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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Garden jobs and first harvest

Instead of showing pretty pictures of flowers and the garden looking at its best, I feel like showing some pictures of jobs I've been doing about the place. Oh OK, as well as. Of course I want to post photos of what's in bloom, but there's some work that goes on 'behind the scenes' too! I feel like I have finally caught up with all the jobs that needed doing since coming back from my holiday, mostly planting/sowing, pruning and horrendous weeding, and now I have just the routine chores to do, which I hope I can keep on top of.

First up, it was time for my straggly old Rosemary to have a haircut. This photo doesn't show it looking at its worst but I did want to show at least one photo of the front garden looking reasonable...... ;-)

Back in May when the Aquilegias were at their best - the Rosemary is the straggly thing
flowering right at the back behind the fluffy Bronze Fennel

Errrrm, a haircut? Where did it go?


Well it needed it, yes really. And under all that mess where it had rooted into the gravel, I found two new plants of a reasonable, about 18" tall, size. Also two walnut trees, more chives and lord knows what else.  Most of which have to come out but if it's something that hasn't flowered yet it has had a reprieve. I haven't completely butchered the rosemary as it actually has some fresh growth right down back into the thick woody stems. I must add that this was one of the nicest smelling garden jobs ever, even better than pruning lavender!

We'll see if it can come back to life and form a reasonable shape
after this major haircut!

In the following photo, although you can't see because I never took a before photo (because I hadn't realised before that I was going to go slash, hack and chop crazy), I have chopped off the 3-4 foot long new growth from the honeysuckle on the wall, lifted the canopy of the purple Prunus a bit (which is finally growing into something actually resembling a tree, at long last), pruned back about half as much again on that ivy covered tree stump, and finally, for the first time ever, pruned the Eleagnus into something resembling a shape. That's the shrub on the left. As you can see by the pile of jackets on the ground, I didn't start off warm, but I ended up pretty hot!

Sometimes I do some work in the garden :-)

Although mostly shade lovers in here,
they are happy to have some light again!

Then there was the weeding. And edging. I expected the grass to grow, but the weeds have been worse than normal this year because I mulched everything non veggy with our best home made compost. Unfortunately that's full of weed seeds.

Somewhere in here there are plants that are not weeds.

I allowed the red poppy to stay!

In fact this border has become twice as wide, because there are flowers on
the other side of the fence in the veg patch now. On purpose!

I've often got shrubs that need a home, but I don't know where to put them! Here we had a brainwave to try to screen off some more of the hideous propane tank. I know the shrub in the background looks like a dead twig, but it does actually have some leaves and is a kind of Lonicera which my parents in law grew from a cutting for us. It will grow enormous and have to be kept under control, and is very highly perfumed. I've forgotten what it's called offhand. I have another one too and don't know where to put that one! In the front is a variegated Dogwood (Cornus (probably) alba), another cutting that came from a friend's garden. I've got to really stop this taking cuttings business!

One day they will screen the tank a bit!

Harvest time - first of all the Elderflowers are putting on a magnificent display this year, and have been flowering for several weeks now. I've made two lots of Elderflower cordial, and there'll be loads of berries in the autumn for the birds, and for me should I want to make any jelly or cordial.

I have a couple of trees beside the stream in the orchard.
Elders don't get planted, they just appear, thanks to bird droppings!

They have really pretty flowers

Strawberries have been fantastic and whilst they are coming towards the end there are still plenty more to pick! I've made two batches of jam and given some fresh strawbs away, and we've been eating them twice a day for a couple of weeks now. They have really appreciated the cooler weather. Recipes for Elderflower Cordial and Strawberry Conserve posted last year here.

Yikes. Strawberries. Lots of.

This isn't really a veg patch update per se, but when you've just spend hours hand weeding in amongst your Alliums, can you blame yourself for wanting to post a photo of it looking pristine, for that five minutes that it lasts?

Spuds in the background. Allium bed with, from left to right:
Garlic, Leek seedlings, blank space colonised by Magenta Orach and Dill, Red Onions, Shallots and Parsnips.
With a Sunflower planted in a gap.

Which leads me to.......

Hoorah! At last, our first new Potatoes (Belle de Fontenay). And more strawberries!

And now I've just noticed that the Raspberries are starting to be ready to pick. Help! :-)


  1. Looking good Mandy Babe, but that's a serious amount of weeding to be done. Both Rosemary and Honeysuckle benefit from a good hack, IMHO and unless you cut below the growth they'll come back with a vengeance.
    BTW, in Germany, well, to be honest, in Bavaria, they cut the elder flowers and then dip them in batter and deep fry them. Delicious, but incredibly sweet. You can't eat more than say, a couple of kilos............ :)
    A Nonny Mouse xx

    1. Thanks Nonny ;-) Everywhere that I put the compost was just a mass of weeds - can't win, cos if I use bought stuff it would cost a fortune! Not to worry as it's all been done now. The honeysuckle got seriously hacked back last year after the whole lot, trellis and all, blew off the wall in a gale. I don't think you can kill honeysuckle!

      I know people make elderflower fritters but I have never tried. I got a bit put off because there are tiny black pollen bugs in them. I hate pouring boiling sugar syrup over them though, poor little things..... :-)

  2. Those strawberries look lovely MM, all they need now is some clotted cream!


    1. haha! Usually when I eat them with cream I go for double cream. But you know, these days I much prefer them with greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. Or just fresh and warm straight off the plant! I'll save the clotted cream for going with the jam with scones. Thanks Philippa. :-)

  3. Such a wonderful garden! Lots of work involved but I would love every moment :-)

    1. Oh Marianne, you know if you ever need a break from that relentless heat.... plenty to do here to keep you occupied - just bring your winter clothes for our summer! ;-) Thanks for commenting and I hope you are surviving your heatwave. I've just read about the firefighters being killed whilst battling the wildfires. :-(

  4. Thanks for the invitation but I've had many years of gardening joy and am perfectly content with my memories :-)

    Yes...overwhelmingly sad regrading the young firefighters. Most of the Western states have had several years of drought so the danger of fire is something we live with. Our Monsoon (literal translation "southwest wind") has arrived and we're praying it brings rain. Last year, it brought mostly dust storms :-(

    1. Well it was worth a try! ;-)

      I do hope you have rain rather than dust storms - I saw your reply on your blog about how little rainfall you have in a year but I'd have thought anything falling during your summer won't last long as it will dry out so quickly. I've never lived anywhere with the risk of wildfires and would be terrified. I know that flora regenerates quickly enough but unfortunately humans live in these areas too (and critters!). It's a tough one.

  5. oh that veggie garden after being weeded looks good enough to go into a magazine :) Lovely to see your garden ... and I didn't mind the weeds. That little poppy flower could have had it's own little post on +Poppy Pics. :)

    I've got a load of lavender that is all leggy and needs to go. I'm hoping to take cuttings this weekend - didn't this afternoon as I was glued to the tennis. I've been prunning using the french sturdza method on my prunus tree and about the tackle the silver pear tree. Dreading doing it as I know that under that part of the garden has loads of weeds too and the soil is like a brick under the tree.

    1. Hi Rosie - thanks very much! It's not often that my veg patch looks pristine so I had to take a photo! I had forgotten about your Poppy theme so I will have to get snapping.

      Now I'm going to have to look up that pruning method....oh and guess what, the best explanation happens to be your blog post about it, which I'm currently reading and following the links.... Thanks Rosie! Hadn't heard of that before. Sounds very interesting!