flowers, photography, Plants, Uncategorized

May snapshot

As I suspected, with the coming of Spring is the waning of the blog. However, I would never judge another garden blogger for forsaking screen in favour of soil, so I hope you won’t judge me similarly!

It’s now early June and I want the garden to stay as it is for a little while longer – everything seems to be in bloom at once.  I’m sure it’s a result of the delayed spring which means all the flowers have held back that little bit longer, and instead of appearing sequentially they’re putting on a fantastic show all together.  The laburnum tree in the back is humming with bees and spills over the pink rhodedendron, which is complemented by the dicentra and aquilegia popping up under the shrubs, with the foliage of those yet to bloom – hostas, alchemilla, lupins – filling out the gaps and making it all look quite lush.  And the clematis and honeysuckle are clambering over each other, competing to see who can look the prettiest (clematis wins this contest, but honeysuckle beats her on scent every time).

Yes, I wish I could pause the garden for a bit longer – I can tell it’s about to tip over from fresh and bright and frothy into overgrown and blousy and blown-out.  Not to worry…we might lose the primroses, forget-me-nots and aquilegia but the geraniums and roses are waiting in the wings – not to mention the geums and poppies already putting on a show in the front garden.

The flowers of May have also encouraged me to ramp up my photography – there are so many to capture after a long, cold, colour-free winter!

Here’s a snapshot of the garden last month, which will hopefully serve as a catch-up.

There are plenty more photos of what I’ve been up to in the garden on my Instagram feed @mycorneroftheearth.

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flowers, greenhouse, Grow Your Own, Plants, Propagation, Raised Beds, Secret Garden, Uncategorized

Spring has sprung…

…and my blog is suffering!  But it’s a good sign – I’m blogging less because I’m spending more time in the garden.  I have to – there are seedlings to prick out, beds to mulch, weeds to weed and plants to pot up.  And it’s only going to get busier from here on in!

Real Life is also getting in the way of Creative Life, as it sometimes does.

The best way to bring you up to speed is perhaps to post a few photographs of some of the garden jobs I’ve been up to in the past month or so…

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I’ve bought and planted half a dozen Anemone blanda to perk up a bare patch of earth under the magnolia in the back garden

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I’ve got two plants for my tin-bath pond – a lovely double marsh marigold and a corkscrew rush

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The forced rhubarb is about ready to pick!

 

 

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I briefly considered starting a sycamore farm – these are all the seedlings germinating at the side of the greenhouse… and there are many, many, many more popping up around the raised beds, paths, plant pots, in between paving stones…

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I’ve started all my dahlias…and *may* have bought some more along the way… #dahliaaddict

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Most of my seedlings and young plants are progressing well – some of these I’ve already planted out, like the forget-me-nots, wallflowers and gypsophilia.

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Basically I am loving the fact that Spring has arrived, bulbs are blooming and the sun is occasionally shining – long may it continue!

It’s the age-old battle for a garden blogger – blog vs garden.

I suspect I will be posting monthly for the forseeable, however I do post much more frequently on Instagram and you can follow me there for some micro-blogging action at @mycorneroftheearth.

 

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Garden equipment & products, Propagation, Uncategorized

Best kit – top 5

Well the weather is still deeply disappointing here.  I look on Instagram and see photos of daffodils, anemones, primroses and even some tomatoes beginning to flower!  And then I look out the window and see grey, brown, damp and a chicken coop slowly turning into s a swimming pool.  I must keep reminding myself that even without the grim wintery weather, our growing season is a good 2-4 weeks behind many other parts of the UK…

While I wait out this particular wintry blast (yep, it’s actually snowing again here) I thought I’d share with you some of by best bits of kit – the gardening tools I love the most or find indespensible.

  1. Thermal gardening gloves. IMG_2058.jpgI have quite dry skin and these have been a hand-saver all winter – I’m still using them now while the weather is still a bit on the nippy side.  They’re lined with soft, cosy material and genuinely keep my fingers warm.  This makes them a bit thicker so they’re not ideal for fiddly jobs but for general digging, moving, lifting bags of compost or whatever they’re great and fairly waterproof too so your hands don’t freeze off when the hose drips all over the place.
  2. Wooden tools.IMG_2189.jpg I love these mainly because they’re a thing of beauty.  I am drawn to certain materials – wood, corduroy and I’m a total sucker for tan leather.  I love these so much I bought matching loppers and shears.  I wish I could say I have a set of well-loved wooden-handled tools handed down by a relative or the head gardener of a huge estate, but these were simply bargains in TK Maxx!  They may not have the heritage but they look wonderful and I feel like I will care for them more because of it.  Hand tools tend to end up a bit rusty and rickety for me – I will confess I don’t usually clean and sharpen them regularly the way you’re supposed to.  These look so simple and refined it’ll be easy to give them a wipe down or sharpen them up – I’m sure of it!
  3. Propagator IMG_0729.jpg This model is a 52 cm Stewart Essentials electric propagator which I picked up for just over £20 during the last Black Friday sale.  It’s not thermostatically controlled but as I use the rear sun room as a sort of indoor greenhouse it keeps my seeds at a good temperature for germination in a room where the temperature can fluctuate quite a lot, especially at night when it’s pretty cold.  I am currently trying to germinate my pelargonium seeds in there and they’re taking AGES.  I’ve also have very limited success with astrantia – only two seedlings so far.  But I think this is down to my choice of tricky-to-grow plants rather than the propagator!  I’m not very patient and need the space in that propagator for other seeds so I think I will very soon cut my losses and move these out in favour of something that will grow much easier.
  4. Boots. IMG_2037.jpg These are my beloved and very scruffy gardening boots.  I’ve had them for years, they’re still reasonably comfy but not very waterproof.  However when I’m wearing them I feel in ‘gardening mode’ – I feel like I can dig and sow and weed and do garden-y things because I’m in my Gardening Boots.
  5. iphone.  Truly indespensible in the garden for me.  Obviously it’s useful if anyone needs to get hold of me, I also take photos to post to my Instagram feed, check sowing times or names of plants, or for various bits of gardening advice if I come across something I’m unsure about.  IMG_2191.pngI also really love to listen to podcasts while I’m in the garden or greenhouse, and my podcast library is rapidly expanding – everything from Gardeners’ Question Time to Womens Hour to Adam Buxton to On The Ledge.  I’ve added quite a few more gardening podcasts recently, including this new one from Andrew O’Brien and Laeticia Maklouf.  I find them so useful and interesting – I like to absorb more garden knowledge through my ears and into my brain as I’m getting my hands dirty in the soil!
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photography, Uncategorized

Despite the snow…

It snowed again.

The weather has once again put the brakes on any serious gardening activity this weekend, although I did manage to sow a few more flower seeds in the greenhouse while dodging the snow showers on Saturday.

I also stepped out into the front garden for about 10 minutes to take some photos.  They’re not my best images of all time but reminded me that I can still appreciate my garden, whatever the weather, and that Spring is under there…somewhere…

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Uncategorized

The best laid plans…

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I’m sitting indoors looking out at the sleety rain pummelling my garden, still pretty sodden from being covered in several inches of snow and the subsequent thaw.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  My plan for this week involved taking annual leave from work,  getting lots of seeds pricked out, sowing more, mulching, digging, planting and generally getting a head start on spring – preferably with the sun shining all the while!

But that’s not how it’s worked out; I rescheduled annual leave because of the snow disruption and now, on my only clear day off, the weather has taken a turn for the hideous.  Even working in the greenhouse would be cold and miserable.

So, I’m back to planning instead of doing.  And there are So. Many. Plans.  I want to do it all.  Vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs, planting, growing – even selling!  Front garden, back garden, secret garden and school garden.  And learning too – I want to study horticulture, garden photography, research and write things…I want to figure out where I fit into the world of horticulture.  Do I have a speciality?  Could I be an expert in something? Should I blog more, read more, start a podcast?  I’ve never been so entirely gripped by a subject that I want it to fill up all these areas of my life, and I’m desperate to move forward, find my way, join the growing community, show people what I can do…  so many plans, but so little time.

I’m in denial about the sad truth of the matter…I just don’t have the time to do all of this.  And if I try to do too much I won’t do any of it well.  A wise man called Ron Swanson* once said “Never half-ass two things.  Whole ass one thing.” Ok, I’m not going to choose just one thing to focus on in my garden or my home or life this year, but the principle is sound – if I try to do too much I won’t do any of it well, and probably make myself unhappy and stressed out that I won’t be achieving what I wanted.

So, what DO I choose?  What ideas do I reject?  Like I said – I want to do it all!  I could fit it all in if only I could give up work, or criminally neglect my children and family – or do without sleep?!  Obviously none of these is a realistic choice, and I will continue to do what I do, and that is to fit as much garden time as possible into my free days, and to read and watch and absorb plant knowledge and expertise from others.

I think I also need to decide what the focus is for this blog.  As you can tell from the above witterings, it’s currently a bit rambly and unfocused… once I decide what my Garden Thing is I should probably write more about that.  Propagation?  Garden re-design?  Perennials?

I’m not sure about any of this yet, but if the weather stays as it is, I’ll have plenty of time to think about it…

*Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

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Nature & Wildlife, Uncategorized

Shinrin-yoku: forest bathing

Tree-huggers and leaf lovers, come this way…

After a week of house arrest due to the snow, then frantic work days catching up after the snow, plus too much talking, eating, drinking, thinking and social-media-ing I decided that the best and quickest way to feed my soul and enter recovery mode was a good solid walk in the woods .

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The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku, which means ‘forest bathing’ and I can’t think of a better way to describe the act of putting on a pair of boots and walking alone amongst trees, fields and birdsong.  It’s been a thing in Japan since the 80s and its aim is to encourage a healthier lifestyle by taking walks in specially designated forests.  Forest bathing is not just about relaxation, although that’s a big part of it; studies have been done by Japanese scientists which show it can improve your physical health by boosting immune systems, reducing stress hormones, enhancing mental wellness and brain health. It might even blood glucose levels among diabetes sufferers.

I can certainly report it’s good for my soul as well as my health.  I always find something  in the woods to make me smile – today it was a flock of geese which passed so low overhead I could hear their wings beating.  And I also spotted lots of little chewed cones and nut remnants lying on the path which made me look up and wonder if there had been a little squirrel feast overhead.

I’m now wishing I had taken a photo of these…but then part of the joy of forest bathing is sometimes stopping to take photos, and sometimes simply enjoying the moment and not viewing it through a lens.

So I walked, breathed, greeted a couple of friendly dog walkers, and felt the sun on my back – it was wonderful.  I am extremely fortunate to have a number of woods just a short distance from home – I can leave my doorstep and walk to one of three woods within 5 minutes and if I ever got bored of these I could jump in the car and drive north to Big Tree Country in Perthshire, where there are some fantastic forests and woods to walk in.

However I do have a growing desire to visit Japan for some authentic forest-bathing.  I’ve been fascinated by the country and its culture for a long time and the more I read about it, the more I want to experience it for myself.  The Japanese relax by gazing at trees, lying on logs and breathing in forest smells.  Not to mention their cherry blossom festivals, zen gardens and moss meditation… for a garden-loving introvert it sounds like heaven!

For now though I will grab any opportunity I can to gaze at a Scots pine or my own (not-so-zen) garden.  Now the snow is melting the signs of Spring are showing up again at last.

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Uncategorized

Soulful Sunday

Just a little break from the usual garden-related chat to join in a new meme which has been started by The Mindful Gardener.

She suggests sharing on your blog ‘anything that makes you feel emotional, warm and fuzzy, grateful, inspired, appreciative of the world around us’ and as I have experienced this in the past few days I wanted to join in and write about my Soulful Sunday, reflecting on the past few days of joy and happiness and warmth in my community, despite some of the coldest temperatures we’ve experienced for many years.

Very few of us have escaped the icy grip of the Beast from the East in the past few days – the Siberian snow storm which has hit Britain.  I live in Scotland, in one of the areas which was under a Red weather alert for the first time ever! This meant heavy snow, extremely hazardous conditions and risk to life – so the usual work and school routine has been disrupted since the middle of last week.

Despite the icy chill, the freezing temperatures and the long days at home our community has become closer than ever, thanks to a friendly village v village ‘Winter Games’.  A mass snowball fight on one afternoon was extended to a snowman-building competition the next day.  And when each village won a point each, we held an Olympic- style series of races to decide the winner.   Each day brought families, parents, grandparents and other villagers along to take part and have a bit of fun in the snow.  Not only that, but it galvanised us into action to clear paths for the local sheltered housing complex, and today we all gathered to clear the snow and ice from the school grounds to make sure we could all return to normal tomorrow.

It’s been one of the best bonding experiences for our community, and a series of snow days which we know our kids will remember for a long time.  I’ve felt so happy and proud of where we live and the good people that we know.

And that’s why I’m feeling quite Soulful this Sunday.

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Another snowball fight at the conclusion of the ‘Winter Games’

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