Six on Saturday 7th September

I thought I should check in with a Six this week because we’re on holiday for the next two Saturdays so I most likely won’t get chance to do one, and then we’re rapidly approaching October which means fewer trips out of the back door and less exciting developments au jardin when I do brave the cold and dark.

I’ve been out there for half of today trying to tidy up and prepare for the colder months, so I took a few snaps that I thought you guys might like to see. Be warned though, random they definitely are, eclectic you might say since they all came from our garden, but that is the extent of their coherence.

Number one is an early birthday present from my in laws.

They’ve discovered somewhere that makes these in all sorts of different animal forms. I chose a kingfisher because I like the colours. I attached it to the fence in the middle of our garden today. It’s next to my raised beds so I’m hoping it might scare the birds away from my fruit and veg next year.

Speaking of fruit and veg, number two is potatoes. I finally got round to emptying my wheelbarrow which was full of the compost from the potato bags which I harvested earlier in the Summer. When I tipped it out I discovered that I’d missed some.

I assume it’s still ok to eat these. They look fine now I’ve cleaned them up, although I have no idea which of the three varieties which I grew that they are. I grew Maris Peers, Charlotte and another variety which escapes my memory for now!

I also planted more Charlottes today. I got them a few weeks ago but have only just got around to planting them, so they’ve chitted quite a lot so I hope they’ll still grow. They’re supposed to be ready in time for our Christmas lunch!

Moving on to number three, and following on from my garden wildlife post last week – cobwebs!

For some reason I ended up behind the greenhouse and the sun was shining right down the garden and was making the cobwebs twinkle.

It’s normally really difficult to get decent snaps of cobwebs, and these are still not great, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well they showed up in these with the sun highlighting them. I didn’t see the occupant of the webs. The poor spider is much maligned, but if I was one I think I’d still feel superior, I mean, can you spin your house and do your food shopping all out of your bottom? Nope, me neither!

Back to the home produce for number four. There’s not much left growing now but I do have these still to come.

I think they’re leeks, but it’s possible there might be a red onion in there. My lolly stick labels got bleached by the sun so I can’t see what I sowed in this particular line. If they are indeed leeks, then they’re supposed to be ready to harvest next month, which looks unlikely to my novice eyes! Everything seemed to either take longer to mature than the packets said, or didn’t grow at all so maybe they’ll be ready next Summer!

Number five is something I’ve been trying to identify for over a year, so far to no avail. I picked it up on a sale table in B&M Bargains for £1.50.

Not the best picture of it, but you can see the shape of the leaves. A couple of people have suggested it might be a Cotoneaster, but I’ve now had it over a year and it hasn’t produced any berries. I actually feel quite attached to it, despite not being on first name terms with it. It very loyally hung around in its pot whilst I tried to determine what it was so I knew whereabouts to plant it, and since I took the plunge and planted it out (still not having a clue how big it would get) it seems to very stoically deal with being surrounded by fallen leaves and living behind the raised beds receiving minimal attention. It looks healthy and it’s definitely grown so, even if it retains its John Doe status, it’s more than welcome in my garden.

Number six is one that I was waiting for completion to post, but now I’m concerned that completion might happen while we’re on holiday, so I’m posting now so it doesn’t miss out.

Sunflowers!

I’ve nurtured these since I sowed them in April! I sowed eleven seeds, ten of them germinated and were planted out back at the beginning of the Summer and since then they’ve got slowly picked off (by what means I don’t know!) so I’m left with these two.

The smaller one that has flowered is just under six feet tall. Its flower is a little raggedy Anne but I love it nonetheless because it’s the first Sunflower I’ve ever grown and it looks ever so cheerful out of our back window.

You can see the seeds starting to form in there.

The big ‘un is over seven feet tall! I was standing under it to take this photo and this is my view (I’m five foot four). We’ve had to tie it to the Sweet Pea wigwam to keep it standing because it’s so tall. You can see the bud forming up there, but we go on holiday in less than a week and I think we’re going to miss it opening. My Dad’s cat sitting so I’ve asked him to take a photo if it flowers while we’re away. I definitely think there’s some kind of time delay in our garden – everyone else’s Sunflowers flowered week’s ago. My theory is not enough sun due to next door’s forest!

There we are, I thought I might have to start up a Six on Sunday blogalong for a minute but I’ve made it. Check out the Propagator’s blog for more Sixes.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend lovely people.

September Little Box of Crochet

Good evening all!

I’m just quickly checking in because I’ve finally finished September’s Little Box of Crochet which I told you about here.

Oh my goodness I found this one hard, and it took a good deal of grit and determination not to have a hissy, stampy feet fit and give up!

As a quick reminder, September’s project was Gareth the Sleeping Fox.

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Gareth is crocheted entirely in waistcoat stitch which is how he got his name. Gareth Southgate, England Manager, became one of the most talked about men in the country when he dressed so snappily during every game that England played at the World Cup, always including a waistcoat.

I’d never heard of waistcoat stitch before I received my box, much less attempted it. Having googled it, I’ve discovered that it’s often called knit stitch, and it really does look like knitting rather than crochet.

The effect is achieved by inserting the hook in a different part of the stitch to normal crocheting. For any crocheters out there I’ve tried to illustrate the difference in the following photos.

The arrow on the first photo is pointing to where you insert the hook to create waistcoat stitch, right in the v of the knit like stitch. On the second photo the arrow points to the very top of the stitch and this is where the hook goes in regular crochet.

You wouldn’t think this would make much difference to the actual crocheting, but gosh it did! I almost had to resort to using a thimble because it’s so much harder to push the hook through.

Anyway. Enough of that. On to Gareth!

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Here are all his body parts before they were foxed up!

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Tail and body now attached.

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Slightly out of focus. Whoops! Foxy face stitched on.

…… and, drumroll!

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Rubbish lighting! Couldn’t decide whether he looked best with the flash, without the flash or just with the big light on! I had to go rootling around in the garden with the torch on my phone to find some nice leaves for staging purposes! Quite creepy I have to say with ghosts and ghouls still lurking around the corner from Halloween and fireworks banging around me! The things I do to try and get a good photo!

I can see a couple of little errors on the Fairisle parts (the bits with white and orange together) but on the whole I’m pleased with how he’s turned out and I’m glad I persevered.

I can’t say I’ll be rushing to do waistcoat stitch again, but I’m happy that I mastered it and have an extra string to my crocheting bow. I might find it easier using acrylic yarn since it’s not as rigid as cotton, but the downside to that is that the stitches wouldn’t look as defined.

So, onwards and upwards to October’s box and another new technique – Tunisian crochet. This one’s coming on holiday with me in four days, twelve hours, five minutes and forty two seconds. Forty one … forty … thirty nine … thirty eight …

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…. and now to relax!

This morning I was catching up on the blog posts that I haven’t had time to read this week, and I managed to get bang up to date with today’s Six on Saturday by The Propagator. You can click on the link to find out more, or join in, but essentially the rules are to write about six things in the garden on a Saturday and then comment with a link to your post on the Propagator’s post.

I’ve been busy in the garden today for what is probably one of the last times before it gets too cold to contemplate being outdoors for any length of time, and I got quite a lot done so I shouldn’t have any trouble finding my six topics.

1. I’m going to start off with the life that’s still trying its hardest to ignore the darkness and impending cold and forge ahead. I pottered around deadheading and tidying, and as I did so I came across a few plants still with buds waiting to bloom. I’m hopeful that they will, because the weather forecast is milder for the next couple of weeks. According to my thermometer it was about thirteen degrees today.

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So, my beautiful buds, and topically, there are six.

We have, starting top left and going clockwise, Cosmos which have provided a beautiful display outside our kitchen window all summer, and are still giving. You can see a few buds in the background. Then gorgeous Gazania. I don’t know if it will be light enough for this bud to truly open because Gazania are light sensitive, but I’m keeping everything crossed. Next is Gerbera. This is in a container and it has thrown up a steady stream of beautiful pink flowers all summer. This opening bud looks white, which is odd, but maybe it will change as it matures. Underneath that is Dianthus. This was a sale table find and it’s done really well. Fingers crossed this last little bud comes to fruition. Then there’s another Gazania, bright orange this time, trying to provide some colour. Finally Erysimum. Again this was a sale find and it’s actually still in its pot while I decide where to put it, but it’s flowered away happily.

2. There are still lots of flowers that are performing their hearts out and are making my own heart sing with gratitude that not everything is fading.

The top three are Begonias. These were less than half price because two of the plants in the tray were dead. Nowt wrong with these three though. On the bottom row, left to right we have fabulous Fuschia, Diascia Cherry Blossom and, of course, my ever effervescent Eupatorium. I love Fuschias. I have two and they remind me of my Grandad because they were his favourite. The Diascia was another sale table bargain which has absolutely outdone itself. Its flowers stand bolt upright at the front of our border filling me with joy as I gaze out of our kitchen window. What can I say about my Eupatorium? I just love it. I adored it before it starting flowering, but now it’s just even more wonderful.

3. Dahlias. We’ve had our first frost, and Dahlias, similarly to myself, do not like cold, much less frost. However, although this one is slightly frost bitten and past its best, it is still beautiful and definitely not needing to be deadheaded just yet.

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My wheelbarrow, however, hasn’t fared so well. RIP wheelbarrow Dahlias.

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4. Leaf mould!

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We collected two bin bags worth of leaves today. According to Monty Don, by next October this will have broken down to form the perfect compost. Monty also says that he collects every single leaf at Longmeadow to make into leaf mould. I hope he has lots of people helping him because, honestly, if I was to collect every last leaf in our garden (which clearly is nowhere near the size of Longmeadow) I’d be out there every second of the day in the Autumn! I’d also have a broken back!

5. The raised beds are in place! Whoop!

First I had to clear the area. It was covered in leaves and weeds and stones and roots! We’ve mainly focused on the front half of the garden thus far, so this end has had the most basic of maintenance so far.

Here it is before I started.

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And then after it had been cleared.

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We ran out of space in the wheelie bin so a lot of the debris has just been moved to the other side of the garden for now! Note to self: making a compost area needs to be bumped up the priority list!

Drumroll …….

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Several bags of compost now needed! I need to decide if this is their final resting place. It might make sense to put slabs around them. I’ll see. The Good Life here we come!

6. All summer when I’ve been in the garden I’ve been finding white feathers. Now I know there’s a logical explanation, there are lots of birds around, but white feathers are also said to be sent by lost loved ones as a signal to let you know that they’re watching over you. My Grandad was a keen gardener all his life. He knew everything there is to know about gardening. So, I prefer to believe the non-logical explanation for the white feathers. The only problem is, I don’t know whether Grandad comes to tell me how well I’m doing with my gardening exploits or if he’s desperately trying to tell me I need to move my Astilbe into the shade (already done – found that out the hard way!) or that my courgette plant needs staking to get the best yield (I’ll try that next year). Whatever the reason, it’s a nice feeling to think that he’s there and that he’s seen our garden, because I know he’d have loved it.

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So there you have it, my Six on Saturday.