We’ve been busy, again. Somehow the urge to blog has dwindled but with spring now in full flow the sap is rising both literally and naturally. WoodBlocX contacted us in January to ask if they could interview us for their blog…..read the full story here https://www.woodblocx.co.uk/blog/itv-woodblocx-garden-makeover/
This coincided with a repeat of Big Dreams Small Spaces series two. It was funny to see us building the garden all over again and reminded us how hard we had worked. I have changed jobs since the first showing and so my new colleagues all thought Glenn and I had been secretly working with Monty Don without telling them. They were all equally puzzled that we had got married without telling anyone! They were quite disappointed to discover that it had all taken place three (yes really) years ago.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came late last month when I had a text early one morning from my sister to say did I know we were on Netflix. Probably the most impressive bit of coverage ever. So now we can retire into our garden, happy in the knowledge that we have shared our story with the world several times over.
As I write this from our new conservatory (oooh, I’ve got something else to blog about now), the rain is tipping down onto the garden. Everything is coming up again and some things are already very different from last year. It likes to keep us on our toes. This year’s biggest change is that the 60 tulip bulbs I planted have all disappeared. There are some rather chubby squirrels about though…
November and the sun is shining. Well, to be fair this photo was taken at the weekend so it was technically October but what does a few days matter. One week off work yielded much activity but almost none of it was spent in the garden. We have had the builders round laying the base for a much awaited conservatory so that has dominated our outside time. As you can see the garden has been left to do its thing which I think is to be encouraged. Too much time is spent fussing and worrying plants. Sometimes you just have to let things go for it in their own space and time.
We were given a small cutting of Salvia Hot Lips two years ago when our garden was new. Today it is almost triffid like, not yielding to any amount of pruning, defying us with utterly vigorous regrowth, flowering furiously all year. It has overshadowed the Alchemilla Mollis and the dainty Geum. I have hacked it back three times and this has only encouraged it to grow more bullishly. I intend to be savage once it has finished flowering and have taken some cuttings just in case I finish it off.
The cosmos are raging still and I am cutting four vases of flowers each week. Not bad for a small garden. We haven’t planted any new bulbs this year so it will be interesting to see what comes up in a few month’s time. I am hoping for a field of black and pink tulips but fear squirrel action.
A couple of weeks ago I picked all the crab apples from the little tree my mother gave me several years ago. I have managed to make one jar of jelly from it each year but this year I have four jars, a bumper crop. There are still some on the tree I didn’t pick them because at the time I was doing battle with a few garden spiders so rather than risk being covered in arachnids, I let the last few fruits stay where they were…for the birds….I tell myself.
It would be fair to say that Kew Gardens is one of the most visit worthy places in Britain. Even if you don’t like gardens or horticulture or history, it’s still a good day out and a nice long walk. We had booked this visit in a long time ago, it was on our gardening bucket list if you like, not that we have a gardening bucket list. August, hence the rainy skies and cold biting wind but it made for a more dramatic picture.
The first thing which took us by surprise was the entry price and the charming way the lady in the kiosk made a comment about her surname being the same as ours and would we like to add a voluntary contribution to the overall mortgage inducing price. “Oh yes” we replied as we puzzled about how we may be related but probably weren’t.
The next thing which surprised us was the lack of seating in the cafe we scurried to in the rain. Not because it was busy but because there weren’t many seats. Coupled with a quite extraordinary price for a muffin, we needed a seat to get over the stinging feeling in our wallet. But hey, it doesn’t matter, we were having a day out and this was a treat so let’s pay nearly £5 for a cake and to hell with it.
Thankfully nature smoothed things out and the rest of the day was spent wandering and exploring and generally marvelling at the scale of everything. Which I think is the whole point, showing off with plants.
The Great Broad Walk captivated us with its’ colour, grandeur and sheer sassiness. Yes we can do huge because we have the room so let’s do huge. When you visit a garden on a grand scale you are being given a glimpse into another world and often another time, an era when this was the norm for a lot of people. Well, ok maybe not a lot but a fair few. These days it seems unnatural and despite your best efforts, it’s never going to be possible to recreate any sense of this no matter how much you try. My only consolation is that you can plant hunt and get some nifty ideas for new things you haven’t seen before. This visit was no different. Glenn enjoyed the carnivorous plants which are a new found growing interest and I snapped a lot of textures and patterns for various arty projects.
So did we enjoy Kew? Yes we did. Would we recommend it? Yes we would. Is it value for money? Probably, we could have spent the same on a day out to Alton Towers but this way I didn’t vomit.
If you have never been to the Maldives, go to the Maldives. It is the most outrageously beautiful, fragile, isolated place I have visited yet. This picture was taken when we were there three years ago. Two weeks spent in utter awe and stunned smiling fabulousness. The colours, the incredible sea life, the odd balance between civilisation and abandonment. I felt hugely privileged to be able to be there, it didn’t seem right somehow. The staff at our small hotel told us how the sea level had risen by over a metre in two years and so the island was very quickly being claimed back by the turquoise sea. I wondered if we ever returned if it would all have been swallowed up, just the tops of the palm trees showing.
Our days quickly formed a lazy routine and this was part of our late afternoon stroll into the water to wait for passing fish (and sharks) to come along and say hello. Incidentally neither of us are this shape but I love how distorted we appear which indeed is much like the reality of the Maldives.
I completely love umbellifers. They draw me in. Every shape and size is of equal appeal. I sketch them, photograph them, paint them, collect their seed. Seeing them in drifts like this makes me stop and sigh. It’s like lacey fairy snow on a summer’s day. They are so dainty and detailed and yet so robust and virulent. I should really know more about this group of plants but all I do know is that they are the parsley family and some have edible roots, like carrots. I also know that if you cut them to bring inside for a huge blousey display, they drop their petals within minutes and smell like cat’s wee. So perhaps it’s best to allow them to roam free.
Just near our home is a large expanse of wild ground. In summer it is drenched in this stuff and you can wade through it waist high. If that isn’t relaxing I don’t know what is.
Relatively corny and predictable in a GCSE Art kind of way. The offering this week on the theme of opposites is Natural and Manmade. Two all time greats giving a relentless bounty. This was taken along our driveway. We actually planted a seed mix we won in a competition which has nobly fought to little avail with the stupendous poppies which came from nowhere and lined themselves up perfectly against the wall. Their huge verdant foliage is fleshy and robust while their rather delicately pathetic flowers cannot cope with a heavy downpour and quickly disappear. The colour of the petals is in competition with the hard red brick but although they weren’t ever meant to be together, they work. Like an ill fated love affair.