Monsoon weather

I brought the lawn mower back from the allotment last week so that we could tackle the jungle in the garden. Fortunately a small gap in this year’s monsoon enabled us to have a go at the lawn.  But the monsoon has returned, which means the lawnmower is useless and the grass just keeps growing, but I have found a solution

I evicted all of these little chaps from my pea plants and set them to work on cutting the grass.

Meanwhile the marrows are really enjoying all this rain:


I did get a great harvest from the peas and made a huge pot of pea and broad bean soup to see us through the November-like gloom:


Now all I need to do is to persuade the snails to stay on the lawn and leave my other plants alone. We can all dream.

Paradise reclaimed

This blog takes its name from Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi. My front garden is a reclaimed car park where previous residents parked their cars in front of the house. For more on this story, see my about page. Instead of parking cars, I grow plants and welcome the wildlife. Today I did a big tidy up in the front garden, updated the labels in my herb garden and revelled in the plants and creatures that would not have been there had I been parking cars instead:

I also found this frog in the back garden, lurking in the long grass around the raised beds

and this magnificent slug


I found these exciting seed pods


which came from this beautiful California poppy


Seeds are magical but the bees and the butterflies are just the best:



Paradise indeed.

Not yet autumn surely

This week has had some extremes of weather and the garden and wildlife have been loving it. Following last year’s heatwave induced frog invasion, the pond has again provided a haven for these little beauties during the hot early part of the week:


Generally they have been very shy this year, coming out only after dark and hiding under the pond jungle the rest of the time. But on those couple of hot days they were out sitting on the lily pads, looking awesome.

The heat was followed by biblical downpours which made the pond look great but no sign of the frogs

The slugs and snails however have been enjoying all this rain and are having a great time on the pea plants:


Most things seem to be surviving this onslaught though and the pea harvest has been wonderful. Yesterday I also harvested a couple of cucumbers and today I harvested a baby marrow, leaving the rest to grow into monsters. Then I spotted the first tomatoes forming on the tomato plants


I know, they are tiny but they are full of promise.

I picked what is probably the last of the summer raspberries and strawberries, a few autumn raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and a windfall apple:

The apple trees are groaning with fruit this year and have had to be propped up with a range of ingenious devices to prevent their branches breaking. This one falling off should help the poor tree to survive for a little longer.

Despite the four seasons weather we’ve had this week, it’s not autumn yet.

Lawnmower holiday

There are tons of peas and beans in the garden so I made a classic green soup for lunch, with some added watercress from the pond:


Earlier in the week I made a classic summer pudding:


It was duly guzzled by my various visiting young people.

It’s lovely to have all this wonderful fruit and vegetables but all these gluts are causing a bit of crisis at the allotment. The warm wet weather of the last few weeks has caused a massive growth spurt among the onions, strawberries, peas, beans and courgettes, which is great. But is has also caused enormous growth of grass and weeds, which, combined with our faithful allotment push mower having a breakdown, has meant that things are getting a little out of control. The mower has gone to the mower hospital to see if it can be tempted back to life but what to do about the grass? The solution was to take my ancient, but almost wholly reliable, lawnmower from the house along to the plot (for more on the history of this beast see here and here):


Part of its realiability comes from its ancient metal parts which make it much heavier than its younger partly plastic cousin. It was too heavy to take on the bike but it was quite easy to get it to the allotment, just by pushing it along the street, if you discount the funny looks from passers by. But then I am often to be seen carrying odd things along the road to and from the allotment. It did a stalwart job of dealing with the overgrown grass and clover and will stay at the allotment for a short holiday until its modern friend is feeling better.







Slow germination and deep roots

Two plants have appeared in my garden this week that I don’t remember planting.

First of all this orchid appeared in a pot of tarragon which has been at the kitchen door for several years.


I have no idea how it got there. Possibly the seed was in some garden compost and had been dormant for a few years or possibly it blew in on the wind or was deposited by a bird. Apparently these orchid seeds can take up to ten years to germinate. Whatever planted it, it is a lovely thing. I knew at once that it was a spotted orchid because I have a long dormant memory of these plants from my early childhood. When I lived in Shetland in the deep deep past, I collected the local wildflowers, pressed them and stuck them in notebook, unsorted and with no explanation but a careful labelling of each one.


I’ve kept that collection all these years and I knew that there was a spotted orchid in there, although rather smaller than the one in my herb pot. It was lovely to see one again. I hope it stays and makes more. Any advice on how to keep it, or move it to a wild part of the garden would be helpful!

The other random appearance was watercress in the pond. I noticed this the other day when I was looking for frogs.


I don’t remember seeing it before but I had a very hazy memory of having planted some unsuccessfully several years ago. I checked my (pre-blog) garden diary, regretting its lack of a word search facility, and found a reference to having sown some seed with little result in a pot in the seedhouse and then having moved it to the pond in 2011, a little more recently than my pressed flowers from the 1960s. Anyway, that’s taken 8 years to appear in any meaningful way. It should be edible, though I’ve seen some debate on the internet about this. Again, any advice would be helpful.

There wasn’t any watercress in the bogs and fields of my childhood but, in among the watercress in my pond, is a thriving collection of wildflowers, some also based on my childhood memories of the far north of Scotland – bog cotton:


bird’s foot trefoil,


or craw’s taes as I knew it all those years ago:

20190717_225227[1]I love these wild flowers, slowly taking over my garden in relatively unplanned ways. They connect me to my past and bring me new joys.

A garden feast

I’ve spent most of today at the allotment, tackling weeds and harvesting onions. Everything is coming along nicely although the peas are still rather straggly, which is strange as the peas in the garden raised beds are in full flourish, with their beautiful butterfly wing flowers:


The onions have been magnificent this year but feel a little overwhelming at the moment. I’ve also had an invasion of musical instruments, bikes, camping equipment, bags of laundry and random pairs of shoes this weekend. And that is a good thing, because it means that my lovely young people are around, filling the house with youthful noise and clutter and emptying the fridge. They are particularly good at helping to cook and eat their way through the fruit and vegetable gluts. This evening they helped to eat a feast from the garden, including a giant lettuce, with nasturtium garnish:


An enormous pan of onion soup, with added herbs and Swiss chard:


And the first broad bean guacamole of the summer:


They’ll be in and out over the summer, bringing friends and more musicians, who last year helped me eat my giant marrows – for more on that see here

Fortunately the marrows have just got going:


and in a few weeks should be big enough to feed my musicians.

Let the gluts begin

Been away for a wee holiday, enjoying the great outdoors, lots of walking, wildlife and dipping my toes in water, history, art, literature and gardens. But I’ll leave writing about that for another day. The main thing is coming home to find that the cats have survived and the vegetables are flourishing




The allotment is groaning in onions and strawberries and there is promise of lots more to come:


These are the tomatoes and cucumbers in pots in the new seed palace. There are lots more in the ground. The cucumbers are doing beautifully in the cucumber frame, although a couple of monsters managed to breach the defences round the cucumbers  the other day:



One of the joys of growing your own vegetables is sharing them with other people. Over the last few days I’ve delivered strawberries and raspberries to two generations of family members and served up garden salad, home made onion quiche, onion soup and new potatoes to several more – let the gluts begin.



Strawberries, onions, peas, cats but no unicorns yet

Lots happening in the garden and the allotment just now. The back hedge is still growing happily. You may remember that last year I promised flowers and bees, butterflies, bunnies and possibly unicorns – see here Well we have the bees and the butterflies and the flowers. I haven’t seen any bunnies or unicorns yet, but we do have flowers:


and a rather a splendid cat, adorning the the space where the conifers used to be:


I’m sure the unicorns will come in due course.  Meanwhile the peas are beginning to flower:

20190622_07370120190622_122502Those are the Norli peas and the stunning Carouby de Mausaune. Even more exciting, the Salmon pink heritage peas, which I saved seed from last year, are about to produce their astonishing pink flowers which bunch together at the top of the plant:

20190623_192038[1]Chelsea has taken an interest in the peas and particularly in the strings holding them up. Here she is lurking behind the pea stakes, ready to pounce:

20190623_092713.jpgDown at the allotment, the peas are not doing so well. They were started rather later and they are struggling in the battle of the slugs and snails. But I am ever optimistic. We did a great grass cutting and weeding today and were rewarded with the wonderful onions, here hanging up to dry in the kitchen:


and the first allotment strawberries, which will not keep long before they are demolished:



Frog season

I’ve been busy this weekend and not much gardening done, other than a frenetic couple of hours on Saturday evening, hacking back overgrown grass and weeds at the allotment. Still, there are signs of summer finally arriving. I harvested the first few strawberries from the allotment and the frogs have reappeared in the garden pond. They come out late in the evening and stick their little noses in the air, hoping to catch insects I suppose.



June is finally meeting my expectations

London flowers

I’ve been away again and not gardening or blogging as much as I should. I was in London for a family event but I sought out some floweriness even in the big city.  As part of #30DaysWild I tried to find some wildness in the city parks and found these glorious (if not actually wild) foxgloves.


There is a bee in the white one on the right, making it a little bit wild:20190608_130113The highlight though was my adult son’s suggestion to go and look at the roses in Regent’s Park. He’s always been a flower lover and it was entirely in keeping that we made this detour to sniff flowers:


.. just roses though, no embarrassing photos of him now or when he was four (though there are many).

Now I’m home and the garden is growing beautifully and the wildlife is doing what wildlife does:



Over at the allotment, things are less cheery as the slugs and snails have demolished my peas but the beans and onions are doing well and I’ll sow some more peas in the hope that they’ll catch up.