Monday, 31 March 2008

Sunny Sunday

Wow yesterday was like the first proper day of spring!

I had a great day in the garden, managed to get loads done, mostly stuff that has been put off up till now due to the weather.
I planted the cute little blueberry bush that I brought on Saturday from Widcome Garden Center, its a 'Bluecrop' variety that's should fruit around June and is pretty hardy so should be ok over winter, this is down the bottom of the garden with the other fruit trees.

Then I managed to get 2 rows of my Desiree potatoes in, as they've been sprouting like crazy they should be off and running now there in, I'm going to stagger the planting of the Maris Pipers by a month or so, last year I bunged them all in at once then we ended up with more potatoes they we could cope with come the summer!

Next on the list was getting the peas in the ground, I started them off in the green house nearly 2 months ago in newspaper pots, they were getting a bit strapped for root space so have been waiting for a dry enough day to plant for 3 weeks now!
The Pea Bed (as it will now be called!) has had a lot of organic matter dug into it to improve the soil quality, mostly out of the compost bin, but also several bags of mushroom compost too, helpfully provided in £1 sacks by our local independent garden center Gardenalia (incidentally, this is a BRILLIANT garden shop, if your in the area check it out!).

As our garden is on a south facing slope and is very well drained we do have a slight problem with plants drying out in the summer, the year before last most of our peas suffered from dehydration, last year I tried an idea I had read about somewhere, I buried a layer of corrugated cardboard about 2 feet below where the peas were going, to act as a sponge layer, retaining water that their roots could tap into. This should have worked in theory, but as last summer was the wettest one for about 30 years I have know idea whether it would have helped or not? Anyway I have decided to give it another try this year (plus we have a load of cardboard packaging from our new log burner that needs using up)

Here's me putting together our cane A frame, all looking surprisingly neat!

Just a quick note about watering in our garden, we only use the water from our 4 water-butts and our pond, we have never used mains water, ever. We are very luck to be able to have as many water-butts as we do but anything planted in our garden is expected to toughen up and fend for itself, I generally water stuff when its fresh in the ground but this is fazed out as the plants get bigger, till we are only watering in the late evenings on the very hottest summer days.
Having good soil that retains the water well helps but I have found that most of the stuff we plant copes pretty well with this level of neglect, the same generally goes for the flowers too, I try to buy stuff that will cope with dry conditions and little water, consequentially we have quite a lot of lavender around the place (plus it's one of my favorite plants, so that works out ok).

And what did Rich do while I was slaving away on the veg patch, he cleaned my car the little star! using water from the water-butts of course!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

New Fence

I have been dieing to get our fence down the right hand side of our garden finished for over a year, we did the top half the year we moved in as it was all we could afford to do at the time, previous to this the boundary had been marked by some old phone cable nailed to some short poles which were rotting away.

Here's the before:

and after:

Not very exciting I know but I cant wait to get it finished so I can grow nasturtions and sweet peas up the wire (and our cat will be pleased as it stops peoples dogs getting in the garden and chasing her!)

More Brick Paths

No not mine this time, my parents!

As promised here are the pics of my Mum and Dads garden (notice the use of the lovely old bricks) the large tree is a cooking apple that when in fruit, will unceremoniously try to concuss anyone sitting on the bench under it by dropping the larges apples in the world on you. Still it looks wonderful and whats the odd brain hemorrhage between family.

Mum and Dads place is a typical 1930's end of terrace house, so they have a slightly larger garden than the other houses in the row, for years it was mainly grass, a few raised beds and a play shed in the middle of the lawn for my sister and me, this accompanied by a manic border collie meant my parents had to put up with a garden covered in kids stuff and dog crap for a very long time!
So when we moved out and the dog was to old to care, my Dad set about redesigning it, actually I think he drew it out on the back of an envelope in about a hour one afternoon (this is how he usually works and the stuff he designs like this almost always works out, jammy bugger!)

The garden is surrounded on 3 sides with 6" privet hedges giving it quite a bit of privacy, the bricks and the paving slabs are all recycle, meaning they almost all came out of skips! Dad would come home with the odd couple of bricks every few nights till he had enough, I think the slabs were someone he new who was taking up a patio and he offered to take them off this chaps hands (most of the stuff in their garden has turned up like this, basically my Dad was rescuing old rubbish out of skips before it became cool!)

This is a really nice garden now, its lovely to sit in during the summer and my Mum has now put fairy lights in the tree so we can stay out after it gets dark, I love summer at my parents house!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Easter Goodies!

Happy slightly belated Easter.

We when up to Shropshire for a few days to see our parents, I always like to think of this as a nice cheap little holiday but I invariably end up spending twice as much as normal (this is you're fault mum for encouraging me!)

Anyway I had a particularly good time as we when to lots of good shop's selling cheap plants and seeds, always a winner with me, the first was Charlies Stores, this is mainly a wales, west midlands based chain, sadly the don't seem to exist down in the west country which is a shame as they are bloody good shops, so from here I got some Desiree seed potatoes (£2.99 for a big bag) and marigold seeds.

Next on the list was Wilkinson's, again sadly Bath is laking a good Wilco's so I usually take the opportunity to have a quick look when in Shrewsbury, from here I got 2 packs of Anemone bulbs, a pack of peony bulbs and two willow trellises for my peas to grow up, again all at bargain prices, I thing the whole lot came to about £10.

And lastly good old Morrison's, reliable as ever, I managed to get some mixed salad leaf seeds and instead of an Easter egg my lovely parents brought us a cherry tree, some wild flower seeds and some corn flower seeds. They know me so well!

All in all a dame good weekend, oh and it was nice to see Mum and Dad and Rich's parents too!

I've been thinking of putting some pics up of some of the gardens we visit, just to show were some of my inspiration comes from, (also I like blogs with loads of pictures!) so hopefully in the next few weeks I can include some shots of my parents garden, designed and build by my clever Dad, you will be jealous, I am!

Oh an one last thing, Rich gave me this little chap instead of a chocolate bunny, he's cast iron and is going to sit by my lavender bushes. I'm a very lucky girl!

Saturday, 15 March 2008


We have a small pond in our garden, its up near the house and is fed from the rain water pipe of the roof of the cottage, the run off pipe comes off the main down pipe like it would if you had a water butt connected to it, but instead it runs under the patio and comes out into the pond, pretty clever right!
I wish I could take credit for this but it was the guy who owned the house before us that set this ingenious system up, in the summer I can water all the plants on the patio without having to use mains water at all.

Its because we keep it for watering the plants that's we haven't put any fish it in, but we do have loads of frogs and even newts in there come summer (which help keep on top of the slug problem for us), so I was really pleased when I spotted this today:

New Plants

I love buying new plants, although I usually have to ration myself other wise I will go mad and spend a fortune, if however you happen to be on a pretty tight budget like us then a great place for plants is Morrison's. We have a small one in Bath which unfortunately doesn't have a big plant section but they do have some stuff, you have to be quick though as new plant's goes fast!

Rich usually has a look for me when he does the food shopping in the week, so as its Saturday and raining (again!) we nipped down for a quick look. I love the fact that lots of supermarkets seem to have started selling tree saplings in recent years, all the fruit trees and bushes in our garden have come from Morrison's, we now have a cooking apple, an eating apple, a pear and a black current bush. Some people have told me that their not great specimens from here but we have had quite a lot of fruit from ours and at £4.99 for an apple tree as apposed to the £25 from a garden center, I'm afraid I have to go with Morrison's.

Anyway today I managed to get a tray of 40 Lobelia seedlings for £1.99, a red Jasmine for £1.79 and a pack for basil seeds for £1.50, bargain!

The Jasmine will hopefully grow up the wire fence between us and next door, adding a bit of colour and attracting bees!

And talking of new plants, my seedlings in the greenhouse are coming along amazingly (despite being showered with flying glass!) I cant wait to start planting out, roll on spring!

The Bloody Wind!

As you will have noticed we have been having crap weather here in the UK of late (the tail end of a hurricane or something?), considering our cottage is on the side of a hill I had thought we got off pretty lightly, that's was until I got home on Monday night to find shattered glass spread over half our garden. It seems our poor greenhouse that had managed to survive 2 years of storms have finally lost some glass.

We have a window in the roof that's opens up on hot days by way of a automatic wax opener, unfortunately I had forgotten to disconnect this and because the sun had come out on Monday, despite the 60mph winds, the bloody thing had opened allowing the wind to get in and pop the glass out, shattering it every were in the process...great!

So my greenhouse is now sporting a lovely patch job, done in roughly 15 minutes before it got dark on Monday evening:

Surprisingly it has lasted about 5 days so far, I didn't recon it would last 10 minuets (thus proving Richard right!)

Anyway I am now waiting on the arrival of some supposedly shatter proof perspex to replace the window, and a remind note to myself to close the damn thing on windy days!


So far I haven't mentioned what I do for a living, I'm an artist for a greeting card company in Bristol, so 5 days a week from 9 till 5 I get to draw and paint, I sometimes can't believe I actually get paid for this. Quite a lot of the time it feels like cheating, because I really like my job, I'm always afraid someone will come along and make me stop doing what I enjoy and get a real one!

What has this got to do with my garden? Well the latest card range I been working on is inspired by my garden, so here's a quick peek:

That brick path pattern looks familiar!!

These cards will be available to buy soon from on-line greeting card company, all of these cards can be personalized, so you can put the recipients name on the front, pretty cool! (although obviously I'm biased)

Hope you like them!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

I Love Hydrangea's

These are one of my favourite flowers and I've wanted a hydrangea bush for ages, so a big thank you to Rich's Mum who was very kind and brought us one last week!
I then had the agonizing job of deciding where to put it, if its too far down the garden I'll never see it but I don't have a enough room in the flower bed up by the house, in the end we decided to put it in a pot on the patio. Our patio is pretty small but its a really little sun trap and with our Bath stone cottage radiating heat all day most of our plants that like it slightly warmer end up here, it also means I can see it out of the front room window!
So it was on with the delightful gardening jumper again (which is actually one of Rich's but I keep stealing it)

Doesn't it look pretty!

And my favourite colour too, hopefully I'll be able to cut some of the flower heads and dry them for in the house.

Sticking to the Plan!

Here I am doing my best to stick to my plan, this has however already been some what buggered by the fact that about half the onions I put in seem to have failed (this my be me planting to early, out of excitement in January), so on my day off my first call was to one of the local garden centers to pick up another onion set:

Here's the current onion bed:

As you can see there were some pretty huge gaps between what has come up and what had failed, so I just filled in the gaps:

What a lovely jumper I happen to be sporting here!

Hopefully these ones will do better and I'll have enough onions for Autumn.

Monday, 3 March 2008

The Plan

Most of my seeds are in the greenhouse waiting for the weather to warm up a bit before I risk putting them out, so while I wait for that I have been painting pretty pictures, pictures of my veg patch! (yes I'm that sad).

Here is the plan for the coming year, I've never bothered to do one before and usually by about May I've forgotten to put stuff in or its in the wrong place and hard to get at, so this year I'm super organized:

It remains to be seen if I actually stick to this.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Garden Table

I love garden furniture made from seemingly old rubbish, this is something I've gotten from my Dad, who is an avid skip diver! When Rich and I were at uni I found this old singer sewing machine base in the shed of the house we were living in, it was covered in rust and had obviously been there ages, so I didn't feel to bad about giving it a new lease of life. For a long time it served as my dressing table with a top and mirror made out of scrap wood by my Dad, but when we moved to our cottage it was too big to fit in anywhere, so has spend the last year living outside on the patio waiting for me to do something with it:

I finely managed to nag Rich into knocking up a top for me this weekend (poor bugger), we had a old scaffolding plank Dad has rescued from somewhere so off he went:

After a decent coat of wood stain, we now have a very lovely table, wood worm and all!

Brick Paths

One of the reasons I became so hooked on gardening was that in 2005 I visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan, anyone who's been will know exactly what I mean, I went again last year with Rich and it was still brilliant! Anyway one of the things I loved best was the productive garden's with all their beautiful old red brick walls and paths, ever since then I have been desperately wanting to have some little paths in my veg patch.
As Rich pointed out it means I could get at the veg without accidentally crushing something and when it is wet, but mostly I wanted them because they looked so pretty.

Rich and I are avid users of Bath Freecycle which happens to be they best way to kit out your garden and give new homes to unwanted stuff, its a grass roots recycling scheme started in Mexico but seems to have spread all over the world now, I don't want to ramble on to much about how great I think this is (because if you already know me then I've probably bored you enough already!).
So anyway, we got offered about 40 old red bricks that were coming out of someone's garden, Rich was dispatched to go and collect them (he's so good to me!), however when he arrived at the address it turned out to be more like 120 bricks.

Knowing how chuffed I would be with these Rich packed them in the back of his poor little car and brought them home, what followed was a weekend of path laying hell for Rich and tea and coffee making for me but it was all worth it:

Mmmmmmm, pretty!

My own mini and slightly crap Heligan!

First Post!

This is a blog about my garden, I decided to start one mostly for my family and friends (some whom live pretty far away sadly!) so they can keep up with what I'm doing, but for anyone who stumbles across this who isn't related to me, I'm Kat.

I live in Bath with my boyfriend Rich and a psycho jungle cat called Stella, we have a little cottage on the outskirts of the city which happened to have a huge garden attached, we weren't really look for a place with a garden so suddenly getting 60' of weeds was a bit of a shock, did I mention we have never done any gardening before in our life's.

This is roughly what it looked like just after we moved in:

It looked like this for quite a while as I didn't have a clue what to do with all that space, eventually I decided to attempt growing some of our own veg:

I was told that broad beans and sweet peas where about the easiest things to grow so started with them, I quickly moved on to a row of lettace (which bolted like crazy) and tomatoes in our green house:

As it turned out I totally loved growing stuff, the tomatoes where the best that year as they didn't require you to do much but water them and you could eat the fruit right off the plant.
The year after I got a bit more serious about what I was going to grow, this time the tomatoes went into large plastic tub's with an irrigation system from my rain water barrel to keep them going, the difference was amazing!:

Anyway the point is I'm now hooked on gardening and growing veg, so basically when its too wet or dark to be in the garden I can play with my new blog!