Sunday, 1 December 2013


Things have been quiet of late (apologies); by late I mean the last six months and by quiet I mean near enough silent.  Deafeningly silent in fact.  Dead?  The blog, twitter, my facebook page and writing in general have all ground to a halt and I’ve been more than aware of this.  Let me explain.

At present I’m in limbo. Torn between two countries, between my home and what I’m reluctant to call my temporary home, with no real garden to speak of.  The sale of the original “Ryan’s Garden” and many new commitments have all led to me having fairly clean hands and very little to write about on the garden front.  

You see, I’m relocating.  Sounds a little exciting doesn’t it? No, I haven’t witnessed a major crime and I haven’t been put in to a witness protection programme, although the prospect seems like quite a thrill to be honest.  Sadly, it’s a little more mundane, although in reality it’s all part of the master plan to move to Salop and start a small smallholding (if there is such a thing?).  No matter how depressing my groans make it out to be it’s actually pretty amazing; it’s just I want everything now and such a big move takes time.  There are processes to follow and I’m not too good with that. 

The original plan was to simply blog about my then existing garden and allotment as I made the transition but this didn’t happen and life and other events took hold.  The move to my temporary home took a lot of time and effort, not to mention getting the animals settled.  The final nail in the coffin was returning to my allotment, mid-move, and at the point of harvest, to find that it had been dug over.  Devastated doesn’t come close and the little wind left in my sails at that point died in an instant. 

So what’s a boy with an eponymous garden blog to do with no real garden?  Well, I’m yet to discover that and I have little motivation to write with little or no inspiration but I’m hoping that writing this will help stir something up and get me going again.  One thing I do know though is that my next garden, which may not be all that far away, is sure to inspire and who knows, it may even mean a totally new blog?!  

Here’s looking forward to the new year!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Jewels in the sunlight

 Meconopsis cambrica 

It’s amazing how much of a difference a little sunshine can make and with the added warmth and blue skies the garden takes on a whole new feel and it was looking particularly glorious today.  Full of foliage and blooms the garden is thriving; not too bad considering I’ve done nothing bar a bit of pruning and a small tidy up.

Bejewelled with oranges, yellows, purples and interspersed with dashes of white the garden  looks clean and crisp. Here are a few of the blooms that I couldn’t do without.
Clematis 'Elsa Spath'
This large flowering Clematis climbs up the large Chaenomele at the top of the garden and is having a particularly good year.  It's currently covered in blooms most of which are far too high to photograph.  The contrast of the rusty obelisk and purple and green of 'Elsa Spath' work beautifully.
Polygantum x hybridium
I think if I were to pick a plant that I couldn't do without this could be it.  Understated and often overlooked Solomon's Seal, as it more commonly known, is a must have for me.  Clean foliage and pendulous white flowers tipped with green it really is divine and even better in the sun.  What's more - we have no sawfly this year!
Allium 'Purple Sensation'
I have a large drift of Alliums which add height and temporary structure in the garden.  These plants look great but they also really bring the garden to life, not only with their colour but by actually drawing in bees, butterflies, and other bugs, many of which provide endless entertainment and much needed natural pest control.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Blossom, Blooms & Buckets of Slugs

I finally feel as though the cobwebs of winter have been dusted off as there’s lush green growth all around and I have seeds bursting out all over the place, with many more still to sow (everything is late!).  Little is in its final position however and progress has been slow both in the garden and at the plot what with the increasingly long working hours; running your own business is actually a lot harder than I thought previously!  The past few weeks have been refreshing somewhat though as with the longer evenings and the temporary uplift in the typically dreary Welsh weather, we’re back to rain now, I have been able to get a lot more done.

The garden is looking full and green interspersed with the reds and pinks of apple blossom, peachy/orange of Quince, the blues and purples of bluebells and pulmonaria and sprinklings of white with alpine strawberries and Viburnum.  The Alliums are standing proud and tall and it looks as though we’re in for quite a treat!  That’s if the slugs and snails don’t eat everything first!  

When tidying up the garden a few weeks ago I noticed that my large clumps of Miscanthus ‘Yakushima Dwarf’ were harbouring slugs, snails and bugs abound.  Many writers and bloggers have noted how the cold and wet may have knocked population but in this garden I don’t think there has been much of an impact at all.  As anyone who has read this blog over the years may have noticed, the battle with slugs and snails is never ending, as I'm sure most are familiar with in their own gardens, and I’m always open to new suggestions on how to battle them effectively.  I recently came across an article from The Telegraph written by Toby Buckland, which shows his somewhat gruesome way of farming nematodes.  I’m not entirely convinced on this method but I’d be willing to hear if anyone has tried this or if there is any evidence to prove this right.  I may just stick with my current methods though.

In other news: 

  • Tulips have now replaced Daffodils on the hall table as the "in-season" bouquet.  
  • I’m very impressed with my new Fiskars secateurs – very sexy, comfortable to use and possibly a rival to my Felcos.  

Competition news:  

Friday, 10 May 2013

Ryan's Garden Spring Competition

Spring is here although it did get off to quite a slow start.  Right now it's taken a little step back what with the new wave of cold winds and heavy showers but is there hope for a sizzling June, July and August? 

Whether it’s a barbecue summer or a total washout, our friends at Subscription Save have your gardening needs covered.  The publishers of The English Garden, Country Smallholding, Your Chickens and many other titles, want to share the love by offering Jane Cumberbacth's Pure Outside Style book or a Burgon & Ball kneelo to 10 lucky readers

To enter the competition just make a guess as to how the year will pan out - “bbq summer” or “total washout”.  Enter your prediction in the comments box at the bottom of this post for your chance to win. There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to your entry, it's just a bit of fun!
You can gain an additional two entries to the competition by retweeting @ryansgarden promoting the competition on twitter or by sharing a link from the Ryan’s Garden Facebook page (you must like the page to share the link).  The number of entries will not increase if you retweet or share links more than once.

Good luck and don’t forget to subscribe to the Ryan’s Garden blog to ensure you don’t miss out on future competitions and posts.

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 24.05.2013. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. If for any reason the particular prize is out of stock then an appropriate alternative will be sought. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter.  By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and your details being sent to the prize giving company.  By taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced here on the blog.  

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ready the Bumbles!

On this evening in particular it feels as though Spring has finally sprung.  Daffs and tulips are plump and opening, if not already blooming and there are buds galore to be seen all around.  The chickens are also feeling the seasonal change and eggs are being produced quicker than they can be used up.  Okay, so the earth is largely left bare, aside from the yawning perennials, but this will soon change in a flash – when I finally move in to action.

As I turned the corner on to my plot today, ducking under the low apple tree and negotiating several raised beds, I was met with a symphonic drone.  A low buzzing akin to a dubstep bassline quickly followed by my shock at seeing around ten or so also slightly shocked bumble bees taking flight.  They had been sunning themselves on the shed, affectionately known as The Tardis, and took to the sky on my arrival almost proclaiming that the worst of it is over. 

So there we have it – nature has announced that we’re in the thick of it.  Ready the Bumbles!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Days for tea and cake

There are merely a few signs that Spring is here and right now it feels like Winter is having a good old go at clinging on with its icy finger nails clamped tightly on this patch of the world; putting the growing season temporarily on hold and forcing me to seek the warmth of the wood burner, mugs filled with tea and oven-warm cake.  Although I’m pretty sure that no matter what the weather has in store, the latter two will always have a place in my life.

Just a couple of weeks ago the soil started to dry, buds started to bulge and the chickens upped their egg laying efforts.  Today, however, the soil is once again wet and icy cold, many buds have fallen dormant stuck in a catatonic state just waiting for the starting pistol and my chickens, though still laying, are not quite as productive as I would have hoped for this time of year.  We may even have to resort back to the warm breakfasts.

Despite the cold, the rain and the wind there are a few garden stalwarts that are putting on a brave face.  The Rhubarb is resplendent and will soon find itself in countless recipes, as will the sorrel and what remains of the parsnips and potatoes.  As you will see above, the daffodils, once upright and jolly have taken on a more leisurely approach to looking beautiful.  Battered by flying tarpaulins and feeling a bit sorry for themselves, if not broken completely, most lean or lounge looking quite apathetic – not dissimilar to those slightly vague looking models seen in fashion magazines.

This temporary hitch is quite welcome given that I’m yet to sow a single seed.  Work and other things have dominated my life of late, hence a lack of blogging, tweeting and other forms of web-based procrastination.  The last frost is now in sight and with the nights becoming longer I’m sure that this will all change very shortly.
In other news, the blog has had it's 4th birthday although I completely missed it and didn't get around to acknowledging it at all and you may have also noticed that I’m a contributor in this seasons ‘The Edible Garden’ in which I feature a few great blogs I like to read and eight of the nicest twitter-folk, all of whom are incredibly talented and inspiring.  If you do get a chance please check them all out and tell them I sent you!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Desktop blooms from the garden

Today I took a quick trip in to the garden, which is something of a novelty these days but the sun was shining and I had a free saturday to play with.  There’s not a great deal on show, beyond the general browness broken up by the odd evergreen and fresh green leafy offerings from the Spring bulbs and early woodland plants that are poking their heads above ground. That said, the Hellebores, Snowdrops and Witch Hazel are flowering away happily and this is enough to satisfy my horticultural desires, for now at least.  

I couldn’t resist bringing a few blooms back indoors with me so I snipped a little bit of Box and coupled this with a few Hellebore blooms, plonked them in a vase and positioned them on the desk next to my computer where I find myself sat for hours on end these days.  I also nabbed a trio of pristine Snowdrops and as I was without a bud vase, not for want of looking I must add, I salvaged an empty Vanilla extract bottle and put it to good use.   The nodding blooms make for a great little piece of decoration and also remind me that beyond this computer screen and hours of work, the garden is still there and thriving without my intervention.  
This week, whilst driving home each day it's not gone without notice that the days are lengthening at quite a pleasing pace.  No longer am I returning in the dark but I have time to see to the chickens, walk the dogs or pop to the stables and soon enough I’ll be spending long evenings at the allotment working with hands in warm friable soil and planting out seedlings with or without a barbeque perhaps.  It cant come soon enough.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A bacon and egg sandwich day

On days like today, after a long morning at the stables, I’m more than grateful for bacon and egg sandwiches.  It's the kind of food that warms you up, fills that gap and screams sunshine and comfort on a plate with those deep orange, glowing yolks laid by my little flock of hens.  It's possibly my favourite lunch after a hard days gardening or morning spent at the plot but as no gardening was on the cards today it certainly came in handy after a long and cold morning.

The girls are now obliging but they are still a little hit and miss with the old egg laying business.  They have come through the moult and after looking like battered old feather dusters for a little while they’re in tip-top condition and demonstrating that they’re hardy little things.  Unperturbed by rain, wind and snow, they just carry on about their business focussed solely on food and looking pretty.  Today, as a reward for their hard work, they’ve been treated to an extra special hot breakfast with porridge oats, rice and raisins and as always it was gone in minutes.

The two girls at the forefront of the picture above are still going strong and can be seen in my original post: 'A warm breakfast for cold chickens'.  They are endlessly entertaining and wonderfully productive as ever with McGee, the brown hen, having very few days off in the years that I've had her.

Here's hoping for a productive 2013!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Welcoming the New Year

Welcoming the New Year has started with a cold, a heavily moulting Golden Retriever and a hell of a lot of cleaning. Not the most exciting way to begin a brand New Year but it would be hard for it to get worse than that.  On the plus side, I guess it’s semi-proactive, bar the coughing and spluttering of course.

Over the past year I feel as though I’ve neglected the garden and the blog somewhat, although starting a new business and a brand new career has eaten up a lot of my time.  In some strange way I seem to have engineered a very busy existence of late that revolves around work and animals, which leaves little time for anything else.  This will need further adjustment over the coming year although changes are already afoot.  As a start, I’ve resigned from my post as Allotment Secretary and adjusted various other things that will mean come sunnier times I’ll be able to garden care free, write more and finally get back to riding.  I seriously need to invest in lessons; perhaps this should be a resolution of mine?

Along with a lack of time, the weather has influenced my absence heavily and I can only pray that this changes in 2013.  Is it just me or does it feel as though the rain hasn’t really stopped since Spring?  The past month especially I’ve found that my allotment and garden has been largely submerged and much like Anne Wareham’s Yew hedges, I fear that I too will see losses come the Spring.  One benefit is that I still have a variety of bulbs that remain unplanted.  I say that its a benefit as if planted I fear they may have simply rotted in the waterlogged clay ground.  As soon as the soil drains a bit I’ll plant them up or save them for containers.  I do worry though that without a good cold spell we may also have a battle of epic proportions with marauding molluscs and other undesirables on our hands.  Failing a late Winter cold spell, perhaps an early Spring offensive would help?

The chickens have faired better than the plants and haven’t struggled too much.  Their badly timed moult has left them looking worse for wear although their desire to stand out in the rain when they have a perfectly good shelter baffles me.  The old girls have also decided that egg laying is “so last year” and I’m having to do with shop bought, which is not a patch on what the girls provide.

Overall 2012 has been a mixed bag.  A lot has been achieved and much has gone undone. Highlights have included attending the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and writing for some great blogs and publications.  2013 will be much the same I expect and I’m excited, as this may be the year that leads on to bigger and brighter things, or so I hope!

Happy New Year all!
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