Thursday 27 June 2013

Mixed Bag Miscellany

Gentle Reader, in the four days since my last entry, there has been a mixed bag of weather.  The wild, wet, and windy weather of the weekend passed and the days have found gentler, kinder conditions, but not without some anomalies, like the bank of fog that swept in from the ocean yesterday morning, only to be replaced a few short hours later with warm summer sunshine that seemed blistering and left me melting with the juxtaposition of temperatures.

One of the bizarre things that seems more prevalent than usual in the garden is a strange little critter called a frog hopper.  Frog hoppers hide beneath a shield of 'spit', a frothy substance they secrete to keep themselves covered and prevent them drying out.  We call this phenomenon 'cuckoo spit' because it generally shows up on plants in the garden around the same time as the cuckoo bird arrives in Britain after it's migration from Africa.  Although they suck the sap of plants, the damage is minimal.

Here is Cuckoo Spit~

and I rinsed it off to reveal the tiny Frog Hopper underneath for you~

It soon replaced the 'spit' so no harm was done!

Every year, the sycamore trees that border my property drop their leaves in Autumn and over several days I am able to go out and rake them up.  I gather them into big bin bags, tie the tops and pierce the bottoms of each back to let moisture drain out.  Over the winter, these rot down to make a rich humus that can be added to soil or used as a mulch to suppress weeds.  I usually harvest several such bags, and once the job is done it is forgotten about until I come to use them.  Yesterday, however, I noticed a bit of a mess by the bags, and on closer inspection some have been torn open, scattering the contents to the wind.  The only thing I can think of that has done this is a badger!  I know there are several holts nearby, so it is entirely likely that one wandered into my garden again, as they have done in the past, in search of juicy worms~

I am still waiting for my runner beans and broad beans to germinate, but am happy to see that I now have three tiny courgette plantlets, so there is hope that there will be something to eat from the garden very soon.  I am preparing the small vegetable plot in earnest now, and today I ventured to turn back the weed killing membrane that I placed over part of the plot late last year.  This is how it looked a few weeks ago, you can see one of the yellow recycled inflatable mattresses I used~

and this is how it looks today after I turned back the two mattresses.  It seems to have worked really well, there are just a few white bindweed roots, squiggling across the surface like long, skinny worms.  They will soon be removed~

If you remember, I mentioned that I am using this area to hold plants for the borders this year, and this is how it looks now, after I planted out five healthy foxglove plants.  They will soon grow and fill out, and I hope they will be a natural weed suppressant~

These are the same plants just a few weeks ago, so they have grown really well~

Gentle Reader, the plants and flowers continue to open and delight, so here are a few for you to see tonight~

A double, cultivated poppy that looks like an old~fashioned ball gowned dancer waiting to waltz~

The fragrant David Austin rose Frances E. Lester, a beautiful, and highly fragrant, rambler that I have pruned into a shrub~it is covered in clusters of these delicate, pink blooms~

Another fragrant favourite, the rosa rugosa that I am making into a small hedge~

and another image of the lovely poppy, with colour singing out against the blue borage~

A peach coloured patio rose which I bought quite cheaply as it had no label.  A bargain purchase, don't you think~

My dwarf clematis, which trails rather than climbs, in a terracotta pot against a sunny wall~

So, Gentle Reader, I have brought you some of the strange, and some beautiful too . . Please stop by again to see how this garden grows, for I have been busy clearing the soft fruit patch and there is now some news to share from there.


  1. I did not know you could make mulch in one season by just tying them up into a black plastic bag and poking holes in it. Is that all there is to it? I will certainly do that this Fall. Your flowers are looking beautiful. The heat and humidity have just about done in my roses here.

    1. Hello Cathy. Yes, that is all I did, in September 2012. I think if I fork them around to break them up a bit, they will be ready by this autumn, but I won't be using it until spring. I am on a learning curve here, but they do look quite crumbly and nearly ready to me. I'll know more when I use it!

  2. What a strange bug! But what a beautiful garden!! Your garden sure is growing well despite all your crazy weather! You must enjoy working in all that lovliness!

    We are terribly humid and having rain and rain and,oh more rain!! But I don't have to water this way....but I also can't get after the weeds. It's always a trade off,eh? Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Darlene

    1. Hello Dear Friend! Sorry about your weather, it is humid here today, but not like you get. I am now having to do much watering by hand. Today, I was given a tomato plant! Already potted up and everything, so will include that in my next blog.
      Have a great weekend, Fourth July soon! Deb xoxo