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 . . .