Weekend gardening

Why, I ask myself, does the simplest of tasks seem to take longer than I expect it to? I’m just nipping to get milk turns into returning home two hours later with a cushion, a pair of earrings and five magazines (and no milk). I’ll just quickly check my email before we go means five games of Candy Crush, two ‘cats make you laugh’ videos on YouTube and two purchases on Amazon.

I’ll tell you why. It’s because I’m a grand master of procrastination, the queen of avoidance and I have a PhD in faffing. It’s a family thing. There’s nothing I can do about it. I am actually externally pretty organised, but it’s only down to oodles and oodles of lists, calendar reminders and (if I’m completely honest) more than my fair share of luck. If I don’t do lists, it all goes to pot which is why all the things I intended to do yesterday have actually taken me until just now to finish! However, for those of you who follow me on Instagram, I can now reveal what the Asda mugs are being used for, and I can show you what I’ve done with my beautiful succulents. As well as showing you a couple of new buys from yesterday (incidentally, I went out for a phone case!)

So, as several of you correctly guessed, the mugs have been turned into planters. First of all I had to make sure the plants had adequate drainage so I made a hole in the bottom of each mug.

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First I used a metal drill bit and a hammer to (very) carefully tap, tap, tap to make a hole. The metal drill bit isn’t essential but is helpful because they have a very pointy end which makes it easier.

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Then I drilled through the hole (again, very carefully) to make a neater circle until I ended up with this all ready to plant up.

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The first two mugs (the flamingo and the unicorn) were really easy to do, but the Harry Potter one was more difficult, maybe there really is a dash of magic holding it together so it doesn’t break! Eventually it realised what I was trying to do though and it complied.

So then on to the fun stuff, I put an inch or so of gravel in the bottom of each mug to allow for more drainage, followed by the plants and some compost and I’m really happy with the result.

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Do you spy one of my little wedding succulents nestling in the flamingo? I chose the plants carefully with the cats in mind, well, Tinkerbell in particular as she’s the one who likes to chew plants. In the unicorn is a Venus Flytrap and a trio of cacti in the Harry Potter one. None of these are poisonous to cats and, I suspect, somewhat off putting because of their spikes and teeth. I intend to trawl through eBay later looking for one of those old fashioned metal trays to keep these delights in so that I can water them without fear of wetting the table.

So what of the remaining succulents? Remember I have six! I’ve kept one in its original pot so it’s exactly how it was when I was given it with its little ‘thank you’ tag as a permanent reminder of the fantastic day.

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There it is on the end next to my little air plant. I suspect it will need repotting eventually because I guess its roots will outgrow its teeny weeny pot. Succulents are very slow growing though so I figure it’s ok for now. Did you spot the other one at the other end giving my new little owl pot a spiky hair do? I’ve been eyeing up these owls in Homebase for weeks and yesterday there was one on offer because the little plant it was giving a home to was past its best, so I snapped it up.

So that’s three. Where are the last three? Oh, they’re hanging around somewhere.

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Here to be precise! I love love love this little window display. The rail was from Ikea and I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it when I bought it (aren’t those just the best purchases?) so I’m super chuffed to have put it to use. It meant I got to use my drill too. I do love a power tool!

The green elephant was also on offer in Homebase. I don’t know if it originally had a plant in it, but it suited me perfectly because it’s now looking after the little Kalanchoe which was originally in the owl. This one is toxic to cats so it has to live somewhere safely away from inquisitive feline paws – perfect! The last three succulents flank my cute little air plant that I’ve now managed to keep alive for a fortnight!

So that was today’s fun and now I’m going back in time to yesterday. I desperately wanted to get some of my many (many) recent plant purchases in the ground knowing that it was going to rain last night and today hopefully making them feel nice and comfy in their forever homes, so after I’d spent half the day faffing I headed out to the garden with my garden plan and happily started clearing the area that they were intended for. The area is a work in progress because I’m (patiently) waiting for a very special delivery that will go a long way to completing the front half of our garden. More about that in September or October when it’s arrived. This is how it looks now with my lovely shrubs planted.

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Left to right (not including second on left because we inherited that one – think it’s a privet) is Coprosma, Leptospurmum, Hydrangea, Acer and Eupatorium. They’ll all grow pretty big and should fill the space nicely. The Acer is about a foot tall at the moment but could reach three metres – wowzers!!

Some of these shrubs are just so beautiful it almost makes me question the big bang theory (beginning of the universe, not the TV show). How could such gorgeousness be the result of an accident not design? I mean, look at these beauties close up.

Coprosma and Berberis, both with their autumnal colours. Just stunning. The Coprosma (on the left) has smooth and soft leaves that remind me of a 1970s vinyl couch while the Berberis looks like Mother Nature has gilded the edges of its leaves with liquid gold.

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My Eupatorium with its beautiful dark green and purple leaves. I’ve never before seen a plant for which the word graceful was surely invented. It waves and dances in the breeze with such ease.

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Finally for today, my Polemonium. This is the plant equivalent of Phoebe from Friends! It’s quirky and crazy and odd, but I love it! Its leaves are all different colours yet somehow they all work together, and its flowers when it has them, stick straight up in the air like a 1960s hippie dancing with their arms in the air at Woodstock.

Time for tea, so toodles for now!

A wonderful wedding

Thursday was the wedding of my youngest brother and his lovely fiancée. They met whilst they were both teaching English in Alexandria in Egypt, but since returning to the UK, they’ve laid their roots up near Manchester, and that’s where the wedding was held in a lovely venue in Didsbury called the Didsbury House Hotel. I was so impressed with it that I’ve already put a review on tripadvisor.

Look how beautiful the bedrooms were! My ultimate bathroom dream is to have a rolltop bath so when I saw that some of the rooms had them, I had to opt for one.

The wedding went absolutely perfectly and my brother and new sister-in-law looked so amazingly happy all day. I don’t want to write too much detail about their special day because I feel it’s theirs to talk about, not mine, but I just had to share some pictures with you because it was all just so lovely, it was like a dream wedding, but they actually managed to make it their reality wedding (through an incredible amount of hard work and organisation, I might add).

The bride’s incredibly talented sister was in charge of flowers, of which there were a lot, and they really did take my breath away. There were roses, lavender, cow parsley, delphiniums, cornflowers and a whole host of others, all in shades of purple, green and cream. The scent was amazing and they really did help to give the whole day a magical feel. We now have two posies on our mantlepiece which make me smile every time I see them.

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This beautiful greenhouse was in the grounds of the venue and, look how beautifully dressed it is! It was perfectly in fitting with the theme of the day. I have plans to add a greenhouse to our garden in the future, but it’s an expense that I can’t quite justify at the moment, so for now I’ll just drool over other people’s.

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There was cake! Lots of cake! Scrummy carrot cake, Victoria sponge, cookies, brownies, flapjacks. An absolute dieter’s nightmare, but who diets on such a special occasion? Certainly not me!

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This was my beautiful place setting. A succulent for everyone as the wedding favours! I have an admission to make! Not everyone was as giddy over the succulents as I was, so I came home with six of them! I promise that I will look after them soooooo well and they’ll remind me of the fantastic day every time my eyes gaze at them. More to come on how and where they’ll be planted.

The bride and groom are both teachers and my brother’s class had designed the table plan and place cards. What a great idea!

One final picture to leave you with that I managed to capture during the ceremony. Is this the moment they officially became married? Not sure, but it’s certainly symbolic of it.

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Huge, massive congratulations to you both, and welcome to the family B. We’re so happy to have you.

Back to nature in Sutton Park

I was up early today because my car was in for its annual service. I have to say, I could quite happily have snuggled back down and stayed in bed for another couple of hours, but needs must and all that. Not so for Tinkerbell who couldn’t be bothered to get up so I had to make the bed around her. Lazy puss!

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Car duly dropped at the garage I skipped off down the road to Sutton Park with the aim of getting my step count in for the day (smashed it – 12036 steps and not even lunchtime). We are so lucky to have this park practically on our doorstep, yet I realise that we don’t use or appreciate it nearly enough. Close to 2500 acres of green open land, with seven lakes, gifted to the people of Sutton Coldfield by King Henry VIII in 1528, it’s been around as a royal park since the 9th century.

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Isn’t it beautiful? It was quite quiet today. Probably too early for children on their summer holiday and most other people are at work I guess. There were a few cyclists and dog walkers on the main routes but as soon as I veered off into the woodland areas I was blissfully alone. All I could hear was birds, crickets and my own footfall.

There are markers dotted around giving you information on the history and landmarks of the park.

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The park is full of wildlife of all kinds, big and small. I’m sure some of the smaller inhabitants have taken a quick drink of my blood so I’m not so keen on those, but there are rabbits galore – I didn’t manage to get a picture of one because no soon have you spotted one than it’s hopped on off into the undergrowth with its little white cottontail bobbing along behind it.

There are apparently ponies but I’ve never seen one, there are deer, foxes, toads, birds and various crawlies of the creepy variety. You can hear things rustling alongside you as you ramble on, and for those prone to high imagination such as myself, you wouldn’t be surprised were you to round a corner and find a bear taking tea or a unicorn preening itself. There’s magic in imagination.

I definitely didn’t imagine the cows though. There are a lot of them, roaming free and they’re B I G!! I’m sure they weren’t the least bit concerned with this itty bitty human, but I felt inordinately brave as I inched slowly closer to get some piccies.

These two are zoomed in …….

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…… but these aren’t. Pretty close huh?

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Has anyone ever died by cow trampling? Those cows could’ve decided I wasn’t capturing their best side and trampled over me! Hmmmm ….. they seemed far more concerned with the grass than photographer trampling (luckily for me!)

I felt ridiculously downhearted when I realised that the traffic I could hear meant that I was nearing the edge of the park bringing my little adventure to an end so I decided to go off-road, so to speak, and hiked my way through the (sometimes thick) foliage, all the while hugging the perimeter road so I didn’t get lost (that has happened before, and in that situation you don’t imagine bears taking tea, you imagine grizzly bears feasting on you for days!)

I happened upon this fantastic fungi before I was brought sharply out of my woodland wonderland reverie by the garage ringing to say my car was ready.

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