Monday, 14 June 2021

Gardens big and small

I have often felt resentful lately at the amount of time I have needed to spend in front of the laptop when the weather has been so beautiful, especially over half term and last weekend. It won't always be like this, I know, it is just necessary at the moment, but that doesn't make it any easier. However, thank goodness for cameras and my need to take one hundred photos of a flower when one would suffice, because it reminds me that we did get outside and see beautiful houses and gardens and spend time with family and friends. 

We spent a lovely, if cloudy, day at Mottisfont House and Gardens with my parents over half term, drinking in their stunning walled gardens and roses.

Even though our favourite parts of the house were closed (the servant quarters upstairs) due to Covid, it was wonderful to be back at Mottisfont and walk along well-trodden paths by the river and through the gardens. We had coffee and cake, lunch outside, and rose ice cream, inspired by their rose collection. It was really nice. Best of all, Bella and Angus agreed to have a photo taken with me. My mum took a lot, and there wasn't one with all of us looking at the camera, but I still like it.

My lovely mum also treated me to this beautiful bunch of locally grown flowers which are just stunning and such a change to the usual supermarket flowers I buy.

The kids and I also had a glorious day out at Parham House and Gardens in West Sussex with my friend Abigail and her girls. It was a perfect half way point between her house and mine, and my first visit. It's small, but that is why it's so lovely. It feels more intimate than some of the bigger places locally and, although the house was closed, the gardens are stunning.

Nothing is too perfect and there's a beautiful mixture of formal and wild.

My favourtie part by far was the glasshouses and their collection of geraniums

While the kids probably wouldn't list National Trust properties and walled gardens among their number one past times, they were happy to be out in the sunshine and so long as there were plenty of ice creams purchased, it was all good. 

Our little garden is bursting with life lately. Angus is watering it every night for me and doing a good job so far, although I do have to check that he's remembered to turn off the outside tap....

Thank you for your advice re ash for slugs and snails - my parents had some leftover and I have sprinkled it liberally around all my sunflowers, cornflowers, dahlias and cosmos. So far, so good.

The rhododendron is still looking fabulous, attracting so many bees and just generally being a big, blowsy, lilac show off, dropping petals absolutely everywhere.

The ground in the corner of the garden, where the trampoline used to be, is in the process of being prepared and leveled ready for a new shed. It was delivered today, and took John and I an hour after work this evening to carry it round from the drive to the back garden, piece by piece. We are hoping to start assembling it this weekend and I can't wait to say goodbye to our current shed - honestly, I don't know how it's still standing.

Gardens aside, life is so busy right now. We are all good but I really want to get through the next few hectic weeks at work before I can start thinking about winding down for the summer holiday. I have just finished crocheting a granny square cotton top and I love it, I will show you soon. I am also working on my Stitch a Day sampler and English Paper Piecing patchwork quilt here and there. I don't seem to have much energy or enthusiasm for cooking at the moment - it's either too hot, or I'm too tired - but we are enjoying so much of the fresh fruit and vegetables which are in season at the moment, especially the strawberries. 

I hope you are all well and, if you're in the south east, staying cool in this hot weather. It's the kind of weather that would be perfect it you were on holiday but is a bit much when have to go anywhere or do anything.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Everything Growing

Hello! Wasn't the weather spectacular over the bank holiday weekend? After the coldest, wettest, windiest May ever, that warm sunshine was glorious. I have to confess that I spent most of the weekend indoors working on my latest university assignment which wasn't much fun, but needed to be done. Also, John was working so it's not like we would have gone anywhere or done anything. However, it was still nice to eat meals outside and take the dog out for a warm, early evening walk.

I do like May. I like that feeling of being on the cusp of summer, of watching the garden grow and change on a daily basis. And the cow parsley. After weeks of cold, grey dog walks it was so nice to appreciate the flowers in some appropriately spring-like weather.

We finally packed away the winter bedding. When I say winter bedding, I mean the brushed cotton duvet covers which are deliciously warm and cosy and one of the best things we've ever bought. I also packed away the woolen blankets and brought out the cotton ones but I'm not switching to the summer duvet itself yet - this is England and it will probably be cold again tomorrow.

There's not a lot happening in the house at the moment, all energy is being direct to work and university, and then the garden, which is looking good after so much rain.

The bees are absolutely loving the rhododendrons, it's lovely to hear them buzzing around while I'm outside.

The sweet peas have suddenly woken up and are filling out in their deep pots, just starting to climb up their bamboo and string frames.

I'm having mixed success with my seeds. In March I planted zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers and dahlias. Every single one of my zinnias died. Every single one of them. I blame the weather. (I generally blame either the weather or covid for everything at the moment, and I cannot blame the death of my seedlings on the corona virus....) But it's not all lost. I have just planted out lots of sunflowers in the big blue trough, and my dahlias are dotted about in various planters. Something is munching their leaves though, I will have to keep a close eye.

The cosmos are still in their little pots in the cold frame but looking good, I just need to decide where to plant them. Imagine if I could pick a tiny bunch of flowers from the garden which I had grown myself, from seed? Exciting.

The herbs have gone bananas in the planter from all the sun and rain - I can barely eat them quickly enough. It's saving me a fortune in shop-bought herbs though.

For the last six weeks or so I've been steadily working on my crochet top. It's now sewn together and I have just started the edging of the neckline, cuffs and body. 

On Sunday I laid it out on the floor to get a good look at it in the sunshine. I turned my back for a minute to find the pattern, ready to start the edging, and when I turned back someone had made themselves comfortable.

As you can see from the photo below, this dog does like to make a bed on all soft surfaces, whether they were put there for him or not.

All other crafting time has been spent on my Stitch A Day sampler. 

Highlights include: Angus's birthday, fun with friends (Eurovision, eating ramen, drinking margaritas), time outside (bees, a stream, cow parsley, wild garlic), food and drink (coffee, asparagus, French toast, pizza), time in the garden (hanging basket, overgrown lawn) and the everyday (trips to the library and charity shop, crafting, pick and mix sweets).

I am still loving this project and enjoying watching the colours gradually change throughout the year. There will be more green tones in June's embroideries before moving into yellow for July and August. 

We just celebrated John's birthday and the weather was perfect the whole day.

We started with breakfast in the garden then went down to Gunwharf in Portsmouth for a bit of shopping and a coffee.

Then a Victioria sponge cake in the garden, with family dropping round. It was lovely.

I've really enjoyed socialising lately: we had house guests come to stay for the weekend of Eurovision; I've drunk coffee in the garden with friends; drunk wine in other friend's gardens. It's been wonderful to need to extend the kitchen table and cook for bigger numbers again, to have all the family round in the back garden. Things we took for granted.