The Old House Garden Round up: 27th June 2017. It’s all about colour!

It’s been a few weeks since I posted about The Old House Garden. It goes so quickly! There have been lots of subtle changes in regards to growth of the plants we have and some larger changes too! We have enjoyed boiling hot and dry weather here in Wiltshire with rain coming in tomorrow. I have been using the water in the Water Butt to keep the garden looking gorgeous but we are in need of the rain that is forecast as the soil is so dry.

The Cottage border has changed quite a bit in 2 weeks with the lupins dying back and other plants taking over.

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The Cottage border
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The Cosmos are flowering madly in this warm weather.

Some of the plants that I planted last year (and forgot about!) are flowering now and look stunning together.

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Salvia, Phlox, Cosmos, Astrantia, Astilbe in pinks and purples.
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Phlox
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Astilbe
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Salvia
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Lillies
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Red Achillea
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Pale Achillea loved by insects
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This beautiful rose popped up in the back of the border too!

The roses around the archway are flowering now.

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I can’t wait to see this all overflowing with roses in a few years time! This is after 14 months.

The roses around the arch are Felicite Perpetue and Albertine. I also have Compassion and Blush Noisette planted behind, against the trellis.

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Blush Noisette

I read in John’s blog here

about a rose called Blue Moon which  I am very interested in getting next year. There are so many lovely roses though aren’t there?

The vegetables have been much happier in all this sunshine!

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The beans have gone bonkers!
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The pumpkin seems happy.
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Finally, some growth from the cucumbers!

We extended this border and added some new trellis behind it. I used to call this the Blue border until pink foxgloves appeared! I’m happy to let things self seed though.

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The “not only blue” border

This also happened this week…

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The dry stone wall fell down.

We had a lovely Empress Tree here but it needed to come out because it was rotten and in danger of coming down. In taking it out, it disturbed the Ivy which was growing in the wall and a hole appeared. We decided to take out the ivy so that we could repair this section.

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The pond has lots of holes in the liner.

The pond was looking very low, even in this weather and we have discovered there are lots of holes in the liner! It’s obviously degrading and older than we had first thought. I’m quite upset as I had worked hard on this area but it looks as if we need to relay the liner! We shall wait until the Autumn to allow the amphibians that live here to come out of the pond but it’s very sad. We have decided to dig a new pond slightly further to the right to move it out from under so many trees. It’s going to be quite a job as we want to save as many of the plants and wildlife as possible.

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I scattered meadow seeds here in April and you can see all the growth!

I am hoping to attract more bees and butterflies with these meadow type flowers. We shall see.

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Is this a Harebell?
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Beautiful colours
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Lots of wildflowers have appeared.

Each night, I go and have a stroll in my garden and think how lucky I am to live here! In the warm weather at dusk, I have seen so much wildlife. Bats swoop down around the pond eating various insects, there are tiny frogs in the borders, I found a slow-worm living in my compost bin and this little newt was amongst my vegetables. I love it!

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A newt

THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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How to make fabulous household compost to use in your garden.

We have a compost bin in the old house and we use it make fabulous, organic compost to put on the garden. They add vital nutrients to the soil to enable optimum growing conditions.

What benefits does compost have to my garden?

Your own compost will feed and condition your garden soil and can also be used for your pots or in growing your  own vegetables. It also is a great way to recycle kitchen waste so leaving less to go in your rubbish bags.

What can I compost?

      • Vegetables and fruit peelings/cores/skins. Banana skins are ideal for the compost.
      • Grass cuttings. Try to mix this with “dry” bits so that the compost doesn’t get too slimy. I put leaves on another pile to make leaf mulch.
      • Dry bits like paper, newspaper and cardboard such as cereal boxes, loo rolls and packaging. I strip mine up so that they can compost quicker.
      • Tea bags and coffee grounds (also good for dealing with slugs see my post

    here

  • Animal bedding such as straw and sawdust from a rabbit hutch. This does take longer to compost though.
  • Egg shells. We eat a lot of eggs in the old house so I also crush these up to discourage those pesky slugs and snails!
  • Lint from the dryer or washing machine. Animal hair or hair from hair brushes.
  • Ash from my fire. Some don’t add this but we don’t have too much so it can go in!
  • Old cut flowers. I chop these up into smaller pieces.
  • I also add Epsom salts to my compost as we are low in Magnesium here in Wiltshire.

What do I not compost?

  • Any meat or fish. This can attract rats.
  • Animal faeces. Ugh!
  • Weeds. I don’t add these because I don’t want to add their seeds to my compost.
  • Cat litter.
  • Nappies.
  • Old dog or cat food.
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My compost -you can see the layers.

How do I compost?

You can buy some great compost bins from most garden centres or DIY shops. They are often large, black bin looking things with a removable front panel. Put this is a place in your garden that is out the way. It won’t smell but they are not great to look at! Make sure they are placed ON THE OPEN GROUND. This is vital. The bottom of the bin must be placed onto the soil so that worms can get in. The worms are what are going to be doing all the work for you as decomposers! Put in your waste as and when you have it. I mix my bin contents every now and again to get the air into the compost and to allow the wet and dry pieces to mix. You can make your own compost area too like we have in the old house garden.

In about 6-8 weeks you will have lovely, crumbly compost that you can out into your garden! Simple! You can even compost in a small garden.

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Hubbie built our compost bin from old scaffolding planks!

Have a go! You plants will thank you (and so will the bin man and the planet!)

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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Dottie & Primrose say hi. 🙂
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10 ways to deal with slugs and snails in the garden without using chemicals.

Snails and slugs have eaten my Delphiniums again! They have also munched some of my vegetables and it’s quite a problem!

We garden without chemicals in the old house garden. We have pets but we also have a resident hedgehog as well as slow worms, bats, pond life and birds. We want to encourage this wildlife and using chemicals is not an option. I also think that if you have young children you should think very carefully about using chemicals.

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Slugs and snails are a nuisance in the garden

So how do we deal with slugs and snails?

1. Encourage wildlife that eat them! Make homes for hedgehogs, leave a wild patch, make homes for insects and make a hole in your fence so that hedgehogs can get in and out. See my post on how to create a wildlife garden Here

2. Make sure your plants are as healthy as they can be. Use mulch, make your own compost and water your plants regularly (using water from your water butt of course!)

3. Make raised beds surrounded by gravel to make it trickier for the snails and slugs to reach your vegetables in the first place.

4. Make beer traps. Basically put some beer into a jar or pot. It needs to be deep enough so they can’t get out. Put this amongst your vegetables. The snails and slugs like the yeast in the beer and will choose this over your plants. Tip the snails and slugs in the compost bin.

5. Use crushed egg shells or crushed pistachio nuts around the base of your plants. They don’t like it all over them when they move.

6. Use coffee grounds, sawdust, ash or sand around the base of your delicate plants. I’ve actually never found these work but some people swear by them!

7. Put out strips of cardboard at night and in the morning, you will find the snails and slugs underneath and you can pop them into the compost, cardboard and all.

8. Smear petroleum jelly around the base of plants in pots. The snails and slugs can’t cross the jelly to reach your plants.

9. Plant “sacrifice” plants such as lettuces. In other words, the snails and slugs will eat these instead.

10. If in doubt, go out! I go out in the early evening (with a torch…..🤔) And pick off the slugs and snails. I then put them where the hedgehogs live or straight into the compost bin.

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You don’t need chemicals to deal with snails and slugs.

I hope this post was useful to you!

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

*photo found at http://gratisography.com/

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My Glorious Gardens Series: Introducing Bowood Woodland Gardens

This is the first in My Glorious Gardens Series and I’m super excited!

Each post will review a garden or beautiful outdoor space that I have visited. 

Bowood Woodland Gardens near Calne, Wiltshire

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Sign with details of openings and prices

My first stop is the beautiful Woodland Gardens at Bowood near the town of Calne in Wiltshire. The walk is 2 miles from Bowood House and Gardens and can be visited separately.  Under 12’s are free so its super value for money. Personally, if I had children I would link this visit and see the main House and Gardens too as the playground is absolutely amazing! Oh and there is a fabulous hotel, spa and Tractor Ted for little ones so you could easily come for a weekend. The main Garden was designed by Capability Brown and they are holding special Capability Brown Days this Spring and Summer 2017. This is not a National Trust property but still owned by the family of Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne.

Take a look on their website:

http://www.bowood.org

The woodland garden is absolutely stunning! I have so many photos to share with you! There are bluebells, Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas galore as well as a small place to have tea, cake and ice-creams.

Sam, the man on the gate let us in a little earlier than 11am so we had the place to ourselves. You are given a free map and guide and the walks are clearly signposted. We took The Walk of the Week.

I don’t really need to write much more because I’m hoping the photos speak for themselves!

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There were little places to sit and admire the views.
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This is a rare photo of me!
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The rain held off. Just!
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Some of the plants were absolutely huge!

I think Dottie enjoyed herself! Well behaved dogs are allowed on leads.

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Dottie amongst the bluebells.

And then, of course we couldn’t resist taking lots of close-up shots!

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Close up of an English bluebell

In the middle of the Gardens is a Mausoleum for the family which is in a magnificent spot. You can go inside and read about who is laid to rest there.

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The grand Mausoleum

The walk only took us an hour but you could easily spend half a day here wandering around and perhaps, taking a picnic. There are toilets and a darling little cafe.

It was a great place to visit in Wiltshire and one that I would recommend!

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View across the Wiltshire countryside.

My Glorious Gardens

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Spring through the lens of my old camera.

I have been trying out my old camera as I have been inspired by my blogging friend at http://ramblingratz.wordpress.com

Ratz takes the most amazing photos of nature in the garden and the surrounding area. I’ve always used my camera phone to take my blog photos and they are okay but I wanted to take images with more clarity and to focus on more detail. So here goes!

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Bluebells. I know they are not all English Bluebells but I still love them! These are growing near the Tree Peony and in the woodland/wildlife area.

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I love the bright yellow of this Pom Pom Bush or Kerria Japonica. It has spread all along one of our boundary walls.

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Tulips how I love you.

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The cherry tree at the front of the house is in full bloom and it is stunning. It’s quite old for a cherry tree and a bit knarly but still glorious! It’s a Japanese Cherry and the bees love it! I’m still perfecting my close up’s! The bees kept moving away before I could get any real decent shots!

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Euphorbia in the sunshine.

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Bees and frogs!

I’m going to keep playing around with this camera. Thank you Ramblingratz for the inspiration!

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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The Wildlife Garden -April 2017.

The Wildlife Garden with the pond is looking really great at the moment. This is the area at the bottom of the garden which we cleared in December. There is still a lot of old stone at the very end of this area but the pond area is looking much better. I cleared the pond out last year and planted a few new plants around the edges such as foxgloves and ferns. I also planted some Fritillary bulbs in the Autumn and I’m so pleased to see they are now flowering and looking stunning! There is also cowslips, primroses, grape hyacinths and bluebells appearing too which is fantastic!

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The pond itself is full of tadpoles at the moment.

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The water itself is not looking too clear so I’m going to add more oxygenating plants to try to improve the water quality. I’m a little concerned that the pond liner is degrading so have added some pebbles around the edge. I really don’t want to have to replace the liner as this would mean having to drain the pond and starting again. Any suggestions from anyone about that? Is there anything else I could do? If not, is Autumn the best time to replace it?

The Cherry tree at the front of the house is looking so pretty too…

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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