Friday, 30 July 2010

One brick at a time

Now I'm on holiday its full steam ahead with our building project. We are awaiting planning permission and Im trying not to think too much about that. The whole reason for developing this project is that none of the rooms on our house look onto the garden. The house is of its time when picture windows wouldnt be 'wasted' on the back of the house. If all goes to plan we will have a two storey extension built sympathatically and in keeping the rest of things, with views onto our garden and looking up to the church we were married in...aaah. If things dont go well, then ...well like I said, Im not going to think about that!

Either way we had to knock down the existing extension as the damp was horrific in there. I think BH was pleased to be getting on with something but I would rather be doing it with the next stage fully agreed. When you see it at this stage it looks pretty horrific - I keep reminding myself to have faith - I know that BH isnt planning a permanent outside loo!

BH is doing this on his own and I know he's getting fed up with barrowing rubble aready - hang in there BH, it'll be worth it just to get rid of those tiles!

It does mean that the top of the garden is getting some attention as neither of us can bear to look too much at the garden surrounding the gravel pit. I think I will follow the lead of many of the blogs I follow and focus on looking for a beauty spot each day, so that I focus on the right stuff.

Todays feelgood factor came from these...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Scarecrow fever...

We know how to have a good time in Yorkshire!

Not for us the monotony of the shopping mall and the carousel of consumerism, oh no...when we want to have a good time we make scarecrows!

Scaresheep in fact!

We had a family day out, a brief respite before work starts on the big build, and visited the Muston village Scarecrow festival.
This has been running for a few years now and lots of villagers get involved. I'm amazed by the effort that goes in and by the new ideas people come up year on year. We had a great time scarecrowspotting!

Citygirl was with us and I could tell she wasnt sure and her expectations werent high, but that was before she saw this!

The ScareSnowman!

The Village Green came complete with its own Morris Dancers...

and resident band, (i'm glad to see the moles that were digging up my lawn have found gainful employment!)

I even got to meet my heroes Tom and Barbara from The Good Life (although BH insists I'm more of a Margot - cheek!)

I think we might be in danger of converting Citygirl to country fun, particularly after she found these lovelies!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Meet Pearl...

BH promised me that we could get another dog just as soon as I was working closer to home...well on Friday I finished my long haul commute ready to take up my new post in September, so on Saturday I kept him to his word!

Pearl is a tenacious Jack Russell pup. She's only nine weeks old but she's already showing us what shes made of. When we first introduced her to Arthur she nipped him on the nose just to let him know she's no push over!

We were worried that they might not get on, or that he might stand on her, but so far so good. He's really taken to being a big brother and he's really gentle with her. I'm not sure who's going to be leading who astray!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Holidays are here!!!

Hoorah!!! They're here at last - after counting down the sleeps and asking how many 'get ups', the summer holidays are finally here! I intended to write a post each night this week as I counted down the days but what with school discos and Governors meetings and what have you i've been too tired to write my own name never mind anything else. But Friday came at last - the end of the term and for me the end of an era, as I finished the job i've been doing (a long way from home) and prepare to take on one much closer to the old homestead. Hoorah!!!

These were waiting for me when I got home...

...along with balloons and my very own ticker tape parade - bless my tribe - they've seen me through every get up and were still there to blow the champagne corks when it came to an end!

This cake was made by one of my parents - I am in awe of their talents and intend to copy this for all my friends!

Once the champagne bubbles have faded I intend to spend the rest of the summer in the garden - the weeds are gathering momentum and it feels already as though the season is slipping away from me. I cant believe I'm excited about raking and hoeing but there it is! the only thing that looks lush in the border at the moment is this Yarrow 'Summer Berries' and even that is in the wrong place and needs moving next year...

But the best thing about breaking up for the summer, the very bestest and loveliest most smashing thing of all is... no more dashing off before breakfast to commute and leaving these two lovelies in bed; and a whole summer of 'Jesse and Woody' fabness ahead - double hoorahs all round!


Sunday, 18 July 2010

From Blue to Green...

Since we returned from our getaway weekend everything has been non stop as I head towards the end of term. Ive hardly been in the garden this week...and its given me a case of the mean blues! Ive got the 'my rockets all gone to seed' blues, the 'my flowers seem to have all bloomed at once' blues, the 'I've lost my first crop of gooseberries to the pigeons' blues and to top it all, the 'its July and it wont stop raining' blues! I told you...the mean blues!

I was too blue to even post anything!

Until...we had a brief interlude of sunshine on Saturday and after donning my wellies and heading to the greenhouse I found some reasons to be cheerful!

I bought this little Hosta about a month ago at the Burton Agnes Hall Garden Fair, and it really is little. Its called Mouse Ears and its leaves arent much bigger in reality. In the space of a week it had sent up these beautiful flowers - just what I needed. I've heard of hope in a jar - maybe this is hope in a pot!

On the plot my heart sank again as i saw a cloud of white butterflies, but was lifted when i discovered these Kohl Rabis starting to swell (this was a real treat, because I'd forgotten what I'd planted and I thought they were cabbages!)

Even in the borders where my favourite blossoms seem to have gone as quickly as they arrived, and which now look faded and shabby, there was a nice surprise in store. I planted these beans in here a while ago to see how they would do in the mixed border and they've suddenly decided to go for it.

All in all we had pretty good pickings for the day and my two little helpers were able to load up the basket for teatime. We had kale and courgettes, garlic, peas and of course beetroot. There were plenty of raspberries too to take our minds off the absent gooseberries!

Of course, no sooner were we inside than the rain came again, but now i'm looking on the bright side - no need to water the lawn! And its inspired me to work on this blanket - the colours are inspired by Violas, my favourite flowers - the hope being that it will remind me of Spring when we're in the depths of Winter...plenty of green to keep the blues at bay!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Urban inspirations (episode 2)...

Day two of our travels saw BH and CityGirl disappear off to the GrandPrix, leaving me to my own devices. The children were away having far too much fun with grandparents, Arthur was staying in the doggy hotel and the chucks were being fed and watered - what was a freerangegirl to do?! I got to spend the day with my total garden inspiration bud, who started me gardening in the first place - Garden Girl!

GardenGirl is an amazing plantswoman and the array of specimens growing in her urban garden is stunning. This is my second visit this year and everything seemed to have changed again as her successional planting is coming into its own. Earlier this year the garden was alive with allium blooms and hues of purple and lime green,now the colour scheme has transcended into pinks and deep greens. I am, as you can probably tell, a bit in awe of Gardengirl and her borders, my only regret is not writing down the names of these lovely plants!

Whats extra amazing about this garden is that ive known Gardengirl for a long time, since her first garden in fact, where many of these larger trees and shrubs were first planted - when she moved the plants came too and are really established now - its like watching them grow up!!!

This seat came from the original garden - its where we used to have a good old gossip in our youths - boy, if timber could talk! I love the way GardenGirl fits plants everywhere without them ever looking too crowded - genius!

I had to put a picture of this Lavender in, I love GardenGirls attention to detail - I made a new gardening resolution to pay more attention to detail! (lets see how long that lasts!

But I've finally found what GardenGirls secret is for a fantastically well kept garden - Watering Pixies, or is it child labour, i'm not sure! GardenGirl has definitely trained GardenBoys very well!!!

We had such a great day, which left me brimming with ideas and inspiration for our Freerange Garden. Before I gathered up a weary BH to return to the Shires, GardenGirl dug me out some plants and loaded up me up with cuttings - now that's what I call friendship. I cant wait to get digging!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Urban inspirations (episode 1) ...

Wow we've had a busy weekend - our last weekend away before school breaks for the summer and i can get stuck into the garden and BH can start building things. Once we had watered everything and pegged down the netting we headed south to visit family and friends back in London. We stayed with my absolutely fabulous sister in law - the City Girl to my Freeranger! CityGirl has been up to her eyes in house restoration and gardening herself and we think shes done an amazing job!

CityGirls castle in the clouds is a restored chapel. The front is covered in this amazing Virginia Creeper which although it needs taming every couple of years is worth it for those too few weeks a year when it turns a rich beautiful red.

The country life has definitely made it to the City though as CityGirl wasted no time at all in getting raised beds built and getting her crops in! She had a few funny looks from her neighbours at the time, but now I think they're eyeing up her salad leaves - hands off!!!

I am amazed by the produce CityGirl gets from her front garden. We picked cucumbers this time, but shes also got peppers and lettuce bursting out all over the place...

But every CityGirl needs somewhere to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour...

Space is limited around the house, but a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show gave us some great ideas for small space gardening. You can't believe the revamp this area has had - its unrecognisable from the yardspace that it was and is an awesome retreat from the manic city life surrounding it.

Theres not much room for pots so CityGirl has installed living walls - Its almost impossible to walk past these without running your hands through them. This square is repeated across the wall like a patchwork, it is interspersed with black grasses - tres chic!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Razzer Dazzlers

Last year we were given a bucket full of raspberry canes by my top gardening guru buddy Kylie. We planted them, built a frame for them to grow up, nurtured them, ate about 6 of them and then watched the birds devour them. Like fools we left if far too late to net them and when we did our netting was draped too close to the fruit so the pesky birds just helped themselves.

This year we were better prepared and they are literally caged in. BH constructed the Fort Knox of fruit netting to keep the birds out and the fruit in. This has also stopped my lovely children from munching them all - its almost stopped us all as its quite a task to get into it - but its definitely doing the job, and now we have Razzers raring to go!

Fingers crossed we're going to have a better crop. I wish we'd planted some autumn canes as well now, but theres always more you can do in the garden isn't there? For now I'm just thankful that these little beauts look like they might make back to the house!

If anyone has any tips for maximising raspberry crops i'm all ears - we cant get enough of them...

Monday, 5 July 2010

And the beet goes on...

As a child I was reknowned for my appetite, no picky eater reputation for me, my mum regularly rolls out the story of my eating new potatoes whole, drinking from the vinegar bottle and climbing on the dining room table before i could walk to polish off a blackberry pie. I do not tell you this out of pride, nor do i recommend such rudimentary table manners, but to explain there wasnt much i wouldn't touch...

apart from


broad beans


and mussels.

My how things have changed...I grew tons of these this year as I was given plants or the seeds were free and the magic of growing them outweighed any reservations I had about the end product. My conversion really started last year but is in full flow with this seasons harvest.

I can't get enough of these radishes in all their Peter Rabbit pinkness. Picked early they're still lovely and crisp and totally gorgeous with guess what...broad beans. Okay, the beans arent from our plot but I couldnt wait for ours to be ready (I never thought I'd be saying that!) When the beans are still young they're tasty in their skins. Mixed with a splash of Olive Oil and lemon juice and then sprinkled with rock salt they're perfect.

But woman can not live on radishes alone - so we also harvested some of our beets tonight, to be honest we've got so many we are going to be harvesting them every night. Last year our beet crop was less than impressive but this year we are more than making up for it. These Boltardys give a perfect little sphere. The only down side to them is that despite successional sowing they're all ready at once!

I'm addicted to beetroot salads at the moment and I cant get enough of this one. The beets are simply boiled until the skins slip off then chopped small. A couple of large dollops of low fat yoghurt are mixed with a good squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoon of whole grain mustard and a crunch of black pepper. Its that easy. The hard part is getting it to the fridge before it gets scoffed. Oh, and did I mention its fabulously, luridly, shockingly pink!

So whilst i started growing veg to get my children inspired to eat them its had the desired effect on me too.

But I still think mussels are the work of the devil!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Introducing Arthur...

Todays blog was going to be about my lovely new garden seat - its an early birthday present from BH and my folks. I came to day to find it built and in situ - no small feat if you'd seen the weeding that took place to reveal the paving slabs! I was led up the garden for a grande reveal and tadah!!! here it was. I am undecided whether or not to grow something up it - at the moment Im just enjoying its pristine tidiness (which is not a typical state to find anything in here!)

Until now our only seating options in the garden were some borrowed patio chairs and an upturned bucket so I cant tell you how happy I am. After lots of ooh and aahing i decided that to really do it justice I should get a glass of something nice and enjoy the evening sunshine in my new seat - at least that was the plan. Only on my return I found that I had been usurped!

Meet Arthur! He is our Airdale Terrier, He's two years old, lovely and as mad as a sack of badgers. I think he was feeling a bit left out and decided to get in on the blogging opportunites! To be honest the only reason he hasnt been on the blog so far is that he rarely stands still long enough - as you can see...

He's a terror when it comes to knocking plants over and the veg patch is off limits to him at the moment as he tramples everything in site - so no wonder he's looking for sanctuary.

Heres one of the plants that I daren't plant out yet until i find an Arthur free spot. Its a 'Big Daddy' Hosta which I bought at the Chelsea Flower show. That sounds so glam until you picture me carting this across London - trust me, it earned its name well - it weighs a ton!

and these...

I have no idea what they are but they spring up from out of nowhere and put on this amazing show.

As long as there's not an Airedale on the loose!