Sunday, August 23, 2020

Gardening Influences

Last week a friend sent me an e-mail entitled 'How familial are our gardens?'  This was in response to an article he had read in The Observer by the writer and author Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.  It is a lovely piece which describes how her garden has helped her through love and loss.  I have put a link to the article on her name above.

In the article she describes the various gardens, owned by grandparents, aunts and uncles that have influenced her from childhood up to the present. Of gardening over the last few months when many of us lucky enough to have our own gardens have found peace and solace there away from all the daily happenings.

My friend has a photo of himself taken when he was a small child in front of the runner beans in his grandfather's garden.  He has grown runner beans in the garden of almost every home he has owned since then.  His sister also remembers their family garden being full of Japanese Anemones which she now grows in her own garden. 

I was looking back at what I remembered about the gardens I knew as a child.  I remember the gardens of both sets of grandparents.  The Shamrocks under the front window of my paternal grandmother's house, the London Pride and Hollyhocks in my maternal grandmother's garden.  I have London Pride and Hollyhocks at present in the garden but no Shamrock I must try and rectify that.  The Hollyhocks came from seed gathered at the home of Paul's brother's partner and this is the first year they havee grown sucessfully in this garden. Their sight is made poignant by th fact that we lost Paul's brother four years ago.

For years, everytime we moved we took with us a Fuchsia that came from my Uncle Wilf's allotment.  We always took cuttings each year incase the original plant was lost. This happened one winter when we forgot to bring it into the house from the greenhouse.  The cuttings went on for ages until last year we forgot to take cuttings and the last plant died.  I have happy memories of visiting cousins and running down the gennels (ginnel, jitty or alleyway, it depends which part of the country you come from) in between the blocks of terraced houses, across the road, down by the railway line to Uncle's allotment where he grew vegetables, Chrysanthemums and Dahlias as well as Fuchsias.

Our own garden at home was my playground.  The front lawn where memories of summers spent with mother's clothes horse covered with a blanket as a tent, with friends coming to play, with bears and dolls having picnics.  Also of buckets and spades brought back from the seaside being used to dig soil, add water, make blocks and leave to dry.  We called it making mud pies.

This lawn was surrounded by narrow beds on four sides.  At the top near the gate was a lilac tree. Other flowers I remember in that garden are dark red Peonies - I have some in this garden - Snapdragons and Red Hot Pokers.  The back garden was entered  through an arch in a high hedge by the back door.  This area streched quite a way and was always full of vegetables in rows and also gooseberry bushes, raspberry canes, strawberries and rhubarb. We have lots of these plants in our present garden.

I wonder what your memories are of family gardens?  I expect we all carry our memories into our present gardens, if we are lucky enough to have them, whether it be in layout or planting patterns or the growing of favourite plants or flowers.

Do you also have a favourite garden?  One you have visited several times and that holds happy memories?  Below is one of my favourites, Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, Gwynedd, Wales.


Friday, August 14, 2020


 We have lots of plums on the big tree this year and about half a dozen on the small one.

 The small tree is hiding behind the big one and has yellow rather than red fruits.

  Now we have had all the Leylandii trees removed from the top of the garden, the little tree has more light that is until the holly hedge grows taller now it too has more light.

Work goes on behind the shed to try and straighten the hedge as it was growing out sideways because of the trees.


  Where it has gone completely we are going build a fence and then eventually replace the shed.


          The yellow plums on the smaller tree are not as tasty as the others.  They aren't as sweet and juicy and the flesh seems denser and dryer in texture.



Even more plums came into the house last evening.


 The tree is still full with loads more to be picked.  Some of the plums will be given away and some we have frozen. I've been keeping old jam jars and we have a few kilner jars so the next thing is jam or chutney making and also bottling.

Monday, August 10, 2020

A Monday Miscellany

Last week, on a very rainy day before it got so warm and when it was impossible to either go for a walk or sit in the garden, we decided to tackle a job that has wanted doing for ages.  It didn't take as long as I thought it might, especially with a lunch break in between sessions.  It was so satisfying when it was completed.

We have a wall in the living room which is full of book cases.  We took off all the books, moved the book cases and cleaned and dusted behind them.

All the books were then dusted and put back in place on the shelves.

A job well done.  

We spotted this frog in the pond. We haven't seen many frogs this year so it was good to see one keeping cool as the weather got warmer and dryer.

 Our weekend newspaper had a free RSPB poster of garden birds.  We discovered that there were only a few birds that we had never seen in our garden.  We've never had visits from a Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Pheasant, Rook or Jackdaw.  All the rest we've seen either regularly or occasionally in the garden.  Birds are quiet at the moment as they are moulting feathers and need energy to do this.  Also food is abundant elsewhere in the natural world.  They will be back at the feeders in the Autumn and Winter.  We still see Robins and Dunnocks.  A couple of days ago I saw two Chaffinches feeding on the lawn and at the same time a Thrush popped out of the hedge and into the bird bath.  I didn't have a camera handy but it was lovely to see them.

 There are berries on the Juniper tree, I expect the birds will find them soon.

 Meanwhile over the last couple of nights we have set up the wildlife camera to watch for garden visitors.  It's amazing on the actual films how many moths, beetles and craneflies are flitting about whilst owls hoot in the background, but of course the main attraction is the foxes and badgers.

Badgers eat steadily whilst foxes have a tendancy to grab and run.

Foxes also cache food.  A few nights ago whilst we were sitting watching the vixen through the conservtory window she came close to us in order to bury a dog biscuit in a plant pot under the kitchen window.

 Nothing seems to bother a badger and certainly not a young, upstart fox.  I must find out how I can put some of the films on here.

I've noticed how the light is fading earlier.  Last week it was still fairly light at nearly 10p.m.  Last night it was almost dark around 9.30p.m.

As I type this the rain is pouring down whilst the sun is still shinning.  A short sharp shower which has stopped in the length of time it has taken me to write this sentence.

Friday, August 07, 2020

In the Garden

Flowers in the garden are all looking rather pink at the moment. The colour dominates from dark to very pale in shade.
Roses and Japanese Anemomes

Echinacea and Hollyhock


Do you have a dominant colour in your garden and if so was it by accident or design?  Do you have a favourite colour for flowers?  I must admit that my favourite colours for flowers are blue, white and mauve depending on mood sometimes a bright yellow or orange can be cheering.  I'm thinking of crocosmia and also marigolds and nasturtiums which haven't grown all that well in the garden this year.
Already as I type this it is very warm.  I've put towels out to dry but I'm staying in as next door neighbours are having all their hedges and trees trimmed, the noise of the machinery and the smell of both petrol and cut pine has given me a thumping headache.  I may sit out in the garden later this evening when it is cooler and quieter.  Take care and have a good weekend.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Into August

August already.  Days just fly by even though we are not doing a quarter of the things we would normally do with them. 

The weather has gone from cool to hot over the last few days.  There have been blustery winds throughout but the skies have been wonderful.

Above and below daytime skies on Thursday

Up amongst the clouds were at least twenty herring gulls, whirling, swooping calling with their evocative seaside sound.  I think many of them have probably never seen the sea.  That seems a great shame.

Above and below skies around 9p.m. on Friday with just a light rumble of thunder in the air and a few gentle spots of rain not enough to dampen anything.
There were also the sounds of people's voices from beyond the fences and hedges enjoying their gardens and the crackle and pop of fireworks could also be heard  in the distance.

On Wednesday we ventured to Waitrose which was very quiet, everyone wearing masks and respecting each other's space, the staff were well protected by screens and visors as well as masks.  All very strange but comforting too.  I was able to wear one the the masks sent to us by a good friend who has been making them over the last few weeks for friends and family.  We received them the day before they became mandatory and they are very comfortable to wear.  I wouldn't want to wear a mask for too long though but an hour or so was easily coped with.

A few posts ago I told you about the wheat that had grown in the garden and how we had harvested it and left it to dry.  We had hoped to grind it with stones but this rather romantic notion wasn't practical for various reasons so the grains were ground in the chopper and some French T55 flour added to make enough dough for four little rolls.

Lastly as I'm missing visiting places of historic interest I've been looking at places on line and have enjoyed some virtual tours of houses and gardens and church buildings too.  I was taken with one tour I found via The Friends of Friendless Churches.  I'll put a link below.

I hope you are all enjoying the weekend.