I’m typing whilst sitting on my new egg swing chair (must feature it one week, perhaps when there’s a dearth of prettiness left to feature) and I’m being entertained by music from next door’s youngest’s fourth birthday party. There’s a bouncy castle for the little ones but the parents are enjoying an 80s playlist which suits me down to the ground. That’s my era!
This is the closest I’m going to get to gardening beyond a bit of watering this weekend. We’ve just got back from a lovely week in Lanzarote, during which I managed to go flying off an e-scooter landing (heavily) mainly on my palms and left knee so kneeling is out for a while and dirt in grazed palms I’m guessing wouldn’t be a good idea. We stayed in a lovely hotel which, informatively, named a lot of the plants in its grounds.
I presume most people would know even without the label that this is a geranium (or maybe not?) but there were lots of succulents and other plants and shrubs which I was interested to identify. I thought it was a nice touch.
I’d sowed some seeds in the greenhouse before we went and gave them a good soaking on our morning of departure hoping they’d make it through the week.
I checked yesterday and the cosmos in the little terracotta pots had sprouted but nothing else. I gave everything a good watering and left it up to the lap of the gods. This morning I checked and a few nigella have appeared and one petit pois. I really hope I get some more petit pois. I may sow a few more when my hands are healed.
It seems the garden didn’t mind us being away because it’s got on with the business of the season admirably on its own. A couple of the pots were looking a bit sorry for themselves, but a swift watering and they’ve survived. The rhododendron was looking like it was about to explode with colour before we left and I was worried that we’d miss it completely …
… but it waited for us. A couple of the flowers are out but most are still getting ready. Such a beautiful bloom, this one. I’m so glad I rescued it from the sale table when garden centres reopened in the first relaxation of covid measures.
This Welsh poppy self seeded itself this year in one of my pots and before we left it had lots of foliage but no buds. Yesterday I noticed a bud, and this morning it had opened!
Similarly, my clematis Montana had some leaves but no buds just over a week ago, but now she has lots of flowers. More than ever before, in fact. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that she didn’t flower at all for a couple of years, then I got one or two flowers a year, but now there are quite a few. Lovely delicate linen coloured petals.
I’ll finish with geum Totally Tangerine. I thought I may have lost it this year, because an awful lot of the leaves were dead when I did some weeding and maintenance recently, but it’s just about hung on in there and now it has a flower. It’s definitely somewhat depleted from previous years, but let’s hope it picks up and gains strength through the summer.
That’s your lot for this week. It’s got to that time of year where I have to prioritise what to feature, rather than scrub around trying to find anything of interest. I imagine others are the same, so I’ll pop over to the Propagator to see what others have prioritised. I hope everyone has a great bank holiday weekend.
I’m writing this sitting outside drifting backwards and forwards on my new egg chair (thank you QVC) having spent the day getting stuck into some well needed gardening. I’ve decided to call it a day now, partly because I’m exhausted and partly because time’s getting on and I want to get a Six done today because this time next week we’ll be in Lanzarote (covid, security/check in delays and flight cancellation permitting!) so I won’t be writing a post then (although you could still pop to see the Propagator without me next Saturday and see what other treasures people are sharing).
Most of my points today relate to this photo taken yesterday as we left Dobbies with a fully laden boot.
My main purpose for going was to have lunch in their restaurant (check) and for compost (check) and bedding plants (check). However I also came out with several unforeseen purchases. Isn’t that always the way with garden centres?
So on with my first point (I’m counting the above as a preamble, not a point).
Most of the bedding plants have found a home, whether it be square, round or semi-circle. It was BOGOF on packs of twenty violas and pansies, so I got one of each. I’m so happy it’s finally warm enough to get on with the early summer planting. I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think we can be fairly confident that the final frost has been and gone. I had one cowslip in the wall basket from last year and I noticed another couple had self-seeded themselves halfway down the garden, so I dug them up and rehomed them, and added a couple of violas to make a pretty wall display.
I was intending to replace all my strawberry plants this year, but I decided to give the ones in our big planter one more year to see if they’ll perform so I just bought three new plants to replace the three original ones I had in a pot.
These are alpine strawberries and it says they’re perfect for pots so hopefully they’ll do well.
Somewhat dominating the space in my boot was a cotoneaster. I absolutely wasn’t intending coming home with a cotoneaster but, well, it happened!
I moved a couple of things around in the space behind my birthday planter and the cotoneaster fitted in perfectly there. It fills a space nicely. I also took the opportunity to deadhead last year’s flowers from the hydrangea that you can see in the background now the aforementioned frost has passed.
I sat down for a few minutes after planting the cotoneaster because it needed quite a big hole digging, and my back was complaining, and look who chirruped over to see if I’d turned up any worms.
Little beady-eyed robin red breast. He’s never far away when I’m out gardening.
I spent a bit of time in the greenhouse – 26.5° it was in there!
I sowed petit pois seeds in the green containers. I decided to try to start them off in the greenhouse this year because last year I sowed them direct and not a single one germinated. In the small terracotta pots are cosmos and in the bigger pot is nigella. I don’t know if either of these will grow because they’re old seeds that have been in the greenhouse since last year, but I thought I’d give it a go.
Finally, the first bluebells are opening their little heads to see the sun.
Aren’t they pretty? They seem to take so long to flower and then once the blooms have died you’re left with a load of unattractive leaves. Still, best to appreciate them while they last because there’s certainly no getting rid of the abundance of them in our garden.
I hope you’re all enjoying a relaxing Easter weekend with lots of relaxing, chocolate and maybe a bit of gardening. I’ll catch you all on the other side of our holiday.
Well, I’ll start by saying that I can’t believe that it took covid for us to discover the gem that is the Isle of Wight! Pre-covid, we didn’t really holiday in the UK, but the pandemic has changed so many aspects of life and has forced us to make a choice between no holiday and a staycation. We chose staycation, and while I know we’ll go abroad again as soon as we feel it’s safe and sensible to do so, we’ll also most definitely go back to the Isle of Wight. We had such a good time!
It didn’t start well. Firstly the weather forecast went from glorious sun and 20 degrees plus temperatures every day, to rain and grey most days and then our ferry crossings were delayed because one of the ferries is out of action. However, apart from the first night when I thought our caravan (and my car) might actually float away because the rain was so bad, the weather was actually pretty good and we both managed to get sunburnt despite wearing factor 20 (in my case, at least!) and the delayed ferry crossings allowed us to fit a bit extra into our holiday.
On the way there, our crossing was changed from lunchtime to 7pm so, not wanting to waste any precious holiday time, I booked us tickets to go to Portsmouth Docks which turned out to be an excellent trip. We saw the Mary Rose and looked around the museum first.
It’s incredible to stand there looking at the wreck of the ship which we raised in 1982, to think that King Henry VIII stood not too far away watching his favourite war ship sink during the battle of the Solent in 1545. It lay under the water for a remarkable four hundred and thirty seven years. There was apparently some question, when it was found, over whether we could say with certainty that it was the Mary Rose but I was amazed to read in the museum that we can actually put a date range on when the trees used to build the ship were felled! That’s almost too clever! Anyway, the age of the timber and the location of the wreck point towards it being the Mary Rose. The vast majority of the crew, including dogs, were lost when she sank despite her being so close to the shore, and we found many remains trapped in the ship and from analysis of the bones and artefacts found nearby, we’ve been able to assign probable roles to the men found. We can even tell where the men were likely to have been born, with reasonable accuracy. Just amazing.
Next we visited HMS Victory where you can actually board the ship because, in comparison to the Mary Rose, it’s a young ship having been built in the mid eighteenth century. Her most famous role was at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 when she was captained by Lord Nelson.
Nelson won the battle, but was fatally wounded by a musket shot which lodged in his spine, having already lost the sight in one eye and most of one arm in previous battles, and died below decks on Victory. It’s here that the famous quote ‘kiss me Hardy’ was supposed to have been uttered. The men on Victory slept in hammocks, apart from Nelson who, having lost his arm but being unwilling to ask for assistance to clamber into a hammock, slept on a specially made bed which could be quickly moved if the space was required for battle.
I love this photo of HMS Victory which I took from the quayside, including the giant statue of a Royal Navy soldier taking his girl in his arms.
On to the main holiday then. We found our caravan easily and settled in and then sat the rain out on the first night and luckily the rest of our holiday was dry and mainly sunny.
On day one we visited a model village in Godshill ….
…. and then went to Shanklin to have a wander around. Shanklin Chine was closed (more about that later) due to the previous night’s weather so we walked down the to the seafront and found an arcade to waste a bit of time (and money) in. I did my best to win an Eeyore but didn’t manage it unfortunately. In the evening I went for a walk down to our local beach and found myself a couple of shells.
The next day we’d pre-booked tickets to Osborne House, which was, allegedly, Queen Victoria’s favourite residence and where she passed away in 1901. Due to covid, we were only able to visit the ground floor rooms but they were pretty impressive.
The house is 1.2km from what was Queen Victoria’s private beach, so we walked down there and had a really relaxing sit on her beach for an hour or so, where I managed to find a few more shells and a stone which reminds me of a panda.
On our way back to the caravan we stopped by the Garlic Farm where you can go on a couple of pleasant walks and learn about different kinds of garlic. This is an elephant garlic flower.
There is also the inevitable shop selling their wares so we bought ourselves quite a few garlic products.
On our penultimate full day the weather was good enough for us to sit on our beach so we slipped and slid our way down the very steep access path and set up camp for a while. Hubby even went in the sea (far too cold for me!) It really didn’t feel that hot, but it was obviously deceptive because we both got a little burnt. The sun is definitely stronger in the UK than it used to be.
Luckily for our burnt bits, we packed up mid-afternoon and decided to go and check out Shanklin Chine after it had been closed before. It’s so magical. There’s a lovely waterfall and then the stream is surrounded by beautiful woodland foliage throughout. At the end you’re rewarded with a gorgeous sea view and then on the way back up there are some rescue birds overlooking the biggest leaves I’ve ever seen, which reminded me of something you’d find on Skull Island. According to my mum, it’s gunnera.
On our final day we went for a walk around the coastal path which was really good for the soul. There’s something about being up high and overlooking the sea that does you good.
We ended up in Yaverland where there’s a lovely beach and Wildheart’s animal sanctuary. We went into the animal sanctuary and had a look around. It’s only a small place, but we enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards we walked back around the path, enjoying the great outdoors.
On our final morning we had time to visit the Roman villa ruins at Brading due to our rearranged ferry crossing. This was also really interesting. Some of the mosaic floors, which are estimated to have been laid in 46AD, are pretty well preserved, really giving you a feel of what the villa would’ve looked like when it was newly built.
We had, completely unintentionally, chosen the weekend of the round the island race to return, so we were treated to amazing views of hundreds of boats sailing all round the island. We had a great view of this from the ferry on the way back. The photos don’t do it justice – it really was quite a spectacle.
I could wax lyrical about the Isle of Wight for much longer, but I think I’ll finish here and go and get myself some delicious garlic mayo for my lunch (probably with something else as well!) If anyone’s looking for a staycation location, I’d highly recommend the Isle of Wight – we had an amazing time and will definitely be back there again, and hopefully for a bit longer next time.