Flowers and Hope

Daffodils

This week began with a funeral as my family gathered to say our final farewells to my nanna who passed away at the end of February. By a lovely coincidence, there were daffodils spelling the word Hope, my nanna’s name, on the grounds of the Crematorium.

My nanna turned 93 last September and I feel incredibly lucky to have had her all through my childhood and well into adulthood, but I’ll miss her and life without her will be a huge adjustment for our family. It’s particularly sad timing as she passed away before meeting our baby, her great granddaughter.

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My grandparents on their wedding day in 1947

I’m very grateful to have such a store of memories with my nanna. I’ll remember her reading The Owl and the Pussycat to me when I was very little and reciting King John’s Christmas during Christmas dinner a couple of years ago. I’ll remember the sandwich cakes she baked for birthdays and special occasions, which were perfect every time, never burned, peaked, cracked or soggy. I’ll remember her singing songs from old musicals while she washed dishes, and her twinkling eyes and throaty chuckle as she told personal anecdotes.

When we came to clear out her house, there were only a few keepsakes I wanted, but I dug up some flowers from her garden that I hope will survive being moved to our garden and will always remind me of nanna. Have a lovely week. X

Late Summer in the Garden

Late Summer in the Garden

I noticed the first yellow leaves on the trees this week, and although the weather’s still warm, it feels like summer is starting to wane in our part of the country. In our garden most of the annuals have died back, giving us an excuse to tidy up the flower borders and rescue some of the perennials that I planted in the wrong places.

Learning from our successes and failures over this summer and last, we’ve decided we’ll only plant annuals and wildflowers in the bed under the hedge as they don’t seem to mind the combination of the greedy hedge and full sun that the perennials struggle with. In the bed closest to the house, we’ve replanted the Aquilegia along with a few new additions to create a narrow herbaceous border.

Missing the privacy that the fir trees that used to be there provided, and wanting a screen to obscure the eye-sore building behind our garden, we decided to create a border along the fence with plants too tall for our other flower beds. My husband planted clumping bamboo along the fence and I’ve been filling in the gaps with varieties of perennial Mallow, Cirsium Rivulare and a Beautyberry shrub – a plant that we first saw during our honeymoon in Japan – though ours is unlikely to produce any berries this year.

I love looking at before and after photos of our garden, seeing all the changes we’ve made since we’ve lived here, but our garden is still a work-in-progress and it may be a while until it resembles the picture I have in my imagination. Have a lovely week. X

Growing Together

 

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The heatwave appears to have come to an end in our part of the country, and we’ve emerged from the shade back into the garden. Over the last week, we’ve also enjoyed spending time with my parents in their gardens as well.

I often feel lucky that my husband and I have so much in common with my parents, and we’ve spent many happy hours over the years watching films together, sorting ourselves into our Hogwarts houses on Pottermore, and just chatting over mugs of tea, but whenever we’re together it doesn’t usually take long for the conversation to turn to the subject of gardening.

My parents – both introverts by nature – come to life when talking about gardening, always as eager to share their advice and show off their gardens as they are curious to hear about what we’re growing in our own. Unsurprisingly, I have my parents to thank for my love of nature and gardening, and one of my proudest achievements as a child was growing a fuschia from a tiny cutting, which has since grown into a bush measuring at least five foot tall and three feet wide, and now my dad has offered me another cutting from the very same plant for our own garden.

Gardening often brings out the most generous side of a person, and I never seem to part from my parents these days without one of them pressing a packet of seeds into my hand or loading my arms with whatever fruit or vegetables they’ve had an unexpected glut of.

Families today are often separated by geographical distance, conflicting work schedules and a hundred other distractions, and yet it is lovely that something as simple as our shared love of gardening seems to have brought my little family closer together. Have a lovely week. X

An Unruly Tangle of Flowers

An Unruly Tangle of Flowers

Sometimes it seems like our gardening to-do list is almost never ending as we slowly cultivate this space and bring our ideas to fruition, but the recent heatwave has given us an excuse to slow down and appreciate all the beauty of summer in our garden.

In retrospect, creating a flower border under the privet hedge was probably a mistake as the roots of the hedge stretch into the bed absorbing the nutrients and moisture from the soil, and the border is in full sun creating a challenging environment for anything we plant. There’s much more bare earth this summer than I’d like as some of the perennials we bought have struggled to establish themselves and I’ll probably have to move some of them elsewhere in autumn, but a few don’t seem to mind the conditions.

The Aquilegias were already flowering when we bought them, but the first of our own plants to burst into blossom was a little Sedum that my mum gave me from her garden, which is thriving in its new location.

Then all at once the annuals burst into flower – though just like last year, I’ve over-seeded the bed causing an unruly tangle of colour, and it seems like there’s something new to see every day as one flower fades and the petals of another start to unfurl. Have a lovely week! X

Making an Entrance

Making an Entrance

After such a long and cold winter, the warmth and sunshine of spring took us by surprise and we’ve been rushing to catch up in the garden. Our garden is very much a work in progress, and we always seem to have a mix of short and long term plans on the go at once, but over the last few weeks we’ve been focusing our efforts on improving the front garden.

We inherited four roses planted by a previous owner in the front garden: a yellow with pink edges, a sultry red, and two different pinks, one pale and modest, the other bold and slightly disheveled. At some point, I’d like to add another red and a peach coloured rose too.

It’s fair to say that the front garden has been fairly neglected since we moved in and probably for some time before judging by the weeds that have flourished with only the roses as competition, by far the worst of the weeds is horsetail. I’m loathe to use weedkillers, and I’ve heard mixed reviews about their effectiveness against horsetail anyway, but I’m hoping that I can weaken it by vigorous weeding and planting a selection of other plants that will hopefully be tough enough to compete with the horsetail.

A few weeks ago, we took my grandmother to a garden center near where she lives and spent a lovely afternoon catching up over lunch, helping her choose birthday cards for relatives and friends, and buying a few new plants for our front garden, including a hardy fuschia, a thistle and a tiny Kilmarnock willow. We’ve also added a perennial cornflower (Amethyst in the Snow), Rudbeckia Goldstrum, Geranium Ann Folkard and two Japanese anemones (September Charm and Honorine Jobert).Β It doesn’t look like much yet, but I look forward to seeing this part of the garden develop and hopefully thrive in the years to come. Have a lovely week. X

Just a Hint of Garden Envy

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Raindrops on roses…

My husband and I rent our home and it has a small front garden, which we try to keep tidy by cutting back the prickly, red Barbary shrubs someone before us planted and tending the half-barrel planters with our own little Japanese Acer tree, Tayberry, and Montbretia, but we’ve never really invested in the garden because there was always the possibility that we might move (though we’ve lived here for three years now), and we didn’t want to plant seeds only to be gone before they flowered.

I find myself feeling garden envy whenever I visit my parents. Mum primarily grows fruit because it’s easy to grow and expensive to buy in the shops, she reaps strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, rhubarb, apples and plums. Dad prefers to grow vegetables and takes pride in cooking us roast dinners with his own potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beetroot and onions.

It might sound melodramatic but I believe gardening provided a lifeline to both my parents in difficult times. Through periods of my childhood, when my parents were hard up, mum grew her own fruit and vegetables to save money. Later, when dad was going through hard times, gardening provided a distraction from his troubles, as he devoted himself to building raised beds, turning the soil, sowing seeds and eventually harvesting his crops.

Gardening is a lesson in delayed gratification. The slow, steady pace of gardening encourages us to work hard today and look forward to reaping our rewards tomorrow.

Our own little patch is too exposed for us to enjoy sitting outside in the sunshine, but I find myself furtively eyeing up garden furniture anyway. We are lucky to have lovely parks practically on our doorstep and the beautiful Scottish countryside not far away, but I yearn for a little patch of earth of my own to cultivate; I long to grow snowdrops in January, tulips in Spring and big, bold roses in Summer. One day we will have a garden of our own to lovingly tend, but until then I will gaze at other people’s gardens for inspiration with just a hint of envy. Have a lovely week.

 

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Our Tayberry