plant identification

sambucus nigra 'gerda'

We brought one of these from OldHouse to Newhouse last year; previously, it was in a tub in the front yard, but we dug a hole for it in the front garden here, and it has absolutely thrived.

A neighbour asked us what it was, and its tag had fallen off, so I couldn’t tell her. She very kindly went to the trouble of identifying it on our behalf, and it is apparently a Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda’, also known as Purple Elder,


garden after blitzingWe used to have a nice garden in Long Ashton – not huge, but south facing, with big patio and a fish pond that Pete dug. Here, we just have a rear yard, north facing, with high walls. It’s not very big, it’s not enhanced by the sodding palm tree that Gavin planted (so appropriate for an urban yard, don’t you think?, but the cats do like climbing it), and it was quite overgrown, which has of course just got worse since what has been passing for spring arrived.

It was getting hard to do anything out there – even hanging the washing out was a bit fraught – but every time we looked at it, we thought it was going to take ages, and somehow we just couldn’t make a start.

But yesterday, I suddenly snapped – I’d walked over to Aldi for some shopping, made a huge vat of meatballs for the freezer, and slumped for a couple of hours, and then just decided to go and make a start at about 3.45.  Pete came and joined me, and between us we emptied out all the old pots, scraped out the weeds from the cracks in the paving slabs (front and back), pulled up all the dead stuff, Pete laid two of the slabs Gavin had taken up to plant the aforementioned sodding palm tree (thankfully, he left them), and we rearranged all the Japanese Acers in pots that we’d brought with us (and the black grass, and the heuchera, and the gargoyle is now in place).  I also cleared up the empty wine bottles and jars that were stashed out there (they’re still stashed, but tidily now).

The compost bin is full, and four bags of garden waste are in the car ready to go to the tip, and the extraneous plastic plant pots went on Freegle, and are being collected in about 15 minutes (gotta love Freegle).

The acers will go in the ground, but it’s the wrong time of year, I think – we’ll do that November-ish when they’ve stopped growing. And I can plant some bulbs, and put something climbing against the walls and fences. And now there’s enough room to sit out, so I’ll keep an eye on Freegle for garden furniture, because the corner is a nice sun trap in the morning.

We have an outside light that can go up, we’ve moved the old table round the corner out of the way, and it generally looks a whole lot better. It only took 3 hours, too – lord knows why we left it so long 🙂

weekend 25-26 july 08

Was mostly garden related. We pulled the huge reed out of the pond – we planted it about seven years ago (I think), and it has spread some every year, but this year went utterly mad, and almost took over the pond. It was nearly as tall as me, and making the garden feel very small, never mind about the poor fish.

I was dreading doing it, because I was sure it would rip the pond liner, but in fact it came out clean with a lot of tugging. It brought every other pond plant with it, though … The roots were amazing – real wood rather than root in some places, and it had absorbed the bricks it stood on. perlmonger hacked it up with his trusty new garden saw, and we distributed it across 3 green bags, which we took to the tip yesterday morning, along with the plastic bottles and some electrical gubbins>.

On the same run, we went to Sainsburys to get them to recut the key they cut on Saturday, and to Maplins to get a replacement bulb for the fly zapper (2 for 1 – good deal!) that didn’t work when Pete brought it home on Saturday. They had some garden solar lights on special offer at£14.99 so we picked up a box of those too. Then we called into the garden centre at Cleeve to pick up some new pond plants, as the poor thing was looking very bald, and the frogs couldn’t get out easily. Also bought another heuchera and a lovely red sedum for the front garden.

Came home, did the garden lights and the pond plants, then I weeded all the patio pots, then cleaned the gaps in the slabs of weeds, while P attended to the front garden. Bada brought us a bird, which was kind. Still alive, so P rescued it and put it in next door’s front garden, where she found it and brought it back again, so she was confined to the back garden for the rest of the day.

We decided to have an early night after all that, and just as we went out to check the duvet cover on the line, we felt a few drops of rain – which turned into a lovely shower. So we poured another glass of wine (for me) and an Oban for P, and sat under our huge patio umbrella enjoying the sound of the rain, and the wonderful fresh smell.

It was a lovely weekend apart from my horrid HORRID fall on Sunday morning. I went down to make a cup of tea just after 7 – Pete was still asleep – and when I’d made it, I put the laundry in the washing basket to take it down to the washing line. We have a steep garden, and there are steps down to the end where the line is, and a grassy bank. The steps were a bit overgrown, and so as I often do, I went down the bank. But the grass was wet, and me feet went out from under me just like in a cartoon. It happened in slow motion, as these things often do. I sat down with a very hard bump, and then felt myself go backwards and I cracked my head on the grass behind me. My glasses flew off, and I was really dizzy for a few moments. I’d heard P get up when I was in the kitchen, so I called him, but he didn’t hear – he was at the other side of the house. I got up, found my glasses on the back of my head (!), and almost vomited. I was crying with the shock, and could barely get back into the house, I was so shaky. It’s very tender around the base of my spine, and my head still aches a bit, but other than that I’m ok, but it really wasn’t much fun at all. Oh, and this morning it feels as though I pulled a muscle in my neck, which is weird.

gardening with cats

gardening with cats
Originally uploaded by ramtops.

we went and bought the plants this afternoon for the baskets and hanging planters. Here they are, complete with furry helpers.

everything is now planted (apart from the growbag’s tomato and pepper plants). And, as generally happens to me, I was out watering these bloody baskets in torrential rain, with thunder and lightning overhead.

thank *you*, weather ghod.


in the past 24 hours, I have planted:

rosemary, tarragon, kitchen bay, two types of mint, coriander, flat leaf parsley, sage, thyme, basil, lemon grass and oregano.

and six alpines, an anemone, a potful of begonia tubers, a white decentra, two ornamental grasses, a couple of nasturtiums, and lord knows what else.

perlmonger has potted up the caster oil plant, two acers, a very tired bronze cordyline, which is looking better already, and the the olive tree.

now I’m about to go and collect two dozen bottles of wine from the local off licence, make a cake, get the laundry in, put the towels in the tumble dryer, cook chicken in red pepper sauce for supper.

then I might do a bit more in the garden, before collapsing in front of the Doctor.

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