Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Buds and birds

Sunshine and heavy showers today. Here is one of my woodpigeons which visit the bird-table every day (I also get two collared doves, bluetits, a couple of blackbirds and a robin) I took this photo myself, but had to be very patient and actually took about 20 pictures till I got the one I wanted

The buds on the Stargazer lillies are just about to burst into flower and the pink hydrangea flowerheads are almost open, another couple of weeks and they'll be a blaze of colour. I am getting a second flush of flowers on my blue alpine clematis which covers the fence behind the garage and the peach patio rose is in full bloom, despite the amount of rain we've had.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Just a few showers today but more rain to come

Just a quick blog 'cos I've spent the last two days at work creating a new web site and my eyes and brain are not working as good as they should be! Just a few showers today, so into the garden from 6 - 8pm, grass cut back and front, edges clipped, borders hoed - oh what joy, a tidy garden again! While I was gardening, Andrea took these pictures with her new camera - I think the acer photo is beautiful and the clouds look as though you could reach out and touch them, but as you can see, the rain is on it's way back - as I said in my post yesterday, parts of the UK, especially Yorkshire have had the most terrible flood. It was feared the wall of a reservoir would collapse to-day and they are still trying to pump out some water to take pressure off the wall. People have been evacuated from their homes and the main motorway through England, the M1, runs near the reservoir and it has been closed all day, just in case the dam burst. We've been so lucky where I live and I feel so sorry for the people who have flooding in their homes.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

A walk by the sea

The weather faired up this afternoon, so we went to the St Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay. You can only cross the causeway when the tide is out, and it is always interesting to see what has been left behind in the rock pools - take a look at this jellyfish - Andrea almost put her foot on one - yuk! On the way to the coast, we called in to Jesmond Dene for a walk around and saw goats, sheep, donkey, pig, hens and a rather large rat in the kiddies Pets Corner

Water, water, everywhere - and no gardening!

The weather is wet, wet, wet with torrential rain and thunderstorms yesterday. Andrea managed to get these pictures in between showers yesterday - she's trying out her new camera - far too complicated for me! The orange lillies have been in a pot for approx 6 years, I popped the pot into a gap in the rockery to brighten it up. The blue geranium is very pretty, and I've planted three more for next year. My left hand curved border is filling out, but still needs more plants. The pink patio rose is looking very good this year

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Dock Leaves

This is a note for 'Chris the Gardener' in Maine, USA about the dock leaves. I found some information on Kew Gardens website here and hopefully this is a bigger picture of the dock leaves in the park.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Could this be the creature causing all the damage?

Here is a picture of a large snail who has just gorged himself on my petunias and hostas!! Doris is looking a little heavy with all of the rain, the Nicotiana which survived the winter has quite a few flowers, I think it survived because it was planted right under a very tall conifer and was protected from wind and frost. The fuschias which I put between the shed and the greenhouse and survived the winter obviously enjoyed the rain and are looking OK. The small patch where the greenhouse used to live (we moved it) is coming on a treat, still needs more shrubs/plants in future. I actually managed to cut the grass last night, and good news about the front garden lawn - the various potions I've used on the dreaded creeping yellow trefoil seem to have worked. I now have a brown lawn with a few green patches instead of a green lawn with a few blades of grass, but hey, you can't have everything!

Evening stroll in Saltwell Park

No rain today so after work and tea, we had a nice stroll in Saltwell Park, Gateshead this evening. There were swans walking on the path around the lake, sygnets, baby geese, loads of bees getting the last of the nectar from the perennial plants and a really nice fern growing in a nook half way up the trunk of a tree! We were quite surprised to see Dock leaves and quite a few weeds growing in the flower beds in the park, but maybe they are classed as 'wild life areas'?

Andrea took the photos tonight.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Rain stopped play, but still managed a bit of gardening

I donned my wellies and gloves and managed to plant the three new miniature roses I got on Wednesday. When I was on the garden trail last weekend, a couple of gardens were selling small plants on the sales table and I got three blue geraniums, a rudbekia plant, a cistus rose, a penstemmon and a couple of other small plants. All of them are now planted in the very wet border, but at least I didn't have to water them in! My garden is looking very, very wet, all of the flowers are drooping as they are so heavy with rain and I can hardly see my pinks because the flowers have bent over so much. I must invest in some good plant supports. I'm sure the slugs are having a huge slugfest and the hostas are looking very ragged, more hole than leaf! After a reasonably dry period, the very heavy rain started again at tea-time. I'm hoping for better light and a bit of dry weather on Sunday so I can take some more photographs. We were more fortunate here in the North East of England than other places in the UK who suffered flooding, closed roads and waterlogged houses. Hubby had tickets for the first two days of the test match at Durham (England v W Indies) but had to return home yesterday as the match was cancelled due to the heavy rain and waterlogged pitch. To-day saw a drier day and after a lot of hard work by the ground staff at Chester le Street ground, play began after lunch and he was able to enjoy the cricket until bad light and rain stopped play at tea time. He hasn't got a ticket for tomorrow, so will have to watch the match on television.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Too wet to garden!

A very wet Acer

The patio roses in the border are getting heavy with all the rain and beginning to drop petals
It hasn't stopped raining since Monday and is due to carry on until the weekend, so no gardening for me, and worse, hubby has tickets for the first two days of the test match on Friday and Saturday (England v West Indies). The good news, is that my weed infested front garden seems to be improving, we can see lots of blades of grass now and the creeping yellow trefoil seems to be shrinking a little. Even though I can't garden this week, I can still buy plants and now have three patio (miniature) roses waiting to go in. I braved the rain to take a couple of pictures, but it is so gloomy the flash came on automatically.
I had to use my hubbies camera today and when I was downloading, I found a pic of the last cake I iced - I like making the sugar flowers (but only when I'm in the mood as it takes many hours). I wondered if any crafters or garden bloggers also indulged in this hobby?

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Hexhamshire Garden Trail

John and Jackies Garden

On Friday and Saturday I worked hard in the garden, then on Sunday Andrea and I went on the Hexhamshire Garden Trail in rural Northumberland (in aid of St Helens Church at Whitley Chapel). There were 20 gardens to visit, and we managed 17. I was map-reading without my specs, so obviously, we were lost most of the time but saw some beautiful countryside, loads of rabbits, pheasants, hens, lambs and birds, ducks and fluffy ducklings. Andrea was a bit dubious driving her beloved Mini along single track lanes, but she only had to reverse twice! All of the gardens were very nice but a few stood out. Greenways was a pure delight. John and Jackie have been making their large garden for ten years and the variety of trees, shrubs and flowers was amazing. The mecanopsis were better than the ones we saw at Harlow Carr Gardens, but best of all, John had a few groups of orchids which we thought were the same as the mystery plant we'd found in Watergate Park. but turned out to be a different type of orchid.

We were made very welcome at Five Dykes by Archie and enjoyed the beautiful terraced garden with ponds and stream, and especially the ducks. Photos also show Jemima Puddleduck sitting on her nest! The field next to the garden was covered in yellow buttercups - stunning!

Archies Garden

Jemima Puddleduck

Here is the field of buttercups next to Archies garden

Here are a selection of photos of plants we admired in the other gardens.

Hexham Hens

This is the garden of Betty at Deneham, overlooking the river

On the way home, we saw fields of poppies in the distance and made a detour until we found them near Corbridge. Andrea climbed into the field and took this picture then we called into Brockbushes for coffee and cake!

The mystery pink flower is an Orchid!

Remember the pink flower we found in Watergate Park. We had a great day out on Sunday visiting 17 gardens on the Hexhamshire Garden Trail in aid of St Helens Church at Whitley Chapel (more in next post). During a visit to Greenways garden, which was stunning, we spotted what we thought was the identical flower! John (a proper gardener) said it was an Orchid (Orchis Maderiaensis) and we thought we'd spotted a rarity on our doorstep! When we got home I emailed our local council with our photograph etc, and this is the reply we got: The photo is of a Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella) which grows around the Gateshead area in undisturbed damp grasslands but also colonises recently reclaimed sites where there is a previous history of occurence. They normally flower early to mid June and this year flowered even earlier due to the warm spring we had. They are not planted by the Council but are genuinely native plants. Many thanks to Michelle at Gateshead Council for this information and others who suggested various names for the plant. I have personally never seen the orchid growing anywhere else in the wild, especially in Gateshead but I'll be 'orchid spotting' on every walk from now on, and we'll keep an eye on the two patches we found in Watergate Park to see if they colonise!

Friday, 8 June 2007

A busy day

Today we finished trimming the hedge at the back of the garden and while picking up all of the clippings from the Leylandi hedge, I tackled the thistles and brambles which grow right underneath the hedge. The day started very damp and overcast, and I decided this would be a perfect day for some hard work and 'proper' digging, but in fact the sun broke through and it was far too hot, but I'd started, so I had to finish. The rockery corner needed a good going over, and I spent an hour, digging, tidying, picking up hedge trimmings and taking out the forget-me-nots which had started to turn brown (didn't see any frogs today). I moved some of the small euonymous plants to fill a gap near the front. The red poppy is doing splendidly, loads of buds still to open. I have now cleared an area where I will probably plant another buddleia, because I want something fairly tall, but graceful, and we love butterflies. In the rest of the garden, the honeysuckle flowers are coming on and should be out in a few days, my two little skimmias are forming berries which will be scarlet red, the pinks (Doris) are 'almost' open but my poor hosta has taken a battering from the slugs - look at the holes! The fern at the front of the rockery looks great, I didn't plant it, but there are loads next to the road so maybe a seed/spore blew in. Actually, I noticed a sunflower growing through my busy lizzies in one of the pots, perhaps my birds have dropped a seed from the bird table.