26 February 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - Frog Spawn and the Blue Tits are Back

Evening everyone,

Hope you've had a good week. The garden is bursting into life despite a couple of chilly days and Storm Doris.

Monday - it was much milder today, cloudy to start then by the afternoon the sun came out and felt quite pleasant. I fed the fish this morning and there was a clump of frog spawn which is good news. Hopefully the fish won't eat it. I popped to the garden centre and bought a few alpines for the new rockery and put them in and added gravel to stop the roots getting waterlogged. All it needs now is to wait for them to grow.

I then spent a couple of hours tidying up the back garden although it doesn't look like I've done much. The iris reticulate and the primroses are looking colourful (and the grass is quite lush, we've deliberately left it long)
The cress has shot up over the weekend

Tuesday - a mild but damp day. I went out to feed the fish and there was more frog spawn -
at times the pond surface resembled a Jacuzzi with the frogs splashing around! When I fed the fish at lunchtime one of the frogs leapt up and gulped some of the food, dispersing the fish. I ordered my free perennials (cost of postage only) - 12 x ladybird poppy, 12 x munstead lavender, 12 x Mrs Bradshaw geum and 12 x pink parasol echinacea.

Wednesday - much colder today and windy. The new greenhouse was delivered before 8am this morning and it's being erected next week, hopefully. I went out to feed the fish and check on the frog spawn. I counted seven frogs splashing around and piling on top of each other (I presume they're frogs, they could, of course, be toads)

Him indoors put up a semi-permanent fence between us and next door where the new shed will be at the top of the garden as the old one had disintegrated and then he cleaned the garden tools ready for action

Whilst he was doing that I made a start on tidying up the cottage garden. I cut back some of the grasses and started weeding the beds but it was bitterly cold in the wind so I'll do some more another day. It's looking a bit barren at the moment

We drove out to one of the local garden centres as I had a voucher for some free potatoes - I chose pentland javelin as they did well last year and I bought sugar snap pea seeds. I can't really do any more sowing (although I'm itching to get started) until the greenhouse is up. Once it's up we can erect the trellis again and not beforetime as the sweet peas are straining at the leash in their pots.

Thursday - Storm Doris hit Dorset today. Although we didn't have it as bad as some of the country it still blew the pottering shed door open and the roof off the pond pump housing. The pond surface is still bubbling with frogs. I adjusted the coverings over the veg beds
and moved metal frame protecting the union troy onions as they were starting to grow through it

Friday - calm and sunny but colder. Whilst I was sat in the conservatory having breakfast, two blackbirds were re-enacting 'High Noon' on the back fence and the heron swooped past. The pond was calm today and the fish didn't appear interested in food. I cleaned the bird table, re-stocked it and re-adjusted the design slightly so it's easier for the blackbirds to fly on

I then put the pentland javelin to chit in the pottering shed. I was going to tidy it up....another day.

Saturday - an exciting moment for me this morning...there is frog spawn in the small cauldron pond (to the left). No sign of a frog, though I'm sure it's camouflaged somewhere nearby

I didn't get any gardening done as it was cold and windy, even the fish were lethargic this morning and the pond surface was still calm. There was a dove enjoying a bath in the birdbath by the patio and two pigeons were rummaging through the pile of gravel from the old greenhouse floor. I went out again at lunchtime to check the pond (it's addictive) and put a little food in for the fish and this time they were like piranhas that hadn't eaten for a week.

Sunday - it supposed to be sunny but keeps drizzling. I fed the fish and again, they weren't really interested. The water is bubbling again with frogs. I watched a pigeon come into land in the garden. Normally, as you know, birds fly horizontally but this pigeon flew in chest first, semi vertical. It was hilarious to watch as it landed ungainly on the lawn. The blackbirds and a robin visited the bird table which I'd topped up and...the blue tits visited the nesting box (yesss!). All is well in Daisy's world again. I checked the propagator and some of the razzmatazz chillies, peppers and tomatoes had surfaced so I re-potted them and put them in him indoors' workshop pending the new greenhouse and also re-potted a few little gem seedlings that have started to grow.

There are still plenty of jobs on my to-do list but they'll have to be carried over to next week, although the weather forecast isn't very gardener-friendly. It's getting colder tomorrow with rain and maybe sleet and snow and possibly thunder and the same on Tuesday but with sunny spells and Wednesday is a total washout. Thursday is the only decent day so, fingers crossed, we can get the greenhouse erected. Hope you have better weather where you are and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

19 February 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - I Have my Garden Back (For the Time Being)!

Evening everyone,

I hope it's been as nice with you this week as it has here in this part of Dorset. It started off cold then gradually warmed up as the week went on. The shed base is now done and I have my garden back - for the time being anyway. We still have to have a new shed and the new greenhouse is hopefully arriving next week.

We were away for a couple of days at the beginning of the week on a mini break to Bath and surrounding area. We arrived home late Tuesday afternoon and there were lots of hungry fish waiting to be fed. I cleaned off the bird table and put out fresh food and potted up the cuttings I acquired from the tub on the balcony of our hotel

On the way home we popped into the local DIY/garden centre. They were selling primroses at £1.50 each or six for £6. That's not bad I thought. I went for a wander and came across the clearance racks and there were trays of six primroses reduced to £2 a tray. I walked back to the others and I couldn't see any difference so I bought three trays at £2 each - 18 primroses for £6...bargain!

The atmosphere early evening as the sun was setting through the low cloud and mist was really eerie.

Wednesday - this morning there were three or four pairs of blackbirds flitting around, flirting and squabbling. The workmen were going to come and finish off the shed base but it was forecast rain later in the day so they changed it to tomorrow. I was working most of the day which left him indoors to potter in peace. He tidied up his workshop and did some domestic duties (from his own list, not mine!).

Thursday - a gorgeous sunny day and the workmen were able to finish the shed base.

When I arrived home from work it was all done and they were clearing up. They've done a good job of a) the bases and b) clearing up...the garden isn't a building site anymore! Him indoors has replaced the trellis on the arch near the patio

Friday - another lovely day and gradually getting warmer. I took a leisurely stroll around the garden and I'm amazed at how quickly plants suddenly sprout up. The iris reticulate which will go in the new rockery once they've finished flowering
The photinia that has suddenly sprouted red leaves
Bulbs in the aubretia bordering the cottage garden
And greenery in the shade garden - I have no idea what it is as the previous owners planted it but it's looking lush

I rinsed the cement dust from some of the shrubs and plants near where the workmen had been then I re-potted more parsley seedlings, sowed mustard, cress and micro rocket seeds and took the larger pots out of the workshop so that the shrubs can benefit from the mild weather we're having. I noticed that the free charlotte mixed spuds I received had started to chit in their packaging so I put them in an egg box in the pottering shed.

I checked the other potatoes I bought a few weeks ago and they have started as well so they are also now in containers in the pottering shed  - charlotte salad
and King Edwards
The Duke of York that I put out to chit a the beginning of the month are coming along nicely

Saturday - it was foggy first thing then the sun broke through and we had a lovely day, hopefully spring is not too far away. I was working this morning, when I arrived home my first job was the rockery. I sorted out a few plants and bulbs to put in but I need more so it's still a work in progress. I then planted the bargain primroses, they are so vibrant and cheer the garden up. Next job was to pot up the razzmatazz chilli and tomato garden delight seedlings that have surfaced in the propagators. I then sowed more, plus cucumber beth alpha, verbena and coral reef poppy. One thing I have noticed...since the workmen have been around the blue tits haven't been near the garden so much. I'm hoping that they'll come back now it's quiet again. It could be because we had to take down the trellis near the nesting box and it is now a bit exposed, but once the new greenhouse is in we can put the trellis back up. The fish have been hungry today, I've fed them four times. They are swimming just below the surface like mini golden submarines. I checked the plants in him indoors' workshop and all are doing well. The mimulus seedlings have started to sprout - they are so tiny
and so have the cress that I sowed on Friday!

Sunday - I had to work today but as it's been grey and cloudy I didn't mind. It was supposed to be mild but I've been cold. I fed the fish this morning before I left and when I got back this afternoon and that's all I've done garden-wise today.

Well, that's another week gone by - where does the time go?? I watched the weather on Countryfile and it looks like it's going to be a dull, cloudy, damp and mild week turning colder towards the weekend. Hopefully I can get the rockery finished and I also have more plans for the back garden. Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

12 February 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - Making a Start on the Rockery and A Banquet for the Blackbirds

Hi everyone,

It's been a mainly cold week with no progress on the base for the top shed...it's either been forecast rain or too cold for the base to set. After I posted last week's blog I went out to feed the fish and check the bird food before I went to work - the blackbirds hadn't touched the blueberries, yet they're quick to eat them as they're growing!

Monday - there was a thick overnight frost which soon melted when it clouded over and the rain came. The new peanut feeder, Mr Frog, appears to be popular with the blue tits and the blueberries had been eaten.

Tuesday - it was a lovely sunny morning and warmer than it has been for some time, then in the afternoon it clouded over and rained again. The daffodils in the front garden are coming into flower (yes, I know, it needs tidying up) but there's only one in the back garden. Maybe it's warmer out the front.

I chopped up an apple and put it on the bird table together with seeds and mealworms.

Wednesday - quite a nice day and quite warm in the sun. I managed a couple of hours in the garden before the clouds appeared. I moved the lemon plant, lemon verbena and acer back into the workshop as it's going to get colder again from this evening. I had a walk round the garden as it's been a bit of a no-go area and all of a sudden it's come to life.
Bulbs pushing through

Buds on the hellebore
New leaves on the goji berry

What looks like brown catkins on the hazelnut tree??

A bud on one of the climbing roses we planted last year

And the yellow moon onions have started to grow

The garden still resembles a building site though. There was a bumble bee in the cottage garden, a robin on the suet ball feeder, a great tit singing from next door's tree and blackbirds sitting on the fence singing. It was like a scene from a Disney film...thank goodness they didn't start talking to me! All the apple was gone so I chopped up another and also put more blueberries out. A couple of the blackbirds immediately came over to investigate. I pruned back the sweet peas in the workshop as they are growing too quickly (the calendula are doing well - back right)

then potted up the spring onions from the propagator and planted the remainder of the union troy onions into a large pot. The garlic in the workshop are coming along nicely, I'll need to re-pot them soon.

My last job was to put more stones in the cauldron pond and next to it so it's easier for whatever wants to get in there to get in there - and out again.

Thursday - the coriander micro seeds are finally starting to grow but too small to photograph at the moment. It looks like one of the azaleas is on the verge of flowering
A couple of the razzmatazz chilli seeds have broken through which I'm pleased about because I thought I'd overwatered them

There were two pairs of blackbirds taking it in turns to feed off the bird table and one lonely pigeon waddling around looking for scraps. I almost felt sorry for it.

Friday - cold all day today. I made some lard pellets covered in flour and put them on the bird table - they proved popular. A few of the fish were near the surface. As you know I have been feeding them all winter which is unusual because the last couple of years we haven't seen them until the winter's nearly over. Amazing full moon tonight in a clear frosty sky.

Saturday - just when you thought it couldn't get any colder... The blackbirds were back early this morning, it seems we are the restaurant of choice at the moment! We had a few light snow flurries this morning but not enough to settle. The workmen were supposed to come and do the shed base but apparently it was too cold for it to set. Him indoors and I finally got round to starting the rockery

It was bitterly cold out there today. I will start putting the plants in next week.

Sunday - not quite as cold but windy. All the food has been eaten on the bird table - there must be some very fat blackbirds flying around. I've topped it up, fed the fish and checked the top feeders which are ok. That's all I'm doing today!

The weather for the week ahead looks like it's going to warm up a bit and there could be a chance of rain, it's all very vague at the moment. As long as the workmen can get finished.... Have a good week, stay warm and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

5 February 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - The Garden Resembles a Building Site

Hi everyone,

Another early posting this week as I have to work today...you know when you wish you hadn't said yes!

Monday - rain set in yesterday and continues today. In fact it's forecast all week, just when you don't need it as the workmen are at the stage of laying the concrete bases. Him indoors moved the trellis that was leaning against the fence (high winds expected this week) and he moved the larger pots out of his workshop as it's turned milder and the rain will do them good. He refined the bird table, my design but neater.

His next job was digging out the hydrangea that had been growing by the greenhouse. I'm thinking of putting the gardenia there, maybe. This year I am determined to get the alpine garden done as I ran out of time last summer. He tidied the honeysuckle across the top arch, dug out thorns, fixed the netting over the pond that had dipped into the water (yet again) and loaded the car with rubbish for the recycling centre. All in the rain, bless him. The cress has nearly quadrupled in size since Saturday

Tuesday - and more rain, but just drizzly today then it eased. Him indoors covered the veg patches with plastic to keep the weeds down and warm up the soil ready for spring planting.

Whilst he went to the recycling centre I fed the fish, at least a couple of dozen were waiting for food. My free Charlotte seed potatoes arrived today together with individual small bags to grow them in. I also have a voucher for more free potatoes which I will collect next week...I think it's going to be the year of the potato as I already had my early's, salad potatoes and main crop. When him indoors came back he made a start on the front garden rockery. I was going through my gardening pic files and, embarrassingly to say, I got the rockery stones in 2015
 and we're only just getting round to building it...shame on us!
So far he's put down the initial hardcore base on top of new weed suppressant material.

The workmen arrived to get on with preparing the greenhouse base for concreting. I think that him indoors was secretly trying to keep up with the youngsters because he's done his back in working on the rockery. A classic case of the mind being willing and the body groaning NO!!

Wednesday - today was dry and the workmen arrived before 8.30am and started on the concrete base
Thankfully it was all done by the time the rain came back late afternoon. Hopefully they will be  able to do the top shed base early next week

Thursday - very windy today but mild at 13C 55F. And the rain that was forecast didn't materialise although it did come over dark at times. The workmen popped back to check the concrete was setting and took the plastic cover off. Mid afternoon black clouds appeared and they rushed back to cover it again and fasten it securely as we were expecting gale force winds

I cleaned the bird table. A lesson learnt here...I've been putting broken up suet balls on it for the blackbirds and what hadn't been eaten had stuck to the table like glue. So I had to scrape it all off then pour boiling water on to clean the fat off. I'll stick to seeds in future, I think.

Friday - amazing sunrise this morning but it soon clouded over and, just as I was heading out the heavens opened and the wind was blowing the rain horizontally. By late afternoon it had picked up even more and was buffeting everything. The skip was collected today. I was in all afternoon but never heard a thing!

Saturday - the workmen arrived to do some work at the bottom of the garden and have laid me a nice gravel path and secured the honeysuckle arch

When they'd gone I topped up the bird feeders. The frog replaces the ladybird I returned because birds don't like red - see last week's blog. And now, writing this, I've just realised I need to take down the red seed feeder for the same reason.
Just popped outside and taken it down, I'll empty the seeds and put them on the bird table
I checked the propagator and the flax have turned into mini triffids over the last couple of days
plus the little gem lettuce has started to grow. I potted them up, put the flax in him indoors' workshop and the little gem on the kitchen windowsill. The blackbirds were back on the bird table today - I've put out more seed and a few blueberries as a treat.
Well considering the weather we've had and the fact that, when it was dry the garden was taken over by the workmen, I think we've managed to get quite a bit done this week.
Sunday - cloudy and dull this morning and it must have been windy in the night because a few light things have been blown around. I haven't seen the weather forecast for all of next week but it's going to be frosty tonight, rain tomorrow then getting colder as the week progresses, so I may need to put some of the large pots back in the workshop. But it does look like the workmen should be able to finish. Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.
Kind regards,
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga