Friday, 27 January 2017

On the move - new opportunities

The garden in mid-winter

It's been a little quiet here when it comes to blogging about the garden recently. That's because changes are afoot and I've wanted to wait until things were confirmed before writing about them. Well, I can now tell you. Gwenfar's Garden is on the move.

Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'

Yes, I'm moving garden, and well, house. Our current house has been a bit small for our purposes for a while (we have a small company which is run from home) and we need a bit more space. However, with selling and buying being so incredibly stressful and my ME being, well, not great, we decided to sell first, move into rented accommodation, then take our time looking for a bit bigger and hopefully more permanent home. And garden.

For the year or so that we will be renting, my garden is going to mainly be a container garden. I'm taking everything that is currently in pots with me, plus about 15 or so special plants will be dug up, but on the whole, I'm leaving my current garden as it is. Because although I created this garden, I'm happy to leave it to the new people* and move on to new things.

Right: luckily I'd potted up some strawberry runners
last summer, so I have some to take with me.

Perhaps if the new owners weren't interested in gardening, I might take more with me. But they are, and even made it a part of the contract that I leave the fruit trees and raised beds behind! This really lifted my spirits, to know that what I've created will continue on in some way, and that someone actually wants the garden as it is, fruit trees and all.

So what comes with me? And what about my beloved garlic?

Garlic in large pots

On the garlic front, well once we decided to put the house on the market at the beginning of December, I quickly went out and purchased eight large rectangle containers and sowed six cloves of each variety in them. I mean, I wasn't going to leave my wonderful collection behind! And after conducting an experiment on growing garlic in containers in 2016, I'm confident that I can take my collection with me, will get a decent harvest and be able to save the best bulbs to sow the following autumn. I'll leave notes including where each variety I sowed back in November in my raised beds for the new people, so they know what they will be harvesting next Summer.

I'll also be digging up the Sorrel patch. It's got quite large now, so I should be able to split it so there is some for me and some for my friend J-P over at Next Square Metre. And with luck some left over to replant for the new people. Sorrel has deep roots and isn't necessarily made for container growing. So this is going to be the first of several small experiments I'll be undertaking in 2017. I've purchased a large terracotta pot for the Sorrel, and will track how it grows in a container and how much harvesting I can gain from it.

Right: Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus 'Bagpuize Virginia'. Memories of Oxon. I'll be digging up
a few to take with me

In general, my theme for 2017 will be how to get better at growing both vegetables, fruit, herbs and also perennials, in containers. I've had middling success in the past, but my focus has tended to be on what's in the ground or at the allotment I used to have. My aim is to read up more on container growing, for edibles and ornamentals, and see if I can increase the health and production of the plants. In particular, I'd like to get the growing media, and the not-under watering or over watering balance, right.

The grass in the pot is Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau', which we call 'grass-Merlyn'.
Despite plenty of 'normal' grass, this ornamental was the one our cat Merlyn used to love to
chew on. When he died, we potted it up and buried him with it. It's important to take grass-Merlyn with us. We will also be digging up Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku', to the right of grass-Merlyn.

So will I be sad to leave the garden I created behind? Yes, I will. But I'm also excited about the opportunities that the coming year will offer. I plan to explore my Spoonie Veg idea via container growing further, and to experiment with getting a better harvest from courgettes and pumpkins grown in containers. If I have the energy, I'd like to try growing Cosmos as a cut flower in a container too. All of this will continue to be within the context of gardening with ME.

I'll be taking cuttings of Rosa Seagull, then cut it back so I can dismantle the Arch.
The Arch was especially commissioned for my 40th, a gift from Kevin and his mum,
Audrey. I'm not leaving that behind!

Gwenfar's Garden is on the move, but I will take some time to do a couple of blogs reviewing my first complete permaculture design, and to say goodbye to a space I made my own.

Summer 2016

*we accepted an offer at the end of December, subject to contract and of course the vagaries of the English system.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Photo essay: Peak District, no. whatever*

*lost count, but who cares, it's the Peak District.

Beyond High Bradfield

Looking toward Lower Bradfield and Loxley

Towards Strines Moor

Castleton towards Winnats Pass

Winnats Pass (from inside the car)

Winnats Pass (from inside the car)

Winnats Pass, back towards Castleton (from inside the car again)

c. bottom of Mam Tor towards Edale

Mam Tor

From Mam Tor towards Cheshire Peak

From Mam Tor towards Kinder Scout

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Photo essay: postcards from Norfolk

At the end of December we spent a few days in Norfolk. Here's 'wot we did on our 'olidays'.

Beaches - Sheringham
We enjoyed both the overcast grey days and the stunning clear blue sky days along the coast.

First up was Sheringham beach and coastline. This was on a day that was thick with fog, but on the coast we managed to see some blue sky.

I was rather taken with this little bird flittering all about the place. I later found this is a Turnstone.

Flint in the walls of buildings were very much a characteristic feature of the area.

And the gates to the Whelk Coppers Tea Rooms were wonderful. I also got the ship to look like it was sailing on the sea.

Beaches - Mundesley
This was the perfect winter day. Not a cloud in the sky, the sun warming you in your coat, and a REAL beach, none of that shingle beach crap. I can't express just how wonderful it felt to be able to enjoy this. Hopefully these pictures can do that instead.

Right: Mundesley beach selfie  :)

Little Kevin, big blue sky, and the North Sea.

History - Paston
Not far from Mundesley was the small village of Paston. For anyone with the slightest knowledge of English history, you will have probably heard of The Paston Letters, even if you don't know much about them. For those not in the know, the Paston's rose from being peasants under the Plantagenet Kings to being holders of high office under the Tudors (c. 14th and 15th centuries). Their correspondence covers politics, business, shopping, the day-to-day running of a large manor (think medium-business), and love.

The village of Paston was that of the Paston family, and we visited the Paston church, St Margarets, which they built.

The best part was the effigy of Lady Katherine Paston, reclining like a lady of luxury.

Look closer, isn't she fabulous?!

Near to the church is the Paston Great Barn, a medieval barn also belonging to the Paston's. It was made of the Norfolk classic flint stone walls and thatched roof. Currently home to some Barbastelle bats, sadly not open for visits so to not disturb them. Lucky bats to have such a barn for their home.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Paston letters during the War of the Roses, I recommend Helen Castor's, Blood and Roses.

The Broads - Fairhaven Garden
We could only fit in one 'broad' (there are lots of Norfolk broads, hence the plural), and chose that of Fairhaven Garden's. Fairhaven are better known for the Fairhaven candelabra Primulas. But the primulas will be for another time. This time, using a mobility scooter (too large for me to explore on foot with #mecfs), we explored the broads and streams running through the garden in winter.

Some of the small broads and streams.

Tree reflections.

I love the way the winter sun captured the different tones in the branches of trees and shrubs.


A large Broad... Breathtaking.

With boathouse.


We really enjoyed these brief few days in Norfolk, and have decided that if Norfolk coast and Broads were this good in winter, we will definitely have to revisit in warmer months.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

In praise of: Cyclamen coum

January, mid-Winter. The days are a mix of cold with blue skies and damp with grey skies. Indifferent to the weather, Cyclamen coum is a burst of much-welcomed colour. It's also known as the Eastern cyclamen as it originates from the Caucuses. It's completely hardy, however, in hard winters it might not flower until early Spring.

It's happy in partial shade, which is good because a lot of us have gardens that don't get much sun in Winter. Although mine are in pots, they are excellent for naturalising, creating a carpet of pink blooms in a border and under trees and shrubs, which in turn will protect them from hot summer sun. I say pink, but there are also white varieties and varying shades between white and deep magenta.

Even the leaves are attractive. As an interesting side point, it is a member of the Primulaceae (primrose) family, and you can kind of see some similarities in the leaves.

This little bulb packs a mighty punch in the depths of Winter, and I think it's worthy of a place in every garden.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Gardening with ME: a floral review of 2016

January: Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'

As is customary at this time of the year, it's time to undertake a review of how things went in the garden in 2016. However, as my health is poorly, I'm cheating and not writing a review per se. Instead, I looked though my photos through the year and am posting my favourite flowers, and in one case, foliage, from each month.

February: Heucherella 'Tapestry'

March: Hepatica transsilvanica 'Blue Eyes'

April: Narcissus Cragford

May: Tulipa Ballerina

June: Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'

July: Thalictrum 'Anne' 

August: Allium cyaneum

September: Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies'

October: Geranium nodosum 'Clos du Coudray'

November: Quince Cydonia oblonga 'Serbian Gold'

December: Crocus Speciosus Cassiope

Despite the ME affecting my ability to work in the garden through much of the year, the flowers just got on with their jobs, and their performance was exemplary. Brava!

Good gardening to you all in 2017.

* * * * *
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on your experience, so don't be shy!

About Spoonie Veg    About Gardening with ME

Twitter hashtags: #GardeningWithME #SpoonieVeg

Recent Gardening with ME and Spoonie Veg posts...
  Spoonie Veg: Broad Beans
  Spoonie Veg: garlic
  Gardening with ME: harvest time