Gardening month by month – and photographing it.

Yesterday’s post was all about an idea that failed. Today’s concerns one that sparks the imagination. I discovered it first when reading the excellent Edinburgh Garden Diary, produced by Joanna, a resident of the Scottish capital and a refugee from London. She photographs her garden each month (her End of Month View) and links it to scores of others via Helen Johnstone’s also fabulous blog, The Patient Gardener.

Helen’s blog is well established and her garden, as with the more recently enthused Joanna, a thing of beauty. Many bloggers contribute from around the globe. This blogger may well do so. When I’ve cleared my leaves up!


BLACK+DECKER GWC3600L 36V Lithium Cordless Blower Vacuum

Product reviews seem the prerogative of YouTube but I’ll do my best. I purchased the lithium powered Black & Decker Garden Vac and Blower yesterday, tried it this morning, returned it this afternoon. It is rare in life that one purchases something totally useless but I’ve managed it. Well, not totally useless – it blew the dried beech leaves out of my garage well enough though the grilled suction inlet is impossible for a right handed person to use without it adhering to your right leg. Sucking small dry leaves up and chewing them up was not quite so good however but a triumph compared with the real world.

The damp beech leaves on the lawn proved an impossible obstacle for the blower. It shuddered when confronted by larger maple leaves. I switched to the sucking tool. Big problem. The guard over the inlet would not open unless helped on its way with a screwdriver. Eventually it was removed and the nozzle for the vac part of the tool attached. Ten seconds in and a very mediocre twig jammed it. The screwdriver came in useful again but other than unscrewing the whole device it was impossible to extricate the twig and leaves to full satisfaction. It never recovered to tell the truth. I tried a second fully charged battery but no joy. And that guard stubbornly remained tuck. Even the guy in the store couldn’t pull it out as per instructions. I offered him my screwdriver.

Money back! I have some excellent battery powered garden equipment from Black & Decker. This was not in the same league. I’ll review other devices shortly. More positively I promise.

The kit straight out of the box and assembled easily enough.
The blower aimed rather stupidly at the hedge but I was holding the camera at the time.
The guard that should come off easily (to judge from one YouTube review) when pressing the button at the top of the photo. It didn’t.
The battery is one of two I have already. Very light and efficient though expensive to purchase on its own.
Power select. Well it works but the highest setting is inadequate for wet leaves!
With the help of my screwdriver I removed the guard. The larger suction nozzle connects to this.
And here is said attachment. The collection bag is underneath and there can be spied my trusty and very necessary screwdriver. 
The handle at the top is used to wield the vac when the bag is attached. (It never got full.)
All attached and ship shape I hoped.
And here we are in action. The leaves don’t look insurmountable do they.
Two batteries, one attached to charger.

Hodsock Priory, 20th February 2004

The best place near our home to view snowdrops in a beautiful environment is Hodsock Priory near Blyth in North Nottinghamshire. I have featured the gardens several times. I came across several twelve year old photographs that may be of interest.

As can be seen, there used to be a marquee tent used for refreshments where now the rather plush dining hall stands. Looking at the displays of snowdrops in this 2004 image, the display seems not so plush as last season!
Sam Arnott snowdrops in profusion and offered for sale. Now I realise where I first obtained my own supply. They have certainly spread in our garden providing our most profuse variety.
The display of snowdrops here fanning out in the lawns is more dense now, particularly special when viewed from the house itself or, more usually, from the top garden.
The display of Leucojum vernum has improved markedly over the years, the bulbs reveling in the moist soil by the lake. The Sarcococca shrubs are still there, though larger now and even more intensely fragrant.
The silver birch on the other side of the lake provide a striking white.
And here I am posing in the shades like some sad skier without snow.
The woodlands always look good. And I still wear the same jacket! Quality lasts.
This raised bank provides an ideal viewing point for the massed snowdrops. 

Donna Nook Seals

This blog is intended to be about plants but browsers should excuse today’s detour to the Lincolnshire Coast and a salt marsh on which breed hundreds of grey seals on the other side of a wire fence, seconds from the Stonebridge car park. We visited the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s site yesterday. The images from Donna Nook say it all. 

Our Front Garden, 14th August 2005

Looking back at old photographs of our garden is an unsettling experience for I realise how hard I worked before I retired from my paid job and travel took over. Today I go for ease of maintenance: eleven years ago I must have had more energy. Whatever, here is our front garden on August 14th 2005. I do find it odd when men tell me they have no time for gardening and make their garden into a car park.

I was very keen on cacti and agaves at that time, before the grandchildren came along in earnest and I gave the lot to a contractor who did some work on the roof. I must have been devoid of sense for they were valuable. But prickly …  and grandchildren are precious.
I was also keener on annuals. I am a little more reticent about growing them these days. I could change again, seeing these. In the left is a hydrangea that for some reason I moved into a shaded spot where it fails to do itself justice. It will be returned. The hebe suffered from a hard frost, poor thing.
I still have the rowan, full of berries in the summer before the birds descend on it. The tall helenium is scarcely remembered. A reminder of just how useful old photographs can be. I must remember next year to see how the roses and different perennials I have there now can rival this display.

Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise in late Autumn

The French bred Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise has done me proud in its seven years in our garden. Its pink flowers are a constant throughout the summer, never the star of the show but a reliable understudy. That is until the present time of year when the robust flowers turn a seasonal rich pink, almost purple, immune to the odd touch of frost. I placed it in the largest pot in my collection, under-planting it with snowdrops. The trouble is that in order to show off the spring flowers I have to choose a time, before butchering it with secateurs. But it is far too early for that.

Decisions on when to prune herbaceous plants is a tough one though a silver lining emerged when I cleared our perennial geraniums to reveal a number of autumn flowering Crocus Speciosus Conqueror. And seedling cyclamen galore.

Autumn flowering cyclamen hederifolium are just dying out now albeit one or two specimens have not been informed of their demise just yet.

And I had better make a call for the Rudbeckia that still flower and send out new blooms, sadly destined never to flower if the weather forecasts are to be believed. Summer still exists in our garden as long as they bloom.

Sissinghurst, Kent, 1st June 2016

The famous Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson’s Sissinghurst gardens were cold for the first day of June, a pity as it is a place to relax and enjoy the scents of very early summer.

The White Garden was super cool on a bleak day.
The azaleas led up to a sumptuous white wisteria.
Red poppies. Just the tonic on a cold day. Have I mentioned the cold?
Three iris varieties, two being bearded. I’ve no idea of their names.
Clematis ‘Asao’ 
Papaver ‘Fire Ball’
Clematis ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’

Large Flowered Evening Primrose, Nostell Priory

Further to yesterday’s post here are a couple images of the Large Flowered Evening Primrose that has reseeded itself year after year by the lake. The plant is a biennial developing tap roots in the first year followed by the beautifully scented flowers. It is easy to grow and, on the second of November in the sun, a delight. The leaves are also clearly visible in winter.

Nostell Priory’s Mature Trees

On Monday I was waxing lyrical about newly planted trees: today we enjoyed the more mature beauty of Nostell Priory and its glorious parkland on a cold but bright day with leaves in free fall. Such has been the dryness of October (driest in 65 years) added to the rain we had in a warm spring, it seems we are reaping the benefit of a perfect storm. The tree colour has rarely been better.