Tag Archive | Gardens

A Gardener’s Delight

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We might now be in August, but you certainly wouldn’t believe it with the weather the last few days; there’s a distinct autumnal chill in the air early mornings and not warm enough (for me) to sit outside, but the forecasters say it is only a blip. Meanwhile, thanks to the wonderful invention of photography, I can at least sit back and admire the garden as it’s been these past few months – it’s been glorious!

100_6648It’s been one of our best for colour. Dave and I love colour; not for us the subtle tones and pastels as we love big and bold and bright and the unusual. We happily plant pink and yellow flowers together – they look great and, let’s be honest here, nature doesn’t pick and choose and colour co-ordinate. And the yellow rudbeckia planted next to a pink phlox and overhung with a blue clematis works for me!

100_6599This year we have planted the hanging baskets and pots with begonias, the showy, blousy sort I never used to like but I have been converted. It is a pity the winds and heavy rains of recent days have knocked them about a bit but they should recover. The dahlias, many of which have been grown from last year’s seeds, have not failed us. The bees love them and so do we.

Other plant100_6603100_6456s in pots include pelargoniums (or geraniums as they used to be called), particularly pink ones, and complimented by black pansies. These have proved a lovely foil for many plants and ones we will grow next year.

Also we’ve included lots of white nicotianias in the borders. Not by design, more by luck. These have all germinated from those we grew in planters last year – plants for free and, again, a perfect backdrop to bring the colours of other plants particularly in the shadier parts of the garden.

Best of all has been the wild flowers. A couple of packets of seeds strewn in the bare patches where I have removed unwanted or thug plants and bingo! A plethora of flowers have been growing non-stop for weeks.

100_6356100_6541100_6608Many of these wild flowers I do not recognise, others I’ve not seen for many a year, and I shall let them all set seed and fling themselves around the garden in the hope they will come again next year. Plants such as corn cockles, marigolds, love-in-a-mist (white, pink and various shades of blue), candy tufts and violas, snapdragons (although I know them as bunny rabbits!), cornflowers in blue and pink, poppies and many, many more I do not know and need to find out. I just hope I can buy the same seed mix next year.

The bees and insects have been loving all this although what is missing is the numbers of butterflies seen, way down from last year. Just a few red admirals and painted ladies, the odd comma, spotted wood, a holly blue, and very few cabbage whites – a good thing as it’s meant there’s been few eggs laid on the nasturtiums and thus no caterpillars to destroy the leaves, that’s been left for me to cut back to allow the flowers to be seen. I wonder if the lack of butterflies after last year’s plethora has been caused by the wet spring we had. There must have been lots eggs, chrysalises and caterpillars about. Did most get washed away, drowned or destroyed in the floods and rain?

100_6542On the plus side, I’ve had many birds visiting, thanks in part to the new feeding station, but also I think because of the extra insects thanks to the wild flowers. Apart from my resident sparrow flock, now numbering over 30 that congregate and sleep in my firethorn, along with the usual robin, blackbirds, wren and tits always flitting about, I’ve had goldfinc100_6485hes and chiff chaffs as regular visitors this year.

Yes, it’s been a good summer so far and there’s much still to come. It’ll soon be time to gather stock and decide what add, what to move or to change for next year. I’m hoping the sun will come back soon so I can put my feet up sitting in the shade on the patio, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of my little patch of heaven.

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A Fine Day Out

It’s almost time for my husband to return to work following his hip replacement, which has gone so well even his surgeon is surprised how swiftly he’s recovered. Four weeks ago Dave was tamping at the bit, bored and anxious to return to his job, but both his surgeon and GP were adamant he takes the full 12 weeks’ recuperation.  After the glorious weather we’ve been having here in the UK this week, I don’t think he’ll be so keen to return to the 7-til-7 schedule. Particularly after days like today.

We are, as you probably are aware, keen gardeners and our patio already resembles the local garden centre, full of row upon row of seed trays and bedding plants waiting to be planted out, and the greenhouse is stacked almost to the roof with shelves of plants, so many in fact, you cannot actually get in the thing, and have to be careful how you open the door. So, with little else to do now until we are clear of frosts, he decides today he wants to go somewhere, go for a drive. I had other things planned, but heck, when he says he fancies going out, I don’t argue, equally eager to take a day away from the computer screen to enjoy the sun.

We headed for our favourite garden centre some 30 miles away deep in the Gloucestershire countryside, where we couldn’t resist buying a few more plants. But neither of us can stop at one – garden centre, that is. And with the boot of the car (good job it is a small one) full of plants and several on the rear floor inside, we set of for another. And then another. The pleasure isn’t just the plants and the looking and loitering, the planning and imagining, deciding shall we, shan’t we; it’s the actual drive we enjoy the most, and the Gloucestershire countryside in Spring is glorious. Dave knows lots of little side roads to take, bypassing the busy main roads, up and down valleys, round steep hills and narrow, stonewalled lanes, where we jealously admire the honey-coloured houses set in acres of green fields full of springy, bouncy lambs (aah) and steeped banked verges in an early flush of bluebells, green shoots of wild garlic, and blossom and drifts of daffodils and primroses.

We stop in a small village shop and buy pasties and Coke and treat ourselves to a couple of pastries and then drive further on to pull up on the verge of a quiet lane with views overlooking a cascade of small lakes, turn off the engine, open the windows, and with silence except for birdsong, we enjoy our impromptu picnic watching robins, chaffinches, thrushes and bluetits in the trees, and pheasants strutting their stuff across the fields. I’ve never seen so many gathered at once. Stupid birds but so beautiful, elegant and graceful. Except when they try to fly, usually straight at the car.

As well as a love of bluebells, I also have a passion for lavender and my three pots on our front garden have taken a hammering this winter, so Dave drives to the Lavender Gardens near Ozleworth. I only wanted three plants, but we end up buying nine, three for each pot.

Finally arriving back home, relaxed and happy, we settle in the garden with a couple of G&Ts (me) coffee (him) and reflect on what has been a perfect day, even more so as  I don’t have to prepare a cooked meal as we are both still replete from our lunch. “If this is retirement, bring it on,” Dave says. Going back to work is going to be hard for him. At least he only has another nine months to endure. Then we can enjoy a lot more days out together – days like today.