Suzanne’s Blog

Jobs I have been getting on with this Summer.

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I have been away on holiday quite a bit over the summer months but here are a few jobs I have been fitting in to keep everything in the garden ticking over

Keep grass mown and edges in trim.

Dead head spent flowers for a longer flowering season.

Water pots regularly and apply a feed weekly.

Pick vegetables as they ripen.

Prune apple trees .

Pick off any damaged or mouldy fruit from fruit trees.

Weed borders.

Water any plants that look distressed.

Propagate soft wood cuttings.

Tie in climbing plants.

Out of action

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Well, I have been out of action gardening wise for two weeks. The reason is restoring our new home and garden.  Although it is the home bit that was the problem.  I was happily gardening when my Husband called me to look at the hidden bread oven he had revealed.  It was fascinating and very exciting to find a 16th century oven but then I helped him clear up the mess, which I didn’t mind doing.  Unfortunately this brought on a bought of pleurisy.  So I have had to rest, which I do not do well but if I over do things the dreadful ache gets worse.  Also I have been really tired and sleeping for part of the day,  it must be the bodies way to make you stop.

Anyway, I do feel alot better now and today I have been back to our new home to have an hour in the garden.  I decided that I would do some gental gardening, dead heading the roses and there are masses of them.  They are beautiful but  suffering from greenfly so I used my favorite method to get rid of them, the finger and thumb method.   There is also a lovely herbaceous border with peonies of every hew.  I have cut quite a few of them to put into a vase, as in the border they really need water and have started to droop everywhere.   Next year I will stake them with a home made hazel supports.  This border needs quite a bit of attention. I have noticed that there is ground elder growing as well as other weeds also I need to pull up the spent forget-me-knots and daffodils.  The border is broken by an arch with honeysuckle and a climbing rose winding its way over it.  Although these plants have started to grow all over the place because they have been neglected and need tying in, a job for another day.

Beautiful climbing rose

Beautiful climbing rose

One of the first jobs in the garden was to remove some over grown Leyandi hedging which now it has been removed has given us evening sun  and the space for a new border.  I can’t wait to get planting but need to en-rich the soil first and take time to choose the plants.  I think I will plant in the Autumn which is when we hope to move in.  We also had the garden deer and rabbit fenced although today I noticed a baby rabbit in the garden so maybe he got trapped inside.  I will watch where he goes and hire a humain trap so he can go back to the wild.

Off to rest now with a good gardening book and a cup of tea.

slugs and snails

Monday, May 16th, 2011
Hiding snails

Hiding snails

I have been away on a wonderful driving holiday in Scotland.  Amazing weather, scenery and fantastic driving, on near empty roads, such fun.  Anyway coming home, my garden is really parched even though we have had some rain the plants are desperate for water which I have had to do with a hose.  On one of my watering evenings I noticed that a Hosta had been badly attacked. This confused me as there was our Ecocharlie  slug and snail deterrent spread liberally around the plant which normally does the trick.  As I looked closer tiny slugs had found a nice wet place to live in the bottom of the stem where the water had collected.  I hooked them out with my finger and put them on the compost heap. Hopefully I have found all of them and this Hosta will be safe.

Now is the time for planting out your pots with Summer bedding. Those of you who are really organised may have done this already and put your planted pots/hanging baskets into a green house for protection.  We should be safe from frosts now here in the South, so I have started the change over of plants for the Summer colour. Something I noticed from our trip to Scotland was that their seasons were later, which was interesting seeing as we had such glorious weather when we were there I sort of expected it to be the same.

I am sad that at this house I do not had a vegetable garden so I have planted some veg in pots.  A friend gave me some dwarf beans and courgettes and I am going to get started with some salad crops.  I do of course have herbs in pots always.

Other jobs I have been getting on with are tying in climbers, weeding, edging the lawn, cutting back shrubs that have grown out of their space, all over paths and generally keeping nature tamed just a little.  I have also had my trusted contractors in to cut the hedges that we can’t manage.

Well now I am going to check on the slugs again.  Happy gardening.

Fantastic weather

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

Well it’s been another fantastic day.  The weather has been absolutely glorious and I have been able to sneak outside between paperwork and phone calls.  That’s the good thing about working from home but you do have to disciplined or nothing would get done,  a few jobs inside then a few outside.

Anyway I snipped the edges of the grass to neaten them up and pulled up the tree seedlings that are coming up by the minute.  It seems that no sooner than I have pulled up a handful there is another one!

The Wisteria is just about to flower in fact by the end of the week I am sure it will be in full flow and some bits needed to be tied in to support the flowers.  The many clematis in this garden need a little help to go the way I want and I really enjoy untangling the stems and reattaching them to the wire.  I have also been moving a few plants that have become over shadowed by their neighbours.  What I like to do when the weather is this warm is prepare a planting hole.  Put in some water and let it drain away, then add a good spade full of worm caste compost and mix it with the surrounding soil.  I then pop in the plant, backfill and firm the soil and water again.  Job done.  Planting this way in dry weather, the first watering can of water gets to the roots and there is no evaporation.  I have also spent many a happy hour over the last few evenings re-potting my containerised plants or top dressing them if they are happy where they are.

Well the time has come for my evening walk around the garden a glass of crisp wine in one hand and secateurs in the other.

A day gardening

Friday, March 25th, 2011

It’s so lovely to be free to spend a day in the garden and have no other pressing chores.  I had a day like that yesterday.  I had noticed that the woodland area needed a little TLC so I spent the first two hours weeding and collecting the dead leaves.  I turned my attention next to the path, again weeding and raking the fallen leaves.  The finished effect was just lovely, all the colours of the plants seemed to turn from drab to bright green and the path is visible again.

Next I decided to move into the sunshine and attend to the edges of the lawn.  My husband had cut the lawn the day before, which transformed the garden but it showed up the messy edges.  Some bits had gone bare completely, so to repair these patches I re-planted the large grass weeds that I found growing under the hedges in the bald bits and then gave them a hair cut along with the edges, much better.

After lunch in the garden reading the paper, both of which is such a treat.  I decided to do some light pruning, just cutting back unruly shrubs that were overgrowing their neighbours and pathways.  Also anything that was dead diseased or damaged. Growing along the pathways are quite a few Hellebores that have become very heavy with all the flowers.  My hazel hurdles had broken so I used the fallen Silver Birch twigs to make some rustic supports.  I am not sure how long they will last but if it stops them getting trodden on that’s great. As afternoon tea time arrived I had filled my trug many times and was ready for a well earned rest with my feet up.  What a fantastic day.  Oh by the way my investigations into the compost heap was to no avail it had not rotted down all, maybe in the Winter after I have treated it with some natural compost activator.

Sunday Gardening

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Sunday Morning

Well, this morning I had decided to get up have breakfast and then go out and garden for the day. My husband was off to Rugby at Twickenham so perfect opportunity. The only problem was I had not seen the weather forecast so didn’t know rain was due.  So here I am looking at the garden with a cup of coffee hoping and waiting for the rain to stop and planning what I will do when I can get outside.

Cut the dead heads from the Hydrangeas down to a pair of fat buds.

Trim the edges of the grass.

Rake the grass where dead leaves have not blown away and sprinkle on some seed.

Spike some areas of grass that look compacted and sprinkle on seed.

Start to weed the borders and collect any remaining dead leaves.

I think that’s enough for starters but I am sure there will be something else to grab my attention.

Sunday afternoon

The sun came out and I managed to get a good two hours in the garden and although my back is aching, the garden looks neater and I feel pleased I have made a start.

Moving house

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Well we are moving on again and this means moving everything in the garden.  So on with the gloves and off I go to empty the pots.  Well the really big ones. This seemed a quick job until I encountered the Euphorbia I had planted  in the biggest pot.  It had been growing really happily for over a year and had taken over the whole pot.  I ended up using a pruning saw to the roots and cutting it into quarters.  This made it more managable but still took over 2 hours to empty plus I found over 50 Chaffer Grubs living amoungst the roots which I took out and feed to the birds.  This done I just had to make sure all the remaining pots were up to the move as this winter I have lost a lot of terracota pots due to the frost and extreme cold weather.  I was so careful to  protect them with Hessian and move them close to the house, next year I will take them into a potting shed or green house if we have the same bout of cold weather.

Now I must go and continue packing household items Yipee!!

Happy New Gardening Year

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Well the snow has melted and my garden looks like someone has troden all the herbaceous plants down.  It all looks very drab and dismal until you move the dead, soggy leaves and hey presto the tips of bulbs are pushing through proving that Spring is just around the corner.

This morning as I went out to feed the birds I almost tripped over a dead rat.  I had, had an encounter with it the night before.  I was bringing in the bird feeder food bowl and I trod on something.  As it was dark I didn’t see what it was but the creature escaped as I jumped out of my life.  The really unfortunate thing is I must have hurt it badly and it died overnight.  So my first job of the morning was to bury ratty in the garden. This is a timely reminder that not only do the birds enjoy the food we put out for them but other creatures too.  I must admit that in all this cold weather I have not been putting the bird food on the bird feeder but closer to the house as the snow and ice ment that was an easier option.  Now I have learned from this mistake and will put it on the bird table in  future.

I had intended to tidy up some of the more unsightly leaves but rain stopped play so I cleaned some tools in my potting shed before coming indoors to look though some gardening books for ideas for this year with a warm bowl of courgette soup at my side.


Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Well it’s still too cold to garden properly.  I have nipped out for a quick tidy between cold snaps and to dig up leeks or carrots when the ground is not frozen and checked on my tender plants overwintering in the potting shed under their blanket of hessian but I am itching to get outside and do things, anything.  So to stop my itchy feet I have decorated the house for Christmas.  Each year I pull my swags and wreaths out of their boxes and decorate them in a different way.  I have a white stick wreath that I made years ago from birch sticks wired together and then sprayed.  This year I have entwined red pyracanthus berries, red and gold ribbon and gold sprayed berries.  I also wrapped little lights around.  This has been hung in pride of place on the front door for all to see.  I expect if the birds get really hungry they might eat the berries!  I carried on putting up bits here and there until every room in the house has a display or something Christmassy.  I had a wonderful time.

This years Christmas Wreath

This years Christmas Wreath

I also get really homely at this time of year and want to cook more than normal, making flapjacks, cakes, jams and pickles.  I think its the idea that we might get snowed in again and need lots of food in the larder to see us through.  So today I am going to make some Clementine jam and this is the receipe.

450g Clementines, 1 Lemon, 675g Jam sugar, clean used jam jars.

Wash Clementines and squeeze out the juice into a pan then scrap the juicy bits out with a spoon and add to the juice with 280ml of water, bring to the boil.  Simmer for half an hour, topping up the water if it  starts to dry out.  Cut up the skin and place in a pan of water and simmer until tender, this will take about 2 hours or you can use a pressure cooker for 10mins.  Drain the skins, keeping the liquid and cut them into strips.  Seive the juicy liquid pushing all the bits through the seive then combine both liquids in a jam pan ( or large saucepan ) with the jam sugar.  Warm gently until the sugar dissolves.  Add the chopped skins and the lemon juice and boil until setting point is acheived.  Test a drop of the liquid on a cold plate to see if it will set.  Allow to cool for 5 to 10 mins, stir and put into clean jam jars.  I always clean mine just before using in the dishwasher.

This is a lovely jam to eat on Christmas morning or to give as presents,  all thats left to say is have a wonderful Christmas and  hears to lots of happy gardening in 2011


Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I am certainly glad that I was able to snatch a couple of hours in the garden last week.  I finished emptying the compost heap mulching the borders and all the vegetable beds.  I covered some of my herbs with cloches and lifted all the remaining beetroots.  The only thing that I forgot to cover was the celery which has now gone very limp and floppy.  I am also pleased that I insultated some of the bigger pots with hessian and moved smaller pots closer to the house.

With the weather freezing overnight I have been making sure the birds have enough to eat and drink.  It is usually the first thing I do as the kettle is boiling.  I use the boiling water to unfreeze the bird baths as well as making a cup of tea.  Today I have given the birds an extra treat.  I grated some apples onto my porrige this morning and have hung the apple cores on a tree for them to peck at.  I find this stops the bigger birds (crows) from steeling them.

I also did a quick check of the evergreen shrubs to make sure the snow hadn’t broken any branches, then back inside for a warm up.