Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Sunday 22 August 2021

Aerial Gardening with a forest of Macramé hanging baskets ...

 It started with a YouTube video and a ball of string …

I had more hanging plants than I had pedestals to put them on, so, with overcrowding at ground floor level, the only option was to go multi-storey, and reach for the ceiling. 

Macramé hanging baskets
Macramé hanging pot-holders 

Sunday 16 May 2021

Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb Crumble

There are few comfort foods more comforting to me than rhubarb crumble, preferably served with a generous dollop of creamy vanilla custard. The sweet gingery smell as it cooks, the slightly tart flavour and the crunchy topping take me right back to my childhood, back to the days when the statuesque specimens in my mum's rhubarb drill were taller than me. 

Sunday 11 April 2021

Things that rocked my world this week ...

 This week I've been struggling with the cold weather. I want to spend my days outside, but it's just too cold. I've got a jungle of tomato plants that are crowding my conservatory, and I'm so proud of my baby pelargoniums. Back in February I pruned back the leggy plants that had over-wintered, planted up the cuttings and - hey presto - I've got loads of baby plants. 

Sock Knitting, Lace Knitting,

Sunday 20 September 2020

Garden Wins from the Summer of 2020

It's that time of the year with summer turning to autumn, when I feel nostalgic for the season that's passed. It's hard to believe that summer's been and gone. And what a strange summer it's been: I've stayed put all summer. With all the crazy uncertainty I simply didn't want to go anywhere. I've been happy to just be at home in my garden. And we've been fine: my garden and I. I've taken care of it, and it's taken care of me, nurtured me and kept me sane. 

So here's a list of the very best bits of my garden in the summer that's been and gone: my horticultural hit parade. 


Tuesday 24 March 2020

Reasons to be cheerful ... eggshell seed-plugs

The sun is shining and my seedlings are looking amazing ...

I'd read about recycling egg shells as seed-plugs, and I've discovered that they work well for water-greedy youngster such as sweet pea and honeywort. All you need to do is carefully crack the egg - close to the top, pour it out (using it as food, of course) and wash out the shell. I leave them to dry out on the kitchen windowsill where they get bleached clean by the solar flare of the sun through the glass. After a day or two, they're good to go.

Gently fill them with seed compost, plant your seed, and let nature take its course.

This year I've raised all my sweet-pea seedlings in egg shells and then replanted them on when their roots were getting too compressed. Potting on is fairly simple as you just peel away the egg shell and plant them into their new home. Simples!

Here's to hope and fresh green shoots.


Bonny x

Friday 23 February 2018

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival

The other day I toddled along to Kew Gardens with Jenny, one of my besties, to see the Kew Gardens Thai Orchid Festival. It was all her idea. Having grown up in Columbia she really knows her orchids, which is more than can be said for me. I'm more of an Ikea, bargain basement orchid grower - someone who should never be trusted with anything too precious or too delicate.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

It's too darn hot ...

To quote Cole Porter: It's Too Darn Hot 😤, and  Ella's lovely, deep velvet voice keeps singing those lines in my head these hot, hot days.

I don't know what's happened to our weather here in London, but every day the mercury seems to push its way north of 30º C, and I'm really struggling not to wilt. Mr B has been recovering nicely from his knee operation last Tuesday, so we've not had to take life too strenuously, which is just as well. If I had to do anything difficult right now I've got a feeling I'd fail miserably.

The other afternoon I was trying to calculate how many stitches I needed to cast-off to shape the neckline of a baby cardigan, and it took me four attempts - four! -before I managed to lose the necessary 8 stitches over 20 rows. I can only plead heat fatigue.

At least, looking on the positive side of all this heat, my Loganberry bush has produced a decent bucketful of fruit. I've picked the better part of 2 kg of berries, and it's still going strong. Because they don't all ripen at once I pick them, and freeze them each day as they're ready. When the weather cools down a bit, I'll make jam from the frozen berries. I'm not going anywhere near a hot stove and a steaming preserving pan in this weather!

Sunday 7 May 2017

Growing Mint ...

Fresh mint is one of my go-to herbs. I love mint tea of an afternoon, I'm partial to a nice Mojito, I'm a fan of chopped mint with new potatoes and I love a good Tabbouleh. So, all things told, I'm a major consumer. Through the winter months I purchase lots of little pots of fresh mint to keep on my kitchen window. When I'm done with them I plant them outside, and through the early spring and summer I'm pretty much self-sufficient.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Aphid Invasion ...

💕 I really, really 💖 my roses. 💕

As a result I get seriously annoyed by pesky little sap-sucking aphids, who blow into town with an overblown sense of entitlement to munch whatever they land on. A dark cloud descends, my blood boils and I go into a full-blown psychotic rage. It's not pleasant. It's not pretty. It's all-out war! No way, Jose, are those gormless little green bugs going to munch their way through my patch... .

Whilst I may be hopping mad, and ready to decimate the entire West London aphid population, I still don't like to stray too far from my normal, natural, organic approach to gardening. Can't think why that sentence made me think of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde! 🤔  I've got children and pets to worry about. They play in my garden, chase footballs and roll around on the grass. I've also got an abundance of wildlife that I positively want to nurture and encourage, so I don't want to nuke the rose bushes. Honestly, I'm a reasonable person ... all the way up the moment when you start eating my roses ... ☠️.

So here's my solution: I cook up a bug-blasting concoction using readily-available household ingredients that won't turn the back garden into a toxic wasteland or trigger a nuclear winter. Just read on for my recipe ...

Monday 10 April 2017

It's all about the Agapanthus ...

I have to confess to having a soft spot for a good Agapanthus.  I bought my first one over 20 years ago (yes, I am that old). At the time I was enjoying a hipster lifestyle in trendy Notting Hill. I had a little apartment on the top floor of an old town house, which had a huge roof terrace. And that roof terrace used to make my heart sing. I'd given it a country house feel by covering it with gravel and planting up some sturdy perennials in a mismatched assortment of enormous planters that I'd bought at auction. I had a bust of Mozart on a plinth, and a little wrought iron table and chairs out there. It faced away from the traffic, and I used to go out every morning with my first cup of coffee to enjoy the relative calm of my tiny oasis.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

March ... and using flower apps 🌺

March had been shaping up nicely, but it's all gone a bit downhill recently. I  had got used to blue skies and sunshine, but it's turned all cold and rainy and blustery here in London, and I'm not enjoying the change. 😫

I'm s-o-o-o-o predictable at this time of the year. As soon as the sap starts rising I'm out to dig up all the mistakes that I made last year. Shrubs that I've miscalculated on are a recurring theme. Do you ever plant something, that looks really good in the garden centre, forgetting to read the disclaimer about how tall/ wide it will grow? I'm a sucker for that one. My back garden is modestly proportioned, and there isn't a lot of room for bamboo glades and shrubberies, but, thanks to my gormless lack of forward planning, that was exactly where we were headed.

Right now I've got a bamboo forest, hacked out, dug up and sworn over lying prone on my front forecourt waiting to be carried off to the local council's composting facility. Several too-big for the plot shrubs went the same way last week. And now I'm all set for a perennial border in the very finest of English country traditions.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Emma Bridgewater's motorway stopover

On Friday we had an unexpectedly enjoyable lunch break whilst we were bombing up the M6toll on our way to the ferry. We took a 10 minute detour from the motorway to shoot into Emma Bridgewater's lovely factory in Stoke-on-Trent.  And it was a wonderful sight for road-weary eyes.

The Bridgewater factory is a joyful little spot of homestyle served up in a post-industrial setting. It's all about rejuvenation and turning things around so that, to coin own her strap-line, it feels like home. For hungry folk like ourselves, who'd had more than enough of the M6 traffic, it felt like an oasis in the desert.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Christmas trees ... plastic or real, cut or growing ... ?

I've gone down the plastic tree route before, but I've never really liked the finished look. It's always been a bit ... well, synthetic,  and it's never provided that wonderful pine-fresh, straight-from-the-forest smell that's so much a part of the Christmas tree experience.

Yesterday the Wonder Dog and I dragged this year's Christmas tree home. It's not a huge tree as we don't have a huge amount of space in the cosy sitting room for which it's destined, but it's a living tree with its root system still connected. And the big idea is to take it outside after Christmas and plant it in the garden, where it will hopefully grow and prosper until its services are required again next Christmas.

Last year I bought a small potted tree for the kitchen. <We spend 90% of our waking hours in the kitchen so it would be madness not to make it look festive too.> The little tree grew happily in its hessian sack/ pot until after New Year, whereupon I planted it in a great big pot outside. It added a little bit of structural shape to my patio, contrasting nicely with the crazy sprawl of the geraniums and the fan-like swell of the cordylines. I put plenty of water-retaining humus in the soil and made a big effort to not let it dry out over the summer months, and here it is today, all ready to come back into the kitchen again and help us celebrate Christmas. I'll pot it down into a smaller pot as the Leviathan that it's living in now would never fit into the niche from which it has to spread its festive cheer.

Last year I had minimal needle drop from my growing tree. Whereas when I've had a cut tree - even with watering it occasionally - I've had a covering of pine needles on the carpet that's needed regular hoovering to keep things ship-shape. I've also found it easier to water a real tree than a cut one. The soil absorbs the water whereas I've had more spillage when there's only a reservoir in a dark corner at an awkward angle to pour the water into.

And then finally in those dull, grey days when all the holidays are over and you've got nothing to look forward to - other than going back to work - you don't have the hassle of dragging your tree out to be dumped and chipped with all the other trees. That task, always symbolic of the good times ending, is substituted instead with planting your tree in the garden. And that sort of thing always gets me in a positive let's get gardening it's almost springtime frame of mind, which is so much happier.

If you are minded to go down the growing tree route, think carefully about the size. If you want your tree to last for a few years it's best not to get a real whopper at the get-go. Conifers grow quickly and you'll soon find yourself scaled up to something unmanageable. Think also about handling. I've chosen a Nordman Fir, which has soft, dark green needles that won't jag the good-humour out of me when I have to replant it, and will also look rather splendid when contrasted against the other foliage outside.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Friday 20 November 2015

A charm of goldfinches ...

Did you know that a gang of goldfinches are known as a charm? No, me neither, but I'm going to use it at every opportunity. It's just too charming not to ... .

I've got a few of these little chaps who come to feast on niger seeds just outside my kitchen window. And I'd hate to add up all the time in my day that gets lost admiring them. In the bad old days these little guys were under threat from the caged bird trade, but one of the RSPB's first campaigns, Save the Goldfinch, happily turned the tide, and now they're growing in numbers again.

All the best for the weekend,

Bonny x

Saturday 31 October 2015

Still blooming through Halloween ...

We've come to stay with my parents in South Tyrone. My mum's a Halloween baby, and we're helping her celebrate with a birthday weekend to wrap up Emi's half term holidays. One of the many amazing things to impress us over here in Ireland is how her garden is blooming late into the autumn.

I am deeply envious. I garden on not-very-wonderful London clay, where I have to work really, really hard to get the good things to flourish. The weeds seem to do just fine for some unfathomable reason, but I struggle to produce all the wonderful colours that seem to appear almost effortlessly over here.

Friday 23 October 2015

Dahlias ... the stars of the autumn garden ...

I've fallen seriously in love with the dahlia. Sadly I don't have any growing in my own garden, but I'm beginning to feel very envious of all the other folk who do.

The other day, down at Forde Abbey in Dorset, I was very taken with all the colour and cheer that they brought to the perennial borders in the drizzle of a grey afternoon. It was a dreary day that had little to recommend it (other than the splendid company of the good friends with whom we were passing the time) but through all that dismal weather the dahlia stole the show and shone its colour through the gloom.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Crockpot apple butter ...

My house smells wonderful at the moment. If I could bottle this aroma and sell it as the essence of autumn I think I'd make a fortune. Jo Malone would definitely be interested ... .

I've been busy with my crockpot making apple butter, and the waft of spiced apple is everywhere. Emi came home from swim club and remarked on it before I'd even got the front door open ... .

And happily the product of all this industry tastes as good as it smells. I think apple butter is a Dutch or an Amish invention, and it's really worth trying. You can use it like jam on toast or muffins. It works beautifully as an applesauce substitute with pork or cold cuts, and you could also serve it as an accompaniment to some nice strong cheese.

The secret to making this delicious apple butter is to cook the apples very slowly over a low heat without letting them burn. So you see the crockpot is the ultimate gizmo to spare you toil and trouble. If you've got one, you'd have to be crazy not to use it.

Anyway just read on for my recipe.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

The Apple Harvest ...

Last weekend we had a go at picking some apples - as you can see! The weather was glorious on Sunday, and we all mucked in.

If there's one thing that makes my heart sing at the end of summer it's the apple harvest. We usually have loads of apples. Our trees are heritage varieties from Devon, where the emphasis is on working apples for cider or cooking, rather than sweet dessert types.

Monday 3 August 2015

How to waterproof your seed drill labels ...

The other day I was mooching around a rather fabulous garden, where they had everything organised and cared for to a level that I can only aspire to. I happened upon these seed drills where they'd recycled some used water bottles to water-proof their drill labels. It's such a simple but effective idea.

Attach your label to a stick, and then house it in an upturned plastic bottle, and the rain's not going to wash away your ink: genius!

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Sunday 2 August 2015

The Lost Gardens of Heligan in high summer ...

The last time we visited the Lost Gardens was in the springtime. They were divine. The apple trees, the bluebells and the wild garlic were blooming and the rhododendrons had just passed their best and were dropping great carpets of cerise petals on the ground.  Last week we returned to see them at the height of their summer glory. And, whilst they were very different from how they'd looked in the springtime, they delighted us with displays of ripening fruit, larder-filling vegetable drills and happy farmyard animals hanging out down by the orchards.

I've got nothing against the great Renaissance gardens or the celebrated English Landscape Movement that set out with the single objective of being pretty. All of that stuff rocks, but what really makes my heart sing is a beautiful, practical garden that's full of things I could feed my family with. And that is where these gardens come into their own. Yes, they're pretty. Yes, they please the eye. Yes, they tick all the boxes on the aesthetic check list that add up to good design. But the highest compliment that I can pay them is to say that they, quite literally, look good enough to eat.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall