Friday 29 May 2015


In recent winters, I have lost some of my more unusual colours, and even managed to lose the nearly black Nora Barlows last winter.  The commonest colours are the toughest, it would seem.  This pretty pink and white one lives in a big pot and has survived to bring me pleasure yet again.

The very dark ones seem to be concentrated in the Yard, so I must sprinkle some of their seeds up in the pale pink area this year.

There used to be a lot of William Guinness here, but now there's just one on the right (dark with a white centre).

I have a few of the very pure white ones, which start off a yellowy limey colour, as seen between my fingers.

The palest of pinks with a lilac back to it.  I have plenty of these.

Tousled Norah Barlow-ish.

Some simple blue-purple ones here in the stoney garden.

They seed themselves everywhere, including in tiny cracks in concrete paths, where I haven't the heart to yank them out . . .

I love these deeper colours.

Almost black - sorry for the blurry look of out-of-focus camera.

Equally blurry lighter purple William Guinness.

Above and below, these are from around the patio down in what was my mum's garden.  Below: showing that you can get variations of flower on the same plant.

Finally, the last surviving one of my more exotic sorts - this is yellow.  It's in a big pot and they seem to do better that way.  A lot of the little pots which lost their occupant over the winter had small white grubs in and I think these had been eating the plant roots.

Sorry for a none-too-coherant posting but I feel brain-dead this morning and just want to go back to bed, to be honest!  I'll try and update this later.

Thursday 28 May 2015

The Great Garden Challenge - getting rid of garden Thugs

There's a rose in there - poor Graham Thomas completely overwhelmed by Achillea Ptarmica "The Pearl" which I foolishly bought a pot of at Leeds castle about 30 years ago and brought with me from Dorset.  Mistake!  The poor poppy is equally overgrown, and other plants which I have taken out and cleaned around and through, and replanted now.

A friend gave me a bit of this thug which is a Rush with a Pendiculata type name.  It needed THIS to get it out:

My faithful mattock.

Progress - and Ghenghis keeping an eye on me to see I worked hard enough.  Originally the Thugs went all the way across to the left - there was NO space whatsoever.  I had cleared them right back not that long ago, and made some fresh plantings which have since been swallowed up.  I made the decision, they had to be eradicated.  Totally.

Stuff replanted that came out to have every bit of thug root removed - those are big white Shasta daisies at the back and Elecampane in front of them.

Another job for the mattock - this quite substantial stone refused to budge so I am waiting until I have energy again tomorrow!

Sorry for the boring pictures today, but I wanted to show I am making SOME progress out there.  Tomorrow lots of Aquilegia pictures to brighten up the page.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

One of those post-Malvern days !

Yesterday was the Whitsun Bank Holiday.  It doesn't seem to get called that very often now, which is a shame.  Anyway, we were up at silly o'clock (3.30 a.m.) to set off at 4.15 a.m. for all points East, but focus was the HUGE Fleamarket at Malvern.  Fortunately the weather forecast was good and it stayed dry.  A few photos for you, starting with some Taxidermy (as always).  This time, GOOD taxidermy - we see so many examples of the boring and falling-apart stuff.

I think this chap must have spent a fortune at the auction on all these, because they are more unusual than the normal run of deer and small furry animals which turn up at Fleamarkets.

Scottish Wild Cat.

A rather bizarre set up of naughty collie puppies upsetting a table . . .

Equally bizarre, someone's favourite horse . . .

All sorts . . . he had a field day at the auction . . .

Back to normality and a little hexagon lap throw.

I was trying to get an idea of business but so many people there, buying and trading.  It took us over 6 hours to walk round.

A lovely hand-worked quilt from around 1900, and beyond my pocket!

On the same stall.  Isn't it lovely?

Some lovely child-sized seats - the darker one is a child's lambing chair, and the Windsor potty chair has a lovely hoop back.

An interesting stall.

However, in the sheds, stock is a bit more random!

Beautifully-knitted little dollys' clothes.

A vintage corner.

I would have loved to have bought this beautiful enameled picture, but at £440 it stayed there!  It looked better in real life - the photo doesn't do us justice . . .

We bought well, although as I looked at the length of these Lance poles, I had a sudden thought - would they FIT in the car?  Fortunately they did, but not without some jiggery-pokery as the back door had locked itself again after we had put a huge (and very heavy) wooden chest in it - we had to carry that 1/4 mile to the car!!!  So these lances had to be fed in through an open window . . .

One last bit of Taxidermy - possibly the oldest fox ever stuffed . . .

Enjoy your day.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Good intentions

My life is full of good intentions.  I have ALWAYS wanted to make one of these:

This one was worn by a Cornish folk dancer at the Smallholders' Show back in 2008.  I think this was a Bal Maiden's bonnet (they worked above ground on the Cornish tin and copper mines).  However, this is also the sort of thing which would have been made at home by cottagers and worn during harvest time back in Victorian times.

A variation on a theme.

Right now, time is flying by but I definitely AM going to get back to this:

There were many bags of unused fleeces at my friend's house, as I think she had given up on the spinning when she became ill.  I am about to get my spinning wheel into the kitchen and listen to the Archers and get my skills back again.  I have a lovely brown Alpaca fleece (SO soft) and a Leicester Long Wool too.  My fingers are fairly twitching right now.

I am also baking today, making bread too, and playing catch up indoors as it's raining so I won't be gardening.

Friday 22 May 2015

Meeting blogging friends and getting on with the garden

Firstly, apologies to those two friends, Dawn and Pam, who I met on Wedesday, for the delay in posting this, but life is still somewhat hectic!

Anyway, on Wednesday fellow-blogger dawn (who is local to me) had invited me to visit her smallholding, and I was glad to see that the breakfast sunshine lasted . . .  I arrived to find that Pam, another local fellow-blogger, had just arrived in ahead of me.  I'd baked a batch of Peach and Blueberry Muffins (I never need an excuse to bake!) and we had one of those with a cuppa before doing a tour of Dawn's lovely smallholding, where everything is very organized, with marvellous raised beds and young tree plantings, a big polytunnel and a smaller one and a lovely greenhouse for Dawn's citrus trees, which were basking in the sunshine.

After admiring some newly-hatched Aylesbury ducklings in the barn, still yellow and downy, snuggled up under a heat-lamp, we went out into the sunshine and saw some other young Aylesburys.

Then fully-grown ones.

Then we went across to see the Alpacas, who had only been shorn the previous day.

As you can see, Dawn has a lovely spot.  Lovely clean grazing, shelter sheds, on-site water, new fencing - what more could an Alpaca ask for?

They look as if they have such an attitude when they pull a face like this : ) but I think it's mainly just the difference between ears forward and back - or did I detect a slight frown?

Dawn's poultry in their Buzzard-proof housing . . .

We chatted non-stop, and I was seriously impressed when I saw Dawn's wonderful craft rooms, very well stocked and a great place to spend those rainy days when the outside chores have been done.  Lovely to be able to leave a work-in-progress out and not have to put it away and prepare a meal on that same "sewing" table.   Note to self: re-organize craft bits and bobs back here . . .  I look forward to seeing Pam and Dawn again soon and hope they will come here with my Paul's Himalayan Musk is out (by which time I hope to have a neat and tidy garden again).

Back on my plot, the Yellow Flag Irises have started to bloom around the main pond.

ALL bar one of my original frog tadpoles have died.  I presume it was a virus of some sort, but don't know how one managed not to succomb to it.  These are, presumably, toad tadpoles, as they were laid in long strings much later than the frogs.  They are busy little chaps and LOTS of them this year.  The frog tadpoles in the wildlife pond have survived without any problem.

I have been VERY busy clearing behind the plants which are meant to be growing, and clearing the Lamium undergrowth as it threatens to take over the lawn!  Jobs like this one weren't done when I had the three years of ill-health, and only now am I starting to get a proper grip on the borders again. It makes a big difference just edging the laawn - not a job my husband would think to do - I should be grateful he mows the lawn for me (though if he had his way we would just have a yard with things in tubs).

BARE SOIL! = room for new plantings . . .

The gravel garden is looking rather splendid now that the Aquilegias are out.  I seem to be down to the lighter colours in here now.  The dark ones are down in the yard, and all the specials have died.  Typical.  No yellow or blue and white dwarf aquilegias, no red and yellow, or red and white, or exotic orangey ones any more . . .  Many of them died in the seriously-cold snowy winter of 2010, and others since.   Touchstone Nurseries, where I got the seeds from for these more exotic ones, is on shut down this year as they have Downy Mildew, which is catastrophic knowing Carrie holds the National Collection.

The sunshine and all that luxuriant growth is just perfect for elderly cats - 18 year old Fluff is enjoying sunshine and shade together!

Below: looking down on the newly-tidied bit from my office window.  I bought myself a new David Austin rose yesterday, and that's it planted in the brand new planter.  It's a pale pink Alba  rose Felicite Parmentier.  I can't wait to see her flower.  I also bought a double orange Geum, which will be going where I am creating space on the front border, as I am setting about eradicating out-of-control Michaelmas Daisies and Achillea Ptarmica 'The Pearl'.  Great for bees, but then I have lots of other bee-attracting plants, and these must GO.

Tomorrow I have a sad day as my friend Annie's ashes are being sprinkled on her husband's grave, and I have been invited along with other friends and family.  I will have to take some paper hankies.

Two quiet corners in Annie's beautiful garden . . .