An Urban Jungle

The weather has been unpredictable in our part of the country this summer, we’ve had days of scorching sunshine and clear, blue skies, but almost as many days of torrential rain and rumbling thunder.

TheJungle

The back border has turned into a bit of a jungle as the clumping bamboo we planted has started to fill out, and the Cirsium Rivulare and perennial mallow have also become a bit thuggish, and I had to relocate our little Buddha statue to a less overgrown corner with the Heuchera and Japanese forest grass lest we lose him in the jungle!

Buddha

Heavy rain flattened the cornflowers and they never bounced back so I reluctantly pulled them out, which unfortunately left the flower border looking a bit patchy; we’re gradually trying to fill it up with perennials but I hope we’ll always have a little bit of space for my favourite annuals.

Have a lovely week! X

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On Your Marks, Get Set, Grow!

Flower Border

July is probably my favourite month in the garden, as it’s when everything seems to burst into action all at once. The flower border is overflowing with annuals as the cornflowers, calendula, poppies and lavatera are all flowering. Every year I tell myself that I’ll broadcast the cornflower seeds sparingly and every year we end up with masses of them.

Meanwhile in the vegetable beds, we’ve harvested some potatoes (Pentland Javelin) and rat-tail radishes, which can be eaten fresh from the plant or fried whole and sprinkled with salt as a side or snack. The sprouts, carrots and winter onions are all still growing, but the kale is ready to harvest and there should be enough to freeze to see us through the winter months.

There is just so much colour and vigour in the garden at this time of year, and it seems to change everyday as one flower dies back and another opens. Have a lovely week! X

A Day Trip to Jupiter

JupiterArtland

Summer has been a bit stop-start in our part of the country but we recently took advantage of a very sunny day with clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20s (hot by our standards!) for a little day trip.

Jupiter Artland is a contemporary sculpture park set across 100 acres of forest and meadows near Edinburgh. There’s a lot to see but I thought I’d share a few photos of our favourite exhibits.

In a clearing in the forest, there are statues of five little girls in various stages of a tantrum, it is a little bit creepy but Laura Ford’s Weeping Girl sculptures capture so much emotion and movement.

Several years ago, we visited The Cosmic Garden of Speculation designed by Charles Jencks and the highlight was climbing the spiral mounds, although the Cosmic Garden of Speculation is only open to the public one day of the year (or by special arrangement), the Cells of Life provide a similar experience here.

There was much more to see but these were the exhibits I found most memorable. Jupiter Artland appears to be a little off the beaten path but it was a fun place to explore and offers a more interactive and multi-sensory experience than traditional art galleries. Have a lovely week! X

Keep Calm & Carry On Counting My Blessings

Coffee with Mara

I had to take a break from blogging earlier in the month due to a sudden and unexpected bout of ill-health. Earlier in June, I woke up with blurred vision in one eye, and it continued to deteriorate over the next 48 hours. After a quick call to NHS24, I was encouraged to go to A&E who were unable to find any sign of trauma or infection and made an urgent referral to ophthalmology for the next day. After a full visual test on both eyes, including scans and eye-drops, the ophthalmologist diagnosed me with optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve), and has made a referral to neurology as it can be the first symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. M.S isn’t hereditary, but I do have a slightly higher risk of developing it as my mum has it. The good news is that I don’t have any other symptoms, and the ophthalmologist expects my vision to return fully in the next couple of months.

It’s been hard not to worry about the worst case scenarios but we don’t know anything for certain yet, and I’m trying to keep calm and carry on counting my blessings. The NHS receives a lot of criticism but I’m incredibly grateful for it, my access to A&E and ophthalmology was quick and all the staff I saw were diligent and compassionate.

Tea in the Garden

Losing vision in one eye has been humbling, unable to drive or work for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been housebound and have been grateful for simple home comforts. I’ve enjoyed spending time in the garden, and I’ve been very grateful for Mara’s companionship. Cats have a reputation for being aloof, but Mara is such a sociable girl, and she’s relished all the extra cuddles and attention while I’ve been at home. Most of all, I’ve been grateful for my husband, who has taken this latest setback in his stride, and has been an unwavering source of support and reassurance.

My vision is slowly returning, and I’m very much trying to counteract my fears with gratitude, but these last few weeks have been a reminder not to take anything for granted because life can change in an instant. Be well, and have a lovely week. X

The Ladybirds and the Bees

Bombus1

Although we live in an urban environment, we’ve tried to make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible by planting flowers that bloom at different times to ensure a steady supply of food for the insects from spring to autumn, and we’ve been rewarded with lots of winged visitors in the garden this month.

The cirsium rivulare (which is becoming a bit of the thug in the back border) is particularly popular attracting both bees seeking pollen and ladybirds that eat the aphids eating the plant.

May is typically a warm and sunny month in our part of the world, and it’s been lovely to sit outside enjoying the sunshine as the bees bumble and buzz around completely unperturbed by our presence. As always very grateful for our little garden and all the joy it brings us. Have a lovely week! X

May Day Gardening

Tulips

Just tapping out a quick post at the end of another hectic week, but no matter what else is going on in our lives, we always try to find time to spend in the garden. April is usually when we sow the first seeds outside, which means the garden is at an awkward stage in early May when the first intrepid little seedlings start to peek above the soil, but there’s still too much bare earth for my liking – though the tulips are providing a lovely splash of colour.

Back Garden

One of my gardening regrets is that I didn’t take more photos of the garden when we first moved here, though in my defence there wasn’t much to photograph except for four towering, dark fir trees along the back fence, a washing line and a mossy lawn. Since then we’ve cut down the fir trees, built raised beds for vegetables and flowers, planted two little apple trees, clumping bamboo, roses and various perennials.

Seedling shelf

I recently rescued a rickety, old bookcase that has changed hands between various family members more times than I can remember but now resides in our front porch, which has become a makeshift green house to start off some of our tender plants. This year, I’m growing three different varieties of chilli (Banana, Poblano and Cayenne), but only one variety of squash called Honey Bear. My spouse has started off some Sweet Aperitif cherry tomatoes, and I’ve planted a pot of Lollo Rosso lettuce because we had surprise success with it last summer and appreciated being able to snip off a few leaves whenever we wanted to make a fresh salad. Have a lovely week! X

A Garden in Progress

Tulip Ballerina

Winter often seems like the longest season in our part of the world, and it always feels like such a relief to see leaves on the trees again, and tulips and daffodils in full bloom in April. The Easter Bank Holiday coincided with a spell of warm, sunny weather and we’ve spent most of our long weekend in the garden. April is always a busy time of year in the garden, heralding a period of growth and change, but we’ve also enjoyed just sitting out in the sunshine taking it all in and anticipating the growing season ahead.

As much as I enjoy visiting public gardens and flower shows, I often find more inspiration from my fellow garden bloggers and I love seeing real gardens with washing lines, water butts and compost bins, as these are all signs of use and life often missing from landscaped and designed gardens. Our washing line cuts across the garden, and I’m hoping that when our garden is more established it will be less obvious, but in the meantime I’ve create little miniature flowerbeds around the base of the poles. I’ve planted tete-a-tete daffodils that I bought reduced at a local garden center in them, and I’m also hoping to train sweet peas up the trellis.

Fed up battling against the challenging conditions in the border under the hedge, we decided to move part of the L-shaped flowerbed turning it into a T-shape, it’s still in full-sun but plants won’t have to compete with the hedge roots now, and as a bonus we can trim the hedge without all the branches and leaves falling on the bed below.

Our garden will never win any awards, but it’s an eclectic patchwork of our experiments and whimsies, and it brings us an enormous amount of pleasure and fulfillment. Happy Easter and have a lovely week! X