Friday, 23 August 2013

David Austin Standard Roses

Years ago my grandmother had standard roses in the garden, Queen Elizabeth I think. But these roses withered and the only thing left were the wild runners that would shoot up from time to time. So this year we put in three new lovely standard roses. I chose soft colours with an emphasis on reblooming and exceptional fragrance. These are the roses I planted. All are from David Austin.

The Pilgrim:

A rather fetching filled flower with a pure yellow heart that gets paler towards the outside of the flower. It has a nice almost citrus toned fragrance. The flowers are medium sized but there are a lot of them.

Lady Emma Hamilton, is perhaps my favourite of the three. It has the strongest fragrance which is intensely rosy. But the colour is the most stunning thing. It is an fetching orangy apricot fading to a lighter pinkish hue that contrasts with the dark red buds and fresh foliage.

Finally the spectacularly blousey Abraham Darby. It just finished flowering so I will update this post once the new flush of buds has opened.

I think I might stick a couple more roses next to these once bare root season has started.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Meet My New Blog: Cooking With Gifs

I'm starting a new blog writing recipes and demonstrating them with homemade GIFs. You will  often find stuff harvested from the allotment there. I'm posting my first post here as well. This recipe features one of my many many yellow courgettes. The adress is .

Great for getting rid of a glut, Courgette Spice Cake makes for a moist almost fudgy cake fragrant with warm spice. You will need:

  • 250 grams of courgette

  • 2 eggs

  • 300 grams of sugar

  • 125 ml neutral oil

  • Half a tsp of salt

  • Half a tsp of Baking powder

  • extra pinch of Baking soda

  • 2 tsp Cinnamon

  • 1 pinch of nutmeg

  • 1 pinch of cardamon

  • Break eggs and mix

    Grate your courgette

    Add all your ingredients together

    Fold without over-mixing

    Add anything you might have forgotten ;)

    About an hour in oven at 175

    Ps, just a small disclaimer. This blog is going to be heavy in GIFs, big GIFs, long GIFs. Watching this with sluggish internet is just not going to be a pleasant experience. Bring on the hyperspeed!

    Saturday, 17 August 2013

    New Albizia Julibrissin

    Albizia Julibrissin, also known as a silk tree, or my favourite nick name; Powerpuff tree. It might be an invasive species in warmer climes but I find it a rather delightful exotic flowering tree with a nice parasol shape. A couple of years ago I grew one from seed and within a year I had a sizable little sappling. Unfortunately young Albizia are notoriously sensitive to cold and it did not survive the winter. Which is why I decided to plant a more mature specimen in the garden. I had two possible locations

    This was my initial choice. In between the red beeches, in a nice warm sunny spot. The problem with this location however is twofold. First it would be terribly difficult to dig the planting hole. The roots from the beeches have made it almost impossible to plant a simple rose let alone a small tree. Besides I don't really want to damage the beeches since they are such a feature in the garden. Secondly it is quite a small space. While the Albizia might be ok for a season or two, it would quickly outgrow this narrow spot. Which is why I went with an alternative location.

    This location is slightly less sunny but has a lot of .other advantages. First of all the tree has room to grow here and you can actually see it from the house. The dark taxus foliage provides a similar contrast as the beech in regards of the pink flowers. So it is decided, let's get on with the planting.

    I know that you are theoretically supposed to dig a hole twice as deep and twice as broad as the rootball but who has time or space for that? It is deep enough to put in an inch or so of good potting soil to give the tree a bit of a head start and plenty of room at the sides as well. So after firming it in and giving it a good drink the tree is looking good, even if it could stand to grow a bit and peek above the hedge completely. It should have enough time to get established before winter. I hope this is one of the more hardy varieties (Rosea?) even so I might just take a couple of precautions during the coldest nights (probably some fleece and a good thick leaf mulch to keep the roots cozy)

    Thursday, 15 August 2013

    Cloud Pruning Project: Season 3

    I´m not going to lie; I'm slightly dissappointed with my cloud pruned box. It is the third growing season since the initial snips and according to all guides it should now start to resemble a proper little lollipop tree. But there have been a couple of setbacks. Late last year and in the beginning of spring the leaves were turning yellow and brown. So I repotted it in spring and noticed that all the goodness was sucked out of the medium leaving dry horrible coir. So first thing I did was get good compost rich potting soil and moved the box (incidentally into a slightly smaller pot). This immediately revived the leaves which quickly turned green again.

    So when I pruned this spring I went in hard. I removed a lot of the tufts to create a much more open structure. I did not like the wiring from last year so this time I am simply weighing down some of the outer branches again to get a more open structure. Hopefully next year I can get some good shape into the 'clouds'.

    Wednesday, 14 August 2013

    Euphorbia Lactea 'Ghost'

    Finally got my hands on a very cool little Euphorbia Lactea 'Ghost'. There is something really appealing about this almost completely white plant. At the moment I am keeping it outside to get a little bit of warmth and sunshine, but when I have it inside it will definitely be placed somewhere with a dark background to make it really stand out.

    Out of all the plants for sale this  specimen had the least green. As you can see there is some mottling but depending how you position the plant this can be almost completely hidden. If inside it will be kept with the mottled side facing the window to make sure there can be a little bit of photosynthesis whilst the plant appears almost completely white when you face it.

    It is growing at the moment. The tiny leaves are temporary but I am rather fascinated by the bright pink that appears at the growing tips. I suspect this is temporary as well but for now it just ups the delicious weirdness.

    Sunday, 11 August 2013

    Aloe Updates

    So that sad looking Aloe Polyphylla I bought this spring has indeed survived and dare I say it thrived. The rather ominous spots of rot did not hurt the crown but simply left paper thin brown spots in the middle of some of the leaves. I even think I can see that it will spiral to the right. Only thing is that the slugs LOVE this plant. I keep on removing the bastards from in between the leaves (sometimes I need to use tweezers). Unfortunately this has left quite a big wound .

    This picture doesn't quite do it justice. Deep inside there is now a wet mushy brown spot. Since I took this picture I had to remove several leaves leafing a somewhat uneven looking plant. Again I hope the rot won't spread and I am keeping it a bit on the dry side to allow the Aloe to repair itself. It has taught me a lesson though, and that is that I should protect this plant from slugs.

    The Aloe Plicatilis is growing at a remarkable rate, especially the tissue culture one. Just compare it to this picture from a couple of months ago. The roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot. I want to encourage this fast growth and I'm guessing there are still enough growing months to give them a larger pot.

    They are a little bit loose in their new pots so I have to offer them some support. Unfortunately during re potting I damaged one of the leaves. I think these still have a lot of growing left in them.

    Thursday, 8 August 2013

    A Hegemony Of Hedgehogs

    We bought this trap camera at the Aldi of all places. I had expected to use it in my grandma's garden in the hope there might be a hedgehog crawling around at night. Alas, the first day (or actually night) the only thing captured was a lovely little song thrush

    Ok, so not that exciting but at least the apparatus is obviously functioning which was nice. So next day I set up the camera at the allotment. Surely some interesting wildlife would be on show here?

    So this location was not ideal. The camera got activated by moving branches and the only animal caught on tape was a crow.

    The a couple days later I heard that tell tale rustling in the garden at night. We set up the camera and some hedgehog food (never milk!) to try and lure the spiny creature. 

    First customer is our fierce feline Mike. Apparently hedgehog food is quite beloved by kitties as well. Which makes sense because you can feed hedgehogs with cat food. But next up....

    Ha ha! I knew it! One spiny customer enjoying a midnight snack. We suspect this might be one of the hedgehogs that was released in a garden across the street. 

    This one hedgehog was being surprisingly loud, hissing and purring. The next night the camera caught this.

    Not one but two little hedgehogs eating to their stomach's content. This can only mean one thing; love is in the air. With a little bit of luck this means that in a couple of weeks we will get the pitter patter of tiny feet in the garden. Hedgehogs solitary animals only meeting up in case of lurve. Which is why the next vid is rather surprising.

    OMG! There are three! This is quite strange. I doubt one of them is a babe, they are all three too large for that. From zero hedgehogs in the garden for about 10 years to a hegemony of hedgehogs, quite the result (now please eat all the slugs). I'm going to keep the camera running to see if there is more I can find out about the nocturnal habits of these spiky animals.