Saturday, 29 June 2019

Summer Photographic Scavenger Hunt #3

Today is my third picture posting in the new Scavenger Hunt which launched on 1st May, it's hosted by Mary-Lou over at Patio Postcards and will run until September so there is plenty of time if you want to join in.

My previous posts all carry the label "Summer photo scavenger hunt" so you can check them out by clicking on the link.

4. Blurred Vision - So many possible candidates for this as I have a notoriously shaky hand when it comes to photographing. Here the butterfly decided to take off just as a bee came into land on the lavender giving blurred wings. Taken on 27th June.

9. A bridge  - this one is really modern and an interesting contrast in colours but it takes J back to Loughborough each Sunday, I'm a lot happier when he gets to come back again later in the week. Taken 16th June.

12. Something Crooked - looks precarious but serves a purpose - our comfrey and nettle tea bucket - free fertiliser for plants if you don't mind the smell. Taken 28th June

20. A favourite seasonal scent - the sensational scent of midsummer that is the first sweetpeas. These are so strong they might have to go in the kitchen rather than the loving room! Taken 28th June.

So there you have it, 4 more photos found but plenty more to go... Keep having fun.

Friday, 28 June 2019

The promise of harvests to come and joy today

Glorious couple of the hours at the allotment today, whilst J cut the paths and tidied a few corners I had a lovely wander around checking on the plants and look forward to future crops.

Yellow courgettes

Hazlenuts in the hedgerow

White currants

Plums in the orchard
Willow for winter weaving
All the while watched by the wonderful wildlife:

Jenny Wren

Meadow Brown (i think...)

Red Admiral #1

Red Admiral #2

Home tired but happy with bunches and bunches of cornflowers:

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Ten Minute safari

A quick 10 minute session dead-heading the roses and admiring the sweet-peas in the front was followed by an impromptu safari in the back garden when I spotted a rather faded but nonetheless beautiful butterfly enjoying the lavender, then there was the bumble on the poppy and the ladybird on the bindweed, not to mention all the other unnamed buzzies and flutterers surrounding me and enjoying the sunshine...

in for tea with a smile on my face...

Monday, 24 June 2019

Super surprises

Oh what a lovely surprising weekend we've just had. Saturday morning sunshine meant a brilliant couple of hours at the allotment watching goldfinch parents monitoring their fledglings as they fluttered from hedge to apple tree to rose bush and back and a blackbird male judiciously gathering food for unseen (but definitely heard) chicks in the hazel hedge whilst J planted out our sweetcorn, squashes, peppers and some more flowers. Then in the afternoon my brother and sister-in-law appeared on a surprise visit. For various reasons planned visits had had to be cancelled over the last year so a truly wonderful surprise and a great chance to catch up, share a meal, have a laugh and just generally be together. A happy weekend.

Blackbird dad

There's a goldfinch at the top of that tree, honest

Sweetcorn and squashes in.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Morning World

Just in case you missed it, yesterday was the Solstice - the point where the day length is at it's longest and here in the Midlands it opened and closed with beautiful and very welcome sunshine. No getting up before dawn to head to the nearest stone circle for us this year though but rather a more gentle kind of day for me at least - a bit of pottering in the kitchen and garden but nothing too strenuous.

Solstice skies
J,  on the other hand, went to help with a work party at our allotment site. These are held a few times a year to lay road-stone, tidy up plots if someone is struggling, maintain boundaries, lay or repair water pipes or anything that requires many hands. Yesterday the committee had arranged to have a load of scalpings delivered - these are chopped up bits of old tarmac that have been scraped off a normal road somewhere during improvement works but are perfectly good to reinforce a track like ours which has a lower level of use than a normal road but needs a reasonable level of support to stop it ending up a muddy, rutted cart track. It's also a really eco-friendly way of reinforcing the site as it means that at least one lorry load of old road hasn't ended up in a landfill somewhere and we aren't wasting newly quarried stone chippings. About 20 folk from the site all pitched in to help spread the chippings once the lorry had delivered them and by lunchtime the track was winter-ready again. A brilliant way to reinforce the allotment community as well as getting a much-needed job completed. 

By the time I went to pick J up in mid-afternoon he'd also mown our paths, weeded some beds and started to prep the area that the sweetcorn will go in. I arrived in time to pick armfuls of cornflowers, take some photos and ferry a very muddy and tired man home.

Apples a plenty
Abundant cornflowers

Salmon flowered peas
Second sowing peas

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Happiness is lavender coloured

After many weeks of cutting, sanding, glueing, screwing and shaping in his very limited spare time J has finished constructing a wonderful bird table for the front garden. Made from scrap pallet wood and a fence post plus a couple of coats of deep lavender wood paint (my choice) and I'm now the proud owner of this beauty:

We've added the seed - now we've just got to wait for the local flocks to find it...

Thank You, love!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Summer Photographic Hunt - First link up and photo number 4

Mary-Lou from Patio Postcards posted the first round-up on 14th June and taking part is easy -  just follow the link to the list and let her know you are joining in by commenting on the post. I'm a bit late with my link up but I'm sure she won't mind.  As with the Winter hunt we have twenty themes but they are all very much open to interpretation. My post outlining the list is here and my first trio of photos are here.

Here's my 4th offering for the hunt with many more to find - it's not too late to join in as we have until the end of September to find everything on the list.

2. Single and Pretty.
So many options for this and unsurprisingly I went with a flower. The first poppy of the year opened on 6th June:

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Six on Saturday 15th June 2019

Another month has passed in the garden and so I'm linking up with The Propagator again  for today's Six on Saturday entry. You can find out more about the meme and how to join in on his blog here . You'll also be able to see links to all the other participants' posts too. I'm just taking part once a month but many folk take part every week - enjoy! To find my other posts just search on the label #SixOnSaturday.

I took advantage of a brief break in this week's rain to have a peek at all the edibles in the back garden. Many are destined for the allotment but it looks set to be too soggy this weekend to get them in the ground so some temporary re-potting may be required to hold them over. The herbs live here so I have quick and easy access to them from the kitchen.

1. Lots of beautiful Basil - this year's spring sowing of lettuce-leaved basil has germinated really well and this is just a small selection of the developing plants living in the kitchen - if it ever warms up some may end up outside. Already had a few leaves of these to add flavour to the salad leaves.

2. Outdoor Herbs - Cheating slighly here with pictures of both our Mint corner - Apple Mint, Tashkent Mint and Garden Mint all hangout by the drain and benefit from the damp shady space and of our Golden Oregano (and inherited Pinks) which benefit from a sunnier spot on the patio.

3. Purple-sprouting broccoli - nice happy sturdy little plants that will go in the ground soon - plenty of time for these as we won't be harvesting the sprouts until next Spring. In the background are some white sprouting plants too, all nestling on our garden shelves and tucked up in the corner between the house wall and the start of our not-so-long border!

4. Spuds - a trial of growing a few seed potatoes in an old coffee sack bought with our Transition Loughborough seed potatoes in January. You can source your own from The Crop Club. The rest of our crop is at the allotment and we watching the "Hutton Period" forecasts as we really don't want blight this early in the season and wet and mild is really not good. Find our more about "Hutton Periods" and late Blight from the Blightwatch website.

5. Spinach beet - or silver beet or perpetual spinach - lots of names for this staple of our kitchen - these really really need to be in the ground and will keep us in leaves for the rest of the year. Less sensitive than true spinach but just as good in pies and pasties so we tend not to bother with that any more.

6. Apples - our lovely little family tree is covered in baby apples at the moment - mind you so are the path beneath, the pond next to it and the bed below as the June Drop is well under way here. Will wait another couple of weeks before we do any manual thinning as nature is doing a pretty good job on it's own.

Happy Saturday all, hope you enjoy the sixes...

Sunday, 9 June 2019


After a couple of wonderful wet days - yeah I know, strange statement, but the garden and allotment were desperate for a soaking and the front garden water butt was completely empty - today we popped up the allotment. Our onions have been a bit hit and miss so far, probably due to a vole or a mole we think, so J picked up some shallot sets in the bargain box of Poundland, at just 50p a bag we thought a late planting was worth a chance.  So let's see what happens now.

While he was doing that I picked some more cornflowers for the house. They are amazingly abundant this year and even after picking enough for two bunches for our house and another posy for our neighbour there are dozens and dozens left for the bees. The whole row of plants was covered in them and they even landed on the posies as I was cutting them - a really joyful sight and sound to behold and one of the many reasons we have flowers dotted all around the plot and never use pesticides. I made the most of the self-sown chamomile at the edge of the bean bed and added a few stems of that to the posies for contrast and scent too.

Next job was to pick some of the broad beans that are, at last, starting to develop plus some leaves from the chard plants and a few stalks of asparagus, we can truly say we are getting harvests from the plot now and are looking forward to those to come.

Climbing beans , peas and tagetes doing well

Purple Podded Peas and broad beans 
Pea flowers to rival any ornamental
Soon there will be spuds!
Chamomile and Cornflowers

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Of Boblets and Baby Succulents

Another Boblet bit the dust this week - or more accurately I had to admit defeat and throw the stick with two wrinkled leaves in to the compost bin. A bit sad but it prompted me to take a closer look at the other mini-Plants and write an update on our winter cuttings-taking exercise.

Back in February we decided that Bob the rubber plant had outgrown his space and needed to be cropped but, as usual, we couldn't resist the chance to try propagating him and getting a few free plants to share with friends and family. Of course this wasn't the first time this temptation had struck - remember all those little leaf cuttings of succulents back in October? Well, whilst Bob seems to have been a bit more miss than hit with only two really strong looking plants coming out of our adventures and 1 more that is looking ok - not bad from just 5 cuttings, the strike success with the succulent leaves has also been quite impressive even if a slow burn. We now seem to have mini plants coming out of our ears! Still it means I've got a dozen or so to take to the Hospice next week for sharing around and once they've all left home I can give Bob his second trimming...

Boblet #1

Boblets #2 and #3 plus arms of a few friends!

Echeverria minis

More echeverria minis

Sunday, 2 June 2019

A fancy for flowers...

According to the UK Flowers and Plants Association the UK spends about £2.2billion each year on indoor plants and cut flowers, of which about 90% is on cut flowers. Now it seems to me that as most of these come from overseas and are flown around the world using up valuable resources for ephemeral pleasure rather than necessity, then this should be one of the first places we look when we want to make the switch to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, whether you buy dozens of bunches for every room in the house every week or just one bunch in a year.

Now I don't mean you should give up cut flowers, heaven knows they are one of my favourite treats and bring so much joy to lives that in my view, only the grumpiest of environmentalists or frugal fanatic would say that's it, no flowers for the house ever, for anyone. But there are questions we can and should ask before we make any purchase, especially a luxury item like flowers. I mean, when did you last ask yourself any of these questions when faced with a bunch of flowers in the supermarket or need to make a last minute order? -  Where do these come from? How they are produced? How did they travel? Is there an alternative?

Did you know that there are dozens of companies and small producers up and down the UK producing beautiful, sustainable, local UK-grown blooms that are available through local florists, direct from the grower or through the post? In many cases you can even source British grown flowers through your supermarket if you check the labels carefully and if you stick to seasonal beauties then you'll probably save money too.

If you need to buy flowers why not check out social media sites under the hashtag #BritishFlowers and #GrownNotFlown for inspiration and sources or look at sites such as The Great British Florist and Flowers From the Farm or ask your florist to recommend blooms grown here in the UK.

But for even greater enjoyment, especially if you want flowers for yourself, you can produce gorgeous bouquets and posies from your own garden or allotment for most if not all the year round. Whether you just take a few blooms from your border or dedicate half the allotment to a cutting garden why not try cutting your own flowers once in a while?

June 2019

May 2019

March 2019
Summer 2017 

Summer 2017