The old house garden: a weekly round up. 31st May 2017

Ive been so busy that I haven’t written the weekly round up of the old house garden! May is such a busy month in the english garden and the old house garden is no exception! It has grown so much since my last post that I am sure you will really see the difference.
Anyway, here are the photos!

I only planted this border last year and it is looking at it’s best at the moment!
The lupins are looking superb!
The lupins (I have to pick off the snails and slugs every night!)
Lupins close up
A close up of Clematis Vyvyan Pennell
Clematis Vyvyan Pennell climbing over the arch.
Red oriental Poppy
The rain has damaged my white oriental poppies but they still look lovely!
Astrantia Major Pink
Astrantia Minor with Forget-me-nots (and the odd wild strawberry which the hedgehog loves so I allow!)
Purple Iris (this was a surprise!)
My blue poppies are still going although now looking paler in colour.
The bees are loving the Scabious!
The irises around the pond are flowering now.
The pond area is looking a little battered from all the rain.
Yellow rose
I haven’t planted much in the new border but these plants were transported last year and seem to be doing well! They are all yellow, orange and red.
I repotted the Bay Tree as it was totally pot bound and it’s so much happier!
The fruit trees are beginning to grow
Tomatoes are in their grow bags in the Greenhouse.
The peas and beans are doing really well. I have planted out 2 pumpkins too.
The other vegetables are growing well but some have been attacked by slugs and snails.
Primrose came to stay. She is my mum’s dog and is very cute! Here she is with my rather bedraggled looking Peonies!
We had a cinema night with friends! It was so much fun!



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How to create a family friendly wildlife garden

I make no secret of the fact I love gardening and helping local wildlife in my garden. I love that we have hedgehogs, toads, frogs, newts, slow worms, butterflies, bats and bees in the old house garden. I do not use chemicals at all and always try to find other, organic ways to overcome pests or problems.

A bee visiting a peony in the old house garden

Many people ask me how I created my wildlife friendly garden. Well, I didn’t! We have only lived in the old house for less than 2 years but in that time we have enhanced a previously overgrown and dark space into the beautiful garden it is today. The wildlife was here already but I like to think we are encouraging more creatures to come and visit.

I thought I would share with you my top tips for creating a wildlife garden that is also child friendly.

1. Save Water

Add a water butt to your garden will help in times of dry weather. You can even add sprinklers to some which children will love playing in! Use this water to fill up the paddling pool but add a teaspoon of Milton for very young children as the rain water could be dirty.

The pond at the old house with a dog/ child proof fence

2. Ponds

Wildlife gardens are best with a pond but these can be very dangerous for young children. I went to a neighbours recently and was dismayed to see that they had poured sand into their pond as they were worried for their toddler. Whilst I understand this, I could only think of all the damage they had done to the pond’s ecosystem! Instead cover existing ponds with a good quality mesh above the pond or, better still, fence off your pond AND add a mesh. In this way creatures can still access your pond BUT your child will be safe. When your child is older or with supervision, you will be amazed at what creatures you can see together. Ponds are good for children to learn about life cycles and to see many animals from their books. Ponds attract a multitude of different animals but do not add a pump as this will only cause problems for tadpoles and other small creatures. For this reason, I would not add fish either as they eat tadpoles.

3. No Chemicals

I do not use any chemicals. Nothing to kill aphids. Nothing to prevent rose rust. Nothing to kill the weeds in my lawn. You really don’t need them. Add ladybird houses and encourage other insects into the garden will help to beat the pests. Make sure the soil is healthy by adding home grown compost. I will talk about other ideas in another post such as how to get rid of aphids the organic way! Chemicals are not just harmful to the garden ecosystem but also for our families.

4. Plant some seeds and give a patch to your children.

Give a patch of garden to your children to grow their own seeds on. It could be a pot or raised bed if you have a smaller garden. Children love to plant, water and care for plants. They don’t mind what kind of plant it is! I love growing sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, sweet peas and nigellas with children as they are all easy to grow from seeds. If you want to plant some now, I love nasturtiums. The seeds are larger for young children to handle and they grow quickly producing lots of lovely orange/red/yellow flowers. They have the added bonus of attracting the cabbage white butterfly so you may get caterpillars too!

5. Grow your own food

There is nothing better than eating your own vegetables and fruits. It also helps children to see where their food comes from. You don’t need a garden to grow tomatoes; a window sill will do. You can buy small vegetable plants at this time of year which saves you growing from seed if you are a new gardener. We still do this sometimes as it saves space in the greenhouse! Easy vegetables to grow are cucumbers, peppers, peas, beans, onions, strawberries, carrots and pumpkins. I love growing pumpkins with children because they are always amazed at their size!


6. Feed the birds

We have lots of different bird feeders in the garden and even with cats, get lots of visitors. Children love to watch the birds that come to the garden. We always do the Big Garden Bird Watch in school and the children are ALWAYS thrilled to see all the different birds! You can make bird cakes with children which are very easy -put a hole in a yoghurt pot and add a piece of string (so that you can hang your feeder). Then, melt lard in a pan and add birdseed to it. Add the mixture to the yoghurt pot and leave to cool before hanging. Make a area of your garden for birds and you may be lucky to see other visitors such as squirrels!

Squirrel visiting the bird feeders

7. Create a den or “hide”

Children love making dens so make a permanent one in the garden where your children can hide and watch the birds! You can use bamboo plants as they grow quickly (but can be invasive) or you could make one from willow sticks. Even adding a den from materials and chairs is a great way to encourage children to sit quietly to watch wildlife (for about 5 minutes!)

8. Add animal homes

Add nesting boxes, ladybird houses, bat boxes and hedgehog homes to encourage wildlife to stay. Making a bee hotel is always a fun project to do with children and they are easy to make. Get lots of plastic drinking straws and let your child bundle the straws together and tie them using string or an elastic band. Then cut the straws to the size they want (great for snipping skills!). Hang these on a sunny wall and watch the solitary bees come to make their nests. Perhaps read stories about the animals and this will enable your child to see what they may look like.

9. Plant food for the insects

Planting a range of plants that flower throughout the year not only makes your garden look good, it also provided food all year round for bees, moths and other insects. My favourites are lavender, forget-me-nots, primroses, buddleja, sedums, sunflowers, clover, honeysuckle, jasmine, asters, black eyed susan, phlox and crab apple blossoms. Variety is key and personally, I love the cottage garden look anyway!

Children looking at ladybirds! *

10. Don’t be too tidy!

The perfect wildlife gardens are a little untidy in places and have patches of nettles or wild bits! It’s tricky to do this in a small garden but I tend to think that if the grass is a little long or if there a few weeds, it doesn’t really matter. Enjoyment of our green spaces is key so that we can spend as much time outside in the fresh air as we can. If we can do that and help local wildlife as well, surely we will all live in a better world and will be teaching our children than wildlife matters.

Happy gardening everyone!


*photo found at

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3 Little Buttons

#My Sunday Photo 14.05.17

We have been planting out the vegetables this weekend. In our vegetable beds we have peas, beans, cucumbers, rhubarb and peppers. I also hope to plant out a pumpkin. In the greenhouse we have tomatoes.

The vegetable beds
The pond area is also looking lovely as the foxgloves are beginning to flower.

Pink Foxglove
Finally, I took some photographs over the weekend which have come out really well. The first is a Clematis taken at night. It was illuminated by the lights and looked so pretty.

Clematis lit at night

The other picture I love is my Meconopsis which is flowering in the old house garden! I am so thrilled as these are quite tricky to grow. There is only one at the moment but another is coming through! These small things make me happy!


I hope you all had a great weekend.


How to brighten up a patio or small outdoor space.

My patio was looking so tired and sad! It needed something to brighten it up but it is south-facing and very hot in the summer so I tend to forget about plants I have planted by the house! Instead, I decided to empty all the old pots and planters I had around the garden and make them into something pretty for this area.

The old patio after a good brush!
The patio is very old and all the cracks in the patio stones were full of weeds. Now I don’t mind a few weeds but I wanted to get rid of some of them. I won’t use chemicals in my garden so a good trick is to use a stiff brush and sweep away some of the plants and then take the stubborn ones out by hand.

My collection of old pots.
I have lots of old metal buckets and pots so decided to recycle these. I did have to buy a tiered plant stand to put them on. I got this one from Amazon. There are lots to choose from on there that vary in size and material. I chose this metal one as it is sturdy to hold this amount of pots and as it is metal, it is easy to clean.

Finished planted up plant pots on the tiered stand.
I chose some plants that are Annuals (they won’t grow back next year) and some Perennials that I can transfer to the garden after the summer. Give all the plants a good water once they are in.

I used:

Scabious -butterfly blue P

Scabious -Pink mist P

Senetti deep purple (the daisy looking plant) A

Anemone de caen blue P

Anemone de caen pink P

Trailing Lobelia Red/pink A

Salvia Cardonna nemorosa P

Salvia Osfriesland nemorosa P

Lavender French pink P

African daisies A

The stand cost approximately £85

The plants cost £45

This would look lovely on a small patio or even on a balcony if you do not have a garden. The bees are already coming to the flowers and it definitely has brightened up this corner of the patio.

Now….I mustn’t forget to water them!


Feel free to Pin any images that you like to your Pinterest boards.



My Glorious Gardens series: Prior Park Landscape Gardens in Bath.

In this Glorious Gardens post, I went to the National Trust gardens in Bath called The Prior Park Landscape Gardens. This garden was created in the 18th Century by Ralph Allen following advice from Capability Brown. His former home is now a school called Prior Park College, so it is just the gardens that can be visited but how splendid they are!

The Palladian bridge at Prior Park Gardens

They are dominated by one of only four Palladian bridges of this design in the world and are set in a deep wooded valley just on the way out of the city of Bath. Visiting in Spring sees masses of wild garlic along the paths and in the valley but in Autumn, I can imagine the colours must be superb.

The woodland paths

The gardens are a National Trust property and there are various trails for children to take part in. My favourite is The Rotten Trail where children can learn about decay in the garden! It is very hilly and so very young children or people with wheel chairs would need to take care on the steep paths. I followed the marked walk all the way around the garden and it took me (a very fast walker) about an hour but you could easily spend half or a whole day here. There are lots of places to stop for a picnic and a lovely cafe serving light refreshments including sandwiches, drinks and ice-creams. The only difficulty is that there is no parking on site so you need to catch a bus from the city centre. Dogs are allowed on a lead.

The wild garlic in the valley
The swing with a view!

There is a small playground for children and a great swing with a view towards Prior Park College!

The view towards the college from the bridge

I enjoyed reading all the graffiti on the bridge itself; some was dated over 200 years ago!

Graffiti on the Palladian bridge at Prior Park Gardens
This is not a garden full of flowers but is a garden of note as it has spectacular views and is not very crowded due to it being quite tricky to get to. You can also access the Bath Skyline walk from here which is 500 acres around the city.

View of the Palladian bridge with Prior Park College beyond.
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Dear Bear and Beany
Feel free to Pin any images that you like to your Pinterest boards.

Garden Round Up May 1st.

A few photos of the garden to share with you. The garden has changed so much during this past month. This is the second year that we have lived at the old house so it’s easy to forget what it looked like then! Do have a look at older posts to see more pictures.

Bark Mulch

I have finally begun to weed the older beds and mulched with bark. It’s a long process and I don’t want to be too tidy but this looks much better. I can also see when Hubbard the Hedgehog has visited as he likes to dig in the mulch!

My ericaceous bed with Acer’s.

The acid soil raised bed is planted up. We had lots of inspiration from visits to Exbury and Bowood. We now have Acer’s which I’m so pleased with!

The established bed with yellow Tree Peony
Yellow Peony with a visiting bee

The Tree Peony flowered which was beautiful. The bees loved it!

New fence for roses.

We put up the fence on the other side of the garden and I have planted 3 rambling roses in white and pink here which will look glorious once established.

Red currants
Rhubarb is growing happily

We planted a new red currant bush along the dog proof fence and the rhubarb that we planted last year is growing happily.

Support for my cucumbers

Hubbie made a cucumber support so that we can still grow things underneath it. I planted those out today as I think the frosts are now passed. In the greenhouse we also have peas, tomatoes and peppers growing happily.

Giant Allium

The alliums I planted as bulbs in October are beginning to appear. I had forgotten I had planted these so it’s so great to see them!

Clematis Montana

I have many Clematis in the garden but the Montana is looking splendid. I only planted this last Spring so it is flowering beautifully!

Let’s see what May will bring….





Great things to do outside with your children right now.

This is getting lots of views at the moment as it’s relevent for all this lovely weather we are having so I’m reblogging it. Enjoy!

Old house in the Shires

What to do with young children when they are bored? Want to keep them away from the Playstation or iPad? Feel like they haven’t been outside in ages and need some fresh air? Feel you haven’t any money for treats and days out?

If the answer is yes, then this blog post is for you!

Things to do in the woods or in your garden or at the park….and they are all free!

  • Find a stick! Children love sticks and they can be really fun. Draw in the mud with it. Pretend it’s Stick Man, is it a wand? is it a sword? Collect loads and make a giant nest with them or a den. Fun with sticks is endless.
  • Hide and Seek is still a great favourite of mine. Young children have Not become bored by the old games remember so this is a fun game to play in…

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