I obviously hope you enjoy browsing through the postings on here - do feel free to leave comments as it's always good to see who's visiting and to hear about other people's experiences - after all you never stop learning do you?

If you've any gardening questions or you live in Brittany and are looking for some gardening help - be it design work, planting or general gardening or you simply would like some advice, please don't hesitate to CONTACT ME or call me on 0033 661 77 23 89 (from UK) or 0661 77 23 89 (from France).

Happy gardening!

Thursday 31 December 2009

Belated Merry Christmas and have a very Happy New Year!

I cannot believe what happened to the time during December - such a busy month one way and another... Just hope you've all been enjoying a wonderful Christmas and that the New Year for 2010 will celebrated in style!

On the 13th December we celebrated my 44th Birthday - it was a beautiful sunny day despite being cold and with everything going on I opted for a quiet day spent on the beach up near St Malo at St Servan - a lovely walk along the beach and down to a completely private little cove looking out to sea - basking in warm sunshine and totally sheltered from the biting wind - we returned Lucy (dog) to the car and then sat outside in the sun overlooking the beach in a little cafe enjoying delicious hot chocolates and crepes filled with a real Breton speciality - Caramel Beurre Sale! You couldn't ask for much more!

We had some fantastically cold and frosty weather here before Christmas - enough to warrant getting out with my camera - I just love the frosty weather for taking pictures and the birds here were very much enjoying all the food I'd been putting out - I felt terrible going away with the snow and ice on the ground and knowing that in a few days it would all run out - the table and feeders now fully stocked up, the birds have been returning today which is great to see.

On the 18th December we went over to the UK to join my family for Christmas near to Falmouth - we only just managed to make the ferry over from France as having had literally no snow here for over a year we had a fall of snow - about 3cm which was enough to make the roads difficult to drive on - we passed a number of trucks and vehicles stuck in the snow on the main roads which was also made more hazardous by black ice as well. Cornwall, unlike many areas of the UK escaped the worst of the wintry weather - we did end up with some horrible icy roads for a couple of days which kept me away from the shops and meant that we ended up enjoying long coastal walks along the Helford River in winter sunshine. The light down there is fantastic and we captured some wonderful views and skies too.

We returned here yesterday - relieved to actually get back as the car was making all sorts of noises after getting off the ferry at Cherbourg, it sounded like a failing fan belt but unfortunately for us we discovered it was the alternator and were faced with rather a large bill - not what you really want just after Christmas but at least our local garage managed to fix it all yesterday - not bad seeing as we arrived at 10.30am - we got the car returned by 6pm. There are some things in France which you just can't fault!

I wonder what 2010 will bring in the garden and also what the weather will bring over the next week or so, as it looks as if we're in for some more snow at the weekend which I must admit would be welcome - at least we'd be able to enjoy it this time!

Have a very Happy and Peaceful New Year for 2010 and I really look forward to your visits over this year and to visiting your blogs for those of you who have them - I do hope that I'll get the time to post a bit more regularly throughout the year - do be patient when I'm not around but my work as both a gardener and garden designer keeps me pretty busy especially at certain times of year - so if I don't reply straight away - you really aren't forgotten - I promise... take care and have fun.... Miranda x

Sunday 29 November 2009

Last Sunday in November....

I can hardly believe that this week sees the beginning of December 2009 already - with the continuing relatively mild weather for this time of year, there have been more than plenty of things to keep me busy over this last week in all the gardens I care for, including our own and there are still a number of jobs outstanding too! It is starting to feel a bit colder, but as yet we've had no frost since the two in October which is very unusual, the grass is still growing and so are the weeds and we still have a few little visitors remaining including this beautiful Brimstone butterfly which I spotted sunning itself in between showers!

As with many days I always like to take a quick tour of the garden to spot anything new - and it really was lovely to see SO many plants still in flower, providing colour at this time of year.... the pretty yellow flower of the Bidens, Euphorbia showing some lovely colours as well as the grasses, hardy Geraniums and not to forget the good old faithful Feverfew.

In addition to the plants still in flower, I love the variety of seedheads in the garden - providing plenty of structure and texture.

Over this last week we have seen so much rain but in between the showers the odd touch of sunshine too - this wetter and windy weather has brought many more greedy little birds into the garden too which I love - it helps to keep the garden alive when many things lie dormant. One shrub which we added to our mixed hedge a number of years ago which has produced some good fruit this year is the Arbutus (Strawberry Tree) - the Blackbirds and Thrushes in particular just love this and have been making the most of this whilst stocks last! It not only provides fruits but is smothered in flowers too which have also been a favorite with the Bumble Bees too. I've now seen a number if our smallest visitors here - the Goldcrest both in our own garden and in one of my client's gardens too and there seem to be quite a number of the Long-tailed Tits around too - I've yet to see any at my feeders though.

I wonder what this week will bring... in terms of weather, visitors to the bird table and general findings in our garden... I'm heading up to the Pink Granite Coast this week - near to Treguier to investigate some hotels and chambres D'hotes for a special garden tour in August 2010... more on this later!
Have a good week!

Monday 16 November 2009

Ladybird Ladybird....

fly away home.... might be the last thing most of us gardeners would be saying - this little insect might be small, but does an amazing job in the garden in helping to keep pests at bay! I've discovered in my little bit of research on this Seven-spot Ladybird / Coccinella 7-punctata that despite being commonly found in both the UK and Europe that one ladybird is known to eat as many as 5000 aphids in it's year long life!

I was doing a spot of gardening today whilst nursing a rather sore back - silly I know but try and keep me away when it's so pleasant outside - no rain and really mild... what more could you want in the middle of November other than no bad back of course!!

Anyway - I decided to cut back the dead stems of the large mass of Golden Rod /Solidago which is underplanted with a lovely collection of spring Primula and Iris (one of the surprises I discovered beneath the piles of brambles we cleared when we arrived). Taking time to look at the small detail at ground level when you start to clear away the dead plant matter, it's amazing what life goes on behind the scenes as it were - do take time to enjoy this side of your gardens too - all this small detail is what supports a successful garden - without all these little insects beavering away in the background many of our gardens would not look the way they do and a great many of the small mammals and birds that inhabit our gardens would cease to survive.... think of all those juicy green caterpillars which the little Blue Tit relies on to feed it's hungry broods in the Spring - this alone is just one example!

It's so easy to focus on the big blooms and all the lovely birds but this little chap gets a bit overlooked ... so thought he deserved a posting all of his own.....

Oh, I just wanted to mention - very exciting after all the chat about Goldcrests being stranded in Norway - I did actually spot the first one of the season searching for food in our large Box Shrub on the edge of the woodland... what are other people's experiences so far?

Enjoy your week...

Thursday 12 November 2009

I do hope it stops raining soon....

I can't believe that I've just written that but it has just been SO wet this last 2 weeks - we've had the odd dry day here, but the garden and woodland are just a soggy mess and it's making it really difficult to do much outside which if I'm honest has really been getting to me... I'm one of these people who just likes to have things a bit more organised before the end of the year - that way if bad weather arrives in the New Year I can take that time to properly chill out and relax! Looks as if I'm going to just have to make the most of this situation and focus on the beautiful autumn colours we have - I most enjoyed these during the one sunny day that we had on Monday this week.
There's still an amazing amount of things in flower for this time of year and still the odd bee and butterfly around too... these were the last sightings of butterflies I had this week before the storms arrived in yesterday - a beautiful Speckled Wood, a Red Admiral and a picture of a picture of a Clouded Yellow (not easy to photo as they never seem to keep still for a minute!).
Plants out in our garden include Borage, Verbena Bonariensis, Campanula not to forget copious amounts of Ivy which keeps flowering the longest and was recently mentioned in the BBC's Autumnwatch as a real must for a wildlife garden!
The weather despite being very wet has been surprisingly mild to date with only a few frosts in October and since then it's been well above freezing... I'm sure cold crispy and sunny mornings have to arrive soon....
During the last weekend of October I finally got around to putting up the new bird table I got for Christmas last year - I must admit it has been fabulous during this wet weather in particular - it's on a metal pole which is great for keeping cats away, it has a wooden surround to the table and a fine mesh table which keeps the bird food from getting like a mush in this weather as the rain water drains away immediately... it's available from C J Wildlife in case you're interested. As most fellow bloggers have reported there has been a speedy arrival of many of the birds that have been missing from the garden during the summer months - I counted 5 thrushes alone one day which was really exciting!

These were two of the first brave visitors to the new table - please forgive the rather dark pictures as it was infact raining!

It's worth taking a wander round your garden at this time of year to check out any gaps you have in planting or just looking to see what could best be added for the coming year... it's invaluable to provide plants which will give birds and other wildlife a good supply of food - Cotoneaster is a really good one for this time of year - some fabulous berries and then the blossom in the spring time is great for the bees! We've also had some late raspberries this year which I'm sure the birds have been tucking into as they have been slowly disappearing over the last while. The other very popular food source this year has been the dying heads of the sunflowers which I grew - the Greenfinches in particular have enjoyed these - the photo of this isn't great as it's taken from an upstairs window but at least gives you an idea....

By request I've attempted to photograph our hedgehog nest in the flower bed which has proved very difficult and not easy to see from the photo - but here it is... best to click on it to blow up the size a bit!

Finally are a couple of pictures of the back garden during a dry moment - looking over towards the woodland... Here's wishing you a lovely weekend ahead.