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Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Today the tree surgeons came and took down a tree at the end of our garden that had started to lean rather precariously.

Here it is before they did their stuff:

And here is a short video of the tree coming down ending with a lovely clip of the tree surgeon’s local accent.

We’re glad the tree’s now safe. And particularly pleased at the fuel it’s supplied for next winter…

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The other week the Engineer’s godmother, Song, invited the Vicar and I to join her at David Austin Roses on the Vicar’s day off. We enjoyed our visit very much – they have gardens full of beautiful fragrant roses and a great tearoom. And more than that, Song went away with a lovely pink rose to cover a bank by her house and we came home with three rambling roses for our garden wall. We decided we could use them to deter coping stone thieves and nosey kids who like to peek over the wall. And they’ll look fabulous and smell delightful.

The Vicar has planted two roses by the back garden wall, with wooden posts and connecting wires, and another by the front door. Now we just need to get our plants to grow and bloom like this one. What do I need to know?

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I found an impressive mushroom on our lawn yesterday and was wondering about eating it. I was under the misapprehension that there were only a few types of poisonous ones and it was likely to be fine.

Then I went googling and searching around the internet and it’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. So we’ve not eaten it – it’s sitting in my kitchen but I think it will just be going in the compost. I think I’m best to stick to the radishes and salad leaves I planted myself.

Bit of a pity, but best not to poison the family, eh?

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Well, a small one, anyway. Last year we bought some very cheap strawberry plants and stuck them in a flower bed where they failed to produce anything edible. This year, however, they have given us some sweet strawberries – a whole (small) bowlful. And we’ve been able to pick them at peak ripeness. Delicious. Please excuse the shocking lack of focus in the picture. The one I took using the flash made the strawberries look purple.

We also have some small and very sour cherries, about five radishes, a handful of gooseberries, some spindly rhubarb and some snail-chewed bok choi. And there will definitely be potatoes. It’s better than last year, and if our gardening continues to improve at this rate I reckon that we might have a good harvest by the time the Engineer leaves home (he’s six btw).

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Despite my desire to become Alys Fowler (including the Pre-Raphaelite hair), things in the Vicarage garden didn’t go brilliantly last summer. I planted out, but didn’t really give things the attention they needed. I was too busy fire-fighting the clutter in the house.

But this year I’m hoping for more success. I now have a cleaner, who comes every couple of weeks to help me to conquer the house. I have a schedule, which means I am strangely (to me) doing a little more housework than I used to. So there may now be some time to water and weed.

And to start us off, last week we had the gardening team from Betel in to clear the beds and get us on the road to a manageable and (hopefully) edible garden this year. The team comprised four men – one was Gav Burnage, Associate minister from Aldridge Parish Church, who is living and working full time at Betel. The other guys were members of the Betel community in Birmingham, learning to live and work free from substance abuse.

God was kind to us, and the sun shone. The Vicar and Rocky joined the Betel team. I skived off the digging, but supplied regular tea and cake. They sorted out our main beds, nuked some brambles and the evil blue weeds and left everything looking tidy and ready for planting. Now we just have to keep up the weed-free look with regular forays in our wellies. The money we paid for the work helps to pay for Betel’s accommodation and keeps this amazing organisation going. If you live in the Birmingham area and need a garden blitz, why not see if they can help you out?

 

The Vicar with the Betel team. Note the tidy flower bed (and still-absent coping stones).

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Well, that’s made for a great Saturday. The Vicar was outside chatting with a kind neighbour who has been repairing our Victorian garden wall. The neighbour remarked that he’d have to get on with putting the coping stones back on the top. He’d seen that the stones had disappeared a couple of days ago and had assumed that the Vicar had taken them off since they were loose. Alas not. Someone has been and taken them! So now about half our wall looks strangely naked.

So if anyone offers you a load of cheap Staffordshire blue coping stones, let me know. At £40/m, we reckon they’ve stolen about a thousand pounds worth.

Just a small section of our poor wall

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Well, gooseberry harvest anyway. After all my panicking about mould, I am extremely pleased to report that our gooseberry bush has produced masses of fruit. So: the solution to American gooseberry mildew is to catch it early and chop it off. So far we’ve had about 4lb of fruit from the bush and there’s still more to come. We’ve had gooseberry fool and gooseberry tart. – both delicious, though I say so myself. Not sure what to make next – any suggestions?

A very pleasing crop

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