Archive for April, 2009

Around the garden at the end of April

Just a few photos from around the garden earlier this evening.

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img_2286-largeSomeones been at my Bean leaves – Search lights, gun nests and barb wire will be installed this weekend !

img_2259-large1Sunflower seeds I sowed the other week, growing on the kitchen window sill. I’ll be planting them out soon.

img_2285-largeRosie

img_0194-largeSmokey

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A barrel of fun.

Curstie’s parents came round for a visit this morning and asked if we wanted to visit a new garden centre which apparently has a particular  good aquatics section. Sold !

Last year we brought a half wooden barrel with the idea of using it as a mini pond. We had some success but later into the summer months, without a pump installed to aerate  the water, it soon became a little swamp.

This year we were determined to try again with a pump installed this time. The outdoor electrics for the main pond are nowhere near the barrel so we thought we’d try a solar powered.  We didn’t need anything too fancy, just something to add a little air occasionally.

The garden centre certainly did have a very good selection of aquatics and we picked out a few new plants.

bog-arumBog Arum

iris-vericolorAmerican Water Iris

water-forget-me-notWe brought a white variety of ‘Forget-me-not’ for the mini pond and the pictured blue type for the main pond.

zebra-rushZebra Rush

After a bite to eat, Curstie found a suitable solar powered mini pump whilst I picked some Aqua Compost and a hanging bird bath.

Back home, I emptied the barrel of bricks used as planting shelves, emptied the water and gave the insides a good scrub. I’ve read that it’s best to use a pond liner  but to be honest I’ve never bothered – Seems watertight without one.

The pump is quite small, about two inch high and is supplied with two height extensions bring it to about 6″ in total. Because of the small size, it needs to be raised to a level just just under the water surface. I positioned it on one of the brick shelves but it didn’t look quite right off to one side. I have a miniature Lillie growing from the middle so we couldn’t place a brick there.

A coffee later and good think – bingo, we came up with a solution. I secured the pump to a cane using an elastic band and slotted the bottom end  into the Lillie basket. It seems to work o.k and now the pump is in the middle.

Here’s the finished mini pond

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…and here’s a close-up of the mini pump – complete with cane ! The flat bit at the bottom is the mini filter.

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The Solar panel is attached to the pump using a 3m cable so I was able to position it south facing were it should get plenty of sun.

img_2273-largeThe water marks are there because I forgot I’d put the solar panel there and watered the garden !

img_2262-largeOnce everything starts to grow, I think this should look quite nice. Anything gets too big and I’ll move them into our main pond.

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Busy Sunday afternoon in the Garden

After the gentle start to this morning, we thought we’d spend the afternoon in the garden. The weather didn’t look too promising earlier but after lunch, not a cloud in sight- perfect gardening weather, not to cold, not to warm.

We planted rows of carrots, red/white onion sets, beetroot and radish in the veggie beds and I was tempted to plant out the peas, beans, courgettes and sweetcorn but I think I’ll delay this a little bit longer until the likelihood of frost is gone.

I’ve also potted on most of the Tomatoes as they were starting to get a little to big for the seed trays.  I seem to have a bit of a glut though so I’ll be passing some on to parents, in-laws and friends.

Both ‘Money Makers’ and ‘Roma’ varieties are coming along quite nicely.

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img_2248-largeTomatoes, Cucumbers and Courgettes

img_2247-largeRunner beans I sowed a few weeks ago.

img_2249-largeTime for a soak, it was 30c in the Greenhouse – going to have to watch this in Summer!

I was running low on compost, so a quick trip out was needed. I’m a sucker for  store special offers –  I came home with x30 more 5″ pots, x3 2ft planters, canes, tie-wraps, two more solar ‘rock’ lights for the pond & x50 mixed summer bulbs!

In the pack of bulb, my favorite has to be the Acidentra. I’ve but a few of these around the back edge of the pond where I’m hoping they compliment the dark  shades of green foliage.

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Next up are Freesias which I love to photograph (see Mar 22nd post). White, purple, blues and yellows are my favourite so I’m hoping this mixed bag contains plenty of each. freesia

The rest of the pack contained Gladiolus, mixed Anemone and Dahlias (Park Princess) which I’ll dot around the garden successively over the next few weeks for late summer colour.

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Fake Tilt-Shift Photography

I was reading an article on the Internet yesterday evening about tilt-shift photography and how the effect could be faked with photoshop.

‘Tilt-Shift miniature faking is a creative technique whereby a photograph of a life-size location or object is manipulated to give an optical illusion of a photograph of a miniature scale model’

Here’s an example taken from the web by by flickr member: etrusia_uk

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…and here’s a few examples that I experimented with.

Shot taken this morning from a multistory car park whilst in town picking up more gardening supplies.

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A corner of my study taken whilst standing on a chair. I really like my ‘minature’ guitar.

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Our living room in miniature.

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Taken last week at Monsal Dale.

img_2135_tiltshift-largeTaken last week at Monsal Dale

2008-10-27_0184_ts-largeTaken at last years Sherwood Pines Rally.

I don’t think I’ve got the hang of it yet, but I’m certainly going to keep trying.

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Easter Sunday morning stroll.

After an early breakfast we decided to visit Rufford Abbey Country Park, one of our favorite local parks.

Rufford is located 17 miles north of Nottingham and once formed part of a 12th century Cistercian abbey and its estate. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the land and buildings began a slow transformation into a country house estate, owned first by the Talbot and later the Savile families

After a long history, the estate was officially designated a country park by the Nottingham County Council in 1956.

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The open air baths were converted into an Orangery around 1889. The roof lines are still visible on the walls.

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I don’t know what these are but they smelled fantastic, the bee’s were certainly having a good time.

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The formal gardens contained many sculptures using a variety of materials.

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We continued our walk through the woods and along side the lakes watching the birds and squirrels dart about. It was so peaceful at this time of morning.

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At the opposite side of the estate sits the Lake Side Garden shop and Tea room. We browsed the various plants on sale and grabbed a much needed coffee.

A crowd of children and parents had gathered close to one of the small roads that intersect the estate. The children were cheering and occasionally booing at the cars passed by.

Here’s why!

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We worked our way back to the Abbey along the central path called Broad Ride, stopping on the way to look at the one the estates Ice Houses – a forerunner to the domestic fridge which was introduced into Britain around the 1660s. We rejoined Queen Mother’s walk, admiring the topiary and headed for the Abbey ruins.

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I couldn’t stop thinking that this would be a great place to set up a home theatre system!

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We look forward to visiting Rufford again later in the summer but for now it was time to go home…we so ready for lunch!

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Monsal Dale – Derbyshire

We woke up very early this morning and despite the showers dug out our walking boots, packed a picnic and drove out into the Derbyshire peak district.

We headed for the Monsal Trail, which runs for eight and a half mile east of Buxton to the south east of Bakewell (tart anyone?).  It winds through the limestone Wye valley and our destination was the local landmark Headstone Viaduct at Monsal Dale.

The view at Monsal Head is fantastic, a busy tourist spot but on a morning like today we had the whole place to ourselves.

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The slippery slope down to the valley floor was certainly a challenge, I’m glad we wore our boots instead of trail shoes. I had visions of slipping and falling on to my camera:-(

We walked alongside the river bed stopping periodically to watch Wagtails, Bluetits, Jays and Pippits darting around. It’s still quite early in the year for many of the plants but the Marsh Marigolds had started to flower. I not sure what this is below but it was stunning en mass.

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Continuing along the river Wye we could hear the sounds of the waterfall approaching which marks our favorite spot on the whole trail. The Weir has been photographed many times before and I was looking forward to trying out my 450d this year. Curstie was quite happy to tuck into an early lunch whilst I climbed down the steep river banks with my gear and onto the even slippier river bed below.

After reading an article in Digital Photo magazine I thought I’d have ago at long exposures. I don’t have an ND filter yet so I had to use a shutter speed of around 1/4th sec so as not to burn out the highlights.

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img_2094-largeMy rucksack taking a well deserved break. It’s starting to rack up some miles now.

After lunch, the clouds were getting darker so we decided to head back to the viaduct and climb back up the valley wall.

img_2120-largeHeadstone Viaduct built in 1863.

All in all, a fantastic morning walk.

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Busy Easter weekend ahead…hope it’s dry!

The weather forecast isn’t looking promising for the Easter weekend, let’s hope the weatherman/desktop gadget is wrong!  If it’s not to wet, we’re hoping to get out into the Derbyshire Dales.

Here’s my job list –

  • Plant out the onion sets, spring onions, second early  potatoes, snap peas, various salad leaves, radish, leeks, cauliflower, carrots (main crop).
  • Continue sowing  indoors – sweetcorn, runner and french beans, peppers, tomatoes, chillies as  a variety of herbs. So far, the crops/flowers I sowed inside two weeks ago are looking fantastic.
  • Lift and divide the water Lillie’s in the pond as some of them are outgrowing their pots.
  • Plant out the various summer bulbs I brought last week.
  • Set out the canes for the climbing veg.
  • Usual bit of weeding and tidying up around the garden.
  • Finish off tidying the garage…i still haven’t sorted it since erecting the new storage racking.
  • Visit my Brother and family as my nephew celebrates his first birthday
  • Finish off a little bit of work, at work, although I  can do most of it at home via VPN connection.
  • Finish off building the HTPC – Curstie wants to get her mitts on it therefore we might have a test run this evening:-)
  • Visit Derbyshire (thinking Monsal Dale)
  • Eat lots of Hot Cross Buns and Easter Eggs!

The Internet is awash with news that Microsoft might be releasing a release candidate of Windows 7 on 10th April, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out.

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