Sunday 23 April 2017

When April Showers ~~~

Hello Friends!

When April showers may come your way
They bring the flowers that bloom in May
So when it's raining, have no regrets
Because it isn't raining rain, you know
It's raining violets ~~~

We all probably know that sweet song from the film of the same name, and we do, indeed, have many sweet showers of rain in April, and we also get some very sharp, sudden downpours too ~ the sort you really do not want to be caught out in!  There's much truth in it, for all gardeners know that the business end of gardening really takes off in April, whether you are a lawns and borders gardener, or a grow your own fruit and vegetables gardener, or, as I am, a mixture of both, and we need that rain to help bring our seeds and plants to life.  So far, though, our April has been much drier than average, and this weekend and into next week we have an unexpected cold snap descending upon us from the north, with plummeting temperatures, the strong possibility of frosts, and the Met Office is not discounting the possibility of snow ~~~

So, shall I share an update on my "Raspberry Patch of Shame"?  Well, I am no longer ashamed of it!  If you recall, last year my back decided to do its own thing twice, both at key times in the garden, so even the most basic maintenance just didn't happen ~ so the weeds, and everything else took off! I admit, the prospect of clearing it was daunting. It looked a complete mess, a thicket of overgrown Loganberry, brambles out of control, a thatch of couch grass {and you know how that climbs and goes viral!} rampant honeysuckle clambering in from next door, sycamore saplings, ivy, countless weeds the names of which I know not, and somewhere in amongst all of that are my raspberries, blackcurrants, and gooseberry. ~~~Sighs~~~

Where to begin? What to do first? Oh, the word "overwhelmed" didn't even begin to come close to what was going on in my heart over the parlous state of affairs ~~~ so, I stood at the top end of the thicket, armed with sturdy gloves and secateurs, and did the only thing I could do ~~~ grabbed for the first offending bramble I saw, traced it as far back to the root end as I possibly could, cut mercilessly through the vine and began to pull ~ and I pulled, and I pulled, and I pulled ~~~ eventually, the other end of the vine came into view as it made its way along, ripping everything with it's thorns, until finally it was free and I cut it into smaller pieces and started a pile of weeds for the compost bin.  After that, it became easier to find the roots of everything that needed to be removed, so the clearing continued, little bits and often, and that's the great thing, once you make a start it is always easier to continue, in fact it becomes almost addictive ~ just one more vine, just one more weed!

Soon, I had a place to stand, still surrounded by chest~high brambles, but a place nevertheless, I'd gained a foothold! Before I knew it, I was moving merrily along, chopping and cutting my way along, and suddenly, not only did I have a place to stand, but a large patch was emerging, big enough to really move around in, and so it continued until the entire patch is nearly free of all the things that aren't welcome!

A cleared spot to stand from which to move forward, and some of the stones from my old rockery that will now be used to build some new retaining walls

How dry is the earth? Another spot in which to stand, half way down the patch

one of many piles of pruned and pulled weeds for the community garden composting bin

It was then I realised I was standing where raspberry canes should be! Oh! No! Disaster ~ the raspberries and blackcurrants do not look as if they are doing very well at all. I seem to have lost a lot of the canes, and I can only put this down to the fact that there were so many competing weeds, and raspberries do not like competition.  The Loganberry is cut right back and will be maintained this year as a tamed shrub, and the gooseberry looks quite happy, although it is not as big as I'd hoped, or expected but it did not have a fair chance last year to grow.

The Logan Berry which may be a Tay Berry {long story} pruned into a shrub!

This spot was previously full of raspberry canes but they are tenacious and will recover soon

The small gooseberry bush ~ it is clear around but does not look like it here, I know

The next thing is to get the ground as clear as I possibly can and then I plan to strew a good mulch {I am using Strulch} over it all to surpress the weeds. I know it will not stop them, but I am hoping it will slow them down enough to enable me to dig them out or cut them back enough to discourage them without the use of nasty chemicals on my fruit crop.

Bags of Strulch waiting to be strewn {I will need a lot more}

Other things that have been happening {and I'll talk more about these later} are the weekly chore of mowing the dandelions and daisies lawn, general weeding and pruning of the borders, and moving a few plants around.  I have a very wildlife friendly lawn, as you can see here ~~~

In the meantime, here are some photographs I've taken of what's blooming in the garden ~ and which will hopefully survive the coming cold snap!

The seed head of a Pasque flower. Soon there'll be a summary post with all of them for comparison ~~~

Osteosperum, aka Cape Daisies, in the bright sunshine looking so fresh and pristine

I found a "primula" in the border and I potted it on to give it a chance ~ Imagine my pure delight to find it is a native Cowslip ~ the fragrance of which is incomparable {well, maybe to that of Gorse}

A very special Cape Daisy with a beautiful centre, see below ~~~

Aquilegia in bloom already!

Arum Lilies in bloom too ~~~

I love ferns as the croziers slowly open and unfurl to reveal their magical fronds

Native Hart's Tongue Fern

The recently tended Dwarf Clematis responding well to the TLC and some warm spring sunshine

another type of Cape Daisy

Plenty of Dandelions in my wildlife friendly garden!

My free mint is also responding well to the TLC ~ soon there will be a pot full for tea!

Finally, how gorgeous is this bright purple against the pristine white on this stunning Cape Daisy flower in the bright sunshine?

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo

Thursday 20 April 2017

When Life Gives You Raindrops ~~~

Hello Friends!

We had a gentle rain, much needed, overnight at the Cottage. It was much needed, heavier would have been better, for when I mowed yesterday evening there was very little grass {for it does not grow well without water} and what I did cut was as dry as the straw in an August hay meadow ~~~

As you can see, it is a very wildlife friendly lawn ~~~

This morning, the world was washed clean of all the dust that had gathered over the recent dry days, and the colours of the garden are brighter; the leaves and branches dripping with jewel~like dewdrops sparkly in the daylight.

What do you do when life gives you raindrops? Why, you take photographs, of course!  Here are a few of this morning's opportunity ~~~

Pasque Flower 

Add caption

Pasque Flower

Pasque Flower Seed Head

Pasque Flower Seed Head

Euphorbia Leaf

Mint happily settling in to a new, bigger pot

Hydrangea "Glam Rock"

Pink Osteospermum ~ Cape Daisy

Dandelion Clock 
Dandelion Clock

Dandelion Clock

Gooseberry Leaves

Pasque Flower

Pasque Flower

So, today I shall take photographs and dance barefoot on the wet grass of my freshly cut lawn ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo

Saturday 15 April 2017

Easter Time

Hello Friends ~~~

At this time of year there are many feasts and occasions celebrated all over the world, and however you celebrate, or even if you celebrate nothing in particular, I wish you a very


I gussied up my front porch with a few little Easter trimmings this week, nothing fancy as I don't have a lot of space, but here are some photos I'd like to share with you of what I did with an assortment of handmade and shop bought decorations on a fresh, pussy willowed willow twig ~~~

I have managed a few hours {taken in small bites} clearing the forlorn raspberry patch and the parlous state of affairs is now on the mend! In the beginning I was overwhelmed with the sight before me, but, armed with trusty secateurs, I made a start. Soon there was enough space for me to stand in the middle, now there is enough space to move freely about most of the patch! A little determination works wonders. I shall give a full update on my progress in my next entry ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo