Tag Archives: roses

Fruitful flaming June #Gdnbloggers

Has flaming June been hot enough for you?

The last week has seen a heatwave move across Blighty. With that, the levels of UV and Pollen have skyrocketed. For me personally, this has meant staying away from the plot as the grass pollen tends to assault my senses and render me sneezy with bogey overload. I can be stood there sneezing and on loop as soon as I get there. At one point, I was dragged away and by my mother whilst trying to find roses.

Today, the weather is distinctly cooler and I can actually stand up straight without having been kiboshed by pollen.

This morning, I have taken a walk down to the plot and tied tomatoes against canes. I have Roma and Marmande varieties sunk into raised beds, and do rather fancy finding some more. If I do manage to successfully cultivate anything on the plot this year, I would like it to be tomatoes; additional plants are on my shopping list for the weekend. A simple as job is and of staking tomatoes, I am glad I did. Over the last few months, going to the plot has been a challenge. For a whole host of different reasons, I  have rather lost my zing, and I could feel it all too much. I pottered on the plot this morning, I wandered around-like the proverbial cloud-and then decided that I wanted to see what fruit was growing. I had forgotten what it was like to wander around, pull out weeds, trample over blackberry bushes and just take in the scent of roses. I stood talking with a ‘lotment neighbour, and a gentle breeze carried the scent of zingy lemons towards as we spoke.

Last weekend, I was able to harvest a handful of raspberries to put into jelly-yes, fruit and jelly-along with some black and redcurrants. There were also some red, yellow and green hinonmaki gooseberries that had appeared.

There are gooseberries and raspberries on my plot and also Mama F’s, so I have picked a few of these to take home. I think I have got most of the gooseberries, having had a fight with the bushes; I had forgotten how vicious the damned things can be. Last year, I had made gooseberry and chilli jam. Prior to that, I had steeped some in Gin-now that was interesting-I have yet to work out what I will do this year. It is currently a toss up, between jam and Indian Amla Pickle.  It has been far too long since I played with my preserving pan; I need to find the moments, my mojo and a bit of fruit to do it with.

Mum has more raspberries than I; the pinks ones on my plot have never actually taken root and flourished, with the yellows being something of a saving grace when they do crop. A small harvest was made of raspberries and currants; mostly red as I am waiting on the black and white ones to ripen.

Seeing red and purple cherries did make me smile. This is by far the largest harvest that we have to date; I’ve picked those eight, with a few still left to ripen on the morello. The varieties that I have are stella and morello, and these were from Victoriana Nursery in Kent. So far, I have been lucky and not lost them the birds on the allotment.

Given how the weather has only just found it’s footing, the three plot grapevines are foliated and the some. Amongst all of the leaves are small clutches of baby grapes. I don’t remember having any grapes last year, so seeing the bunches is heartening. Not sure if they will make it to homebrew, but there is always grape jelly as an alternative.

 

As well as the fruit, there are the plot blooms. Roses are coming up lovely , and filling the floral trug with blooms is always nice. I am waiting for the glads to kick off; right now, they have risen blade-like from the dirt and are very green and leafy.  I cannot even begin to calculate how much the rose blooms might actually cost.  They are by no means perfect; they are au naturale, if you like; but they do smell and look lovely!

Bank holiday blooms #gdnbloggers

I went to the allotment, thinking that I might be able to pull up the dead grass that has been lying around. That after yesterday, I might be able to continue, even if I did feel as though I had allotment ouchies all over the shop. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts and all over. It is however the sort of ouch you get from having exercised, and isn’t the flaming hot, cayenne pepper hot pain that comes from stress and anxiety. Off I went, and then I got distracted by the roses. Standing there and all pretty like.

 

I am very surprised by how strongly the roses have started off this year. In the space of ten days-perhaps less-I have collected three differently sized bouquets. I love my roses; they are low maintenance in my view, and yield a wonderful harvest without my having to fuss over them. I do feed them from time to time-when I remember-but otherwise, I then to coo over them, and enjoy them as cut flowers.

There have been many instances where I have described the beautiful zingy fresh lemon smell that wafts around the top part of the plot. That is probably the closest, human, verbose way of describing it, other than heavenly and ineffable. On the plot, there are thirty something rose bushes, making the one half resemble a rose garden. When the glads get going, there are is a riot of colour across the plot that breaks up the green. I feel that they are pretty, and whilst not edible, they have a wonderful aesthetic value as cut flowers. Each and every time that I take a bouquet home, I do wonder just how much they would have cost had I bought them. These are not diddy bouquets, and the roses are not the perfect Disn*y beauty and the beast sort. Some are dainty,  others are fuzzy, fluffy and sprawl all over.

Alas, the bank holiday ends; I got soaked through and need a cuppa. Several, I think. I was glad really, to  have had a good day on the plot yesterday. There is still stuff to do, grass to be cleared and seeds to be sown directly; will get to that all eventually. For now, I am going to get a cuppa, and try to choose which colouring book that I want to play with.

Roses First flush 2017 #gdnbloggers

All is not lost; the roses are coming!

 

I don’t meant the red and white ones on the standards of England, but the ones down the plot. These happen to be pink and red.

The month of May has finally decided to shape up and get warmer, and the blooms on the plot at starting to kick off. Roses and Gladioli are the plot favourites, and this is the first flush of the year. The gladioli are only just starting to peek through, and true to their name they appear blade like protruding through clay and raised beds. By now, I have usually sunk loads, and I might still do so. For now, I am over bowled and with the scent of lemons with a small clutch of roses sat on the kitchen window sill-I do most of my school work sat at the kitchen table so I do get to to enjoy it.

I was perhaps a bit over zealous, and have taken the first roses to come through. I will probably wait and let the next batch bloom and blow on the plot. When it is high summer-yes, I know it doesn’t happen often-there is a lovely, heady scent of zingy lemons that drifts around the plot. The blooms also produce bursts of colour that break up the green.

All really is not lost, and in the coming week I have lots of plot related stuff to do. With the bank holiday, the frost window in Birmingham closes so I will be endeavouring to sink tomatoes and squashes. There is also a shopping list, I really want to find some beans and spinach.

For now, happy Wednesday!

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Don’t buy me roses….#gdnbloggers

Fellow blogger Sara Venn talks about what flowers mean to us in her recent blog on the The Physic Blogger and brings the fore the British Flower Industry.

A week tomorrow, it is the Feast Of Saint Valentine. For some it is  brilliant, a day of unbridled slush where there are hearts, roses and bottles of prosecco all over the shop. For others, it will no doubt be just another Tuesday (Guess which camp I fall into….)

There will be lots of roses. In all sorts of different colours, scents and pretty packaging. It is hard to imagine Valentine’s Day without roses. Though if we are savvy enough; if we try to create social change and move from minority towards majority views, we might be able to change the traditional flower for something else.

How about a dandelion?

The things get everywhere; are fairly robust, hard to get rid of and turn up when you least expect.

Don’t suppose that reminds you of love and romance?

Well, it could, if we changed our thinking patterns.

I joke, and say don’t buy me roses.

Buy me diamonds instead. (Ethical ones, please, thank you.)

And why?

Lemme show you.

 

Those weren’t flown in from the African Continent. Those were plugged into the clay of my allotment over the course of years and have become an established part of my allotment. One half the allotment, has an avenue of roses that are interspersed with fruit trees. In high summer-it does sometimes turn up, yes-that half smells amazing! Then, it comes to dead heading and having cut flowers at home. I have tried-and failed-to tot up how much each bouquet-and it’s usually one every nine days-might cost. It is difficult to put a price on those bouquets, least of all because of the intrinsic value. I love my roses, they make me smile, and remind me that whilst some days can be really quite shoddy, something thorny, can produce something wonderful.

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pretty blooms

 

As you can see, I do like my roses. They do mean a lot to me, especially as they are home grow with love and care.

Don’t buy me roses, diamonds are in short supply.

Give me seeds and you might just bowl a maiden over.

Plotting allotment progress #gdnbloggers

Just got back from the plot, and a good thing to as the heavens had decided to open. The allotment rent has been paid, and I have been handed a potato order form for next year. It is definitely autumn.

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I spent the first part of the morning doing school work, there are always lessons to plan. Then I decided to go down to the plot and get my hands a little dirty; not to mention get attacked by sprawling brambles and their thorns. What you see above, is the top half of the allotment-from the blueberries onwards-and this year, this part has been largely unloved and cultivated. So much so, Mama F has been persuading me, as mum’s do, to do something about it.

I won’t lie, its all a bit intimidating.Over grown, full of grass in places; there are suppose to be six discretely formed beds where I can plant things. Three areas are home to both raspberry and strawberry, so tidying up is going to take some time and effort in negotiating around these. The first hour or so was spent battling brambles that edge the plot. Some but not all have been chopped back so that they are not overhanging or trailing into beds.  This the type of plot activity that I have purple gauntlets for, this and roses that now need pruning back. Without the gauntlets, I look like a scream queen from a slasher movie.

The other activity involved digging. Trouble is, I don’t like digging. My mum does, and she will quite happily dig and give me a running commentary as to how many weeds she has pulled or how much grass there was in clumps all over the place. I did however try to have a go today. There was some clod smashing done and some of the heavy clay in one bed was turned over. I decided to dig and smash around a couple of dandelions. As much as I tried to lever them out with a fork, they are rather deep rooted, and are going to need a bit more welly than I had in the tank today. With the playlist on shuffle and earphones in my ears, the bed was half turned over whilst I decided to sing very, very loudly. (Adele’s one and only, for those who want to know. Though I am not averse to Bond theme’s or Maroon5 being belted out).

Then I got distracted.

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A look over my shoulder told me that there were a handful of yellow and pink raspberries ready for the picking. These are fall gold and autumn bliss. I did pick them, and they were promptly eaten alongside the last falstaff apple that was hanging off the tree. Not bad when you need a sugar rush on the plot. As well as the last bits of soft fruit, there were also a few flowers left to pick as well.

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It might be getting colder, darker, and even starting to rain, but I am hoping to sort out the plot and get it ready for the growing season. I’m not sure yet, as to whether I will be planting garlic soon; though this can be done right up to the end of November. The focus is making the plot manageable. With first half of the plot, this will be easier; raised beds can be tidied up and grass pulled out and away. The top half is going to be decidedly more labour intensive.

This growing season has felt different for one reason or another. Not only is there going to be plot preparation, but also some reflection on how this year wasn’t as good as previous years.  I know that part of it has been my own busy life, and there will increased efforts to potter on the ploy to get a better life/work/mental health balance.

I’m deliberately mentioning mental health again, as being on the plot today helped clear the cob webs that have been lingering. Simply walking away from done school work-and it was done, I would never walk away from a half planned lesson-picking up the purple gauntlets and going to the plot for a couple of hours was lovely. I was able to get some zen-like focus back. Though that might have also been down to the apple and raspberries. The rain was starting through, and it was time to go home.

 

Jubilant July #gdnbloggers

If it wasn’t for this lot; I would wholly miserable. There are no runner beans on the plot, the courgettes have all mostly been written off. I should at this stage in the growing season be starting to swim in courgettes. At the moment, I have the grand total of zero. All the plants have been subject to carnage by slugs and snails. I would be very surprised to get something, if anything, over the coming weeks from the courgettes and the rather spiny and spindly looking courgette and runner beans.

On the other hand, I am very close to throwing a small histrionic fit over strawberries. Every other day, I have been harvesting between 1-2lbs of strawberries. I say harvesting, it’s a case of picking the fruit before the slugs get to them. I would really like someone to invent a machine for hulling and chopping. Fruit has been stashed in the freezer; I am hoping that my jam making mojo returns so that the strawberries can be spiced with chilli and redcurrants maybe.

Tomatoes have filled out and up, with fruit forming after the bright yellow flowers. Mum had a lovely large marmande one, only for it to explode. I suspect that it might have become over ripe; a couple of money make have turned as has one single solitary tigerella. The surprise however, has to be the fleshy and fruity morello cherries. This is the first year on the plot and the tree has done very well to have survived frosts and inclement weather. There are less than a dozen cherries, but these are rather special in being the first ever crop. Have only pinched three ripe ones, so we shall see about the others. All being well, they will be harvested before the wildlife gets to them. I think I actually jumped to see that the cherries had turned, they were squishy to the touch, that’s the only way I can describe it. Though I have probably picked them a little early. I guess they could have done with a little more sunshine perhaps, and turned a little darker still. There are three sat on the kitchen window sill next to the tomatoes, so they may turn yet.

With the roses blooming on an almost daily basis, the gloom does lift a little. I have been waiting for William Shakespeare 2000 to bloom, and you can see the first three blooms that have developed this year.  The bouquet above also contains a raft of lost label roses, the yellow one is rather productive. No idea what it is called, but it’s a brown limbed creature that cascades outs. Might even be a climber, but it is rather nice to pick.

In the poly tunnel, the chillies are also getting going. There are lots of white flowers and also purple tinged purple haze flowers. Jalepenos are starting to form as are hungarian hot wax. You see the one purple haze chilli, that I am hoping will turn red. The jalaepeno, apache chilli, orange habanero and devil’s rib have formed large white flowers. In comparison, patio sizzle, prairie fire and sparkler are forming the most delicate, tiniest of white flowers. With all the plants in flower, this means feeding regularly and making sure that the plants don’t get too arid. They do dry out, but too little water and the flowers will drop off.

So there we have it, we can’t be too miserable, now can we?

Blooms and Buffy: Frocks, fruit and flowers

The last week has seen several episodes of rain and flooding; not very conducive to going to allotment. I finally made it to the plot today to see what the state of play was; there are weeds to  be got rid of but also lot to positive about.

 

The first handful of strawberries have been harvested. A couple of them a little under ripe, but they are bright red and edible. I may have even eaten one to taste check, and I not even a big fan of strawberries. These have arrived a little earlier than usual, with strawberries usually cropping around Wimbledon fortnight. I know that sounds very cliched, but I do have memories of hearing of Andy Murray winning wimbledon and only having one strawberry that year.

The rain has done little to thwart the roses; they are a bit damp and fluffy, but still blooming. There are easily a dozen roses in that bouquet and in an assortment of colours.

There was also some adventuring this week. Adventuring, that I have been looking forward for some time and is completely unrelated to the allotment. I actually went to a convention. Not a conference, a convention; a convention celebrating Joss Whedon’s Buffy:The Vampire Slayer and Angel:The TV series. Two shows, that I have very fond memories of having watched them as a teenager; and two shows that I can watch over and over alongside Star trek and Shakespeare. So I went.

 

And it was rather fun! An amazing opportunity to talk to other whedonites and to meet some of the stars as well. The highlight was meeting Anthony S Head who played Rupert Giles. There were eight guests in total, and it never ceases to amaze me just how iconic Buffy and Angel were. Hearing the guests talk about their jobs was simply mind blowing.

This was the first time that I had ever been to a convention, so I was a little bit worried as to what expect. It was however a really positive experience, and sat there at half ten talking about Buffy episodes at a disco was rather surreal. As you can see, part of it involved dressing up. That is my attempt at Bad willow, though I do look more an extra waiting to keel over in GoT. On the right, that’s a better attempt at dressing up to attend a whedon prom.

I can safely say, that whedonites are by far one of the most amazing groups of people in the world. I flew solo in this adventure, I didn’t take anyone with me. Yet there were couples there-a couple of which had very new babies in tow, I take my hat of to them!-where whedon was a shared passion. So in being by myself, i was adopted and made to feel very welcome at my first convention.There was a huge diversity in age ranges and nationalities, people had travelled in from very far afield. Apparently, there are not many Buffy/Angel conventions, so this was a rare one.

Summer is coming…One hopes

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I cannot sow and grow mooli-japanese radish-to save my life. Each and every time that I do, the crop bolts; we end up with mooli pods. I have long since given up, but Mama F has taken this challenge head on. What you see above, is the result of her handiwork. They look like a mooli, but I think they are probably icicle radishes; there are probably mooli on the plot somewhere, and she will no doubt tell me. But as you can see, they are straight, day glow white, and they were, edible. They ended up in a salad, rather than meeting their fate in a paratha, which is normally the done thing. I have however, been charged with getting more seeds to so that they do end up in a paratha. The key is though, that we have had a mooli-of a sort- from the plot, and it is home grown.

The chillies are coming, the purple ones at least. Imperial purple flowers have formed on the purple haze plants and fruit is forming. The other plants are not to far behind with smaller and white flowers becoming visible. Hopefully we will have some chillies before long.

Roses! For me, these are a true indicator that there is change on the way. The roses in Dad’s back garden have already started to bloom and blossom, mine are usually not far behind. There are easily two doze or so bushes on the plot. These range from rather posh roses, through to the lost label roses that you see above, to a couple of poundland roses. These form a triad of flowers; with glads and sunflowers usually being on the plot. The glads are on their way, but there are no sunflowers this year.

I like my roses, with the wonderful smell of zingy lemons that hangs in the air as you poke your nose in to take a waft.I am rather looking forward to home made bouquets as we have seen in the past. To be honest, I don’t tend them as pedantically as I could, beyond the removal of dead heads and stems for the kitchen vase.

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Raspberrries and strawberries are in full flower and ready to fruit. Some of the goosberries are already laden. There does appear to be more than last year, which is a good thing. Maybe more pickle, and the odd jam to make.

December on the Plot

Have finally taken a wander down to the plot, having spent a little time away from the plot with real life.  There wasn’t a particular task in mind, but I did take my secateurs with me as I remembered that the roses probably needed pruning.  I also wanted to have a look at any possible damage that the recent storms may have done to the plot. I was worrying about the grapevines as they were already in something of a bad shape. Turns out there wasn’t too much damage, the plot is soggy more than anything.

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The Garlic Farm Garlic is coming on in leaps and bounds. Unlike previous years where I have had numerous varieties of garlic; this year has a much smaller range. The garlic farm garlic is in raised beds and is starting to come through. I have in the past, worried about the garlic not doing very much. I have learned that it is important to just be patient and let the garlic do what it has to. The seed garlic has been pretty much left to it’s own devices, and beyond planting, I have worried very little about it.

I had taken my gloves and sacaeuters for the roses and autumnal raspberries. I didn’t get as far as the raspberries, I will have to look at those after Christmas. What I did do, was wander around the roses and prune what I could. However, some of the roses are still blooming. As you can see, William Shakespeare 200o has a handful of blooms that will hopefully unfurl in the coming days. I am somewhat surprised really to see the roses blooming still.

There are three roses bushes on the plot, that are something out of Grimm’s fairy tales. Sprawling, prickly bushes, that I planted when they were nothing by twigs some years ago. They weren’t expensive, each one was exactly £1 from a poundshop, funnily enough. These are rose bushes that have grown like triffids compared to the rather delicate tea roses. They are also rather vicious, if you look at the stem of one of the roses.

I didn’t always have three. To start of with, I had two. I must have pruned one, and left a stem. It founded itself wedged into the clay, and rooted. So today, I had a thought. A scientific question, really. If I pruned off the two bushes, and kept some of the cuttings, might I end up with bonus bushes. This may or may not work. I had pruned the stems at an angle, and a lot of the material is actually budding. So I have wedged a few cuttings into the clay. Clay that was otherwise bare and where a rose bush might not be a bad idea. I have no idea what these roses are, other than being being, and from Holland. I do remember the labels being in dutch. (I might have to learn a little, just to understand the plant talk)

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The grapevines have been looking rather sorry for a long time. I have been battling to support them all the way through the summer, and anticipated that they might have keeled over entirely with the stormy weather that we recently experienced. However, they don’t look too bad. The windy weather has stripped them of their foliage, but this was probably causing them to bank over anyway. The next task for these will most likely to be create a more robust frame for them to clamber over next year. Though I am not too sure whether I am supposed to prune them again. I did prune them last year, and kept two main branches for each vine. That did appear to help the growth of leaves and the amount of fruit that cropped.

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Heritage seed garlic from Marshalls is starting to push through the clay. You’ll have to look very closely, but the shoots are just about visible. In comparison to the seed garlic in the raised bed, this is in open ground. I was worried that it might have been eaten up by the soil as we have had quite bit of rain. However it does appear to have been a little more resilient than I had thought. Rather looking forward to seeing how this goes.