Found a knife

We found that knife in the end – when we arrived in the IoW, it was sitting on the draining board, all washed up.  I suppose our builders must have borrowed it – I hope for food purposes rather than opening cans of paint.

Here is the knife
Here is the knife

It’s funny but no one seems to make this kind of knife – about a four inch long blade which is rounded at the end.  During our search, my husband bought a set of three Wusthof knifes (they were very reduced) and the middle one was about the same size but had a longer, pointier blade.

At least we'll be able to do some marvellous pumpkin carving this year
At least we’ll be able to do some marvellous pumpkin carving this year

Not a whole lot else to report really.  I’ve done as you suggested, Kal, and split those chives in the front garden – I put some in the herb garden, left some where they were and put some others in another bed.  I’d never realised that chives were separate bulb plants but I suppose it makes sense.

I didn’t take any photos of the garden because it was raining rather hard.

I’ve also done some pruning of my herbs (English mace, oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage) and have put the clippings in the compost bin.  I had a go at turning the compost but I don’t know how effective I was.  There seems to be quite a lot of compost from the middle downwards and I have loads of worms.

My Mum says that she is quite worried about the worms in her compost bin.  She has one of those black dalek bins and the worms keep going up into the ridges of the lid.  She thinks it’s because they want a rest but I think that they are too hot.  In summer, they cook and then stink the whole bin out.

Herbs in the compost bin

I’ve been doing a bit of pruning of the herbs – I did the rest of the lavender and then cut back my sage, margoram, oregano and nepeta.  My children helped, which is a good activity for them, even if it does make me slightly less efficient.

Compost bin is full
Compost bin is full

I can’t decide whether to turn over my compost.  Over the summer, I saw a slow worm in there so I don’t want to disturb it if it is still there.  However, I’m never going to get compost unless I mix it up a bit.

Perhaps I’ll have a go with the fork in a week or two.

Pruning

We’ve been doing a massive chop of the shrubs at the side.  We’d put it off until now because a few birds tend to nest in our garden and we didn’t want to disturb them.

Piles and piles of branches
Piles and piles of branches

I hope that the shrubs recover – until now, they’d become a pile of dead sticks with a veneer of green at the top.  At least that section will now get some light and air.

Here is is now
Here is is now

It isn’t easy to see how much has been cut back because of the way the light falls – plus it is a bit like going to the hairdresser and being surprised just how much hair comes off – bit it is quite a lot thinner.

My son helped by dragging the cut branches out to the main pile.  We rewarded him by putting on an old episode of Robot Wars (which seems to me to be conkers with metal).

Cutting back the wildflower meadow

We have come to the time of year when it is time to cut back the wildflower meadow and clip back lavender.

Doing the wildflowers this year was a much harder job, mainly because there are a whole bunch of stinging nettles and brambles in there.  I ended up having this particular fly buzzing around my head for ages and a couple kept going to the sweaty bit behind my knee (I also had a scratch there – so delicious blood for them too).

Giant pile of wildflower cuttings
Giant pile of wildflower cuttings

The trick is to cut it all down, then leave it for a couple of days so that any seeds can fall into the patch.  Then you bag it up and take it to the dump so that the soil can’t be fertilised by the rotting cuttings – you want the soil to be really poor quality so grass doesn’t get in there and take hold.

One good result is that my jasmine is doing far better than I had thought – I arranged it back on the trellis and I hope it will take hold now that it isn’t mixed in with a load of nettles and bindweed.

Jasmine
Jasmine

We have some elderberries, which are edible.  I tasted a few; they were sweet and delicious.

Mystery berries
Elderberries
Blackberries
Blackberries

Rescuing my lavender

I’d rather let one of my flowerbeds get out of hand.  It had become overrun with creeping buttercup, which had smothered my arctic snow lavender.  I ended up pulling up all / nearly all the buttercup and cutting away all the dead bits of the lavender.

Disastrous flowerbed
Disastrous flowerbed

All the leaves you see are shredded bits of a bush that my husband pruned then ran through the shredder.  Pruning large shrubs is a bit like getting a haircut – LOADS comes off and you can’t see a whole lot that is different.

I am treating the shredded bits like bark woodchips – I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not.  The violas at the sides look terrible – I think I’m going to have to cut those right back and see whether or not they revive.

Pruning trees

We’ve also had one of our trees pruned right back (I think it’s a Holm Oak).  It should perk up again but in the meantime, I’m really enjoying all the extra light.  It might be that a Californian Lilac I planted last year may just about survive.

It's a bit spooky as it is
It’s a bit spooky as it is

Spring!

So, I have DECIDED that it is now Spring.  Officially, I think this doesn’t start until the 1st of March but my little daffodils are now out and there is blossom on the trees.  Plus some of my rosemary is flowering beautifully.

Spring!
Spring!

I’ve just had a deliciously hard prune of my buddleia and hydrangeas (last year, one of my hydrangeas went all summer without flowering and I suspect it was because it hadn’t been pruned).  Of course, they could now die but I can’t help that now.  It looks as though my gardener has already done the roses so I texted him to thank him.

I’ve also had a tidy up of my flowerbeds.  It looks as though you were all right and the nepeta has now started to revive itself.  I hope that the calamintha nepeta at the front does too.  Unfortunately, the euphorbia has also perked up (my husband hates it).  I’ve decided that I need some sea holly (the perennial one) to plug in some of the gaps.

A little while ago, I bunged some sweet violet seeds in trays in my cold frame.  The seed packet didn’t really give instructions so I winged it.  Nothing seems to have happened so far but then perhaps it takes longer than a couple of weeks for those to germinate.