Saturday, 26 January 2013

Farmyard Tails(!)

It was freezing at the garden today. We went to collect some vegetables....leeks and a Romanesque cauliflower. We enjoyed them with our dinner this evening. As we drove home the car was filled with the smell of the fresh leeks. Lovely.

I noticed the few left-over lettuces had been nibbled by rabbits, probably during the recent snow. They will eat anything that is above the snow.

 The grass was wet and boggy, dotted with hoof prints. I think the sheep had been for a visit. 
I saw their droppings.

I had a good look around and noticed the lichen on the bordering trees was an incredible green colour.
I like to wear this shade of green.

I saw another job waiting to be done but it is dependent on another huge load of chipped bark. I`m hoping for a free load soon. 

 The bark layer is decomposing very rapidly, probably due to all the fungi that grew in the autumn. What gets left is a lovely friable mix which will eventually go on the beds. The paths are clearly deliniated and fairly solid now except where the moles have been busy. We want to enlarge some of the beds this year 
to give more growing space.

The pond ice was broken. I mistakenly thought someone had broken it to allow 
the pond creatures to breathe. We walked round to the yard to find the piglets.
We found William grinding corn for the cows in one of the barns. I had wondered what the rumbling was.
He told us that little Ivy, the orphan lamb had gone into the garden with him. She skittered across the ice on the pond, the ice cracked and she skidded to a halt, the ice sheets parted and she fell in!! She ran around the yard to get dry. I expect she had plenty of lanolin in her short wool coat.

Emma and Tracy were grooming their horses. I hope they didn`t get too cold using cold water.

Tracy had had a heart shape cut into her horse`s flanks (and a star on the other side)
so they are all ready for Valentine`s Day.

Not sure where the pigs were though.

Here is Ivy, enjoying herself in the sun and getting dry at the same time.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Many years ago, my sister Lee gave me some dried grass decorations. She thought I would "do" something with them. Well it has taken me quite a while to actually do it but in my quest to use resources that have been around too long (or throw them out,) I`ve created some tiny scarecrows.
My usual scarecrows are full-sized. Those of you who have camped at Freshwinds will have seen them as you walk through the garden, Bruce, Mabel, Hollie and Tom. (There may be a new one this year.)

 Here is Mabel, living in the Wool barn at the moment.

This is just one of the grasses. Its been hanging around in my natural resources for ages.
I began by trimming the top off to even it out.

Next I cut off the wire stem and divided the grass for limbs.

Next I added a slightly larger head using a stretchy fabric.

Then I dressed them with scraps of patchwork fabric.
Here are the ladies.

And here are the gents. Wonder if they need trousers now!!

 Back in the summer, I made a special scarecrow for my cousin Joanne who celebrated a special birthday last year. The scarecrow was dressed as a Morris dancer. In September we went to a big family party at Garston where Joanne`s Morris dancing "side" entertained us.

Here is Joanne at the party.

Here is the scarecrow.

There was a little artistic license.

The party was fantastic and we all had a great time.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tapestry Wool and Owls

I am making the most of these January days to declutter my craft resources. So far I have honed down my card making materials, my books of piano music, our books, my felt, my tapestry wool and my embroidery silks and fabrics. I had bags of oddments of tapestry wool and didn`t think 
I would ever use it for actual tapestry.

I decided to use it to make a parliament of owls. I cut double circles of card to 
make pom poms and tied 2 tightly together. I also tried to match the colours.

Next I made sets of eyes with contrasting felt, cork circles and safety eyes. I sewed a triangular beak 
with a slight 3D look between.

Then I cut matching wings with a spotty feather sewn on. I also cut out feet.

I used PVA glue to stick them on held on with elastic bands overnight.

Here are the results.

It was a great way to use surplus materials.

We`ve had heavy frost for a few days and snow forecast for tomorrow. (Hopefully more photos.)
In our own garden yesterday, we managed to prune our Lane`s Prince Albert apple tree and had a bonfire to get rid of the last of the Christmas tree and some other garden rubbish which can`t be recycled. We did this in glorious sunshine. What a treat to be out on such a lovely day.

Today we have been to see the film "Les Miserables." It was fantastic. Being two rows from the front, I did think I was going to be shot once or twice. The music is inspiring and the filming superb. Well worth seeing.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Basket Willow, Lavender Bags and Ivy the Lamb

It has been cold but sunny, here, in the south east. We made the most of it. We had arranged with Anne to plant a willow bed, with a view to making our own baskets and garden structures. We have been inspired by two books belonging to Anne.

Last year Tim and Anne stayed in a yurt near Northampton and found a willow nursery nearby.
Anne ordered 
10 x Salix Purpurea "Eugenii" Green stems
10 x Salix Purpurea "Lambertiana" Lime green stems
10 x Salix Purpurea "Abbeys" Orange/red stems
When they arrived the 10 inch cuttings were much longer. In fact there was enough to cut each one into three so we have only planted a third of each whip.

Here I am loaded up with all we needed.
We had decided on a piece of rough ground across the field just below the shepherd`s hut. It is sheltered by blackthorn. In warm sunshine we set to and clipped the grass accompanied by the latest orphaned lamb, whose nose was right into everything. Her name is Ivy and she was born before Christmas....another case of frisky young rams getting to the sheep at the wrong time.  
(There are more in the field.)

 We spread the ground with weed supressant and planted through by cutting crosses, making holes with a metal spike and heeling in.
Each whip was protected by a tree guard with a cane to stop it blowing away.

My sister, Paula (newly retired) came to help.

 The weed supressant has been secured at the sides by pushing the edges into the soil.
All in all a good morning`s work. 

I have been using my tiny fabric scraps to make even more patchwork lavender bags, embroidered and be-ribboned.

I`m also getting more practise with my new pyrography tool. It`s easier than the old one.
Steve makes the wooden part.
Next we will be needing three new signs for the willow bed.
 I have processed another huge pumpkin. Still got two huge ones to go.

All ready for the freezer.
I cut it up into manageable pieces, put it in boiling water for two minutes, 
cooled it and then packed into recycled icecream cartons.
 That`s filled up the freezer again!

Monday, 7 January 2013

January Sales and My Grandad

Today we went to our local Wyevales Garden Centre and found seeds and shrubs at half price. Luckily I had my list of wants and managed to cross quite a few off.

Steve got several varieties of onions..
Stuttgarter Giant
Shallot Red Sun
And two lots of seed potatoes
Sharpes Express First Early
Organic Sarpo Mira Maincrop
They were not in the sale.

Outside I found the roses were also half-price so I bought 4  for the garden. I`m not sure where they are going yet but I can`t wait for roses to be growing at Freshwinds.
The names are...
Sweet Haze
Charming Cover
Soft Cover

 I have been thinking about my Grandad Magan since mentioning how he grew his runner beans. He was a keen gardener, growing tomatoes in his greenhouse, brassicas, runner beans (as mentioned)
and there were always pots of geraniums around.
Here is a picture of me at the age of two with my Grandad in the garden. Note that he is wearing a tie and looks very smart. He was a sergeant major in 8th. Royal Irish Hussars.

I couldn`t help but have gardening in my blood seeing as my Dad, Jim, was also a keen gardener. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Last Sprouts and a Surprise

Today we have made our first visit to Freshwinds Garden for 2013. It was a damp, miserable day but we stayed for a while. 

A not very inspiring view! As you can see the grass has not stopped growing.

We picked the last of the sprouts and then pulled up the plants. Steve had to cut them up with secateurs before they went on the compost heap otherwise they will take too long to rot down. Next time we will take the chopper. Some of the rotting leaves were quite slimy. I have heard recently that this slime is one of the main ingredients of mayonnaise!!
The sprout harvest has been disappointing but at least we had enough for Christmas dinner.
This year will be better.

We were very excited to find this lovely Romanesque cauliflower, almost perfect. We had cauliflower cheese with a baked potato for dinner this evening.  They have taken a lot longer to form this season.

 There is quite a lot of colour if you look for it. This photo shows two different varieties of sedum, growing well, in readiness for the cob roof.

 This hebe is a welcome splash of colour in the butterfly garden.

We did take tea despite it only being a short visit. We used our lovely new flask and cups....a present for Steve from my niece, Hazel and partner Andy. The cups are insulated so we can wander round reviewing areas, with tea in hand.

The common mint is out of hand and invading nearly every section of the herb garden. Quite why I thought a row of bricks would stop it spreading, I really don`t know. That will be one of my first jobs.

 The mud round the cow barn is pretty bad. I don`t think Andy would get his truck out if he delivered any chipped bark. When I see the field like this, I wonder how the grass ever comes back but it always does. Unbelievably the garden once looked like this, with bare earth right through the middle.

 I went to see the pigs and I am sure they have grown. I wish they had names. I am tempted to temporarily call them Pinky and Perky. I had a good chat with Marina and Lola who were grooming the white horse in the stable yard. Next time I might half-hitch the horse hair groomings to keep slugs away from choice plants. I think you need to cut it up a bit first.

I checked on the scarecrows in the barn. They seemed quite happy in the warm and dry. Thinking they might get a new set of clothes each this year.

At home the seeds are sorted and we are raring to go. Just the whole house to declutter first!!! We are planting by moon phases again this year, using the book 
"Gardening and planting by the moon,"  by Nick Kollerstrom, which charts when to plant, whether it`s a root, leaf, flower or fruit day. It works very well. 
My Grandad always planted his runner beans by the moon phases.

A very happy new year to everyone for 2013. 
This year I hope to have more followers for my blog.