Sunday 31 July 2011


After yesterdays garlic harvest, today I collected kale, peas and some beetroot, plus the last of the broad beans.

Thanks to Kevin's trusty bike trolley, it's no problem getting the food home from the lottie.


And here is today's harvest, plus some ex-courgettes I picked the other day too.

The kale will be blanched and frozen. There is plenty more growing and with so much food coming in at the moment we cannot eat everything straight away, so storing some for winter.

The purple podded peas (bottom right), look pretty, but are better for soups than eating fresh from the pod. However, the green Robinson, from the Heritage Seed Library (HSL), taste great just picked and will get eaten quickly. I've left quite a few on the plants as I'm saving some for me, and to send some back to HSL.

As for the marrows, these are going to become cakes, such as Lavender cup cakes and Coconut cake, thanks to my wonderful vegetable-based (and largely gluten free) cake cook book, Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache. Yum.

Saturday 30 July 2011

Garlic harvest 2011

Today I finally harvested the garlic. And here I am, tired (it's bloody hot out there*), but happy with the harvest.

The picture below shows them drying on racks. Yes, I have cut the stems short, I won't be plaiting the garlic. I did try once but it was really hard and took me 30 minutes to do one with about 9 bulbs on it! So I'm forgoing the plaiting. Just drying it so I can eat it.

I will be saving some of those that I've tried over the last year and liked. Some will not be saved, as either the bulbs are too small or don't seem to grow big in my soil. I'll also be giving some away at the Barracks Lane Community Garden harvest festival on 10th September. This will include all of the Irkutsk which is so strong that a quarter of one clove in an omlette was massively overpowering. We couldn't get rid of garlic taste for days. We love garlic, but our affair has it's limits.

If you have vampire problems and/or want some powerfully strong garlic, I have a few bulbs I'll be willing to post out (UK only).

*hot to me is over 20 degrees. Now you can see why I don't want to live in Australia!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Lush July

The back garden is looking really lush at the moment. Thanks to all the rain in the earlier part of July, it looks a little like mini-jungle in urban Florence Park.

It's hot for a fluff-ball like Merlyn. Notice how he is right on the edge of the sun and shade?

Saturday 16 July 2011

Garden visit: Bryan's Ground

For some time I've wanted to visit Bryan's Ground. I've read about it in gardening magazines like Gardens Illustrated and RHS's The Garden. And I've read other gardening bloggers experiences of visiting, such as VP's back in May, where she got to see the irises in the orchard in bloom. I admit to being envious! It also happens to be in my favourite part of the UK, the Herefordshire-Welsh border. So when Kevin's cousin Nigel, and his partner Andy, two keen gardeners themselves, heading over for a visit from Melbourne suggested we meet at a garden, say, Bryan's Ground - it seemed like the moment had arrived.

I always get a bit nervous when arriving at a garden I've heard so much about. There is often the great chance that it won't live up to expectations. I need not have worried, Bryan's Ground is beautiful, fun and considerably more wonderful than I could have hoped.

The garden is a wonderful mix of 'garden rooms', of calm and formality, vibrancy and humour. Owners David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell have developed the garden around the house, using the house as a backdrop to, and and as part of the garden. In the  picture at the start of the blog you can see the house being used for wisteria to grow up, to sow boarders mixed with annuals and perennials to blend and contrast. In the photo below, you can see that the house is also a stage upon which the garden can perform.

There is so much fun in the design of Bryan's Ground. These formal pyramid-type shapes above are not box or yew, the usual choice when shaping bushes or hedges, but our native hawthorn (poss. Crataegus laevigata). And when they do use yew, the cut straight at the top to create doric-like columns, rising up amongst the greenery and flora like broken temples.

The fun is explored in a variety of ways. Objects that may of us would throw away become sculpture, like these old bikes hanging from a tree over towards their arboretum...

The base of an old spring bed to grow climbers up, and making art out of an old boiler...

Turning bits from cars into fun for young and young-at-heart...

And using the remaining bed frame to make a delightful grass bed.

All these quirks only added to some lovely planting. I was reminded yet again, of the wonderful blues of Anchusa azurea 'Loddon Royalist.

And the lovely subtle beauty of Astrantia's and Geranium's.

Even minus the flowering irises, the orchard teamed with fecundity.

And around every corner was another delightful blend of recycling-as-art and planting. I picked up couple of purple sedums,  Sedum Bertrum Anderson, to take home for one of my stone planters, and as a memory of this elegant and witty garden.

In fact I spent so much time focussing on the plants and garden that I didn't get a photo of Nigel and Andy, so only have this brief shot of Nigel to prove we were really there with them!

Bryan's Ground is only open from April to July as the owners apparently view it as a spring-early summer garden. I suspect this is modesty, I'm sure it would be beautiful and hold interest all year around. I certainly intend on visiting again. Perhaps it will be me next year, rather than VP, showing you photos of the irises in the orchard!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

The garden from an alternative perspective

I was playing around with my new camera whilst lying down on the grass in my stonewall garden. I found it was a very interesting way of looking at the garden.

my arch, with Rosa Seagull climbing over it

a foot's point of view...

Birch and cloudy blue skies