accidental colour & slug-fests in my june garden

We spent the first part of half term in Wales and my morning walk down to the village bakery took me past hedgerows bursting with purple foxgloves, ferns, red campion and sunny yellow buttercups. I was guilty of overusing the word ‘lush.’

Now we’re home, there may be fewer ferns and foxgloves (and glorious glimpses of sea), but lush is still the word that keeps springing to mind. Along with slug-fest that is.

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I’ve been hardening off lots of seedlings in and alongside my cold-frame and before we went away I was in a rush to plant them out. Some have fared better than others during the rainy days we were away; courgettes are doing fine, whilst French beans have been munched away so only their stalks remain.

I’ve been loving wandering in the garden and across the fields in the gentle after-rain warmth, enjoying the feeling of freshness and the shimmering droplets of water caught by ladies mantle:

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Slugs and snails have been similarly enjoying a wander around my garden. Salad leaves are being munched and the peas are nibbled as fast as they appear:

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Blackcurrant, redcurrant, gooseberry and raspberry bushes are heavy with fruit, inspiring me to dream of summery puds to come over the next few months. The rain is plumping up the strawberries well too.

Weeds from the field next door are also enjoying the great growing conditions but the comfrey I’ve planted along the field edge and around fruit trees is giving the weeds some fierce competition. And adding lots of nutritious layers to the compost heap.

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Even with all this growth, there are still some bare batches. Namely, around Ruby’s tree-house. We’ve cleared quite an area of nettles and docks and, inspired by our Welsh hols I’m thinking of encouraging more comfrey, ferns and red campion to spread wildly in the area behind the tree-house and around the pear tree.

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In the meantime, I’m loving the colour elsewhere, and very grateful as much of it is accidental – from self-seeded calendula to splashes of orange poppies (that have kindly picked a spot next to nicely clashing purple aliums), chop suey greens that were meant to flower last Autumn and walking onions that choose their own places to roam.

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Joining in once again, with Lizzie Moult’s fab Garden Share Collective.

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magnolia, you sweet thing

When Ruby looked out of our bedroom window this morning (while using the bed as a trampoline) she said, “Wow, those flowers are SO beautiful.” For me, it’s J.J.Cale time:

“Magnolia, you sweet thing

You’re driving me mad”

I love J.J.Cale’s ‘Naturally’ album almost as much as those creamily showy flowers with their citronella fragrance and pink tinged petals. With Magnolia though, it’s not just the showy flowers, they seem to signal the start of so many things in the garden.

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There’s far too much bare earth for my liking, but suddenly the garden also seems teeming with life; I keep spotting fat bumblebees heading for the comfrey flowers and there’s a constant humming noise amongst the branches of Ruby’s tree-house. Tall chives now line the path leading into the veg/flower beds, the plum trees are covered in pretty white blossom and there are more daylight hours to enjoy being outside. The hammock has had more than a couple of airings and I’m looking forward to enjoying meals outside.

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While ‘Naturally’ always puts me in relaxed, laid-back mode, the garden is giving me more mixed messages though. All this new life is so exciting and I always get carried away with enthusiasm planning what I’m going to grow and eat, but there’s so much to do.

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The strawberry patch may have been weeded (with my mind firmly fixed on a good harvest of those sweet berries) there are a few neat rows of onions and garlic, inter-planted with salad leaves that are just starting to peep through, but elsewhere there’s an abundance of dandelions and ground elder to keep up with.

While J.J.Cale’s Magnolia lyrics are sultry, southern and sexy, many areas of my garden are downright shoddy, scruffy and shambolic. With a bit of a grey backdrop currently.

At long last I’ve just started to sort out my main herb patch. Although there are chives, rosemary and sage in other areas of the garden and lemon balm beginning to look so utterly fresh beneath the raspberry canes, this is the main patch that’s handily just outside the kitchen and is edged by thymes and alpine strawberries, with majestic lovage and angelica soon to tower at the back.

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With rhubarb and gooseberry recipes in mind I was keen to prevent the angelica and sweet cicely from being completely engulfed by weeds, also the view of a weed infestated herb bed from the kitchen window was beginning to offend even my eyes. And we have a visit to herb guru Jekka McVicar’s herb farm coming up in May. I can’t wait, have wanted to visit for ages (my mother in law, a keen gardener, is providing us with an excuse by having  birthday) and it’s a definite motivator in clearing space for coveted herbs. Blue hyssop is definitely on my wish-list.

I have a weekend of swimming lessons, tree-felling, children’s parties and a walk with friends. Oh and Ruby is keen to make a French apple tart. The following list of garden tasks may be a tad optimistic:

– Plant more new potatoes (just first earlies and pink fir apples for me this year, had enough of blight.

– Plant more red onions.

– Sow some heritage carrot seeds between my rows of onions.

– Complete weeding the herb bed.

– Make a start on weeding the rhubarb and raspberry patch.

– Tackle the much-neglected vegetable patch in our front garden (the first we planted here, but apart from the asparagus bed, sadly ignored in favour of the pig-cleared area lately) i.e. more weeding.

– Clear the winter brassica patch.

– Sow more seeds in the cold-frame and kitchen windowsill including purslane, cosmos, squash, and dark purple cornflowers.

I’m not sure quite how many of the following will get done. Very much a fan of lazy gardening, I still sometimes can’t help feeling a little panicky about the number of things I should be doing. Have to remind myself that surely that’s not what gardening’ s all about.  Maybe I should make sure I harvest lots of the purple sprouting broccoli, potter over a few of those jobs (okay, maybe one) and listen to J.J.Cale.

Would love to join in again with Lizzie Moult of Strayed Table’s fab Garden Share Collective.

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in my garden December

in my garden this month I’m loving the frost tinged Cavolo Nero and Kale. The chilly mornings may make trips into the garden increasingly brief, but when the sun eventually makes an appearance the smoky blue sky is beautiful.

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in my garden….

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Colour may be increasingly sparse but the chicory and trusty Chard are doing their bit to add vibrant life to the garden with their ruby reds and magenta hues. The beetroot leaves are almost two-tone in their silvery green and purple loveliness; tasty and nutritious to eat too, definitely not to be discarded when you roast the roots.

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Away from the garden it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and maybe that explains why I’m drawn to all these silvers and reds. There’ll soon be a temptation to head a field or so away from the garden in search of this:

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How exciting! In the meantime, there are still a few jobs to be done in the garden. Muntjacs are regular visitors at the moment and pheasants are often hanging around, so there are lots of things to be protected. There’s food for everyone, but I’d like a little bit left for us.

I’ve been mulching , covering any bare earth with anything I can get my hands on; using ash from the wood-burner and compost from one of the three bays. The asparagus bed that I started from seed this year has been the most cosseted; I spread the rich compost/feed from the worm café thinly around the plants before mulching with regular compost. Hope they survive their first winter.

in my garden….

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…..I’m enjoying the views over the garden fence. Ruby has a good vantage point from her treehouse, but every morning when I come down to our kitchen I love admiring the Oak tree in the field next to us. The leaves are now turning from mellow yellow to russet and beyond it the lazy December sun rises above the Cotswold hills. I’ll never tire of this view, it’s wonderful from the hammock in the summer but on a chilly winter morning it  never fails to lift my spirits.

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in my garden….

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…. the harvest is increasingly centred around root veg – parsnips, turnips, carrots and swede are just the thing for a warming stew, slow-cooked on the wood-burning stove after a few hours outside, The Mother Hubbards are being enjoyed too and I’m very grateful for the hardy herbs including thyme, rosemary and sage which are still plentiful.

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While I soak fruit for the Christmas pudding and buy in lots of chocolate for decadent festive treats, it’s lovely to savour simple, wholesome food from the garden too.

Joining in once again with Lizzie Moult’s lovely Garden Share Collective and looking forward to seeing the enticing exotic produce and sunnier scenes from around the world.

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