Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Unforeseen Circumstances

Due to unforeseen circumstances I've had to take a bit of time off from the garden at Norton Conyers, some might say I'm skiving the bad weather! With a bit of luck I hope to be back with you all soon.

"The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispostion, and not upon our circumstances"
Martha Washington

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Old Friend

A misty November morning greeted us yesterday, it may have been dull but there were plenty of sultry photo opportunities. I just love the way the spiders webs decorate every shrub and the skeletal remains of summers bounty. We are now getting stuck into the big clear up, which means donning waterproof trousers first thing if you wish to stay dry. I bought some new ones at the weekend, they are so thick there isn't the slightest danger of getting wet from the outside. However when the weather is mild like it is now, you are certainly in danger of becoming fairly moist from the inside, it is like being wrapped in a large plastic bag, roll on the frosts! Digging through the borders I soon noticed that we had been joined by and old friend, a robin had spotted the free lunch option of freshly dug worms and was availing himself of the opportunity. I would like to think that it is the same robin that joined us in the orangery last winter, Giles named him Fat Boy because he was very partial to Christmas cake crumbs. We know he has raised two broods deep in the climbing hydrangea by the bothy and because he came so close to us we can only assume he is our pet. He very obligingly posed for my photographs, and was good at keeping us company all day, I wish him a good winter with us.
"It takes a long time to grow an old friend"
John Leonard
Fat Boy

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Lovely Leaves

It's that time of year again, the autumn leaves demand our attention both in their sheer beauty and the collossal amount we have to deal with. I spent some of the morning wielding the leaf blower and removing the leaves from the roadways, things quickly deteriorate into an unmoveable sludge, which is slippery, if you don't do this regularly, of course soon afterwards a breeze got up and blew the whole lot back again! Such is gardening, but it keeps us in employment!

"...I see
the turning of a leaf
dancing in autumn sun,
and brilliant shades of crimson
glowing when day is done...
Hazelmarie Elliot

Monday, 19 October 2015

Harvest Home

There has been a finality about today that suits the end of October. I mowed the car parks and larger areas of the garden with the tractor, whilst Nicky and David took care of the hand mowing. That will be the last cut this year as the ground will now be too wet to cut without damaging the grass. All around us the apple trees keep dropping their fruit, sometimes with dangerous consequences, it can really hurt if you get clunked on the head with an apple falling from a great hight! It was definitely time to pick them. Whilst Alyson laid out the harvest with neatness and care in the apple store, we climbed up ladders and even the trees themselves to gather the best specimens. I always enjoy this part of gardening, reaping the rewards of the years toil, although the apple trees do it without any help from us. The vegetable plots have now been stripped of the summer produce and any weeds, leaving tidy rows of winter greens, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and sweede. All we must do now before the threatened bad weather arrives is cut down the ornamentals, such a shame to contemplate when they are still looking so fabulous, but if we are in danger of loosing working days to snow and ice we must start soon.

"Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven't planted"
David Bly

Monday, 12 October 2015

Awesome Autumn

This is without doubt the very best season of the year, in the short space of time left before winter closes down the garden, we have everything to choose from. Not only do we have fruit, nuts and berries, but the late flowering annuals are putting on their very best displays. When learning horticulture I was told that a plant must earn its place in the garden, it must have more than one season of interest, for example blossom in spring, good foliage, summer blooms and possibly fruiting bodies, edible or not, but above all else it should die 'well'. These are the months to prove that. Looking around the borders there is still much of beauty, even in the decay of some plants. I especially like the poppy seed heads and the skeletal frames of rudbekias. These of course are as much value to wild life as to the gardener, when walking the dogs last week I saw the largest flock of goldfinches I have ever seen feeding on seed heads along the Nidd Gorge cycle track, over forty at a guess! Finally the autumn colours have an intensity all their own, perhaps it is Natures firework display before the darkness, but the quality of the light gives an intense glow to all things, the luster of the elderberries or the dangerous beacon of fungus nestled amongst the detritus. All appears full but on the brink of death, and this gives an intense poignancy before the degeneration sets in.

Fall, leaves fall; die, flowers away;
Lengthen night and shorten day!
Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree....
Emily Bronte


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Misty Morning

After two weeks holiday a full working shift is always a challenge, and after a week of beautiful weather in Spain where summer still reigns supreme, it was something of a shock to return to a wet Norton Conyers. Still the fabulous autumn colours soon made up for the persistent rain and the day went quickly enough as we set to pruning the fruit bushes. I always feel a bit nervous at first as it is easy to forget the methods from one year to the next, but with the first bush stripped bare you remember just how ruthless you can be and soon develop a rhythm.
We steadily worked our way through the currants ignoring the weather with merry chatter and I suddenly realised how glad I was to be back. Holidays are all very well, but after a week of doing nothing but pleasing myself I get restless and bored. A nights sleep after honest toil feels all the sweeter.
Remind me that I said that when we begin to prune the gooseberries next week, the worst job in gardening history!

"Just before the death of flowers, and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season, when nature is all aglow"

Friday, 18 September 2015

Mowing Over Apples

The apple trees at Norton Conyers are groaning with fruit at this time of year, the poor creatures are bowed down with the weight of the fruit, with some of the branches almost touching the ground. This makes mowing a more challenging task, firstly you must kick any fruit away from the mowers path, this in itself can take a considerable amount of time. The grass now is thick with dew meaning soggy feet after you have accomplished a relatively clear course. Then there are the wasps, groggy with the fermenting fruit they buzz around drunkenly, so it's best to wear gloves if you have to handle any of the fruit. The branches themselves are a hazard because they are so low, meaning you must duck and manoeuvre as best you can, but I always get one or two clonks on the head either from a branch whipping back or an apple falling on my head. Is it any wonder that I always go off eating apples at this time of year!

"Autumn seemed to arrive early that year. The first morning of September was crisp and golden as an apple"
J K Rowling. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows