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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30 September 2016

Charming Chillies!




This week I 'ave bin mostly ...



...pickin', drying, 'n stringin' chillies!  The moral is: never to rub an itchy nose when handling Apache chillies!!!  Everyone knows you shouldn't but it's so very easy to forget - ahem!

I've been doing this as they ripen, thus you can see both dried and drying fruits. As well as being endlessly useful in the kitchen, they do look quite decorative. Somehow, I don't think we can eat all these and there's more to pick!

Hops - V - Noisy Kitchen Extractor Fans!

Fuggles hops & home dried flowers
Before the clean up!





















Last year's home grown hops were looking very sparse, tired and faded. A little late but, at last, I got around to replacing them.  I adore the smell of new hops and this variety is Fuggles (isn't that a great name?!)  This year I went to The Haven, Dilwyn in Herefordshire where a lovely lady helped me choose a bine, carefully wrap in a dust sheet and even carry it out to the car. If you're in need of hops, The Haven is well worth a visit.

Their use in the kitchen is more than just decorative. They absorb cooking odours really well. I know that with an Aga, there are no cooking smells but, a garland of hops has to be nicer than a loudly whirring kitchen extractor fan and, dare I say, 'greener' ?  Well, their colour does fade over the year.

Of course, there were hops E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E!  In my hair, stuck to my clothing all over the floor, the kitchen surfaces, trails of them from the back door and utility room but I just didn't care. I added some home dried Roses, Hydrangeas and Achilleas to fill out one end of the beam and, job done. It was huge fun and an equally HUGE mess. A good clear up followed and, the kitchen is now filled with the scent of hops! In a few days time when the scent fades, I'll spray them with hair lacquer to reduce petal fall but, until then, we're just enjoying them.

A Late Surprise

The surprise silver cup!
The winning basket of produce
It was a bit of a surprise to receive an email saying that I'd won a challenge cup and forgotten to pick it up. The thing is: I was (of course) working in the garden and it was one's Ever Loving Husband who kindly returned to the show - (for the fourth time that day!) to pick up all exhibits and prize cards. I was busy pruning the Wisteria with Chris and a silver cup had never crossed my mind so I didn't stay for the presentation of awards. However, allow me to present the Stoke Bliss Perpetual Silver Challenge cup for a basket of produce! Now then, with what should it be filled???

26 September 2016

EARLY BIRDS

A thrush in our old pear tree

The Fieldfares arrived here 2 weeks ago!! Now that's just amazingly early!! They fly in from Scandinavia and Russia and don't usually arrive here until well into October! Why are they so very early this year? Dare I ask: are we to expect a hard winter?? We love snow!

They arrive in big flocks and, as well as enjoying berries, they feast on fallen apples in the orchards that surround us. A flock of 25 or so have been enjoying Sorbus berries in the garden. Like redwings, they are a member of the thrush family and the likeness can easily be seen. The twitterings of these large flocks is a very welcome and distinctive sound.




Image result for fieldfares and red wings
A fieldfare - not taken by me

Rodent Repairs!



Dave & Jamie

A couple of weeks back, we had a major lights failure in the garden. For some inexplicable reason, the lights around the pond and the culvert failed so it was time to call in Dave of the famed DSM Electrical Installations. He and Jamie spent 3 evenings trying to find the fault - in the dark! After hours of puzzling, head scratching, worries about accidental damage, complex investigations and 'driver' changes, it turned out that a rodent had crept into the pipe and completely gnawed through a cable! The were teeth marks either side of the severed section.  This damaged section was under the grass midway between the pond and the culvert so could NOT have occurred in a worse spot. Luckily, Dave & Jamie were able to feed through replacement cable without the need to dig up a large area of turf! What makes plastic so attractive when there is fallen fruit for them to eat?

Tea (& chocolate cake) break!


'V' has to be for victory!





I couldn't resist taking this shot of Dave and playing around with some HDR effects!  All lights are now working again and, as the nights are beginning to draw in, their effects are appreciated more than ever.

Worcester News Article

Whoopsie! I forgot to share this on the blog:


Big-hearted couple raise nearly £1,500 for charity by opening their little country cottage garden to the public

  • Some of the 143 tea lights creating a magical twilight event
    Pear Tree cottage

It's an article about the money we've raised this year for the National Gardens Scheme. We couldn't do it all without all the help we have from friends who make delicious cakes, sell teas and slave away washing up in the kitchen! It does however mention Chris by name.

Wisteria Pruning


Wisteria curtains
Pruning a Wisteria doesn't sound much of a job does it?  In reality, this 'King' of climbers is a real thug.Whilst I'd never be without a Wisteria (or in our case, three!) they really need to be kept in check. Yes, I know we're a month late but even so, the long whippy side shoots had found time to push their way under the eaves and into the attics. They had forced their way between the opening window lights and also between down pipes and the wall. Some were 15 feet long. This is despite an earlier pruning around the dining room window which was so overgrown in a single season, the dining room was enjoying a wonderful green filtered light! As usual we thinned out the unwanted twining stems and cut back the side shoots to about 7 buds. We now have winter light in both the dining and sitting rooms ..................that is, until next year!


Before....
..and afterwards.

24 September 2016

Mellow Autumn Day

Jewel-like rose hips
Sedum


Autumn!  It's so nice to see the brilliant scarlets of the berries, hips and haws in the garden at this time of year - to say nothing of the brilliant red chilli peppers.  I've had 3 pickings and the results are being dried for use later on.  Also the Sedums in the borders are not only looking colourful but are covered in insects!
Cider apples in the surrounding orchards are being harvested and our own pears and apples are ripening well in the late autumn sunshine.

More sedums in the Lower Border

19 September 2016

Show Successes!

Basket of Produce
Foliage pot plant
Surprisingly, we managed a few successes at this year's annual show at Stoke Bliss.  The biggest triumph being first in the 'Basket of Produce' class.  In total we had 4 1sts, 2 2nds and 2 thirds. Chris was dragged along despite grumbles about little work getting done!  He even found time for an ice cream!  |As it's also the venue for ploughing competitions, it's always nice to see the vintage tractors working away and the real highlight is  to see horses ploughing.  The only thing wrong is seeing someone leading them from the front! More photos can be seen here:



A collection of herbs


Make mine a double!

16 September 2016

Win, Win, Win!



Achieved in 2016 just by opening the garden gate....
....and a bit of hard work!








This little garden - all alone in deepest rural Worcestershire has raised the grand total of £1450.17p for the National Garden Scheme this year.  They give to the caring charities and don't have huge numbers of executives on fat salaries unlike certain cancer charities we know!  Of course we couldn't possibly do this if it wasn't for a husband who gives me too much encouragement and help and Chris who does a zillion things including lighting 100's of candles (please save all your jam jars for next year!) and a band of dedicated and hardworking volunteers who give up their spare time to slave away making us cakes to sell, serving teas to visitors and washing up  for hours on end!

WELL DONE TEAM PTC!