Today, once the rain had stopped, I decided that now autumn is truly here, and most of the leaves have dropped from my fig tree, it was time to remove the unripened figs.
Despite common myth figs are surprisingly easy to grow in this country. All they need is a sheltered spot, preferably against a south facing wall of fence, and they can produce a surprisingly large crop.
This year we had something like 40 ripe figs from this one small tree. I have grown mine in a pot as figs tend to fruit more when their roots are restricted. Feed it well come the spring and with luck we shall get another good crop next season. Books will tell you to wrap fleece around them during hard winters, but I have had this tree for 12 years, through 2 house moves in the North Midlands, and never had to do anything. Provided the tree is not in a windy spot or frost pocket they seem to be quite hardy. Continue reading
Posted in Blogging, cooking, Courtyard Garden, food, gardening, Jan Edwards, recipes
Tagged autumn, Courtyard Garden, figs, fruit, Gardening
Fresh air is not something we get enough of in modern life, especially as most of us seem to be increasingly stuck inside with our great British weather and modern double glazing and central heating add to the fug. When you add various troublesome household chemicals, air freshener sprays and plugins, then a lack of clean air in the home can be a serious health issue. Chemicals include:
- Benzene – Glues, paints, furniture wax and detergents
- Formaldehyde – Engine emissions, disinfectants, fixatives, preservatives in consumer products (carpets etc)
- Trichloroethylene – In homes undergoing renovation
- Xylene and Toluene – In a variety of household sprays
- Ammonia – Aerosols and sprays used in the home.
Of course opening windows will always be the answer but that brings a trade off between having windows open to allow fresh air in, and freezing between September and April, or having them closed and suffering the problems of stale air choc full of allergens.
So how do I combat this?
My friend Misha recently drew my attention to living air filters and how the humble house plant can make all the difference – cleaner-plants work hard at sweeping our air of these toxins and releasing humidity back into the atmosphere. Misha then presented me with a pot of Chlorophytum (Spider Plant). I duly repotted the clump into three separate containers; one for the kitchen, one for the dining room and one for the sitting room (though may relocate one to the bathroom). Continue reading
Posted in Blogging, Courtyard Garden, gardening, health, Jan Edwards, ME + Fibromyalgia
Tagged clean air, Courtyard Garden, fibromyalgia, Gardening, houseplants, ME, plants
The Courtyard Garden has been pretty much surviving on damage limitation through the summer. Being south-facing (more or less) it suffered hugely with the hot summer, despite digging in bags of compost. I was also distracted by an excursion into an allotment experiment. But alas that has had to go, so I am turning full attention back to the courtyard.
First up is the the sad news that my apricot tree that I had moved from Birmingham to Cheadle and thence to Hartshill has not survived. I nurtured its few leaves through the summer but it finally succumbed.
It has been replaced by a ‘patio’ Victoria Plum. Allegedly this will not grow tall and I do like sun-ripened plums! Also in the picture is a blueberry recently potted up. Also in the pots are some winter pansies – more of those in a moment.
Because the garden is small I am wary of planting trees into the garden itself because of the danger of drain and wall damage, so fruit trees in pots will add some height without causing too many problems.
Today’s other job was to empty the wall troughs at the front of the house (not the courtyard obviously but worth a mention). Its a job I hate purely because it means discarding some plants that are still in flower, but needs be.
We had our first frost of the season at the weekend and the trailing lobelias and petunias really are getting sad. So out they come! The troughs have been replanted with winter pansies and violas. A little sparce at present but they will be a source of colour and winter nectar in no time,
Waste not want not – and being a tad – careful – I have salvaged the pelargoniums (geraniums) and some of the fuchsias for next year. The pelargoniums have been trimmed back and will be over-wintered in the conservatory ready to make a splash as established plants in the spring. Likewise the fuchsias, though they are more frost hardy.
Rather than bin all of the trailing fuchsias I healed a few of them into the edge of a border. They may not survive but at least they have a fighting chance. There are still two wall baskets in the Courtyard itself but they are doing well and is seems a shame to disturb them just yet!
Finally I cut back my lemon verbena (aloysia citrodora). I’ve had the mother plant for at least 11 years but it has become leggy, as these things do, so after taking cuttings I gave it a drastic prune. This kind of hard chop can be fatal to these kinds of plants but as it was no longer a happy looking specimen it was its only real option. Being a delicate shrub it also needed to com in for the winter.
That’s it from this week’s Courtyard Garden.
I spent the afternoon pottering around the courtyard moving this and evicting that – the main eviction was yet another euphorbia – this one the common variety. Pictured is an outdoor cyclamen – a single corm this fills the entire pot! yet to decide where to put that one.
As it was a nice bright day I spent a lot of it in the garden. Repotting plants that I brought with me in plastic pots into ceramic containers. And then playing musical plants – shifting things around before they start putting on too much spring growth.
Two olive trees, a pot of blue agapanthus and (not shown) a pot of Bela Lugosi Daylilies.
also disposed of a large quantity of Euphorbias and Montbretia and resited a large Anemones in their place.
Moved two Hydrangeas from the front garden, a Red valerian that I had in a pot and a Broom plant that was in the rear to the small border at the side of the house.
And re planted the Acer that was hiding under that Spotted Laurel to the front.
Still to decide what to do with another Acer in the back garden and two Pieris in the front garden. That is a decision for another day.
I also have a Fig and a Ginko to be repotted. Plus some Azaleas in the garden that would be better off in containers in ericaceous compost.
We have a selection of lumps of glass scattered about – gathered them all togther and not sure what to do with them.
Though I wore gloves when digging them up I seem to have a slight ‘burn’ from the Euphorbia sap on my left hand. Must have brushed up against them after I took my gloves off. That being the case the other clump of same plant will meet their doom quite soon!
Today was all about cutting back ivy – which had smothered 5 panels of the rhs fence.
This is an ancient ivy – or to be more precise ivys because there are at least five different varieties there. The largest leaf variety is covered on flowers and fruits so I am loathe to cut too much back because they are a source of winter food for insects and when the sun is out the flowers are ashimmer with bees and hoverflies (and even the occasional late butterfly).
Likewise the fruits provide winter feed for the birds.
I also feared that it was going to pull the fence down. Having chopped it back from the end two of the spread I realise that the ivy may be the only thing holding the centre three sections up! So have limited myself to trimming the long non-flowering strands for now.
Also in tidying the edges beneath found that the ivy roots were holding the grey-water drain cover tightly in place. Much swearing and hacking with secateurs has freed it up and pushed the border edge back by almost a foot.
Bin is brimming and I am exhausted but a good job done.
I will start taking pics of my own at some point 🙂
One of the reasons for moving house was that the garden at Oldhaven was to big (and steep) for me to manage.
This is my 6th garden and quite small – a fraction of the size I had previously, with a small frontage and a courtyard garden to the rear.
A small garden will be easier to maintain but can also present a challenge when every plant and shrub needs to earn its keep. Continue reading