The gardens at Pear Tree Cottage sit in a cider apple orchard in the green and rolling countryside of Worcestershire, England. It enjoys a sunny south westerly aspect with sweeping views across to Martley Hillside, Woodbury & Abberley clock tower. The Teme Valley lies just over the hill and, not far away, is the Herefordshire border. Although our climate is temperate, our seasons are often uncertain and always a challenge to a gardener!

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12 April 2019

Chicken Chat

Tosca
It's been a while since we looked at output so I've just checked our winter statistics.  Bear in mind that Wilhelmina wasn't laying before she died on 31st March so these stats are from 4 chickens.  As the number of daylight hours increase so does egg production.




Month
October
November
December
January
February
March
TOTAL


Number of Eggs
75
51
44
60
57
73
360


Sales £
8
9.25
6
4
6
10
£43.25



All sales profits go to buying mixed corn, layers pellets and layers mash.  To date no one has worked out exact feed figures but I reckon that in 6 months they've consumed approx 3 bags @ c. £7.50 each.  It's a definite profit which, for short and dark winter days is excellent!  Being such spoilt girls, as well as their usual grit and oyster shell, they are given LOTS of other treats on the side in the way of  fresh fruit, green vegetables, lawn clippings through which they love to scratch.  At intervals, they are also allowed out of their own Bamboo garden to go on slug patrol around the garden.  

We miss Wilhelmina's whiter than white eggs! R.I.P!

9 April 2019

Garden Piano?

Back to the piano! OK a Steinway it isn't! A neighbour down the lane was giving away an old upright and even though I don't play, I've always lived in a house with a piano.  Anyway, thanks to more coincidences than I have time to mention here, it landed in the Pear Hut thanks to Ian (and his unexpected hired van) and both Chris's only one of whom was actually expected.  A tuner is booked for Thursday and in the meantime I removed all panels and as much mildew and dust as I possibly could.  Not a five minute job with a toothbrush between all the hammer levers!  Hopefully if the tuner can do anything at all, they'll be fewer complaints from one's son when he comes home and we'll have a playable piano in the garden. Watch this space!

One thing we never ever have in this garden is a dull moment!!  Soiree anyone??

Moving & Staking!

As well as moving pianos into the Pear Hut(!), real garden work continued in the form of moving Paeonies, Lychnis and a Euonymous in the Lower Border. Things look a little more artistically and evenly spaced as well as affording the Paeonies more direct sunshine - which should mean more flowers! This year, and unusually for us,  we're totally on top of staking and most if not all is done.  

We also moved a small Malus which had had its leader broken in last year's snow. I've decided to grow it on as an espalier along Nutberry Noak fence.

As Chris had strimmed some edges, a quick race round with the lawn mower before we finished and time for drinkies!



31 March 2019

Farewell Wilhelmina


Today we are down to 4 chickens. Sadly Wilhelmina said goodbye to the world. Something was obviously wrong and, after being examined and placed down gently, she suddenly and unexpectedly just keeled over. All's well with the remaining 4 and they are all laying well.

Wilhelmina enjoyed a busy life of luxury and, up until last September, she had laid the most number of eggs. Sometimes, things go wrong with even the most spoiled chickens!

UPDATE: The following day, the Under Gardener performed an autopsy and found poor Wilhelmina had a massive tumour (the size of a large lemon) near her bladder.  At least we now have an explanation for her demise. Given the size of the tumour, I'm amazed that she was able to eat and function as well and, for as long, as she did.

(Maybe I should point out that those are petals on the ground beside her and definitely NOT feathers!)

Wilhelmina R.I.P.



26 March 2019

Spring Garden Work

The Top Lawn

Thank goodness, the gales and squalls have stopped!  Whilst enjoying the cool sunshine, there's been much, mowing, edging, weeding and tidying.  Chris has even finished emptying the compost bay and our under gardener turned out to creosote the inside before last year's accumulation is turned over and into the empty bay.

Looking unusually tidy for March!
The Magnolia is in full bloom and the Woodland Border is full of colour from Narcissus, Hellebores, Euphorbias, Anemones, Pulmonarias and Epimediums with Lilies-of-the Valley next in line.

Thanks to the warm February, never have we been this far ahead!

18 March 2019

The Great Azorean Experiment - Fumigation Phase II

5 minutes after lighting the fire
10am the following morning & all clear.

Having found an infestation of greenfly in the greenhouse; I put phase II of my fumigation smoke experiment into action.  Again I burnt some damp leaves in a handy little brazier inside the greenhouse with both doors and all windows closed.  This time, instead of an hour, I left a totally smoke filled greenhouse overnight. 

When I say totally smoke filled, I mean it! Visibility was down to 9" so I definitely couldn't see what was happening through the dense and choking smoke but, by morning, all was clear and I swept up the ashes.  All plants are completely unharmed by this long exposure to such dense smoke.  From now on, I shall be keeping a very close eye on pests.


Having scoured the internet, I have been unable to find any information on doing this anywhere at all. As I explained in my earlier post, this is a method of fumigation used by the Head Gardener in charge of pineapple cultivation in the Azores. There, they burnt the dead pineapple leaves inside the houses to kill pests.  Unfortunately, the language barrier meant I couldn't ask many questions and I wonder how frequently this is done. If anyone has any information on this practice, I'd be absolutely delighted to hear.  If successful, it has to be better than fumigating with chemicals so noxious that all plant material needs to be removed!

9 March 2019

Getting Blown Away!

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb!!!
Despite GALE force conditions, we battled on with a long list of jobs. First up was planting 3 crowns of rhubarb down in Nutberry Noak. We planted a Timperley Early, A Champagne and a Glaskins Perpetual. I mustn't be tempted to try any until next year when it's better established. We only have a single rhubarb forcer - do I need 2 more???

We now have gooseberries, black currants, red currants, raspberries an apple and a cob nut down there.  All pruned and mulched and looking very smart.

A rather chic looking Lyrenal
Other jobs included pollarding 3 Snake Bark maples (to improve kitchen sink views) and digging out, tidying and mulching the top lawn border and digging out masses of ivy from beneath the Spireas.  

The day ended with Chris giving Lyrenal a new coiffure!!