Rillington Open Gardens: The Pond Post

Evening all. Last week I promised to make another post of Rillington Open Gardens, this time dedicated to the Koi ponds of the village. Here, as promised, are a selection of the best ponds Rillington has to offer! (I am amazed I’ve managed to actually keep a promise!)


First of all, this is a picture of the fish in our pond. I think my father got a little carried away with the size of his fish pond, and thus it is rather green… however we have a lot of pretty koi in various shapes and sizes and colours!


The pond is sort of a lightbulb shape, with the shallow narrow end in the above picture, and the fish in the larger much deeper end. Dad has started to populate the shallow end with plants, many of which are now home to the cases of dragonflies, hatched or in the process of emerging. In the background you can see father’s pond shed, which I think is in a different league to the bog standard ‘man shed’.


This is the pond from the first garden we went to. The lady said they had one solitary goldfish, which was sneakily hiding out of shot in this picture.


Here are some lovely koi. I find it quite hard to take photos of fish as they always look flat and not quite right in the picture. This was a long pond with a waterfall feature at one end and lots of floating lily pads, as you can see. It was quite nice, but rather impersonal and featureless. I quite like how our fish can loom out of the gloom, especially Skeletor. I’ll have to see if I can get a good photo of him.


This is the waterfall feature of the pond above. It’s a shame that the wall will always be damp because of it, but it was pretty cool.


I think this pond was ruined by the wire, presumably to keep Mr Heron off the pond. But I liked how it was blanketed by wilderness all around: it was more like a hidden surprise, which put me in mind of stumbling across a beck or brook out in the woods… I think I have something nymph-like repressed somewhere inside.


Obviously, this isn’t a pond! This was a fancy water feature which the lady said they had had installed for about two years. The planters around it were home to their herb garden.


This is more like my kind of pond: a bit of green, and a varied bit of green, with fish happily swimming around in the bottom.


Now this was my favourite! This rather sneaky surprise was in a deceptive back garden. One half of the garden was fairly typical (if a plunge pool in a polytunnel can ever be called typical!) until you walked past one greenhouse and realised you could get to another garden. It turned out this couple owned most of next door’s garden as well, and in it they had this wonderful pond!


I am stood on one bridge, looking down into one of the two ponds.


I loved this pond! There is something romantic about a little bridge across a pond. I loved the fact that it was hidden. Definitely more than meets the eye!


And a final pond, with a lot of happy swimming fish. My favourites are the white ones with red heads and black spots on their backs.

Currently Father is having a fair bit of work done to his pond – I’m not quite sure what, to be perfectly honest; a big green wheelie bin arrived one day which I was informed was not a wheelie bin at all but in fact a sieve, and not the kind you sieve flour into; then a digger arrived another day and a great trench was dug and pipes put in from the filter in the pond shed to the pond itself. I will get around to posting pictures of the pond’s evolution one day!

But that’s two blog posts in one day. Whoaaaah, hold up – let’s not get carried away now!


The Raised Bed Diaries #11 – Fruits of My Labours

After an extended absence, obviously much will have changed on my plots! Last week I uploaded pictures of the two raised beds themselves, and how they have been growing over time. But I don’t just have the two beds, and things are flourishing elsewhere.


IMG_1479It’s not the best picture in the world, but this is one of my courgettes. This photo was about two weeks ago, so they are steadily growing and darkening in colour. The flowers are lovely and yellow once they open up.

IMG_1586Here i one about a week later. Most are coming quite dark and look great!

IMG_1585Now these two are in a pot. The other courgettes are (as you can tell) in grow bags, and the general size of the plant is twice as big as this one. Unfortunately I lost one of these courgettes today! It was beginning to rot, leading me to believe I’ve been overwatering them.

The Grow Bags



These are three of my five runner beans. The other two are in pots. (You can see the potted courgettes to the left and the monster grow bag courgettes to the right.) The runner bean on the left is a monster and is growing a couple of inches a day: he’s already well over two metres high. The one in the middle isn’t doing quite so well, but he’s giving it a go, bless him. They have lovely red flowers and I’m dead excited about them flowering.


These are my monster courgettes! They have huge leaves and they do have big yellow flowers but I took these pictures late on after coming back from work so they had closed up. I am very excited about having a glut of courgettes! I like them grilled or stir fried with a bit of garlic, oil and salt. Yum!


I have a lot of tomato plants. These are outside, and aren’t as impressive as the six in the tomato greenhouse, but they are do very well nonetheless. They have flowers on them, so fingers crossed! I’ve cut the lower leaves off as my RHS book instructs, but they are starting to look alarmingly bushy around the top.




This is my strawberry plant – or rather, these are my three strawberry plants. One is rife with fruit, one has a couple on it, and one has nothing whatsoever on it. You can see the big strawberry to the fore of the planter…

IMG_1589Here he is a couple of days later! Luscious and red! I ate him today and he was absolutely divine – so much sweeter than the watery stuff you get in punnets from the supermarket. I think next year I would like to properly plant out a row of strawberry plants and see how I go with that.

And finally…

Behind my beds is a bit of open space, though crowded with trees. My big plan was to dig this all up (it was formerly where I kept my muck heap and spare topsoil from doing the beds), dig in the manure, and then cover with top soil, ready for my broccolis, squashes and cauliflowers. I am a bit of a weakling, and so had to spread this over two or three mornings, but… I did it!

IMG_1508Here are my six broccolis, with the main heads snipped off to encourage the side-shoots, and my two squashes. The squash on the right was almost a goner… when I transferred him from his little tub into a slightly bigger pot, I thought I snapped his stalk, and he didn’t look great for a while – I had to bury him quite deep and prop him up with a lot of soil. But look at him now! I also have a third one that I sowed, thinking that I’d killed one. They have some flowers coming on them, so they should be flowering soon.






Rillington Open Gardens

This weekend it was our village Open Gardens event. All week Mum and Dad were busy preparing the garden, which is quite a task when you see how much lawn we have; but not only with mowing and pruning and planting, but also with trying to make a story for people to read. We’ve been living in this house for nearly two years now, and many people in the village knew it from the overgrown junglelike wilderness it was in 2011; others who walk their dogs past our garden every day didn’t know the full scale of the house and gardens we had, hidden behind the huge trees. Dad spent ages picking out photographs that he wanted to show people, then we had no printer paper, and then the printer wouldn’t work, and it was all very stressful.

For my vegetable plots, I thinned out some of my later sowings of turnips, lettuces and chard to try and get some attractive rows in. I also then spent a long time digging up a patch of earth to the rear of my beds where I wanted to plant out my broccolis (long overdue) and squashes. I had some well rotted manure left over from the beds, so I dug that in and covered with topsoil – it sounds really simple to write it like that, but it certainly wasn’t! I was exhausted from it, but at least now my squashes and broccolis are out.

My computer also is underlining ‘broccolis’ as if they’re spelled wrong… (it also didn’t like ‘spelt’) – what is the plural of broccoli?

I took my Nana round the Open Gardens on Sunday and we had a lovely day. The black clouds threatened rain but it held off. It was really good to see what other people have established in their vegetable gardens, what I have that is as good, or what I’ve got that is nothing even comparable to them. A lot of people had much bigger courgettes than me (mine are only just starting and are barely two inches long), and there were a lot of tomatoes coming. It was also really useful to see what sort of pest-control they have in place: netting, frames, scarers.

Here are a few photos from the weekend! I think I may have to make a Koi Pond Special post, as I took lots of pictures of ponds…


A well established vegetable patch here! I think my courgettes are about comparable to these – mine maybe don’t have as many flowers open yet, but they are there!


I love this part of this garden (the same as above, if I remember rightly); Nana and I both loved the use of logs to make a little snug.



Serious greenhouse envy here! Another good part of this weekend was to identify competition in the Village Show…look at the tomatoes! Mine aren’t anywhere near as big in their mini greenhouse, and they have flowers at the moment, but no fruit.


This is major cold frame envy. Look at those lettuces! Don’t they just look beautiful? Nana has a cold frame for me that needs a little bit of TLC, so seeing this one has inspired me to go get it – I just need time, and Dad’s truck!


Another really well established garden. My beetroot is certainly of a comparable size, though I think I planted mine far too close together! Look at the size of things though! I think this family will have lots of homegrown treats! And they have a huge netted frame that goes over the entire plot, which will keep the rabbits and birds off – and the cats, too…


Peas! I haven’t got any peas in at all, though I do have some mangetout (the infamous most have died, except the two on the end which are beasts) which we sampled a bit for tea the other night – it was lovely! Notice the sturdy frame. Apologies for the thumb in the corner of the shot – and you get a nice glimpse of Nana’s expensive skirt!


I had to take a photo of the scarer! Isn’t he grand? The back panels were of a shiny sort of speckled metal, like a disco ball.


It is my dream to have a proper greenhouse – half brick, half glass, just like this one. They advertise beautiful ones in my Kitchen Garden magazine. I had major greenhouse envy at the weekend: not many didn’t have a greenhouse at all. I don’t think any had a cloche from Morrisons and a tomato house from Wilko’s though!


And finally, I couldn’t resist this! Apparently this was in the garden with the hot tub, which both Nana and I missed. We argued with Dad for ages about it. But I just love this idea! Handy way of using up all those old lorry or tractor tyres you have lying around…

I’ve also figured out how to centre-align my pictures, go me! Anyway, sorry for my significant absence: I’ve been working on the first chapter of my dissertation, and it is the busiest time of the year for us at work, before the centres open. Plus it’s now the busiest time in the garden! But I got up early to put up this post, so please enjoy, and keep an eye out for the Koi Pond Special!

Washing 3 months’ worth of muck…


So, we got back from Germany, what? April time? Months and months ago? It’s nearly the end of June now, and Dickie returned from Hull – and went straight into the garage! I’ve been meaning and meaning to wash him, but I’ve been so busy with uni and work and my garden, and then every day I’ve had a spare hour Dad’s said it’s been too hot to wash him… I’ve managed to wash the Seat, but that gets a bit more use than poor unloved Dickie…

Obviously, it had been niggling at the back of Father’s mind, as after he washed his (two!) Subarus, he decided he couldn’t do two thirds of a job, and so washed Dickie too! Here is photographic evidence! And he used my pink bucket!

IMG_1504He looks loads better, thank you Daddy!

What do you guys think? The stickers on the spoiler and bumpers need taking off (he has nothing Prodrive on him…) When I first got him, he had the Subaru swooshes all over him. Should he be totally left destickered, or should I get him a new sticker set? I don’t think go-faster stripes really will work… maybe if I put the go-faster stripes on me??


The Raised Bed Diaries – An Extended Absence

It’s been a while! I apologize unreservedly, but you know, I have essays to write… work to do… and while I have been in my garden, and have been taking photos, this has failed to translate into any blog posts!

I can’t even remember what my last blog post was. However I’m sure the beds have changed quite drastically…

IMG_1481 IMG_1482

On the left, I have, from front to back, garlic and the invisible asparagus, then two rows of late onions sown from bulb, then a line of kale that has just started sprouting, and a few little plants of radish that I grew in the cloche. My spinach has escalated out of control and desperately needs chucking in a pan with some butter and wilting down. I’ve had some strange problems with my mangetout: I have two very fine plants either end, and then in the middle, a load of dead or dying specimens! Not quite sure what’s gone on there. Then behind them I have my rows of onions which are surely not far off now.

On the right, from front to back, I have two rows of carrots, which I began to thin out possibly a bit prematurely, so am hanging fire with those; then I have a row of Swiss chard which seems to be coming up nicely, then I have sown another line of onions from bulbs, and a new sowing of rhubarb chard. Beyond that I have some Cos lettuces which are coming up rather nicely to the right of the bed and rather not at all to the left; the same is true for the turnips behind, which I don’t seem to be so lucky with; however I have about fifteen little cauliflowers all coming up grand behind them. Finally I have four rows of beastly beetroots, but I pulled one up and it was about the size of a ten pence piece and a similar sort of depth.

It is our local Horticultural Society’s Open Gardens this weekend, so must get my beds sorted and in tip-top shape!

I will continue (I hope) to post more. Ta ta for now!