Saturday, 22 July 2017

When Summer Rain and A Treasure Arrive at the Cottage

Hello Friends!

Thank you, and a heartfelt welcome, to several new followers who have found their way here in the last few days. I hope you enjoy my ramblings and photography, and I love it when you join in and leave a comment to say “hello!”

Before I share what’s happening in the garden, you may recall I mentioned that my favourite author, illustrator, and Happy Person, Susan Branch, has so brilliantly and thoughtfully arranged for her beautiful bone china mugs to be made available here in the UK for all her UK followers.  Well, it has since happened, and you can buy them from Nursery Thyme in Devizes {in person or online} and guess what? My Autumn mug arrived in today’s post! I could not be happier with it, it is so perfectly Autumn, and just a darling mug, both in pattern, shape, and to hold ~ as well as to treasure!  Do you see the attention to detail by continuing the pattern down the handle? Can you hear my squeals of utter delight? Although my birthday is not for a few more months, this is my very special birthday gift to me ~~~

Perfect companions! 
Always counting our blessings
attention to detail!

I’ll take a moment to gather myself before moving on!
~~~~~
Summer rain, sweet, soft, gentle summer rain has fallen for days across the garden, and sometimes it has been not so soft, sliding sideways like needles in horizontal torrents with a rare summer gale blustering in from the Atlantic Ocean.  There’s not much to be done when the weather misbehaves other than hunker down inside and wait for the gales to blow over and make yourself comfy and cosy indoors with a big pile of books and plenty of hot tea and cakes ~~~

Once the winds and rains have passed, it is time to nip out quickly between the showers with my camera to see what is happening. Some of you know me well enough by now to know that rain on plants is one of my favourite subjects, so this morning was another such excursion ~~~

There was a little damage, my poor Verbena Bonariensis were lying down and having a rest across the path as their whippy stems failed to keep up with the lashing winds, but they are now snugly tied back up using the hydrangeas as support. The Alchemilla Mollis is also flat, but once the sun comes out and dries it, it will perk up and be resplendent as ever. It is one of my favourite plants: it fills gaps in borders well; is very tolerant of both lack of care and too much fussing; its acid yellow makes everything around it come alive with colour; and it makes a pretty addition to any small arrangement of flowers. A most appreciated plant indeed.


Everything looks pristine, freshly showered and still sprinkled with raindrops, and yes, some raindrops on roses, but no kittens, not today, I think the rain has driven them away!




The Musk Mallow is looking very pretty indeed as it wraps around my ‘corgi’ which was a gift from a corgi loving friend.   The Monkshood {which is not doing so well this year} is one of my favourite colour schemes as it has a Bindweed {Morning Glory} twined up its spike, and I just love the striking contrast of purple, green and white in combination.

"IGRAINE"






The succulents, despite the rain and cloud cover seem to be preparing a few more blooms in the cluster ~ I am looking forward to this!


And in a rare moment of sunshine, a beautiful butterfly settles on a raspberry leaf to warm its wings while opportunity strikes ~~~



Until next time ~~~

~~~Deborah xoxo

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Autumn Whispers on the Morning Air ~~~

Hello Friends!

“There are two times of year: waiting for Autumn, and Autumn”

As we slide, softly, sometimes scorchingly, into mid summer, and July is over half way spent, my mind turns more and more to that most delicious season of them all ~ Autumn ~ when nature's paintbox goes into overdrive with one last Hurrah! of colour, fruits, and harvest.

I can wait no longer to sing out everything autumn! My Pinterest boards are burgeoning once more with many themed pins!  Hygge tugs at my heart, and the nights are already coming earlier with promises of cosy nights, curled up in front of the fire, candles burning, stacks of books and magazines waiting to be read, and handmade quilts made just for snuggling under ~~~

To make Autumn even more delicious this year, my favourite author and illustrator, Susan Branch announced on her Twitter feed, just this very week, that her new range of art illustrated mugs will soon be available in the UK! Did you hear me squeaking with excitement and delight? Saving of pennies commences!  I want them all, of course, but I have a particular favourite ~ can you guess?

There is a certain feeling in the air that my heart searches out in earnest every year, that day when the air quietly whispers that autumn is on her blissful way ~~~ and this magical morning I felt those first gentle words on the west wind as it whispers across my garden from the salt laden ocean ~~~

The wild field poppies are giving one final burst of summer colour ~~~


The apples are swelling with the sweet summer rainfall and ripening in the warmth of the summer sun ~~~


Rosehips which will feed the birds in the winter, encouraging them to continue foraging instead of pecking at the supplementary feeders ~~~


The blackberries on my two hundred year old stone wall are preparing for a generous pick, and soon there will be Blackberry and Apple Pie, a Cobbler or two, and jam ~ always jam for a sweet reminder of the summer and autumn months gone by, and a dose of Vitamin C!



Just the other day, I shared with you my excitement over the unexpected flowering of two of my succulents here.  Each new day now brings a change, and here are the photographs I took yesterday as the sun started to slip into the evening and they are opening beautifully ~~~





There's not a lot of change this morning, but I'm hoping there will be some movement during the day, once the sun comes around and warms them up, maybe they'll open up some more, revealing their gorgeousness and contrasting colours ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Sweet Summer Succulents

Hello Friends!

Heartfelt thanks to all who sent wishes for a speedy recovery.  I'm getting there slowly, and as any of you who suffer with back problems of any kind these things take time and lots of care in movement!  At least I am able to walk about almost normally now.

So, I have not done very much of anything other than hobble about to fix food and do minimal cleaning while enjoying the remainder of Wimbledon fortnight.  Disappointing in some respects, but uplifting and joyful in others. It was sad to see both Andy Murray and Johanna Konta go out, but they did very well flying the flag, and I'm so proud of them, especially Andy Murray who played incredibly well considering his injury, which makes me feel so wimpy nursing my bad back!  It was so very uplifting to watch the Men's Wheelchair Doubles competition, and the British pair, Hewett and Reid, the reigning champions, retaining their title!  Matches are still in progress, with the Men's Singles Final tomorrow.

I am in total awe of the wheelchair tennis competitors, as I am with the para~athletes currently competing in London at the World Para~athletics Championships.  When I was growing up, this genre of competition was never heard of, but in the last few years athletes and sports men and women with a disability have become a force to be reckoned with, and the generation growing up now will grow up with para~athletics as if there was never a time when it did not exist. I think this is a wonderful and inspirational thing indeed, they are the real superheroes and not a cape in sight, unless you count the flags flying out behind the winners on their laps of honour!

I digress! I don't watch a lot of sport, but enjoy a few select things, as you can tell, so let's get back to the garden.

The weeds are enjoying themselves during my absence. This morning, however, while I went to the garage, I noticed a couple of spots of bright colour, one in the porch, one in the slate trough that sits in front of the cottage.  Closer examination shows that two of my succulents are in bloom! I'm so excited about this.  I have lost almost all my cacti and succulents and am starting to slowly rebuild a collection for myself, so this is a very encouraging start.  The small tower I planted up a few weeks ago is settling down well and the cuttings are establishing themselves and starting to grow, and there are new babies on the succulent I bought for the top pot ~~~





I've noticed some fine, feather weeds in the pots so I think I'll have to find an old tweezers to get them pulled out quick as I can!

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Short and Sweet

Hello Friends!

First, a heartfelt, country welcome to all my new followers.  You've found your way here by different hosts {Google, Networked Blogs, etc} and no one has told me you are here, but I've noticed my numbers have gone up! So happy you have joined my little page and I hope you enjoy your visits and thank you for following me.

Well, it has happened again. I've pulled my back. Let's not dwell on this, or how it happened {reaching for my pot of face cream this morning} but suffice to say my mood is low as, once more, it happens at the worst possible time for the garden. The lawn needs its regular mow tomorrow, there are berries ripe and ready to pick, and pots that still need watering despite the gentle summer rain today. So thankful for the rain, because, at least it puts a natural, not medical, halt to the gardening; however, there is tomorrow and the next day, and so on, when I will be sitting or hobbling and becoming very frustrated.  At least there is still Wimbledon for a few more days!  It's getting really exciting now, and I am riveted to it.

This does raise a big issue, though, as the increasing number of occurrences of my back going at the most inopportune times {but then again, is there ever a good time for back pain?} is making me seriously readdress what I'm doing, and going to do with my garden. Without dwelling on it, I also have arthritis in my spine, so feel I can never get ahead these days, and the weeds are seriously no longer a joking matter. I am rethinking deeply now, and researching a lot on line; I have to accept that I may have to get someone in to help me make the garden lower maintenance all round, at least to help me with the heavier work of digging, moving soil and big rocks.

With our changing weather patterns, I have spent about five years looking at what is doing well in the garden and what is not. Some plants thrive, others wither and disappear.  Some are nothing more than slug fodder!  Ah! Slugs! The bane of every gardener, I'm sure of it.

I am in the middle of measuring up the various plots. My Berry Patch turns out to be 36 foot long by 10 1/2 foot wide plus two odd shaped triangular bits on the end which I did not include. My former vegetable plot, soon to be a herb and tea garden, measures 17 foot by 23 foot not including a funky shaped bit on the end! I have not yet measured the lawn and borders, those are for another day, but my drive measures 65 yards long!  That needs constant weeding both sides and down the middle.  It is a lot of work for me, with all my other responsibilities too.

I have started making plans for all of these areas, and have bought myself a lovely Strathmore spiral bound art journal with 190 gsm paper to record my intentions and progress. There is lots of room to expand as I stick in seed packets and photos, as well as being a deliciously large A4 portrait format! Did I mention I bought two of them!

So, dear friends, this is my plight again, but in the meantime, and on a more cheerful note, here are some photos of what is flowering in the garden this week ~~~

Mothering Sunday gift, this will be nurtured and used in a border later on


Glam Rock hydrangea

Beautiful, prolific, frothy, acid yellow, and useful Alchemilla Mollis

miscellany of bits and pieces and my garden corgi "Igraine"

Fragrant red dianthus, quaking grass, Alchemilla Mollis


Monkshood {Aconite} 


Crocosmia "Lucifer"

Glam Rock hydrangea with the long, whippy stems of Verbena Bonariensis

Wild Field Poppies in my 'wilderness' bit



So, dear friends, I sit in miserable pain, but it gives me time to reflect on what is happening in the garden and what needs to be done to move forward.

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xoxo

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Glam Rock Rules the Garden

Hello Friends!

There’s been a proper mixed bag of weather in the Shire of late!  After the bad weather I spoke about in my last entry {two weeks ago ~ where does the time go?} we had our summer! Parts of the UK had heatwave conditions, but here in the west it was not unbearable, as it was tempered by the now nearly constant sea mists that lightly swirl around the high cliffs, feeding from a deeper sea fog that sits further out to sea and helps keep us cool most of the time. So thankful!  I know that 70 degrees is not hot, but I can no longer take the high 90’s that I could in my youth!  The last few days have been quite overcast with outbreaks of rain, and just generally dreich. We get what we get, we can’t do much about it, but we still love to chat about the weather, don’t we?

Since we last chatted, we’ve had the Summer Solstice. Each year, I long for, and dread, this day in equal measures, for I love the long days that stretch into the late, balmy evenings of early summer, but I also do not look forward to the darker, longer evenings as night draws slowly in as we lose daylight in our journey towards autumn and winter. Once we get there it is not quite as bad as it seems looking at it from a distance, for there is something quite comforting about closing out the night as we draw the heavy drapes across the windows, snuggle by the cosy fire, and sip on hot chocolate while reading our favourite books and magazines. Then, in January, as the days are once again lengthening, the seed catalogues start to drop through the letter boxes, excitement mounts, and we start to plan our gardens once again as the wheel of the year continues to turn.

Here are a few of the blooms that survived the nasty weather of two weeks ago and have recovered in the few days of summer since {details under each one} ~~~ I'm always amazed at how nature recovers ~~~

Field Poppies ~ I'm honoured they picked my garden!

Glam Rock Hydrangea ~ new bloom which has a very green tint to the centre

Glam Rock blooms at different stages, I'm wondering what the final colour will be!

Glam Rock is supposed to transition in colour and end up a vivid blue ~ still waiting to see some blue!

Pink Petunia

A beautiful, unusual striped Verbena

Mixed pot of annuals ~ seeds to be harvested!

I think this is called an Echeveria. It looks as if there are blooms getting ready! 

Finally, I found a few straggling succulents in a pot, so I put this terracotta plant pot tower together. The found succulents are in the bottom two tiers, and I bought a new one at the local, small independent garden centre that specialises in perennials, herbs, succulents and more unusual plants. I went back and bought three more the following day as I have a plan for them too ~~~



It does come as quite a shock to the system, though, to be eating my favourite comfort food of a bowl of hot tomato soup with a summer twist of fresh picked basil and a meltingly delicious grilled Cheddar cheese sandwich made with Caerfai Organic Cheddar cheese in July. This is normally my winter comfort food, so it is strange to be cold enough in summer for this delight, but I’m all for it.


Speaking of comfort food, a favourite breakfast of mine is “Eggy Bread” or French Toast.  I love taking two organic, free range eggs and whisking them really well, then soaking two slices of Sourdough bread until all the egg is absorbed, and dropping them into my sizzling cast iron pan, with just a smidge of melted butter for flavour. I adore my cast iron pans, and properly seasoned they are the healthy alternative to non stick cooking.  You can cook pretty much anything in them, and I love that they go from the stove top to the oven as needed. I’ve baked and cooked pretty much everything in them, and I find food tastes amazing when cooked in cast iron pans. Even high sugar foods, such as sweet onions or carrots don't stick, and Halloumi cooks to caramelised perfection without leaving any behind in the pan. Well cared for pans can be handed down for generations, so even though they can be a bit expensive at first, in the long run they are an investment to cherish.  

A quick and simple healthy, low fat stir fry with tofu and vegetables

breakfast sizzling in the pan

home made cinnamon and brown sugar

perfectly cooked without sticking one scrap

sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, gently melting in the heat

ready to eat!

So, Dear Friends ~~~
Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo