grow your own

Crested Chucks

Camera shy Fenton Blue

My flock of chucks is back up to eight with the addition of a Fenton Blue and a Fenton Rose. These are hybrids bred from Cream Legbars which are very flighty birds. My two tend to live in the trees in their run watching their flock comrades below them. They are normally very nosy birds but show them a camera and they disappear. Hence so far this is the one and only photo I have. But I shall keep trying.

We hope to get eggs from them in a month or so. they come into lay a few weeks later than most hybrids but the eggs should be worth waiting for – they lay blue ones!
They are beautiful birds, the blue having a salmon chest contrasting with the blue/grey of the rest of her feathers whereas the rose is a lovely mottled rose red.
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National Garden Scheme Open Day

Meeting and Greeting in the Rain

On Sunday 17th July we opened our site for the National Garden Scheme, the famous Yellow Book. Allotment holders had worked hard during the previous week cutting grass, tidying borders in the green spaces and sprucing up plots. The site looked wonderful – even in Sunday’s rain! And rain it certainly did! We were pleased though when over 100 visitors came along with brollies braving or perhaps defying the weather. I believe that gardeners get good at defying weather – others merely brave it out. Many of our visitors stayed for several hours, leaving only when they had drunk gallons of tea and consumed masses of cake, and promising to return next year. I had hoped to show how good the site looked with photos of glowing flowers and shining veggies but that will have to wait until the weather improves. These photos though depict the reality of the day.

Visitors revive with tea and cakes.
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Upmarket Insects

The essential ingredients for rustling up an insect hotel.

We have built a new insect stack, or insect hotel as they are often called, in our back garden here in Plealey. It is a real upmarket affair – if it were a hotel for humans it would definitely deserve to be called a “boutique hotel”. We hope it becomes a home for beneficial insects – ladybirds, lacewings, beetles and bees, plus maybe the occasional amphibian – one of our resident newts, toads or frogs perhaps. A much friendlier way of dealing with garden pests.

Finished and ready for occupancy.
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New Chucks

I have acquired a couple of new hybrids to add to our flock. We are getting fewer eggs these days as our bantams are now rather elderly as bantams go. The Hybrids which we have had now for nearly a year are still laying well but these new girls should boost production as the originals begin to age and slow down their egg laying activities. The new chucks are a Sussex cross, who is mostly white apart from her black tail and hackle and a Bluebell,  with strange airforce blue and grey plumage with a contrasting amber chest.

Bluebell - still shy in front of the lens.
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Golden Spires

The massive forked flower spikes of Verbascum bombyciferum in the Chicken Garden.

Each time the sun momentarily burst through the blackened skies which produced sporadic heavy showers all morning, it lit up the golden spires of verbascum and ligularia.

Ligularia in front of verbascum in our "Hot Border.
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Sharing my coffee break.

Company at coffee time.

During one of my many breaks for coffee whilst gardening I was joined by this little chap. He stayed for a while – long enough in fact for me to fetch my camera and take his portrait. While I enjoyed my coffee he perched on the seat beside me being fed with chewed up Amelanchier berries provided by his mum.

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scarecrows and sunflowers

We have launched our competitions this year at Bowbrook Allotments Community – scarecrows and sunflowers. We will be judging the scarecrows on our National Garden Scheme (Yellow Book) open day on July 17th but leaving the measuring of the sunflowers until late summer. We measure the height to find the tallest grown by a child and by an adult and measure the width of the flowerheads to determine the biggest grown by an adult and a child.

The scarecrow competition last year produced two very worthy winners.

These two characters won the adult class.

The Willow Man won in the children’s competition.


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The Green Bench

The green bench on the lottie.

So what will the greenbenchramblings be? The green bench is a rather old faded green plastic garden bench. It is a little brittle now and suffering from age. Its feet are chipped and cracked but it is where I sit to write in my special notebook. This notebook is a “Moleskine” with inviting cream pages inside its soft black cover, and in here I write my thoughts on “green things” – my lottie, my garden, wildlife and conservation.

The green bench currently lives on our allotment at Bowbrook Allotment Community on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, and it moved with us when we gave up our lottie on the far side of town.

It is where I take my rests, drink my tea and coffee during my very frequent breaks and where I nibble my fruit at lunchtime. When I sit I look and think and when thoughts come to me I pencil them into my “Moleskine”.

I have been making greenbenchramblings for a few years now so sometimes my ramblings will be retrospective. So welcome to my ramblings – enjoy them.