Friday, 25 June 2010

Cash Crisis in SW7

Alas I've been let go - no more visits to buxus land for me as SW7 feels the pinch! It comes to something when you're reduced to doing your own gardening - poor old thing. . . Sorry, shouldn't be so facescious, but I know this couple personally and therefore feel obliged to take the mick.
Seriously though, it's a shame as although this job wasn't the easiest as far as travelling to and fro' I really did like it. It was something a little different from the usual weeding and mowing, but never mind plenty more gardens out there and it's given me a new incentive to see what I can do about getting the allotment idea off the ground. Mind you, life won't be the same without a few buxus balls!

This Week's Plant From The Garden - Helleborus

The common name for the Hellebore is the Christmas Rose because it flowers so early. This particular variety is Josef Lemper and was purchased late last year and is shown seeding this May.
Family: Ranunculaceae.
Position: Shady, well drained soil. This one's in a corner of the flower bed that only gets light at the end of the day and it seemed to be doing well until after it seeded. I'm hoping it'll perk up soon, if not I'll have to have a re-think as to where it should live.
Flowers: Late Winter/Early Spring. Bought to provide some early flowers and just because I love the look of them.
Dimensions: 25-30cm high & plant 23-26cm apart.
Habit: Evergreen perennial, well behaved. Seed grown plants will flower in 2-3 years.
Care: Leave to it's own devices apart from an occasional top-dressing of compost or well rotted manure.
Pruning: Not required.
Propagation: Division after flowering or by seed as soon as ripe. Or if you're like me, leave it to self-seed and see what happens! Seedlings should appear around the base of the plant, so hopefully won't get mistaken for weeds.
Distribution: Central and Southern Europe (and London E7).
WARNING: The white sap can cause irritation so best to wear gloves when handling.

Bold/italics = what the books say
Everything else = me waffling on

Monday, 21 June 2010

Show Us Yer Credentials!

Why does that sound rude? Anyway, I though it might be a nice idea if I showed you some of the stuff growing in my garden. If you don't already know I live with my partner in a two bedroom, first floor flat in a mish-mash street of Victorian houses and council flats. Technically/obviously(?!) the upstairs flat doesn't have a garden but B and I commandeered the muddy strips either side of the broken path (edged on one side by a crumbling concrete drive) about two and a half years ago and have been popping stuff in the ground ever since. Like most gardens this is a work in progress and is comprised of purchased plants, random gifts and cutting from friends and family and is half garden, half veg patch, at least until we get the allotment to a workable state. The plan is to pick a plant a week and hopefully I'll start later this week.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Bite Me!

Today was our second visit to the allotment for some more hack and slash therapy. We were cutting and raking for a good five hours or so and managed to unearth all manner of things including a huge metal trolley, which is still stuck under the hedge as it's too big to lift out, a drawer (yes, a single drawer complete with brass handle), around thirty old beer cans, approximately ten metres of plastic skirting board, a flour tin, letter tray and three golf balls! Plus, as you can see from the attached pic, all manner of other clutter and rubbish. B got around behind the shed and tackled all the nettles while I hacked away at the brambles to find our boundary line only to discover that the nissan hut is actually in the centre of the plot, not off to the left hand side! B thinks there's an old victorian bath in the brambles on the other side, so many joys yet to discover!
Despite having achieved a lot today I'm sitting here feeling slightly less than happy and slightly set upon. Why is it that despite my best efforts (and a blemish-free partner), I've managed to turn myself into an all-you-can-eat buffet for every bug and bitey thing a-going? I have a bite on my arm the size and shape of a small red and very itchy egg - no amount of insect repellent seems to help and I'm beginning to take it all very personally. Grrrrrr!!

Yurt Dining

It was my mate Sue's b-day on Saturday and we went to the Riverford Field Kitchen (currently based at the Freightliners Farm in Islington) for dinner. We get or weekly fruit and veg from Riverford and the quality and variety is excellent. We even have one of their herb box/storage units in our garden, which is designed to keep the produce cool. It's great and really does work.
The concept for dinner was a set three-course meal using their own organic produce and recipes. Scrubbed pine tables and benches seating 10 were placed in a custom made yurt around a wood burning stove . The crockery was a mismatched affair of bone china and the tea came in a proper cup and saucer - mine was white with a lovely gold leaf design and nearly disappeared into my bag at the end of the night. The staff were all really lovely too. I stuffed myself absolutely stupid with a selection of vegetable hummous, crudites and fresh bread to start, roast beetroot and carrots, cabbage with almonds, fennel and wet garlic gratin and new minted potatoes for the main course, finished off with old school rhubarb crumble and custard - my absolute favouritest thing in all the world. Scrummy. Lucky I've got a separate pudding stomach so I still had room. The only problem was that I was too stuffed to cycle back and had to get on the new overhead from Highbury and Islington!!
Before dinner we had a quick half where I came across this beermat.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Judge Not Your Neighbours

The head of our resident's association popped round last night to say that he'd put me forward as one of the judges for the local gardening competition as he knew I was doing my RHS certificate and was impressed by what we'd done with the front garden. I was really chuffed that he'd thought of me. As it turned out, however, the council have a full panel of judges, which is great as it means I can still enter the contest and am due to be visited by the panel on Friday 2nd July - how exciting! I'm not expecting to win as our planting is a bit free and easy, but we do tick a lot of environmental boxes such as composting and growing vegetables. We also have an insect house in our tree and are mulching our own leaves, so I'm sure that will all help. Anyway, we'll see - will let you know of course.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Strimmer Action

That's strimmer with an 'm' not a 'p' for those of you who may have got the wrong end of the stick and thought this was a very different kind of blog - alas no, this blog's all green not blue.
Where was I? Oh yes, strimmers. Got a battery operated one at the weekend and it makes life so, so, soo much easier. No more hand edging with the shears for me, I'm up with the technology now and think that my eco conscience is salved by the fact that it's not petrol driven.
It definitely came in handy when I visited Mr 122 this morning after almost a month. If I'm honest I was totally depressed when I saw the front lawn was still more dandelion that grass, but I cut it down and dug them out again and will keep at it for the next few months and see what happens. I'll win this battle or die trying (tad too dramatic?). I was, however, much heartened by the back lawn which is most definitely more grass than weeds now with ne'er a sign of the bald patches. I think the difference is that the back lawn has been watered regularly whereas the front one hasn't and the grass seed didn't taken as well as it could have. Mr 122 has promised he'll "make it his mission" to water more often and we shall await the outcome. I know some gardeners think that grass shouldn't be watered too often but I think in this instance it's necessary. I also now have a regular two week mowing session booked in on Tuesdays, so that should help keep things under control.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Be Content With Your Allotment In Life

Went up to the allotment this afternoon with B to start hacking out all the overgrown shrubbery and weeds to the boundary so that we can see exactly what we have let our selves in for. I know it's mental but I'm really excited that we've got a Nissan hut and am determined to keep it. Luckily, and despite both ends rotting away, it's surprisingly sturdy - B's convinced it's being held up by the ivy and brambles but I've given it a good old shove and it's still standing, so all good. I'm doubly excited about it as they had a similar construction in the dig for victory garden at the Eden Camp. B found some rusty shears which I'll clean up and together with the antique roller and lawn mower my father-in-law's letting me have I'll be able to create a mini-prototype for the business. I'm sooo excited I might wet myself. Off to make some bunting (and possibly the loo) - see ya later!

When Is A Pelargonium A Geranium?

When the client orders white geraniums, that's when and because geraniums are part of the same family. I was chauffeur driven by the lovely B to the roof terrace in SW7 this morning to plant up 24 of the little buggers. I bought them before my trip to Yorkshire and they had to sit in the garden at the mercy of the elements/kindly neighbours armed with watering cans for a week. They were a little worse for wear when I got back as they, like me, had been rained on almost constantly. Never mind, after a little deadheading and general TLC they were good to go and they should flourish in their new location. For the next visit I have to research how to espalier a fig tree as I think the one they have has been left to it's own devices for a while, not that I think anything can be done while it's carrying fruit but I do love a challenge and am learning all the time.

Friday, 11 June 2010

More Moors Please

I've just got back froma lovely break with Band ourbarmy mates Ange & Sue in Keldy on the North Yorkshire Moors - stayed in a cabin in the woods, visited the abbey at Whitby, rode the North Yorkshire Moors steam railway (absolutely fab - felt just like an evacuee!), went on a dusk walk and heard bats, visited the Helmsley Walled Garden and a lavender farm, which seemed to have as many varieties of mint as it did lavender (?!)
Anyhoo, I was totally indulged and was allowed to drag everyone along to my two other favourite things in Yorkshire (the first being the Cropton Brewery - try the Blackout it goes down rather well) the Rydale Folk Museum with it's WWII exhibition including period vehicles, shops, memorabilia and costumed staff and then the bestest thing ever, the Eden Camp, an old WWII prisoner of war camp turned museum. As you can imagine I was in seventh heaven and even got to dress up and have a photo taken in uniform at Rydale - honestly what more could a girl ask for? Well, perhaps a little less rain would've been nice, but hey-ho we made the most of it. Stiff upper lip and a waterproof and I was hot to trot - at least as far as the picturesque village of Lastinham for afternoon tea at The Grange Hotel with it's quaint mixture of furniture, laden bookcases and post-war feel. Ooh lovely!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

My Lovely Ration Book

Ooh, look what I've got - an original petrol ration book. My sister-in-law, Nat, found it in some of her fathers' old papers and let me have it for my collection. Post-war petrol rationing ended in 1950 and I think that this booklet is from the 1970's when there was a brief period of petrol rationing, but like many others at that time it hasn't actually been used. Still, a good memento all the same. Yay!