Sunday, 7 August 2011

Ducklings' Big Day Out and Getting Excited about Weeds!

Duckling Fun and Exciting Weeds!

It started out bright this morning - good drying for the washing - then clouded over briefly, so we ended up back inside, coffeeing with the friends who had been visiting. They had been hoping to see the ducklings making their first big splash, but the shower that arrived held up proceedings.

Not half an hour after friends left, the sun was back splitting the trees... DUCKLING PLAYTIME had arrived!

We had to close Joey, our drake, into his night run, as he was less than gentle with the babies on his first encounter, but it didn't deter them from heading straight for the pond.

Within 5 minutes, all nine ducklings were swimming, splashing and diving under the water having a fantastic time.

We allowed them about 15 minutes playtime in the pond then tried to get them back out again. I say 'tried' because they were equally adamant that they were staying in there for longer. It was a bit like having nine screaming kids refusing to come out of the bath!

Eventually, I'd to get the pond net and shepherd them all to the edge and make them get out, otherwise I think they'd have been there all day.

Afterwards, they lay preening and sunning themselves dry, with Phoebe duck looking on as if trying to work out which of the unruly mob was her offspring.

We had no problems getting them back into their own run, as they're such hungry little horaces that they go anywhere for food. Tonight, they had 'grown up' mixed corn with their crumbs, so I hope all this excitement hasn't been too much for them.

After another cuppa on the patio, I potted up some rosemary cuttings, taken from the supermarket 'whoopsie' sprigs I rooted last year. With any luck, all these cuttings will also root successfully and provide me with next year's potted herb garden for the front yard.

I now have a total of 20 assorted cuttings potted, but only one of these is the new grapefruit mint, which I snipped from another friend's plant when we were visiting on Wednesday after the show.

Then it was weeding time! Every day we try to fit in half an hour's weeding to try and catch up with everything, but several years of neglect while the house lay empty has taken its toll. Along the way, I pulled yet more rhubarb, which still seems as good as the first lot, so that's now peeled and chopped, ready for stewing.

Today, weeding became fun! I have been trying to source free cuttings, bulbs, seeds and spare plants by asking everyone I can think of, including our local LETS group. I have an idea for a colourful wild bird garden in the corner behind the old plum tree, which will then be cordoned off to protect it from the  marauding ducks. All that grew there this summer was a giant foxglove. It looked lovely, so it got left in the hope that I can get plenty more like it next year.

Back to weeding being fun; how can it possibly be fun? Well, here's a photo diary of today's weeding that turned into a plant foraging expedition. (I also checked out the elder and it is absolutely laden with berries.)

A PHOTO DIARY OF TODAY'S WEEDING

 Down by the stream, I found quite a few plants growing, most are probably wild varieties.

This area is also where we first discovered the Himalayan honeysuckle and is where I plan on planting some more willow. At the moment, most of the withies cut last winter are still in pots, but they have rooted and are growing.

I'm hoping that a fellow LETS member will soon be able to visit and give me some ideas about how to start implementing permaculture techniques. All of these wild type plants and flowers aren't simply weeds, they are growing where they like to grow for a reason, choosing their own positions in the garden.

The photo on right resembles some sort of mint, but doesn't smell of mint. It seems to like growing anywhere, even within the spate line along the bank of the stream.

This white one started growing in a hanging basket below one of our bird tables, so I have to assume that it's from seed out of the wildbird mix. I transferred it into a pot on its own and it's now about 60cm high, has red stems, red leaf veins and clusters of very pale pink flowers. The leaves slightly resemble those of bindweed - another plant that I love. I used to have an archway covered in it in a previous garden. (Despite it growing like wildfire, it was fairly easy to maintain and much easier to trim than ivy, which ever puts on a brilliant white floral display.)

This next one is growing absolutely everywhere, in the borders, through the lawn, through the gravel, it seems to have no preference to shade or direct sun and it has a very pretty heather-like purple flower. It also resemles some sort of mint, but a quick search suggests it may be Bugle weed of some description. Whatever it is, I have transplanted some into a pot to see how it does. Where this grows, there also seems to be plenty of tiny forget-me-nots, so I have potted up some of those, too.

Another of my favourites are the giant daisies. Until this one flowered by the side of the pond, I had no idea what it was. Now that I do know, all those weeds being pulled from between the gravel will br transplanted to the wild garden so I can have loads of daisies.

This yellow daisy wasn't growing here, it was given to me by a friend who had pulled it out of her garden. It has taken quite a few weeks to recover but it's now starting to flower.

Hoping to move some of the white daisies before they flower, so they can compliment the yellow one.

Again, I haven't got a clue what this lovely little purple flower is, but it is growing in abundance, mainly in the cooler, damper area near the stream. It seems to be a spreading, ground level plant, as it looks as thought it's creeping through a lot of the undergrowth at the bottom of the garden. There's a lot of ivy down there, plus an elder and some rhododendron, among other things.

Among the ivy, there is a mass of ground cover created by this red stemmed, variagated plant. It's growing in abundance in the shade of the trees, but I have taken a few cuttings and now have them in a jar on the window sill. Each stem nodule has what appears to be a tiny root, so it's definitely some sort of ground level creeper. The leaves resemble those of a geranium crossed with variagated mint. See what I mean? I haven't got a clue about flowers!

As for the weeding, well...

I got as far as potting up my weeds! Some I haven't photographed yet, as they were a bit sad and droopy after I retrieved them from my weed tub, but photos will be forthcoming as soon as these perk up in their pots.

Now I am hoping for good weather tomorrow so I can start transplanting a load of those daisies that are coming up everywhere. This is frugal flower gardening at it's best - why buy wild or cottage garden seeds when I have all of this on my own backdoor step. Plans for my wild garden are looking much, much brighter. In fact, I'm quite excited about the prospect, now that I know it won't cost me a penny.

Once I have taken some cuttings from each of the colours of honeysuckle and collected my lupin, sweet pea and foxglove seeds, these will all go towards making the front yard into a container garden and to planting up the wild garden in bird corner. In addition, a LETS member has just emailed me with a list of plants she has for me to collect on Thursday - it's quite a lengthy list! :)

Don't forget you can join us in the free Frugaldom forums HERE to see how my weed project progresses and please post a comment if you know what any of my weeds are called.

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