The weather went from 26 degrees yesterday here in Wiltshire to a chilly 14 degrees today with lots of rain! It feels Autumnal already so I thought I would share with you some of the jobs that I plan to do in the next few months in the garden.
Here are my top 10 jobs for this busy season.
Collect seeds. Collecting seeds to grow more lovely plants is a great way to save money and still have wonderfully full borders! My favourite seeds that need to be put away and sown in the Spring are; Cosmos, Sweet peas, Sunflowers, Marigolds, Zinnias and Poppies. My favourite seeds that can be sewn straight away as they need the cold weather to activate them are; Foxgloves, Yarrow, and Astrantia.
2. Keep harvesting vegetables and sew some green winter manure plants now. Harvest fruits. Make apple juice from your apples or slice Bramley apples and freeze in bags to be used to make lovely apple crumble or apple pie.
3. Rake and feed your lawn. Repair holes with grass seed.
4. Plant Spring bulbs. My favourites that I will planting this Autumn are snow drops, Fritillaria, daffodils and English bluebells.
5. Sort out your pond. Clean out any leaves and put up some netting to collect falling leaves. Amphibians such as frogs and newts will have left the pond to hibernate so this is a good time to do these jobs.
6. Divide perennials and move any plants at this time. I don’t tend to tidy perennials now as I like to leave them for wildlife to feed on.
7. Make new compost bins for leaf litter. This makes a lovely compost.
8. Clean out water butts and plan any hard landscaping ideas for the winter when plants are dormant.
9. Rake up leaves once a week so that the job doesn’t become too big.
10. Clear out summer bedding, add bone meal and feed to the soil giving it a good digging over before adding Winter bedding plants.
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.
Some of the plants that I planted last year (and forgot about!) are flowering now and look stunning together.
The roses around the archway are flowering now.
The roses around the arch are Felicite Perpetue and Albertine. I also have Compassion and Blush Noisette planted behind, against the trellis.
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!
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.
This also happened this week…
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.
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.
I am hoping to attract more bees and butterflies with these meadow type flowers. We shall see.
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!
THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.
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!
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.