Archive for January, 2008

The bug is back…

It seems one nice weekend really got my gardening fingers itching. It really was lovely outside and this was probably exaggerated by the feeling of being trapped inside at work for AGES. (I don’t like these dark evenings – although it’s definitely starting to stay lighter longer which is good.) Sunday was also lovely – and not too cold – so I finished off the weeding from Saturday and then felt compelled to pay a trip to the plant centre. I returned with a tad more than the one plant I’d promised myself because they were having a 25% off sale, and everything looked nice.  See:

Getting carried away

I hope it’s not too cold next weekend as I’d like to be able to plant them. I have a funny feeling it might be a bit wintery next weekend though, so I may have had prematurely itchy fingers. Oh well – we shall see.

I’m also eager to put plans into action for the old Belfast sink that’s been upside down on the lawn for about 4 months now. It’s heeeeeeavy. I gave up trying to move it on my own, but if I’m lucky, I might have some assistance getting it to it’s new home this coming weekend. I have an idea for making it into a sort of bird bath using a mirror I’ve had lying around since my bathroom was done last year. (Recycling, you see – impressed?!) We’ll have to see if it works though….

And finally, since the sky was so gorgeous I had a go at taking photos of the holly by my front door. It’s beautiful this year. LOADS of berries.

Holly

[This bush is actually a mish-mash of three types of holly – with a bit of honeysuckle thrown in for good measure. Only one of the holly types shows here though. The next one along is similar shaped leaves, but variegated (green/yellow), and the third is also varigated (green/cream) but the traditional sort of spiky Christmassy holly.]

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So…how IS my garden growing then?

The very observant amongst you may have noticed I have changed my blog title. I never liked ‘The world according to Nez’. It sounds stupid, and I never had any truly worldly thoughts.  It was just all I could come up with at the time.

I’ve been trying to think of a better name for ages, and this week I finally found some inspiration. I’d been reading a book (chick lit – nothing weighty) in which one of the characters sang ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ to a small girl. This resulted in me humming various nursery rhymes to myself, getting as far as the second line of ‘Mary Mary quite contrary’ and thinking ‘hey…that’s an idea’. (It would be even better if my name was Mary, but sadly it isn’t.)

Anyway – I did spend a good couple of hours in the garden this afternoon. It was nice and dry, not too cold and I wanted some fresh air. I did a bit of wandering around with the camera, thought about going for a walk before deciding I felt like doing a bit of tidying up outside.

I started off by pottering about a bit in the greenhouse. I was given an Amaryllis for Christmas, and it’s quickly grown too far big for the pot it came with and there’s not enough compost to keep it anchored. The silly thing keeps toppling over (and naturally making a mess). Anyway, it’s now in a larger pot and staked with a smallish piece of bamboo so hopefully that will do the trick. While I was in the greenhouse I had a brief geranium (pelargonium?) inspection. A couple are still showing signs of life:

Inside the greenhouse...

After that I spent about two hours on my hands and knees having a general ‘weed’ in the flower beds. I didn’t quite get the whole way round before it was too dark to see what I was doing (and before my toes started going numb with cold) but I wasn’t far off. If I’m in the right mood, I enjoy weeding. You don’t have to think too much about what you’re doing, you can think deep thoughts, and you only need to look up every now and then to see the progress you’ve made which can be very satisfying. I just wish I had some plants to put in the nice crumbly looking soil now.

Things are definitely waking up. I hope they’re not doing it too early. These bluebells are certainly anxious to say hello. This is the first time they’ve been in this spot, having been moved last year, so I’m pleased to see they’re still alive. I hope they do actually flower. I’m not sure if a move will have an effect on that or not.

These are going to be bluebells

Down at the bottom of the garden, the baby rhubarb is now definitely visible to the naked eye. The bigger clump at the back is the one established bit I didn’t dig up last year. The two smaller bits at the front are ‘new’. I’m glad they appear to have taken. Down behind the greenhouse....

And to close, here’s an update on the hellebore from last week. (There are three more blooms in bud on the same plant.) It’s opened up a bit more so you can see its stamens. (They are stamens aren’t they??) It’s a bit awkward to photograph though as it’s insisting on keeping its head down as if it’s embarrassed about something. Don’t know why – it’s gorgeous! Please note the blue sky making a rare appearance.

Delicate

Nice Suprise

I’m not sure if it was genuine ‘stir craziness’ or subconcious procrastination regarding digital photography written homework, but I decided I absolutely had to have a walk this afternoon even though it was raining. (A weekly walk around the town is just about the only exercise I get at the moment. During the winter months, I generally ‘feel the urge’ on a Sunday afternoon as the ‘urgh…back to work for another five days’ and ‘double urgh…won’t see daylight at home again until next weekend’ vibes kick in.)

Before I set off, I had a quick look around the backgarden. There’s so little in it that I didn’t think I’d find anything of interest, but I did note that there are some bluebell leaves starting to poke out of the ground (which is promising since it presumably means they have survived their undiginified uprooting and repositioning last year). I was also really, really pleased to find this gorgeous little guy:

Hellebore 1

I love hellebores, but this is the first time I’ve got around to having any. They were all acquired late last summer. Most of them are baby plants which aren’t doing anything much yet, but this one was a little bigger when I got it and as a result has rewarded me with its first bloom. I love it! I’m just a little bit gutted that it’s down at the far end of the garden, which probably means I won’t get another look at it until next weekend now. (Damn these stupid short winter days….!)

The other baby hellebores look nice and healthy, but I gather it can take a couple of years before they flower, and I suspect that might be the case with them. However, I’m pleased to learn that they love to self-seed, and I’m hoping they will indeed do that in my garden. (At the moment I guess I only stand a chance of that from this chap as to self-seed the plant needs to flower.)

And to close, here’s an arty farty blurry hellebore photo.

Hellebore 3

Progress Report

Well….I’m a little busy, and I feel tired!

Kitchen skills update: I haven’t got too far yet it must be said

  • I have purchased a copy of the Nigel Slater book, but so far it’s only lurking on my bedside table awaiting further investigation.  (I currentlyhave at least 20 new books lined up partly on top, partly inside my bedside table…)
  • I have had a general kitchen reorganisation which, as well as throwing out the jars of pasta sauce that expired in 2006, incorporated the establishment of a “baking” cupboard. I’ve also invested in a proper a set of scales and a new mixing bowl too. 🙂 (Maybe next weekend I’ll actually manage to use them!)

Garden Update: Not much doing really due to only hours of light occuring whilst at work and incessant dampness at weekends. Last weekend I did manage to:

  • pull out the last remaining dead summer bedding plants (yes I know – shocking that they were still there).
  • chop back my penstamons and gauras which (lets face it) are the only things I have so far that need chopping back. The backgarden looks depressingly bare at the moment. I know I’m repeating myself, but I really hope the shrubs I acquired last year put on a bit of growth this spring/summer.
  • tidy up my white geraniums/pelagoniums in the greenhouse which I’m hoping to persuade to flower again this year – fingers crossed.

Getting around to things: I’ve been catching up on ‘stuff’.

  • First example – in December I temporarily gave up using my kitchen composter because I was fed up of washing out the thing each time I emptied it. I decided to use compostible liners, so I’ve just been waiting for them to arrive. Of course, they’ll probably arrive a lot quicker now I’ve actually got around to ordering them (yesterday). 🙂
  • Second example – I bought a pair of trousers that needed shortening. I’m not sure quite when I bought them. They’ve been sitting on the cabinet at the top of my stairs awaiting the pins and thread treatment for quite a while now, but they finally got it this afternoon. (Hurrah!)

College courses: I’ve been on the college courses two weeks now and so far I’m enjoying them.

  • Digital Photgraphy: I think it’s fair to say this one is my favourite. I’ve definitely learnt a couple of things already. It helps that this particular course tutor is organised and ready for us each week. The first thing he did was go through the course objectives, give us examples of previous pupils’ work so we got an immediate idea of what was expected. Then it was straight into it – getting us to use our cameras in particular ways. (A suprising number of people turned up without a digital camera though!) So far we’ve looked at shutter speed, motion blur, aperture and how they are all inter-related, and I understand a little bit better how some of the buttons and dials on my Nikon D40 work.
  • Web design: Well….the first week, you would have been forgiven for thinking they’d dragged the guy in off the street five minutes before the start time and begged him to teach it. He took ages to get going, didn’t really give much indication of the course aims, gave the general impression of severely ‘winging it’ and tried to send us home after two hours although it was a 3 hour course. This week was better. It still took an hour to get going, but when he finally got around to setting us something to do it was fine. I had been worried before I got there that I was going to be out of my depth, but I’m pleased to say this is not the case at all. I’m not learning much about html (I can already code this just using notepad – well up to a certain degree anyway) but I am learning how to use Dreamweaver properly (I use it at work – but on a ‘here it is, get on with it without any training or even a manual’ basis).

And that’s about it really. But I’m TIRED!!!

Awakenings

It’s not just me that’s trying to have some new beginnings.

I did a little tidy up and general inspection of the garden yesterday, and was pleased to notice that the two baby rhubarb crowns I moved late last summer/early autumn are actually still alive and beginning to do something. Woohoo.

They’re teeny tiny at the moment, but definitely there. Here’s the evidence. (Taken at 2pm this afternoon – it was an extremely gloomy day today.)

Numero uno:

Awakenings

Numero dos:

Awakenings

And next on today’s news….

I’ve just watched the late evening news on BBC1 and one of the stories was about a Greenpeace ship which is tracking a Japanese whaling fleet because they don’t approve of what they’re doing. I have to say I don’t approve either, but this post isn’t about the moralities or rights and wrongs of the issue.

It’s just that every time this story is mentioned I can’t help but find it amusing that the name of the reporter the BBC have sent along to cover this is … wait for it … not kidding…. no really – Jonah!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7154508.stm

Watch out for the Bears

Courtesy of CBCtv on You Tube. 

I can’t help but smile.