday - there was a frost overnight. The bird baths were frozen over but not the pond. I didn't feed the fish today but I did feed the birds as there were plenty flitting around including a robin who sat on top of the greenhouse serenading. The ground was too hard to do any gardening but I did a check of the greenhouse plants and all ok. The sunrise and sunset were amazing in the clear sky.

Wednesday - another stunning sunrise which more than compensated for the icy morning, even the pond was frozen over. I carefully poured hot water around the edge to defrost a part of it. I think I mentioned last year that it's not a good idea to break the surface as the sound of the ice cracking could be too much of a shock for the fish. I sprinkled some flour (self-raising) near the lodger's burrow in the cottage garden in the hope that whatever is in there will leave footprints.

Thursday - the frost was so thick this morning it looked like it had been snowing. A mist hung over the water of the RSPB reserve and the sunrise had tinged it orange. The pond was frozen over again and the bird baths were so solid even boiling water wasn't melting the ice. The garden was full of birds as I defrosted the edges of the pond. There were blackbirds, a thrush, sparrows, robins and a blue tit. I put out more seeds for them on the bird table and in the small feeder dishes. I checked the flour (self-raising) and it hadn't been disturbed. Whatever is in there, I can't blame it for not coming out in this cold. At 4pm, the day became dull and dim. When I looked out the window thick fog had descended and I could only just make out the fence at the end of the garden. Half an hour later it had cleared and we had sunshine and clear sky again.

Friday - there was no frost this morning but it was bitterly cold, the kind that gets into your bones. I put a small amount of food in the pond but only a couple of the bigger fish came up to feed. There were no birds in the garden this morning.

Saturday - the indoor freesias are coming along well

and the greenhouse ones have started to show now

The celeriac leaves look healthy but I don't think the roots have developed, I'll check next week

The ice on one of the birdbaths had loosened and it came off in one lump and stayed frozen all day

I fed the fish and more came up to eat today. I need to sort out the plant delivery. It's bugging me. The thing is, when I ordered them in September the weather was warm...just the sort of weather you want for gardening. Now it's not. I'll do it tomorrow.

Sunday - sunny, cold and windy and the day to start sorting out the plants. I've moved them out of him indoors' workshop into the greenhouse and I'm going to pot them up over the coming week. I'll keep them in the greenhouse until the weather warms up a bit.

Cornus midwinter fire, the stalks are already beginning to turn red. I haven't decided where it's going to go yet.

This is a black hellebore whose name I can't remember because I've thrown the delivery note away but it looks spectacular when it's in flower

This is gardenia crown jewel and has already developed new leaves, this will be planted in a large pot on the patio

I removed the chilli plants from the greenhouse as they are finished now, there was only one small chilli left on there. There are buds on the lemon verbena cuttings I took - exciting

And finally, I just have to say that the bathroom is finished...really pleased with it

I watched Countryfile for the weather. It's going to be another cold night tonight then warming up as the week goes on, so alas, no excuse for not getting those plants in! Also on the programme was the development of new brassicas, trying to make kale sweeter so more people will eat it. As the reporter said, most people eat it because it's good for us (me included) so it would be nice if it tasted good as well.
My jobs for the coming week include sorting out all the plants and maybe, only maybe, cut down the perennials in the cottage garden. Ah, forgot to mention, a bee flew past me in the garden this afternoon, I thought they had all hibernated in this cold weather. Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga