Tuesday 25 August 2020


Summer feels as though its over and I'm gathering seed with thoughts for next year's planting.  The seed head of Nigella damascena, Love-in-a-Mist, is a beautiful, sculptural object. The seeds are held in separate enclosures and when they are ripe they shake out of the opening structure like a sophisticated pepper pot.

Nature gives very generously. I've collected thousands of seeds from just a few flower heads!

It is a good indoor activity, to be shaking next year's garden into paper bags. Outside the remnants of the storm continue, whipping the trees. We have a few branches down and the climbing French bean poles are leaning at a very strange angle. Amazingly,  most of the pears are still hanging on the tree - for now!

I've picked the indoor tomatoes to make room for the citrus trees that have been outside all summer.
The chillies are HOT! I think I'll give them to Wee One.
The greenhouse is the best place to be when the wind is hammering.

Tuesday 18 August 2020


 The days are heavy with threatened thunderstorms, we get a sudden downpour and then it is followed by  warm sunshine. Its certainly good growing weather.

The air is close and it feels quite uncomfortable to be inside, I'm happier to be in the open air whenever the rain stops.

My 'Cinderella' rose hates the wet and the buds become sodden, rotting balls. I've learnt from experience and now pick the flowers before they can spoil.

Its always nice to bring a few of the garden flowers into the house.
Our former neighbour, Sally, called today.
We sat in the garden for a good catch-up
then went into the orchard to pick plums.

Ouch, a wasp sting!
 I hope you'll think the sting was worth it, Sally, when you're eating your plum jam!
(There was another torrential downpour after she had left.)

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Just not British, is it?

This weather, with such high temperatures, is just not British, (and I love it!) Last Saturday a poetry zoom meeting had been planned for our book group, but one after another members called off. With restrictions easing they were sloping away to various spots, to rural Wales with no WiFi and similar excuses not to open their poetry books.  But with weather almost certain to be warm and dry, six of us met, socially distanced on the lawn, and it was lovely. 

I made, for the first time, sushi for starters. They were good fun to make, even though they came out a bit wonky. Having invested in a little mat and many sheets of seaweed I shall hope to improve over time!

Everyone was armed with two or three poems. The temperature was lovely and we sat well into the dark. Lanterns were lit, but the light that they threw was so feeble that it was difficult to read and the torchlight from our phones came in handy! It is a treat in this country to be able to sit comfortably and eat out of doors, the sort of experience that we usually only get when abroad on holiday.

One of my poetry choices.

The most memorable summer that I spent abroad was after completing five years as an art student. There were three art, one architect, and one medical student, all intent on having a perfectly idle summer in France before starting work in the autumn - apart from Rolf, the eternal student, who was to continue his studies at the Sorbonne. 

Rolf in Seguret.

We stayed in an abandoned farmhouse in a deserted valley and spent mellow evenings together, sitting long into the night, telling stories, singing and talking about our plans for the future, an early example of Louis Macniece's circle of talk and laughter. There was much laughter, aided by wine bought at the local market. We picked large yellow plums in the deserted orchard and cleared the water storage of 
weeds so that we could swim. I bought two ducklings at the market to swim in the cleared water. (Left with the village postman when I returned to England. He ate one of them for his Christmas dinner!)

Eckhart, the architect, was happy throughout the day rebuilding the walls.

It was idyllic!

Etching made from my duckling drawings, copyright R. Murphy.

Friday 7 August 2020

Family garden

Our younger daughter and her partner RK  bought their house a few years ago knowing that it required quite a bit of work. It turned out, as is often the case, to need quite a bit more than was anticipated. The roof was to fix, drains needed to be dug up, quite apart from their plans to knock down various internal walls and rearrange the living space. They are both keen gardeners, but lack of time and finances meant that the garden would have to wait. It is a steeply sloping site with shallow acidic soil. The house had been occupied by an elderly man and the garden left to riot, which, for me, had its own charm. The far end of the garden disappears under a canopy of tall fir trees and it will be a great place for our grandson to make dens when he is a little older, but before that a flat area was needed for kicking a ball and erecting his slide and swing.

Well, furlough has been quite a blessing, for while our daughter, Wee One, continues her work with the NHS, RK has been home and working on the garden, moving mountains of earth deposited on the front drive round to the back in order to create a more usable space. There were various plans made, lots of scribbling on bits of paper and string laid out on the ground while decisions were pinned down as to what should go where.

Now the retaining walls are in place and steps have been built to link different flat levels. Once the soil has settled the best bit will happen - planting!

I had been itching to see the work in progress but was confined to quarters because of the lockdown,(probably a great relief to RK that I was not around to pester him with my own suggestions!)  so last weekend was our first visit. Even at this early stage it looks lovely. How exciting!