Just Plants in the Wrong Place

July 7, 2017

With what feels like an infinite amount of gardening to be done, I’m taking a pragmatic approach towards what is a weed and what is to be tolerated at least for now.


Buddleia for instance: wildlife friendly, covered in flower spikes and currently giving off a rather gorgeous gentle scent as I pass one bush right by the path. OK, so I probably don’t need dozens of them dotted around the garden, but for now they can stay.


And foxgloves, objectively, are rather splendid with their huge flower spikes. A bank of them gently dancing in the breeze and catching the evening sun is exactly the sort of effect I’m going for in the garden. Just because they also grow in every hedgerow is no reason to turn my nose up at them, although I may try and introduce more white ones over time.


Mimulus can apparently be a bit of a pest and an invasive, but for now it’s clumping itself rather elegantly around Mostly,* the fine piece of garden statuary that for some reasons our predecessors left behind.

oriental rhubarb

On the other hand, these are not ginormous dock flowers, as my mother thought but the seed heads of our oriental rhubarb which tower above everything else. If I’m absolutely honest, I’d probably rather have the culinary kind but it is rather architectural in an ‘oh my God what is that?’ sort of way


And this lychnis was a gift from a neighbour’s garden and I can’t get enough of it.

I am slowly hatching plans for what should go where, but it will all take time. So for now, I’m managing with what I’ve got and hoping that it doesn’t all get out of hand.

* Because she’s mostly armless


Feeling Weedy

July 8, 2013

You know you’ve lost the whole weeding-the-drive battle when you come back from fetching the paper and find the landlord is doing it for you. With a strimmer…

weedy drive

What can I say, we’ve been busy, there’s been a cat to keep happy you know…

cat tail

Flower Gardening

June 17, 2013

wild flower verges

At this time of year, the hedgerows and verges are a mass of flowers as the cow parsley, hawthorn and, er, pink flowers run riot along the side of the road.

flower beds
And so too are my own borders – about three weeks later than normal – as the columbines, snow-in-summer, poppies, solomon’s seal and mystery purple things also get into their stride.

The difference is that in a couple of weeks, most of the flowers in my beds will be more or less over – everything pretty much peaks in June and then spends the rest of the summer sitting around looking green and lumpy – whereas the verges just go on and on and on, with the cow parsley giving way to meadowsweet and then to foxgloves and willowherb (and a few outbreaks of Himalayan Balsam, but let’s draw a veil over that one). It makes me wonder why I bother – my beds involve much weeding, mulching and trips to village plant sales, while Mother Nature somehow manages to arrange a whole succession of flowers right through until September aided by nothing but rain and a going over with what looks like a lawnmower on a stick courtesy of a man from the council on a tractor once or twice a year.

It’s enough to make you take up growing carrots

How Does your Garden Grow?

June 7, 2013
veg plot

The plot in June

Astoundingly (and I will undoubtedly live to regret this), despite mega busyness these last few months, I seem to be vaguely on schedule with the vegetable growing this year. This is partly down to a late spring, and partly down to the recent glorious weather which has meant that, despite the fact that I’m really too busy to be gardening, I’ve just had to grant myself at least an hour a day on the days when I’m not gadding about too much.

Things are all a bit weedy (and by ‘a bit’ I mean ‘really quite a lot’, obviously) but the potatoes are looking good, onions are in, my leeks are – for once – bigger than my spring onions which is only partly down to the fact that the pheasant has nipped all the spring onions’ heads off, the peas and broadbeans are flourishing although I’ll definitely regret saying that because I haven’t staked my broadbeans yet and it will only take a mild breeze to knock them over, the french beans, parsnips, kale, perpetual spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and garlic are all in, and the only thing so far that’s looking a bit miserable are the mangetouts which the slugs have discovered you can definitely mange tout of them, and have. I’ve even managed to get some sweetcorn germinating directly in the ground, it’s been so warm. If this is our summer, and I suspect it is, then everything’s going to bolt like mad in July but for now I’m just going to enjoy it, while touching wood and crossing my fingers and sending up a prayer to the weather gods not to ruin absolutely everything…

Broad beans

You know this was intended to show my magnificent broad beans but it turned out to be also of my magnificent weeds…

broad bean flower

Just concentrate on the magnificence of those beans, eh?

Spring Harvest

February 25, 2013

Heading up to the veg plot yesterday to see what it is like when it isn’t doing its best impression of a rice paddy,* I was surprised to hear the sounds of voices from people working in the woods beyond. It turns out that the landlords have had the cunning wheeze of getting their snowdrops thinned for fun and profit: some nice young men come along with implements of destruction, dig up the snowdrops while they’re still in flower (so they know what they’re getting) and then pay £20 for a tray of singles – and £35 for a tray of doubles. Given that the snowdrops very quickly grow back (in fact they’re better for the thinning) and grow like weeds up here anyway, it’s a bit like finding someone willing to buy rain, or mud, or midgies (all of which I have no doubt you’re going to tell me have a lively online commodity market. OK, maybe not midgies).

Still, it put the landlord in a good mood and meanwhile I have at least managed to convert mud and rain and midge bites into a number of giant parsnips, one of which I traded for one of the landlord’s giant leeks, my own being disappointingly weedy this year. These were then converted into curried parsnip soup for lunch and, ultimately, cycling fuel (or possibly extra padding and/or insulation…) I would like to say that there can be no nobler fate for my garden’s produce but honesty compels me to state that I wouldn’t mind finding someone willing to pay me cold hard cash for crocosmia corms or, come to think of it, ground elder roots, especially if they’re willing to dig them up themselves.

Offers in the comments please. Unless you’re about to tell me that ground elder is edible, in which case I KNOW, it’s just that it also tastes like hedge.

* we have had a week – A WHOLE WEEK, people – of practically no rain. I’ve not yet heard someone complain about the drought but it’s surely only a matter of time

Reaping What I Sow

September 1, 2012

This being September, the garden should all be about mellow fruitfulness, and gathering in the harvest but *ahem*, after a busy few weeks, instead it’s all looking a bit neglected.

The sweetcorn have finally flowered but they have combined that with falling over so I’m not hopeful that we’ll be seeing any crop this year. Also the other half has inquired only semi-sarcastically if it’s some kind of a dwarf variety seeing as other people’s sweetcorn is over their heads. What can I say? I have no patience with a wind-pollinated crop that falls over at the slightest hint of a breeze.

The kale on the other hand is growing great guns. We have curly kale and cavolo nero. Looking at this picture, I realise we have quite a lot of it. It may be a bit late now to be asking for your delicious kale recipes…

But look! We also have gem squash – quite a few of them. No need to ask for delicious recipes for these, just fill em with butter and salt and pepper and roast them. Yum. Just have to hope they ripen before the first frost…

Identification Friend or Foe

June 25, 2012

It’s ask the internet time: what are these little yellow flowers?

mystery plant

I ask because they crop up in my veg plot here and there and I quite like them so I’ve been moving any I find to the flower bed under the climbing roses rather than just chucking them in the compost. But I noticed the other day when I was moving a little clump that they had thick white roots which is usually the sign of an invasive weed. I don’t want to turn out to be the idiot gardener who encouraged something like bindweed into the plot – but if they’re not likely to cause too much trouble (and if I’m honest, where I’m moving them to the alternative is bindweed or at best buttercups so they can’t be much worse).

And while I’ve got your attention: what could have done this to my leeks?

ex leeks

I’m so annoyed – last year my leeks did rather well so this year I wasn’t too worried about them once I’d got them planted out into their seed bed. But I went to weed them this afternoon and discovered something’s been neatly decapitating them. I don’t think it’s slugs, for once, because it doesn’t look like slug damage. But if it’s not slugs, then what? And how am I supposed to combat this new enemy?

I was going to ask you a third question: where my fork was. But after about half an hour’s searching it turned up in the compost heap where it had ended up because I’d seen it lying on the path and thought ‘I mustn’t leave that there because I’ll lose it’ and put it in the basket of weeds I was taking up to get rid of. Sigh. I think I may have to invest in a metal detector, or else a really long piece of string…