Apples, apples everywhere!

We are lucky to have a rather lovely, old apple tree in the old house garden which is groaning with apples this Autumn. I expect it is the sole survivor of an apple orchard planted in the 1950’s or so but it is very welcome and we have been harvesting many, many apples this weekend. We had a cold spell in late Spring here in the UK and I have read that this has affected this year’s harvest. I think the old house garden is so sheltered that our apple tree was covered in blossom and didn’t seem to be affected hence the great apple crop.

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The old house garden apple tree is groaning with fruit
So what to do with all these lovely apples?

Last year, we failed at making cider or juice for that matter….I think as the apples are Bramley apples this was doomed from the start! This year, we decided to try Apple sauce.

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Washing the apples in the wheel barrow
After climbing a rather large ladder we managed to collect about half of all the apples on the tree into a wheel barrow. We couldn’t reach the apples on the top branches so we have left those. We washed the apples and selected the best to use in our apple sauce.

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Chopping the apples

We chopped and sliced the apples and put them in saucepans.

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We had 4 large saucepans in total.

We added lemon juice, water and caster sugar to each saucepan. I have no quantities for you as we just went with the amounts we thought were right! We brought this to a gentle simmer which we left, stirring occasionally as the apples softened.

Meanwhile, I made an apple and blackberry crumble with some blackberries we picked on our dog walk this morning.

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Lots of blackberries in the fields at the moment.
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Make sure you wash the fruit
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I admit that I bought a crumble mix from the supermarket! It cooks in the oven for about 30 minutes and its so easy.
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Apple and blackberry crumble doesn’t last long in this house (and it’s mostly eaten by me!)

Meanwhile, the sauce was coming along nicely. We added more sugar for taste and also some sweet cinnamon.

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The apple sauce was ready and left to cool.

After we had left it to cool, we put it into sterilised jars ready for the fridge!

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Lots of jars of apple sauce -yummy!

And what to do with all the leftover apples?

Help yourself!

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Free Bramley apples at the old house!
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My Random Musings

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

 

 

 

Creating a Rose Garden

I haven’t posted a roundup post for the old house garden for a while because we have been busy creating a rose garden in the middle section of the old house garden.

I have blogged about the middle section of the garden before here

When we moved into the old house, the garden had been badly neglected but we could see what an amazing place it could be. It was dark and gloomy and we have spent the past 18 months concentrating on the garden before we can tackle the house.

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The sad and gloomy greenhouse Feb 2016
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The same greenhouse looking happier in Sept 2017
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The dark and gloomy middle garden Feb 2016
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The new rose garden Sept 2017

Now I could write a post explaining about how we created this garden but I must admit I find those types of posts a little tedious so instead I am posting lots of photographs so you can see the different stages. Do feel free to ask any questions though.

We tried to recycle patio slabs we already had but we did need to buy red pavers, a patio circle, cement, gravel, stones, compost and plants. As we did it all for ourselves we think we have spent about £800. We also saved money by going to a Nursery plant fair at the end of their season which saved us money on the roses and lavender.

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The space in August
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We used spray paint to divide the space and began to dig out.
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This was tough work but it soon took shape. We borrowed a laser level at this stage to make sure we had our levels correct as the garden is on a slight slope.
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The soil was added to the woodland area so that we could reuse it later (in fact we decided we quite like this ‘hill’ in the woodland area so have kept it and I have planted snowdrops and bluebell bulbs here.)
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We added hard core to the areas and compacted it using a compactor. This was tough work as it all had to be brought in with wheel barrows. We then started on the retaining wall at the back.

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We made the path next using pavers. The key here is to make sure they are level from the beginning. We had to use more hardcore and cement as we went along as the area was sloping and we wanted the path to be level.
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We carried on laying the pavers working into the seating circle near the raised planters we had built in the Spring. Luckily our calculations were spot on!
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We laid out the patio circle to see exactly where it had to go. It was important to match the lines of the slabs with the lines in the pavers.
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We laid the patio circle in cement using a plumb line from the seating circle to make sure the centre of the circle was in the correct place. We then added brick pavers around the edge to link the two colours of stone.
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We used gravel around the seating circle to neaten the edges here. The colour of the gravel and new stones matches the stones used in the raised bed.
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We added a stone edge to keep the soil and gravel neatly in place.
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We finally took the turf off and added manure and peat free compost. The area was almost ready for planting! At this stage we downed tools and went to a plant fair to buy our roses.
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We wanted to incorporate an old bird bath that we found in the garden so decided to make it a focal point by raising it onto blocks. These were cemented in.
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The bird bath was rolled into place -it is REALLY heavy!
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I love the bird bath here and the birds are already using it!
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The other seating circle was finished last.
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Planting is always fun and I love the traditional look of roses and lavender together. All our visits to other gardens really helped us design this section of the garden.
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The finished Rose Garden.

The roses we bought are: David Austin Olivia Rose, Generous Gardener and Brother Cadfael. I love the fact that these roses have peony type blooms and are pale to mid pink with a lovely old English scent. We also planted lavender. We have room for more so I will look out for other roses in the Spring but would welcome suggestions.

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Oliva Rose
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Dottie loves it too!

Already, I love this area! We hope to buy a couple of benches for the seating circle so that we can sit and enjoy this area. We are not sure at this point whether to add a table and chair set to the patio circle or we did think a large urn on a plinth may look better. What do you think?

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The Old House garden round-up: Flopsy Flowers and caterpillars!

So far, August has been very wet and cold in Wiltshire. Today was the first day for a while that we could enjoy the garden as it was lovely and sunny. I decided to quickly take some photographs of the garden so that it looked gorgeous in the sun however this was what we have enjoyed since Saturday!

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Rain, rain and more rain!
Of Course, this really took it’s toll on the garden; especially the flowers. It also made everything grow like crazy!

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The tower of beans fell down in the wind but there is still lots of beans to harvest!
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The pumpkins are developing well.
My pumpkins, although developing large fruits, have also got mildew on their leaves and I’m worried that it will spread so I have removed the infected leaves and have my fingers crossed! It’s due to all the rain and humid conditions. The tomatoes, beetroot and peppers all seem to be happy as they are now producing fruits.

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Cabbage White caterpillars
Now vegetable lovers will shake their heads at me but I actually planted these cauliflowers hoping to attract butterflies! I’m not too keen on cauliflower but I do love butterflies so am pleased that the cabbage white has laid her eggs on them! There are also some on my nasturtiums too but they have self seeded from last year and again, I planted them for caterpillar food!

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Caterpillars on the nasturtiums
This seems to be a theme in the old house garden as we also have sawfly larvae on a small patch of roses….

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Sawfly larvae on my roses
Although incredibly annoying, sawfly larvae are great food for ladybirds and I have seen many ladybird larvae eating the sawfly larvae so they can stay. I garden organically so I could take these little pest off by hand but I’m hoping the damage will be limited by encouraging natural predators.

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The Rhubarb is now monstrous!
The rhubarb we planted last Spring is now enormous so we are hoping to harvest from it next year.

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The apple tree is groaning with apples this year.
Now for the rest of the garden…

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The meadow continues to be in full flower.
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Zinnia
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I love these Love-in-a-mist (Nigella) flowers. I found them as seed pods by the side of the road and planted them as seed straight into this area.
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Tiger enjoying the garden. The grass has grown really long in places and is full of tiny frogs!
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The cottage border is still in full bloom but the flowers are all flopsy from all the rain!
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The Japanese Anemone are coming into full bloom. I love these as they are so pretty!
I replanted this plant stand last week, adding Dahlia and Hydrangea. I think it looks stunning and I’m really pleased with it.

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My plant stand by the back door.
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Dahlias
Lastly, here is a photo of my dear little Dottie dog taken with my new camera. I’m really pleased with it. Happy August everyone……in the next round-up there will be some changes to the Old House Garden. x

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Dottie dog
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