Wimbledon!

Whoop! The best fortnight of the year is here!

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Oh I wish it could be Wimbledon every day! I’ll watch any tennis – singles, doubles, men, women, mixed, wheelchair, grand slam, ATP 1000, 500, 250, challenger, Davis Cup – but there’s something special about Wimbledon. I guess it’s partly because it’s my home slam and also that it’s the tennis that I grew up watching (because no other tennis was ever shown on telly) but it’s not just that. It’s the tradition, the occasion, the royal connections. I think if you were to ask the players, if they could only win one slam, which would it be, most would immediately answer, Wimbledon.

First held in 1877, Wimbledon is the oldest slam, it’s the only slam still played on the original tennis surface, grass and it’s the only tournament where players have to wear the traditional white kit. The great Roger Federer was, a couple of years ago, reprimanded because the soles of his trainers were fluorescent yellow and had to change them for the rest of the tournament. Venus Williams was berated in 2017 for having pink bra straps on view and had to change the garment midway through the match (she was, of course, allowed to leave the court to do so!) The outfit has to be predominantly white, with the only real deviation being the players’ sponsorship logos. The All England Club staunchly upholds these traditions, and I hope they never change.

The first year I went to Wimbledon was 2012 when I got tickets to the Olympic tennis which was held there, and I caught the Wimbledon bug. I applied in the ballot for tickets to the Championships held in 2013 and I was lucky enough to get two centre court tickets. Since then Dad and I have both applied every year, and there’s only been two years when neither of us has got tickets. One year we both got tickets so we spent three glorious days in London and spent two full days in Wimbledon.

We arrived at Southfields tube station on Tuesday, the earliest we’ve ever visited the Championships, and excitedly joined the crowds walking up to the venue. Soon we were in and our senses were being assaulted by the almost tangible atmosphere that draws you into the occasion.

This year we had No. 1 Court tickets so we headed straight there for the 1pm start. We were on the very back row, ZC, but we still had a cracking view.

Having tickets for one of the show courts pretty much guarantees that you’ll see some of the big names in tennis and this year on No. 1 Court we got to see three number ones.

The ladies world number one, Ashleigh Barty playing China’s Saisai Zheng.

The ladies British number one, Jo Konta playing Romanian Ana Bogdan.

And finally my all time number one (with the exception of Sir Andy Murray), Rafa Nadal playing Yuichi Sugita from Japan.

All the number ones won reasonably easily. That’s the potential downside of getting tickets so early in the fortnight, there’s a risk that the matches might not be as gripping as later on in the tournament because the competition hasn’t yet been whittled down to the top performers for that year. The matches we saw were great and there were some brilliant rallies and exciting winners along the way but all three matches were won in straight sets without even a hint of a tiebreak.

This did give us time to have a bit of an explore of the grounds that we’ve not been able to do before when we’ve been engrossed in matches all day.

We popped out in between the two ladies matches and picked up the afternoon tea that we’d booked in advance.

We sat at the top of Henman Hill (Murray Mount, Robson’s Ridge) to eat our delicious picnic. I only had yoghurt and fruit for breakfast because I was trying to save Syns for the rest of the day so I was thinking about my rumbling tummy and not about taking photos of our food. This is what we had though.

Delicious! We’re not vegetarian, just cheese freaks! The sandwiches were on wholemeal bread so they would’ve taken care of my Healthy Extras. Pretty sure the rest of it doesn’t fall under Slimming World rules though! I couldn’t resist the scone with clotted cream and jam (cream or jam first? Always cream for me – doesn’t make sense in my head the other way round, you wouldn’t put jam on before butter!) but I did only partake of one of the cakes (the other three are in our kitchen now waiting for hubby to eat them being ignored by me) and I didn’t have any cream on my strawberries.

I didn’t want to miss a second of Rafa who was up third, so we took the opportunity after we’d eaten to pop to the Wimbledon shop before heading back to watch Jo Konta.

I got a jumper which I’m not going to be able to wear for some time given the current warm weather. I would go and take a picture to show you, but there’s a puddy cat curled up on my lap and she looks so comfy.

Speaking of puddy cats, I got them a present.

They love these bands and they carry them round the house in their mouths!

And of course I got a bear. Come on! It is me you’re talking to!

Looks right at home with his compatriots, doesn’t he? He’s called Rafa, by the way.

The grounds are meticulously maintained, no mean feat given the amount of footfall over these two weeks. This is the first year I’ve given more than a fleeting glance at the planting around the courts. There are living walls by the big screen outside No. 1 Court and there are hanging baskets and planters pretty much anywhere they could squeeze one in, all following the purple and green Wimbledon colour scheme.

2019 sees the debut of the new roof on No. 1 Court.

It’s looking like there won’t be any rain delays over the course of the tournament but the roof is still coming into its own. As I’m watching Andy Murray and Pierre Hugues Herbert play their debut doubles match, they’ve just closed the roof because of poor light to allow them to finish the match tonight. Jamie Murray wasn’t so lucky – he was playing on one of the outside courts without a roof so that match will conclude tomorrow.

Final picture for today, and a fitting end for a tennis post I think.

The late, great Fred Perry!

Enjoy the rest of Wimbledon folks.

Some garden goodness

I didn’t do a Six on Saturday yesterday because I was busy doing other stuff. Can’t quite recall what now, but I’m sure it must’ve been something productive!

Anyway, I thought I’d give you a quick update on garden matters. There’s quite a lot going wrong out there at the moment. My peas are growing through the netting over the raised bed because I haven’t got round to building the permanent frame over it yet, something is eating my strawberries despite having built the frame over that bed …

… the weeds are going crazy and a slug has snotted all over my gardening gloves!

However, we’ll ignore all that and focus on a few of the positive things happening out there.

My peas, despite growing through the netting, are flowering so I’m keeping everything crossed that we’ll soon have peas.

Not sure how I’ll detangle them from the netting to harvest them, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I have some beautiful roses blooming.

The top two are on our bistro and were a fiver each last summer. The bottom one is Hot Chocolate and was a present from my Mum a few years ago. It needs a hard prune when it finishes flowering this year.

I picked up another Rose today on the sale table at our local garden centre.

We’ve got a couple of plants with bright yellow flowers and I noticed today how cheery they look, so when I saw this I had to have it.

I’ve also got this Rose which has slightly unusual flowers.

It was from the same garden centre a while ago, also half price. I must find somewhere to plant both of these.

Here’s one of those pops of yellow.

I don’t know what it is, it was here when we moved in.

My Foxglove which wasn’t a Foxglove and then was a Foxglove is looking magnificent.

It’s got some secondary shoots gearing up to bloom underneath this one.

I really hope the first fingerhuts stay until all of these ones are showing their colours too.

I planted our Hydrangea out last year after the heat had passed. My in laws gave it to us and we’d kept it in a pot for a couple of years but it didn’t bloom very well, hence the decision to plant it out. I did wonder whether the change of soil might change it from pink to blue, but as you can see, it’s starting to bloom pink again.

I’m slightly disappointed because I prefer blue. All is not in vain though, it’s grown loads since last year so it’s obviously happier out of its constraints.

I pruned our Pieris yesterday (when it was really too hot to be wielding a pair of secateurs!) There was a lot of dead wood in the middle and it was really huge so I was quite ruthless. I think it looks much better – wish I’d taken a before pic. It’s opened up some space that I’ll be able to fill with some of my plants in waiting and it also revealed a little Fern at the back doing rather well in the shade.

My Dicentra Bleeding Heart is flowering again when I thought it was done for the year.

Isn’t it pretty?

My Festuca now has four babies!

When the first one appeared I was intending to pot it on, but now there are four and they’re quite nicely spaced around their mother, I can’t decide whether to let them grow in where they are. I’ll have to ponder on it.

I planted up my Willow that was in my Gardeners’ World subscriber goodie bag at Gardeners’ World Live. Pretty huh? It won’t grow any taller but it should grow well at the top so I can style it a nice bouffant.

This was a bitty post with no real purpose! I just fancied sharing a bit of garden goodness with you. I’m off work tomorrow so no doubt I’ll be back out there pottering in my happy place.

Six on Saturday 23rd March

Wow, ok, so this seems to be becoming a regular thing – this is the third consecutive Saturday on which I’ve joined in with the Propagator’s Six on Saturday. As ever, if you’re a gardening enthusiast do head over to his page to check out his and others’ Sixes. It really is a lovely community and as a newbie gardener, I’ve picked up some great bits of advice and info.

I’ve been a busy bee today. The weather was good so I headed out to the garden quite early to have a potter around, and speaking of bees, I saw my first furry bumble bee of the year. I could hear the neighbours’ children in the garden bouncing on their trampoline sounding full of the joys of Spring, as well they should given that this is the first weekend of Spring. It was nice to hear them out there again after months of cold weather and being cooped up inside.

First things first – greenhouse progress. I admit I have popped up there on a couple of days before work to see if I could see any little green shoots peeking up. There were a couple earlier in the week but today when I went up, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few shoots starting to appear.

Quite a few of the Sweet Peas have germinated …

… and the Cosmos in the top four rows have appeared where there was absolute nothing on Thursday. Just one little Aquilegia has poked its head through in the bottom two rows …

… and a couple of teeny tiny Calendulas have appeared.

Nothing showing on my Sunflowers yet but I have a confession to make ….. curiosity got the better of me and I dug around a little bit in the soil to see if anything was happening …. and it is! Yay! I’ve covered them back over and I WILL leave them be until they decide to grow.

Next up I moved the Cowslip which was kindly identified for me after last week’s Six (see what I mean, very helpful people in the Six on Saturday community). It was growing up in our wasteland and I moved in down to my planter.

This is even better than the sale table, a completely free plant that just appeared, and doesn’t it have a lovely pretty flower? Very Spring-like. Let’s hope it doesn’t mind being moved now.

Third is another bit of rejigging. My Dad and C gave us a lovely round planter already planted a couple of years ago. It mainly contained annuals, apart from one Heuchera which has survived a couple of Winters unscathed and is still quite happy in there. Last year I replaced the faded annuals with a Gerbera and a Fern. The Gerbera has survived the Winter which I didn’t think it would, but was a little raggedy and the Fern had really got too big for the planter.

I moved it to somewhere that it can multiply to its heart’s content if it so desires! I planted my Callicarpa Bodinieri in the same area today as well. It’s the thing that just looks likes a load of twigs behind the red Coprosma (LOVE my Coprosma). It’s lost all its purple berries but hopefully will thrive in its forever home.

Back in the planter, I tidied up the Heuchera and the Gerbera and added an Erica Cindy that I found on a sale table last year. It looks a little sad and sparse at the moment but the Heuchera and the Gerbera both have new leaves already growing and there are even a couple of buds on the Gerbera so hopefully it’ll fill out nicely over the next few weeks.

Number four took me back up to the greenhouse. Last week I bought twenty tiny plug Begonias to put in my hanging basket. I had yellow ones in it last Summer and it looked so pretty. I do think the Begonia has an unusual but really beautiful flower.

These ones are mixed colours. Hopefully there’ll be some yellow in there. I’m going to leave it in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks just in case we get another frost because the plants are so tiny and they were kept inside the garden centre so are probably going to feel the cold! I’ve got a few left so I’ll have to find a home for them – maybe in my daffodil trough when the daffs have faded.

My penultimate point kept me up by the greenhouse. Now that I’ve started to do the slabbing and I know my raised beds are in the right place, I filled them with compost. Last week I bought six raspberry plants and ten strawberry plants so I planted them. I’m going to have to rig up some supports for the raspberries and make sure they’re netted so the birds can’t get the fruit when it comes. I bought hubby a bird table for his birthday so we have a plethora of birds, which is lovely, but I want them to stick to their menu, not mine!

The canes along the left are ‘Autumn Bliss’ and along the top are ‘Ample Glen’. I like the idea of ample raspberries so that sold me on those. Seems slightly odd that the Autumn fruiting ones have leaves already whereas the mid-Summer ones are bare, but we’ll see. Half of the strawberry plants are ‘Cambridge’ and the other half are random ones that looked healthiest. Hope they’re not too close to the raspberries. This is all a learning game for me.

Finally I’m after a bit of advice from some more experienced gardeners.

What are these two weeds?

The bottom one seems to be the weed of choice in our garden – super prolific. Monty Don did an article a while back that said you can guess what kind of soil you have from the weeds that grow, and he went on to explain which weeds prefer which type of soil, but as I don’t know what these are, it didn’t really help me! They’re not unattractive as weeds go.

I’ve never seen the one in the top picture before, but I noticed today there are lots of them sprouting up all over.

Anyone got any clue?

I also planted out a Hollyhock, an Ox-Eye Daisy, a Honeysuckle, a Solanum Glasnevin and sixty Summer bulbs today. Unfortunately I’ve already forgotten where the bulbs are so I’m going to have to be careful not to try and plant anything over them! Let’s hope they start to come through quickly!

What to do tomorrow now then? Oh I don’t know, lay some slabs, plant more plants, do some weeding, mow the lawn, tackle the front garden? Green Girl Gardener’s work is never done and I wouldn’t have it any other way!