I tend to ramble on which makes my posts rather long so I only put small pictures on. If you'd like to see a bit more just click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Battenburg cake has gone!!!

We promised ourselves when we moved into this house almost 18 months ago that the Battenburg cake path and balcony would be replaced. We're thrilled that our "new" garden was completed on Thursday this week.

We used Summers Gardens, who are based at Caerau Uchaf, near Bala (if you're ever in the area, do go and see their own gardens and treat yourself to some of the yummy cake that Stephanie bakes for their cafe - no I'm not on commission!). Toby did the design and suggested the materials (Indian stone and as a contrast some stone chippings) and despite my original reservations regarding more multi-coloured paving it definitely was the right choice and looks wonderful. We had some rain this afternoon and the colours look even more impressive when it's wet.

Toby and his lads came on Monday, 23 August, and amazingly all the old paving and walling was ripped up and in the skip by 4pm. They worked through heavy rain and wind for the first two days but for the rest of the first week the weather was pretty good. The second week the weather was glorious, summer came to north Wales at last!

Here are the before and after pictures, do click to enlarge them and see what a wonderful job Toby & Co have done.

The border has been removed where the concrete planters were on the left hand side and the path taken right up to the fence, this has given the impression of much more width to a very small garden:

View from loft window:

We still have to sort out the borders, rescue some of the plants that were disturbed during the works, move plants around, decide what new stuff we want, plant up with new plants and bulbs. We have quite a bit more room now as the borders have been widened.

Pictures taken this morning when some of the pots had been brought back:

The bird bath fits very nicely into this corner of the garden, Paul's cleaned it up and it looks like new:

We found a special place for our little sleepy elf - a drain has been formed in the bottom corner of the garden and he disguises it very nicely!

We're just hoping for a bit more nice weather now as we'd like to paint the pillars and wall around the balcony to match the house.

Thanks so much for coming to see our new garden, we hope you like it as much as we do.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Toot Toot!

Look what's coming past our garden at the moment:

Bit of a beast isn't it?

This is The Cambrian steam train which West Coast Railways is running between Machynlleth and Porthmadog (or Pwllheli on certain days) every weekday during the school holiday.

Having grown up with steam trains this is a lovely bit of nostalgia for Paul and me, the toot toot of the whistle and the chuff chuff sound bring back lots of memories. It isn't really too noisy, it has to slow down for the bend just before it gets to us and the station is only a minute or so up the road so it never goes really fast past us. Isn't it funny how people travelling on steam trains love to wave?

So what's happening in the garden? Not a lot really. We've had the most horrendous wind and torrential rain recently so for the last two weeks it's not been possible to get out and do anything. Today has been a nice dry, sunny day so I spent an hour dead-heading and generally tidying up and it looks so much better for it.

The dwarf sunflowers are still putting on a good show. We're saving the seed so that we can have two varieties next year, I've already bought a packet of a different type from Wilkinsons as they were half price!

The gladioli suffered with the wind breaking the tops of a few stems which I've had to cut off today. There are some fuschia in the black pots which we didn't have room for, we'll try and get them back into the garden next year if we can. The dwarf lupins were a bit of a disappointment as they became rather straggly, I might not bother with them next year.

The cherry tomatoes got quite knocked about too. Paul has staked them today as there is quite a lot of fruit on them which we hope will ripen and taste as good as the bigger plants (Gardener's Delight) we have on the balcony. Those are almost finished now and although we weren't overrun with tomatoes they were very tasty and we've had plenty to go with our salads.

I love the tall lobelia in the corner which is now flowering really well. Poppies seem to be taking over next door's garden but of course nothing is being done now that the house is empty.

Even though the African Marigolds had a poor start they have recovered quite well and I really like them. I've already bought some seed (half price again in Wilkinsons) ready for next year, I'll just be careful to make sure I don't put them out too early next time!

The pink Prairie Mallow is looking really lovely now and I think it goes so well with the purple Dwarf Veronica, unfortunately the Veronica is starting to die off by the time the Prairie Mallow is in full bloom.

The Montbretia is in full flower now, not as good a show as last year but I have moved it to group it together. I think it will be better next year.

This little wall is looking lovely. The geraniums are a lovely double flowered variety which we brought with us when we moved. The white lobelia is supposed to be a trailing one, it doesn't seem to have trailed much, I wonder what the secret is.

And these begonias are a real sore point! They were ordered from Thomson and Morgan, a collection called Fragrant Fountain which is all yellow/apricot/cream shades. We bought two collections, 9 in each, and the delivery was delayed so they had a very late start. Of the 18 tubers about a third of them haven't come through. Of those that did only two have grown to anything like a reasonable size and the flowers are coming through a quite dark red. I feel a letter of dissatisfaction coming on! We've found Thomson & Morgan's customer service (over a different matter) to be very disappointing and we definitely wont be using them again.

The veggies continue to do well. Plenty of runner beans and carrots, the parsnips are going great guns, the salad leaves are plentiful, the radishes and peppers are very tasty and the two red brussel sprout plants are doing OK although if I grow them next year I've learnt that it would be better to net them as something's munching away at the leaves and I can't find what it is!

We've got someone coming on Saturday to discuss hard landscaping the garden. There's not much that can be done really as it's so small but it will be nice to have more attractive paving so I'm looking forward to seeing what ideas he has.

That's about it for this time. Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Our first meal entirely home grown

Well, entirely home grown apart from the chicken that is! Much as I'd love a couple of chickens the garden doesn't come anywhere near big enough to keep them. But I am very proud of the fact that on Sunday we had all home grown veggies - Rooster potatoes, runner beans and carrots and all very tasty!

There's plenty more potatoes in the tub, lots of beans still to come and carrots galore!

I haven't been able to get out and take any photos for a while, we've had rain, rain and more rain. It's knocked some of the flowers about and I need to get out and tidy them up. We had some dry spells today but we were out shopping so fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My first peppers!

I'm very proud of these little beauties! I grew peppers outdoors last year and although successful I thought I could do better. So this year I've kept them in my sun room as it really does get like a greenhouse sometimes.

So there it is in all it's glory, my first ripe red pepper. Please click to enlarge the photo 'cos I'm a rubbish photographer and haven't done it justice.

There are quite a few more more to come. On the first plant, from the left, there are 6 altogether, the second plant has 11 and the third one has 7. The one on the right hand side, only just in the picture, is a different variety which my neighbour gave me and she grew it from seed that she saved last year. That one has flowered but no peppers as yet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Not much new

There's not much new to talk about, things still in bloom are doing well, some things are dying off and the veggies are still growing well. I've taken a few pictures but more close ups this time as things haven't really changed.

The veggie balcony. Potato leaves are dying off now so it wont be long before we can start to harvest some. These carrots were the last two tubs to be sown and are coming along nicely, they'll keep us going when the other two tubs have finished. The onions are doing so well.

As I've not grown onions before I really didn't know what to expect. I bought a bag of 50 red onion sets for £1 from a local cheapie shop, filled the tubs up and the left-overs were dotted around the garden. The ones in the tubs are definitely doing better than the ones in the garden. I think I've possibly put too many in but I'm not aiming for massive onions, I've found that smaller veggies usually have more taste.

The runner beans have really recovered now after a bit of a shaky start. They grew so much in the sun room before we could get them outside, delayed because of the bad weather. We thought we wouldn't do very well as the bees couldn't get to the flowers. Well, here we are a few weeks down the line and they've gone crazy. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see the plants we've bought recently which are waiting to go into the garden when we have a bit of a move around later in the year. Right at the front in the smallest pot is the latest one, Primula Viallii. We saw this in a garden near Bala earlier this week and it is stunning. Like a little red hot poker flower but lilac at the bottom and red at the top. We've never seen it before and as I like anything unusual and different I just had to have it.

We've already had a couple of pickings off the beans and this is what I've found today, enough to go with the salmon and roasted tomatoes for tea. I think I might go for dwarf runner beans next year as the tub has been blown over so many times this last couple of weeks with the winds we've had.

The African marigolds are now behaving nicely, probably not quite as good as they would have been if we'd not tried to kill them off by putting them out too early. We're hoping to get some seeds off them later and try again next year. The seeds for these are quite expensive to buy.

This gorgeous little plant is very common around here and looks lovely when it's in a nice tight compact mound. We've just got some in a pot for now, waiting to find the right place in the garden later on. Not sure what it's called but I think it mainly grows in coastal areas. Anyone know?

The Sedum Spurium Ruby Mantle in the alpine bed is almost at it's best, still quite a lot of little buds to open so it might look even better in a week or so. It's a glorious colour and has increased massively in size in just one year.

We never had a proper name for this plant which is next to the Ruby Mantle. We just call it the Ice Plant and have been amazed at the flower stems that have come this year.

The Thyme Doone Valley is still in full flower.

The Dianthus is doing really well.

The Lobelia Scarlet & Cinnabar Rose have masses of buds which are just beginning to open.

This corner of the garden has really filled out.

The gladioli have now started to flower, this one in particular is a lovely colour.

I'm so pleased with my dwarf sunflowers, pity the little gooseberry bush underneath - we'll sort that out for next year!

A long shot of this border. We're hoping whoever buys the little cottage to the back of the photo likes gardening. If we could get a mortgage we'd love to buy it but not yet found anyone who lends to seniors with only pensions coming in!

The Salvia Hot Lips has red and white flowers. We got quite worried that something was going wrong when they first appeared as they were just red. When in full flower they were red and white and now it's finishing it's flowering period they've all turned white! I can't remember that happening last year.

The Veronica Blue Dwarf is in full flower now, I love this little plant, and behind it the pink Sidalcea Little Princess (Prairie Mallow) is just starting to flower.

Paul's gorgeous Blue Moon rose.

That's about it for this time, thanks for stopping by. Oh, and if you've any spare sunshine please consider sending some our way, we've had heavy rain and winds the last few days while most of the rest of the country has been basking in 30C heat!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lots of colour now

The time has certainly flown this last couple of weeks and it seems as though some plants have flowered and finished in that time! Here's what's happening at the moment.

At last the African marigolds have come into flower. They're not as showy as they should be but considering we nearly killed them off by putting them out in May and then a frost followed, I suppose we're lucky. I'll know better for next time! We have plans to replace all the hard landscaping later this year so I'm really looking forward to the Battenburg cake going!

The fuschia has flowered profusely but they're all at the bottom. We'll have to try and find something to prop them up next year. The bedding begonias have added a lot of colour to this border. The two Armeria are flowering well but there doesn't seem to be very many at any one time once the dead ones have been removed. The stalks are quite long so they do tend to droop over. The little orange Papaver in the corner is lovely and bright. There are a few dwarf lupins near the back but they are still very small and have a long way to go yet. On the balcony are the potatoes, carrots and onions. They're doing well but don't look much different from the last time I photographed them.

The Salvia Hot Lips has flowered really well and is such a cheerful plant with it's red and white flowers. It has quite a nice smell too. I think I missed photographing this at it's best. The hardy fuschia is a mass of flowers, unfortunately this is a very old plant and there's so much old stuff that has been cut away from the centre it is now very spread out and we think it needs replacing.

The Curly Red was getting so knocked about by the pigeons (who come and clear up the seeds the small birds throw about) that we've had to put a little cage around it. It seems to be doing the job, the pigeons can no longer get all the way around it and we've found no broken off bits since last weekend. The little blue Veronica is now flowering well and the Prairie Mallow behind is just coming into bud. The hosta flowers are now dying off but it did very well as we had 13 flowers on this one.

The bedding begonias are at last filling up these two concrete planters. We've had a few nice roses and the lillies are looking lovely at the moment. These were from Aldi last year and I'm thrilled at the way they've propogated themselves.

Here's a closer picture of the lillies which I took last week.

The sprout to the right of the lillies seems to be doing really well although I don't really know what I'm doing here! This hosta had 11 flowers. I've planted some cyclamen at the front which I bought last year and had kept in a pot after they'd finished flowering. I've not managed to kill them off and they're looking pretty healthy so hopefully we'll get a nice show later in the year.

The montbretia are just coming into flower. I moved these last year as they were spread all around this border, now I've got them in one clump and I think they look better. They've not grown as tall as last year, maybe they need to settle down after being disturbed - at least I didn't kill them so that's a plus! There's just one flower remaining on the arum lily, we had about 15 altogether - not as good as last year but pretty good considering the frost damage. With a bit of mollycoddling if the coming winter is as bad as the previous one it should get back to it's former glory.

Second year rhubarb here so we've been able to pull just a few sticks, delicious! Next door's hydrangea is in full flower now and is looking wonderful! Our urns and tubs are doing well, just waiting for the geraniums to catch up with everything else that's planted in them!

It's so sad that we're not supposed to pull any more rhubarb from these plants that were split this year. The pink flowers in the tub on the wall are actually in next door's garden. Not sure what they're called but they're very common around here and look lovely when in a nice compact mound. Unfortunately our not very neighbourly neighbour was very neglectful of his garden and this plant was very overgrown and mostly full of old dead branches. He died suddenly a couple of weeks ago so I've taken the opportunity of clearing out all the old stuff to try to resurrect this plant. The soil was baked solid, Paul has tried to break it up a bit and I've added some new compost so hopefully it stands a chance of perking up.

The oriental poppies are now flowering, they're very dark purple rather than the dark fuschia pink pictured on the packet but they're still lovely, very unusual. There are one or two different ones, not sure where they've come from, maybe a couple of stray seeds in the packet. The first sunflower is dying off but there are plenty more to come. There are a few buds on the gladioli now and at the front there are some dwarf lupins which aren't as compact as the picture on the packet would lead you to believe. Now that we have been able to gain access to next door's garden (he would have told us, not very politely, where to go when he was alive) Paul has been able to remove the old rusted galvanised fence and replace it with a smart new green pvc covered one. As the boundary between the gardens is a quite wide solid concrete strip which is curved, it hasn't been possible to find any other type of fencing without major works digging up the concrete so we had to find something that was fairly flexible to take in the curve. It does the job, it has smartened it up and as long as we don't use the fence to lean on it should be OK. As our garden is so tiny it's nice to look through to next door as it gives a feeling of ours being bigger, let's hope whoever moves in eventually will keep the garden nice.

A closer picture of the oriental poppy

and a smaller, different poppy that's also appeared which we think is very pretty and unusual.

The hardy geranium continues to flower well, the pinks are flowering well too, and the tall lobelia in the corner has lots of buds on already.

The plant that is all green leaves and no flowers doesn't seem to have a label and I can't remember what it is. Does anyone know? It might have had blue/purple flowers, not sure. Anyway it's very healthy and has spread a fair bit. It's overhanging a little Phlox Rose Cushion which I think I'll have to move if it's to survive. The purple flowering plant next to it is Thyme Doone Valley, it's smothered in flowers and looks glorious at the moment, brush the leaves and it smells of lemon! The small alpine with yellow flowers is another one without a label but is looking pretty. The ice plant at the back has a magnificent flower stalk on it (click to get a closer look) and the spreading red plant is Sedum Spurium Ruby Mantle and it looks lovely. The only drawback is that as it spreads and comes into flower it looks as though a cat has curled up in the middle of it and flattened it!

Up on the little balcony the tomatoes are doing well despite looking very untidy. We've had quite a few and they taste very nice. Just in front are three plants which we picked up on Monday when we visited Anglesey. We came across a garden centre and as I suffer from garden centre constipation (I can't pass one! - sorry if I've offended anyone!) I just had to go and see if they'd got anything unusual or different that I hadn't seen before. We came away with Stachys Pinkie at the front, Stachys Byzantine (or Lamb's Ears) to the left (it has grey/green furry leaves and stems) and the plant behind with the dark red stems and pink flowers is Gaura Passionate Blush. We've potted these on into bigger pots as we wont be able to plant them until later in the year after we decide what has to be moved to where.

Here we have salad corner. Lettuce and radishes at various stages, I keep sowing as we've been eating a lot of them. Parsnips and carrots in the tubs to the left and they're doing very well. The runner beans are now up here as we've had a couple of very windy days and the tub has been blown over. We've had our first meal off them, very nice and there's plenty more to come. In the little wall are my favourite geraniums I brought with me from the previous house, I don't know the variety but the colour is gorgeous and they're double flowers.

This is the view from the balcony out to sea. We had the kite festival last weekend and we had a bird's eye view without leaving home! In front of one of the long tubs that has carrots and parsnips are some dianthus that we ordered from Thompson & Morgan along with some other stuff. Shan't use them again, we were very disappointed with the delay in delivery and one of the dianthus has died. We've asked for a refund but they sent a £2 credit voucher. As we don't intend using them again I've asked again for a refund, let's see what happens!

Red peppers are still very happy in the sun room although no signs of any of them turning red yet

and Paul insisted I show you his pride and joy. We both love Ava strawberries and think the taste is far superior to any of the other supermarket strawberries. He saved some seeds from some strawberries we bought last year and recently planted them to see if they would grow. He's delighted that he now has half a dozen healthy little plants which we'll nurture and find a special place for in the garden next year. Our strawberries this year are being devoured by a blackbird who visits regularly, probably just for the strawberries! The other day it was Blackbird 11 : Susan 4. Today it was Blackbird 8 : Susan 6. And that's despite them being in tiered planters very close to the house and netted!

I think that's about it for this time. I hope you've enjoyed your little tour around my garden, thanks for visiting.