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GOOSEBERRIES - Anticipation

I have one small gooseberry bush, another freebie from my Dad. It doesn't bear much fruit, only enough for me to pick off to eat raw as I am going around my garden business. I would love more space for more bushes, I just love them, and maybe if I had more, I could make my favourite jam or my most favourite crumble. For the moment I shall just have to go out and buy them from someone else.

The Eat the Seasons website gives all the information you would ever need to know about a gooseberry.

I really like these Gooseberry Patch calendars which you can buy from Amazon. I must remember to get one for 2009!


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So far a great year for soft fruit. My raspberry canes which my Dad gave me a couple of years ago are producing a lot of fruits for me. I must confess not a lot are making it to the kitchen but today being an exception. I have bought a tub of cream and meringues and I am going to make an Eton mess! Crushed meringues and raspberries, mixed into whipped cream.

According to Robin Weir in Recipes From The Dairy, Eton mess was served in the 1930s in the school's sock (tuck) shop, and was originally made with either strawberries or bananas mixed with ice cream or cream. Meringue was a later addition. Nowadays, Eton mess consists of pieces of crisp meringue, lightly whipped cream and strawberries, all stirred together - hence the name 'mess' - Heston Blumenthal

A raspberry is made up from a cluster of pips surrounded by fruit pulp, all held together by a central core, which forms the berry.


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This week is National Insect Week here in the UK, it runs from the 23rd to the 29th June. If you click on the photo above you can just about see the butt end of a lovely bee checking out the nectar in one of my foxgloves!

Honeybees in Britain are in decline. It is estimated that in 10 years time, if nothing is done to protect them, the honeybee will disappear from Britain by 2018, see Eco Home & Garden. No bees, no food on our plates as bees don't just make honey they pollinate more than 90 of the flowering crops we rely on for food.

Albert Einstein predicted that if something eliminated bees from our planet, mankind would soon perish.

Here is a list for plants for bees. I am sure lots of you have many of them already?

Don't forget, especially this week is - bee kind to bees week!

This post is dedicated to Life in Red Shoes. You guessed it, I have been out in the garden with my camera! Also to say to Lavinia Ladyslipper at The Birdbath Chronicles, I am still here!


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Here in the Northern hemisphere we usually mark the longest day on the 21st of June, but because this year is a leap year, the longest day is one day earlier, the 20th of June. From now on the days will get shorter, so less time to spend in the garden.

Apparently Midsummers day is on the 24th? Traditionally on this day St John's Wort was gathered, thought to be imbued with the power of the sun. Other special flowers (Vervain, trefoil, rue and roses) were also thought to be most potent at this time, and were traditionally placed under a pillow in the hope of important dreams, especially dreams about future lovers!


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Fortunately for me this lovely old-fashioned cottage garden plant self-seeds itself around here and there in my garden. The deep blue to violet flowers with a thistle-like centre and slender petals is not only attractive to me but also to bees!


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I was having a conversation with my dad yesterday of the fact that neither of us had seen any young blackbirds yet this year around in our gardens, my dad saying it was most unusual. Back home later in the day I was on the PC with the doors and windows flung wide open, and low and behold I realised I could hear a young blackbird. I very slowly moved outside and there they were, two fledglings along with the male. I quickly retreated back inside to grab the camera, my photos of birds usually blurred on 10 x optical zoom, but as it turned out I was quite pleased with these. Click on each one for a closer look at the speckly markings.

I have come to notice each year they do love feasting on these Amelanchier fruits along with the starlings.

A few days previously I had spotted a very scruffy looking male on our flat roof, maybe he had been doing all the work taking food in to the nest, which the female would have constructed out of grass and mud, usually low in a tree or bush, sometimes using a previous nest as a base. The young are fed for twelve to nineteen days and after leaving the nest they are split between the pair.


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The tradescanthia is what I would call a good value for money plant. This variety which has beautiful ice blue flowers was given to me as a division by a friend from her mum's garden. It doesn't take long for it to bulk up and over the years I had gained three large clumps. I noticed last year each clump was beginning to overpower all around it, so I reluctantly dug up and split each clump into four separate divisions making twelve new plants, sharing them with my dad, step-dad and keeping some for myself to plant in different areas of the garden. A good idea, each new plant has already flowered and settled into their new homes for the next year or two?


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I thought I was taking a photo of one frog, the fine specimen below. It was the first I had seen this year, but when it jumped back into the undergrowth, I lifted up the canopy to take a closer look, and discovered a second one just sitting there staring up at me. I hope I didn't make it jump! I really like the photo above, the frog just looks so at home tucked up in the hartstongue fern.

Frogs spend most of their lives on land so give them long grass, leaf and log piles, trees and shrubs in your garden to feed and hibernate under.

What does a frog order in a restaurant? French flies and diet croak!


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I love iris, but I only have three varieties in my garden, the most impressive being the white one above, which has huge flower buds right the way up the stalk. I separated rhizomes from the original clumps I inherited last year and made lots of new plants, although I shall have to be patient, I only had the pleasure of one flower spike this year, but I hope for more next.

The purple variety above came gratis from my great aunt many years ago, who had it flowering in her front south facing garden. I have moved it around several times, but have now found a home I, and the plant is happy with. It has a pleasant aroma.

Finally I acquired this yellow flag iris from my dad. It likes moist and boggy conditions. I have no pond, but I have found a suitable spot where the rain regularly runs into. It does get quite congested and needs dividing every now and again to encourage more flower spikes.

I would like more iris around the garden and if I had allotment space I would grow many different varieties, mainly tall bearded ones. My maternal nan was named Iris so they always remind me of her.


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This variety is glomerata superba. The stem bears many large headed clusters of dark purple-violet flowers.

This has to be my plant of the moment, and one of my many tasks for this year is to introduce it to different parts of the garden.


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I don't know about you but every now and again I visit a garden which instantly becomes my all time favourite, and this one is no exception. Set in beautiful countryside near Northiam in East Sussex, pretty much on the border of Kent, is Great Dixter House & Gardens, family home of Christopher Lloyd, one of the great plantsmen of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The front path which leads you to the entrance through meadow, which in the height of summer I can imagine absolutely buzzing with bees and fluttering butterflies feeding on the rich nectar.

Look at this for an impressive entrance porch. Click on any of the photos for a closer look at the planting schemes.

The Long Border which was absolutely stunning, although I really would have liked my secateurs at hand to trim the phlomis which had spilled so far out on the path. Maybe another one of those round tuit jobs we all have around the garden at this time of year?

The High Garden. A path leading you through a vista of annuals, perennials and shrubs. The epitome of an English country cottage garden.

What about this beautiful pond for a water feature, surrounded by plants who like to get their feet wet, which include yellow iris and gunnera.

What a shame, not allowed in here! No problems, there is a vast nursery in the grounds which sells the largest selection of plants that I have ever seen, some common but many unusual. I bought one with a lovely blue pea-like flower as a momento of our day, although I shall have to update you on the name, as a new discovery for me.

I couldn't get over these lettuces! Maybe the netting keeps the bunnies out, and where are the slugs and snails?

Finally, after about half a dozen circuits of the house, what a welcome relief to find no-one was occupying this lovely bench.