Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dark at 5 pm- so little time to garden

Here we are on the first day after the clocks have gone back, and I'm realising that the joy of evening gardening is a pleasure that will now have to wait until March.

The garden has been tidied up pretty well, apart from my own private terrace, which needs a lots of TLC.The cold night a few days ago killed off the begonias, and the phlox are drooping. A serious afternoon with the secateurs and trowel is needed to clear out the debris.

The White Moss herb garden is actually looking pretty good. We've cleared all the tired herbs and weeded around, but we now have a few fresh sprouts of fennel, and some lovely fresh baby sorrel, great for making sorrel soup or using in a salad. The sage is still looking great, but probably needs to be picked and dried if it's going to be ready for Christmas stuffings.

Here's a baby sorrel leaf, still growing in our Grasmere herb garden at the end of October.
The bay tree is blooming after it's drastic pruning on the order of Monty Don this spring. Will it survive another cold winter? We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I'm glad I sowed my nasturtiums late this year.

I left sowing nasturtiums late this year, but that means they are at their best now, when everything else is getting a bit tired.
Here's a very pretty one.

Nasturtium at White Mos House, Grasmere, Lake District
These came from a packet of Thompson and Morgan mixed climbers. They've done really well. Obviously, I've got lots of caterpillars, but that's fine by me. They'll turn into something beautiful at a later date, they only eat the leaves which are far too big anyway, and I do rather like the furry little critters.
I pull the leaves with the caterpillars on them off, and make a little pile of leaves - a sort of caterpillar feeding trough. Keeps everyone happy.

Here's one I picked off earlier
Caterpillar White Moss nasturtiums, Grasmere

BTW, just to remind you, we are offering special rates this week. For details, see the Grasmere special offers page on White Moss House website

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The summer is over- did it ever begin?

Time to clear out the tubs. The fuschia are still looking OK, but everything else seems to have been battered by the wind and rain.

Lots of apples have come down in last week's winds. We've made a batch of apple butter with the really rough apples. You don't need to peel the apples for this.Apple butter is actually a sort of paste or spread, made with apples, cider , sugar and spices. Yummy!
 I'm going to make a batch of apple and date chutney tomorrow.
I'm also planning to make our very own blackberry and apple crumble, also known as "Apple Grasmere" by us at White Moss House.
If you want to find the recipe for apple butter, plus lots of great link to other apple recipes, you can find them via my apple recipe page.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Here come the deer!

The deer have rediscovered our garden. That's not good!
We've had a relatively deer free year, but the crocosmia have taken a beating, and now they've been seen nosing around the apple trees.

If they stick to windfalls that won't be too bad, though I'm hoping to make lots of chutney this year, so they'd better leave some for me.
Anybody with really good apple chutney recipes?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Lots of sun and lots of rain make the garden grow.

On Tuesday we had a wonderful day. We had the guest house full, and were able to take the chance of a full day's walk. We went up Wetherlam- here's the view from the top on Tuesday.

Little Langdale tarn from Wetherlam
Yesterday we had torrential rain all day. Today is warm, damp, and perfect for slugs.
The Phlox is looking great and the scent is wonderful. The Bay tree is almost back to normal.
The philadelphus looks sad, as I got carried away with the pruning, but I'm sure it will be fine.
The tubs are in dire need of a serious deadhead and feed- job for later if it keeps dry.

Here's hoping all of you are enjoying your gardens right now in what we laughingly call "high Summer", ie about 17 degrees, sun, rain, wind, whatever !
Did you know you can buy great gardening guides for your Kindle? I've now got my Kindle, and am a convert!

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Borage is blooming!

I planted borage in my herb garden 3 years ago. Every year the borage re-seeds itself, and comes up in slightly unexpected places.
Right now the borage is looking really beautiful . I'm using the blue flowers to decorate salads , fruit drinks, and , of course, Pimms. Really, there's no better reason for having a Pimms than to show off your borage flowers. The perfect garnish for the perfect summer drink.
Find out more about borage right here.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Sunday, 22 May 2011

I've finally finished pruning the bay tree.

The poor old bay tree is now unrecognisable from the 2010 tree- all wood and no leaves.
Nature bounces back though, so I hope that my herb garden will soon have its green bay tree back at its heart.
If it ever stops raining I'll take a picture of the bay tree now, hoping that I'll have impressive "before and after" pictures soon.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

What to do with all that lovage?

We have a lot of  lovage right now in the herb garden. We find it grows very easily at White Moss House.
If you have lovage in your herb garden, and don't know what to do with it, your can find tips and recipes for using lovage right here.

It has the taste of celery, and we love lovage sprinkled over new potatoes or added to any chicken dish.

The bay tree which was so badly damaged by the frost this winter, has been pruned hard back as advised by Monty Don on Gardeners World last week. It looks terrible now, but hopefully will look much better in a few weeks. I'm going to take "before and after" photos so you can see.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

I must buy this great new herb recipe book

I've just come across a book that is written by two of my favourite people.
Jekka McVicar, herb goddess, and Jamie Oliver, all round great foodster, have combined to write a book about cooking with herbs, which you can find on How to grow and use sage, a new article I've written about- well ,yes, sage!
Put this book in your basket and be inspired!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A sweet cicely invasion

My herb garden has been taken over by Sweet cicely- that's a herb, not a sweet old lady named Cicely.
If you don't know what this is, take a look at this Growing sweet cicely web page. This herb is especially useful if you want to cut down on sugar in your cooking.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Time to plant borage?

I planted borage in 2009. I had lots of beautiful blue borage flowers (and the odd white one). More than enough to decorate all my summer desserts and drinks.
Last year enough had reseeded to give me the flowers for the essential summer drink- Pimms.
Pimms without borage is good, but Pimms with borage is the best.
Here your can find all about how to grow and use borage. It's easy. Try growing borage this summer and impress your family in friends with this classy little edible flower in your salads, on desserts and in fruit cups.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

First mow of the garden in 2011

The lawn and all the grassy banks have been mown for the first time today. What a great smell that fresh cut grass is- a real feeling of summer on the way.
I've also been taking a look at my herb garden to see what's happening there.
The bay has been badly hit by frost and needs a heavy trim.
The rosemary has been completely killed off and will need replanting.

However, the Sweet Cicely is coming up well, just in time to sweeten the first rhubarb. Did you know that sweet cicely cuts the sharpness and so reduces the amount of sugar needed. Read more about sweet cicely from these links.
Sweet cicely in May 2010 in White Moss house herb garden

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Time to get out now that the days are longer

We've just passed the Spring Equinox, so that means it's official! The days are now longer than the night, and this means that the garden is going to take off pretty fast .
I'm looking out of the window at my herb garden and it's a sad sight just now.
The bay tree was badly hit by the very cold winter, and will need a heavy prune to get rid of all the dead leaves.
The sage and marjoram need cutting back.
However, the Sorrel and the Lovage are beginning to show through, and as long as the sheep and the deer don't find them we'll soon be able to use them in cooking.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Frost again in the Lake District

Just when you think it's getting a bit more spring like, along comes a very heavy overnight frost.
The Sorrel had just been peeping its head out above ground, but that will now be put on hold. In any case, we were invaded by the local Herdwick Sheep yesterday, who nibbled everthing in sight until I drove them out.

I've done a quick repair of the fence, but now they've got back in  here once, there will be no stopping them!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Oh dear, problems with deer.

You can get a list from the local garden centre, or from the internet, of plants that deer don't like.
Don't believe it- they eat almost anything.
Even in the middle of winter the deer are coming into the gadren- we see their droppings in the morning. Any shoot that dares stick its head avove ground ricks being nibbled to death.
I've found a great book here that I'd love for my birthday next month- anyone looking?

Friday, 21 January 2011

It's a new year in the Lake District Garden

Not much has been happening in the garden lately. Rain, snow, frost and general winter weather has made it an unattractive proposition.

This week however we had a couple of days that felt like spring, so we've been out tidying- sweeping up the magnolia leaves from the path, and pruning the jasmine.
I expect it's quite the wrong thing to do, to hack away at a jasmine in January, but I'd not had the heart to cut it back in autumn. The deer found it in December and thought the last of the leaves looked tasty, so we were left with long shoots of jasmine waving around in the wind.

We need to put a load of compost on the Jasmine now. A few years of having a jasmine with lots of leaves but no flowers have taught me that you need to put more compost than you think would be necessary on the jasmine root to make sure you get those sweet scented flowers in summer.