Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I was very organised this morning and went into my nearest town early so that I could get back to start planting my bedding plants in the glorious sunshine. Everywhere I went from the post office to the pharmancy I seemed to face various delays, so typical, when all I wanted was to return to my garden and start planting in it. I bought two lovely candles one vanilla fragranced and the other pear, also stocked up on some cone incense in my favourite fragrances. In the market I was also amazed to be able to purchase two macrame plant holders at only £1 each. I have been searching for macrame plant pot holders for some time as I want to hang them in my bathroom window, I like to keep a lot of houseplants in the bathroom.

I returned home at lunch time and spent the afternoon happily planting my petunias and impatiens. I have been working out what I need to finish my summer planting. I really want some sempervivums for my alley way and to put in pots on top of the bench I am repainting, perhaps I will find some at a plant nursery on Monday.

When I am not busy in the garden and not doing any crafts my other favourite occupation is reading. I have just finished this book, 'The Prodigal Summer' by Barbara Kingslover, who is one of my favourite authors. It is set in the Mountains in the southern states of America, and although it is fiction, has some valuable points to make about ecology.

Now I have just started reading this book 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova I do not know if any of you have read this, but there is certainly 600 pages of it. When I was in town today I did find time to visit the library and found a lovely book about vintage perfume bottles, which I love and also found a biography of Joni Mitchell who is one of my favourite singer/songwriters. So with my 600 page novel and the biography I should be busy and happy reading for some days between other projects. I love the feeling you get when you start to read a new book.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The birds woke me up this morning with their dawn chorus, and looking at the bedroom window I could see that at last the sky looked as though it was going to be clear and blue. I went back to sleep and when I awoke later, the sun was shining and the sky was blue with puffy white clouds. It just felt so good to see the sun, and I decided I could wait no longer and went out to buy some of my summer bedding plants. I picked plants to fill pots themselves and some to plant in front of some of my lilies in pots. Lots of lovely petunias, in trays of mixed vibrant colours, but also a tray of just those magnificent deep blue ones. I also got some trays of impatiens [busy lizzies], some white, some pink and a lovely peach coloured one. I am going to visit some plant nurseries next Monday, and hope to finish my summer plant buying then.

I then went to visit my mother as I was going to help her sort out some boxes she has in her outhouse. I had fun sorting through ornaments and books before they went to a charity shop and she gave me a lovely small tea set of delicate white china decorated with tiny forget-me-nots, the cups of which are fluted at the top. I also brought home a large pile of books, that I had read in the past, both fiction and non-fiction, as I can make room for them in my book crammed house! There were two interesting cook books from the early 1950's, one was 'Cooking with Elizabeth Craig' which is very quaint. I also brought back a box of buttons which I am looking forward to sorting through.

I retuned home this early evening and spent the last hour of the sunshine, sitting in my garden drinking a cup of coffee and thinking about the pleasure to come of planting out my plant purchases. A very satisfying day.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I would just like to say thank you to all of you out there who have so far left comments on my blog, when I started it I did wonder if anyone would ever bother with it and have been pleasantly surprised. It is lovely when I check my blog before making a new post to see comments for my previous post, I just love exchanging ideas and writing about my life with people out there. Keep commenting you lovely people.xx

The man in the battered old photograph to the right is my great grandfather, Alfred. I never knew him, he died long before I was born but he was a great gardener, he was head of a team of a public park's gardeners but turned down the job of actual park-keeper as he would no longer be able to be 'hands on' with the earth and plants. He taught his son-in-law who was my grandfather, all that he knew about plants and vegetables and I can remember as a little girl helping my grandfather in his garden. I think that is where my love of gardening has come from, although due to where we lived I have had to wait until a few years ago for a garden of my own. I often think of my great grandfather, Alfred, when I garden and whimsically think that he keeps me right in how to grow my plants, and they do certainly grow. The strange thing is that one of my obsessions are tulips and my mother tells me they were his obsession too.

Well that is the end of the Chelsea Flower Show for this year, I love watching Chelsea, although some of the more modern gardens are not to my taste. I loved the Wormcast garden, and the Daily Telegraph garden and the photo of the garden above is certainly a talking point. I loved the planting of it with all its herbs and the green lady lying in the middle. You can check all these gardens out on the website. I like my gardens crammed full of flowers and herbs and love old fashioned cottage type flowers, and lovely fragances you can enjoy when you sit out in the evening. There is always something I would love at Chelsea and this year I was really taken with the North American Pacific Irises from Broadleigh Nursery, they have wonderful colours and some are almost orchid like and they have a longer flowering season, I believe, than ours, in fact I have sent off for a catalogue of them. Catalogues! well there is another subject for a posting I am a catalogue fanatic and am always requesting them. My husband laughs every morning and says 'any catalogues for you today?', but they are such good sources of inspiration aren't they?

These are some of the lilies I grew. I just adore lilies and always have some planted in pots around the garden.

Looking at this photo I am amazed to note that the honeysuckle that is starting to climb up the corner of the white wall has grown so much since then.

Some more of my lilies and a clump of lovely lavender phlox.

Another plant I use lots of every year are petunias I just love the brilliant colours of them and usually have pots of them on top of the back wall so they can trail down.

This is a view back up the alley beside my barn, I add more pots and plants to it every year. The first year I lived here I only had five pots in it.

The weather is still very unpredictable with quick heavy rain showers and then a brief sunny interlude, and there has also been a rather blustery wind. I thought to cheer things up I would post some more photos of my garden last year, and think positively about better weather eventually arriving so my plants can bloom even better than last year.

I have been busy inside with my sorting and decluttering regime, and I am feeling rather proud of myself when I see all the magazines I have gone through taking out articles and photos. The only magazines I am allowing myself to keep in their complete form are Country Living, and I have many years worth of them. I got up early yesterday morning and had a lovely time as I have begun a sort of journal in which I note down quotes that mean something to me, old fashioned household receipes, hopes, dreams and various creative ideas that I have had. I am decorating the pages with various scraps, photos from magazines, old theatre and art gallery tickets etc. I have used a lovely hardbacked journal book I bought in Paperchase last time I was in London to visit my children. I already keep a garden journal with gardening tips, gardening articles etc. Don't you just love keeping journals like these? It was lovely sitting at my desk with some peaceful music playing, cutting, sticking and writing and drinking my first cup of coffee of the morning.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Today I would like to tell you about a sad incident that has been ongoing over the past month, but before I begin I will say this tale has a happy ending.

A month ago today a neighbour of mine with five cats told me she was moving away to start a new life. She had packed and was gone by that Friday evening, saying she would return to pick up a few items she had left. The next morning I noticed all her cats were hanging around her kitchen door, on investigating I saw she had left a small container of dried food in her outbuilding. By the next Wednesday the cats were still there, I had been feeding them hoping she would come back. Whilst I was out that day she returned and as far as I could see had taken the oldest cat back with her, leaving behind four. They were all just hanging around the outbuilding. I gave them as much of my cat's sachets of food as I could, but that was not enough to feed four adult cats. I decided I would have to phone the nearest animal home and get them to take them, the trouble would be catching them as they were getting very distressed. The animal home gave me a humane cat trap which I put in her outhouse. Three days later we had caught three of the cats and they were taken away. The fourth cat a beautiful long haired ginger tom was a wiley character. He would not go near the trap. I had to think of something and I decided to start putting just a little food in a bowl on the backdoor step every night and try to gain his confidence. Eventually late at night I got him to venture into my kitchen for the bowl of food, and he began to let me sit in the kitchen whilst he ate. Last night, a month after he had been abandoned I managed to entice him so far that I could close the kitchen door behind him. This morning he was collected by the animal home and will join his friends.

The animal home take the cats in make them healthy and fit again and then offers them up for a new home, and they stay there until homes are found. I saw my neighbour's ex partner who lives in a nearby town, he had a cell phone number for her and texted her to say her cats were being taken care of no thanks to her. I cannot believe that a so-called cat lover as she said she was could be so callous, if she could not take them with her and her children, she could have taken them to the animal home herself. What story did she tell her children about not taking four of the cats? I feel very angry with her because I just can not abide people who are cruel to animals. The girl who collected the fourth cat this morning said that the others were not as distressed now, were all cleaned up and were gaining weight and the cat she took away today will eventually be in the same compound as them. At first the other three cats would not come out of the sleeping section of the compound but are now venturing out into the runs. I told her that my neighbour does know that her cats are at the animal home and she said that no one had been in touch about them. I wish I could ban my neighbour wherever she is from owning cats again.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Above are some photos taken at the beginning of last summer of my garden. I hope to take some more photos later this summer to show all the differences that have happened to it in a year. Sorry about one of the photos being shown twice, but it has taken me ages to upload them from a zipped file, which is what the photos I scanned into the computer ended up in. It is a slow process learning all the techniques to run this blog.

The first photo shows the alley that runs down the side on my sandstone barn and the side of the house next door, this leads to the garden proper. I like to fill this with planted pots, interesting stones, mossy boulders and my chinese warrior statue and buddha head. I hope to add some varying height to the alley this year and extend it backwards past the side of my kitchen wall to my side gate.

The next three photos show the main part of my small garden, the sandstone wall is part of my barn and the whitewashed wall is an old outbuilding. One of the photos was taken by standing on the end wall of the garden looking down into it. Behind my garden is a large square of common ground which is called in this area 'common drying land' it is for the use of our line of six houses and washing lines etc can be put up there. It is quite overgrown and is a haven for birds such as goldfinches, blue tits, wood pigeons etc. Lots of buttercups, daisies, dandelions and other wild flowers grow there too, as well as masses of comfrey which I am going to harvest to make a plant feed. I have already made major changes this year to the view of the garden in these photos.

The final photo is of my shady spot which is right outside my kitchen door, across from which is the old sandstone barn, last year I grew mainly hostas in this area, but it can also be pleasant on a really hot day to put a chair here to sit because it is a cool shady area, the rest of my garden gets the sun all day in summer. I hope to add more to this area this year. Note my cat, Pixie, making a guest appearance by coming out the barn.

I am going to finish off writing for now as the sun has just come out, I have done my housework for the day and I want to go into the garden to use the table there as I have a few houseplants that urgently need repotting because of their surge of growth this spring.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Here is another photo of the countryside around my village, this is a view of one of the village churches, which is built above the bend in the river.

Thanks to ms*robyn and Carol for leaving kind comments on my blog. I hope to introduce myself to a few people soon. The weather is still not good. A very cold wind and some very heavy showers of rain. I did manage to get out briefly into the garden at the weekend and managed to remove a bamboo edging which I disliked from my smallest flower bed and replace it with random cobbles, which I think looks much more naturalistic. This small bed was my herb patch last year but I was given a flower bed's worth of perennials from a departing neighbour, and I had to put the herbs back into pots and use the bed for the perennials. So it is herbs in pots for this summer. One or two of the plants I was given I am having difficulty identifying from their leaves, so it will be exciting to see what flowers they produce. I will have to call this bed 'lucky dip bed' until I know what is in there.

I have decided on bad weather days this summer I will concentrate on emptying and reorganising all my cupboards, drawers and baskets. I collect far too many magazines that I cannot bring myself to throw out thinking I might need them one day. So I am sitting with piles of magazines tearing out articles, pictures etc that I like and then getting rid of the magazine. I will place the articles in folders [ a good excuse to buy some lovely new stationery, an addiction of mine] and use any pretty pictures for a scrapbook that I am longing to begin making, as I have suddenly discovered altered books etc, which I intend to find out about.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Thought I would show you my neighbourhood. The bridge over the river leads to my village. My village is just off the bottom right hand edge of the photo.
It has been a week of dreadful weather, once again I was seduced by the previous week's hot spell. Every year I forget that I should not really trust any warm days in May as the start of the summer. This week it has been heavy rain, day after day and a couple of days of strong winds, causing me to fret about my young plants in the garden, and my poppies that are about to burst into flower. I have been spending time in the kitchen baking and filling up the freezer. Mainly using up my rhubarb crop making such things as rhurbarb and ginger crumble. Also spent a couple of delicious afternoons, snuggled in a chair reading.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Last week I was able to get out into the garden every day as the weather was unseasonally hot for May, but, alas, over the weekend we have had two days of heavy rain. My garden, when we moved into our house, was just a small one which was reached by walking down an alley way at the side of our barn. It was a small patch of grass with four borders around it and a gravelled square in front of two outhouses. It has a small gate at the bottom in the side wall that lets you into my neighbour's garden [this is to do with old rights of way over both our properties]. We also have a shady area that is concrete between our kitchen door and the barn. It has taken five summers to fill the alleyway with pots that in mid summer overflow with blooms and greenery, change the layout of the garden and make the narrow shady concrete area interesting. By next summer the garden shall be exactly as I want it and this summer almost as I want it. My husband has laid paths of concrete flags and surrounded them with bark chippings, I have added more flower beds and found places to place more pots. We will do away with the little patch of grass that is left with the garden table and chairs on and replace it with bark chippings, although the little patch of green is nice it did not stand a chance as there was not enought room to move the table about and there was too much wear and tear on the grass. By next summer the climbers should be covering the walls better, as it is a low walled garden on two sides and a high wall on the third with the back of the sandstone barn as the fourth side. It is a real suntrap! We already have a honeysuckle from last year that is flourishing up a wall and a clematis I planted late last summer. I am thrilled with my little garden and cannot wait to see it in full glory later in the summer. I decided that it would have to be for flowers only, as it is not big enough for both flowers and vegetables, although I do grow herbs in it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Well hello world! This is my very first blog posting. In the past I have just read other people's blog and lurked around various blog sites. So I have decided to plunge right in and start my own. Don't expect too many postings at first because I need to find my way round things, but I thought 'yes I want a blog, I'll just set one up now and worry about the postings later. Also my daughter has just set up her first blog and I thought I'll have one of those too!'