Hello and welcome ....

....to some pictures and a little text in which we follow the activities of a barely competent gardener as he struggles to wrench back control of his patch from the forces of Mother Nature's feral twin sister.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Boston fern ?

Certainly a fern, possibly a boston fern. If anyone knows better please feel free to correct me.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Let's be honest, this isn't the most exciting picture ever taken. But the weather's been cold and I've been busy and I wanted to try to keep it going at a picture a day. So this is one of my three dicksonias growing in the fern garden. It's been there a few years now but I worry about it every spring. I cover it up in the winter and I just took the wrapping off to have a quick peek and it seems to be okay, there are little furry curly bits in the top waiting to unfurl. I'll get out in the garden tomorrow for some proper pictures.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Signs of green

There are actually green things pushing their way up in my garden. Maybe not everything is dead. These are daffodils.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Every gardeners worst enemy. I don't poison them because we have a few thrushes who use the rocks in the garden as anvils, but I do chuck them into next door's even if the BBC research suggests that they just keep coming back.

Monday, 17 January 2011


The snow did some damage - as it went it brought down the wooden gutters from around the front bay window. I think wooden gutters are quite unusual even in Victorian houses. It was only round the bay - the rest of the original guttering, most of which has been replaced, was cast iron. I have decided to use it to edge the border in the front garden so that when I put some bark down the birds will not just chuck it all over the path. It is full of apple green moss with tiny rust coloured stalks peeking through. They provide a welcome bit of green so I'm leaving them in place.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Seed heads

If I was a proper gardener I'd know what this is. But I'm not and I don't. It has chocolate brown cordate leaves and the flowers are a bit like dandylions, a real orangey yellow. It was expensive when I bought it and it has the look of something tropical. It sits among the euphorbias and the michelmas daisies looking like it doesn't quite belong with them, as if it has wandered into the wrong party by accident.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Clematis knots again

Another shot of a clematis knot. They are wonderfully sinuous, complex and twisted but at this time of year so brittle that they snap almost immediately if you touch them.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Mr Fish

I'm not a big fan of most sculpture that I see in the shops and garden centres. I do not have any resin angels or gnomes showing their arses or wall mounted plastic butterflies. But when we go on holiday we traditionally bring back a small thing to sit in the garden. I usually tuck these away under plants or in corners so they just peek out. Some of them are only visible in winter when things have been cut back. This is the case with Mr Fish, who I think came from Lekeitio in Northern Spain and who resides underneath a particularly leggy thyme in the herb garden.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


My garden walls are made of old brick which has lovely red and orange tones. The ivy comes fom the garden next door which belongs to a block of posh flats. Every year I have to cut the ivy back but it's a never ending battle. You can see the marks in the brick where I have pulled off previous years' growth. I think they look a bit like fossils in the brick.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Corkscrew Hazel

I really like the tangled up knottedness of this plant. Although it never thrives (it's probably in too small a pot) it keeps struggling on year after year. As you can see the pot is infested with all kinds of weeds at the minute. I'll have to tidy it up and give it a new top dressing this week. maybe I'll even be kind and give it a new pot.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Clematis montana

This clematis montana was the first plant I bought when we moved in ten years ago. It grows up the gates at the back of the house and over the years it has taken them over, twining thick branches through the wrought ironwork. I have to cut it back ruthlessly to stop it from actually bonding the two halves of the gate permanently shut. In winter the complex structures in the tangle are revealed, like this tiny knot of tendrils.

Monday, 10 January 2011


I'd like Vincent Price doing the voice over for this post. Do you dare enter the Garden of Death ??? This young fox died behind my shed and his (or her) skull now resides in my herb beds. Don't worry that's as morbid as it gets - there aren't any more grim secrets waiting to emerge.

The snow may have gone but it is still frosty - and it is very windy. Today I had run out of shots for the blog and I had to get out with the camera, so I went mostly after things which are more or less stable and don't wave about in the breeze. So we might have a few days of gardem ornaments or big heavy pots.

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Nandina domestica or sacred bamboo although I gather tha it is not a bamboo at all but a barberry. Thanks to Wikipedia for that, and also that it is poisonous and that it is on some sort of government death list in Florida. I might get some more of these - it is always pretty and remarkably delicate looking, considering how tough it is.

Yesterday I cut back my Clematis montana. I also had a good go at taking my finger off with the secateurs.

Saturday, 8 January 2011


Berberis but I've no idea what variety other than that this is an evil plant which has fed on my blood for several years and I would dig it out if I wasn't so scared of it.

If anyone out there is a fan of Kipling they may remember the Kolokolo bird sitting on to of the Wait A Bit Throrn Bush. This is that bush.

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Hebe Under Pressure

Here's a little hebe from the front garden rockery - the first living thing to appear on this blog. It's a soft hebe but I have no idea of the variety. At present it is in danger of being choked to death by the blackberry whose leaves you can see growing through it. The blackberries have had a good time for the last eighteen months and have spread all over both gardens. But I shall fight them off - armed only with the secateurs of righteousness and the gardening gloves of justice and the dibber of truth.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Bronze Fennel

There are always plenty of kitchen herbs growing in my garden. This year I hope to add a few vegetables. I shan't be digging up the lawn and planting spuds but it would be nice to have some veggies which are either very expensive, like courgettes and aubergines, or hard to come by, like unusual varieties of beets and squashes.

Cooking in our house is my job. I use a lot of herbs from the garden but almost never fennel. I have tried it with salmon and in other popular recipes and although I don't dislike it, it's not great. It just seems like a waste of good food that would be better cooked some other way.

So instead it tends to get grown for its ornamental value in big clumps at the back of the border. From a distance the heads form a localised green mist and the new shoots come squeezing out of the stalk like some sort of furry animal escaping a pupum. And of course when the wind blows through it it fills the garden with its wonderful smell.

This is the remains of a big clump of bronze fennel. The wind has blown it flat across the lawn and it is just laid there mouldering quietly. I ought to go and clear it up, but at the moment I have my hands full restoring a semblance of order to the front.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Jerusalem Sage

A plant that I see relatively seldom in the gardens around here - but it is one of  my favourites. In Summer these seed heads will have creamy yellow flowers on them, about twenty per head which grow upwards from the base making a little pompom or sea urchin shape.

I don't think it has any family relationship with conventional sages - but it is a native of the eastern end of the Mediterranean (hence the Jerusalem) and the dark green leaves are remeniscent of salvias. Some texts say the leaves are aromatic but they aren't on mine.

According to the experts at the BBC this is a plant for the experienced gardener but I can't say I've noticed. I cut it back ruthlessly to the ground every year and it comes back in the Summer.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Rose Hips

More signs of neglect - this particularly ugly rose has managed to entangle itself with the supports for my clematis. Now clematis I like - I have a lot of them - but roses I can live without. I think drastic action may be called for. Job for the next day or two is just general tidying up - including moving the deep coating of leaf mould so that I can see where the paths end and the borders begin.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Nobody loves Spiraea. They're just not the kind of plant you can get emotional about. But they fill a gap in the border, and the flowers and foliage are not bad. Apparently they have the same medicinal properties as willows - aspirin and all that. Native Americans used to chew the bark and twigs. This is spiraea japonica, pink flowers in the summer, but the best thing about this one is the bronze foliage which is gorgeous. The tiny threads of web suggest that maybe the snow hasn't killed everything.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


Leave a good looking corpse. Even when I'm not negelecting the garden I tend to not cut the hydrangeas back after they have flowered, because I think they look great in winter.

The plan for today is to get rid of the biggest of the self seeded sycamores - it has been there several years and the base of the trunk is about six inches thick. I have cut it back every year but never tried to dig it out before.

Later .... well it came out - but it took a couple of hours and I had to dig round it to a depth of nearly three feet.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Self Seeders

First job of the new year - get rid of the self seeded trees. There are two large sycamores in the garden next door at the front. At the back it's an ash. One way or another there is never a shortage of baby trees pushing their way up where they're not wanted. And having had 18 months to get a hold some of them are five or six feet high and the roots go very deep. Today I removed the smaller sycamores from the front garden.

There's not much to look at at the noment so here's some dead leaves. Cool.

Goodbye Father Christmas

Goodbye Christmas, Hello Garden.

My gardening goes in phases. Some years I get it looking great. Some years I ignore it entirely. For the last 18 months it has been ignored. I'm pretty certain I've lost some plants. It's so overgrown there could be lost children in there.

At the moment it looks awful, so we'll just have some detail shots of dead things.