Posts tagged garden

Daily Post – The Little Things..

It’s the little things that mean so much. I love that statement because it is those little things that have touched my life more than anything else. It’s a smile, a touch, an image, a beautiful piece of music, a song, a word, a kind act… those things that make everything ok. I don’t wish take anything away from these moments they are the moments that make life worth living. I crave them, yearn them, notice life around me, look and listen for them. It’s all about being positive and I like to think I have a positive and loving heart but there are so many little things that have plagued me, taunted me, haunted me and …. eat my garden!

I went out to water the shoots, plants and flowers that are responding to the beautiful warm weather. The roses so far look amazing and healthy, marigolds that the children planted last year are in bloom. Along the border the blue of grape hyacynths is a joy to behold and the herbs are in flower, mint strong and green, oregano, chives, sage and rosemary and thyme nearly ready to use, ferns unfurling their fluffy fronds, hostas uncurling their pointed spikes,lily of the valley leaves cupping their tiny buds and the miniature narcissus …. bare; nothing but stem and leaves, my primrose is flowerless and the primula – little clutches of miserable leaves and bloomless cups holding onto life with desperation. It’s the little things, those tiny little buggy things that are the negative influence around me.

On my walls, minute snails nestle in the crevices, under leaves small green caterpillars seem immune to the cold winter weather, in the soil grubs waiting to grow into weevils and each one doing its best to destroy all my efforts at growing strawberries and a little piece of country in my garden. I watch them as they creep nearer and nearer my goji berry and blueberry bushes and wonder .. why they don’t eat weeds. I mean that I wouldn’t mind. Overrun with cats there aren’t any birds to help rid my garden of pests and it is only a matter of time before I put my hands up and either let them chomp their way through everything or get out the bug sprays against all my efforts at being green.

Hmm sometimes it is the little things that have biggest effect for sure and I know which kind I prefer…

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Those quiet weekends!

I just love the weekends, or maybe I should say I love the unpredictability of weekends. Ok Saturday we shop, like it or not there is always that trip or two to the shops but after that anything goes. I just love waking up knowing there is no need to get up early on a Sunday morning. Harry doesn’t have to go to work and generally the housework is all done so I can relax. Then once I get up there is nothing to do and somehow I miss the structure of the week and I’m bored. The weather isn’t good enough to garden yet, although maybe someone should tell the bugs that. In particular the snails.

Most people know how I have battled the bugs and diseases in my garden, well it looks like this year is going to be no exception. Barely have the first few green plants poked their shoots above ground then they are there, waiting like a wave of germ warfare at its strongest, to dessimate the few plants that have survived the feline invasion trying to unearth them while they slept.

Outside my back door the light wall seems to attract snails, they even park themselves on the bathroom window, watching, taunting me. A daily roundup does nothing to lessen their numbers and despite a vigourous ‘sweep’ of the wall and surrounding garden, another marauding wave arrives to start all over again the next day. Tender leaves on a goji berry plant disappear overnight, flowers on the primula that struggled to get above ground level last year are once again a tasty meal for either the slime brigade or the fodder to ease the hunger of the green and mutiple legged walking mouths.
The pond is another trap for anything that is destructive and the blanket weed that has resisted all treatment finally choked the pump, filter and fountain to death halfway through the winter.

Well, we planned to spend time on trying to eradicating the problems as soon as we could but never quite got around to it. Then this weekend two of my children came over, one of whom was my very energetic and strong son. It took him less time to fix the pond pump etc, sort the electrics and get everything working and catch a few baby fish promised to a friend than it took for me to prepare the Sunday lunch for him, my daughter who popped over too see him, and two granddaughters who played perfectly in the garden gathering snails.

I think I should maybe retitle this entry as those wonderful, unpredictable weekends. What a super day, and far from being a relaxing, do nothing, lazy kind of day, more was achieved in the garden than would take me a week to get half way through, Harry managed to recycle some old timber to make a bridge cover for the drain, we fitted in a visit to friends in the country to deliver the fish and share a cuppa and a chat with, we ran a couple of errands to my other daughter’s as well as spending the precious time with the children. Best of all, after all that ‘hard work’, a lazy take away supper was the final order of the day. The bugs and slugs will have to wait until another lazy Sunday.

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Postaweek2011: Changing times.

It has been a while since I posted because life has just been so busy. I am working on some more illustrations, been babysitting two of my gorgeous grandchildren, working in the garden and trying to organised meals for H and I to keep our weight loss going. We have both lost just over a stone – that’s 14lbs to date. As well as everything else I have to do, all the exercise is taking its toll on my poor bones and a few sleepless nights knocked me for six, therefore I have been swapping the midnight bedtimes to try and catch up on some sleep. My time in the sun really helped and after everything I had tried, a day in the garden – nearly killing myself with pain – gave me the first good night’s sleep for ages. I did give in to painkillers though.

Before I share my scraggy garden I have to give a couple of examples of my wonderful, funny Harry. I will ignore the fact that he wakes at 4.30 am every weekday morning to two simultaneous alarms that compete with each other for rhythm and volume. Oh dear how awful, I hear you say. That, my friends, is the good bit! A sudden rendering, complete with dance, I might add, of ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’ followed by, ‘See you later my darling, you have a good day, I am off to meet my public, you go back to sleep.’  accompanied by a torch flashing to the rhythm of his singing, ( he doesn’t want to disturb me by switching on the light) and well, if I can get back to sleep an hour later I am lucky. So tiredness crept up on me.

Bedtimes are as equally amusing and tonight I had to laugh. He allowed me to take his picture, little does he know what I am doing with it hehehe. As I entered the bedroom after him I caught him in his PJs with a sun hat on and a penny whistle waiting there to make me laugh as I walked in… It worked! Bless him.

      

I think you need to hide my dearest….  Our life is many laughs and I am not complaining in the least. Everybody loves Harry and I think I am a very lucky lady to have found such a great, funny guy this late in life. There you are Harry, not FB but when I told you I’d publish it…… xxx

Right, now to my little plot of bug infested land. I wrote some time ago that I had a problem with bugs and slugs and, unknown to me, caterpillars. A friend said they didn’t hatch until june/July but my earlier post with Maica proved that they did indeed overwinter and survive to hatch the following year. As I cleared the weeds the other day I jumped when my hand touched something extremely hairy underneath them. Altogether I found three of the sweetest and hairiest caterpillars I have seen. I tried to photograph them but boy, were they fast. I did get some pictures though.

Before I show my garden here is another Harry caper – giving the fish a drink???? >

Now for the caterpillars:   Isn’t he a hairy little fellow? I have discovered that the Tiger Moth has declined by 89% over the last thirty years… hmm they need to look in my garden! 

The next picture shows how relentless I have been with my bug catching – well snails in particular – Homes to let anyone? The Monkey peas seem to like them anyway.

Much as I love the caterpillars there are only two flowers in the whole garden that haven’t been eaten, the violas and the pansies, all my Primula have gone,  at least I know why now…..

Here are the two surviving flowers, one of them has been chewed though. 

Despite having only two surviving plants and a dislike of bugs there are a few that I like to see around the garden. The following  three pictures are of three different colour damsel flies and a ladybird.         The Green damsel fly seems to have moved to the end and my text has sort of changed colour and is underlined, things are moving around and I have no clue how to change it all.

   

OOh it has all gone back to normal again.

I will try to post some more tomorrow because there are several lovely pictures of  a rose that my son and daughter in law bought me for Mother’s day a couple of years ago that is just so amazing. It changes colour  from yellow to orange to red and during these phases has the most vibrant colours, to the point that one stage looks like it is a fire from a brazier, white-hot in the middle to red on the outside. I did notice a green-fly on the petals though. Time to try a different bug spray!

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Postaday2011: Baking with Maica

I had today all planned. My fifteen minutes of exercise and then as the house was clean, a day of gardening but , as they say… The best laid plans of mice and men ….. everything went haywire for me. I was just about to embark upon my daily exercise ‘dance’ routine… well fifteen minutes of the only exercising and, sort of , dancing that an arthritic nearly sixty year old can do, when my daughter arrived with Maica, my gorgeous three year old grand daughter.

Not having been pre warned I wasn’t prepared and said to my daughter that I promised her we would make teddy bear bread, a recipe Maica had seen in her cookery book. My plans for the garden were on hold. Don’t worry said my daughter I will explain to her that you need to go in the garden and do some work. I couldn’t do that! I had made a promise to her that we would bake pan, Spanish for bread, the next time she came and had to keep that promise. After all children need to know they can trust what grown ups say, especially grandparents.

We made biscuits while we were waiting for the first rising to complete. Maica loved cutting out the shapes and was so excited when they came out of the oven. Soon the bread dough was ready and Maica loved the feel of the dough, warm and soft. She helped to knead it down before she built little teddy bears from the balls of dough I gave her. ‘Mama bear, Papa bear and baby bear. Just like in Goldilocks.’ she said.

   The picture is very small because we took them on my daughters camera but I am sure you can see on Maica’s face just how proud she was of her pan teddy bears. She also wanted to show off her biscuits. She cut many shapes, flowers, stars, birds, fish, horses, elephants, circles, you name it, we made them. I had to tell her mummy that when we made the horse, the head was loose but we put it on the tray anyway and when it was cooked it had mended. Here is a little picture of one of her biscuits. A star biscuit. Before she took them home she insisted she left a flala (flower) biscuit for Grampy Harry.

Before Mummy came, Auntie Tabby and millie decided it would be great to go to park behind where Grandma lived so off we trouped. Maica had so much fun with Auntie Tabby chasing her and racing her up the steps and down the slide, being pushed on the swing and playing on the seesaw. Bet she will sleep well tonight. Grandma sat on the seat most of the time watching with pride and looking after Millie. Millie loved it all too, she adores Maica. So today, was a busy day for me and Maica but exhausted as I am, it was a great one. Here’s to girl power!

  

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Postaday2011: catchup – A day in the garden

Actually is was less than half a day. I am totally unable to potter all day like I used to and it makes me really cross but I have a little fold up chair that helps me so much. I was really pleased because I have been trying to keep the weeds down. I seem also to have managed to deter the neighbourhood cats from digging up my garden, still fighting the snails though. I was so delighted as I looked for some pots to plant some errant strawberries and found a whole collection of little tiny, baby snails. Cruel as it sounds, they will not be destroying my garden this year, so a few less. I need to treat my Hostas because as soon as they know they are there I will have nothing but little stumps in the ground.

Painful as it was I was really happy to have managed to tidy up my little beds and sweep the paths. Of course there is still loads to do but how lovely it was to see the little curls of the ferns as they are waking from their winter sleep. I have several different kinds and they bring a little of the countryside to my tiny town garden. Lily of the Valley are also about to bloom and I have bluebells also just blooming. My poor Violas are still not growing , in fact they look decidedly sad. I ‘planted’ upturned bottles today to fill with water ensuring that water gets down to where it is needed. A bit ingenious I thought and taking recycling to its best advantage, They were of course green water bottles so quite in keeping with the scenery. haha. However, there are still some caterpillars or something eating the flowers of my gorgeous bright pink Primulas, leaving only the green cup that once held them.

I have searched manually to no avail, I have removed weeds, I have raked the soil, there must be something else I can do.. As I looked a little further under the Rosemary bush I caught sight of something rather odd. As soon as I had seen it, or thought I had, then it was no longer there. Curiouser and curiouser to quote Carroll. I dived underneath the blueberry bushes hoping to catch a glimpse of what I can only describe to be a gorgeous little creature. I wasn’t sure it had a watch but it sure as heck looked like a rabbit to me… After peering through the plants and leaves I came nose to nose with it hiding behind my rose-bush. It is, although an odd colour for a rabbit, definitely a rabbit. What do you think? ………

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Postaday2011: Slugs and Bugs and pussy cats.

Before I go on my rant I have to say a huge thank you to all my children , for my cards and gifts and spending time with me, texting me,  phoning me and messaging me on FB. I am a very blessed Mummy, thank you all for being you. xx

Now, my rant. I have arthritis and don’t move around very well which is why it is good that I only have a small manageable garden, well it is manageable most of the time. Any heavy work I have to get someone in to do it for me. I have two raised beds and added a small side ‘box’ to plant my blueberry bushes out last year. I have a raised pond, a patio area and barbecue that rarely gets used. Most people who know my Harry understand that he is not a gardener any more than he is any good at DIY. Bless him, he tries hard, in fact he is very trying. I mean last year he stood stock still while a small frog sat on a rock near him and never ran up the garden like a bat out of hell like he usually does when he sees any creature. Especially non favourite are frogs, or worms or snails, more so any rodents and definitely newts and slow worms. So you can see, the garden is my domain and I do the best I can with it. This picture was taken a couple of years ago when I was still able to garden without pain. I am standing on the patio area by the arch and there are two raised beds either side, only low but plenty enough to enable me to garden, mind you I am considering raising them a bit more these days.

 

The second picture is looking down the garden toward the patio area. I have to say many of the plants have gone now and I have planted herbs for my kitchen, much more manageable.

 

 

The third and fourth pictures are the pond which is raised on two sleepers and so much easier to handle than had it been at floor height. The fish must be happy because every year they breed and we end up with dozens of baby fish. We also have a  load of tadpoles which is Harry’s cue to avoid the garden once they have hatched.

So that leaves me, who lived in the country before moving to Gosport and have no fear of creatures as long as they don’t have more legs than my cats, to manage the garden. So how do I keep the bugs and slugs and cats at bay. I plant, the cats dig up the flowers, I grow and slugs and caterpillars eat my plants and greenfly have a field day. I won’t even mention the fungus and plant diseases. I mean I have tried everything possible and every year I try to be as organic as possible. I place pepper on the soil, spray everywhere with lemon juice, chop lemons and scatter them round the garden, cover what I can with nets, go round and collect and take away caterpillars and snails.

So you see I do try, but by the end of the summer I have resorted to slug bait and apologies to the little froglets and creatures that live in the garden, I spray with commercial bug spray and kill the weeds on the pathways with Weedol or some chemical spray that doesn’t really do the trick. As a last resort I call a gardener to come and help me weed and I feel ashamed that I have failed to keep a natural garden.

I will keep trying but I have to take things very slowly, do everything sitting down and make it look as good as possible within my limitations. I hope to get out there and take some before photos from this year. I don’t hold out much hope though. The cats have dug three holes, and used the netting for their toilet, The primulas I put in have had their flowers eaten already and the violas are covered with white fly and greenfly. That’s all in a week!! I am going to be strong, I will have a nice garden. Well, I am a good dreamer.

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Postaday2011: A girly day

I was going to babysit 8 month old Millie this morning while my daughter went on an appointment and I was so looking forward to it when Suzi called and suggested we took the girls to the park for some fresh air. Aha, thought I a conspiracy is going on here, but I didn’t mind. I can’t get on the floor to play nor can I walk very far carrying Millie so it was nice to have Auntie Suzi and Maica come to play too and help out if I needed it. As it happened I didn’t and we had a great time. Maica decided to share an ice lolly with Millie and let her play with her little dolly. A short walk to the park later and they were playing so well again. Millie loved the swing.

I found out later after I had worried about her slipping out and we held onto her coat, that her mummy got her to hold on and just pushed her, making her laugh more the higher she went. Ah well…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maica loved the see-saw and Mummy sat on the other end with Millie.

 

The slide seemed to be Millie’s favourite and she laughed and flapped her arms and legs as Auntie Suzi held her for Grandma to take the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon Mummy arrived to find us and we all walked back for lunch. Leek and potato soup to warm us up. Tabby and Millie went shopping and left Maica and her Mummy here. I had bought a tiny watering can and garden tools and Maica wanted to try them out. She watered the plants I put in the other day and planted some little violas for me. As I cleared the weeds, which I had left to grow to deter the cats from digging the soil, we found loads of caterpillars. I was going to destroy them when Suzi said jokingly, but Mum, they are all just asleep, you can’t hurt them. I looked at them in my hand and suddenly these tiny little creatures became personified. She laughed at me but she couldn’t destroy them either. Then she came up with a great plan and I agreed. She could take them home and they could make a butterfly cage for them… Yes yes yes! I gathered as many as I could and put them in a little pot.

Most of them were cabbage whites, I just hoped none would turn out to be leather jackets and turn into crane flies… However, I said nothing but would look them up to make sure.

Maica was fascinated by them and Suzi mentioned the Hungry Caterpillar book which has been a favourite for all the children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was just glad we were able to come to some arrangement and I blame children’s books of course. I mean, how could I possibly kill them knowing they were cute little creatures just sleeping beneath the chickweed canopy, fast asleep and waiting for their time to turn into butterflies and lay more eggs to add to the growing population of plant hungry creatures that already co-exist among my poor dog-eared, or should I saw cat – erpilar chewed plants.

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