Saturday, 25 July 2009

Golden Marjoram a magnet for bees and butterflies

I've allowed my golden Marjoram to flower and not only does it look pretty but its alive with bees, butterflies, hover flies and other beneficial insects. I cut off some of the flower spikes so that I've got a fresh supply of leaves to use in cooking, but leave the rest of the flowers on. I grow a lot of a couple of golden Marjoram plants as it looks great in the borders, the flowers are pretty and its good for putting in all sorts of dishes. I love the fact that it's also so popular with wildlife.

World's Top Ten Ugly Plants

Actually I really like some of them Birthworts and Monkey Cups are excellent - see what you think.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Don't visit Sissinghurst?

This is quite interesting Sissinghurst

My Plot Runneth Over

Every year I forget what a fruitful season this is. I visited my allotment today for the first time in a week and it’s gone completely mental.

I learnt my lesson in my first year of allotmenting (I might have just made this word up) that one or two courgette plants are plenty for two people, even if you like courgettes a lot. So I have grown one yellow and one green plant. Even so the Bracknell Courgette Mountain is beginning to re-establish itself – it first emerged the first year I had my plot when I grew four plants which resulted in a legendary courgette glut and many, many jars of courgette pickle.

One of my best successes has been the Rainbow Chard which I grew for the first time this year. Not only does it look pretty – I’m a big fan of this, and grow four different types of beans black (Blauhilde), yellow (Goldfield), Green (Cobra), and stripey (Borlotti) which not only taste great but look gorgeous – but it’s totally delicious. The pigeons and slugs seem to leave it alone and it seems to do better and taste at least as good as Spinach which I love. I put in two 1.5m long rows which I’ve been picking since April and it’s still going strong.

I picked some beetroot and am going to make a Goat’s Cheese and Beetroot tart which I found in the Guardian weekend magazine - sounds yummy! I’ve also taken to roasting my beetroot – it is a bit of a fiddle because you have to individually foil wrap them and roast them for two hours, but it preserves more of the goodness and flavour than boiling or steaming – very tasty.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Tropical Colour

If you fancy adding a bit of low-maintenance colour to your garden try some Hemerocallis. They are easy to grow, flower from late June onwards and are perfect for creating a tropical look when teamed with palms, grasses, bananas and bamboos. Available in a wide range of colours from white, bright oranges and yellows, pinks, through to divine deep purples. You can get some with frilly, picotee edges that are particularly interesting. They don't seem to suffer from the dreaded Lily Beetle and will multiply year on year. They only flower for one day, hence their common name - Day Lily, but when on day's flowers have gone there are plenty to replace them the following day.

Here is Hemerocallis 'Destined to See' flowering in my garden.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Llama Trekking

People choose to celebrate their birthdays in various ways, and this year I’ve chosen something totally different. My ongoing birthday festivities have been complex and self-indulgent, but the highlight was a day spent Llama trekking in Northamptonshire.

I dragged along my trusty friends Alex and Catherine and, of course, my partner Spencer (actually he organised it) and we set off for the Northamptonshire countryside. We arrived at Catanga Farm, were given a talk on Llamas and told how to handle them. We then set off on a 2 hour hike around the beautiful countryside leading our Llamas. If you’ve never encountered a Llama you should immediately book a trek. It was completely brilliant. I know it sounds a bit strange, but if you don’t know anything else about me you should know that I love Llamas – they are beautiful, gentle creatures. They are a little shy and not quite as sociable or huggable as horses and donkeys, but once you get used to their idiosyncratic ways I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

After the trek we had a tour of the centre, and got to speak to some more Llamas including some very cute baby Llamas. We polished off our day with a Champagne picnic surrounded by fields of Llamas –perfect!

My gorgeous Llama 'Felix'

Me and Felix

So gorgeous I had to post his photo again....

Another cute Llama

Resting Llama

Baby Llama