We’re calling it ‘Strawberry Saturday’

So the sun is out – hot and 26 degrees. Felt hotter in the full sun working hard pulling weeds! Arrived in the morning after a nice breakfast on a terrace in south Hampstead, and once we finally wound our way into the site and onto our little plot we were amazed to find that our strawberry patch is ready to harvest! Had a fair-sized collection from the early ripeners. So tonight’s going to be strawberry and rhubarb crumble. Yum!

Had a great day on the plot. The garlic beds are looking like they are almost ready to harvest. The little pea patch has perked up and is growing well in front of the shed. There’s sign of life with the sea holly at long last. The gooseberry bush is showing signs of fruit, but we’re living dangerously and disassembled the netted cage around the gooseberry and currant bushes, so we’re hoping the birds leave us a few fruit this year. And the deep red damask rose is in full glory.

Cut a few long stemmed roses for home, a posy of Sardinian oregano, a handful of chive… (along with our strawberries and a few wands of rhubarb) and by 5 we were back in our little flat, watching the Giro ride around the bay of Naples and relaxing.

Lovely days!

PS: Swung through the Regent’s Park on Friday at lunch and checked on their Echium patch. I’m amazed to say that our Echium in the back patch is doing much better and looks healthier than the plants in flower at the royal park. Wow!

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April Update

Everything is springing to life. Flowers everywhere. We’ve had a bit of cold snap in the last week of April – a shocking return to winter conditions: grey, overcast, and quite cold at night. But the growth continues apace. Last summer I sprinkled honesty seed around the woods beds full of hope, and this spring we have lovely drifts of purple flowering honesty (aka money plant). They’re thriving nested in around the mid-woods Echium patch, and some of them stand waist-height, creating a dramatic splash of colour. Just shows the wonders of lazy gardening – simply cut seedheads and sprinkle around the place and – voila!

Big patch of lovely honesty in the woods. (24 April 2022)
Back patch brick island bed with towering Echium and Field Daisy in full flower. The cherry tree blossom is starting to fade mid-April.

We planted white and pink Asiatic Lily, Lily tree and Gladioli into brick lined island bed, after a full afternoon of turning over the soil and digging out grass and weeds. Fingers crossed for a spectacular display later this summer.

Early flowering clematis growing on the climbing rose pergola post. (24 April 2022)
Bluebell and forget me not add early touches of blue to the peony beds under the large cherry tree. These beds also have developing patches of self-seeded wood violet. Lovely! (24 April 2022)
Peony patch, late April 2022. Beds mulched with lovely & light leaf mould from the woods. (24 April 2022)
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Wood Mouse in the Leaf House

During the week we went out to check on the lily beetles and harvest some fresh rhubarb for a spring crumble. And we spotted a tiny little wood mouse – one on the path and the other a veritable king in the castle, peeking out from the very top of a leaf composter. Very cute and very tiny! No bigger than my thumb.

The little guy on the path was hopping along with big huge feet, which helped to identify these little critters as ‘field’ or ‘wood’ mice – as distinct from house mice. To find out more about types of mice in the UK see the Woodlands Trust identication guide.

Wood mouse on the woods railway path. Check out the huge back feet. Helps him hop along at speed.

Tres cute!

late April 2022

In the UK Wood Mice do not hibernate and can live up to 3 years. Due to so many predators they tend to live only a year, but these little critters have plenty of nestling spaces providing safe mouse houses. We decided not to dump the kitchen waste slops on his head, but I did place a nice chunk of cucumber in at the top of his composter castle to give him a tasty nibble.

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Mid-April Update – woods & allotment

Cherry and back patch (17 April 2022)
(Sunday 17 April 2022)
Honesty in the woods. Taking up the flower parade from the now fading pulmonaria. (17 April 2022)
Showing the various height of honesty and Echium, mid-April.
Popcorn sprouting in the allotment growing shed. Malink is delighted. Go pops go! (17 April 2022)
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Saturday at the Plot

Our little slice of heaven. Felicity didn’t lose her hat in the wind storms! (24 March 2022)
We tidied up the strawberry patch. Fruit already forming! (24 March 2022)
White tulips at Felicity’s feet. Lovely! Spreading sweet woodruff fills th rest of the patch towards the raised bed that houses our blueberry bush. (24 March 2022)
Flowering Vinca with ladybird. (24 March 2022)
Ring necked parrot on the willow tree. (24 March 2022)
There’s a parrot nest in the willow tree.

We visited a garden centre on Saturday morning to see about getting blight resistant tomato plants. No luck! But we did pick up snow peas, garden peas, a flat of purple french beans and red lettuces. I planted the peas and lettuce but still have to plant the beans.

Peas planted in the bed – with a garlic plant as company. (24 March 2022)
Malink tidied the shed – which now houses a selection of hot chili plants, peppers, two small tomato and the purple french beans. The tomato and chili will get potted up and kept in the growing house – the beans have to be planted out into the plot soon! (24 March 2022)
Peacock butterfly on beautiful greengage blossom. (24 March 2022)
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Sunday Fleurs – Echium Explosion Commences

We’re down with the bug and have joined the ranks of the Covidians. So not up to doing much in the yard. But the sun shines and we wanted to check on the garden. And guess what?? The big tall Echium in the middle of the back patch meadow has magically come into flower. Wow! We started this plant three years ago and it’s now finally come to flower. Sadly, after flowering the plant will die down – but not before a real explosion of flower – and we will be sure to keep the seeds to start it all over again.

Echium Starting to Bloom (20 March 2022)
Echium Blossom provides shelter for love bug lady-bugs. (20 March 2022)
Shasta Daisy – early spring flowering in back patch meadow. Hollyhock growing to the side. (20 March 2022)
Back patch peony plant spearing towards the light. Memories of Brenda & Jim, good neighbours now in High Heaven. (20 March 2022)
Close up of Wild Wood Violet in the Perennial Beds, Back Patch (20 March 2022)
Cheeky cheerful low growing yellow flowering Celandine grows in the grass along the perennial flower bed in back patch. (20 March 2022)
Hyacinth and wood violet in the Woods half Circle Bed. (20 March 2022)
Stripey leaved Tulip in the woods patch.
Grape Hyacinth and forget me not grow at the base of Dinah’s Hibiscus Tree. (20 March 2022)

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Giants Awaken

It is the start of spring. An astronomical fact measured in the tilt of planet earth. And all the trees are sighing with abandon and relief. I’ve been convalescing with covid and feeling quite sorry for myself but the big guy’s taken lots of photos of green giants to cheer me up. Life springs forward and can’t be stopped! Whewf!

Weeping Willow – Hampstead Heath – green emerges from black winter branches (Mid-March 2022)
Blackthorn blossom by Men’s Pond Hampstead Heath – to be remembered for sloe harvesting late summer!
Ancient Oak on the slope towards to boating pond, Hampstead Heath – city of London on edge of horizon.
Cherry blossom in splendour at Highgate Cemetery
Fiery Camelia bush on Savernake Rd – right before the bridge over railway to the Heath.
Magnolia in bloom.
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Spring is upon us

Enfin! At long last, emerging from the funk of winter. Spring has been with us since January – with the annual appearance of snowdrop. But this year things are a bit screwy, shall we say. We’ve had crocus very early in February, along with daffodil. Wood violet are in flower and have been for at least a few weeks, and lungwort is also in bloom, as are the meadow planted vinca with their pretty open faced blue flowers. The primrose in the half circle bed have come and largely gone – they were flowering since January! Tulips are out by late February/ early March. The climate’s gone a bit bonkers to be fair. London still has frost alerts at night but day temperatures can be balmy in the teens.

Plants and flowers that used to show themselves in steady succession are all out together.

Daffodil, Lungwort, tulips tous ensemble!

Hyacinth in Mary Barnes Bed of Lismore Circus Community Woods (early March 2022)
Crocus lawn of Lismore Circus Community Woods (in bloom since February 2022)
High hopes for Echium – with the meadow planted Echium already developing visible flower buds and reaching for the stars! Photo with chief Echium grower taken early March 2022.
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February – Gales & Flowers

Neighbour’s fallen shed

February 2022 has been fairly bleak – with huge wind storms (3 major storm fronts in a row) that blew over sheds and created chaos at the allotments.

But our plot stayed safe.

Even our garden maniquin mascot Felicity Fiacre stayed upright.

The winds didn’t even blow her bowler cap off.

Not so lucky for many at the allotment plots.

Our near neighbour with the plot closest the main path along the railway line saw their entire shed blown over.

Potted cyclamen with bluebell emerging in front of the pot. late Feb 2022
Flowering cyclamen planted in autumn and now in flower. The wicker basket is planted with hyacinth which are starting to emerge. (late Feb 2022)
Tulip in the strawberry pot – overlooking towards the raspberry patch and garlic plots behind. (27 Feb 2022)

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Woods – 20 Feb 2022

Crocus lawn and bed around Michael Palin oak tree. Photo by G – Sunday 20 Feb 2022
Pink primrose & pink-blue lungwort in blossom (Sunday 20 Feb 2022)
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