Exmoor exploits

The green fields of Exmoor

After lots of Christmas travelling, spending time with loved ones, and of course way too much food, we’ve finally paused for breath in Exmoor – the little patch of England my heart calls ‘home’. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hampshire, and I have travelled to some amazing places around the globe, but there is something about these deep valleys, undulating…

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Green aromatherapy

Herb bed

Given the mild weather at the moment (for December!), the tidying and mulching continues. This weekend’s attention to the herb bed had added benefits, as the uplifting scents that wafted from my small patch of overgrown culinary herbs were nothing short of sensational. After 15 minutes of chopping and digging I had created a unique energizing fragrance of rosemary, sage and mint, with…

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Wet weather jobs

wet weather gardening ideas

Wet weather is part and parcel of gardening in the UK. Unfortunately, that means that on more days than we would like the soil turns to mud, the lawn becomes a bog and gardening in the strictest sense of the word becomes pretty near impossible. But that’s no excuse for sitting indoors moaning about the weather. There are plenty of 15-minute…

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Herbaceous tidy up

15 minutes of tidying and mulching every day and I’ve knocked my herbaceous borders into shape.  Well, I’m certainly further along with the tidy up than I was this time last year.   The general idea is to leave some woody stems above tender herbaceous perennials to protect the new crowns from frost and provide a habitat for insects, but most of mine had become…

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Here comes Winter

Today marks the start of meteorological winter, and there’s certainly a chill in the air. In fact, the Met Office has forecast widespread frost and fog across the UK this week, even snow (in Scotland!). To be fair, we have had ‘above average’ autumnal temperatures for a while now, and my garden appears to be a tad confused. For example,…

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Lofty pruning

Tree topping, Abbey Meadows, November 2014

  Walking along the Thames path in Abingdon, heading from Abingdon bridge towards Abingdon lock,  you can’t help but notice the striking lines of lofty poplars in Abbey Meadows park. But this week, some of them were going topless! The distinct sound of a chain saw, a shout and a crash, and the tree surgeons’ work in progress became apparent. All trees need…

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From pot to plate

November carrots from a pot

The vegetable patch is still providing some tasty morsels even in late November. Given the dreary weather yesterday, a roast lamb dinner was just the thing to lift the spirits. So, I dug up baby carrots and parsnips from their pots… … and searched deep into the last of my potato sacks for the remaining main crop potatoes (Cara variety…

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Bulb lasagne

Bulb lasagne, layer 3, dwarf irises

England would not be the ‘green and pleasant land’ that it is without the rain, but this weekend someone somewhere forgot to turn off the tap! My garden was not so much ‘green and pleasant’ as ‘soaked and soggy’, so I turned to my list of wet weather jobs and retreated to the garage to make some bulb lasagnes – no…

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Barn owl encounter

Barn owl, Pagham harbour nature reserve

Down at Selsey, we made the most of the bracing sea air and local fish and chips, as well as the neighbouring nature reserves: Pagham Harbour nature reserve From the car park at Church Norton, we took a late-afternoon stroll around the edge of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, a peaceful sheltered inlet where all the usual suspects – namely red…

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Gardening by the sea

Selsey-Fasciculari- bicolor

If I thought my clay soil made gardening a challenge, it is nothing compared to the unique set of challenges faced by friends of mine who have a house right on the sea front in Selsey. Although this pebbly garden is probably not prone to frost and snow, it is constantly exposed to high winds and huge amounts of sea spray heavy with…

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Planting wood anemones

Anemone nemorosa produces carpets of blooms in spring

Today I’m planting wood anemones, a first for my garden. Wood anemones provide beautiful carpets of early-spring blooms and, provided there is access to sun, are ideal for planting in semi-shade under trees and shrubs. Many woodland plants have bulbs or tubers that store food until it is needed to produce new growth. The two varieties of Anemone nemorosa that I’m planting (the…

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Compost composition

compost corner

Today, in between the rain showers, I dug out some compost to add to the flower beds. I found quite a decent amount of composted material at the bottom of the bin, but to be honest it is more slimy than crumbly. I’ve done some research, and discovered I’m being too green! ‘Greens’ and ‘browns’ Ideally, compost should be a 50:50…

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