Long Overdue Catch Up

I was intending to write a Six on Saturday today given that the garden is waking up and there’s more to share, but then I realised I also wanted to write about our holiday so I’m combining the two (along with any other random thoughts that may enter my head!) But first, a holiday! Yes, that’s right, we actually managed to have a holiday, and in a different country at that!

Hubby was unexpectedly given three weeks holiday because the days needed using up, so we took the opportunity to book a short break in Gran Canaria. It didn’t turn out to be a simple as originally planned – we were due to fly out on 10th March (so we should be there now!) but a mix up in the holiday meant we had to bring it forward a couple of weeks. Much thanks to my boss for being so flexible in letting me change my holiday!

Anyway, Gran Canaria was the only one of the four main Canary Islands that we hadn’t been to, and we wanted somewhere with (pretty much) guaranteed sun. As it turns out, we pretty much could’ve been anywhere hot because we barely left the complex. After so long without a sunny break, we just wanted to chill out and recharge our batteries, and we were only there for four nights so we weren’t there long enough to get bored of lying around.

I just have to have a quick Brexit moan!

A stamp in my passport for an EU country. Honestly, it made me feel a leper! Anyway, it is what it is! I need to get over it, and currently there are far, far worse things happening in the world. As you can see, we flew out on 24th February which is the day that Putin decided that millions of innocent people needed to have their lives disrupted, at best, or ended at the other end of the scale. It was incredibly surreal to be lying on a sun bed in the sun with people going about their normal holiday lives around us, whilst a war was being waged a few hundred miles away.

I didn’t take many holiday photos because there’s only so many hotel photos you want/need, but I did snap some of the greenery around the hotel with a future Six on Saturday in mind.

There’s the obligatory palm tree and sun picture which I took as we were waiting for our tranfer back to the airport so I could remember the last bit of sun. Next to that, a beautiful bloom from around the pool. I don’t know what this is, but they were in pots all around the pool and in the sunlight the colour was amazing! Underneath that an impressive cactus and next to that, the olive tree of dreams. I have one in a pot that looks nothing like this at all!

On our first full day, we were treated to a visit from this beauty.

I tried really hard to get a photo that represented the vivid colours accurately, but I didn’t manage it, so I resorted to filters to get it to look something like an approximation of reality. The butterfly was beautiful, and huge! It was at least the size of an adult palm.

Typically for us on holiday, we managed to find a cat.

We joked that she looks like Tink’s grandma! Lovely as it is to find a cat to fuss, it’s still always good to get home to our girls waiting for us in their new basket.

It’s a month or so till our next holiday and we have to leave them again and I’ve recommenced my healthy eating and exercise regime. This week we discovered Pinch of Nom’s Diet Coke chicken, except we did it with Pepsi Max Cherry and Quorn pieces – absolutely delicious, full of veg and very low in calories – nutritious and delicious!

Back home, and spring has definitely sprung and what says spring more than daffodils?

Unfortunately the rest of my daffs have been flattened! Ordinarily this would really upset me, but, whilst I’m not happy about it, the reason for their flattening is good (and there are a few which look like they’ll recover). The week after we got back from Gran Canaria, our neighbour had the biggest of his trees chopped, most of which they did from our side, and the clean up involved a petrol powered leaf blower which caused the aforementioned flattening!

They chopped loads off, but I have to admit (especially as we contributed half to the cost) to being a little disappointed that they didn’t chop more. The height has been reduced significantly, but I was hoping they’d thin the trees out more too. However, it’s better than it was before, there’s already more light in the back of our house (and my home office is in the back bedroom that you can see so it’s not insignificant) and we remain to see how much more sun we get in the summer. Incidentally, I think I’ll look into getting a petrol leaf blower because our patio has never looked so clean, I’ll just be more careful around the daffs!

There are more and more signs that the garden’s waking up appearing almost every day. I always try to say to myself around this time of year, that I must appreciate the fact that we’re on the up again, days are getting longer, the sun is gearing up to shine on us and new shoots are emerging, because seemingly in no time, we’ll be past the longest day and heading back down. For now though, let us not think about that because it’s a long way off.

First is my polemonium which I bought to put in one of granny’s pots last year. I thought it had died so imagine my delight when I looked at it today and there’s new growth coming through. That’ll teach me not to read labels – I didn’t know it would die down and come back in the spring. Next to that is the cowslip that I rescued last year after it self seeded itself. It’s got such beautiful sienna edged petals – I’d never seen a cowslip that wasn’t bright yellow. Underneath that is one of my raspberries which has some leaves. Fingers crossed that I might get some fruit this year. Finally, beautiful flowers have appeared on my cherry thing! I got this from QVC last year, and I can’t remember what it is, but it’s some sort of cherry blossom,

Unfortunately, with flowers that you want, come plants that you don’t! The weeds have started growing again already!

There’s even some herb Robert growing on my little sleeping dragon!

Finally, I’m going to leave you with a picture of my latest cross stitch which I got framed recently, purely because I’m really pleased with it so I want to showcase it!! Indulge me if you will.

That was a lot of info in one post – hope I haven’t bored you all silly! I’m off to order a takeaway now – hope you all have a great weekend.

Six on Saturday 19th June

My offering is late this Saturday because I’ve spent all day in the garden, mainly focused on one particular project and finishing off with a little bit of general gardenkeeping (is that a word? Housekeeping is, so why not gardenkeeping?)

Anyway, this week I’m mainly talking about my new planter which I have bought in an attempt to fill the problem space alongside our lawn and underneath part of next door’s jungle which gets no sun (literally none) and is zapped of all goodness and moisture due to the aforementioned jungle. I figure a planter will be easier to maintain since I can control the soil and the watering much easier. That’s the idea anyway. Who knows if it’ll work. Here’s hoping because the planter was flipping expensive and backbreaking to put together (although I am suffering with my back at the moment, so it may not be so bad for a healthy backed person!) and I had to put A LOT of compost in it!!

Here is it with hubby valiantly brandishing the screwdriver as if he did the whole lot!!!! To be fair, he was at work when I put the majority of it together and I’m too impatient to wait for help unless absolutely necessary. Each of those half moons of timber was separate and had to be joined, and they didn’t have pre-drilled holes! I just needed help to put the panels together once I’d constructed them because it was pretty unwieldy because of the size.

I decided to fill some of the bottom with various paraphernalia to use up some space because I’d calculated that it would hold 1000 litres of compost. It was quite good actually to get rid of some of the rubbish lying around the garden and put it to good use (and save me some money!) As it turns out, either my calculations were wrong, or the dimensions given were wrong, but it actually took 1350 litres of compost, even with the detritus in the bottom, which involved two trips to Homebase. Luckily hubby wasn’t working this morning so I didn’t have to carry it all from the car to the garden because that really wouldn’t have done my back any good! It’s already complaining about the amount of lifting and digging that I did actually do.

Eventually, after that second trip to Homebase, I managed to get it filled and, what do you know, it stayed together and I think it looks pretty good, even before the plants were added.

In the lefthand side of the planter we have, back left, my very first sale table plant that I’ll be really upset at if it doesn’t tolerate being moved, my hebe Purple Pixie. It’s one of the few plants that actually has managed to compete successfully with the jungle. In front of that, the pinky thing, is a weed I think, but it’s a pretty weed so I kept it and in front of that is a hosta which is a shade-lover anyway so has managed to stay alive there for a couple of years. Next to the hosta is a sedum which self-seeded itself elsewhere in the garden. Also a shady lady so should be fine there. Behind that is my fuchsia Delta Sarah which also prefers some shade. It’s a couple of years old now and has come back to life this year. I pruned it quite significantly back to the regrowth so hopefully it won’t object to the upheaval. Behind Sarah is a new plant that I picked up a couple of weeks ago at Dobbies. It’s a nepeta and it should be ok with shade as long as I keep it topped up with water until it establishes. Nestled next to the nepeta is an Asiatic lily. I really don’t know how that will take to the movement, but I thought I’d try it – you never know. In front of that I added some white begonias because they’re pretty tolerant of anything that you do to them and they brighten up a darker spot.

Moving to the back right of the other end of the planter we have acer Butterfly. This is also new so I’ll make sure it gets everything it needs to thrive. In front of the acer is my coprosma. This is the third time the poor thing’s been moved because it wasn’t doing well in it’s first two spots. I talked nicely to it and promised never to move it again if it can do its best to settle in well here. Next door to the coprosma is a plant that my in-laws bought for me and I can’t remember what it is! Having just consulted google, I think it may be a Japanese laurel. Back and left from there is another new plant. I ordered this one from Thomson and Morgan in February and it only turned up a couple of weeks ago! It’s a sarcococca which I got because my aunt told me that they smell amazing and should be ok with shade. Immediately in front of that is fuchsia Snowcap. This is one of the six that I ordered from QVC which got turned upside down by Hermes and arrived in a bit of a sorry state! I’ve been tending to them carefully ever since and I think I’ve managed to save them all (although one is still a bit touch and go – it’s in one of Granny’s pots for good luck). Goodness knows where the other four are going to go, but I really should decide before they get pot bound! At the very front is another sale table find and I can’t (even with the help of google) remember what it is. It has a really odd flower that looks like some kind of alien, however it didn’t look very happy before I moved it so I’m not expecting it to survive, but, again, you never know! I’ve left a bit of space at the front because I’d like a couple of heucheras there but I don’t own said heucheras yet and I think I’d better wait till pay day to make any more purchases!!

I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out and it looks so much better than the mostly empty space before did. I’ll have to keep on top of the maintenance because most of the jungle is made up of fir trees which like to drop their needles in abundance. This is good sometimes because I think it does help to keep moisture in, but it’s not good when it covers the poor plants just trying to survive underneath. I hope I haven’t planted things too close together – I’ll just have to see how they get on as they (hopefully) get bigger.

I’m going to finish up with another raised bed that I’ve been tending today and over the last couple of weeks.

I’d already planted out the marigolds, sweetpeas and runner beans and they seem to be doing ok despite being trampled on by any number of neighbourhood cats, foxes, squirrels and magpies! The runner beans and sweetpeas are all starting to wind their way up the wigwams and all the marigolds have buds waiting to spring forth with orangy gorgeousness. Today I added four sunflowers (short ones) that have been growing in the greenhouse. They got attacked by slugs so were somewhat put back in their growth but I’m hopeful that they’ll survive. I also planted out my second batch of cosmos after the first lot also fell foul of the slimy critters. You can’t really see them, but they’re in the middle. I don’t normally stake cosmos, but they were all looking a little droopy so I decided to give them a little helping hand, especially as we’re expecting rain again tomorrow which might batter tiny plantlets (I’ve made that up, but they’re more than seedlings, but not quite plants yet).

All in all it’s been a most satisfying (if expensive) day of gardening and I’m feeling happily accomplished. I’m off to check out some of the other Sixes now that I’ll be able to find on the Propagator’s blog – why not join me? Enjoy the rest of the weekend – happy gardening!

It’s been a while ….

I’ve missed a couple of Six on Saturdays and haven’t seemed to find the time to write any other time for a while, so I thought I’d use some of the bank holiday to write a quick catch up on the last couple of weeks.

My new love of Lego continues. I succumbed to ordering 4 Privet Drive, the house that Harry Potter lives in with Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and Dudley and it’s fab. You can make Hogwarts letters come flying out of the fireplace like they do in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Ron’s blue Ford Anglia really does pull Harry’s bedroom window out as it does when Ron, Fred and George come to rescue Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. You can even open up the side of the house to see inside the cupboard under the stairs which was Harry’s bedroom until he went to Hogwarts.

I also treated myself to a newly released set – Winnie the Pooh’s house in the Hundred Acre Forest.

The attention to detail is fantastic. Pooh bear can sit on the log outside his house and inside he can look in the mirror when he can do his stoutness exercises and obviously there are honey (hunny!) pots galore.

I’m super excited that Lego have just announced some new Harry Potter sets being released on 1st June. I’ve already ordered the Hogsmeade set which includes the Three Broomsticks pub and Honeydukes sweet shop, but I can feel a couple more purchases coming on!! Honestly, we need a bigger house so I can have a Lego room.

We could also do with a teddy bear room! I treated myself to a new bear called Theo last weekend when I went to Webbs garden centre.

He’s currently living on our bed. I did buy some lottery tickets this past weekend thinking that we could see if our neighbour would consider selling us his house so we could make a Lego room and a teddy bear room and a gym. We did win, but I don’t think he’d sell it to us for £30!

My actual reason for going to Webbs was to choose some plants to go in Granny’s pots that I inherited. I tried to choose plants that either had a relevant name or that I thought Granny would like.

On the left of these first three pots is poppy Beauty of Livermere which I thought Granny would like. She was a very cheery person so the bright red of a poppy seems appropriate. She was also born between the wars so a poppy is relevant. In the middle is a fuchsia. My Grandad loved fuchsias and they remind me of visiting them both when I was a child. This fuchsia is one of six that arrived from QVC. Unfortunately they’d been tipped upside down by Hermes so I’m trying my hardest to help them recover. I’ve put a little fairy in the pot with this one, which was the worst hit, to watch over it. On the right is a patio rose called Sweet Memories.

On the other side of my raised bed we have, on the left, hebe Golden Pixie. Granny had a hebe in her front border which she told me someone reversed their car into. In the middle is geum Pink Petticoats which, again, I thought Granny would like. Finally on the right is polemonium Stairway to Heaven with obvious relevance.

I love how they look arranged around my raised bed, with the two lily pots at the head.

I also bought this rose …

… because it’s called Sheila’s Perfume – Granny was called Sheila. I haven’t decided where this is going to go yet.

While I was planting these up, I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye so I went to investigate, and found this friendly little robin.

Now I know it’s not unusual to see a robin whilst you’re gardening, but I’ve never had one let me get this close and for so long. It really seemed interested in what I was doing. My Mum said it was my Grandad popping in to see what I’d done with his pots. They were his and Granny’s when he was still with us, and he was the gardener really, Granny maintained them after he’d gone, and now I’m going to continue doing that.

I also inherited this stool which makes me think of Granny and Grandad every morning when I get up.

It’s been around for the whole of my life, and I remember sitting on it when I was small enough to do so! It came from Kenya when my Great Uncle (Granny’s brother) was working there. It’s not worth anything to anyone else, but to me it’s priceless.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of crochet too. I finished my Picnic on the Beach blanket which was a cal (crochet along) by Coastal Crochet.

And I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my D’Histoire Naturelle blanket which is a Scheepjes cal.

I should now be doing the next cal which is the Picnic by the River cal also designed by Coastal Crochet, but for Little Box of Crochet. However, I’m being patient with that one because I’m busy crocheting something else which I can’t tell you about in case the intended recipient reads this!

Moving back to the garden, and it’s coming back to life slowly but surely. Everything seems to be taking longer this year, probably because it’s been so cold and dry. Here’s a collage of colour for you – Welsh poppy, geum Totally Tangerine, pieris in full on show off mode, honesty and two different erysimums.

Finally, I’ll end with some pics of our visit to Hoo Farm last week. We’ve been here a few times and it’s always a good day out. They have lots of animals, and many of them are rescues or old animals that are living out their last days in peace. They’ve also added a walk through dinosaur section called Hoo-rassic World since our last visit which was fun.

Right, I’m off to do some more speed crocheting as the decidedly autumn weather outside has put the kibosh on anything outdoorsy!