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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Another week

Our family is ever-so-slightly addicted to the TV programme Gogglebox and as we watched the latest episode on Friday evening, we were reliably informed that we had spent over 60 days in lockdown.  60 days!  That's a long time, isn't it, and some people have been indoors for even longer ... I hope that you are still keeping well and sane!

In Winwick ... (if you also watch the programme, you'll see what I did there 😀) we've had a changeable week weatherwise.  It started off as one of the hottest days of the year and then a wild wind swept in, ripping leaves and small branches off the trees, battering my poor old buddleja down to the ground and spooking one of our cats (who, to be fair, doesn't need much encouragement to be spooked) to the point that he had to be put into his bed and encouraged to stay there.

Whilst the weather was still good, though, I managed to get out into the garden for a while.  I've been intending to reclaim the borders from the Crocosmia which has been stealthily expanding into all the available space over the last couple of years for quite some time...

Garden border which is overgrown with grass-like Crocosmia plants

The friend's Mum that I acquired the Crocosmia from did warn me that this was a pretty invasive variety but at the time, I wanted the ground cover so wasn't too concerned.  Now, however, this thug has taken over my borders so the extent that drastic action was required!  I set to work ripping it out and then digging out the corms that were left in the ground.  I don't mind keeping some of it as the orange flowers are very pretty, but I don't need quite as much of it as I have!

I re-discovered the cat mint, which had been squashed beneath those sword-like leaves and was looking more than a little sorry for itself ...

Cleared border with very straggly catmint left behind!

Unfortunately, the cats have also re-discovered it and there's not even as much as there was in this picture left.  I'm hoping that it will regrow!  

I told you about the Oriental poppies in the garden last time I wrote - some more have opened now; a glorious red one called "Turkenlouis" ...

Large red Oriental poppy flower with frilled-edge petals

Look at those frilled petals!  These flowers make me smile every time I see them.

I'm not quite sure if this one is also a Turkenlouis or if it's a different on - it looks quite pink at the moment to me, so I'll need to wait until it opens to see if it changes colour.  It's quite exciting, isn't it, like waiting to open a present!

Oriental poppy bud - looks pink but could be red when it opens

There have been more flowers opening up in the garden and I've been excited about these ones too ... foxgloves!

Foxglove spikes with flowers still in bud

The family were less excited as this huge plant is right in front of the bench and there was some grumbling about why I didn't pull it up - but we don't sit on the bench every minute and the bees really love the flowers and are constantly buzzing in and out of the flower spikes, so I figured that we could all cope for a week or so whilst the flowers were out.  The bees aren't in the least bit bothered about the humans sitting on the bench (the flowers aren't actually that close) so there's no danger of anyone getting stung unless they specifically go and annoy the bees - but nobody in the house is that daft!

Deep pink Foxglove flowers opened, with garden bench in background

Close up of deep pink Foxglove flower spike

Close up of deep pink Foxglove flower spike with bee inside one of the flowers

I leave the foxgloves to grow wild in the garden and I have had various shades of them over the years, but the wild ones all revert to this vibrant pink shade.  All except this one spike of white ones - I keep shaking the seeds around the garden but they only ever seem to grow here!


Elsewhere in the garden, the Centaurea montana or perennial cornflower, is finally out ...


as are the Aquilegia in so many shades from deep maroon to the palest pink.  They all droop their heads, though, and it's so difficult to show you just how pretty they are!  I have lots of different varieties of these - they came from a "mixed varieties" packet of seeds which I scattered with abandon around the garden, and now they're everywhere!  I think they have invented a few extra varieties for themselves too!

Close up of pale pink Aquilegia flowers

There's been a calamity in the vegetable garden.  This was what was left of my cucumber when I went into the greenhouse the other day.  

Close up of cucumber plant eaten by snail

And here's the culprit, carefully tucked into the corner underneath the plant pots so that I didn't see it until I took them all out.  Little so and so!  It couldn't just take a bite out of the leaf, could it?!  Oh no, it had to eat the flipping stalk and leave me the bits!  Grr! 

A green seed tray containing some plant pots and a snail in one corner

I've planted two more seeds (you don't get many to a packet with certain varieties and there were only 4 in this packet ... I've used them all this year!) and they have both germinated but the plants are staying safely on my kitchen window sill for now!

My tomato plants are in the ground in the greenhouse now.  I took this photo a day or two after I'd put them in and they had shot up overnight; since then, I've got my irrigation system up and running and they are even bigger.

A young tomato plant in a greenhouse border

Small daughter was very excited to spot the flowers on the strawberry plants the other day.  

White strawberry flowers amongst green leaves

I don't often buy strawberries out of season because they're usually well-travelled and don't have the flavour they should do (they're often picked before they're ripe and left to ripen on the journey to the shops), although sometimes I can get UK ones that are OK.  I spotted these ones in the farm shop, though, and I couldn't resist a purchase!

Close up of perfect-looking shiny strawberries

Look at those!  They could be from a picture in a magazine!  I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday, and apparently they're so shiny because they are grown indoors.  And even though they've come from Holland, they are very definitely ripe.  I don't actually eat strawberries (it's a texture thing - I like berry-flavoured things but not the berries themselves unless they're blueberries which don't have pips) but small daughter dived right in and there weren't many left by bedtime yesterday! 

Here are the blueberries in our garden.  I'm showing you this because this is probably as close to the blueberries as we are ever going to get - the blackbirds are in there before I get round to netting them and as we've only got one bush, they can strip it pretty quickly.  I do wonder sometimes if I am just growing fruit and veg for the local wildlife, but just occasionally they save some for us 😀

Close up of blueberries forming on a bush

My sprouts are a bit bigger than this now - I will be netting these shortly after previous caterpillar massacre experiences but I've noticed that there are a fair few snails knocking about too (they tend to fly once I've spotted them as I lob them over the hedge and out of the garden).  Those pellets are my snail deterrent ...

Young sprout plant in a vegetable border surrounded by furry brown pellets

They're called Slug Gone and they're made from sheep wool (I'm pretty certain that someone on their stand at a gardening show told me it was the wool from the sheep's bottoms that they used which I thought was funny, but it doesn't mention that on their website 😀).  They felt into a mat when they get wet and the snails and slugs don't like to slide over them because of the scales on the wool fibre so they avoid the area.  Sadly, they don't work so well when you've got a gardening cat that likes to rearrange them all, but so far there's been no damage done and I've been able to put them back before the snails spot a way through!

Close up of Slug Gone sheep wool anti-slug and snail pellets

In sock news ... I've been having a lovely time with my helical socks and I'm already onto the second one.  The yarn and tutorial info is in the last post that I wrote, and I'm hoping it won't be too long before I've got a pair to wear!

Close up of partially knitted socks.  The yarn is purple and a variegated rainbow yarn knitted in close stripes

More sock news ... I've got another fundraising pattern to launch on Monday 1 June - they're like buses, these patterns, you wait forever and then two come along at once! 😀  I'll tell you more before the date if I can (I've been asked to keep them a secret for now), but otherwise they'll be out then with a new blog post to go with them.

And - fanfare please - I've just finished another of the Sockalong tutorial videos and after some final "proof watching", that will be up on my YouTube channel as well.  The new one is on matching yarn - I'm working my way through the tutorials in order - and I need to get on and start the next one!

Phew, what a long blog post - thank you very much if you're still here and reading to the end!  I'm off to sit in the sunshine for a bit now, and I hope you can have a lovely day whatever you are doing too xx


16 comments:

  1. Your socks are coming along well! And your plants and flowers too.

    We're on day 76 here in Canada. Safe and cozy in our little cottage in the forest. Lots to do so boredom has not yet creeped in. But worry is present, so we play music, dance, enjoy being outside, read, put puzzles together, Zoom meet with our staff and clients, and bake, eat and nap! Hope you have a lovely day!

    Chy

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    1. It sounds like you're coping very well, I hope you continue to do so! xx

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  2. I tried growing catmint when I had 2 cats. One ignored it, the other went mad for it and got quite crazy after eating it. I've planted some salad leaves that were "slightly" out of date (as in 2014!), anyway they've started to grow so win, win! The sheep wool pellets sound good. Must look for some to protect my one poor hosta. xx

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    1. It does make me laugh that the cats go a bit glassy-eyed when they eat it, there's definitely something very addictive about it for them! I'm glad your seeds have germinated; quite a few of my packets are that old but not all of them have done anything this year xx

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  3. A lovely blog! They really keep me going. I love what you do in the garden. Eagerly awaiting the new pattern.

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  4. I'm still here, and I love the photos and your commentary. I live most of the year in Mexico, and our plants here are very different! We have four-o'clocks that re-seed themselves. They're called Maravillas here - "marvels". Zucchini plants thrive here, but NO TOMATOES. Succulents of all types, and mint, oregano, and different kinds of cactus. I love seeing what you're doing in your garden!

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    1. Isn't it funny how we can have different plants that grow in one country and not another? I've never heard of Maravillas, and cacti only really grow indoors in this part of the world! :) xx

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  5. Hi, Christine. Your garden is looking lovely! I have had the same problem with crocosmia, be warned, you can never get rid of all the corms! Still findinf new leaves popping up 3 years after I thought I had got rid of them! I also tried to move bluebells out of the middle border to the side, which is a bit wilder, but every year, more appears in the middle border! They are lovely, but seem to smother everything else, born survivors! Our centaurea is lovely just now, what a fabulous blue! Hank goodness for our gardens, and our knitting! x

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    1. Oh dear, I had a feeling I would never be free of the Crocosmia! I'm still trying to contain some Alstromeria that we inherited and apparently were a particularly popular variety in the 1980s until people realised that they took over the borders ... Ah well! :) xx

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  6. Lovely post (as always) Christine. So nice to see everything in your garden growing so well - we won't mention the snail... Stay well and safe. xxx

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    1. Flipping snail! It took a long flight over the hedge ... :) xx

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  7. Love reading your blog as always and love seeing your garden. I am extremely envious of your crocasmia's because they are just not available here (Australia) at the moment. Apparently where our nurseries get their stock from are reporting a crop fail. Its been two years now. Not fair. I do live them. I do love an English garden. Your purple socks are so pretty.

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    1. Thank you! It's a shame I can't send you some of the crocosmia I'm digging up - they're flipping everywhere in my garden! Fingers crossed for your nurseries to have a better crop next year xx

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  8. It is so annoying when something eats through the stalk isn't it, I have mice here that do the too. I have lost two cucumbers plants to slugs but still have three that are doing ok, so far...... I think if the stalk is strong enough it will regrow but mine are not usually strong enough for that when they get eaten!

    I had heard sheeps wool being a good slug deterrent recently and went and collected some from the fields near my house, I have made a collar round my smallest vulnerable plants it seems to working and it keeps the ground moist underneath the wool to, which is good in this hot, dry weather we are having!

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    1. Ah, I'd never thought of using the fleece itself - there aren't any sheep around here so that's probably why, but if you can make it work from the bits you can collect, that's brilliant! :) xx

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