Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Great Escape

Patricia Mason over at Woodlousehouse is currently having some trouble with a mound of soil and the large hole beneath it that has appeared in her greenhouse.  Whilst she is confident it isn't a mole - her blog reminded me of an event that took place in my garden last summer.

Please allow me to set the scene.......

It's 9.50 am - I was rudely awakened from a deep sleep by a set of ladders being hoisted up against my bedroom window sill.  Ten minutes to ten and "not up yet" I here you say, "what a  lazy so and so"!!!  I'm not really lazy - I work nights therefore it's still the middle of the night as far as I'm concerned.  As much as my window cleaner and his young grandson (the apprentice) are lovely guys - they do have a tendency to shout across the gardens AT each other and more often than not I get wakened.

I lay there, hoping to drift right back to sleep but that was just not happening.  I could just make out the sun's rays through the little gaps in window blinds, I told myself  'it's a lovely day - we've not had many of them so far this year, just get up and enjoy it.  You can always have a wee nap later in the day'.

Not being a morning person - all non morning people will know exactly where I'm coming from.  Down the stairs I shuffled in my dressing gown and slippers.  Finally I made my way into the kitchen - as is usual for me on a sunny day - I sit on the back step and have my caffeine/nicotine fix.  I call this step my contemplation step - most of my gardening plans are made here!  It's at this point cats usually appear, I give them a whistle to let them know it's snack time, they didn't come - just then the dog made a quick dash up the path to the side of the house.  I could here the bells on their collars ringing and as it was rather frantic sounding, my first thoughts - Is it a bird?  Is it a mouse?  Please don't let it be alive - no live prey - I'm not awake enough yet!

This is the mess that greeted me as I peered round the corner - what the heck!! What are they cats up to!!! I began clapping my hands loudly trying stop the cats wrecking everything in their path - their attention was just not being attracted!!  They were far too busy having fun!   

I ran back into the house to get some of their wee treats - rattle the box - that always gets their attention.  That wasn't working either.  By this time the dog had got in on the act and has running back and forth along the path.  Just what have they got?
There is no way this is a mouse or a bird - I would have seen/heard signs - I usually do!
As I was about to go in to put something a bit more practical on my feet, slippers are no good for rooting around in the borders!  I noticed that one of my Harts Tongue ferns had started to heave up and down at a constant rate of knots, then it dawned on me - what other animal could possibly be underground like this?
Much like Sherlock Holmes, I deduced there is only one creature that could be wreaking such havoc in my garden.....A mole!

Of course, Kooki and Titch already knew what was going on - I was the only ignorant player in this game!    I suspect that they must have brought the Mole to the garden - I have had the occassional deceased mole but never a live one before!  Oscar, like most other dogs, was only thinking of his stomach and the free meal
his pussy cat brothers have kindly provided, if only he could get at it.
 A fern lifted right from bed
As I pulled the plant out of harms way from prodding paws - I saw it but it was too fast for me.  Not that I had any intentions of trying to grab it - I was in a right muddle - what to do, what to do!!!

Where did it go Mummy?

He's under here yells Titch!

Enough was enough - I was not going to have my garden ruined by a mole, 2 cats and 1 dog.  I should add that my other cat Chip - who can only be described as a scardy cat, was now tucked up in the kitchen eating his biscuit treats!  Staying well away from the unfolding drama a few feet away!

another hole further along the bed
I racked my brains, what was I to do????  Just then I spotted the garden hose - do moles like water?  I wouldn't have thought so.  I quickly hitched up the hose and began blasting water down the holes it had made - by this time the movement under the soil was ever increasing as was the cats' and the dog's excitement!
With the water was pumping down the holes, I imagine the mole was by this time in a right panic, I stopped for a few seconds to see what would happen next......

Right before my very eyes a little hole began appearing, as you can see from the picture above - then low and behold, like a game of peek a boo!  His little snout appeared......
Peek a boo!
Then he was up and out!

Where are those pesky cats?

I don't know who's knickers were in more of a knot, mine, the cats or the dogs.  Still attempting to keep the cats and the dog away from the mole, (I had to give up taking pictures by this point) I need to allow him to make his escape.  He popped right back down the hole from whence he came, water by this time was gently spraying over the boys - the poor wee thing scuttled around underground for a while, then  he resurfaced near the front path - freedom was within his reach.  Can he see enough to make out the wide open field just yonder - I hope so,  he waddled right out down the path, crossed the road and into the field beyond!  Phew!!  What a relief!  I'm pleased Mr Mole has never returned to the garden, he's probably told every mole in the vicinity that there is a crazy pyjama wearing, water bearing, screaming banshee living here!

Later in the day, once the garden had a chance to dry out a bit - all the plants were firmed back into their spots - you would never have know there was a kerfuffle hours earlier!

Have you ever had a 'Dressing Gown' moment in your garden?

Just how glad am I that most of the neighbours are out at work during the day - I'm sure I would have been the talking point for most of the village if anyone saw me!

I hope my tale made you smile :)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

What a week it's been!  A real mixed bag in terms of weather - you name it we've had it!  I really am stretching the truth there - we haven't seen a typhoon, tornado nor a tropical cyclone.  We have had sun, rain, frost, wind, snow and hail.   It's set a few things back and others it just hasn't hindered!

The other week Helene over at Graphicality UK asked us when we considered spring was upon us - whether your answer was 1st of March, 20th of March or 31st of March (Clocks go forward) either way - one thing for sure winter wasn't far away this week.  I think many of us here in the UK had a short sharp shock!  I feel kind of pleased with myself that I didn't take the plunge and prune the couple of the shrubs that need doing at this time of year - even the Hydrangeas still have remnants of last years flowers, I've normally succumb to temptation by now!  Yes, yes - I know I live in Scotland and frosts here should/can be expected right up until May - I've learned that lesson this year!  Who did that blog/meme? - I'd like to link but I can't for the love of me remember who.  Was it you? Or do you remember who it was?

My post for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is certainly not as bountiful as I might have hoped but those are the gardening breaks, aren't they?  After all, what doesn't flower this week, might just surprise us next.  Being a gardener requires so many virtues - do they sell those in the supermarkets?  If so, can I collect bonus points!!  I wonder, will they be limited to 3 per person or if I'm really lucky BOGOF!

Lets take a wee look

Helleborus x ericsmithii - Winter Moonbeam.  This plant made it's premier last GBBD - only had one flower back then.  Having been under 4 inches of snow 2 days before this picture it really has picked itself up, unlike a few of the orientals.

Another Hellebore - Helleborus orientalis - White Spotted Hillier Hybrid.  Looking rather lonely on Monday just as the snow started - then followed by some hail.

Just look at how it is today - spot the difference?  Mum came home with a few more clumps of Snowdrops from the lady who is having landscape work done to her garden I think they look quite good beside the Hellebore.  Free plants, you just can't beat it!  Can you spot Primula Don Keefe tantalising me with a little bit of colour?  Narcissus Jetfire, bullet like buds, are just showing too!

Another Red Oriental Hybrid Hellebore - a nice dark colour on the flower of this one - this one has come through last year's flooding but sadly the Ceanothus that was providing it with shade from the sun sadly did not!  Nearly forgot it's white neighbour - that was stood on and completely flattened as I tried to get the Ceanothus out the ground - don't you just hate it when your clumsy feet get in the way - I may just rename this corner of the garden Calamity Corner!

These Iris reticulata have been flowering for so long - they really do deserve another slot this month!  Under the snow on Tuesday but they are still flowering today - I forgot to take a picture earlier.

A bit of a worm's eye view here - you don't realise how old you are getting until you have to get right down to the ground to get a decent picture then there's the bother of getting back up again - especially when this bed is surrounded with gravel!  A few choice words as the stones cut into my knees.

Corydalis malkensis - only 4 inches high.  Did not suffer any set back from the snow either, it bounced right back!  These are gorgeous little woodlanders with lovely ferny foliage.  It provides a wee glimmer of hope that spring is on it's way here in Scotland - a while before many of the spring bulbs are even considering revealing themselves to the world!

Further along the bed a wee bit Corydalis solida Beth Evans - doing a similar job and like anything else growing here in Scotland needs to be sturdy enough to cope with anything the weather throws at it.


Many of the blogs I visit have been busily posting pictures of their mature clumps of Crocus - I've been having to make do with admiring these from a far!  Yes, if that's you - I have been drooling - no excuses!
I could just not help myself.

Earlier this week, hope was on the horizon - miniscule tips of yellows and purples were beginning to appear. Before long they were under a layer of the white stuff!

Crocus crysanthus
The buttery yellow tones of this Crocus will soon enough open to reveal it's golden inners - today it is just teasing me!

I've a few purple Crocus dotted around the garden - they were odds in a group of yellow Crocus I planted a couple of years back - carefully removed and planted, they can naturalise til their hearts are content.  Plenty of foliage but lacking in blooms much to my disappointment.  I'm confident that disappointment will be short lived and I will have a tiny little clump of 4 or 5 flowers soon enough.

As usual - it's a delight to see you all and if it takes your fancy pop right over and join in with gardeners from around the globe share who post on the 15th of each month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  This meme is kindly hosted by Carol and believe me - there is a garden for everyone!  Whether you are looking for inspiration or just a wee nosy - it's the place to be!

For more information on some of the plants I've featured today, please click the links or visit my 'What's Growing' page - it is a work in progress and hopefully I'm providing a useful reference guide to all the plants growing in my garden.  I'd be interest in some feedback - if you don't mind.  Cheers!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Plant of the Century - My choice

As our days here in the Northern Hemisphere are getting longer, more often than not our minds will drift to the summers past and the summers future.  We really must spare a thought for those gardeners and designers who are being asked to nominate their 'plant of the centenary' for this year's show - they have quite a task on their hands.

If you would like more information please check out Michelle's blog over at Veg Plotting.

I must really thank her for the mention - so Thank you Michelle.

Without any fore thought, pretty much like everything else in my life, I nominated Herbaceous Peonies.  Even a keen beginner gardener like me know that these plants are steeped in history and go back through many centuries, millennia even!  So a strange choice indeed for my plant of the century - I know - but now I need to put my money where my mouth is, don't I!

A stalwart of English County Gardens for years -  the Herbaceous Peony has faced a decline in popularity over the last century but is now, according to some sources, regaining popularity, especially here in the UK.

If asked to choose my favourite peony - I doubt very much that I could do that - I covet these beauties and each time I visit my local nursery during peony flowering time, I get lost in the moment!  They specialise in Peonies and indeed won a medal at their first Chelsea Show last year.  More about them in a later blog!  I wonder what/if they will nominate - I must ask next time I'm along.

Here's what I managed to come up with.......

A favourite peony in my garden has to be dependable Sarah Bernhadt - As it's considered rude to ask a lady her age please keep it to yourself that she was introduced in 1906 - thus making her 7 years too old to qualify.

Paeony lactifora Sarah Bernhardt (AGM)
introduced 1906

Another beautiful pink peony -  Peony lactiflora Bowl of Beauty.  One of the most popular and famous peonies around.  Meeting qualifying criteria - introduced in 1949.  Might it's popularity be worthy of a mention!  Awarded an AGM by the RHS - must mean it's in with a shout, surely!

Paeony lactiflora Bowl of Beauty (AGM)
introduced 1949
An early flowering peony Blaze - introduced in 1973 - is a possible id for this mystery unlabelled beauty in my garden.  Already gone from bud to leaf here in March.  Whilst I cannot be certain that this is in fact Blaze - it's the most likely candidate due to size, nature, flowering time etc.

Possibly Paeony lactiflora Blaze
introduced 1973
I hope I've managed to justify my nomination with just a couple of factual points.  There are of course 100s of peonies that would have been introduced since 1913 but my real reason for nominating is this:

Herbaceous Peonies will always hold a very special place in my heart.  Each time I see peonies, my thoughts and memories turn to my grandfather, we called him Papa - you have to imagine me saying that word with a Scots accent which sounds more like Pupu - quite unlike the way it would be pronounced in one of those British Periodic Dramas on TV.  We could never be classed as posh, that's for sure!

Being of farming stock - he was a big man, his hands best described as shovels.  When not working, he was a blacksmith to trade, he would, more often than not, be found out in his garden.  He grew all his own veg, had a huge greenhouse - my thoughts now wander to the smell of tomatoes in a greenhouse.  He always had rows and rows of Tatties (potatoes) - the largest Rhubarb clumps I can ever recall seeing and many more staples.  There was a friendly rivalry between him and his neighbour next door, his obsession was roses.  Many evenings were spent over the garden fence discussing goodness knows what!

When I was 3,  my mother and father decided their marriage was over - she, her pregnant bump (my brother) and I went back to stay with my Papa, he became and remained our father figure until his death just before my 20th birthday.

Down the entire length of his garden he had masses of peonies and dahlias - my passion for peonies comes from watching him tend his beds when I was little - we were never allowed to play in the 'back green' it was only for growing things and never would we be found with a balls, bicycles or the likes round the back.  There would be trouble if we were!  

I never did inherit his love of 'grow your own', pricking out seedlings, digging trenches (or what ever they are called) for potatoes, preparing the soil for his carrots, turnips, brussel sprouts and cabbages.  Nor do I look at Dahlia tubers in quite the same way he did.  Whilst I do appreciate Dahlia blooms - I consider them too high maintenance for me! Lifted and stored for winter - boxes filled the shed in winter months.  All the fiddling about he used to do out there in spring -  no - they are not for me but I will never say never! His affection for his beloved Peonies did rub off and I'm glad it did!

I very much doubt his peony collection was anything special - there was reds, pink and whites, doubles and singles - all like soldiers - standing to attention, probably afraid to put a foot wrong!

Incidentally, had my Papa been alive today, it would have been his centenary year too!

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did reminiscing and writing it.