Tag Archives: wild garlic

The Garden

Last summer, I decided to change our front garden. PIL was in full agreement. One side of the driveway had already been done and was established and looking good, even if I do say so myself! It had that packed, cottage garden look that both PIL and I like.20160709_130151

The other side was a tatty bit of lawn that really was a bit of pain with having to drag the mower around from the back garden and mow a bit of lawn covered in bald patches.

Part of the front garden before we went on holiday to Florida at the beginning of July

Part of the front garden before we went on holiday to Florida at the beginning of July 2015

So last year I started on it. Now considering that it was a relatively small area, it’s taken an age to get it sorted but that really came down to time and the fact that a lot needed doing to it. I began by removing the remaining grass.

Front garden two weeks after our return from holiday

Front garden two weeks after our return from holiday

Rather than using chemicals, I just took off the top layer. It would mean that grass would sprout up in a few places again but it would be easy enough to pull out and it would eventually disappear completely.

The front garden just before I went to Wales at the end of August.

The front garden just before I went to Wales at the end of August.

Then I turned the soil over and removed all the rubble that the builders had buried. I then dug in some pea gravel to improve the drainage. It’s London clay around here so it’s like concrete when dry and an absolute bog when wet. After levelling out again, I covered it in half of ton of well rotted horse muck that I got from my sister. I could of done with another ton but I made do with what I had.20150918_134248

Horse muck dug in and ready to plant. It's now mid September!

Horse muck dug in and ready to plant. It’s now mid September 2015!

Then I began the process of planting up. I put in bulbs, I put a couple of hebes in but the main planting was of hardy perennials. I like perennials. You put them in the ground and they grow and they spread so every 3 or 4 years you divide them up and hey presto, free plants! Brilliant.

Planting up begins. It's now October.

Planting up begins. It’s now October 2015

20151007_114408I had an idea in my head of what I was trying to achieve. I was after a cottage garden effect again and that meant lots of plants but I had to be careful as plants spread if they’re happy and I had to leave space for that to happen. For instance, Echinacea or Cone flowers start off with a couple of flowering stems but quickly establish into a clump nearly 2 feet across. I also wanted to attract wild life into the garden. Attract insects and birds follow. Plant open flowers like cone flowers, geraniums and Rudbeckia and bees, butterflies and hover flies arrive in masses.20160803_120828

Now I read somewhere that bees “see” ultra violet as well as other colours and they are drawn towards purples and mauves so a lot of the plants in my garden are purple or mauve along with plenty of red splashed around with blobs of blue and yellow dotted here and there with some white flowers in the mix too. It sounds awful and I must admit I thought it would look terrible. I’ll let you decide.20160803_120839

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There are mistakes that I am in the process of rectifying. When the Lupins and Astibles planted in the centre died back at the end of July, there was no height in that particular section of the garden. I have plants out there that I can divide and replant that flower later in the year and provide some height. Fingers crossed that it works. I need to move the asters which are in flower now but are being crowded out. The sedum is also in flower and both it and asters are an excellent source of late season nectar for bugs. The sedum needs dividing though. Never mind, I’ll get another plant or two out of this!20160802_111236

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The best time to divide plants or move them is either now when the soil is still warm and roots can start to establish or in the spring once the ground has warmed up a bit. Of course, you can plant stuff all during the summer too.20160802_111230

 

20160812_091813Here’s a little snippet of information that I read recently that is of particular interest if you have any apple trees. We don’t, although some years ago we had about an acre of old orchard. We never actually did anything with it and that’s something I regret. One day, I’ll grow an apple tree or two. My sister has a couple so this will be of interest. Listen up Boo. Apples often suffer from “scab”, it doesn’t make the fruit inedible but it doesn’t look very nice. (what scab does?). Planting bulbs under the tree helps to stop scab and if those bulbs happen to be wild garlic, it can completely stop the appearance of scab on apples. Only one problem. Wild garlic spreads like Billy Oh so be careful. Mind you, wild garlic is pretty cool anyway. Eating the leaves raw or cooked is apparently very good for you, tastes good, smells good if you walk on it AND it keeps vampires at bay to boot! A miracle plant if ever there was one. The woods around here are full of it and I love walking through it all in the springtime. Next Spring, I intend cutting some leaves and bringing it home for use in the kitchen. (Mainly to disguise the smell of burning).

One of the nice things about flower gardens and cottage gardens in particular, is the way that a seed will settle somewhere, think to itself, “I like it here” and up pops a plant in the most unexpected and usually brilliant place.20160622_091658

Once I have the front sorted, it will be time to go and sort out the somewhat neglected back garden. Having said that, I quite like the slightly dishevelled look of our lawn. It’s full of daisies and clover and that, in turn, brings lots of bees and bugs into the garden. There is a hedgehog house out there now and a bird box to put up. I’m looking forward to it. Not so sure my back is though!

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On that note, it is time to go. My son is due at the station soon and I need to go pick him up. PIL is busy watching The Great British Bake-Off. She’s discovering new ways to burn stuff I think.

I hope you have a truly fantastic evening. Until the next time peeps…..

More Dick soon.

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Just Looked, Sat, Thought and Did a Bit of Gardening.

When I took Dexter for a walk the other day I found myself looking around at all the wonderful countryside we have in England and thought to myself,

“This really is a green and pleasant land.”

I was astounded by the colours. Mostly it was green but so many different shades. There was dark green, not so dark green, mid green, light green, creamy green, bluey green, reddish green, golden green and silvery green. Perhaps it was the light on this particular day as it was very sunny and bright. In amongst all the greens were splashes of other colours. There was the blue from the last of the bluebells.20150506_173052

White from the flowers of wild garlic and ox eye daisies (a particular favourite of mine).20150522_125122

Mauves, pinks and purples from wild flowers I couldn’t identify. We reached the top of a gentle slope and I turned and looked around me. The view that I saw was just achingly beautiful. In a moment of eloquence that I’m not often capable of I said;

“Fuck me!”

 

I felt a sense of complete contentment, peace and well being. So much so that I had to sit a while and have a jolly good think. I thought a great many thoughts which you are prone to do when thinking. Mostly they were to do with my life and how it had turned out so far. I thought of the appalling bad times I’d had and still have from time to time. I thought about the fabulous days and times I’d had and how I still have lots of those. One day soon I may pluck up the courage and write about those thoughts I’d thought. However, one of the thoughts I did have at that time was how wonderfully well nature created such stunning combinations of plants and colours and shapes. I try to bring that into my garden. I recently read a post by Steve Morris over at blogbloggerbloggest about a dogwood he has in his garden. Earlier this year he had pruned it really hard and now it’s in full growth mode with many superb young red stems. In addition, Steve planted a number of his cuttings and now has a great many more dogwoods to plant (and prune haha). This is a man after my own heart. Free plants! Can’t beat them. I’ve done a similar thing with foxgloves.

Some of the foxgloves in my back garden

Some of the foxgloves in my back garden

I got a couple of purple foxgloves from our local garden centre two years ago and after they finished flowering I left them to set seed, which they do in huge quantities. Generally, I let them grow wherever they happen to grow, but if they really are in completely the wrong place or you want some in a different area  they don’t mind being dug up and replanted. I probably have 20+ foxgloves flowering in my back garden now plus a dozen or so more in the front garden. All from two plants! I love ’em. So do the bees. The best thing though is that you can never be absolutely sure what you get. A bit like Mrs Gumps box of chocolates. The foxgloves I planted a couple of years ago were all purple.

In my garden earlier today

In my garden earlier today

This year, I have purple foxgloves but I have also got WHITE foxgloves!

In my garden this morning. Beautiful flowers.

In my garden this morning. Beautiful flowers.

This isn’t an unusual colour but I never planted them. Some of the seeds that took just happened to have a white gene I guess but the combination really is tremendous.20150612_100349

Next year I hope I get many, many more growing. Most of them will be moved to the new beds I’m starting to prepare out in the front garden. I know what I want to do in my head and hopefully I’ll achieve it but suffice to say, scent will be an important part of the new beds. Roses however, will not feature. In the meantime, I am about to start my experiment with a sl*g deterrent.  Despite hating the slimy bastards for eating my plants, I don’t like to kill them just because they’re doing what they do and besides, who wants little piles of snot all over the place? Nah. I chuck them in next doors garden! I hope it works because then me and Mrs SD Gates are going into business selling our patented slug deterrent, get us a shed load of cash, retire and spend all our waking hours pottering around in our respective gardens and walking our respective dogs.1978841_686052051438740_1830563984_n

Plus getting new furniture of course.

Have a great day.

More Dick soonauto

Life and Death

In my last post I had a bit of a rant about certain slimy creatures and PIL was a bit put out by the effing and blinding that took place. This post however, I’m sure will be a lot more sedate. Talking of swearing and cursing reminds me of my mate Bunsen. For many years Bunsen was a “chock head” in the British Army.

My mate Bunsen. He looks EXACTLY like this

My mate Bunsen. He looks EXACTLY like this

A chock head is what the rest of the army call the Royal Engineers for a very good reason I’m sure. Anyway, Bunsen finished his career in the army as a senior NCO. He is the only man in the history of the British Army to be reprimanded for the “continuous and persistent use of foul and abusive language towards the sappers under his command.” He is also the only man I know to have mislaid a bridge. I would love to have a been a fly on the wall for that conversation!

This is not the subject I intended writing about.

My working week is a bit odd. I start on a Sunday usually and work until Wednesday some weeks and Thursday on others. Sometimes I’m working away from home for days on end. When I’m home though I think most of the lovely people who read my meanderings know that I like to take Dexter out for a nice long stroll in the boonies and have good look around and a poke about in the undergrowth. You have to be careful what you poke though. I once accidentally poked a wasp’s nest.swarmingwasps_0508_445x260

Big mistake! I ran off screaming like a girl but I didn’t get stung which I think is testament to the speed at which I departed the area. Warp factor 10 and a bit!runningbees

Yesterday, we were just strolling along the edge of a field. It was a gloriously sunny day and it was as peaceful as you could wish for. The crops were starting to sprout, some were already in flower, bluebells were springing up all over the wooded areas and hedgerows. The wild garlic was flowering and stopping vampires from pestering me. It was a truly beautiful day. Then rising out of the trees in a display of the most graceful flying I have ever seen were two large birds of prey. The way they swooped and circled each other made me think they were showing off to one another which in turn, made me think that perhaps they were a mating pair and that they had been on the nest so to speak when Dexter and I came along. They moved higher and further along as we walked along and it made me think and hope that maybe in a little while there will be three or four of them swooping about overhead. I certainly hope so. I’m no ornithologist but I think they were buzzards.buzzard1

A twitcher would know what they were immediately although what Tourettes has to do with bird watching is beyond me. I really do hope that they do breed and there will be a few more beautiful birds gracing the air. As a matter of principle Dexter and I will avoid that area for a week or two so as not to disturb them.

A bit further along and a little while later, a movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention. Lots of spiders are now out and about spinning their webs, catching their prey and scoffing it. What I had seen was a fly caught in a web by one of its legs and struggling to escape. The owner of the web had shot out of its lair and was struggling to subdue the fly.5151 Garden Spiderxx

Now despite all the space, right next to this web was another one and in its struggle to subdue the fly, spider 1 must of touched the other web because a slightly larger version of spider1 came rushing out, bit spider 1 and killed it! Nice way to treat a member of your own species I thought. Spiders aren’t that much different to humans after all. While spider 2 was dragging the body of spider 1 back to its hidey hole it, in turn, must have touched another web because a big, black spider suddenly appeared on the scene, bit spider 2 which dropped the carcass of spider 1 and the big bugger dragged spidey 2 back to its dining room for lunch!spider1

Wow! You don’t get to see that every day. I know I keep banging on endlessly about this but today I saw what I hope will lead to new life. I also saw death and nature at its most savage albeit on a small scale and the reason I saw these things, as well as all the other wonderful stuff is because I was looking around admiring the beautiful things our world has to offer us and taking notice of it. To my mind, walking around paying attention is probably the best way to unwind, relax and to realise just how lucky we are. I know I am fortunate to live in the countryside where it’s easy to do this but even in urban areas it’s easily done if you make a little effort.20140617_135825

The fly? It escaped.

I asked PIL to check through this post for me to pick up on any errors. She was extremely pleased there has been no swearing today. Phew. I might get lucky later.

 

 

Have a fucking great day!

More Dick soon.auto

 

We Just Looked

 

I had started to think that the other dog walkers considered me a bit of a weirdo. “Oh no! It’s that boring old fart who talks to the trees! I’ll pretend to be on my phone. He’ll get bored and go away.”10154113_623459451077541_1328958650979066160_n

Thinking about it, that’s probably exactly what they think but today I met a soul mate. She had a dog, she was out walkies but she didn’t have a phone. She had BINOCULARS! We had a conversation. She was called Amelia, her chocolate-brown labrador was called Willy (as in Wonka), she had only just moved to the area, she ran her own successful business from home. She was posh and very plummy. She took a break to take her dog for a walk every day and never took her phone with her. When I asked about that she replied, “Oh do fuck orf! My staff can manage without me for a couple of hours.” I liked her. We saw stuff, we shared her binoculars. We saw a Wren poking about in a tree, we saw and heard a Woodpecker doing that headbanger thing that Woodpeckers do. We concluded Woodpeckers have a Slipknot album playing on a continuous loop in their heads.

A heavy metal fan

A heavy metal fan

We saw Jays, Magpies, Blackbirds, Thrushes, Pheasants, pesky wabbits and a tiddly little mouse. We found Badger setts and pesky wabbit holes. There were countless seagulls circling overhead searching for freshly washed cars to crap on. Why is it that little birds never crap on your clean car? It’s always birds with cow-like arseholes.fly-dumbo-fly

Anyway, we saw dozens of clumps of wild primroses in flower and a copse full of wild garlic springing to life. The two photos below are ones that I took earlier today.20150312_113522

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Wild garlic growing nearby. The leaves are great to eat. Helps to avoid getting bruised necks too

I like garlic. I eat it to keep vampires away. It seems to work because I’ve never been attacked by a vampire let alone met one since I started to eat it. Mind you, I suspect that a girl I knew when I was a teenager might have been one because she was always attacking my neck. I think her fangs must have been blunt as she never drew blood but by Christ did she bruise my neck! My mum, when she spotted the bruises said I should be very careful as I might make her pregnant! That’s one of the things I loved about my mum. She was a fountain of wisdom and she was the holder of all knowledge in the known Universe. Until then I had never known how female vampires got pregnant. I thought baby vampires were found under a gooseberry bush like everyone else. Now I do know. They take a lump out of your throat and Bish Bash Bosh, nine months later you’re father to a baby vampire. Breast feeding that little sucker must be a nightmare! Be warned.vampire-roman

I digress.

So there you go. At least two people on this planet know that it won’t end if you don’t carry your phone everywhere with you. Three if you count my sister Boo but she doesn’t carry a phone with her anyway in case she falls over again and breaks it. You could also include PIL. She does carry a phone with her at all times but it’s at the bottom of her bag where she can’t hear or find it!

Try it. Go out for a stroll and look around. Leave your phone behind. I promise you the world will not end. Your company won’t go bust. Your wife/husband/whatever will not leave you. If, by some fluke, any of these things do happen though, don’t blame me. I’m just a lunatic who talks to the trees!

Have a fantastic day.

More Dick soon.

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