Friday, 25 July 2014

A Thorny Issue

You may remember my In Disguise post about the gooseberry bush I bought a couple of years ago. It was labelled as Pax, a red, thornless variety, and it has produced its first ever fruit this year, only a couple of gooseberries but I'm hoping for better results in the future.

Before we went away on holiday, the fruit was green and there were plenty of thorns to be seen so I wondered if the plant had been labelled incorrectly, however, this is what greeted us when we returned from Cornwall.

The berries had turned red and there was just enough to have a taste.

Perhaps it is Pax afterall, though it does have thorns whereas Pax is known as a thornless variety. It isn't as thorny as the green variety I've got on the plot so maybe I'm expecting too much and thornless varieties will still have some thorns, just not as many as usual.

I think it's time to get it out of its container now and find some room for it on the plot.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

It's A Jungle Out There

We're home from our holiday in Cornwall. The first thing I did before even unlocking the door was to have a quick glance around the garden, it was like a jungle, everything's grown so much whilst we were away. It didn't look good, the worst thing was the grass, so overgrown, but Mick's been out with the mower this morning so it's looking slightly better now.

I'd love to say that everything in the garden was rosy on our return, but unfortunately, it wasn't. My garden helper is a flower gardener rather than a vegetable grower so I can forgive her not pinching out my tomatoes, at least they were alive and thriving, but I've given them a good tidy up today. The first few tomatoes are now ripening.

The cucumbers had grown to gigantic proportions. My helper didn't realise that they are mini cucumbers and that she should have helped herself to them. Most of the Crystal Lemon cucumbers should be ok though, they're being passed on to my dad as he enjoyed them very much last year.

I was impressed with the fact that I'd remembered to sow my biennials this year. I was going to have a riot of colour at the allotment next year with beautiful wallflowers and sweet williams but alas, they are no more, they've been well and truly fried. Perhaps I'm not too late if I sow more now.

Not everything is doom and gloom, I haven't missed the blueberries ripening, they're just on the turn now.

The plums too are just starting to ripen.

The apples have grown whilst we were away. This is Gloster, a red variety. The Golden Delicious isn't looking too delicious at the moment, I'll have to see how it goes on.

Everything at the allotment was at the mercy of the elements as I didn't have anyone to look after things there. We popped down today and the weeds took our breath away, we'll have to put some serious time in to get things back under control. We did get a surprise as we looked beyond the weeds though, these beautiful poppies are popping up in the potato bed. Apparently, Mick's been pulling them out as he thought they were weeds, I've told him to leave them be now, a welcome sight amongst all the green foliage.

One thing we were expecting was the courgettes to have grown to comedic sizes and they didn't disappoint. I'd usually stuff them and use them like marrows if I miss harvesting them at the size they should be, but I think they're too far gone for that even.

The One Ball courgette variety are ok though, we've caught them just in time before they start ballooning.

The onions are looking good, just about ready for harvesting as their foliage is starting to topple. I think I've even managed some red onions this year, that'll be a first.

I planted four different varieties of beans this year, St George runner beans, Cobra, Blue Lake and Purple Cascade French beans. The slugs had a field day with them so I resowed all four and Mick planted them out two days before we went on holiday. The runner beans and the Purple Cascade French beans had hardly been touched by the slugs but the Cobra and Blue Lake had been decimated. We checked on the newly planted beans and the same has happened again, the slugs must enjoy green French beans more than runner beans or purple French beans. The first sowing of runner beans have done well and are now covered in flowers and tiny beans, they'll be ready for picking in days, and the second wigwam which Mick planted up will prolong the harvest.

The Purple Cascade beans were ready for harvesting today. We shall have some with our dinner tomorrow and some are going to my mum and dad's, I'm not sure what they'll think of purple beans.

We dug some potatoes up from the allotment today and I'm thrilled to say that not one had any slug damage. Perhaps we'll be able to do away with all the containers we grow them in and grow them at the plot now. The spuds we grew on our last plot were so riddled with slug damage that we gave up growing them there and decided to just grow them in containers, so this is a great result. I didn't mean to dig up any Pink Fir Apple yet, they're a maincrop variety so I was going to leave them a bit longer but I obviously haven't labelled the rows very well. Here we have Anya on the left, Pink Fir Apple above centre and Arran Pilot on the right. The Arran Pilots are going to my mum and dad, there's plenty of the other two to last us this week.

It's always worrying leaving the garden when going away on holiday, but I'm appreciative of someone helping me out and the odd disaster isn't the end of the world. There's definitely good things to come.

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Grand Depart

The Tour de France Grand Depart sets off from Leeds tomorrow.

This display, part of Britain In Bloom, is round the corner from my house, outside the local primary school.

We'll be departing ourselves tomorrow, heading out of the beautiful county of Yorkshire and on to another beautiful county, Cornwall, where we'll be spending the next fortnight.

Fingers crossed that we get some good weather.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Plot Harvests

There's something to bring home with us every time we visit the allotment at the moment. Do you remember the photo I showed of the large bush on the plot back in May? I knew it was some kind of currant but didn't know which colour. It turns out that it's a blackcurrant and this small harvest is just the tip of the iceberg, it's literally dripping with fruit. I've never grown currants before so I don't really know what I'm going to use them for. The raspberries are producing well too, these are Glen Ample.

We're picking loads of strawberries, far too many for our own needs so I've been giving them to family and friends who are only too pleased to take them off our hands. I would have done some jam making but I just haven't had time with one thing or another. The strawberry plants aren't in the best position on the plot, it's very hard to get to some of the plants but they'll have to stay where they are for the time being. I think they'll only be a year or two old as they're producing so well.

We got our first courgette this week, it was a little larger than I like, but another couple followed which were just the right size. The first three cucumbers have also been harvested from the garden, two from the inside greenhouse and one from outdoors. They're all Mini Munch, a snack size variety. The Crystal Lemon plants haven't produced a thing yet.

I love this time of year when there's plenty of delicious things to harvest. I wonder what'll be waiting for me on my next trip to the plot.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Garden Visiting In June - Part Two

This post follows on from Part One of our visit to Golden Acre Park's gardens. It was rather a long post, so rather than squeeze in any more photos, I thought I'd group together the photos I took of some of the beautiful flowers we saw and make another post. I hope you enjoy them.


I can thoroughly recommend a day out to Golden Acre Park if you're in the area. As well as the gardens, there's the beautiful park with a lakeside walk and wildflower meadow. There's woodland and a fabulous tea room. Across the road from the park are two nature reserves. Dogs are allowed in the gardens providing they're kept on a lead.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Garden Visiting In June - Part One

I've left my garden visit for June right till the last minute, it's been rather a hectic month what with one thing or another. Anyway, I thought I'd visit the gardens at Temple Newsam, a regular haunt of ours, but the road leading to it was closed when we got there. It turns out that the Race For Life was being held there today, so we had to think of an alternative garden to visit. In the end, we opted for the gardens at Golden Acre Park, and I'm so pleased we did.

We visit Golden Acre Park quite regularly as it's a lovely place for Archie to have a run in beautiful surroundings, but I have to say that we haven't really ever visited some parts of the gardens. We've walked round the beds set out in the park, but never taken the time to check out other areas, and we've been missing a treat.

This is the Bakehouse Border which is inspired by borders at Powys Castle. The key plants are Canna, Salvia, Penstemon, Aster and Helenium.

Golden Acre Park opened as a theme park in the 1930's and a miniature railway circled the whole of the lake travelling a distance of just over a mile. A small section of the railway was recreated in 2003 and the area has been planted in a naturalistic way, using cultivated grasses and perennials to give the impression of an abandoned railway line.

There are three national collections held at Golden Acre Park, Lilac, Hosta and Hemerocallis. They're displayed in a beautiful garden.

Some of the hostas are magnificent specimens, they're quite large.

Unfortunately, the slugs have been at some of them, yet others seem to have escaped unscathed.

The hemerocallis seem to be just getting going. A few were in flower but others only had buds waiting to open.

I love this tree trunk with a rose growing up it. Such a pretty feature.

Standard fuchsias with bedding plants potted up in containers makes this building more attractive.

A place we haven't explored before is the Blenheim Couryard.

As we walked through the entrance, there was a collection of pots housing lots of different plants.

In one of the borders to the side of the entrance was this salvia - Hot Lips. I used to have this plant myself but lost it one winter, it doesn't like the cold, or perhaps it's the wet it isn't so keen on.

In another of the borders is this rock garden.

On the upper level is a greenhouse, I wondered what it housed as there were plants trying to escape through the windows. I love that lavender border.

Inside the greenhouse is a kind of tropical display with a waterfall.

The fish were popping up for their breakfast, they were just being fed while we were there.

The water lily was just starting to bloom, I bet it will be stunning.

Another area we've never visited before is the Trial and Display Garden (a former trial site for Gardening Which?). There's all manner of planting styles here, a potager, containers and hanging baskets, wildflower, prairie and tropical style displays and the Dahlia and Chrysanthemum National Societies each have display plots within.

A beautiful hanging basket display, I haven't seen such a display before.

I'm not sure whether these were chilli or sweet pepper plants inside the greenhouse, but they were beginning to flower.

I loved this little seating area with a green roof.

A good crop of gooseberries. No sawfly here.

The National Chrysanthemum Society display plot. There's not much to see yet as the plants aren't in flower.

Each plant is carefully labelled.

The bottom half of this greenhouse houses tomatoes. There's plenty of fruit on the plants already.

The other half of the greenhouse is home to pelargoniums.

I love the idea of a stepover apple tree. A great way to grow fruit trees if there's lack of space or if an allotment site doesn't allow trees.

As we came out of the Trial and Display Garden, we came to this Limestone Rock Garden. It's the main outdoor display area for Golden Acre Park's large collection of alpines.

This is a Limestone Rockery. It's been built from water worn limestone and has been in Golden Acre Park for many years.

I had a wonderful time looking around these gardens today. I can't believe how many times we've visited this park in the past, yet never seen some of these areas before today, I'll be going back to explore them again soon.

Pop back tomorrow for Part Two of my visit.