Sunday, 28 October 2018

Yucca Gloriosa in flower ....

We have three variegated 'Spanish Dagger' plants (Yucca Gloriosa) in the garden, two of which we bought quite small and planted in the ground five or so years ago, and a third that self-spawned from one of those two originals. 

This third plant just appeared above ground one day next to its parent, around three years ago, and after a while we lifted it and potted it on (where it's doing well, and it actually seems to be giving birth to a fourth plant judging from a small side shoot forming at the edge of its pot).

From the growth rate of this third plant, and the size it is now compared to the originals at the time we bought them, I'd say the big two must be around 8 years old.   

The mature plants issue many new leaves from their centres each year, and as the lower leaves fold outwards and trail below the horizontal I usually first cut them with a sharp knife and then pull them off the plant completely, which forms an ever increasing height of 'trunk' on the plant as it grows into a more tree-like form.  

The broad leaf edges are very sharp, and there's also a needle point on the end, so their common name is very apt - they can be quite dangerous to be near and to handle, so they're maybe not suitable plants if you've young children. 

Anyway, this year, and obviously spurred on by a warmer summer, one of them has flowered !

We've seen it's quite a slow process for the yucca to come into flower.  We first noticed a spike rising from the centre around the beginning of August, which gradually lengthened and thickened while developing large red buds which remained tightly folded against the stem.

25-Aug-18, flower spike clearly visible

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Madeira ...

We've just returned from a holiday on the island of Madeira, which is a place we'd never visited before. 

As keen gardeners, we'd heard about its ideal conditions for growing just about anything, and so we came here to see for ourselves and also maybe to identify another potential location for our longer winter breaks in the future.

Madeira's quite upmarket compared to some of the holiday destinations we've visited.  There's not much in the way of sandy beaches, and access to the sea can be difficult to find since there are high cliffs around much of the coastline.  And there's a lot of steep hills to negotiate if you're on foot, so some form of motorised transport is a must if you want to explore places off the beaten track.

There's an extensive modern road system linking the major settlements via dual-carriageways with long tunnels and bridges to cut through the mountains and cross the deep valleys between, although we generally travelled more leisurely on the older roads which wind around the mountains with spectacular views but greatly extended journey times.

the Via Rapide from the Funchal botanical gardens

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Investment Review - September 2018

The year marches on - we're already past the equinox and heading into the gloom of winter, but I'm drafting this post from a ninth-floor hotel balcony overlooking the sea so it still feels very much like summer at the moment.
Here's the combined portfolio update as of the last working day In September :-

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Building a Pergola - or three ....

At our previous house, we had a rambling rose which ran along the entire length of the garden fence, and produced a profusion of snowy white flowers in the summer.  It was really spectacular and we'd like to grow something similar here.

To support such vigorous plants, I looked around the garden centres and websites for a strong pergola.   However, whatever I bought would have been delivered as a flatpack and so I'd still have had to assemble it and then fix it into the ground myself.  

So I reckoned I could design, construct and erect one myself easily enough.   But when I went out with the tape measure to survey a suitable location, I thought I'd make two of them.   And when I looked again, I decided to add a third !

at the side of the driveway leading onto the lawn ...

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Garden Gate Repair ... and new Fence

We built this gate when we first moved in here seven years ago.   At the time, half of the front aspect of the house was open and we wanted something to close it off, so we planted the cherry laurel hedge to one side and constructed the gate ourselves from timber.  

It's quite long, at 3.6 metres between the posts, hence the sprung support wheel at the 2/3 point.  

the original gate ...

This gate was lashed up quickly and intended only as a temporary measure, but of course these things have a habit of becoming permanent.   It's been re-painted every couple of years, using a different colour each time.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Stopping mice entering through the roof eaves ...

In the spring, we noticed gnawing marks on a piece of soap in the cupboard under the bathroom sink, and removing the bath panel revealed a few mouse droppings under the bath.

From the relatively small quantity, we'd luckily spotted the problem early.  We bought a few traps and had caught the first mouse within an hour, and five more over the next few days.  They were common house mice (Mus musculus).

One thing I couldn't figure out was how they were getting into the upstairs bathroom when there were no signs of them anywhere at ground level.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

A fruit salad - in pictures ..

Here's some pictures of the fruit growing in our garden - looks like it could be a bumper crop this year ...

first ever pears developing on our young trees - but only 10 in total !
apples, reliable as ever despite a very hard winter tree pruning ...
grapes developing, loads of bunches this year ...
blueberries fattening up, not yet ripening ....
blackcurrants, many ready for picking ...
it'll be a record crop from our cherry tree, almost ripe now ...
rhubarb, been cropping continuously since March ...
redcurrants - still a few weeks away ...
first raspberries just forming, they'll crop right through into autumn ...
strawberries, red & white varieties, eaten as soon as they ripen !

There are also two melon plants growing in the greenhouses, but they haven't yet produced any female flowers.

And our young plum, apricot and quince trees didn't produce any blossom this year.  Maybe we'll have something from them in 2019.