I took some photos of my back garden and nearly all of them were photobombed by bees

This is a good thing! My garden is buzzing. Luckily I have the same taste in flowers as bees do so my garden has plenty to offer them.

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Love this colour combo of chives and golden oregano.

 

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Oh, hello.

 

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My thyme is popular too.

If you’ve got some thyme, then be sure not to trim it all too much- let it flower, the bees love it.

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I promise this is not just the same bee multiple times. There are loads.

This is Jacobs Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum), which I am growing for the first time this year. So far; no maintenance at all, the slugs have left it alone, it looks fab and the bees like it too. Winner.

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Strawberries! I’ll have plenty this year.

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You can’t be miserable looking at violas. Look at their happy little faces- awww!

I will do another update when my arms start working properly again. I’ve been swinging my 5lb mattock up at the lottie and I swear the ground is so dry it’s just bouncing off.

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What does your front garden say about you? Mine says ‘where the hell have you been?!’

According to an RHS survey, a quarter of front gardens are now paved over due to a combination of too many people/cars/houses crammed into a tiny space and people having to work so damn hard that they don’t have time to garden. Green driveways are the answer. Problem solved, kind of.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all been eagerly awaiting my next update and wondering where I am, right? RIGHT? I’ve been in Canada visiting my in-laws, which means that I got to relive early Spring all over again (they are 6 hours behind on time and 3 months behind on weather).

I was very nervous about the trip, partly due to my brain (travel+constant socialising=OMFG,NO) and partly because I was going to be away for almost 3 weeks in May; that’s a lot of gardening to miss out on. Luckily, my lovely mum agreed to babysit all my seedlings and they’ve come back in great shape- cheers, Ma! Some things I managed to get in before I left and things were looking pretty shipshape, if a little overgrown, on my return. Except for the sunflowers, the fucking slugs ate all 12 of those.

So here’s an update on my front garden, which was just starting to look very nice when I had to leave. The colours are meant to be white, orange/yellow, and purple/blue. So anything pink or red is rogue. Except the red hot poker. I dunno what to do about that one.

I came home to this:

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Right hand border.

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Left hand border.

I was very pleased not to have missed my humungous bearded irises flowering. These are the ones that I divided last year and they just love my front garden. They don’t last very long and they’re not looking too pleased about the recent heavy rain, but here is one:

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Gorgeous, innit?

My calendula-zillas are lovely but might need a bit of a tidy up:

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Yeah, that’s a lot of calendulas.

Red hot poker!

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This is my children’s favourite. ALL THE COLOURS!

Garlic chives:

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The best kind of flowers- pretty AND edible.

Creeping thyme/viola/nigella/yellow clover combo (three of these plants are not meant to be here):

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I’m not sure if it’s going to be possible to weed this bit. Tweezers and a magnifying glass maybe? I dunno.

Unintentional flower meadow:

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This is not the man-lawn that Mr The Digger envisaged.

Ceanothus flowering, woohoo!

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Bee party over here.

Still recovering from jet lag. Haven’t caught up with Chelsea yet. But hi! Glad to be back.

 

 

Rocky-style montage

I have been super-busy in the last couple of weeks in the garden and at the allotment. Sadly I don’t have time right now to do a proper update, but I will do some more in a couple of weeks. For now, I have a lot of photos so you can enjoy this montage and imagine me hard at work (cue Eye of the Tiger).

Back garden

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My courgettes used to be here.

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Now it has roses and aquilegias. More photos and a full plant list when it’s flowering!

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A log pile is great for attracting wildlife like slugs and rats.

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Peekaboo!

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My hazel coming into leaf.

 

Front garden

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I re-did all the front borders last year and I’m pretty pleased with this side.

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This side is going to have some pretty spectacular irises in the next week or so, but it needs more orange and yellow.

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You need sunglasses to look at these in real life. Don’t they look ace with the Centaurea?

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Me loooooves the Centaurea.

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So. Close.

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Tiny little Lonicera nitida flowers, absolutely covered in bees.

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Phacelia is also loved by bees.

 

Allotment

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Hello! I’m putting my maincrop potatoes here.

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One Mr The Digger went to mow.

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My onions are doing OK.

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More fruit in my fruit cage! Autumn fruiting raspberries have gone in.

That’s all, folks. More updates coming in a couple of weeks when I’ve stopped being BUSY BUSY BUSY.

 

A feast for our feathery friends

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Due to inflation, bird food is no long tuppence a bag.

This weekend we are taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch (there’s still time to sign up!), so in preparation I took the girls into town to buy a couple of fatballs. But I ended up getting a lot more due to cute bird pictures on the packaging; my children are totally susceptible to advertising and I am totally susceptible to ‘pleeeeeease, mummy’.

It was -5C here last night, which is pretty nippy for Cambridgeshire (I haven’t told my in-laws in Winnipeg because they will laugh and ask if I’ve been sunbathing). In this cold weather, feeding birds is really important for their survival. It’s also beneficial to the garden to have birds around- they eat slugs, snails and caterpillars, and I hate all of those things. Well, maybe not the cute, fuzzy caterpillars.

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Bird restaurant.

It’s easy to encourage birds into your garden; make sure they have safe places- trees, shrubs or other high places; something to eat, either a bird feeder or natural food (organic gardening helps here!), and somewhere to drink and bathe, such as a bird bath or a pond with a shallow area. A bird box isn’t essential but it definitely helps- there are several different designs available that suit different species.

So, the food is out and we are all ready to get counting tomorrow. Who else is joining us?

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Expect scenes like this in my garden soon.

 

 

 

A tiny new addition

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Don’t worry, there are more crappy photos further down the post.

No, not a baby. Or a puppy. Or a kitten. It’s a wren! Actually there are two but I only got a photo of one (or of both, just not at the same time. Who can tell.)

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This has got to be the roundest bird I have ever seen. He’s like a feathery ping pong ball.

Sorry for the crappiness of the photo. The wren was very close to the house so I had to hide behind a houseplant on the window sill in case he saw me. Although he seems fairly tame and happily chowed down on a little green grub while I watched.

We’ve been visited a couple of times over the winter, and these visits have become more frequent recently. And Mr or Mrs Wren has brought along a friend. I’m hoping this means that there will be the patter of extremely tiny wings in the spring. I have a nesting pocket ready to hang up, so I’ll probably do that at the weekend.

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Whatchoo looking at?

Hopefully the wren couple will be around next weekend so I can count them in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. There’s still time to sign up if you haven’t already.

Plants I am definitely going to grow in 2015

It’s a brand new year! And I’m starting to plan. I’m always making lists of plants I like, both on Pinterest and in my garden notebook (yes, on real paper; old-school).

Having the allotment means that I have a bit more space in my back garden now, even after I replace all the lawn that I dug up to make space for all the veg. I do need to put it back because the trampoline and swing set don’t leave much space for actual walking. But anyway, I am going to extend my shade garden and do a new border from scratch- yay! I get excited about this but the truth is that once everything is in, I will change my mind and want to start a new border somewhere else.

I am trying to narrow it down a bit, partly because of costs and partly because having one of everything will look rubbish (garden design 101), so here is a short list of some of the things I’m going to grow in 2015 (how exciting is 2015? Hoverboards and flying DeLoreans at the ready):

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Image from alstroemeriaselect.co.uk

Alstroemeria: These were a favourite of my Grannie who passed away earlier this year. She always had a vase on the windowsill, and she loved gardening, so growing my own for cutting seems like a good way to remember her. I’ve just redecorated my living room in red and white so I’ll probably go for this pure white one. I can’t wait to have a vase of homegrown (well, allotment grown because Alstroemeria is poisonous) flowers and of course I’ll take some to my Granddad as well.

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Image from crocus.co.uk

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’: This will look perfect in my pale pink/deep purple/lime green border that is going where my courgettes were last year. It won’t be a massive space because my garden isn’t that big, but I’m hoping that it will work well with some Alchemillas dotted in between.

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Image from rhs.org.uk

Iris ‘Magic Bubbles’: I have been reliably informed by my children, who are both rubbish at keeping secrets, that they have ordered me one of these as a present. I’ve been trying to get hold of one for ages, so I’m really pleased that they found one. This will go on my cat’s grave, because his name was Bubbles. He wasn’t magic though. He was pretty dim actually, but very cute.

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Image from roses.co.uk

Roses: I think I might need more. In this post I bought 4 roses for my back garden, but I’m fairly sure I can squeeze a couple more into the front. I’ll probably take another trip to Harkness Roses and treat myself to a couple of these.

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Image from rhs.org.uk

Gaillardia × grandiflora ‘Burgunder’: Gaillardia is another of my Grannie’s favourites, she had some lovely ones in her garden that she grew from seed. I’m planning to grow some of these lovely red ones for cutting.

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Image from puddleplants.co.uk

Lychnis flos-cuculi: Otherwise known as Ragged Robin, this pretty little native will slot in perfectly to my not-very-big bog garden. Bee friendly, yay!

2014 was a bit of a weird one. I lost my Grannie, who I was very close to, and my favourite cat. I had a lot of problems with my mental health. And then at the end of the year, I found someone who can help me. So I’m going into 2015 feeling a lot more positive even though I now know there aren’t going to be any easy solutions. I’m ready for the challenges! Except digging over the allotment, I’m not looking forward to that at all.

What I did on my holidays

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I can’t wait to have to clear up all these leaves

OK, I haven’t technically been on holiday (unless you count the one night that we stayed at my dad and step-mum’s house in Reading), but I have been away. Our new floor was being put in so my computer was all packed away. Since my last attempt at updating from my phone went so completely tits up, I decided to just take a break.

So, here’s a general update of what I’ve been doing. Not an awful lot of gardening really, since I’ve had to be out of the house a lot of the time while the floor was being done. I will spare you the millions of photos of all the educational field trips I took the girls on, but needless to say I felt pretty smug about my parenting by the end of the week (ignoring all the takeaway pizza we’d consumed due to temporary lack of kitchen).

The old carpet was taken up and happily for me it was hessian backed, so it now has a new home up at plot 12b. I know it’ll be a pain in the arse to haul down to the tip in the spring, but it is in pieces and the cardboard is not containing the massive docks/triffids that are bursting through.

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I’m finding it difficult to envisage this not looking like a rubbish tip

 

I’ve also been doing Autumnal things like seed collecting:

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If this works, I am going to have ALL the French beans next year

And planting Spring bulbs. I’ve gone for containers because bulbs hate my soggy clay soil. In these I’ve got Ballerina tulips and Chionodoxa forbesii. If these look good, I’ll put them on the front doorstep. If they look rubbish then I’ll hide them down the side of the shed and pretend they never existed.

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I had to evict my tomato plants from these troughs

 

I’ve also had a few unexpected non-Autumnal things. This cowslip has been flowering since August. I’m beginning to suspect that it’s not even real. Maybe it’s got a hidden camera in there.

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Possible alien spy

And just when I thought it was safe to stop obsessively checking for butterfly eggs on my sprouts, these feckers appeared. It is nearly November! Will you just DIE.

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I spent ages picking these buggers off and now I smell like I’m on the cabbage soup diet

I have to admire its optimism, but I don’t think it’s going to ripen.

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10/10 for effort

Also I found this massive lump of worms in my compost bin. Is it a mating ball? Do worms do mating balls? It would explain why I have such wormy compost. I think there’s more actual worms than compost in there.

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Possible worm porn

It’s great to be back!