Thursday 27 March 2014

Anyone For Parsnips?

I'm still harvesting parsnips from the allotment, though it's a bit of a race against time as they'll be starting to regrow any time now, they'll turn woody and then they won't be much good. I'm preparing them, par boiling them and then freezing them for future use. It's quite handy having ready prepared parsnips just to pop in a roasting dish. I've also given bag fulls away to neighbours, but there's still a row left in the ground.

Some of the parsnips have canker, I've had a few which are quite bad and others with only a slight touch of the disease, but once the affected part has been cut away, the rest of the root is perfectly fine.

I've come across some odd shapes, you'd never see parsnips like these in the supermarket. It can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to peel them when they've forked and the roots are entwined, but it's definitely worth the effort as they're delicious. Some are rather small, but most of them have been quite large, they all get used.

On the whole, I'm really pleased with the blemish free, straight roots that have been harvested.

These parsnips were growing on my new plot when I took it on at the end of last year, it's been lovely to have such a great crop without putting in any effort of growing them myself. I'll have to see if I can do as well with the ones I sow this year.

Monday 24 March 2014

The Cut Flower Patch Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a copy of The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley.

I'm pleased to announce that the name drawn out of the hat at random was Fran from Bonnie of Clyde. Congratulations, Fran. It's a beautiful book and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can pass these on to the publishing company so they can send out your prize.

I'm not surprised that this was such a popular giveaway, it's a wonderful book which I'm sure anyone would be pleased to have on their bookshelf.

Don't forget, if anyone fancies buying a copy of this book, the publishing company are offering it at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p. Please look at The Cut Flower Patch post for details.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Identity Crisis

Most of the spring bulbs which I planted in containers in autumn have now flowered.

The first bulbs to flower were the iris reticulata - Gordon.

Such a gorgeous, velvety, deep purple flower. I love the splashes of golden yellow. Absolutely stunning.

I bought two packets of crocus which I planted all together in one container. They were supposed to be the variety Advance, a pretty yellow inside coupled with a delicate lilac on the outside. I've looked forward to these flowering all through winter, but have been sorely disappointed with them. No way are these crocuses Advance. Most of them are a plain, deep yellow.

A few of the flowers have a purple marking on the outside, nothing like a delicate lilac.

They're pretty enough, but it's still a bit of a blow when you've been expecting something different.

They were only £1 per packet so I shouldn't really grumble, but you should be able to rely on the variety when they've been bought in sealed bags. I emailed Wilkinsons to let them know what had happened, attaching some photos of the blooms. I got a lovely email back the same day, saying that they want their customers to be satisfied with their purchases and that they regard customer relations extremely important. They will continue to monitor customer comments and product returns in order to highlight any recurrence of the problem. They asked for my address and within a few days, I received a £5 gift card as a good will gesture. You can't say fairer than that.

Flowering away now are the narcissus - Tete a Tete. Such cheery flowers, they bloom for a good length of time and stand up to the weather, bearing their flowers on short stems.

I'm now waiting on the daffodils - Professor Einstein to put in an appearance, they're already starting to bud so they shouldn't be long.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 23rd of March 2014 to do so. Just leave a comment on The Cut Flower Patch post.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Garden Visiting In March - Part Two

My previous post was Part One of our trip to Manor Heath Park in Halifax. After our visit to the walled garden, we decided to visit the Jungle Experience. As we had Archie with us, Mick had to wait outside as dogs aren't allowed in this part of the park, but he didn't mind. Admission to the park and walled garden is free but there's a charge to enter the Jungle Experience, one whole pound. It was well worth it, and I don't know of many other attractions with such a low charge.

The Jungle Experience has a tropical atmosphere. Plants here come from all over the world, and there's plenty to see.

As I grow a couple of orchids myself, I enjoyed seeing some growing as they would in their natural environment.

There's an area containing carnivorous plants.

A tank holds butterfly cocoons.

On the top of the tank was this Owl butterfly feasting on a slice of orange. My photo really doesn't show its size, it was huge. These butterflies are usually found in rainforests and secondary forests in Mexico, Central, and South America.

As you might expect, the Jungle Experience has plenty of ponds and waterfalls.

Many of the ponds contain fish.

Some of the ponds contain Red Eared Terrapins.

Chinese Painted Quail wander around at leisure. They were introduced as the butterfly caterpillars were being eaten by spiders. They're ground eating birds and rarely fly.

There's plenty in the Jungle Experience to satisfy both plant and wildlife lovers.

The rest of our day was taken up in the park. There's a woodland walk and a park trail as well as a wildflower area. We didn't visit any of these, but would do so if we return. Instead, we gave Archie a good run on the expanse of grass. Our visit coincided with the start of the good weather and there were many families taking advantage of it. There's a great play area for children with many pieces of recently installed equipment and the Flutter-Bites Cafe, which was doing a roaring trade.

The spring bulbs were putting on a pretty display.

There's some lovely areas around the park to explore.

Manor Heath Park is great for a day out, with the added advantage that dogs can be taken along. The only downside was that dogs weren't allowed in the Jungle Experience so Mick didn't get to visit it, but we wouldn't have expected dogs to be admitted to an attraction like this anyway, so it certainly didn't spoil our visit.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 23rd of March 2014 to do so. Just leave a comment on The Cut Flower Patch post.

Friday 14 March 2014

Garden Visiting In March - Part One

This year, I'm visiting a garden each month. I was looking online for a garden to visit in March when I came across information about Manor Heath Park in Halifax and I thought this would fit the bill nicely. It sits on the site of an old manor house which was demolished in 1959, but the walled garden and other features still exist.

We decided we'd have a run out to look at the walled garden. According to a sign, it was once used to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables for the Manor House, but is now used to demonstrate different types of gardening techniques of topical interest and bedding plant trials for Calderdale's parks.

I just love walled gardens, it's the brickwork with gnarled old plants growing against it that does it for me. That and the fact that my favourite children's book is The Secret Garden. I've often fantasized about finding a key and discovering it fits the door to a walled garden that's been locked away for years.

Many of the borders were quite bare, but there's lots of signs giving the names of plants in the ground, so I'm sure they'll fill out beautifully in time.

It's very well kept and there's still a huge amount of interest and things to see even this early in the year.

As well as planting in the ground, containers are used to good effect.

I'm not very good at identifying trees, but I think this one may be a corkscrew hazel as its branches are highly contorted. It's covered in catkins at the moment. There's pretty underplanting and some beautiful coloured dogwoods to the side.

Through the archway and these must be the bedding plant trials which were mentioned earlier.

There may be plants waiting to come through, but there's plenty more flowering at the moment. I'd have missed the gorgeous hellebore display if I'd visited later in the year.

There's lots of opportunity to take a seat for a few minutes of quiet contemplation.

How's this for recycling? An old boot just outside the walled garden.

As you can see, there's plenty going on inside the walled garden, but I haven't finished with Manor Heath Park just yet, I'll show you some more in Part Two.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 23rd of March 2014 to do so. Just leave a comment on The Cut Flower Patch post.
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