Tuesday 28 October 2014

Garden Visiting In October - Part Two

In my Garden Visiting In October - Part One post, I wrote about our visit to the walled garden at Oakwell Hall. On exiting the walled garden, we passed in to the Faith Garden.

"The aim of the garden is to provide 'a special place', inspired by the world's major faiths and the natural enviornment of the park, which can be used for quiet reflection and as an outdoor classroom where children will learn about common themes of faith and understanding between different communities".

It felt like a very tranquil and peaceful area. Seating is provided by way of these willow covered benches.

There's a circular stone seating area with turf surround where I suppose classes of schoolchildren will sit on their visits here.

Bird feeders are dotted about this garden, though most of them were empty. I do hope they get filled up regularly as there seemed to be plenty of feathered visitors.

There's no getting away from the fact that we're now well in to autumn, fallen leaves covered the ground beneath the trees.

Old doors make me curious, I always wonder what I'd find beyond them.

To the side of the Faith Garden is a pond for pond dipping.

An information board provides a clue to the things you might discover.

Round the other side is a little waterfall. You can see the Faith Garden to the rear of the pond.

There's actually four ponds in all, built to attract wildlife.

Such a beautiful view. You wouldn't believe that beyond the trees, to the right of the pylons, lies the M62 motorway which connects Liverpool and Hull via Manchester and Leeds.

I can thoroughly recommend a trip to Oakwell Hall. I've never been in the hall itself, I must try and arrange a visit for that purpose sometime soon, but the grounds are beautiful. It's a fabulous place for dog walking too.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Garden Visiting In October - Part One

Gardens are generally winding down at this time of year but there's still plenty of interest in a well designed space.

We sometimes visit Oakwell Hall and its grounds in Birstall when taking Archie for a walk, there's 110 acres of country park, ideal for him to have a good run. Although Archie came with us on this visit, we were primarily there to visit the walled garden.

These are the steps at the back of the hall which lead you in to the walled garden.

Looking back, you can see the rear of the hall.

Though the garden isn't filled with colour at the moment, there are splashes here and there from the Michaelmas daisies and sedum.

I can imagine that the garden will look good right the way through winter as it has a wonderful structure from evergreen plants.

There's some beautiful trees in the garden too.

The borders have now seen better days, but you can see how well stocked they are.

Fruit trees are trained along the walls. There's some wonderful, old varieties here and they're well labelled.

Can you see the label on this tree? It's Isaac Newton's tree.

It was propagated from a tree growing in Isaac Newton's garden at Woolsthorpe Manor in Grantham, Lincolnshire. While sitting under this tree, the "notion of gravitation came into his mind occasion'd by the fall of an apple".

A sign warns visitors that they are approaching the hives.

Bee hives are tucked away in the corner of this garden. There were lots of bees buzzing around and you can see them at the entrance to the hives in this photo.

Wherever you look, there's no getting away from the fact that it's now autumn. The berries, fruit and fallen leaves add to the delights which the garden offers at this time of year.

We left through the back gate and entered another garden.

I shall tell you about that in my next post.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Last Pickings

We finally got round to clearing away the tomato plants on Sunday. They've done better than I hoped this year, they suffered a few set backs at the start of the year with one thing or another, and I ended up buying a few plants in as well as managing to keep some which I'd grown from seed.

The photo shows the last fruit I managed to harvest from the plants before they were consigned to the compost bin. The green ones have been laid out on the windowsill where they'll, hopefully, ripen.

I've been especially pleased with the Maskotka variety this year. I bought two plants from a local plant sale and they've done really well. They're a cherry variety and have produced a huge crop of delicious, sweet tasting fruit. They're definitely on the list for growing again next year.

Other varieties I've already decided to grow next year are Totem and Gardener's Delight, other cherry types, and Ailsa Craig, a medium sized tomato.

It looks like I've quite a while to wait until I taste a tomato again as I rarely buy them, they just don't taste the same as home grown.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Squash Mad

Squash is a favourite vegetable in our house so I'm pleased to say that both my summer and winter squash have done well this year.

The Custard White patty pan summer squash started cropping late in summer and are still going now. I don't do anything fancy with them, I just cut them in to cubes and roast them, but we all think they're delicious. We've had so many that I tried freezing them, but it wasn't very successful as they turn quite mushy when taken out of the freezer again so we've ended up giving lots away.

The plants grow huge and this is the state of play at the moment, they're covered in mildew, but I don't do anything with them as it doesn't affect the squash at all.

As you can see, the plant is still producing, there's lots more squash to come just so long as the weather cooperates.

You only have to turn your back for a day or two and just like their cousins, courgettes, they've grown to gigantic proportions. They're still fine to eat but the skin can be quite tough if they've been left on the plant too long so I just peel them.

The winter squash plants are suffering from mildew too, but again, I leave them to get on with it.

The variety I'm growing is Little Gem Rolet, a cricket ball size fruit. I chose it as it's supposed to be a heavy cropper.

The other winter squash I chose to grow this year was Autumn Crown. I thought this a good choice as it's been bred specifically for the UK climate, including the North of England, however, it's never really got going. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago and it's still at the embryonic stage. It's increased in size a little since then but it's never going to get to the size it should in the time it's got left to grow.

This weekend's haul was four patty pans.

Mick harvested all the Little Gem Rolet squash. We'd tried one a couple of weeks ago just to see how it tasted and we were very pleased with it. These are the rest from three plants, so we got eighteen in total.

I have to say that the skin is really tough, it's so hard to cut in to it, but I've done a bit of searching on the internet to see if there's an easier way and I've discovered that if you prick the skin and then microwave the squash for a minute or two, it should be easier. I shall give that a try next time.

Friday 10 October 2014

The Pick Of The Crop

I've had my two little apple trees for a couple of years now. They didn't produce a crop last year but there was blossom this year and I've been waiting patiently for harvest time.

I have a green variety, Golden Delicious, and though there were quite a few apples on the tree, they didn't really grow. They're still only the size of crab apples. There's nothing there to get your teeth stuck into.

The other tree, Gloster, produces red apples. Again, there was quite a bit of fruit on the tree, but some dropped off and some rotted. Reading up about this rotten fruit, it looks as though it could be Brown Rot.

Some red apples made it through to harvest time, though there was only one decent sized one and a few small ones.

We all had a taste and we're in agreement that this variety is delicious. It's got a crisp, white flesh which is tinged with pink, and it's slightly tart.

Both trees are growing in containers at the moment but I think I'm going to dig a border out of the grass along the fence and get them planted in the ground, I hope they'll do better then. We'll have to wait and see what next year brings.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Mini Munch Giveaway Winners

Thank you to everyone who entered my Mini Munch Giveaway. I've been impressed again this year by this variety of cucumber so I hope the seeds I give away will perform just as well for the winners of this giveaway next year.

The two names drawn out of the hat were Gillian and Flighty. Can you please let me have your addresses so that I can get the seeds sent off to you.

I hope you'll both enjoy growing these Mini Munch, it will be interesting to see how they do for you.

Saturday 4 October 2014

You Win Some You Lose Some

You win some.

My beans have been a bit of a mixed bag this year. The slugs devoured most of the Cobra and Blue Lake climbing French beans as soon as they were planted out, but left most of the St George runner beans and Purple Cascade climbing French beans alone. Exactly the same thing happened with my second sowing. Here, you can see which wigwams have done well, and which are rather sparcely populated.

I'm not complaining though, the plants which did manage to grow have done really well, and I'm still picking lots from them.

You lose some.

This is my entire crop of parsnips for this year, despite a few attempts at getting them to germinate.

Here you can see the bed I'd set aside for them. It shows just how few I have.

I'm just hoping that there's enough roots under the ground for Christmas dinner. Whatever I've got, they'll be savoured.

The autumn clear up has now started and I just thought I'd mention a bit of a bargain that Mick picked up in Asda. He'd been looking for a dustbin incinerator so that he could get some of the rubbish burnt and he came across this one at £15, cheaper than any he'd seen elsewhere.

How typical that he's got a bit of time to make a start on burning the rubbish this weekend, yet it's raining. Oh well, I'm sure he'll jump in to action as soon as he's able.

Don't forget, if you haven't already entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Monday the 6th of October 2014 to do so. Just leave a comment on my Mini Munch Giveaway post.
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