Friday 30 April 2010

Monthly mosaics...

I've been continuing with my Flickr 365 project and although I didn't get round to posting my March mosaic last month, I did get it made.

Here's the one for April.  There is a predominantly flowery theme going on, it seems!  There is always something out in my garden that is good to capture at this time of year.

I really hope I can keep the momentum going and stick to the project for the whole year.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Four years...

Today is Tom's fourth Angel Anniversary. 

This rose is on my conservatory windowsill, three others like it are at his headstone.

When in doubt, grow stuff... is always a good reminder that exercising patience is a virtue and that things will always continue to grow.

No matter what.

Sunday 25 April 2010

An Elephant in the Room...

That time of year is looming again and it seems I am filled with a nagging feeling of anticipation that goes hand in hand with a nausea that hangs around and a mood that is heavy and unforgiving.

I attended the annual Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance at Great Ormond Street Hospital yesterday.  I always come away from it with the carefully chosen words of the chaplain stored in my head.  This year he talked about the elephant in the room: you know, the one that is sometimes so big, it is hard to move around it, yet we do.  The one who all we want is for someone to mention its name.  The one who, if we actually mentioned the word death, then we could, maybe, talk about life.  A life that had the power to shape mine. He also read some words given to him by another bereaved parent.  The metaphor used this time was shoes and the fact that we are wearing them on a daily basis regardless of how much they hurt.  It's not as if we could take them off and have a break from them or let someone else wear them for us, just for a while.  They stay on our feet and we hope that one day, the hurt will become less and less noticeable.  I wear them and have become adept at hiding the pain of them.

It's only taken four short years for me to attend on my own.  That sounds really mean as I know there are two very good friends who would have come if they could.  No2 declined and so it was just me.  It was hard to sit there, on the end of a row (carefully chosen, so as I didn't have to sit between 2 people) watching families united in their grief.  I lit a candle for Tom and tried to sing the hymn that we sang at his funeral, with silent tears rolling down my face.

I stepped out of the chapel into the sunshine and walked back to St Pancras to catch my train home.  I didn't feel like talking to other people there this year.  The one person who I was hoping to meet up with wasn't there - maybe she was stranded abroad somewhere still...

I am going to go to the zoo again on Thursday.  It's good to have made a decision about what to do on Tom's anniversary as it takes the heartache of trying to think of something away.  I'm hoping No2 will want to come with me.  I'm not his favourite person at the moment - his Facebook status is ' I f***ing hate my mum' and it had 45 comments at the last count and not one of them in my defence.  I don't really know what exactly I've done to deserve it, but there you have it.  One not here and one who hates me enough to broadcast it.

I think I'll stop now.  My coffee is finished and I ought to get up.  I have a quilt to finish, plants to put in and seeds to sow.  Time to just hit the publish post button and roll with it.

Friday 23 April 2010

Lacock Abbey...

I went to Lacock Abbey yesterday, for the first picnic of the year.  I am determined to make more use of my National Trust membership this year.  I hadn't realised that the whole village was part of the National Trust.  It was picture postcard stuff.

The Abbey was once a nunnery and evidence of decades of footfall could be seen on the stone steps.

It had countless architectural details to admire and the blue sky (again), showed it off beautifully.

I learnt that by making the spiralled chimneys run in opposite directions, it created a natural updraft for the smoke to rise.

Wouldn't you just love a shopping list like this?

And rather than have signs dotted all around, instead there was a reason not to sit on the chairs!

I'd say 12.45pm was lunch time - sorry, no photos of the picnic, too much food to be eaten...

The grounds were showing all the signs of spring with wild primroses, more fritillaries and the wild garlic was almost out, with bluebells ready to follow.

Some trees still showed no sign of new growth, while others were acid green with new leaves.

Or laden with blossom.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

An Annual Membership...

Yesterday, I met Kristina at Kew Gardens.  We have been planning a 'skills swap' and the idea was that if we both took out an annual membership at Kew, it would provide a lovely setting plus would give us the opportunity to visit Kew regularly throughout the year.

The blossom trees were in full bloom...

...and coupled with the blue-est of plane-free skies, they were the perfect picture of spring.


Nancy had let me know that the magnolias were stunning and she wasn't wrong!


I have to confess to not being a huge fan of magnolias but this particular one was incredibly vibrant, with the most enormous flowers.

Gorgeous, gorgeous shades of pink.


Against that glorious sky.


The Temperate House had just had a shower...


...and it seems that there is always a robin around.


I loved the natural planting of bulbs in the outside areas and these Snakeshead Fritillaries were wonderful - look at the markings on the flowers - just like snakeskin.


The Wild Garlic was in flower and I bought a grow-your-own pouch from the shop, along with some other seeds.


This euphorbia put mine to shame - it reached my shoulder! I'd love this variety somewhere in my garden.

Finally, I couldn't resist taking this photo of a cloud I spotted while waiting for my train - it looked just like Great Britain!


Needless to say, our skills weren't swapped, in spite of having bags of yarn and hooks at the ready and having TWO sit down breaks with lunch and cake...  Too much chatting and admiring the gardens, I'm afraid.

Next time!

Sunday 18 April 2010

Sowing and sewing...

It's addictive - this blogging and gardening!  Blue skies and not a smidgeon of volcanic ash to be seen.

I have spent the whole weekend outdoors and it's been wonderful.  My spirits are lifted having achieved so much.  The you know what  is done - now I can have fun choosing some new plants for it.  I've got a few ideas but I will devote some time browsing around Crocus for tips and more inspiration.

In my vegetable beds, I have sown shallots and red and white onions.  I've covered them with fleece until they establish otherwise they will get dug up by the birds.

My greenhouse is full of seed trays.

Today I have sown:

  • Borlotti beans
  • French beans
  • Red peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Courgette - yellow and green
  • Sweetcorn
  • Basil
  • Ornamental gourds
  • Cucumbers

  • Sweet peas
  • Cosmos
  • Ammi major
  • Cup and saucer vines
  • Cleome
  • Salvia
  • Dill (for cut flowers)

I'd like to buy some:

  • Pumpkin
  • Delphinium
  • Golden cherry tomatoes
  • Passion flower

After a couple of slices of toast and jam with a mug of strong tea at around 5.30pm, I sat for a leisurely hour, still outside, doing some relaxing hand-quilting to finish off the day.

Saturday 17 April 2010

My garden #7...

Progress has been made today... took me the best part of three hours to weed The Back Border...

...I'm two thirds of the way there...

...perhaps another hour or so in the morning and I'll have done it!

Actual plants were uncovered! Delphiniums, iris, aquilegia, astrantia and my lovely alliums.

I had several robins giving me a hand in clearing the grubs from the disturbed soil.  Look at his mouth, full of worms!

They were incredibly tame, sometimes mere inches away from where I was working.

The tulip bulletin of the day is that upstart from the fragrant collection flowered today - delicate pink, white and lime green streaks.

And the Lady Jane have been sunbathing again.  Angelique are ready to burst into flower.

I feel well and truly inspired to spend more time out in my garden now - it's amazing what a bit of blogging can do for motivation.

Hope you're having a good weekend too!  Time for a glass of well-deserved wine, I think...

Friday 16 April 2010

My garden #6...

After the summer, when the shops are full of Christmas (sorry!), look out for the bulb collections in Marks and Spencer.  They conveniently pack them together in collections to take the umm-ing and ahh-ing out of bulb buying.  I did last year and am now reaping the rewards of my last-minute planting.

I planted this dark tulip collection in 2 pots outside my front door.  They are all in bud and are about to look fantastic.  Of all tulips, I love dark ones.

I also bought this fragrant collection and stuffed them all in one wooden tub.  I don't ever pay attention to the spacing suggestions! 

Already flowering are these wonderful bright pink tulips, Christmas marvel.

And these delicate, pale narcissi, tresamble.

I hope the alliums flower while the others are still out.

The muscari in this post came from this collection, which I planted in the window-box outside my kitchen.

The crocus flowered in February, so the picture on the box is a bit misleading, but  I'm enjoying seeing the tulips everytime I stand at my sink.  Which is quite often...

I'm hoping to tackle the border that shall not be named this weekend...

...and finally sow some seeds...

Thursday 15 April 2010

My garden #5...

I've talked about my favourite flowers this week of garden-related posts and today I want to share my favourite shrub - amelanchier or snowy mespilus.

I have had one in every garden I've ever had.  It's one of those plants that gives, what the garden experts say, 'year-round interest'!

In February it starts making buds that get longer and longer through March...

...until they are fit to burst in April.  It is a prolific flowerer.

It looked stunning against yesterday's blue sky.

The flowers, when they open, are so delicate.

It always seems that they get blown away immediately and the garden looks like it's been snowed upon.  Through the summer, it is dressed from top to bottom in perfect oval leaves which, come the autumn, turn to all shades of red. It is then full of small black berries that are loved by the birds, especially blackbirds, who greedily eat them.

I've had this one for 8 years now and it is a lovely height without being overbearing.  My perfect shrub.