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Monday, December 31, 2018

Wild Flower Meadow/Lawn/Patch

Have you ever stopped to think how much effort and money you put into keeping your lawn a blue/green, fertilizer drunk, mono-culture?

and then you never get the chance to really enjoy your lawn, because you are constantly working to pay your lawn care professional to apply fertilizer, to grow the grass, so they may cut it down all year long.

not to mention the herbicides, insecticides, fungicides etc which are applied all year long, which turn your lawn into a toxic green desert, to the point where even the deer will not eat it. 


 Nevertheless that does not stop us from allowing our children and grandchildren from running barefoot on it and rolling around in it.

Eventually all these toxic applications leach into the rivers, lakes and ocean where we go swimming and fishing.

I don't apply fertilizer or pesticides, and yes I do have all manner of plants growing in my grass. clovers and dandelions to feed the pollinators.

A multitude of birds to snatch the emerging early summer insects from the turf.

But I still mow throughout the summer.

This year, after several years of procrastination I have finally set about creating a wildflower meadow, or at least a wildflower patch. The leaves are to improve the soil structure, while not altering the fertility. The netting is to keep the leaves in place until the spring when I will till them in. I will return to this topic in the spring

Until then. Wishing you and yours A Happy New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Propagation success.

A followup to my "Propagation" post from May, when I layered a number of shrubs.
Most of them have rooted.


I will leave them attached to the parent plant, where the new roots will continue to grow over the winter.


Before replanting in the spring


This is a simple and rewarding way of increasing your desirable plants.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Horse Chest Nut.

Have you ever wondered why Aesculus hippocastanum is known as the Horse Chestnut tree?

The upright candle like flowers appear every spring, creating a spectacular display

and later in the year produce the spiky fruits which contain the nut, or conker as they are known in the UK.

Before modern veterinary medicines, these nuts were ground and fed to horses to cure respiratory illness, which maybe the reason for the name, 

but I like the second possible reason. When the leaves abscise from the tree, what remains is a leaf scar which resembles a horse shoe.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hibernating is for bears, Spring will soon be here.

Spring plantings are subtle, yet still vibrant. With lots of pastel shades as the sun climbs to its June zenith.
Sure, you can have your Grasscutter/Landscaper throw in a few mismatched plants looking like a rabble of soldiers marching to their Waterloo, or with careful planning and preparation, you can have a garden of complimentary plantings full of flora and fauna.
failing to plan is planning to fail.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Woodland wonder.

A few weeks back, on route to my job site, I caught a glimpse of these remains of what was once a dwelling.

My curiosity was piqued and I stopped to take a look. The well is still sound and in the background the remains of the central chimney can still be seen.

 Even the large granite slabs on which the wooden frame was built are still there.

A derelict farmstead, garden sculpture, or garden planting. Attract the eye and the mind will follow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Yorkshire Dales

 The Yorkshire Dales from Herriot to Home

I will be presenting my new talk at Essex Meadows on Thursday Nov 15th at 11am

 Starting in Wensleydale, home of the famous Wensleydale Cheese, where James Herriot first entered the Dales, we will travel south through the dales and over moors

to arrive in the southern most dale of the river aire where I spent my formative years.

I believe this talk is open to the public.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Blueberry and Blueroot mix n' match in color only

Here is a chance combination that makes a stunning contrast at this time of year.

Aconitum carmichaelii
The last Aconitum to flower and one of the last flowers of the Fall garden. 
Intoxicating to the eye. Toxic to the touch.

Vaccinium corymbosum
High bush Blueberry

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Beautiful Betula

Our River Birch (Betula nigra) planted primarily to create shade for the patio,

 but also for its eye catching exfoliating bark.

We chose a multi stemmed tree to increase the shade area, currently 36ft in diameter.

After a long growing season of being attacked by caterpillars, leaf miners and various pathogens, the tree will absorb the remaining chlorophyll (green) leaving nothing but the skeletal leaves natural pigment (Fall colour) as they abscise and fall to the ground.

The exfoliating bark exposes the inner layers to sunlight, which in turn allows the tree to photosynthesize on sunny winter days, rids itself of  some parasites, lichen, moss, fungi etc and increases transpiration. All aiding in the speedy growth of this exceptional tree.

As the tree ages, the bark takes on a more normal look,

and becomes almost scaly in maturity.

In March 2018 we had a winter storm of wet heavy snow.

Some of the limbs were bent to the ground, but very few broke and returned to their upright position once the snow load was removed.

To prevent recurrence I cabled the main trunks.

When first planted, to give the 8ft birch (left foreground) a head start I excavated a good cubic yd of the sandy soil and replaced it with a mix of moisture retaining aged horse manure and good quality top soil,

while the proximity of our pond provides a constant supply of water.
(River Birch circled in blue)

So when I tell you the above photo was taken on Dec 21st 2009 and this photo dated Oct 16th 2018, you will understand just how quickly this tree has grown.

Bon appetit

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Last of the Fall Bounty

While the temperature forecast for Wednesday and Thursday evening may not result in a killing frost, it is certainly low enough to gather in the last of the harvest beforehand.

Our Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) have been growing with renewed vigor in the cooler, less humid fall weather.

Every part of the plant above ground is edible, leaves, flowers and seeds.

Commonly known as Nasturtium because they produce an oil similar to watercress (Nasturtium officinale). 

How to store and preserve for the winter, next.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A New Parmelee Farm Wall

We are all set for this weekend's walling workshop. We will be building a low wall to compliment the latest addition to Parmelee Farm.
The Sugar Shack

The original workshop wall from the fall of 2009, built by a group of enthusiastic novices is still standing proud.

Now covered with lichen which gives an appearance of aged permanence.

 The Spring 2010 wall had a Lunkie which sadly was dismantled to make way for the underground electricity lines,

and a stile which is still present. Both walls, with a little expected settling are still like new.

Perhaps this Killingworth wall's longevity is due to the vertical capstones. 

More likely due to the instructors, four of the top ten Dry Stone experts in the country.
From L to R
 Chuck Eblacker
Dan Snow
Brian Fairfield
Andrew Pighills