Wednesday 29 May 2019


No gardening, its been raining the whole day. Not the useful sort of rain for a gardener, giving the ground a good soaking and filling the waterbutts, no, just relentless drizzle. There are a great many words in the English language that describe the different forms of rain.  In Shropshire today's weather would be described as dabbledy, in Suffolk gravely and in other regions dringey or sloppy or a smither. In Scotland this sort of fine, misty rain is called a smirr.
I went into Bath in the morning to collect a book ordered from Toppings , one of the two excellent independent bookshops in the city. How civilised both these shops are and, oh, the temptation to come out with far more purchases than intended! At Toppings there is the added pleasure of sitting down and being given a coffee and biscuit. I had to fight my way to the shop through crowds of tourists, all dressed alike in plastic ponchos with the name of their tour emblazoned on the back. Another group were seeing the sights under what were very likely newly purchased umbrellas. I had to smile, what an impression the weather was giving, it could not be more British than this! It wasn't a day for wandering about town so I was home by lunchtime and had a walk round the garden to see if the drizzle was having any good effect. No, its dry as a bone beneath the leaves!

The artichokes are fattening up nicely
but the lemons are not happy!

Sunday 26 May 2019

At Susanna's

Its the arts trail time of year when artists and craftspeople from all around the area open their studios and workplaces to the general public. Last night we were invited to Susanna Lisle's private view. We were students of Susanna's father, Frank Lisle, when he taught the fine art students at Leeds College of Art in the early sixties. It was a lovely drive through Somerset and Wiltshire, the countryside looking beautiful in the early evening light, the roadside verges a froth of cow parsley and fresh green foliage. 
Susanna's work is inspired by landscape, gardens and geometric pattern so it seems very appropriate that she needs to access her studio from the house by walking through an ordered, balanced garden!

Susanna in the white pants.
And her sister, Rebecca, a children's author, also in white pants.
(These girls are creative, just like their parents.)
A lovely evening - there was a fair bit of reminiscing!
This morning I started my day, as usual, with a wander round the garden. Its changing rapidly now. The first roses are just coming into bloom. They are old friends, many of them came as cuttings from my previous house, over twenty years ago. Here is Constance Spry, one of my good doers, climbing up the wall.

I picked a few blooms for the house, Blairi, Pascali and other, un-named roses. Most of my named varieties are still in tight bud. I'm hoping it will be dry weather when Cinderella opens her flowers. If not she will sulk and we shall have nothing but balls of soggy petals.

I bought three new bare root roses earlier in the year and they seem to have settled in well. One of them is the delicate tea rose Marechal Neil. It needs winter cover so it is in a pot in the greenhouse. I have grown it before in the large greenhouse of our previous home, where its soft yellow flowers hung in profusion from the ceiling. It is going to take a few years to get a similar result - I'll have to be patient!

Thursday 16 May 2019

The garden in May.

Suddenly everything is looking fresh and green, the perennial borders are springing into growth, sadly not just the flowers but also that pesky, pernicious weed, ground elder.
I've resorted to a bit of hand weeding, which I'm sure is ineffectual but at least will stop the dratted stuff from setting seed.
There is still quite a bit of yellow in the garden but it is fading fast and other colours the I much prefer are starting to emerge.

The forget-me-nots that seed freely all over the place have been wonderful but are now past their best. I need to pull them out and put them on the compost heap. 
I'm always sad to see them go, but they will make space for my cosmos seedlings that are straining to be out of their pots.
Honeysuckle flowering on the house wall

and a row of iris in the veg garden.
Last years planting of chard has grown ridiculously large. I'll leave one to seed to plant for the winter. The spuds are growing well and have been earthed up - now that's a sight to gladden the heart of a Murphy!

Friday 10 May 2019

Heckfield Place

We took a holiday last week and spent the night before our Gatwick flight at Heckfield Place. It sits in it's grounds like the perfect doll's house.
Inside everything is equally  ordered and pleasing to the eye. We arrived just in time for afternoon tea and cake!
I loved the outfits worn by the staff; soft corduroy waistcoats and three-quarter britches and collarless shirts for the men, (think Gabriel Oak) and for the women a choice of full skirts and blouses, all very covetable.
Beautiful flowers and paintings are everywhere throughout the hotel.
This well-dressed woman looks askance, she doesn't seem too approving of the size of my slab of cake!

I think that our bedroom was one of the nicest hotel rooms that I have ever stayed in, fresh, home-grown flowers once again and every detail of the items carefully considered, even down to the electric kettle!

We walked through the grounds. intent on visiting the farm and market garden where the hotel flowers are grown, but we needed to cross a field and a harsh wind was blowing the soil so we retreated.
All was calm in the walled garden, the conservatory looking immaculate, in strong contrast to my own crammed and untidy one at home.

Some of the prettiest ranunculus on display all over the place.

And just enough time  in the morning to study the papers before heading to Gatwick for our afternoon flight.