Sunday, 25 June 2017

Planting Climbers

Mr MC&W and I are sat on the sofa with a cup of tea, completely shattered and our muscles are aching, however, we are really rather pleased with ourselves. This morning, through torrential downpours, bright sunshine and a rather cold wind Mr MC&W and I planted 18 climbers.

We wanted to add some colour to the fence behind the trees but not to over crowd them. I thought that some climbers would be perfect, they would add interest and attract bees and wildlife.  

This is what we went for:

Lonicera Japonica Hallina -Late Dutch Honeysuckle, 

Trachelospermum Jasminoides - Confederate Jasmin 

Clematis Montana Tetrarose 

In theory, we should get flowers for a lot of the year, Viburnum (the smaller trees and three shrubs) flower in the winter, Clematis Tetrarose is an early spring flowering clematis, honeysuckle late spring to early summer and Jasmin mid to late summer. Bringing this together with the Elaeagnus Ebbingei, the large Lollipop trees at the back that flower during the summer months.

The Jasmin is an evergreen though the leaves turn a bronze red colour in the winter combined with the honeysuckle which I have done reading up about, some say its evergreen and some say it can lose some of its leaves. We will have to wait and see. However, I can say for certain that the clematis is deciduous and will lose its leaves.

This is how we planned it, we have six fence panels so we have one of each plant on each panel. The theory is they climb in and out of the fence and each other.

TetraRose, Honeysuckle and Jasmin

We started off badly, the first honeysuckle was impossible to untangle from the bamboo cane, we thought the job was going to take hours and we were in over our heads. We decided to try another one turns out we had picked the worst one, the next one we managed to plant and untangle and tie against the fence quick and easy.



Untangling the climbers
By the end had a good little system working, Mr MC&W digging the holes, me planting then working together to untangle, arrange and tie against the fence. The clematis we were convinced we would break anytime we handled them, the stems were so delicate.

A good water later and the plants were in. It was great to do this job ourselves, though we learnt a few lessons. Do not look up when untangling as the bits fall into your eyes, cut the twine before you need it and do not render your secateurs useless as you have nothing else to cut the bamboo canes with. As you can see we have a lot to learn.

I can not wait to see how they develop and the fantastic smelling flowers.



Friday, 23 June 2017

Meal Plan Friday 23rd June 2017

This week has seen us almost bake in the heatwave and not really fancy food. I was very pleased I had put some thought into the food and we have lovely light meals. The other upside to the plan was that we managed to have lots of salad in as it was selling out fast in the shops.

This is what we are up to this week and we are trying a couple of new meals.

Friday - Boys have a picnic dinner as they have school dinner on a Friday. Mr MC&W and I will be having Pizza, a posh one from the pizza express range as they were on special offer

Saturday - Busy day for us all. Boys will have a pizza. Mr MC&W and I will have Fajitas

Sunday - Its the village fete at lunchtime so we will either eats loads of burgers and cake or will pop to Waitrose for a ready meal

Monday - Crispy Greek Pie with salad. The boys will have cottage pie

CrispyGreek style pie

Tuesday - Paprika Pork for everyone served with pasta

Paprika pork

Wednesday - Chorizo Pasta bake for everyone

Chorizo ricotta spinach pasta bake

Thursday - Spicy Chicken, Mash, Beans and Peas

Monday, 19 June 2017

Meal Plan Friday 17th June 2017

Wow we have had some hot weather this weekend and for the coming week.Trying to meal plan food that is easy to prepare and eat.

Friday - We are having this lovely meal using smoked mackerel which I have not cooked with in ages. It combines so many of my favourite foods. Though I did change things around a little.

Warm mackerel and beetroot salad

Saturday- Mr MC&W and I will be having a treat to celebrate Father's Day aw little early tonight. Steak, Chips, Button mushrooms, peas and lots of peppercorn sauce followed by cheese and lots of it. Boys have swimming as are very tired so will have tortellini.

Sunday - BBQ at the brother in laws for Father's Day and several family birthdays.

Monday - Oven Baked Risotto for the boys pea and ham for Mr MC&W and I mushroom

Tuesday - Boys will have veggie fingers, mash, broccoli and beans. Mr MC&W and I will have our own little BBQ with meat from our local farm shop and salad

Wednesday - Gnocchi for the boys a tomato sauce for the grown ups a Stilton sauce with mushrooms and spinach

Thursday - A Tuna Slice for the boys with salad and another mini BBQ for the grown ups

Tuna and sweetcorn slice


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Hanging Baskets Summer 2017

This morning I finally found the time to get the hanging baskets sorted out, my intention was to only look and decide what to buy, as a very kind friend had offered to help me out on another day. Pushing a buggy and a garden centre trolley is not easy. But the plants were starting to get a little low so I decided I just had to go for it.

I am still very much a beginner when it comes to hanging baskets but I really love them, I am lucky that our local independent nursery specialises in bedding plants and is very well labelled. I went straight for the plants marked up as baskets and containers then read a lot of labels. I was surprised at how many names of plants I remembered. 

I came home with a boot full of plants.




I loved the trailing Petunias I chose last year they were a cascade of white and yellow. 




This year I have gone a little more dramatic and this deep purple combined with the white. I must admit I was very close to choosing a bright pink to go with the purple, maybe next year.

This one has white and purple Petunia Surfina and all going well they should cascade down the basket.





I love yellows and oranges, this was a little harder than I first thought as there was not a huge amount of choice. I had to improvise a little and found these...

The orange flowers are Osteopermum, last year I had a basket of purple ones and the lesson I learnt was I have to keep on top of the deadheading or you end up with lots of leaves and no flowers. The Yellow taller flowers are Argyrantemum crested yellow. I then surrounded them with trailing flowers Calibrachoa Cabaret in white and Calibrachoa Goldrush



Finally I have a bit of a soft spot for pink flowers and clashing them, so I chose Nemesia called pink ice as the taller flowers and surrounded them with Calibrachoa Cabaret in cherry rose to take away a little from the pink I found a Bacopa Snowflake hoping the white would work well.



I am really pleased with how they look and will post pictures of how they grow....







My Random Musings

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Meal Plan Friday 9th June

It has been a while since I last posted a meal plan. We have been eating but the plans have been very last moment and I have been struggling to write them. Everything seemed boring and I do not think the weather helped not knowing if it is summer or autumn.

But then I having a look at the stats for the blog and the meal plans are being viewed a lot and are popular and it seemed to help me get my motivation back

Friday - Chicken Kiev with new potatoes and salad. The boys have a main meal at school at lunch so they had a picnic dinner

Saturday - Mr MC&W is at a party, the boys and I will have Pizza, Chips and Salad

Sunday - Roast Chicken on courgette and tomato with roast potatoes and broccoli. Boys will have same minus the courgette and tomatoes 

Monday - Bacon and Mushroom Pasta from BBC Good Food

Bacon and mushroom pasta

Tuesday - Speedy Beef Tacos from BBC Good Food - This is just an idea I will be changing it to suit the family

Speedy beef tacos

Wednesday - Leek, Mushroom and Goats Cheese Strudel and the boys will have Pinwheel pizza all from BBC Good Food

Pizza puff pinwheels

Leek mushroom and goats cheese strudels

Thursday - Oven Roasted Cod with roasted veggies and rice

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Feeding a Bee with sugar water

Have you ever been in the garden and seen a sad looking bee on the ground not really moving? You watch it for a while realising the poor little chap is really struggling. I have found several bees like this and tried to feed them sugar water. But my attempts to rescue them mainly ended with me trying to drown them, I was really not aiding them during their time of need. But I have finally developed a method that works so I thought I would share.

Mix together white sugar with a little water so that it completely dissolves, RSPB suggests 2 tablespoons of sugar with one tablespoon of water. I used desert spoons but the same ratio. The advice is never to use honey or brown sugar. 

This is what worked for me, move the bee to a paving stone, I used a strong leaf they tend to walk onto it, if not you can easily slide it under them, then drip a small amount of the sugar water in front of the bee. The bee will start to drink the sugar water and you will see it begin to get stronger. It is truly amazing how fast it can happen, they start to walk about and test their wings. I feel real joy when I witness them start to move again as do my children who love to watch.





Once the bee is strong and feeling better I then transferred it to a flower, though a few have just flown off when they have the energy. This was very simple and I hope that you will give it a go if you come across a tired and hungry bee.

If you have water tables or paddling pools please keep a watch out for bees and flying insects that can potentially drown. I have rescued so many, most of them I put on a plant or on a safe stone (where they will not get trodden on) in the sunshine and they dry off quickly and fly away. My children are really good at checking and telling me when one needs rescuing.You may need to give them a helping hand with some sugar water if they have got weak.
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Cuddle Fairy

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Planting Viburnum Tinus

A few weeks ago I was delighted to get home from the school run and see the Architectural plant's lorry parked in the drive, this meant the Viburnum Tinus had arrived and were going to be planting.




Mr MC&W had greeted them and explained exactly what we wanted to achieve, equal heights and distances apart. We played about with the design a little bit but found our original idea was the right one.



The boys then went to work, they got the job done in a couple of hours. They were very careful to make sure that as requested the trees were the same height and an equal distance between each one (I think Mr MC&W reputation proceeds him). This was made harder by the fact it is on a slight slope and they had to think carefully how deep they planted each tree.

We could have attempted this job but the digging alone would have taken us a day and then trying to get them equal heights, we know our limits.




We are thrilled with the outcome and can not wait for the winter flowers, they look stunning along with the Elaeagnus ebbingei. 

Although we have gone for a real statement on this border, one or two of any of these plants would create a real feature and add structure to any garden. Once brought they do require some maintenance to ensure the shape is kept. This is one job we will be calling in the professionals for, as neither myself or Mr MC&W have the skills required to keep any of the trees looking like this.





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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Meal Plan Friday 6th May 2017

We have been beyond busy and the meal plans have been last moment and really suffered. We seem to have caught up a little and I have finally got sometime to write the weeks meals up.

Friday - Chilli with rice. The boys will have meatballs.

Saturday- Gammon, egg and chips for everyone

Sunday - OB has his party but we will have his favourite as a late lunch. Roast Chicken, lots of Roast Potatoes, orange oven cooked carrots, green beans and spinach

Monday - Cod and Chorizo Stew with crusty bread

Cod and Chorizo Stew

Tuesday- Mango Chicken, the boys will have plain rice

Mango chicken with spiced pilau

Wednesday - Omelette and Chips

Thursday- lentil Ragu

Lentil Ragu

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Ground Elder Battle

My mum has to battle bindweed constantly, the stuff is rife through her garden and she was convinced the moment her back is turned the plant would shoot again. Our garden we have to battle ground elder, it is everywhere and I have had to declare war.

I was informed by Andrew Gardens Weeds and Words that you can make a wonderful pesto using ground elder and I did have an evening considering if I could set up some amazing home business. Selling it from a little stall at the local farmers' markets, maybe even the top restaurants in London would want my homestyle artisan pesto. Then I remembered that I have three boys and can barely find the time to keep us all fed let alone making homemade pesto and taking over the culinary world. 

The smallest front border is so full of it I could barely put the fork into the soil to dig it over. I have started this border now as I want some pots to go along the edge as the soil is so terrible. We considered putting down a membrane but were told it really needed clearing as it would only keep coming back.





















So I set to work, this is a job you can lose yourself in as its just digging and pulling up roots. The sound I came to hate was the snap when the root breaks. I know this means it will grow again, honestly its a very determined plant I must give it that.

These pictures are from just over half an digging and look at the huge amount I managed to pull from one tiny area.





















I am going to have to buy something for my poor knees though they are taking a battering. 

The plan moving forward is to really try and keep on top of this and get it clear as I can. The only way to get rid of it is to keep getting out those roots. I think it will be more autumn time when I can move the pots into place but that means I have plenty of time to think about bulbs and what I can grow as it gets very little sunlight.





Cuddle Fairy

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Meal Plan Friday 7th April 2017

The bathroom is still being done and Mr MC&W will be of to Atlanta with work so I need more and more easy meals

Friday - Birds eye chicken Kiev with new potatoes and salad

Saturday - Steak, Chips, Peas, mushrooms and peppercorn sauce for myself and Mr MC&W as a real treat. For the boys Ravoli (shop brought)

Sunday - Sausages, Red Onions and Potatoes roasted together in a honey and wholegrain mustard sauce served with green veggies. Boys had a mini chicken roast

Monday - Tuna Pasta Bake

Tuesday - Pizza Puff Pin Wheels served with salad


Wednesday - Bonfire night baked potatoes


Thursday - Chicken Korma with rice and Poppadoms

Meal Plan Friday 31st March

This has been written after the event. We have been really manic with the start of the Easter holidays, the bathroom being ripped out and replaced combined Mr MC&W was beyond busy at work

Friday - Waitrose Gruyere Stuffed Mushrooms, New Potatoes and Salad boys had spaghetti with a tomato sauce, ham and peas

Saturday - Charlie Bigham Curry for Mr MC&W and Pizza for the boys

Sunday - Sandwiches as we had lunch out

Monday - Bird eye southern chicken with new potatoes and Mediterranean roasted veg. The boys had crispy chicken with mash and peas

Tuesday - Fish and Chips

Wednesday - Jacket Potatoes with Beans and Cheese for the boys and I and Tuna Mayo for Mr MC&W

Thursday - Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Broccoli the boys just had broccoli

Annual seeds to update a border

The Dumping Ground


The new Viburnum Tinus trees and shrubs are arriving late April so for the moment I have stopped digging over the back border and will weed it as and when needed. In the meantime I have been pottering about and catching up with some jobs I have been putting off for a long time.


There is a small border next to our back door, for ages it had a wooden planter on it that we borough from our old house. It had been put by the backdoor as it contained herbs but over time it started to fall apart and the area was looking rather like a dumping ground.









Spring continued this sad look, with two very pathetic looking Hyacinth and some old daffodils that did not flower. You can imagine this is not how I was picturing this border would look. It is also home to an early flowering clematis on the wall above. The clematis is beautiful and provides wonderful flowers in early spring but it is full of dead wood and looks rather messy with all the wood hanging down. I decided that it was about time I did something.


Sad looking plants

Being an excellent destructive gardener I pulled up all the plants and weeds. Now all proper gardeners you may want to stop reading or take a deep breath as I then attacked the clematis. I found the really dead parts and cut them back to where I could see a new bud forming. I was very careful not to cut any that had obvious new growth. This took some time as for once I was actually thinking about what I was doing, I do not want to kill it just tidy it up a little. A lot of the deadwood just fell out and we will look carefully at this plant when it stops flowering late spring time as it needs to be retrained (if that is a word). I also found the RHS guide to pruning this type of Clematis which I will be reading.

RHS Guide to Pruning Clematis


c
Lovely woody Clematis


Looks beautiful around the back door
Then the boys and I decided to plant some summer annuals, we had some border sunflower seeds from Thompson and Morgan that the boys had won for a picture they had drawn and some other mixed seeds. We scattered them and watered them in and we shall see what happens in the summer. The boys are continuing to water them as its very dry at the moment. I am hoping these seeds will provide an inexpensive way to have a summer border.


Area all smart and tidy
Our lovely border sunflowers
Twin Mummy and Daddy

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Viburnum Tinus for a border

As you are aware last year I posted about the garden fence being replaced and the fact we lost some privacy. We found part of the solution with the amazing LolliPop Trees Elaeagnus ebbingei.

Planting lollipop trees elaeagnus 


However, we still have a fence that is a little bit see through. So we are now on the next stage of planting up the new border.


We decided to visit Architectural Plants again, knowing what we needed was established plants. Our main problem was that we had no idea what plants would work. We did not want to loose the stunning appearance of the lollipop trees, they look so regal and I was concerned they would get lost in a massive shrub.



The regal trees and the fence up close


We asked for help as soon as we arrived, being organised we had to hand measurements and photos of the border and fence. She looked at them, listened to us and straight away came up with the most beautiful idea.

Viburnum Tinus but in two different forms, one as a small lollipop tree combined with a more traditional shrub. We can keep them cutting them to the right size, they are evergreen and flower in the winter where the lollipop trees flower in the summer.



Viburnum Tinus as a Lollipop style tree
Close up


As a shrub
Both forms of Viburnum Tinus






What beautiful winter flowers

This is my rather dreadful drawing to show you roughly the though process.

Drawing is not my strong point

To finish of the fence we are going to buy some climbers, they will give the last bit of privacy. If we choose well we can have flowers and interest for nearly the whole year.

We are very excited about how this is going to look. It has a very strong theme and design element about it. Still leaving plenty of room for adding plants to give year round interest.



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