For those of you who have not visited these pages before:
Click here for ‘Young fox breakfast hour’
Click here for ‘The fat ball raider’ and here for ‘The fat ball raider unmasked!’
Click here for ‘The battle of the bird table’
Click here for ‘The dunnock in the snow’
Well, the Ice Follies’ flowers may have gone, but they are still making a fine crescent down the middle of the garden. I am only sorry that I did not sow some wild flower seeds in the middle. Next year…
and meanwhile, the bluebells have come to take their place…
And even though Tawny Pipit is rather sorry that I finally got round to mowing the grass, he does enjoy an early morning chat with the blackbirds.
11th May 2013
I understand that summer came – and went – last week while we were away enjoying a heatwave up the Troodos mountains in Cyprus. So, sadly, by the time we got back on Thursday the cherry tree had replaced its glorious pink flower clusters with leaves, the pieris’ flames had faded to yellow and camellia’s white flowers had been rusted by the rain. However, fortunately, both the camellia and the pieris had just come into flower before we left and I had nipped out with the camera….
And here is the pieris in full flaming glory…
and camellia in full snowy glory!
And, for those who are interested in such things – the pure white camellia, which has now been in place for 30 odd years, is very gradually turning rosy red. Maybe ten years ago it was all pure white, now about 10% of the flowers have a pink flash, or maybe a few pink petals. And we even have a couple of completely dark pink flowers! I am glad to say that I am unlikely to live long enough to see it turn completely red, but it is fascinating watching the process.
Although it is in the ideal position in that it is overhung by the cherry tree so is never in full sun, it is growing in heavy north London clay whereas camellias should like a loose, well-drained acid soil with lots of peat and sand which gives their roots plenty of room to breathe! Could that be why it is gradually turning red?…. An anti-clay protest?
22nd April 2013
As you will have seen from the main blog, the daffs did recover – indeed recovered to so well that they got given a whole blog of their own!! But since that will disappear while this page remains constant, here they are again – from the kitchen early one morning:
And here they are again, making a backdrop to the wonderful hat brought to my by my good friend Janet, from Grenada – made from palm leaves!! Please note the splendid bird…..
13th April 2013
It would, as my late lamented Uncle Desmond used to say, make a dog beat its father!! Having survived being waterlogged, frozen, snowed in and blasted by blizzards, our lovely new moon of daffodils have finally made it into flower – only to be beaten down by last night’s rain…. I am just hoping that their resilience has not been entirely exhausted and that, as long as it stops raining, they might gather themselves off the grass and rise up again…. At least Tawny Pipit seems to be enjoying them!!
For those who did not see the earlier pictures of my good friend Prudence (who gave them to me) and I planting the daffs (no mean task, I can tell you) please scroll down to last October…
As for other movement in the garden, apart from that brave camellia, not a thing!
30th March 2013
Apart from the snow-locked daffodils, the foolhardy camellia down at the bottom of the garden has braved the snow to put out one blossom at least….
While this brave little pansy has actually kept going all winter!
However, at least the dunnocks have survived the freeze – and have made good friends with Tawny Pipit!
2nd March 2013
This is the best that the garden could produce this afternoon – a brave little snowdrop and a tiny bunch of crocus which had come from I know not where…
and Frodo – who came to see what I was doing…..
…then headed for the cat flap…
…but will he ever fit through?….. Don’t worry – he is mainly fluff!
What a difference a week can make. This was our heron gritting it out in the snow only ten days ago…
…yet this morning I found these little daffodils down the bottom of the garden risking their necks by actually putting out buds… Do hope they do not regret it!
19th January 2013
Our very own snowman….
The snow came – and actually seems to have gone again pretty quick although a return is threatened. However it did last long enough to allow us to build a snowman – and to give Tawny Pippit (now in his winter quarters on the balcony) a nice white blanket…
Meanwhile, despite the inclement weather, we have had a sad dearth of birds? Has anyone else suffered the same or is the Lawn bird restaurant just thoroughly out of fashion? Strangely, about six weeks ago, we had one morning when the bird feeders were positively groaning with tits, robins and dunnocks – two or three on each feeder, several on the fat balls and several more, plus a couple of pigeons, on the ground. But since then – no one! Well, virtually no one – the occasional tit, a dunnock once or twice… What did we do?
In a desperate attempt to tempt them back I have changed all of the seeds to Bill Oddy’s favourite wild bird seeds, bought a new coconut shell of fat and yesterday, some house guests brought us this lovely little oak carved bird feeder. And, as you can see, a robin has come back, as have a couple of tits and my faithful dunnock – but whether this is down to the bird restaurant reburbishment or merely the snow, I don’t know. I guess the thaw will tell…
2nd January 2013
I don’t want you to think that I never do anything but monitor the dawn coming up from my bedroom window – but could you have resisted this one?…
However, somewhat closer to earth. This is one of the bushes in the front garden caught, early in the morning again, when the frost was still upon it. However, I am having a serious dose of early memory loss as although I knew its name for years, I just cannot remember what it is called…. I have combed the web, searched Google (and the RHS) for ‘deciduous small/low growing shrub with small leaves’ and many other version of same, without success, so anyone out there got any thoughts?….. It is driving me dotty!!
2nd December. Winter dawn over the Lawn Road garden….
Dawn over the Royal Free Hospital seen from Lawn Road.
17th November. A slightly random selection for this week, I am afraid: the cherry tree in the front garden just on the point of losing its leaves…
…the lovely little wild cyclamen in the back garden…
…and this cheeky chappy who was just sitting in the street scratching himself one night as we were walking home and who was not in the least perturbed by us coming right up to him and taking pictures of him! For some reason the foxes obviously feel that night time is much safer than day as, in daylight, you would never be able to get this close.
3rd November. The small acer in the front garden has donned and shed its autumn cloak over the last week and although this was not quite as brilliant an autumn in terms of colour as we have had, I did manage to catch the colour creeping up from around its feet.
This was this was around last weekend:
This was about 36 hours later – the colour already creeping up:
In its full flush, two days ago:
And now it is already shedding those leaves – helped by Boris who shook off a good few dozen as he emerged from, beneath it!
20th October. Well, the trees are really turning now. This is our lovely golden ash on the right and one of the acers on the left; the ash will now start to go brown but the acer should become a lot brighter…. But meanwhile…
My good friend Prudence Nuesink, author of the excellent booklet about mind-body medicine that you can now buy via the FoodsMatter site, comes of Dutch parentage and was horrified when she heard that I had totally failed to persuade any bulbs to flower in my garden. To rectify this, she had a bag of no less that 350 Ice Follies bulbs delivered to the house and arrived, the Sunday before last, to help me plant them out….
Well, 350 is a lot of bulbs – and she was very dismissive of my tentative suggestion that we should plant them at the bottom the garden. ‘Well, of course they don’t flower if you bury them back there under the trees! They need sun! What about a swathe across the lawn?’ Err…. right… How do we do that?
Well, this is how we did it – and jolly hard work it was too!! The really scary thing was that when we put all those sods of turf back, we couldn’t fit them all in… We had four too many! Now how did that happen? Anyhow, two weeks later, the squirrels have given up their rather half hearted attempt to dig up our sods of turf and the sods themselves have settled down so that you can hardly see where they were dug up any more.
(And no, as you can see, Tawny Pipt was very little help – as as for those cats…….)
Now all we have to do it wait – for that ‘host of golden daffodils’!
6th October. We are in that real in between season – all the summer plants are looking pretty well past their prime (not helped by a great deal of rain…) and the autumn colours have not yet kicked in. So this is about what every thing looks like – well worn, soggy and very green!
For those who fancy something more cheerful – how about the younger tasters at the FoodsMatter summer tasters’ party here.
22nd September We did get a reasonable day last Sunday for our Awards Tasters’ summer party – just about warm enough for a few brave people to sit out in the sun for a little while at least and enjoy the remaining roses and, much to my delight, a second flowering of one of the delphiniums!
Meanwhile, down the bottom of the garden Tawny Pipit is enjoying the last of the summer sun….
7th September We are having a splendid late flowering of our roses – this is the amazing floribunderous little rose given to us last year by Steve and Barbara from D&D Chocolates when they came to stay – and which had settled in amazingly well! Unlike the pink-flushed peach hybrid tea behind it which has made a major effort and produced all of six blossoms this year….. And this is its fourth year! How long do I need to wait?…..
And this is our lovely weather-worn heron, looking rather startled that he has finally managed to stick his head out from behind the miscanthus and is now crowned by a lovely purple cardoon flower!
25th August. The petunias are soldiering on (although, as I write, they are being lashed by the rain…), we have had a second flowering of roses and the Heavenly Blue morning glory has finally made it up the stem of the climbing rose, although somewhat reluctantly.
The only flowers that seem to be glorying in the swing cycle of boilingly, steamy hot and October chill with April storms are, as you can see, the non-stop begonias in the hanging basket. Although I suppose that, tucked under the roof of the summer house, they do get the best of the sun and protection from the worst rain and wind.
Anyhow, here they are – in close up and in context!
12th August. The petunias have, as you can see, made a very gutsy effort to overcome the onslaught on the snails and slugs….
However, there is not a lot else happening in the garden so I thought that maybe it was the moment to introduce you more comprehensively to Frodo….
28th July. As all other gardeners will be only too aware, the weird combination of sun when you weren’t expecting it followed by rain when you didn’t want it, has reduced almost everyone’s garden to a shadow of what it should be at this time of year… But at least the cessation of the rain has given us a bit of a break from the slugs and the snails! The petunias, marguerites and even a cosmos are making noble efforts to recover but whether they will ever make it….
However, some cheer – my agapanthus which have been in for three years now have at last made a sort of decent showing, as you can see (never had more than two blossoms before) and the third lot of delphiniums, thanks to about three boxes of evil slug-killing-turquoise stuff, have survived!
Meanwhile, the non-stop begonia basket (see below) is ‘doing grand’ as, of course, are the wonderfully indestructible fuschias!
13th July. The slug saga…. Well, as you can see, they made short work of the lovely pink double petunias which I had planted in the ground. I have now rescued what is left of them and put them into yet another pot in the hope that I might be able to protect them and that they might recover – although how any petunia is meant to survive the combined onslaught of the slugs, torrential rain, freezing cold and no sun I am not quite sure….
The beer trap did catch one slug last night but I fear that it was only one and it constitutes about 0.001% of the slugs/snails currently roaming the garden. Or maybe so much rain had fallen into the beer that it was too diluted to attract the main contingent….
The only bit of the garden which is managing to keep its end up is the green roof on the summer house and the non-stop begonias in the hanging basket – a welcome splash of colour down at the bottom of the garden. And slugs don’t like begonias!! No – really – it is not just that even our slugs and snails cannot mountaineer quite this high. I have a few more down in the ground beside the much-munched parsley and they are completely untouched!
1st July. Now you must admit, that the rose below is rather beautiful… Like most roses, it seems. it has taken a while to ‘bed in’ and give more than a token flower but this year it looks as though it is finally coming good….
1st July. Now you must admit, that is rather beautiful… Like most roses, it seems. it has taken a while to ‘bed in’ and give more than a token flower but this year it looks as though it is finally coming good….
Meanwhile, here is a red admiral who took up residence on Tawny Pipit’s back – and check in here for more shots of young foxes breakfasting.
17th June. As you can see, our foxlets have grown a lot bigger… Not sure how much longer mum is going to keep them as she is already looking a bit fed up…. But meanwhile…… we discovered that the little bird house which has been hanging, unoccupied, on the wall of the garden house, had finally found a tenant! Mum (or Dad) looking out on the left, and a very large open beak on the right!!
And down in the herbaceous patch our lovely, battered, rusty and pigeon-spattered heron is looking rather startled at how fast, yet again, the vegetation has grown up all around him.
Not that, if the slugs had their way, there would be any vegetation left at all! Just look what they did to once vigorous and health marguerites and cosmos… Looks like a desert garden!!
Just gone and bought a 3 ton bag of organic slug repellant!!
26th May. I could not resist including this picture as right down at the back, sunning himself on the corner of the verandah, is one of our new family of fox cubs… Four very tiny cubs – still at the bounce rather than run stage! We are not quite sure where they live and they do not come out very often – but when they do they are very sweet, although quite shy as this is the closest that we have managed to get.
However, very excitingly, we have also acquired a family of what we think are house martins in the little bird house that has been snuggling under the eaves of the summer house for the last five years, totally uninhabited. But no more… I have not yet managed to catch them with a camera in hand but busy parents are in and out on a regular foraging trips.
In purely floral terms the recent heat wave has had a dramatic effect on the rose and the clematis that grow up the mirror at the back of the house – as you can see…
The clematis is so lush and gorgeous that I really feel that it could have snuck into that Great Pavilion at Chelsea Flower Show. However, I fear that it may have one glorious week (there are currently about ten open flowers) and then sink into leafy greeness for the rest of the summer. We shall see.
For those who are interested, the rose is Golden Showers, the clematis Vyvyan Pennell.
Incidentally,hard though it may be to believe, the big white camellia which graces the front garden and which appeared on these pages on the 10th March (see below) is still flowering… Everyone else’s has long since given up but we still have (a few) new buds!!
19th May. Yes!!!! At last I have been able to mow the grass!!! Isn’t this the most satisfying pile? Only one of many, I might add!
Not that anything much else is happening – but then we have only had one day of sun, so I live in hopes. Anyhow, off to Columbia Road flower market tomorrow morning to see what cheap bedding plants are on offer. More anon…
5th May. With the exception of the knee high grass (which, as you can see, Tawny Pipit is thoroughly enjoying) the garden has more or less gone on hold… Only our little apple tree has really struggled into flower while a few tentative bluebells are testing the air.
Even the trees are reluctant to show too much leaf with the birch, acacia and ash tree all remaining almost completely leafless. However, bizzarely, but excitingly, a wisteria which already looked old when we arrived over 30 years ago and which has never done anything at all, has suddenly leapt into life and is winding its way through the acer and the pyrancantha. As yet it is only in bud but, just a few days of sun and it will look terrific.
As, hopefully, will the stunning double blue-lilac clematis which is growing up our trellised mirror and while was already in bursting bud when the March heat wave ended – since when it too has gone onhold, not prepared, reasonably enough, to waste its beautiful flowers on a nasty rainy day.
21st April. Our lovely old cherry tree is definitely regretting being conned by that warm March weather as it is buffeted by the wind and the rain – but at least it means that the blossom is lasting. In a warmer spring, once it is out, just a couple of hours of strong wind and we have lost the lot and have a pink-carpeted front garden.
However, the somewhat younger pieris which shelters beneath it (and I fear clashes with it…. I know that you are not meant to be able to have clashing colours in nature, but these two definitely do!) is doing fine, thank you very much.
Meanwhile, out in the back garden, Tawny Pipit is working his way down the garden, really enjoying the new grass and not minding the rain one bit!
7th April. A lovely spring day… Tawny Pipit (see below) has, as you can see, now ‘gone out to grass’ and is thoroughly enjoying it, while our African heron is also enjoying his moment in the sun. Later in the summer he tends to get lost behind the huge variegated miscanthus grass. The forsythia (about which I was so rude…) is full flower and the acer is just breaking into leaf. A few bluebells even popped their heads out last week, although, with a chill east wind whipping round the garden today, I think they are a bit dubious about going too much further just yet…
24th March. Early spring is not a great time in our garden as I have somewhat of an issue with daffodils. Well, actually, its not so much that I have an issue with daffodils, but they have an issue with me… They produce lots of lovely green leaves – but no flowers! I have replanted them, watered them, fed them, talked nicely to them and abused them – but to no avail… So now I just ignore them!
As a result, we miss out on the ‘golden crowd’ and have to wait for the forsythia and the japonica. I know that forsythia is the harbinger of spring– but I always find it a bit vulgar…. I prefer the delicate Japanese japonica flowers. This bush was here before we bought the house (30 odd years ago) and despite being in the most unpromising position (under the pyracantha and beside the barbecue) and being cut back viciously each autumn, it comes up good as new each year…
10th March. Well, what a change! Two weeks ago I was posting pictures of the garden covered in snow – and this afternoon I am out photographing the first camellias in the sun… But we all know what they say about March coming in like a lamb – and going out like a lion… So I am not getting the sun hat out yet.
Meanwhile, this rather beautiful white camellia lives in the shade under the cherry tree in the front garden. The pink one of the main page lives in a pot at the bottom end of the garden, behind the summer house – and also in lots of shade.
25th February. Winter has hit us just an enthusiatically as it has hit the rest of the country – as you can see. This is my lovely Japanese acer which I just caught before the sun melted the snow – and below is our summer house with icicles dripping from the roof…. Will my ‘living’ saxifrage roof survive?…..
Meanwhile, the poor little birds are struggling…. We appear to have a pair of dunnocks who are regular visitors – you can see one of them fighting through the snow to get to the food here.
I am afraid that the snow has pushed the cats off the front page of the garden blog for now – but they have now acquired a page of their own – although, at the moment, Frodo has it all to himself….. Boris and Mushkin to come… click here.
28th January. And this is Tawny Pipit! He is now well established on the balcony – although we feel that we need to ask Laura to make him some food for him to eat on the balcony until he moves down to the garden proper!
Those who wish to follow the progress of the squirrels up the slippery pole to get at the bird food should click here…
For first time visitors to my garden pages, below you will find pictures that I used earlier this year, some as blog headers, each with an approximate date and any information that I thought gardeners might find interesting.
You may also see one or two of our cats who have snuck into the images, sometimes under their own steam but more usually thanks to the ministrations of Photoshop. The ginger is Boris, best known for ensuring that at least 22 hours out of every 24 are spent asleep; the tabby is Mushkin, a busy cat who spends most of the day rushing around ensuring that all human and feline residents are present and correct; the very fine charcoal grey Norwegian forest cat is Frodo, who actually lives in the house whose garden backs onto ours, but likes the food on our side where he can also escape the rather noisy attentions of his owners’ small dog…
14th November This was early morning on the balcony outside the kitchen that overlooks the garden – as you can see, the overnight rain is still clinging to the leaves and the petals – but not distracting a late autumn wasp – or is he a bee? He seems too slim…
4th November. The long leaved dwarf acer in the front garden that still only stands a metre high although, over the years it has spread to twice or three times its height. Sadly, its colour only last for a couple fo days.
25th October. Yesterday the afternoon sun caught the acer, whose leaves are just turning, and the berry-laden pyracantha branches – how could any bird resist them? Although, pruning gardeners beware! Pyracanthas have the sharpest, toughest, longest thorns that I have ever met. I swear they can penetrate to the bone…
Early October. The zebra grasses at the bottom of the steps down to the garden are just coming to an end. Their pots seems to be far too small for the size of the grasses but I am assured that if I give them more space they will take the garden over!
Early September. I had some really magnificent fuschias in a hanging basket outside the garden house and they are still (mid October) flowering manfully. The wooden cat was a gift a few Christmases ago and guards the garden house.
Mid August. This little monkey was a regular visitor to the garden and sunned himself on the bank near the summer house. The cats and foxes seem totally uninterested in each other and although they do not actually come as close as I have them here, the appear to be quite happy to co-exist.
Mid July. My herbaceous ‘patch’ did really well this year and was greatly adorned by my beautiful blue delphiniums (the first time I have managed to grow them without the slugs eating them) and the delightful little red and white salvia, Hotlips.
June. My great success last year was mirroring the wall at the back of the house, covering it with trellis and growing things up it. There were a number of rude comments about Beverley Hills when I suggested the idea but once it was done, everyone had to agree that it adds a whole new dimension to the garden. Boris approves anyhow…
Early June. The pyracantha (which just loves north London clay and is unstoppable) was in full flower and a rambling rose, which I had quite forgotten that I had planted against the wall several years ago, has finally made its way up and pushed through the pyracantha. Boris and Mushkin admire…
Late May. The peonie in my small herbaceous ‘patch’, which has taken several years to get established, was in full bloom as were the lovely bright red poppies. Although I am not sure that Frodo really approves…
Late April. This ceonothus lives down at the bottom of the garden by the old goal posts – up which are meant to be growing two roses, Pink Perpetué and Alberic Barbier although they seem to be taking some time to really get going… This was the only decent flower we got out of Pink Perpetué this year! Mushkin looking superior!
Early March. The garden is just starting to come to life. The laburnum below the may tree is in full flower and the miniature daffodils beneath are just coming to an end. Mushkin snoozes in the early spring sun.
This was the first picture I put up late last year (2010) and shows the garden looking from the back of the house –garden house on the left, what started life as a goal in the middle and a table set on the stump of the crab apple tree which had succumbed to fungal growth and a saw earlier in the summer. Boris make his first appearance.