I've got a tray of flapjacks baking in the oven. My second attempt as the first weren't quite sticky and yummy enough. I'm off to the Yorkshire Show tomorrow, so thought I'd make flapjacks for us to take along. As my bruv and niece are gluten free, I bought GF porridge oats. Crikey, they're expensive compared to the regular kind. Anyway, let's see if the second lot are more successful.
Before my attempt at being Mary Berry I did some pootling around in the front garden. I've been popping small thyme plants in between cracks or gaps in the bricks, and this little one in the photo above should hopefully spread out in weeks to come, and cover that gap entirely.
These Californian Poppies are tumbling out of their flower bed, and I loved the shape the petals made as they weren't fully open.
This dill plant seems to shoot up another inch or two by the day. It's pretty enough to go in any herbaceous border, don't you think?
Another photo of the dill, which would look better without the plastic washing up bowl loitering in the background! It's useful for chucking weeds into, or general fetching and carrying. Another old washing up bowl has had holes punched into the base and now has catmint growing in it. Waste not, want not, as the saying goes.
Okay, time to sample a flapjack. Let's see if it comes up to scratch.
July already, and we've had some amazingly hot days. It's been gorgeous, and I'm developing a Yorkshire tan from all this sunshine. It does mean an evening traipse around with the watering can, and the tomato plants and sunflowers are greedy 'uns when it comes to water.
The front garden's looking disheveled. It's got its bedhead on, and no one's around with a hairbrush or some straightners! This photo shows the upper level, the front being split into two levels from when previous residents flattened the sloping ground and paved it over. (In the background is the not-so-charming sight of many bags of sand and limestone I've removed after lifting bricks. I'm waiting till I've got a skipful before getting rid of 'em. Plus there's a trio of hulking plastic bins. Unsightly, but those wooden 'bin tidies' are ridiculously expensive.)
When I created these flower beds I was in such a rush to get plants - anything green! - into this barren space, so in it all went. Jumbled up and squished together. Consequently it's messy but at least the bees love all the nectar sources.
Having visited some public gardens over the summer, and having watched Mr Montague Don on 'Gardeners World' I've got more idea now of what plants I like and am beginning to understand the theory behind how to plant a successful border. I spent last night chopping up seed catalogues, cutting out pictures of plants I aspire to grow and noting their height. I'm working out what looks best at the back of a border (tall spires like foxgloves and delphiniums), what's of medium height (Achillea, alliums, lavender and Cosmos) and what's compact (Forget-Me-Not, daisies). I've got a colour scheme. Actually, more than one. The upper beds will be whites, purples (from pale lilac through to a deep imperial purple), pinks (from blush through to shocking pink), with the odd blue (such as the Himalayan poppy) and a touch of yellow, but only the softest creamy lemon. (The lupin you can see in the photo is 'Lupinus West Country Desert Sun' and is a beauty.)
On the lower level will be a 'white' bed - home to yarrow (which is self seeding like a maniac), a Cosmos like 'White Knight', some Gypsophilia maybe and I'd love an ornamental grass like 'Bunny Tails'. Finally I'd like an 'orange/yellow' bed - a home for all those vivid look-at-me blooms, such as orange or red Crocosmia, vibrant Heleniums, lots of Californian poppies and Echinacea 'Paradiso'. Plus some Chinese lanterns and a chocolate scented Cosmos 'Choca Mocha'. Oh, and of course lots of sunflowers. I want to grow those outrageously tall ones that you can get nose to nose with from the upstairs windows.
Yup, I've got big plans for a gal with a small budget. But seeds are cheap, and there're worse things to spend your cash on than prettying up your home and providing wildlife with a tasty buffet. Actually, it's turns out I've got loads more seeds than I thought away. The tartan patterned former shortbread tin that I use to store them has plenty, plus I recently ordered a fair few from a £1.00 per pack sale on Forthergills website. I may have to be brutal much later this year and into the start of next, ripping out what I've planted so far and redoing all those borders from scratch. It'd be worth it to get some proper structure in place, and to also make sure I dig in a load of organic materal, to ensure the soil's as good as I can get it.
You know, I don't understand what people who don't garden do with their time ... seriously folks, you need to get 'with it'. It's great exercise, you're creative, you can indulge in a love of colour and texture. What's not to like? Who else has got bitten by the gardening bug? Or maybe you're a frustrated would-be gardener who's got no more space than a window box?
Okay, here's what you need to know. I moved into my house a year ago yesterday, and bought it partly because it was in my price range (... big consideration ...) but also because of the garden. On the face of it that was crazy because the garden consisted of:
At the front - brick paving. Lots of bricks.
At the back - more brick paving. Plus an area of membrane covered by pebbles. Plus an area of membrane covered by gravel. The dreariest grey gravel you'd ever (not) wish to see.
The only plants were the odd weed peeking up between the bricks, and the dead fuchsia plants surrounded by weeds in two plastic tubs by the front door.
It pained me to see this little patch of land lacking even the most basic of greenery. Not a flower to be seen. Nothing for the bees to feed on, or the butterflies. Even the birds couldn't get to the worms lurking under those bricks. Presuming there were worms.
Seriously, it pained me. Who'd layer all that brick and pebbles and gravel over what could be a lovely green space?
(Actually I found that out a few months ago. I got chatting to a couple who'd owned my house about five years ago. The wife proudly told me how they'd put down the hard landscaping. Smiling as if she'd done the world a Good Deed. I kept a diplomatic silence about how hideous it looked. I didn't dare ask them if they'd put that faux diamond patterned leading on the windows. Equally hideous, and now largely removed. Who puts Ye Olde Tudor Stylee Leading on a 1950s semi ?)
I've barely tackled the back garden, but I've made a decent start on the front. It's going to take some doing though. Loads of the bricks are coming up.
This photo was taken last summer, after a heck of a lot of time and effort. Now that brighter days and warmer temperatures are here this spring I'm making further progress. Widening the existing beds and taking up more bricks to make new ones. The drainage isn't brilliant, neither is the soil quality. Under the bricks is a layer of sand, then a layer of limestone, put there to level off the surface. My fledgling garden's not only home to stacks of bricks, then bags of sand and more bags of stones.
My nails are dirt encrusted, despite gardening gloves, and I'm doing two yoga classes a week plus Pilates to help ensure my back remains in good nick. But it'll be worth it.
Are you planning some major gardening work this year? What's on your agenda?
Last year's pinks. Let's hope they flower again this year.
A photo from earlier this year. Taken on a frosty morning.
Moved from a garden-less city flat in the South West to a Yorkshire village in 2016. I now have a garden ... of sorts.