Wednesday 15 January 2020

Joy Of The First Snowdrops!!


So happy today as I stepped outside to go shopping I saw the very first snowdrop of the year in our front garden!! 

I try to embrace every season but I do find Winter the hardest one to love! Snowdrops however always fill my heart with joy. I know now that nature is waking up and spring is not too far away.

I don't see so many people growing Snowdrops in their gardens these days and I do not understand why.

Snowdrops are undemanding plants and once planted out you can mostly forget about them. They happily multiply each year to give you a beautiful display, then once flowering is over they die down and that's it for another year until you suddenly find one on a cold January day to warm your heart. 

I divide our snowdrops every few years simply so that I can distribute more around the garden. It also prevents them from getting too congested. Dividing them is easy, simply dig up a clump while they still have their leaves. 

Separate gently teasing apart with your hands. Replant some in the original place and plant the rest in small clumps around the garden. Water in and you are done!   

If you are a fan of snowdrops, here is a lovely book. The Plant Lovers Guide To Snowdrops. A lovely gift for yourself or a loved one. 

If you would like to join me and grow snowdrops in your garden it is so easy! 

NEVER dig any snowdrops up from the wild! Rather purchase these plants "in the green" -that means while that they are lifted while they still have leaves and remains of flowers. 

Once you have brought them home or they are delivered try to plant them very soon afterwards for best results.If you leave it for days or worse weeks you may have a high failure rate.

Planting of snowdrops in the green is best done in the Spring time around March.
Plant a few inches under the soil, water then leave them to get on with it. 

As they are small delicate-looking flowers, It is ideal to plant them where you can see them easily. A front garden or even in a raised planter would be great. 

One of my fave flowers, so beautiful, so delicate looking yet tough little flowers that appear in the coldest months of the year and certainly bring joy to my heart! 

If you love snowdrops  you may like to check my store for snowdrop gifts and greeting cards! 

by Annie (Raintree Designs)

Do you like Snowdrops? Do you grow them or love to simply admire them? 

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Saturday 11 January 2020

Creating A Garden For Birds In Winter

Silver Birch Trees In winter

One of the wonderful parts of having a garden is that even in the depths of winter you can look out the window and see nature. 

Even on a freezing cold and windy day like today when, even a a keen gardener, I know I will probably do more harm than good tramping across wet grass and muddy borders, I can look out and see our lovely garden and all the wildlife that visit.

 For me now the garden and the wildlife are intrinsically bound together. What happens with one affects the other so now I always try to keep both in mind with everything I do. 

I love birds and get so much pleasure from seeing all the different ones, hearing them singing away so beautifully, having them nest in our garden and all their lovely antics all year I always want to help them through the often difficult winter months.

So at this time of year I sort out all the bird feeders and go to the shops or the farmer's markets and stock up on the bird feed.

two birds in snow covered shrubI usually get a variety of bird food so that different birds may enjoy it. We have many different birds visit our garden such as blackbirds, starling, thrushes, sparrows, greenfinch, wood pigeon and many more! So I have just bought some sunflower seed, niger seeds and fat balls. I will be getting more in as the weeks go by.

Then I position the bird feeders especially those for smaller birds, so that they are grouped together but a fair distance from each other to reduce squabbling and high enough so they are hopefully out of reach of ground predators. Then its just a matter of waiting.

After years of careful planting for wildlife with a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs with lots of cover and food, there is an abundance of berries and autumn bounty in our garden.

So I do wonder if the birds may not need quite so much from me this year but we do not yet know what kind if winter it will be mild or severe or somewhere in between, so I will give the birds the option! 

Many of our songbirds are declining in number so I think they need all the help we can give.

Also, I do love to watch them at the feeders and if possible take some photographs so it is always lovely when they do visit.
Bird on top of shrub

It is also important to leave water for the birds and we have a large birdbath that they visit every day. 

We change the water every day as birds from tiny sparrows to large wood pigeons do love to bathe in it a lot! 

During the freezing weather, we always go out and break the ice on it so they always have access to clean fresh water.

You may like to read more about the importance of a Bird Bath in Do You Have A Bird Bath In Your Garden? 

The birds in our garden give me such a lot and are such an integral and important part of our natural world.

 It is lovely to know that by planting the trees and shrubs they love for cover and berries and I love for how they look and make me feel,  that I can help the wildlife out a little as well. 

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Sunday 24 November 2019

Wonderful Autumn Experiences Of Nature

Autumn Trees

Wrapped up warm and cosy, walking with my hubby through the countryside near us, what could be better.
 I just adore Autumn, everything seems to slow down, become more mellow, softer, and we are treated to a spectacular show of colour. Reds, greens and golds dominate the landscape. I love walking through fallen leaves, crisp and crunchy underfoot. Glorious in their falling from the skies, a carpet of rich colour. Memories of childhood games and crafts collecting the leaves to make wonderful pictures.

The skies here are often amazing. Being nearer the sea and flatter in this part of the country, we are treated to gorgeous sunsets and dramatic storm clouds scattered across the sky. Morning mists hanging heavy, slowly giving way to a glimpse of sunlight breaking through. When the sun is out everything takes on a golden sheen which bathes the trees, houses and fields in a warm comforting glow.

Wearing warm sweaters and woolly hats, a walk in the countryside at this time of year on a bright day is stunning. Everywhere is laden with the fruits of each plants labour. We picked up beautiful bronzed conkers! White snow berries are hanging low on branches. Beautiful bright red berries glisten and the thud of chestnuts fall heavy on the ground.

Rainy days are for splashing about in puddles in wellies or cuddling up in front of the fire, watching the raindrops hitting the window panes and if heavy, listening to the thundering on the roof. 
Wildlife getting ready for winter, scurrying around finding food to store and shelter to rest in when the weather turns really cold. We do the same, preparing for winter, bringing in our garden furniture, a sigh that it won't be needed again until late spring but also enjoying the beauty of this Fall time.

We are so lucky to have the change of seasons here but while many bemoan the passing of what was a rare and glorious summer this year, I love to appreciate Autumns treasures too.
Golden Autumn Leaves On tree

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Garden Centre Plant Rescue!

Garden with lavender and alliums

These days I cannot walk past a garden center without checking out the far end of the plant section where they usually put all the discounted plants.

These poor plants are generally tired, limp and dry as a bone. All jumbled up together unloved and unwanted. Frankly, I find it very sad that had they just been watered regularly they would probably be just fine right now. 

Anyway, usually heavily discounted, I search through them all to find ones that have a chance of survival. Often I find ones with good root systems and given a little tender loving care I take a chance on reviving them. 

Heuchara flowers
Today it was the turn of three Rosemary plants and a French Lavender. In particular, the French Lavender was a sorry looking plant half dead and very limp, I wasn't sure, but it had a good root system and urged on by my hubby (a recent gardening convert !) decided to take it home. An hour later after a good watering and re-potting and light pruning, it stands up proud in its new pot on our patio. It will take time for a full recovery but it already looks happier. 

The Rosemary plants have also been potted up in nice fresh compost and given a good watering. In fact, it is also pouring with rain now so that job is done for the day!  They were not in such a bad condition and I am sure they will prosper well. The price by the way was one-fifth of the original price so a great bargain!

Delicate Purple flowersI usually do pot up any "rescue" plants into nice fresh compost first and give them time to recover before I plant out in the garden. 

I can keep an eye on them better and it's just good to know that they get exactly the soil conditions they need. We have rather heavy clay which can be difficult for a poorly plant. 

Earlier in the month, I rescued a beautiful rose, scented with creamy white flowers that looked devastated and was going yellow. Roses are special to me and there was something about it that meant I just could not leave it there on the shelf ignored by everyone...

 Three weeks on it is a different plant. Watering feeding and new compost have given it a new lease of life! It is unbelievably even flowering! I have six Forsythia plants I got less than half price which is now also blooming their hearts out and several others that are all doing very well. 

White rose bloomSo I would urge you not to bypass these sad-looking plants for the showy blooming ones. Take a look at this corner of the garden center section and if you have the will and the confidence to have a go, see if you think any can be revived. 

Many will not flower for you this year but with TLC will do well next year. I tend to go mostly for perennials, shrubs, roses, lavender, hebe, heuchera, rosemary and clematis have all proved good survivors for me.

I can also always be swayed by snapdragons and herbs and will occasionally take on a real challenge if it is a plant I really want.  

Look for some top growth, a good healthy root system and no sign of diseases. Be prepared to spend a little time on them. Give it a good watering when you get home and leave it. 

Check up on its ideal conditions and give it that ie sunshine or shade, well-drained, etc. Then repot into a slightly larger pot with good quality compost. Feed if it needs it. Keep a close eye on it for a few weeks at least. 

white and purple flowersMy record is that approx eight times out of ten I have ended up with a beautiful plant. Yes, I have had several failures that would not respond but mostly it is positive. 

I get real pleasure from taking an unloved plant and bringing it back to full health and vigor and it rewards me with a garden full of beauty and scent.

I could not afford for our garden to be so full of lovely plants now if it were not for these beautiful bargains. In fact, I have just convinced myself to go back and get more of the Lavender and Rosemary plants tomorrow!  

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Wednesday 15 June 2016

How To Care For Plants On Vacation

Now is the time of year many people like to get away on holiday. It may be somewhere abroad for a week or two or in your own country for a short or longer break. Wherever you go it does mean leaving your plants behind at sometimes a critical time. 

Pink Cammelia Flower

Action Plan For Your Plants While You Are On Vacation

1. If you can ask a friend, family member or neighbour to come in check them, mow the lawn, open greenhouse windows and close them again, water and feed your plants. It is quite a big ask, I know I have done it for a friend who had a huge garden with a massive veg plot for 3 weeks once!If the kind soul does this for you it is so nice to get them a gift. If they are a gardener maybe a lovely plant or cuttings from plants they admire in your own garden, some veg from your garden or just a beautiful gift. Even better offer to do it for their garden when they go away. 

2. If that is not possible then you need to help the plants through what could be variable weather. I also always fill up the bird feeders and birdbath and put extra bathing areas around the garden for the birds :) 

3. Mow the lawn just before you leave, it will be fine for a couple of weeks until you come back. 

4.I tend to leave the bigger shrubs and plants to their own devices to seek water by themselves. For example, all my Forsythias, Buddleia, Lavenders and other established shrubs including this Ceanothus cope just fine whatever the weather.

Shrub with blue flowers

5. Smaller plants or those I have recently planted in the ground I give them a huge good watering 2 weeks before I leave then two or three times the week before I leave then the day before. So far they have always coped well when I do this. 

6. Plants in the soil are one thing, but plants in pots are so much more reliant on you for feed and water. Again if they are in a bigger pot I will do the same watering routine as above plus give then a good feed. I then move them all into the shade and protected areas of the garden and group them all together. This provides a mini eco system and if in shade they get less of the drying effects of the sun.

6. I have tried in the past using capillary matting to run from a bucket into each pot and it worked well.

small plants in pots in a washing up bowl

7. With the smaller plants in pots and with the vegetables I am growing in pots this year I knew they would not survive well so I filled bowls and buckets with a little water and even utilised a dog bath we don't use anymore and put each small pot in there.

 I give them a good watering from above and then the roots will search out the water below. I find it is OK if these are left in shade/semi-shade or in their usual positions as long as they have water in the bowl. It worked so well they looked even better after my holiday with really good root systems! 

8. If you have a Greenhouse you may well find a Greenhouse Mist Drip Irrigation Watering kit like this one useful.

Have a wonderful holiday and a beautiful garden! Do you have any tips for caring for the garden while on vacation? 

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Tuesday 14 June 2016

A Lovely Surprise Gift For A Gardener

I had a lovely surprise last weekend. We went to the farmers market and after getting all our veg and necessary items we wandered over to the plant stalls. I wasn't really considering buying any plants right now. Still, I always love looking around :)

I was looking at the beautiful Camellia plants. They are gorgeous with lovely shiny thick leaves and a nice growth habit and the blooms are so delicate looking and beautiful. I think they are as gorgeous looking as a rose but without the thorns. Anyway Hubby is always full of surprises and is not really an avid gardener like me (-yet :) )  So he just said I am getting you one for a present! Choose which one you like.

Isn't that sweet of him! I am a lucky lass. No arguments here, well you do not have to say "choose a plant" to me twice! So I started looking at the plants and what colour blooms are available. Hubby leaves this up to me as he knows I know what I am looking for.

Blackbird on lawn with pink petals

We already have a pink Camellia. You can see the beautiful petals falling to the ground like confetti in this photo with the blackbird.

 Much of our back garden is going to be mauves, purples, pinks, whites, blues, very relaxing chilling out colours, so I needed a colour that would look right. 

We loved the red Camellia but it was a bit too vibrant then I saw a pure white bloom that I just knew would fit into an area of the garden that needed a white flower. So we took that one home and planted it yesterday!

We planted it in a sheltered spot, where it will not get exposed to too much wind or more importantly the morning sun. Our other one got burnt petals from it and we had to move it, so now I would always plant Camellias in a place away from the morning sun. It will get some afternoon sun but that is alright. 

They hate their roots sitting in wet soil so its best to add grit and compost to the planting hole. We planted it with lots of good compost for good drainage and gave it a nice mulch too and a long drink. It will look gorgeous when it grows and blooms.

Pink Camellia flower

I didn't take a photo because well it's just leaves at present so the photo is one taken earlier in the year of the beautiful pale pink bloom of our current mature Camellia in flower peeping through all its gorgeous glossy green leaves.

For a Gardener, there is no greater gift than a flower, Tree, Shrub, Bulbs or Plants for the garden! It is always especially lovely to have pleasant surprises, isn't it? Camellias are so beautiful...

You can learn more about Camellias in this book

Camellias: The Complete Guide to Their Cultivation and Use

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Monday 13 June 2016

Love Summertime In And Out The Garden!

Why I Love Summertime

Summer is a lovely time of year. In summer we have long days and hopefully longer warmer days and sunshine, vacation time and beautiful flowers. Its quite an easy time of year to love.

Life is easier in the Summertime...

Vivaldi Four Seasons-Summer

Gorgeous music which is beautiful to listen to. You may like to have this video playing while you look through the rest of the page....I find it puts you in the summertime mood. I'm Loving Summer!!

What can I say about Summer?

In a country where it's not that warm most of the year Summertime is our big chance at some high temperatures, occasional balmy days and warmer evenings....for a little while at least :) 

A time where we can actually eat out of doors have picnics and breakfast on the patio. Summer is a time to wear lovely dresses and beautiful cool fabrics. Maybe even a sun hat!

A time where the days are long, light, sunny, warm and bright :) Of course, it is not always like that here in UK where I live - in fact its probably a matter of weeks rather than months - but when it is.... oh how we treasure it :)  

Life's A Beach! I love walking a long a quiet beach during the summer. I do not get the chance to do this very often as I do not live that near to a beach and so it is a once in a while experience or when we are on holiday.

I do treasure it though and it is never ordinary. There is nothing quite like walking barefoot across a warm sandy beach in the summertime. Feeling the soft warm sand between your toes and the gentle breeze in your hair.....

There is a freshness and unique feeling about being on a beach where the sun warms the sand and the waves gently roll in and I always find it oh so relaxing and serene.

Sandals on beach

Summertime and the living is e-a-s-y

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Henry James

Near Water In Summer

When it is warm or even hot in summer often if they can people gravitate to the water. So we find that beaches, lakes, ponds and rivers tend to attract people more.

Some people take their sport to the water and we often see people sailing or water surfing or simply taking a gentle row in a small rowing boat.

We can enjoy the water more in the summer, warmer with less breeze. Some people like the challenge of water sports in winter but for many its the more chilled out relaxing summer time they love to be in and around the water.

There is also nothing quite like watching the sunshine glisten on the water like thousands of stars gently drifting in a quiet breeze....

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability."
Sam Keen

Beautiful Summer Flowers

In many gardens, Summer is the time for flowers. I love all the vibrant colours of the flowers the reds and golds, yellows and purples and also the more gentle shades of lilacs and whites and pinks. They are all just so beautiful.

The garden seems to grow so quickly during early summer becoming heavy with greenery and with blooms. Many are scented and the scent hangs heavy on the air when the day is still. Beautiful annuals put on their flowery show now, just a one off magical appearance for a few short weeks but wow, what a show!

Many roses reach their peak and their beauty is astounding and of the scented ones there is nothing like holding a rose to your fave and drinking in the gorgeous different scents.

The garden reaches a hiatus in summer. Much of the frenetic work needed to be done in Spring is over and the Autumn tasks are yet to be needed so we get a brief period of rest. 

As a gardener we should take more time to look , to feel to smell our gardens around us and appreciate them.

If you love flowers Summer is the place to be !

"A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows."
St. Francis of Assisi

Herbs In Summer

We have a small herb garden and they always come into their own in Summer time. I love the fresh wonderful scents, the beautiful stems and flowers of the herbs.

It feels so good to be able to go out of the kitchen door and pick a few chives,sage, rosemary or mint or anything else to go with dinner that evening and to know that we grew them in our garden and how fresh they are.

To Summer by William Blake

O thou who passest thro' our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched'st here thy goldent tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.
Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard
Thy voice, when noon upon his fervid car
Rode o'er the deep of heaven; beside our springs
Sit down, and in our mossy valleys, on
Some bank beside a river clear, throw thy
Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream:
Our valleys love the Summer in his pride.
Our bards are fam'd who strike the silver wire:
Our youth are bolder than the southern swains:
Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance:
We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven,
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat.

Pretty Summer Flowers

"In summer, the song sings itself."
William Carlos Williams

Summer Holidays!

Another reason to love summer is the holidays. As a child the summer holidays in July and August seemed to stretch on forever and ever. Long balmy days of play and sunshine...

As an adult of course I didn't get those long summer holidays and the summers seem a lot shorter now somehow. We tend to go on holiday at different times of the year but we still managed a week in the warmer weather of July or August to chill out and relax a little. 

As a gardener, it is important to take time every so often to just sit in the garden and look, listen, smell and touch your garden. No weeding, no planning just take it all in and enjoy it. 

Take a break from the usual routine and explore, relax, enjoy your garden.

Groove Amarda-At The River

I Love this, sooooooo relaxing and puts me in the mood for a lazy hot summer afternoon...... Armada. At The River

Summer Reading -

 All the days of summer to read a good book. Good to enjoy a book in the summer whatever your age. One of my happy pleasures is to take a good book out into our garden, sit on the patio or even on a rug on the grass and simply enjoy reading. Not reading for work or for a course qualification or for learning. No just to read and get lost in a story, in a narrative, in another world.

I love to spend an hour or two like this in the garden on a recliner when I get the opportunity during the summer, the sun warm on my body, the gentle breeze, sound of bees humming and just quietly reading.

What Do You Like About Summer! - Share your thoughts about Summer here. Some comments I received earlier. 

ajgodinho 11 months ago from Ontario, Canada 
Unfortunately, summer is just come to a close today, here in Canada, at least officially. But, I enjoy Autumn as well and the beauty it brings, even though the temperatures start to drop.
The best thing about Summer for me are the long days. It's quite bright even around 9:00 pm. I enjoyed listening to "Vivaldi Four Seasons-Summer" while reading this

Everything - long days, warm nights, summer holidays, days out . . ..

captainj88  East Berlin, PA, USA
Beautiful ! I'm enjoying reading through why you love each season.

Tamara14  agreb, Croatia, Europe
Although born in February I can't wait for the summer every single year. It may be too hot sometimes, but I just love it. Colors, warm nights, social events all over the city, going to the coast etc.

Another wonderful thing about summer is the flowers, especially the roses. We have many rose gardens here in Victoria.

Summer is the carefree season. I enjoy swimming in the summer.

WindyWintersHubs  Vancouver Island, BC
Oh, Boy. I can smell your lovely roses by looking at them. I love autumn but always look forward to spring and summer! Burr! The winter weather here is mild but damp! Best Wishes to You. ~Wendy

I love the seasons too and have seasonal pages very similar to yours! Nice job Robin :)

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