Monday 29 April 2019

Storm Hannah

Hello Friends!

Sometimes the weather throws us a real curved ball, and as some of you are aware, indeed some of you may have felt the impact, of Storm Hannah as she barrelled in from the Atlantic Ocean this past weekend and wrecked havoc with winds of over 80mph across parts of Wales and England for over a day and a night.

We see big storms often, in fact we are seeing them more and more than we ever used to, and we are, in a weird way, starting to get used to them.  I don't plant out much in the way of vegetables or tender annuals until well into May now to prevent having to start again.  Usually, the hardy annuals in the garden survive, maybe a little battered and bruised, but nothing too severe.

However, Storm Hannah did her worst and when I looked out at my garden on Sunday morning, while Hannah still rampaged about, I found, with heavy heart, that I had many pots overturned, including one big 100 litre pot with a fir tree completely out of the pot. That was bizarre, as only the day before I had moved it to a sheltered corner, so to find it upturned and spilled was annoying.

Roses, hydrangea, aquilegia, my prized pasque flower, a copper beech to name but a few horribly blackened and burned to a point that I don't know if they will recover this year.  Neighbours are all showing the same signs, some worse than others. One neighbour is distraught as she specialises in roses and does not have a single good leaf on any of her many established and prized shrubs.

Here's some of the damage:

My dwarf camellia, which had been doing incredibly well and I was looking forward to a spectacular display, but it is shrivelled and burned. Some of the buds look okay, so we shall see.

I can hardly look at my much loved pasque flower without crying. Yes, a few of the shorter stems survive, but anything that had already bloomed is gone, the stems cruelly snapped in two.

The same goes for every aquilegia in the garden

A close up of the copper beech leaves. Overall the tree looks black and the leaves hang ready to drop.

Roses are like this all over the garden, some green survives, so there is hope.

The same for the hydrangea

And my poor fir tree, it just isn't getting a break at all.

Mostly the damage is blackened and burned leaves {mostly roses and hydrangea} and the broken and snapped stems of aquilegia and my precious pasque flower, and upturned pots. Others have suffered uprooted trees and broken branches, fence damage, and such.  We've all had to wash our windows too, for they were mightily dirty with plenty of gritty deposits carried in on the salt laden winds!

I hope your garden survived!

Until next time ~~~
Deborah xo

Thursday 25 April 2019

My Garden Sings in Raindrops

Hello Friends!

I am sitting in my cottage window, sipping a delicious mug of Constant Comment tea, watching the garden sway and dance in the gently billowing breeze, and listening to the early morning music of the raindrops as they pitter patter on the panes, and splitter splatter on the stones outside. The timpani section echoes from the chimney, and the chirruping birds provide the most delightful chorus.

The birds have been singing their hearts out since early morning, just before the dawn, but for now they take the side line as today centre stage goes to the rain ~~~ my garden sings in raindrops!

What a difference a few days makes! Just last week, over the long Easter weekend, we basked in a mini heatwave with gorgeous sunshine, gentle breezes, and brightly blue skies. People swarmed to the beaches, slurped on ice creams, and I am sure much chocolate was devoured on the plethora of Easter Egg hunts across the land.

I took photographs of my garden in the sunshine, which you can see here.  Today, with the rain, the blooms look so different, and even though the skies are grey the flowers glisten and glimmer with shiny pearls and crystal raindrops.

Here are a few.

I disturbed a nest of newly hatched spiderlings ~~~ shudders! And away they scuttle!

However much we gardeners wage war on snails, it cannot be denied that in the rain their shells glisten and glimmer, and beautiful colours and patterns emerge on the self contained homes of thes voracious predators of lettuce and lupins.

and finally, a few more flowers and seed heads from the garden.

A positively purply pink party of synchronised swimming swans

The simplicity of a single blade of grass, elegantly decorated with pearls of water

and my favourite seed head of them all, the wonderful Pulsatilla vulgaris

I wonder what surprises will be flowering soon?

Until next time~~~

Monday 22 April 2019

Springtime ~ in which flowers emerge

Hello Friends!

I love Spring! There's just so much to love as the Earth awakens from it's long, slow regeneration over the cold, dark Winter months; the light returns bringing a few precious minutes more with each new day; leaves and flowers sprout, grow and flourish; and we look forward to warmer days ahead that put an end to the cabin fever days of Winter. If we are lucky, we get a taste of Summer days ahead, which is especially good over Easter when almost everyone has time off work.

Here's what's happening in my cottage garden as the weeks of the year turn slowly into late Spring.

I haven't decorated my front porch for a number of years. Alzheimer's is a strange disease, and while Mum ordinarily loved to see what I had made, as her illness progressed the disturbance to her environment caused by the simplest of things would bring on a change in temperament.  So, it was best not to decorate and disturb the familiar surroundings.  This year, it took everything I had to do anything at all, but I know she would love it, and hope she was smiling as she looked down upon my Easter buntings.

I've pottered about with some pots, and underplanted the slate trough with violas. I am slowly doing away with pots, everything will eventually find a new home in the evolving borders, but you would not think so to see the patio this year!

I love my white Pasque flower. It came into it's own, full of pure white blooms just in time for Easter.

It's now in that stage where the earliest of the blooms are turning brown and the temptation is to dead head and tidy it up, but I know that if I do I won't see the reason I grow this lovely plant, and that is to see, and photograph, the simply fabulous seed heads which provide a great point of interest for many weeks to come.

One of the things you will notice about me as I putter around the borders is that I am not fast, oh, no, I am a slow gardener for I like to give the awakening wildlife a chance to wake from their lazy, sunny afternoon dozing amongst the weeds, giving them an opportunity to escape to another spot, but not before I have snapped them!  Here is a beautiful Angle Shades moth.

Not moving in haste also gives me time to find mosses, worts, and lichens that scatter in the soil or on plant pots.  I think this is a liverwort but it looks more like something from outer space!

Last Summer, my village hosted a charity fundraising open gardens weekend. It was a relaxing two days, popping into every open garden for a peek, a chat, and often a cup of tea and some cake. A few gardeners had potted up small cuttings to sell to generate more money for the cause. I bought this, a Libertina, and completely forgot all about it until I found the pot yesterday afternoon. It's a striking plant, I love the bright, vertical stripes of colour, and I think my camera and I will have a lot of fun with this one as the Summer progresses!

Finally, for today, the Aquilegia have started to open, and I am pleased with this photo I took of the earliest bloom to break bud, looking forward to many more in the coming weeks!

Thank you for stopping by today ~~~
Until next time ~~~

Saturday 6 April 2019

An Accidental Adventure ~ in which books arrive

Hello Friends!

In the loosest possible definition of the word, technically I am on a self imposed embargo on book buying, so it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that this past week saw the arrival of two books into my not inconsiderable collection.

Here come the excuses:
  1. Both are out of print.
  2. One in particular is highly sought after in my locality, and I already have people asking me if I can keep an eye out for a copy for them too.
  3. Putting myself on a book buying embargo is a bit silly to begin with.
  4. They will be put to very good use, see below.
So, here is the first, and possibly most highly prized book purchase I have made in a very long time.  This is, locally, known as the Twr Y Felin Guide. It was originally written for genteel visitors to the peninsula to give them a general guide to the area but, in its day, quickly became the definitive guide. I do not know when it went out of print, but it did, and is now highly sought after by serious and amateur historians alike. When I found this copy, which is in quite good condition considering it is nigh on one hundred years old, it took me something less than a gazillionth of a nano second to quickly part company with just under £15.00 to secure it as my own. Originally, back in its day, it cost the princely sum of 5/-, that's five shilling, pre decimalisation and works out to 25 pence in today's money.

Here is the second, which I stumbled across on eBay during a random search for something else. Not so much a book, more of a pamphlet, it is a 1935 copy of a pilgrim's guide to St Davids. I don't know very much else about it, other than it cost me £1.75 including postage, and is, again, in quite good condition considering its age.

I had to share this image with the postage stamps. Aren't they lovely?  As a former Girl Guide, what transpires next will come as no surprise.

As I perused my two new treasures, an idea popped into my mind. Why not use these guides for their intended purpose?  So, my friends, that is exactly what I plan to do this summer. It will be my Summer Adventure of Exploration!  As and when the weather permits, I shall take a section of each in turn and follow in the footsteps as much as possible {for much may have altered in the last nine decades} I will endeavour to record the same photographic images as closely as possible to those in print and compare.

I think this is going to be fun, and who knows what I will discover along the way?

Until next time ~~~

Monday 1 April 2019

Blackthorn and Bunting ~ in which a robin sings

Hello Friends!

A recent visit to Melin Tregwynt proved a little disappointing in that the mill and weaving sheds were closed when we got there, but we were happy enough to sit in the cafĂ© greedily devouring a bowl of home made tomato and basil soup served with fresh, crusty bread hot from the oven and a large chunk of yummy cheese.  I am very easily pleased!  The shop was open, and I could so easily have come home with any one of the tapestry delights on offer, especially the current Throw of the Month, but managed to keep my purse in my bag!

Outside, fluttering gaily in the not unsubstantial breeze, this delightfully creative bunting caught my eye. I have never seen any made of tapestry, and now my mind is ticking over with ideas!

Spring is springing all around, and a few days of warm sunshine certainly encourages early blooming of plants and flowers everywhere.

The blackthorn is spectacular. Who needs cherry blossom when we have our own native gorse and blackthorn to turn our hedgerows into a visual extravaganza?

Around the valley, the blackthorn billows in great swathes of white, and in the coming days will continue to open and flourish. It brings so much pleasure to my eye as I walk familiar paths, looking forward to the turning of the seasons, the anticipation of the ripening fruits and making of Sloe Gin, a favourite tipple for me and for my home made Christmas gift hampers.

A thousand fairies, hidden to all but those who believe in magic, frolic in a flurry of white cloud across the meadow, through the trees, a bower of flowers, suspended in the air as they flit and float by in the gentle warm sunshine of an early Spring afternoon.

Shhh, be quiet as mice, for you do not want to scare them away, let's watch the magic for a while ~~~

I could stay all day, pointing my camera this way and that, capturing the delicate blooms, pure and white, pristine against a clear blue sky ~~~

Why! We're even led to Narnia in the snow ~~~

Pretty primroses, palest pink and creamy yellow, speckling a rustic riverbank, like tiny stars in a distant green galaxy far, far away ~~~

and serenaded by the sweetest voice of a darling wee robin, singing his tiny heart out, clear and clarion across the valley floor ~~~

Until next time ~~~