Blog Archive


Hello!  Well, we've certainly had our share of hot weather recently, which for us in the North West of England, is not that frequent!  POH and I have been doing lots in the garden, and also daily marathon watering sessions!

Today I wanted to introduce you to Emily, made from the excellent book, 'Cute Crocheted Animals', by the wonderfully talented Emma Varnham. Regular readers may remember Freddie, who now lives with my daughter at Oxford University, but you can read about Freddie here

Emily is the little rabbit, and like Freddie, was a joy to make, following Emma's clear and precise instructions.  I made her from Drops 'Karisma', which is a lovely yarn, in 100% wool.  I used 'off white', which is a lovely clotted cream colour.  Here is Emily taking a rest with me on the garden bench this morning:

I slightly adapted Emma's pattern for the shoulder bag, making it from Scheepjes 'sweet treat' crochet cotton, which my lovely children bought me lots of at Christmas.  I added an extra round to Emma's pattern to make it the correct size. Here's a close up:

If you haven't taken a look at 'Cute Crocheted Animals', it's well worth a look, as the patterns are fabulous and all the clothes and accessories fit all of the animals, so it's dress-up heaven (and that's just for me!)

Oh, and whilst Emily and I were relaxing on the garden bench, Mango the Cat decided to come and investigate...

Emily and I are just going to sit under the parasol and take tea together.  Now, where's that cat gone?

Donna x 

Growing nicely

Hello!  I'm so glad you've stopped by, as I wanted to tell you about my vegetable garden growing.

I wrote about my vegetable garden last year, here, at its peak lushness and fruitfulness, August.  This year got off to a slow start because of the long winter and delayed spring, and although I was anxious to start sowing things I was fairly patient and managed to make myself wait until the weather improved.  

Nature has a knack of catching up though, and things are now growing apace!  In the space of two weeks the trees at the back of our house have gone from virtually bare to full, fresh green leaf.  And a joyous sight it is too.

So, back to the veggies! I have three large and 1 small raised bed, plus a small greenhouse, which I use for growing cucumbers.  I have a second, larger greenhouse in the flower garden, which I use for tomatoes and chillies, and starting things off.

Because we eat a terrific amount of veg, and space is always at a premium, I grow a lot of extra things in pots that line the gravel paths, as well as in hanging baskets.  I also have two patiogro salad bars in the main garden, which I use for quick cropping salad leaves, radishes etc:

This year I am, as usual, growing two types of courgette, one round and one long.  The varieties this year are 'De Nice Rond' and 'Tuscany'.  Here they are in their pots, waiting to be planted out yesterday.  As the nights are still a little cool I have bell cloches on hand to cover them over before the sun goes down.

Below are some kale plants I raised from seed.  I am already picking the tender baby leaves for salads.  Once they get a bit big for the troughs they are in I will plant them in a raised bed and let them grow on for full size leaves.  Although they are ultimately large plants they are well worth their space in the garden, as they stand all through winter, even this winter, when we got down to -14 degrees one night.  They then have a flurry of growth in the spring, and provide a further good amount of pickings.  I only pulled last year's plants up yesterday!

I grow 'Greyhound' cabbages in the same way; lots of young tender leaves to shred up in salads then I stop doing that and let them recover and grow on for full size, hearted cabbages.

Lettuces are brilliant to grow. Oodles of shapes and sizes available and growing your own means a really fresh and colourful salad. These ones are from a packet of mixed 'cut and come again' varieties.  So useful if you just want a couple of leaves for a sandwich too!

I use every inch of space in the vegetable garden and grow about ten tumbling tomatoes in hanging baskets.  As long as you keep them well fed and watered they do really well!

I have two archways over the main path, over which I usually grow runner beans or French Beans, but this year I am trying an idea I saw at RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, creating sweet pea arches.  I have high hopes for these as they would be a real joy if they are successful!  POH's Mum lives in a nursing home, and has very little eyesight so we take a bunch of sweet peas regularly in the summer, as she can smell those and they make her room beautifully fragrant. I hope there will be lots to pick for her this summer.

I probably grow too many potatoes for the size of the garden, but we do love them, freshly dug, and the skins just rub away. I don't grow maincrop potatoes, just first and second earlies, then once they come out I use the space for leeks, cabbages and a few more late peas.  I also have a dozen or so potato bags, each with three tubers in, that are placed against a sunny fence.  Again, if they are regularly watered and a handful of manure put in every so often they do pretty well!  

I start the tubers on a four inch bed of compost, then cover them over with more compost mixed with manure.  As the shoots emerge  keep topping the bags up until you are almost at the top.  Once the foliage starts to die back tip the bags out and harvest the tasty potatoes! The used compost can be spread over the beds as a soil conditioner, especially as it had the manure added to it.

The varieties I am growing this year are 'Pentland Javelin', 'Charlotte' and Arran Pilot'.  Arran Pilot is a new one for us, so I will be interested to see how it performs.

(I should point out the garden is terraced, on several levels, which is why the perspective in the photo below looks odd!)

For even more leafy veg for salads, I grow quite a lot of spinach too, most of which is used solely as baby leaf. I've never been very successful getting it to full size, so if you have any ideas why, do let me know!  Picked young though, it is a tender and tasty addition to a salad, or tossed into a stir fry at the last minute.  These ones pictured below are 'Trumpet', a new variety for me, and they are growing 'like Topsy' as they say, much faster than the 'Puma' two pots down.  We had a tiny few of the baby leaves in a salad tonight, just to try them, and the texture was lovely and the flavour very good.  Definitely on my regular growing list now!

I get such  a lot of pleasure from gardening, particularly growing salad and vegetables, as there is something so satisfying about bringing in something you've tended and nurtured from a seed, and eating it as fresh as can be.  Even a few pots on the patio could produce a worthwhile amount of pickings.

Well, the sun is just starting to set now, so I shall go and cover up those courgettes!  

Thank you for reading x 

Donna x 

"In the Merry Morning of May"

"Unite and unite, and let us all unite
For summer is a-coming today
And whither we are going we all will unite
In the merry morning of May"  PADSTOW

Years ago I lived in Hertfordshire and was friends with a lady whose husband was a Morris Dancer.  Every May Day we would join the Morris Dancers as they danced the sun up.  Whilst these days I am more likely to be enjoying my cup of tea in bed in the early morning, there is still something so wonderful about 1st May, and I go about the house singing the Steeleye Span version of the folk song 'Padstow'.  (I love Steeyle Span, and have seen them in concert a few times, and they are just as good now as they were in the '70s!)

This morning was bright and sunny and I pottered around the garden for a while, deadheading here and watering there, relishing the very idea that summer is a-coming today.  I took lots of photos of my favourite spring flowers, as they shook the dew from their heads and faced the sun...

Overwintered in a ladder style planter in the front garden, 
these delicate little blooms have come into their own.

I probably have over 100 primulas around the 
garden as I LOVE them!

I love Aubretia and it does well in pots, tumbling 
over the sides.

I've had several pots of hyacinths on the garden 
table this spring, and as each finishes I plant 
them in the garden for next year.

Saxifrage grows like a weed in the garden, and 
every year I have to pull up handfuls of it, 
otherwise it would launch a takeover bid!

It's lovely tumbling over the brick walls though, 
and I relish it at this time of year.

These Drumstick Primulas were a gift, and they 
are such a wonderful feature along the path edge

Geums are a workhorse in the garden, and the 
earliest ones are just springing into flower.  
They will keep going for months.

Jut look at these happy faces.  Don't they just make 
you smile?

These Bellis live in hanging baskets by the back 
doors and have already provided several weeks 
of colour.

Finally, my old friends the Hellebores, still going strong, and loving the sunshine!

I get so much pleasure from my garden, and the way our house is arranged I get a good view of it from the dining table, the sofa I sit on the most, and the kitchen sink!  There is always something to see.  On this 'merry morning of May' the garden is filled with the promise of things to come, but is beautiful in the here and now, alight with the colours of spring.

Donna x