The summer was almost a scorcher - ref the November 2012 issue. A good deal of watering was needed during July, and on 1st August, I enjoyed a warm evening watching a variety of non-stop bees systematically feeding on some lavender plants, until the second sitting after 9.00pm when moths took over.
June was a busy time in the garden, catching up after the late spring, planting out the tender bedders and dahlias, making up the hanging baskets, adding some fertiliser and mulch around the roses, sowing biennials of wallflower, foxglove and sweet William, and starting off a new batch of delphiniums from seed, as the current ones are looking jaded, and pruning the spring flowering shrubs. And now there's a summer in which to relax and enjoy a well-earned rest, taking note of the texture and colour combinations that might produce a more satisfactory display next year. Except that the courgettes, squashes, leeks, runner beans, cabbages, sprouts, peas and root vegetables need to go out, and seedlings thinned and the weeds controlled on the vegetable plot.
In the garden, the grass is struggling to compete with the moss and weeds, and appears a patchy shade of green, so I've promised to rake and feed it this weekend. The borders are also coming to life, and the plants need feeding to sustain the sudden growth. The sprouting dahlia tubers have been transferred from their overwintering pots into free-draining compost and watered.
The Legion is second only to the RNLI in terms of donations to a charity, but the RNLI membership is not made up only of those who have served in the RNLI so why is the perceived wisdom that the RBL is only for ex-servicemen? There is obviously a misconception that needs to be overcome and our message is that everyone is welcome to join, regardless of whether or not they have a Service background or connection. We are not an old comrades club but a modern charity.
A Tale from Great Aunt Mabel's Book
I believe that I was always the favourite Nephew of my Great Aunt Mabel who died some 60 years ago but it was only very recently that I came across a book in which she had hand written a numbers of stories specially for us, her relations. They consisted of stories about Christ, her love of all animals, brave acts and anything that a little boy of some 6 or 7 years might find totally absorbing.
The book records that before the war a handsome old church stood in Watling Street, near St. Paul's Cathedral in the heart of the City of London. It was the Church of St. Augustine with St Faith. But it suffered the fate of so many churches during the wartime blitz and all that was left standing was a solitary tower with a very small room that would seat only 26 worshipers.
Springtime – a capricious season. But enough about the weather, - on to plants, seeds and events. The country market will be holding its annual sale of bedding plants from 9am 'til noon on Saturday 18th May under the Market House. And if you miss out on the veg seedlings, or if you have too many, the Minchinhampton Allotment holders are having a seed and seedling swap and 'bring and share' picnic on the allotment field from noon 'til 2 on Sunday 19th May. Here's a chance to pick up a marrow plant, from which great things may be expected, and a chance to practice your baking, sweet potato muffins, pear and ginger cake, courgette chocolate cake, etc., ready for the domestic science section of the Minchinhampton Gardening Club Show in September.
On April 7th this year we can all celebrate a hundred years of the National Trust taking over from H.G.Ricardo, the Lord of the Manor's rights in the soil of the unenclosed land we all know as Minchinhampton Common. I say, celebrate, because it was not a smooth or fully supported purchase in 1913 and even A.T. Playne in his fine history of Minchinhampton and Avening written at the time makes it clear.
The winter has continued well into March, with snow flurries as I write this. The low temperatures and ice on the pond have restricted activities: the frogs, as well as those of the heron, and any outdoor planting, other than moving or splitting dormant perennials. Some snowdrops were lifted from the garden into pots, temporarily, to be planted elsewhere whilst still in leaf.
I drove home along a dry lane one evening recently, and was able to avoid the potholes more effectively - though I'm pleased to say that some have been patched. More usually the large puddles on the road side reflect the headlights, creating phantoms which flicker through the hedgerows, keeping pace with the car, and looking worryingly like deer dancing and leaping along the roadside verge.
When I left School, my father having been a career Army Officer, I went to read Civil Engineering at Leeds as an Army Cadetship Officer. This meant a short course at Sandhurst Military Academy before university, regular attendance of the Officer Training Corps and a period with my ‘sponsoring unit’ (the Royal Engineers) during the long vacations while up; and then a return to Sandhurst for the main part of the officer training after university.
Wanton damage to the orchid house and plants at Kew, followed a couple of weeks later by an arson attack on the nearby refreshment pavilion, a hundred years ago, (February 1913) was known as the Outrage at Kew, the aim being publicity for the suffrage movement. Olive Wharry and Lilian Lenton were subsequently sent to prison. I’d like to think that since then, we have made some progress along the road to enlightenment, both politically, and in terms of our understanding of how to grow and propagate orchidaceae.
Feeding the garden wildlife at this time of year is to be encouraged, and as well as putting out seed and suet for the birds, in feeders or on tables, out of the reach of cats, it is worth considering planting a few items that will support both birds and insects in the longer term over the winter months. Birds are attracted to berry-bearing plants such as holly, cotoneaster, pyracantha and skimmia, and crab apple, rowan, hawthorn and honeysuckle. Leaving seed heads on thistles and sunflowers also provides a food source.